Second-Guessing Ron Washington

I don’t usually get upset about decisions that the Texas Rangers’ manager, Ron Washington makes. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • First, I know that he is going to make a lot of decisions that I don’t agree with when it comes to game management. Since he became the Rangers manager for the 2007 season, it has become clear that he has his own style when it comes to managing a game, and my theories often do not align with his.
  • Second, I know that the decisions a manager makes in regards to how to actually manage the game pale in significance compared to his impact on a team by managing personalities and keeping 25 grown men and premium athletes motivated toward the same goal. I typically say it’s a 25%/75% split. Washington is great at the 75% side of the house, so I choose to live with his shortcomings on the 25% side.
  • Third, Washington knows his players better than anybody. Sometimes there may be injuries that aren’t public knowledge, or personal requests, or any other kind of situation that is only known in the clubhouse or between player and manager. If Washington is choosing to utilize this non-public information it would be silly to criticize him for those actions when all the facts aren’t known.
  • Fourth, I’m not going to be right every time either, so everything probably balances out in the end. Plus, second guessing in hindsight is a cheap trick that is unfair to a man who is forced to make important decisions in a time-sensitive situation every night.

On Wednesday night, however, I was bothered by one particular decision that likely had an impact on the result of a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

I’ll skip ahead to the bottom of the 10th inning, because that’s when it happened. The game was tied 4-4. The first nine innings of the game were pitched by Scott Feldman, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, and Mike Adams. Adams had thrown a crisp 10-pitch 9th inning, and was sent back out for the 10th inning. Adams had not previously pitched more than one inning all year in 33 appearances.

Adams opened the 10th inning by getting ahead of Alejandro De Aza 0-2, but then losing him on an 8-pitch walk. Then, with Kevin Youkilis batting, De Aza stole second base. Youkilis proceeded to work Adams for a 9-pitch at-bat that ended with a single that scored De Aza to end the game.

All of this took place while the Rangers’ closer, Joe Nathan, looked on. Even though it wasn’t a save situation (curse the save rule), I would have liked to see Nathan on the bump to start the 10th inning. Adams has not been in top form lately, Nathan hadn’t pitched since June 28th, and there is no reason that the Rangers should have lost a tie game in extra innings without their best reliever getting a chance to pitch. Perhaps most confusing of all was that once Adams got into some trouble it was Michael Kirkman who began warming in the Rangers’ bullpen.

Now, Adams is likely unavailable to pitch in tomorrow’s game (a 1:00pm start) after throwing 27 pitches, and it seems an opportunity to win a ball game was squandered.

I probably should take my own advice that I gave at the beginning of this piece and not allow myself to be upset by this decision by Ron Washington tonight. Perhaps he did have more information than I do that would explain the route he chose to take. I would certainly like to think so.

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