Rangers have made a change in the dugout, announcing the sacking of manager Chris Woodward on Monday afternoon. Third base coach Tony Beasley will take over in the interim for the remainder of the 2022 season.
“(General Manager) Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of communicating our decision to Chris Woodward today.President of Baseball Operations John Daniels said in a press release announcing the decision. “During his time as Rangers manager, Chris worked tirelessly in some difficult situations. He is dedicated and passionate in his efforts to improve the on-field performance of the Texas Rangers, which is greatly appreciated. He represented the organization with class and dignity.
We’ve had extensive discussions over the past several weeks, and while the team’s current performance is certainly a big part of this decision, we’re also looking to the future. As the Rangers continue to develop a winning culture and put the pieces together to compete for the postseason, we felt a change in leadership was necessary at this time. On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, we thank Chris and wish him and his family the best.“
Woodward, 46, was in Arlington for just under four seasons. Texas hired him from the Dodgers’ coaching staff in the 2018–19 offseason, making him the permanent replacement (along with Don Wakamatsu’s interim job) after firing Jeff Bannister that September. Woodward stepped into a difficult situation, taking over a last-place team that was cutting payroll while embarking on a rebuild.
Texas regressed slightly in Woodward’s first season, finishing third in the AL West at 78-84. The club was bowled out for 68 runs that year, but bounced back the following season. Texas went 22-38 during the shortened campaign, then stumbled to a 60-102 record in 2021. It finished last again, but Texas signed Woodward last November. extension It ran until 2023.
At the time, Daniels praised the captain.(help) lay the foundations of our culture” throughout his first three seasons. The Texas front office couldn’t have hoped for better results on the 2019-21 roster, and Woodward’s extension reflected the organization’s confidence in his ability to lead the club to a more competitive level. Texas signaled a willingness to move the payroll forward early in the season, and they followed that up with a more intense winter than many expected.
The Rangers signed four players to multi-year free agent contracts, including two with three big overall guarantees in the offseason. Texas was added Corey Seager $325MM a decade after signing Marcus Semien Seven years and $175MM. They entered as Rangers’ foundational middle infield when the club signed them John Gray A four-year, $56MM deal to cover the startup cycle. Texas brass admitted the jump from a 60-win team to immediate postseason contention seemed like a stretch, even with such an aggressive offseason turnaround. Still, they were hoping for a significant improvement that could serve as a stepping stone to a playoff run in 2023.
Results on that front have been mixed. The Rangers are on pace for their best season in three years, sitting in third place in the AL West with a 51-63 record. The 44.7% winning percentage is much better than 2020-21’s sub-40% mark, but that translates to roughly a 90-loss pace over the course of the entire schedule. They are 9 1/2 games out of the wild card and will likely miss the playoffs again, hoping to play meaningful games in the final two weeks of the season.
At the same time, one could argue that Rangers have been more competitive than their record suggests. They gave up just two runs on the season, with more wins than losses (games decided by five-plus runs). If they stick with a roughly .500 run differential, they’ll be in the wild-card picture and the franchise’s overall tenure will be very promising. Instead, they’ve gone an atrocious 6-24 in one-run contests, losing several tight games and leaving them nowhere near contention.
How much responsibility Woodward bears for that record is open to debate. No doubt there’s some bad luck involved in a poor record, but one also notes that Woodward is in charge of managing a bullpen that has blown 18 leads (eighth-most in the majors). Texas has had productive seasons from some of their young position players (ie Jonah Heim And Nathaniel Lowe), but the club didn’t get much out of their younger starters Dan Dunning. Meanwhile, Texas has gotten solid seasons from Seager and Gray, but Siemian hasn’t fared well in the opening season of his free agent deal.
Of course, managerial decisions are made based on more than the club’s on-field results. Teams evaluate the captain’s handling of the clubhouse and behind-the-scenes work. Daniels and Young clearly decided it was time for a change of voice in the clubhouse.
In the next couple of months, Beasley will be elevated to the manager’s chair. Beasley, a former minor league catcher in the Pirates and Nationals farm systems, joined Texas’ coaching staff prior to the 2015 season. The 55-year-old is now in his eighth year with Rangers, overlapping Bannister’s and Woodward’s spells as captain. It was his first major league managerial opportunity.
Texas will be in full-time pursuit next season. They are the fourth team to do so, as the Phillies (Joe Girardi), Angels (Joe Maddon) and Blue Jays (Charlie Montoyo) all fired their captains during the offseason. Philadelphia went on a tear under interim manager Rob Thompson, while the Angels continued to flounder under their interim captain Phil Neve. The Blue Jays have improved an already productive club in their first month under interim manager John Schneider.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News Woodward was the first to announce his dismissal.
Image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports.
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