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Monday, August 15, 2022

Rangers fire manager Chris Woodward in midst of fourth straight losing season

The Rangers fired Woodward two games shy of his 500th with the club and with a season remaining on his contract, two people with direct knowledge of the team’s decision told The Dallas Morning News. The Rangers’ interim manager is unclear.

The Rangers, on their way to their sixth consecutive losing season, are 211-287 in Woodward’s three-plus seasons. The .424 win percentage is the sixth worst in MLB in that time. Ironically, the firing came a day after perhaps the best series win of the season, in which the Rangers rallied on back-to-back days to win two of three from Seattle.

Ultimately, neither the first three seasons nor the weekend mattered much. Woodward and the Rangers overachieved 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. That was about the process, about building a championship culture. After ownership committed more than $500 million to free agents in the offseason, though, 2022 became more about results.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 01:53 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: chris woodward, rangers

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 02:29 PM (#6091725)
Third base coach Tony Beasley takes over.
   2. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: August 15, 2022 at 02:36 PM (#6091727)
Third base coach Tony Beasley takes over.
Does anyone have a back-of-the-envelope calculation as to how often the interim skipper after a sh1tcanning is the third-base coach versus the bench coach? Isn't the latter typically the guy who steps in when the manager has been suspended or is otherwise unavailable?
   3. BDC Posted: August 15, 2022 at 03:06 PM (#6091731)
As to results ... the Rangers are 11 games better than this time a year ago. Somebody in the front office does not understand how fast you can improve a 102-loss ballclub, no matter how much you spend – or there may be the inevitable "more to the story."
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 03:31 PM (#6091738)
It's a weird team, the FA signings have been okay - Seager has been terrific while Semien has been disappointing but still fairly productive, and Jon Gray has been good before he got hurt. And they're 5th in runs scored despite a lot of playing time to Kole Calhoun and Brad Miller. They have a nice trio in their rotation with Martin Perez, Dane Dunning, and Gray, but the rest of the rotation has been GOD awful. Their pythag is actually .500 so I can see the logic of thinking another skipper could get more out of this bunch.
   5. BDC Posted: August 15, 2022 at 03:56 PM (#6091744)
Yes, aside from the three you mention, they have been starting guys who must have good velocity and mechanics and makeup and approach and all that, but can't get anybody out: Glenn Otto, Spencer Howard, Taylor Hearn. But they don't have a lot else ready for the majors. It always seems to be the pitching ...
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 04:55 PM (#6091756)
How wild is it that four managers have been fired mid-season and none are Tony LaRussa
   7. bookbook Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:34 PM (#6091774)
Unless there’s some secret story, this seems unjustified.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:51 PM (#6091782)
none are Tony LaRussa

Reinsdorfian meddling aside, the Sox are 59-56, just 2.5 out in the division (Guardians!) and 2 back in the WC. If some combo of Moncada, Pollock, Grandal could remember how to hit and/or Giolito, Lynn remember how to pitch, they just might close the gap. (Lynn with a 3.34 ERA and 34/2 K/BB in his last 30 innings might have sorted himself out.) Sure, maybe with somebody other than LaRussa they'd be ahead of the mighty Guardians but unless he's responsible for those 5 guys being terrible, he's not exactly Captain of the Titanic.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:03 PM (#6091784)
As to Woodward, while it seems pretty typical to dump the rebuild guy for no particularly good reason, doing it this far out from season's end (but way too late to make any difference to this season) seems unusual. Unless maybe they think the interim guy is a leading candidate in which case maybe it makes sense to get a look at him.

It's kind of an interesting team. You need some things like Heim and Taveraz being for real and Duran taking a step forward but theoretically it's an offense with 7 above-average players. As noted, pitching not so good and 6 wins below pythag will get the manager looked at in this day and age.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:09 PM (#6091786)
. . . or there may be the inevitable "more to the story."
Ignored front office guidance on optimum BDC Dome air conditioning setting?
   11. BDC Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:47 PM (#6091793)
Once a game begins, the thermostat is controlled by the umpires. And yes, I just made that up.
   12. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:59 PM (#6091796)
As noted, pitching not so good and 6 wins below pythag will get the manager looked at in this day and age.


