I don’t hate Ron Washington, and I think he’s actually a pretty good manager, but sometimes his decision making is, a little odd.
I used to watch the Rangers regularly before I moved from Louisiana to San Diego, and now that I watch the Padres more often, it was definitely weird when the Rangers played the San Diego Padres out here earlier this season.
The Rangers came from behind to win a big game for them, and I was happy for them, but also sad to see the Padres find a way to lose again. I mention that because I know what it’s like to root for a Ron Washington managed team, and also ties into why I don’t want Ron Washington to manage the Padres.
His Rangers teams found ways to lose big games. Of course, they won some really big games too. Getting to the World Series isn’t easy. But the way they lost the world series to St. Louis, and the decisions Ron Washington made during that series, has stuck with me.
In the early part of 2015 Buddy Black made some weird decisions regarding the bullpen, especially Shawn Kelley. Kelley has a strong track record but had a rough time at the beginning of this season, yet in big situations he was the guy Black called on often, despite Brandon Maurer having an excellent start to the season. I also remember a gray area situation in which the Padres had the pitcher come up to bat in the 5th inning of a game they trailed, with 2 outs and men on base, and Buddy didn’t pinch hit for him. The opportunity to score passed and the Padres ended up losing.
However, it was early in the season and thinking long term regarding resting the bullpen is a defensible position at that point. In game 6 of the World Series against St.Louis, Ron Washington was faced with the same situation, and did the same thing. In the 5th inning with 2 outs and a man on 3rd, pitcher Colby Lewis was due up with (at the time) uber clutch Mike Napoli next up after Lewis. Pinch hitting options Endy Chavez and Mitch Moreland were available, but Washington had Lewis hit for himself and the Rangers failed to add to their 4-3 lead. In the middle of a regular season, there is logic to having the starter hit for himself in a gray area situation. In game 6 of a world series, in which another run or two could lead to a championship, there isn’t. The season could have been over that night, the Rangers had a 3 games to 2 lead in the world series. The bullpen didn’t need rest.
Later in the game, in the 8th inning with Derek Holland pitching from the bullpen and a 7-4 lead, Washington faced another pivotal decision. Holland had pitched well previously in the series and had just retired Lance Berkman who was much worse against lefties (Holland is a lefty), but three righties were due up after. In the Rangers bullpen was Mike Adams, who was paid to pitch in the 8th inning against righties.
Washington left Holland in the game and Allen Craig hit a solo home run to start the Cardinals rally. Without that run, the Cardinals would have had more work to do in the bottom of the 9th and their comeback could have fallen short. Of course there is no guarantee that Adams would have gotten a better result, but it was a tailor made situation for him and Washington didn’t use him and it backfired.
To explain away difficult losses Ron Washington would often say, “that’s the way baseball go”. To put it a little more grammatically correct, “that’s baseball”.
Remind you of anyone?
Bud Black is a great guy and a well respected manager, as is Ron Washington. However, I was glad when the Padres moved on from Buddy, and I hope they move on from Washington and explore other options to be their long term replacement for Buddy, as well.