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Texas Rangers Rumors
A pair of AL West teams are without permanent managers at the moment, following the Astros‘ firing of Bo Porter and Ron Washington’s abrupt an unexpected resignation from his post with the Rangers. Some new candidates are emerging for the positions, as Mike DiGiovanna tweets that Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is a candidate to fill the void in Houston. Meanwhile, the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher tweets that Rangers first base coach and former big league catcher Bengie Molina is a candidate for both managerial openings. Molina would continue a growing trend of recent big league backstops becoming managers, following in the footsteps of Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Mike Redmond (Marlins) and Brad Ausmus (Tigers).
Here’s more out of the AL West…
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia spoke highly of Ebel and Molina as future managers to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Of Ebel, he said, “He’s always been an incredible teacher, has a great passion … There’s no doubt that someday he’s going to be a terrific manager.” He offered similar praise for Molina, who served as Scioscia’s catcher when the Halos won the World Series in 2002: “…just has an incredible way of connecting with people, has a great understanding of the pitcher-catcher relationship, understands the offensive part, and I know he’ll eventually get an opportunity.”
- Josh Hamilton spoke with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News regarding Washington’s resignation and had nothing but praise and well wishes for his former skipper. “He was always very enthusiastic, always on your side and encouraging, so you always want to play for a guy like that.”
- Commissioner Bud Selig fielded a question on recent rumors that the Astros could still sign Brady Aiken when speaking to reporters, including the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich (Twitter links). Selig himself may have fueled some speculation with recent comments to the San Diego media, but that sounds inadvertent based on his response: “I didn’t mean to create confusion although I guess Ive been known to do that,” said Selig. Drellich notes that it remains “very, very unlikely” that Houston would be allowed to sign Aiken.
- Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus examines the theory that the culture of losing could have long-term negative impacts on the talent the Astros have already promoted to the Major Leagues. Using an adapted Cox Regression model, Carleton concludes that a player is seven or eight percent more likely to flame out after spending three years in a losing environment. However, he concludes that while the end result may be one extra player flaming out, the Astros could likely recoup that value via the extra money they’ve been garnering in the draft and international signing arenas by the virtue of the poor records. While there could be negative effects, Carleton writes, fixing them likely isn’t worth it from a mathematical standpoint.
This weekend, the Rangers selected the contract of infielder Guilder Rodriguez, perhaps an unusual step for a 31-year-old who posted a .269/.347/.298 line in 349 plate appearances at Double-A Frisco this season. “This is a dream of every player,” says Rodriguez, via Dallas News’ Gerry Fraley. “Every single day when you wake up, you want this. I waited too many years, but I’m here now.” Rodriguez has unofficially mentored infield prospects like Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas, and the Rangers hope he’ll keep helping youngsters after his playing career is over. Here’s more from around the American League.
- The Astros released J.D. Martinez in March, even though he wasn’t even on their 40-man roster at the time, but now he’s revived his career with the Tigers, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Martinez credits changes he made to his swing (lowering his hands and closing his stance) with helping him revive his career. He worked on incorporating those changes in Venezuela over the winter. The Astros noticed them, but weren’t sure Martinez would keep using them. Now, he’s hitting .304/.347/.542 in 401 plate appearances for the Tigers.
- The Rays‘ lack of offense is the biggest reason they’ve struggled this year, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. In particular, they haven’t cashed in enough runners on base or hit enough home runs. They’ve also hit into too many double plays.
- The Rays have loved what they’ve gotten from Drew Smyly since they acquired him in the David Price deal in July, writes Topkin. “Outstanding,” manager Joe Maddon says. “His ability right now to get out righties, which had been a problem for him, really speaks to future success. I’ve just been totally impressed with everything about him. We all have.”
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The firing of Astros manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley was a clash of old-school baseball versus the new-school of analytics and old-school lost, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. For that reason, Cafardo opines GM Jeff Luhnow’s next hires will need to be data savvy, know their way around a laptop, put numbers ahead of traditional baseball, and accept daily interference. Trembley, who found out he was fired from the ESPN news ticker, wasn’t surprised by the dismissals because there was a disconnect with the front office from “the computer leaks to the draft and the Mark Appel situation where the manager wasn’t told (top prospect) Appel was coming up to throw. I think (owner) Jim Crane nailed it when he said that there was a personality clash and sometimes people just don’t get along.“
In other items from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- There is a financial component to placing Yu Darvish on the disabled list. The Rangers can deduct $5,228.75 per day in bonuses over 30 days on the DL and, since the right-hander has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, the savings realized will be nearly $136k on Darvish’s $800K roster bonus.
