After hearing that the Vladdy Guerrero comedy hour in right field last night might get a second run this evening, I remembered a question posed to Cliff Lee about Ron Washington during a press conference leading up to the World Series. Lee was asked what makes Washington so special to play for. He replied:
He’s a laid-back guy, kind of lets things unfold, enjoys baseball. You know, he’s got a really easy team to manage, I know that much, with just the talent that’s in the room. Usually when you have really good players, that makes the manager that much better. I don’t know if that’s politically correct to say that or whatever, but when you’ve got a team like this, you’d had a hard time screwing that up, to be honest with you, at least offensively. I’ve had to face them over the years, and it’s not a lot of fun. When you start pitching around Josh Hamilton and then you’re staring at Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, it’s not a lot of fun because it’s a very powerful lineup. I feel like I could fill that lineup every day and throw it out there. I mean, it’s a winner. He’s definitely a loose guy that keeps things loose, lets us kind of police ourselves, and makes sure that we respect the game. That’s really all you can ask for as a player out of your manager, and he definitely does that stuff.
Has anyone in the history of speaking ever been less complimentary while trying to be?
Washington has not had a good time of things this postseason with bullpen management, and last night’s decision to start Guerrero in right field seemed questionable at first, but turned downright foolish later. A second night of the keystone cops act isn’t fair to C.J. Wilson or Guerrero himself.
If Washington’s greatest strength is his laid back approach, his greatest weakness appears to be getting involved, further strengthening the feeling that this Rangers team has made it this far despite Washington, not because of him.
As a Blue Jays fan, I had a frustrating year watching Cito Gaston manage the ball club. While I would never disagree with anyone suggesting that he got the most he could’ve out of the team he was given, that doesn’t mean that he gets a free pass on his strategies and in-game decisions.
I wonder if Washington is similar to Gaston in that regard: a seemingly excellent motivator, but ultimately, a bad decision maker.
The game of baseball has gone on long enough to produce sample data for almost every situation. Sure, Cliff Lee is going to have a stinker every once in a while (even moreso when he forgets to take his Beano pill), but more often than not he’s going to give your team the best shot at winning. It’s not as romantic as gut feelings and clutch hitters, but a manager shouldn’t have to make many decisions.
It seems obvious, but he should always play the percentages that the history of baseball provides him with and go with the option that gives his team the best shot at winning the game. I love watching him play just as much as anyone but starting Guerrero in right field does not give Ron Washington’s team the best shot at winning.
As always, big ups to 30fps for their seemingly endless supply of animated GIFs.