I just found out about 10 minutes ago that Ron Washington will be the next manager of the Texas Rangers. I woke up early this morning and was reading a book for a while until my wife rolled over and said, "You know that the Rangers hired Washington as their manager, right?"
See, I went to bed early last night, apparently still stuck on East Coast time. My wife checked AN before she went to bed but I was already out.
To be honest, I was shocked. I know that Wash was up for the job with the Rangers, but I didn't expect for it to happen this soon. Then a funny feeling came over me and one that I didn't expect...disappointment. Not necessarily because I thought Washington was the best candidate to be the next manager of the Oakland Athletics, but because in many ways, our Athletics became the players they are today because of the tutelage of Mr. Washington. Not only is he a very likeable personality (all you needed to do was listen to Robert Buan's Weekened Wash to know that), but Eric Chavez may not have evolved into the defensive player he is today without Washington's help. Mark Ellis probably should've won his first gold glove this year. Bobby Crosby, when he's been healthy, has become a remarkable defender and is one of the most underrated defensive shortstops in the AL. And Nick Swisher adjusted from outfielder to the best defensive first baseman that the A's have had in a long time. I do NOT believe these are accidents or coincidences. You can take our Macha away, but don't touch our Washington. Ron Washington just knows how to teach young guys how to play the game defensively. It's no accident that he turned Jason Giambi into an adequate first baseman or mistake-prone Miggy into a fine shortstop.
Just watch as Hank Blalock, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Mark Teixeira become all that much better in the field. These players are already very good, but just watch them take that next step. Perhaps Daric Barton doesn't adequately make the jump to first base at the major league level now because he doesn't have the opportunity to learn what Wash knows? Let's hope Eric Chavez doesn't take this to heart and slide backwards the way his offense did when he first lost Dave Hudgens (cause you know things like this tend to really impact Chavy).
Perhaps I'm overstating the impact of our now "former" third base coach. Then again, he's one of the only coaches in baseball that I know who has a gold glove because of the impact he made on a player.
Ultimately, I know that Billy Beane will make a good decision with the next manager of the Oakland Athletics, but the truth is that he will likely not be able to find an adequate fill-in for the insightful, intelligent and ultimately irreplaceable Ron Washington.
Maybe Beane can do something really smart in hiring away Bud Black from the Angels now and strike their pitching staff the way our defense has been struck. Who knows?
At the same time, it's a very sad day for Oakland Athletics fans, albeit a happy and most deserved one for Ron Washington and his family. Best of luck, Wash...except of course when you play the green and gold.