ARLINGTON— From the moment the Rangers finally entered spring training, Chris Woodward was blunt. There would be no excuses. The team had a new state-of-the-art facility, a beefed up roster, three years of experience with a painful teardown and rebuild process. This Rangers team had to expect to win. Even if it boiled down to one logo – “E2W” – sporting T-shirts.
And on Monday, the second anniversary of the last time the Rangers had a day above .500, there was no excuse.
Rangers have sacked Woodward two games shy of his 500th with the club and with one season remaining on his contract, the club announced on Monday. Third baseman coach Tony Beasley was named interim manager. It’s unclear whether Beasley would be a candidate for the permanent role.
“Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of advising Chris Woodward of our decision today,” Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said in a written statement. “During his tenure as manager of Rangers, Chris worked tirelessly under sometimes difficult circumstances. He has been dedicated and passionate in his efforts to improve the Texas Rangers’ on-field performance, and that is greatly appreciated. He represented the organization with class and dignity.
“We have had extensive discussions over the past few weeks and while the team’s current performance is certainly a big part of this decision, we are also looking to the future. As Rangers continue to develop a winning culture and to put the pieces together to compete for the playoffs year after year, we felt that a change in leadership was needed at that time.
“On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, we thank Chris and wish him and his family the best.”
The Rangers, en route to their sixth consecutive losing season, are 211-287 in Woodward’s three-plus seasons. The .424 winning percentage is the sixth-worst in MLB at this time. Ironically, the shooting came a day after perhaps the best series win of the seasonin which the Rangers rallied on back-to-back days to claim two of three wins over Seattle.
In the end, neither the first three seasons nor the weekend mattered much. Woodward and Rangers exceeded expectations to win 78 games in 2019, had their 2020 plans scuttled by the pandemic and two catastrophic injuries and embarked on a full rebuild in 2021. It was about the process, about building a championship culture. After ownership committed more than $500 million to free agents in the offseasonhowever, 2022 has become more about results.
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And there, the Rangers simply did not deliver. After flirting with .500 in June, the club has seemingly taken a step back. Rangers are 15-25 since July 1 and have come back to a 90-game losing streak. Management didn’t expect Rangers to go from worst to first in one season, but they expected more than another 90-game losing streak.
Part of the record could perhaps be put down to luck. Rangers are on pace for the worst ever winning percentage in one-legged gameswhich, according to advanced analyses, are often decided by nothing more than luck.
Again: no excuses. Baseball, Woodward often said, is a performance-based industry.
More importantly, the quality of play, which was not there at the start of the season, never really improved. The Rangers seemed to operate more as individual elements than as a team. A key element of a championship culture – an all for one attitude – never really seemed to develop. There was no galvanizing force in the clubhouse despite the $500 million commitment to free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
Both are meticulous in their preparation, central to Woodward’s philosophy. However, neither has taken over the clubhouse in the same way as previous leaders of the past 25 years – Will Clark, Michael Young and Adrían Beltré – have. As .500 walked away from the Rangers over the past six weeks, there seemed to be an air of resignation around the team.
Either no one could – or would – do anything about it.
Early August, when the redemption deadline has passed, president of baseball operations, Jon Daniels, was asked about Woodward’s status. He was evasive.
“I think our position in the rankings is not a reflection of any particular person or group,” Daniels said at the time. “In the end, it’s on [myself and general manager Chris Young] more than anyone. I think [Woodward] and the staff are working tirelessly and doing everything they can to keep this group growing and moving forward. But as far as evaluating individual departments or individual people, that’s not something I want to do right now.
A few days later, on his weekly radio segment with KRLD-105.3 FM, he developed a little more, while acknowledging that the team was underperforming based on external and internal pre-season projections. Most outside projections had the Rangers as the winning team 75-76.
“That’s one thing we don’t want to change is the level of intensity or the expectations,” Daniels said of the conversations with Woodward. “That’s where things snowball, when you kind of accept losing. It seeps into the culture of the team and we cannot allow that.
On Monday, Rangers reached the point where they felt they needed to take more drastic action to stop the loss. There were no excuses. Only consequences.
On Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant
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