The Texas Rangers have had some turnover in their coaching staff from the past few seasons, and then there are some of the coaches who have been around for a while. Since pitchers and catchers report on Sunday February 16 and since today is Valentines day, I thought I would take this time to either introduce or re-introduce the Texas Rangers coaching staff to all of you who are in love with baseball like I am.
Manager: Ron Washington – Ron Washington enters his contract year with the highest winning percentage in Texas Rangers history with a record of 520-452 (.535). Washington returns as the skip after four straight 90+ win seasons with a revamped roster and a questionable rotation. Okay, Yu Darvish is pretty good, but after that there are questions that will probably be answered in spring training. Wash will get to sort through all of those things as the team begins to report for duty. I am looking forward to seeing what Ron will be able to do with some power back in the line up with Prince Fielder and a great OBP leadoff man in Shin-soo Choo. I have a strong feeling that Ron will get a contract extension at some point during the 2014 season.
Batting Coach: Dave Magadan – Dave returns for his second season as the Texas Rangers hitting coach, and he has more weapons to work with for the 2014 season. He has switched from Ian Kinsler in the lead-off spot to the afore-mentioned Choo, and he gets to bat Fielder and Beltre back to back, which means they will be seeing some pitches to hit. Magadan was known in Boston as a OBP kind of batting coach, as the Red Sox led the league in walks several times when Magadan was part of that organization. It will be interesting to see if the players approach is any different this season compared to last season. We will see what Dave does with this line-up.
Assistant Hitting Coach: Bobby Jones – Jones was called up so to speak from Round Rock to join the major league staff for the 2014 season. Jones has now been a coach or manager with the Texas Rangers organization for 18 years. Jones brings a lot of experience to the Texas Rangers major league club and I thought he was a good choice when I heard about his promotion. Jones has been working with AAA batters for a very long time, and I think he will really help Magadan when it comes to working with players strengths and weaknesses. Look for Jones to be very involved in the Texas Rangers game plan going forward. Not saying he will be the guy that Ron hugs after each game, but you will most definitely see them talking in-game.
Pitching Coach: Mike Maddux – Maddux is now entering his fifth season as the Texas Rangers pitching coach, and I would say that his tenure with the Texas Rangers has been an overwhelming success. He began his stint with the Texas Rangers in 2008 (hired November 3 of that year). Here are the Texas Rangers team ERA’s since Maddux has been in charge of the hurlers:
2009 – 4.38
2010 – 3.93
2011 – 3.79
2012 – 3.99
2013 – 3.63
I think we can all see a trend here. In what is considered a hitters ballpark and a franchise that has been deemed a team that can’t pitch for most of their history, the Texas Rangers under Mike Maddux have now gone four seasons in a row with a team ERA under 4.00. That is all I need to know about Maddux. I hope he never leaves.
First Base Coach: Bengie Molina – We all remember Molina the player, the guy who hit for the very unlikely cycle in Boston. Now we get to meet Molina the first base coach. Molina comes in pretty green when it comes to first base coaching. He is replacing long time Texas Rangers coach Dave Anderson. Molina was an assistant hitting coach for the Cardinals before joining the Texas Rangers staff. Molina was a smart baseball player and there is no reason to think that he is not going to do an excellent job as the Texas Rangers first base coach. I just hope that the players he will be coaching will be a little faster than he was on most days!
Third Base Coach: Gary Pettis – Pettis is now in his seventh season with the organization, and we also know that he helps with the outfielders as well. Pettis did a pretty good job in his first season as the third base coach after several years as the first base coach, and I expect Pettis to take some chances over there at third this season because of all the speed that the Texas Rangers have on the base paths this season with the likes of Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus and others. Pettis will be a big factor on how many bases the Texas Rangers players will be able to steal this season, and I feel like he is only going to improve on what he did in this position last year.
Bench Coach: Tim Bogar – Bogar takes over for the beloved Jackie Moore, who was fired during the off-season much to the dislike of former Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan. Bogar will have big shoes to fill, and I expect him to be in Washington’s ear a lot during games. Bogar has been both a first base and third base coach, and a minor league manager with some good success. I hated to see Jackie go, so it will be interesting to see how fans react to the new bench coach and how much Ron Washington relies on him in-game.
Bull Pen Coach: Andy Hawkins – Hawkins has been in professional baseball now for 23 years. He has been the Texas Rangers bull pen coach for some time now and has done a pretty good job. The relievers always seem ready to come into games and contribute. His philosophy seems to work well. It will be fun to watch how he does once again with the pen that has been so productive and such a key to the Texas Rangers success over the past four or five seasons.