The Texas Rangers collapsed in 2012 there's no denying that. At one point, late in the season, the Rangers led the AL West by thirteen games. They lost the division to the Oakland Athletics on the final day of the season and couldn't get past the Baltimore Orioles in the wild card game.
It was hard for me to fully wrap my head around what I had seen. Was this a tired team who had two deep postseason runs in the last two seasons or was there something more? Michael Young and Ian Kinsler both had the worst seasons of their careers. Mike Napoli went back to being who he is proving that 2011 was truly "magical". The Roy Oswalt signing proved to be a bust and a headache for the team and fans. Season ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz took some of the wind out of the teams sails. And there was the late season "give-up" attitude exhibited by Josh Hamilton.Was the offense completely to blame? I don't think so.
Clearly changes need to be made and they will when you look at the number of free agents the team has versus the other free agents who will be available once the season begins. I suggest that the first changes should involve the coaching staff: Manager Ron Washington, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and third base coach Dave Andersen should be let go.
As I have stated before Washington cannot manage a bullpen. He goes to his gut too often which is wrong about eighty percent of the time. He cannot manage with National League rules as has been exhibited the past two World Series as he was too quick to pinch hit for the pitcher taking out a strong arm that could have pitched another inning. Then there's his overuse of the bunt. Elvis Andrus showed that he had more power this year and could drive the ball farther yet it seemed like he was always asked to lay down the sac bunt. I can understand, maybe, doing it late in a close game but not in the first inning. If you think that Ron Washington is a great manager then you are blinded by two World Series appearances. So who do I replace him with? Jim Tracy, who just stepped down from the Colorado Rockies, should be given an interview. He is a player's manager just like Washington but he has also managed his entire career in the National League which is a plus. He may not have a better career record than the Rangers' skipper but I believe he is a better manager who has done a lot with weak teams and I would love to see what he could do with the talent here.
Now I don't have any suggestions as to who should replace Andersen or Coolbaugh. I just know that it's time for them to go. Andersen seems confused at times when it comes to deciding whether to send or hold a runner and it has cost the Rangers several runs and a costly injury to Josh Hamilton back in 2011. The team's approach at the plate this season is the reason why Texas should find another hitting coach. Too many times players swung at the first pitch or showed zero patience going down in three pitches. There has to better options out there for either of these two coaching positions.
Yes, I realize that my opinions are not going to be popular amongst the majority of Rangers fans but I believe that they are in the best interests of this team and will give Texas its' best chances at bringing home the elusive World Series trophy.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.