Ron Washington doesn’t understand how to put his players in the best position to win baseball games.
In the last 3 innings on Thursday night against the Red Sox, Washington committed a trifecta of errors that could possibly have been the difference in turning a 3-2 lead into a 6-3 loss. But we’ll get to that in a second.
I’m not one of those wahoo’s clamoring that if Ron did it my way we would have won 3-2, because no one knows how the game would have wound up. Everything would have been different. These points just help illuminate why Ron Washington is one of, if not the, worst managers in Major League Baseball, though I’d appreciate to hear some defense in his favor.
This is what happened last night:
(1) In the bottom of the 7th inning, with one out, the Red Sox worked themselves into a bases-loaded situation. At this point in the game the Rangers still led, 3-2, meaning the next at-bat would be the game’s most pivotal. Rather than going to his best relief option — Tanner Scheppers — Washington decided to go by the prehistoric book of “that’s my 8th-inning guy,” and thought Jason Frasor would be a better choice.
To Frasor’s credit, he did exactly what could have been hoped for — inducing a weak double-play grounder from Mike Napoli. However, current 1st baseman Lance Berkman decided to go all Rick Ankiel on everyone — tossing a one-hopper in the dirt to Elvis Andrus at 2nd that he couldn’t manage to convert back to 1st — and Boston got a run across to tie the game at 3-apiece.
Then, with Profar on 1st base, Washington called upon Elvis Andrus to lay down the bunt; to sacrifice Profar to 2nd. Okay. You know I hate bunting, and you also know that bunting with Andrus probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world — it was expected with Washington at the helm and Andrus at the plate. Simple as that.
The problem is, well, a couple things;
(a) With Jurickson Profar — an extremely cerebral runner — on 1st base, and with David Murphy on deck, the greater threat is letting Elvis Andrus swing away. You have the option to steal, hit-and-run, run-and-hit … all things that make sense with the way Andrus handles the bat.
(b) Perhaps more egregiously, Andrew Bailey went down on Elvis Andrus 3-0. And the bunt was still on. On 3-0 Elvis bluffed a bunt (that he had no intention of making contact with), which went for strike 1. On the 3-1 pitch, Andrus jabbed at a fastball over the outside corner, missed it, making the count 3-2.
The cameras quickly cut to Ron Washington in the dugout, and for a split second I envisioned a cantankerous manager belittling his $120 million shortstop in the post-game press conference; all for failing to drop that 3-1 bunt down, that he shouldn’t have been attempting in the first place.
On the 3-2 pitch, much like in the National League when a pitcher is at the plate, Andrus executed the bunt, and Profar went to 2nd base. Elvis was greeted to a happy, that’s-a-play-leaders-make manager in the dugout, and then David Murphy popped out before Lance Berkman ended the inning with a K.
And yes, David Murphy is our #2 hitter right now.
(3) In a tie-game in the bottom of the 9th inning, rather than going to his closer — supposedly his best relief option — Washington chose to use Michael Kirkman, his worst relief option. The Red Sox won 6-3.
Again, I’m not saying the outcome of the game would have ended any differently had he gone to Nathan, but the odds of success dramatically decreased with Kirkman on the mound. This also isn’t a potshot at Michael Kirkman, because the fact of the matter is he just simply shouldn’t have been pitching at that point in the game.
The job of the owner is to give his GM the financial flexibility to get the players he wants; the job of the GM is to supply the manager with talent; the job of the manager is to put the talent in the best position to win;
Right now Ron Washington is not that guy, and he hasn’t been.
How much do managers really affect the team’s W-L record? It’s unquantifiable at this point. But if they kept track of these sorts of things based on bullpen management, lineup construction, and in-game philosophy, I would be hard-pressed to find many skippers worse than the one we are forced to live with.