- Justin Verlander‘s struggles this year should give teams pause about giving large contracts to older pitchers. Cafardo, however, doesn’t see this cautionary tale dampening the market for Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields because there are franchises which cannot resist the temptation and feel it’s the cost of doing business.
- Cafardo views the Red Sox as players for the services of free agents Jason Grilli and Justin Masterson this offseason.
- There is some debate within the Brewers organization about exercising Yovani Gallardo‘s $13MM option for 2015 with some feeling the money might be better spent elsewhere.
- Expect the Rangers to engage the Blue Jays in trade talks for Jose Bautista, but Cafardo notes Texas may not have the pitching prospects to pry the All-Star slugger away from Toronto.
- Joel Hanrahan, who suffered a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, will not need another operation and will attempt to continue his comeback in 2015. Hanrahan had signed a $1MM deal with the Tigers in May, but never pitched an inning for the organization.
- Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang will be posted this winter and should be in line for a substantial contract given the lack of available impact power hitters. The 27-year-old, who measures six feet and 180 pounds, hit 38 home runs and drove home 107 runs in 107 games for Nexen of the KBO. Cafardo notes the Cardinals have shown interest in Kang previously, but a few more teams (not named by Cafardo) are now in the mix.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- The Pirates have outrighted Chris McGuiness and Michael Martinez to Triple-A Indianapolis after the pair cleared waivers, tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel. McGuiness and Martinez were both designated for assignment this past week.
- The Mets will add outfielder Bobby Abreu to their 40-man roster tomorrow when his contract is officially purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The move fills the remaining spot on the team’s 40-man roster. This will be the 40-year-old’s second stint with the Mets this year as he was designated for assignment in August after posting a .238/.331/.336 line in 142 plate appearances. Ten days later, he inked a minor league deal to remain with the organization.
- The Rangers have announced they have purchased the contract of infielder Guilder Rodriguez from Double-A Frisco. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club placed Yu Darvish on the 60-day disabled list. Rodriguez holds the distinction for playing the most minor league games of any current player (1,095) without MLB experience. The 31-year-old, profiled by Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest, has a slash of .260/.340/.290 in 384 plate appearances for Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock this season while playing all four infield positions, as well as both corner outfield spots.
- There are currently five players residing in DFA limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: Michael Kohn (Angels), Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood (Royals), and Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni (Blue Jays).
In the wake of manager Ron Washington’s surprising resignation, the Rangers are seeking stability in the front office. The club has begun discussing a long-term extension with General Manager Jon Daniels, a major league source tells Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
The Rangers are on the verge of a 100-loss season, but that hasn’t changed the ownership’s view of Daniels. There’s also a long to-do list this winter and it’ll make things easier if Daniels has a certain future. As Grant notes, Texas needs to find a new manager, at least two pitchers, a power hitter, potentially replace a coach or two who might land managerial jobs, and add to the recently depleted evaluation staff. On top of that, assistant GM Thad Levine could be a strong candidate GM jobs elsewhere.
The talks, according to Grant, could eventually lead to Daniels being named president of the club with a heavy involvement in baseball operations. That would allow the Rangers to install Levine as the GM and keep him from going elsewhere. The partnership would be similar to what the Cubs have with Theo Epstein as president and Jed Hoyer as GM.
The Rangers have officially shut down Yu Darvish for the remainder of the season, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Darvish, who has a 3.06 ERA and 11.35 K/9 in 22 starts, is currently on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. His comment on the decision, per FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro (via Twitter): “It is what it is.”
- With Darvish out for the remainder of the season, Rangers players will combine to spend at least 1,990 days on the disabled list, says Andro (also Twitter). That number shatters the most days lost last year. In an analysis of injury data published after the 2013 season, Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs found that the Marlins and Braves lost the most time to injury with a little over 1,500 days apiece. Teams averaged about 900 days lost between 2010 and 2013.
- The Angels are among several teams scouting Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The 26-year-old could be posted over the offseason. He currently has a 2.86 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 148 innings for the Hiroshima Carp.
- The Mets are divided on whether Terry Collins should manage the team in 2015, Rosenthal writes. One sticking point is that Collins has young pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom throw too many pitches. Since there isn’t agreement on Collins among Mets officials, one compromise might be to keep him but to dismiss some of his coaches.
- The Orioles could decline their $17.5MM option on Nick Markakis, pay him a $2MM buyout, and extend him a qualifying offer. If he were to accept it, there wouldn’t be much of a difference financially — the total cost would be about the same as his option. But if he were to decline the qualifying offer, he would be an intriguing addition to a free agent market that doesn’t have much position player talent.
