Rangers Fire Chief Chris Woodward

The Rangers have made a change atop the dugout, announcing the firing of manager Chris Woodward on Monday afternoon. Third base coach Tony Beasley will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2022 season.

(General Manager) Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of informing Chris Woodward of our decision today,President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels said in the news release announcing the decision. “In his tenure as manager of the Rangers, Chris worked tirelessly in what were sometimes difficult circumstances. He has been dedicated and passionate in his efforts to improve the Texas Rangers’ on-field performance, and we greatly appreciate that. He has represented the organization with class and dignity.

We have had extensive discussions over the last few weeks and while the current performance of the team is certainly a big part of this decision, we are also looking to the future. As the Rangers continue to develop a winning culture and put together the pieces to compete for the postseason year after year, we felt a change in leadership was necessary at this time. On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, we thank Chris and wish him and his family the best.

Woodward, 46, spent just under four seasons at the helm of Arlington. Texas hired him off the Dodgers’ coaching staff during the 2018-19 offseason, making him the permanent replacement after firing Jeff Banister in September (with some interim work from Don Wakamatsu in between). Woodward got into a tough spot and took over a team that had just finished in last place and was cutting payroll as it embarked on a rebuild.

Texas rebounded somewhat during Woodward’s first season, finishing third in the AL West with a 78-84 record. However, the club was outscored by 68 runs that year and regression struck the following season. Texas went 22-38 during the abbreviated campaign, then stumbled to a 60-102 record in 2021. It posted consecutive last-place finishes, but Texas nonetheless signed Woodward last November to an extension that stretched until 2023.

At the time, Daniels praised the captain for “(help) lay the foundations of our culture” throughout its first three seasons. The Texas front office certainly couldn’t have expected big results with the rosters they had fielded during 2019-21, and Woodward’s extension reflected the organization’s confidence in his ability to guide the club into a more competitive phase. Texas signaled its desire to boost payroll early in the offseason, and they went ahead with a much more aggressive winter than many might have expected.

The Rangers signed four players to multiyear free-agent deals, including two of the three largest overall guaranteed contracts of the offseason. tiles added corey seager for $325 million over a decade shortly after signing marcus semien for seven years and $175MM. They stepped in as Rangers’ pivotal central infield while the club signed jon gray to a four-year, $56 million deal to anchor the starting rotation. The Texas bosses acknowledged that going from a 60-win team to the immediate postseason seemed like a stretch, even with such an aggressive offseason overhaul. However, they certainly anticipated a marked improvement that would serve as a springboard for a playoff run in 2023.

Results on that front have been mixed. The Rangers are on track for their best season in three years, with a 51-63 record that ranks third in the American League West. A 44.7% winning percentage is much better than the sub-40% marks from 2020-21, but that still translates to a pace of roughly 90 losses over the course of a full schedule. They’re 9 1/2 games out in the wild card and virtually certain to miss the playoffs again, with little hope of playing significant games in the final two weeks of the season.

At the same time, it could be argued that the Rangers have been more competitive than their track record suggests. They have been outscored by just two races on the season with more landslide wins (games decided by more than five races) than losses. If they had played with a record of about .500 that lined up with their run differential, they would be in the wild card picture and the overall tenor of the franchise would be much more optimistic. Instead, they’ve gone atrocious 6-24 in one-run contests, losing so many tight games that they’re nowhere near a contender.

How much responsibility Woodward bears for that record is open to debate. There’s no doubting a certain amount of mishap with such a poor record, but you could also note that Woodward is ultimately in charge of managing a bullpen that has blown 18 leads (eighth-most in the majors). Texas has gotten productive seasons from some of its young position players (i.e., Jonah Heim Y Nathaniel Lowe), but the club hasn’t gotten much from its younger starting pitchers other than dane dunning. Meanwhile, Texas has gotten solid seasons from Seager and Gray, but Semien has underperformed in the inaugural season of his free-agent deal.

Of course, managerial decisions are made based on much more than the club’s results on the field. Teams are evaluating the handling of a clubhouse pattern and the behind-the-scenes work that takes place out of public view. Daniels and Young evidently determined that the time had come for a change in voice atop the clubhouse.

Over the next two months, that will come with Beasley’s promotion to the manager’s chair. A former minor league captain in the Pirates and Nationals farm systems, Beasley first joined the Texas coaching staff before the 2015 season. The 55-year-old is now in his eighth year with the Rangers, a stint he it coincided with Banister and Woodward’s time as captain. This will be his first major league managerial opportunity.

Texas will conduct a search for a full-time player next offseason. They are the fourth team to do so, as the Phillies (Joe Girardi), Angels (Joe Maddon) and Blue Jays (Charlie Montoyo) have all fired their bosses during the season. Philadelphia has fallen apart under interim manager Rob Thomson, while the Angels continued to falter under interim captain Phil Nevin. The Blue Jays have improved an already productive club in its first month under interim manager John Schneider.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News was the first to report on Woodward’s firing.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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