But it cant be as simple as that, can it? Surely the analysis would go deeper than that. There might be issues with positioning, or when to steal, or approach to the plate or a million other things.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:12 PM (#6091802)
But it cant be as simple as that, can it?


I would hope so, since no one has yet explained how overperforming/underperforming pythag is a sign of managerial performance.
   14. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:17 PM (#6091803)
I thought someone (Bill James?) did a study of managerial performance and linked it to that. Also is there some connection between defensive efficiency and outperforming pyth? I thought I saw that somewhere.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:49 PM (#6091809)
No one except Dag has ever defined "managerial performance." :-)

Whether pythag should matter or not, it raises the question of "why are we 6 games below pythag?" If you prefer, you can go with "why are we 6 wins worse than average but just -3.5 WAA?" Whether that leads to "bad approach at the plate" or "bad bullpen management" or "lost the clubhouse" or "doesn't handle the media well" there will always be something. But sure, one could just as easily look at Woodward/Rangers and think "I expected this team to have a big negative run differential, the manager must be doing a good job." Woodward's in his 4th seasoon -- doesn't that make him one of the longer-serving (not anymore!) current managers? Mike Shcildt got canned after a 560 WP and 3 postseasons in 3+ seasons. The current Cards have a 553 WP; last year's 556. Granted I could manage the Cards and they'd still win 55% of their games in the two weeks it would take me to get fired.

I never read Dag's book (sorry!) but my memory of discussions around here was that even the best/worst managers were maybe worth a couple of wins a year. Nowadays, many of the decisions those managers used to make are taken out of their hands, so a modern manager's impact might be +/- 1 win. If the margins are that thin then there will always be things you can point to like injuries, slumps from 1 or 2 wrong guys or (not recommended for the manager) the crappy pitching staff put together by the front office to excuse the manager's performance. And a good chance you'd be right.

Now if I was the local bilionaire owner, I'd have put Jon Daniels on notice a long time ago. If you guys will crowdfund me, I'll gladly buy the Rangers and can Daniels.
   16. BDC Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:59 PM (#6091812)
I have seen several studies of managerial records vs. pythag, and the effects just aren't very pronounced. As in this study, for instance, where Tommy Lasorda is one of the "worst" managers vs. pythag – and in one-run games compared to all games – over a long career, and Bruce Bochy one of the "best" … and the difference between them is about three wins a season. Now, that's interesting and might be an argument for Bochy > Lasorda in a direct comparison; but it's also the difference between the absolute best and absolute worst among long-career managers (in the study). Most managers show only a tiny career difference between pythag and actual.

Woodward this year was 6-24 in one-run games, which looks ghastly. Before 2022, in his career, he was 50-48. Did the Rangers correctly identify some sudden true decline in his ability to cope with close games? Except he's 16-10 this year in two-run games. Is there some drastic difference in tactics between one- and two-run games?

Meanwhile, falling short of his pythag is also due to the Rangers winning two 8-0 games and one 8-1 game, plus two 7-0 games and one 7-1 game. So those wins in a weird way count negatively in a pythag-based evaluation of a small sample.

Which is just to say, it doesn't come down to pythag exactly – maybe Bruce Bochy really has a little magic there – but to the size of the sample you're evaluating a manager on. A partial season is rarely going to tell you anything meaningful.
   17. Jaack Posted: August 15, 2022 at 11:05 PM (#6091822)
Bochy's best skill was probably bullpen management, which seems like a pretty solid explanation for his strong pythag scores (and perhaps postseason success as well). It makes sense that he'd do well while Lasorda, who is much more in the leader-of-men manager archtype, would rate out poorly.

