ARLINGTON — From the moment the Rangers finally arrived at spring training, Chris Woodward was direct. There would be no excuses. The team had new, state-of-the-art facilities, a reinforced workforce, three years of experience with a painful dismantling and rebuilding process. This Rangers team needed suppose gain. It even came down to a logo, “E2W”, emblazoned on T-shirts.
And on Monday, the second anniversary of the last time the Rangers spent a day over .500, there were no excuses.
The Rangers fired Woodward two games shy of his 500th birthday with the club and with one season remaining on his contract, the club announced Monday. Third base coach Tony Beasley was named interim manager. It’s unclear if Beasley would be a candidate for the permanent job.
“Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of informing Chris Woodward of our decision today,” Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said in a written statement. “During 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 past few weeks and while the team’s current performance 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.”
The Rangers, en route to their sixth straight losing season, are 211-287 in Woodward’s three-plus seasons. The winning percentage of .424 is the sixth worst in MLB at the time. Ironically, the firing came a day after perhaps the best winning series of the season, in which the Rangers rallied on consecutive days to win two of three over Seattle.
In the end, 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 thwarted by the pandemic and two catastrophic injuries, and embarked on a complete rebuild in 2021. That was about process, about building a culture of championship. However, after the ownership committed more than $500 million to free agents in the offseason, 2022 became more about results.
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And there the Rangers just haven’t delivered. After flirting with .500 in June, the club has apparently taken a step back. The Rangers are 15-25 since July 1 and have regressed to a 90-loss pace. Management didn’t expect the Rangers to go from worst to first in a season, but they did expect more than another 90-loss season.
Part of the record could perhaps be attributed to luck. The Rangers are on pace for the worst winning percentage ever in one-run games, which, according to advanced analytics, are often decided by nothing more than luck.
On the other hand: no excuses. Baseball, Woodward often said, is a performance-based industry.
More significantly, the quality of the game, which hasn’t been great since the start of the season, has never really improved. The Rangers seemed to function more as individual parts than as a team. A key element of a championship culture, an all-for-one attitude, never really seemed to develop. There was no motivating force in the clubhouse despite a $500 million commitment to free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
Both are meticulous in their preparation, the core of Woodward’s philosophy. However, neither has taken over the clubhouse in the same way that the previous leaders of the past 25 years have: Will Clark, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre. As the .500 slipped away from the Rangers over the past six weeks, there seemed to be an air of resignation on the team.
Or no one could, or would, do anything about it.
In early August, when the trade deadline passed, president of baseball operations Jon Daniels was asked about Woodward’s status. He did not commit.
“I think where we are in the standings, that’s not a reflection of one person or one group,” Daniels said at the time. “Ultimately, that is in [myself and general manager Chris Young] More than anyone. I think [Woodward] and the staff is working tirelessly and doing everything they can to continue to develop this group and move forward. But as far as evaluating individual departments or individual people, that’s not something I want to do right now.”
A few days later, on his weekly radio segment with KRLD-105.3 FM, he expanded a bit more, while also acknowledging that the team was underperforming based on both external and internal preseason projections. Most outside projections had the Rangers as a 75-76 winning team.
“That’s something we don’t want to change, it’s the level of intensity or the expectations,” Daniels said of the conversations with Woodward. “That’s when things snowball, when you just accept losing. It seeps into the team culture and we can’t allow that.”
On Monday, the Rangers got to the point where they felt they had to take more drastic measures to stop the loss. There were no excuses. Just consequences.
On twitter: @Evan_P_Grant
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