This started as a comment in regards to Blez's open thread of losing Ron Washington to the Rangers. As I drafted this, I realized that this was becoming a diary rather than a comment, therefore it became a new diary.
I am happy that Wash has gotten his shot running a big league club, even if it isn't the A's.
When I first heard the news this morning, the two things I thought of was 1) damn, I was hoping he would run my favorite team, and 2) what kind of backlash is this going to have on the Oakland A's community of loyal fans.
Going with the second thought, the popular opinion right now is that Billy Beane goofed. I don't think this is farther from the truth.
Why? Because I admire the fact he's taking this managerial approach a little differently. When he hired Macha back in 2003, a part of it felt to me that he wanted him to manage because he didn't want to lose him to another team, and to keep the continuity here in Oakland. And at the time a lot of players were happy to see him get the chance. Four years later now comes of reports that he wasn't a great communicator. If players thought he was good for the job back in 2003, then he must have been more accessible to the players, but something changed once the job title of "manager" was bestowed upon him.
Last year the possible replacments before Macha came back were all in-house.
What am I saying? By Beane not hiring Wash or Geren right away, he is showing that he is not doing buisness the same way that he was before. The same way that he was before obviouisly was not working, so by bringing in all kinds of managerial candidates and conducting a lengthy interview process, he is taking this time around a little differently. And even if it meant losing Wash to the Rangers, I applaud him for it. You can even look at the Rick Peterson to Curt Young transition and say that he had no problem with Peterson going to the Mets because he had Young already in his mind to replace him. It looks like this is the first time in the Beane regime that he had no obvious replacment in his head before he made the change, and he and all of us might be better off for it.
You can be angry about the fact that the Rangers acted faster, but then again this is the difference between Beane and Jon Daniels. Daniels is still learning on the job. I'm sure a big selling point for hiring Wash was, not only that he thinks he's capable for the job, but to also weaken one of their division rivals. I think the Rangers will get better under Wash, but I don't see the Rangers being the latest team to win it all with their next manager after they fired Buck Showalter.
One other thing about Wash lending his expertise to the Ranger infield in making them better: I don't buy it. One of his primary jobs with the A's during practice was to make the infield better defensively. This will not be his primary job in Texas. It could be his primary job to oversee someone on the coaching staff to help make the infield defense better, and if they don't I wouldn't be surprised if he acted swiftly on that matter. As far as our defense being worse now that he's gone, a few thoughts come to mind:
- Chavez will not get worse due to his past tutelige with Wash
- Whoever takes over as manager will continue to stress defense as this is a club built on it, and Wash's replacement here will probably sustain what Wash has done
- Now you have another Gold Glove voter in Wash who will vote for Ellis for the fine defensive credibility that he deserves
- Now the question becomes who the next manager of the A's will be. For some reason, I think he's going out of the orginazation on this one. He's giving Bob Geren a good shot, and it's clear that Geren is A) the next manager of the A's being smoke-screened by a long interview process so nobody thinks that Beane is just hiring his friend out of friendship, or B) getting his chance at the job but will probably lose out to one of the outside guys. If I were to put money down on who is getting hired, my hunch is Trey Hillman, because A) he knows how to get a smaller major league club to win the whole enchilada, B) he believes in offensive strategies that work for the personnel you have, and C) going outside of the MLB (since he's now holding a job down in Japan) is the opposite 180 of what Beane has done in the past, hiring guys that only wear green and gold.
I thank Wash for his time with the A's. And I wish him the best with the Rangers.