I do think that any value pythag or one run games may have had in evaluating a manager's skill is pretty much gone at this point. All of the in-game stuff that a manager could get an edge in historically is going to have so much front office input at this point that it's nigh-high on impossible to eek out any real data. Nowadays a manager is really more of the clubhouse manager - the conduit between the players and the front office. Maybe Woodward was bad at that stuff, or maybe he's just the fall guy for a failed season (probably the latter) but I highly doubt that he was fired for on-field decisions that he probably wasn't even making anyway.
   18. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 16, 2022 at 01:33 AM (#6091833)
Bochy's best skill was probably bullpen management, which seems like a pretty solid explanation for his strong pythag scores (and perhaps postseason success as well)


how does that make any sense? Like relief pitching is only allowed in playoffs?
   19. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 16, 2022 at 07:09 AM (#6091839)
I don't really make too much of records in one-run games as a sign of a manager's ability, especially if we're just looking at one season's worth of games (or a little less, in the case of '22 Woodward). That's a lot of randomness and various factors. I can see a manager's ability to use his bullpen property being a factor - but as someone noted above, his record in one-run games was fine prior to this year. (I mean, he could be doing a worse job using his bullpen this year. Given what a disaster Texas has been in one-run games, I kinda assume everything is going wrong).

Bochy good at using his bullpen? Sure, I can see that. It also helped he had an all-time great closer for a sustained stretch while in San Diego. From memory, Torre had many consecutive years of positive pythag differences while with the Yankees & Rivera.

Along those lines, and veering off the topic, one of the all-time weird ones was Bucky Harris. He's got an all-time terrible record in one-run games --yet he's the guy who invented the relief ace. Twice. He used Firpo Marberry as the first relief act in the 1920s. He used another relief ace shortly thereafter and then ..... just stopped using relief aces. As did everyone else. The concept of a relief ace didn't really catch on for another 20 years - when it was (re-)populairzed by Bucky Harris using Joe Page as a fireman with the 1947 Yankees. We've had relief aces ever since. You'd think the guy who twice invented the relief ace would do good in one-run games, but you'd be wrong. He was 649-705 (.479) in one run games.
   20. John Northey Posted: August 16, 2022 at 07:40 AM (#6091840)
IMO the biggest job of a manager is maintaining sanity on a team - keeping the players together and focused on the goal of winning (or developing skills when a team is in the dumpster). A very hard skill to know if a guy has outside of extremes - as a Jays fan I remember the nightmare of Jimy Williams in the 80's who had his MVP (George Bell) tell him and fans and management to kiss his purple butt over the plan to move him from LF to DH after he won the MVP award the previous year to make room for a kid who hadn't proven himself in AAA let alone the majors. It was a mess. Then came in the opposite in Cito Gaston - a guy who clearly had full control/support of the clubhouse who took that underachieving team and made it to the playoffs, then made it there 4 out of 5 seasons when there was no wild card and the team had only made it once before (under Bobby Cox). Then the worst GM in Jays history took over from a HOF GM and the team sunk fast and wouldn't recover until 2015.
   21. BDC Posted: August 16, 2022 at 08:27 AM (#6091842)
Rangers won a one-run game last night, so I guess that problem has been fixed :)
   22. The Duke Posted: August 16, 2022 at 09:41 AM (#6091854)
Torre was considered a terrible manager before he went to Yanks. Having great teams really impacts how good a manager you are

If you think about what managers do anymore it seems like your best managers would be guys who do a nice job with bullpen. Roster construction, lineup construction are front office jobs. Ping hitting is gone with the DH. And now the 13 man bullpen and three batter rule have minimized bullpen decisions.

No one bunts anymore or does hit and runs. There is a bit more stealing but likely not called from dugout anymore .
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: August 16, 2022 at 10:04 AM (#6091855)
Torre was considered a terrible manager before he went to Yanks. Having great teams really impacts how good a manager you are


Not by 19 he wasn't.

If you think about what managers do anymore it seems like your best managers would be guys who do a nice job with bullpen.


Your best managers today would be guys who get guys to play at or near their best. Same as it ever was.
   24. Jaack Posted: August 16, 2022 at 10:29 AM (#6091858)
how does that make any sense? Like relief pitching is only allowed in playoffs?


Bochy was great at managing workloads and keeping arms fresh throughout the season. He was never running out of pitchers or running into situations where the guy he needed was unavailable.

So yes, bullpen management does impact the playoffs more than some game in April. In April everyone has a fresh pen. In October, it was just Bochy's teams.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 16, 2022 at 04:27 PM (#6091909)
Torre was considered a terrible manager before he went to Yanks.
More accurately, his teams weren’t that successful before he joined the Yankees. Torre got 3 managerial jobs before being hired by the Yankees, strongly suggesting that he wasn’t considered ‘terrible’ by those in the industry.

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