Reports indicate the Texas Rangers may part was with manager Jeff Banister. The organization has very little to justify a potential firing.
Per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Texas Rangers are considering parting ways with manager Jeff Banister. This news struck much of Rangers’ nation by surprise when released yesterday afternoon. Many have complained about General Manager Jon Daniels, and many have complained about hitting coach Anthony Iapoce and pitching coach Doug Brocail. But few have seemed anxious for Jeff Banister to get the boot. Unfortunately, the front office may be anxious, and that’s really all that matters.
The Rangers currently hold a regular season record of 64-88, 31 games behind the first place Houston Astros in the American League West. It has without a doubt been an ugly season; however, the vast majority of the ugliness should be pointed in a direction not towards Banister.
Let’s face it, Texas lacked talent in 2018. They lacked the on-field product that a manager needs to put up a legitimate fight. Who’s fault is that? All fingers point to the front office, not the coaching staff. Sure, coaches are supposed to help players improve and progress, but this isn’t little league baseball. Players improve at their own pace in the big leagues. Rarely do you see young players, or veteran players for that matter, go from average to great in a single season. Playing 162 games in 200 days simply doesn’t give coaches or players the necessary time to make leaps and bounds in performance improvement.
Frankly, many Rangers’ players did improve as the season progressed. We saw Jurickson Profar gain momentum as each day went by, Ronald Guzman proved that he has major league staying power, and Joey Gallo‘s improvements are obvious, as are Rougned Odor‘s.
It comes down to the fact that Jeff Banister was dealt a bad pitching staff. And winning with a bad pitching staff is a monumental task, no matter how witty the manager is and no matter how talented the offense is.
The Texas Rangers literal goal prior to the 2018 season was to scrap together a bunch of cheap, “let’s see if they have anything left”-type pitchers to fill the starting rotation.
Matt Moore proved to be no good, Bartolo Colon had a terrible final four months, and Doug Fister hardly pitched. Those three joined Cole Hamels, who pitched poorly before being traded in July. Also, Martin Perez, who has become the chosen one to pitch out of the bullpen in blowouts. Matt Moore has earned a more legitimate role than Martin Perez for crying out loud!
How can fault be placed on Jeff Banister?
The report did reference occasional lack of communication between Banister and his players. Banister would apparently not give positions players enough notice regarding days off and would not give pitchers enough notice as to when their next appearance would be. Lack of communication is not a good thing, but again, it goes back to a dysfunction that stemmed from before the regular season even started.
Banister was forced to manage in an unconventional way in 2018. From what I witnessed, he did a fine job with what he had to work with.
He made the most of a terrible starting rotation, even implementing the ‘opener’ strategy towards the end. His bullpen held up, even after losing Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Jesse Chavez via trade, and Tony Barnette and Matt Bush via injury. His offense ended up quite productive, even with the number of players he had to maneuver into the lineup in a given week. He did a fine job of staying loyal to his veterans, while also affording his young guns plenty of playing time.
Maybe things behind the scenes are worse than the public knows. And maybe the organization does want to start its rebuild with a new manager. In my opinion, nothing justifies the firing of the 2015 American League Manager of the Year.
Banister is not the problem. The problem is the front office and its many poor decisions over the past handful of years that have forced the Texas Rangers into their current losing ways. It’s simply not fair for the powerful front office to shrug its shoulders at those poor decisions and point blame to the manager that is forced to deal with those poor decisions. Plus, it’s not reasonable to fire a manager after one bad season. This isn’t New York.