When the Texas Rangers hired Dave Magadan to be the team's new hitting instructor last week they may have also hired their next manager. Current manager Ron Washington has two years left on his contract but he may not be here for the entire length.
Magadan, like former hitting coach Clint Hurdle, is a player's coach who works one-on-one with the guys to find out where they need improvement. And he has shown that he can make those improvements. After he took over as the hitting coach for Boston in 2006 the Red Sox saw significant rises in average, on base percentage and walks. During his six-year tenure the Red Sox led the majors in most pitches seen per at-bat. That's something that was missing this season from the Rangers hitters. While Scott Coolbaugh didn't do a bad job there was something missing especially when it came to the team hitting with runners in scoring position and their patience at the plate.
Coolbaugh, like most hitting coaches, was the scapegoat. He was the first domino that had to fall to show fans that this team was committed to improving.
That brings me back to Ron Washington. A lot of fans, most notably the casual ones, would scoff at the mere suggestion that Washington be fired. They would point out his win-loss record, the back-to-back World Series appearances and the respect among the players. The die-hard fans would point out the fact that this team is loaded with so much talent that a number of managers could win with these guys. They would point out that the back-to-back World Series appearances ended in losses because said manager has trouble managing within the rules of the National League. There's his mismanagement of the bullpen to consider. And he has such an affection for small ball which he tends to use way too early in games. One on and no out in the first and you're going to bunt? Statistically you're going to lose that gamble. And last, but not least, there was his constant placating to Michael Young. I realize what Young means to the franchise overall but this was the worst year of his career and he should have been rested way more often than he was.
This is where Magadan comes in. He has plenty of experience working with players. He knows the game just as well as anybody. He also has two World Series rings (one as a player in 1986 and one as a coach in 2006). If Ron Washington continues to show the same flaws as manager and the Rangers fail to make it to the playoffs once again then I believe Dave Magadan is the man for the job.
And I think the Rangers front office may believe that too.
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.
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