- The Rockies need more starting pitching, and impending free agent Justin Masterson, a ground ball pitcher, could be a good fit at Coors Field.
- Rangers coaches Tim Bogar and Mike Maddux are both logical candidates to replace Ron Washington, but much remains to be determined — both coaches could also be candidates to replace Bo Porter with the Astros, and there could soon be other open managerial jobs, likely including that of the Diamondbacks.
Ron Washington’s departure to deal with an unidentified personal matter might turn out to help the Rangers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Washington would have been a lame duck next season, and an extension was unlikely after the Rangers’ poor season. A bad start in 2015 would have put Washington and the Rangers in awkward spots. Instead, the organization gets to start fresh, beginning with a few weeks auditioning interim manager Tim Bogar, who was once viewed as a top managerial prospect. Here are more notes on managers and GMs.
- Replacing Washington will be difficult, writes MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, offering a contrasting view. Washington had his players’ respect, an important quality in a manager, particularly in a Rangers season that has endured so much roster turnover. Bogar, former Rangers coach Dave Anderson (now with the Orioles) and current pitching coach Mike Maddux are all potential candidates for the team’s open job.
- Maddux has interest in replacing Bo Porter with the Astros, however, Grant writes. Maddux declined to interview for the Astros’ open position two years ago when the team hired Porter, but it seems times have changed, and Nolan Ryan’s role as an executive advisor with the Astros could help Maddux this time around.
- The Diamondbacks will interview Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque for their open GM job today, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. LaRocque has extensive experience in both player development and scouting in the Dodgers, Mets and Cardinals organizations, and he worked with the Diamondbacks’ Tony La Russa in St. Louis. LaRocque has also served as a manager at the minor league level.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says the Diamondbacks will also formally interview Angels pro scouting director Hal Morris, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported yesterday that LaRocque and Morris would be among the Diamondbacks’ candidates, along with player agent Dave Stewart, Diamondbacks scouting coordinator Ray Montgomery and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler.
Here’s a roundup of news on and reactions to Ron Washington’s resignation as manager of the Rangers earlier today:
- Washington’s departure is the latest setback for a team that’s suffered an amazing number of them this season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Heyman notes that although Washington failed a cocaine test in 2009, his departure for personal reasons has nothing to do with drugs. The reasons for his departure are unclear.
- Washington says he will return to baseball, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. “I’ll be back!” Washington writes in a text message. “Need some time!”
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the team wanted Washington to return in 2015, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest writes. Washington’s decision also took Rangers players by surprise. “To hear he’s no longer with us it crushed me,” says Derek Holland. “It was kind of quick. I wish he had more time with us, especially myself. I would have loved to have a moment at least to say goodbye to him.”
- Bench coach (and now interim manager) Tim Bogar and former first base coach Dave Anderson could be candidates to replace Washington on a permanent basis, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby tweets. Anderson is now a minor league infield instructor with the Orioles after the Rangers declined to renew his contract following the 2013 season.
- The Rangers have not decided whether to begin a managerial search immediately or to do so in the offseason, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.
Ron Washington has announced his resignation as the Rangers manager in a statement released to the media today. Bench coach Tim Bogar will take over as the interim manager, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Twitter link). Washington’s statement in full…
“Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love – managing the Rangers – in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter. As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family.
“This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.
“I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success. Thank you for respecting my privacy.”
Needless to say, Washington’s decision comes as a large surprise to the baseball world. Last February, he signed a contract extension that would’ve kept him in the Texas dugout through the 2015 season. Washington cited the Rangers’ poor 2014 season and yet there was no hint that his job was in jeopardy given how the team’s roster was decimated by injuries.
After spending a decade as a coach with the Athletics, Washington was hired by the Rangers prior to the 2007 season. He became the winningest manager in team history by posting a 664-611 record in Texas, leading the Rangers to their first two American League pennants (in 2010 and 2011) as well as an appearance in the 2012 wild card game.
Bogar is in his first year with the Rangers organization following a decade as a coach and minor league manager with the Astros, Indians, Angels, Rays and Red Sox. He has been mentioned in connection with a few Major League managerial posts in the past (most notably with the Astros before they hired Bo Porter) and he could be a candidate to continue as the Rangers’ skipper if he impresses over the final month of the season. With so many star players back healthy in 2015, the Rangers’ job could arguably be the most attractive managerial opening of the offseason.
Photo courtesy of Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports Images