Hot Seat Skipper?
The next 10 months will be spent dissecting whether or not Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett will get a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. But he’s not the only local coach entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has the second-most wins of any manager in team history. He’s the only Rangers manager to lead the Rangers to a playoff series victory, an American League Championship Series victory and a World Series appearance.
He has the respect of his locker room and his entire organization. But he has no contract past the 2014 season. And given what you see above, that sounds almost criminal, doesn’t it?
As the Rangers head to Surprise, Arizona, for spring training this week, they’re coming off two straight disappointing seasons.
No one has expressed anything but reassurance that Washington, at some point, will receive an extension.
Washington told reporters in January that he wasn’t worried about a new deal, saying after he spoke to general manager Jon Daniels last season that he expected an extension to come his way.
Daniels told reporters after the season that a multiyear extension for Washington was on his to-do list. But thus far the Rangers have not moved forward with an extension, and Daniels hasn’t commented publicly on it.
It bears pointing out that Washington’s two-year extension, the one ending at the end of 2014, was signed around this time in 2012. So it’s not like it’s unprecedented for the Rangers to extend Washington before spring training.
But in January 2012, the Rangers were coming off back-to-back World Series appearances and looked to have all the pieces in place for a third playoff run. Washington had earned it. Two years later, it's a different story.
As the Rangers head to Surprise, Arizona, for spring training this week (yes, pitchers and catchers reported on Sunday, and the rest of the team reports by Wednesday), they’re coming off two straight disappointing seasons.
In 2012, the Rangers collapsed at the end of the season but still managed to get into the Wild Card round before losing to Baltimore. In 2013, the Rangers again struggled down the stretch, losing a play-in game against Tampa Bay.
Disappointing is a relative term when you juxtapose the past four seasons against the totality of Rangers history. But if you need proof that high expectations exist for Washington and this Rangers team, look no further than the offseason.
To solve the Rangers’ obvious offensive shortcomings, Daniels traded Ian Kinlser to Detroit for Prince Fielder. To set the table for Fielder and Adrian Beltre, Daniels lured Shin Soo-Choo, one of the game’s best leadoff hitters, to Texas.
Joe Nathan is gone, but Neftali Feliz gets first crack at being the closer again. Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis are on the comeback trail after injuries. Martin Perez appears to be coming into his own as a starting pitcher. Yu Darvish finished second in Cy Young voting.
And although losing Derek Holland for half the season hurts, the Rangers’ latest addition, Tommy Hanson, may be able to keep the seat warm. He’s won at least 10 games in four of his five MLB seasons.
The AL West is still tough, but Daniels has spent the offseason assembling talent to get the Rangers out of this two-year rut and back toward making a deep postseason run. But it’s Washington that must put it all together.
Championship windows stay open for only so long, and the Rangers did great work propping their window open a little longer. Perhaps that properly defines why Washington is still waiting for a contract extension.
If he and the Rangers can’t get it done again in 2014, it might mean the end of Washington’s days in Arlington.