Managing The Spring

  • If Ron Washington speaks and no one listens, does he make a sound?

Rangers manager Ron Washington didn’t appear to be totally on board with the concept of making Neftali Feliz a starter; now that Feliz has expressed a desire to start and the Rangers higher-ups, GM Jon Daniels, et al. want him to start, Washington is now saying that he wants an experienced closer to replace Feliz if the young righty does indeed move to the starting rotation.

You can read details of this here on MLBTradeRumors.

Washington wants an established closer?

Yeah?

So?

No disrespect to Washington, but he’s not exactly a strong voice in the Rangers hierarchy. In fact, I question whether they listen to him at all.

Washington’s main attributes are his ability to survive and that the players like him and play hard for him. Apart from that, he doesn’t contribute anything strategically to the Rangers’ wins or losses; if anything, his pitching changes harm the team’s chances for winning a particular game and he’s always on the verge of doing something stupid.

He’s not a good field manager, but the Rangers have won with him and he’s overcome the failed drug test in 2009 to keep his job and was rewarded with a pennant and contract extension.

It’s not a remote experience for teams to win without a strong manager; the Rangers could conceivably have won with a mannequin modeling a uniform placed in the corner of the dugout; the Diamondbacks under Bob Brenly won the World Series in 2001 and won 98 games in 2002—Brenly was the equivalent of a laid off crash test dummy, but he knew enough to let the players play and stay out of the way.

Do you think the Rangers are going to start looking for a relief pitcher now before seeing what they have in Alexi Ogando or another pitcher who could handle the role?

Washington’s desires are politely heard…and ignored. He has no say in what’s going on with the Rangers. It’s not nice to hear or say, but it’s true.

On another note regarding the Rangers search for a closer, why didn’t they keep Rich Harden and try him as the closer if they intended to shift Feliz to the rotation? Harden should be a closer anyway; he strikes people out and can’t stay healthy as a starter. He can’t be more injury-prone as a reliever than he is as a starter and maybe knowing he only has to go for one inning or so would benefit him physically.

There’s talk that Mets manager Terry Collins wants to name journeyman Luis Hernandez as his opening day second baseman and release Luis Castillo immediately.

I have no problem with releasing Castillo; in fact, I’m wondering why the Mets don’t do it now to give Castillo a better shot of hooking on with someone else. There’s no need to drag it out and be vindictive if the end result is known and unchangeable.

With Hernandez, he’s emerging as the lesser of evils—at least in the eyes of the manager.

Rule 5 pickup Brad Emaus is hitting .200; Daniel Murphy is hitting well, but his defense must not be up to snuff if he’s behind Hernandez; Jordany Valdespin was killing the ball and got sent down; Ruben Tejada would be my choice but it sounds as if he’s going to be playing shortstop in Triple A to prepare to possibly take over for Jose Reyes.

The reality of Hernandez is that he’s going to be 27; is a slightly above-average defender at second; doesn’t steal bases; and has been an okay hitter in the minors; in 290 career plate appearances in the majors, he’s a .245 hitter with a .286 OBP and a .298 slugging percentage.

Collins is walking a fine line with the Mets in his first spring. On the one hand, if Hernandez is the player he feels has earned the job, then he has to go with his gut; on the other hand, the player has shown little upside in comparison to the others.

In another tightrope situation, Collins is trying to maintain credibility with the players when it comes to Oliver Perez. Perez was told that he’d get a few starts; if that didn’t work, he’d receive a fair look as a lefty specialist.

On WFAN recently (I can’t remember who it was who said it), but Collins was paraphrased as saying he told Perez he’d give him an opportunity in a variety of roles and if he’s going to maintain credibility with the rest of the clubhouse, he has to hold to his word.

As much as Perez is reviled in the Mets clubhouse, he’s still one of the players; for Collins to bow to expediency, give way to inside and outside pressures and dump Perez before living up to his promise, it would do more harm than good with the other players.

He’s making the best of the circumstances and I understand where he’s coming from, but I can’t see this movement to name Hernandez the everyday second baseman working. Considering the circumstances surrounding the Mets, that too might do more harm than good.

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  1. #1 by The Other Mike on March 16, 2011 - 2:07 am

    I don’t pretend to know what Wash is thinking, but it might be that he’s trying to get the attention of Mark Lowe or another bullpen guy. Lowe had said that, if Feliz’s role were to change, he wanted the closer’s job. He hasn’t really shown that he can handle it, so maybe his manager was trying to push some buttons to make him more competitive.

    I’m going to play the Buster Olney card and say that a source told me I’m right on the money here.

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