Ron Washington Goes Off Rangers' Script, Admits Running Team "Into the Ground"
The Rangers just wrapped up their 2012 post-mortem press conference. It was by and large quite boring, probably by design. You can imagine the team's PR gurus urging the team brass to keep it vague, uninteresting, answer-free.
For the most part they succeeded. GM Jon Daniels and president Nolan Ryan did the bulk of the talking, mostly insisting that they were happy with everyone's performance and that it was too early to say much specific about the off-season. They're disappointed in the way Josh Hamilton's season ended, they said, as is Hamilton. They won't pre-empt his free agent market-testing with a contract offer.
Otherwise, no decisions have been made on the coaching staff, other free agents to pursue, the salary cap or anything else, including, one can assume, lunch.
"JD, have you considered a turkey sandwich on sourdough, maybe with avocado?" Evan Grant didn't ask but should have.
"Turkey is obviously a quality protein, but it's still too early to talk specifics," Daniels would have said.
It went on like that until halfway through the presser, when someone asked Manager Ron Washington to do a little self-evaluation. He obliged, of course.
"Maybe I played them into the ground," he said. He was acknowledging an oft-cited criticism of the way he handled his roster this season, during which seven starters played 147 games or more. Five -- Kinsler, Andrus, Cruz, Young, Beltre -- played more than 155.
It led, he said, to the team failing to execute late in the season.
"When I look back at when it started, it was in Seattle," he said. "We just never had enough guys in the lineup hitting on the cylinders at the same time."
"It wasn't just in the lineup" either, he said. It was in the pitching, it was in the baserunning, it was everything, he said.
"I question myself for that. There's always something you can learn in this game."
What was especially cool about Washington's honesty was that it dragged the entire show off-script. Later, Daniels came to his manager's defense, and in the process had to get specific about his own short-comings.
"There's not a guy who's more honest, more accountable, more open [than Washington], and I think that's why players respect him," Daniels said. "I appreciate him saying that maybe the reason [they lost] was the players were out of gas, but there were a lot of reasons."
Among those reasons, Daniels said: They often didn't have a good enough fifth starter to run out there, which theoretically could have handcuffed Wash into over-playing his best hitters. (Remember, Daniels pointed out: One more regular-season win and the Rangers are still playing.)
"Wash preaches accountability," Daniels said, "so he's taking accountability. But it's not on him. It's on all of us. But especially Hamilton."
I added the emphasis on that last part. I also made it up. He didn't say that. He wanted to though. I could hear it.