There is an impending sense of dread around the Texas Rangers potentially missing the playoffs after firmly being in the AL West driver's seat a month ago. Yet today, they're barely hanging on to a wild card spot thanks to a disastrous 3-12 September. Manager Ron Washington is concerned about his job, even after getting the dreaded vote of confidence from GM Jon Daniels. But should Washington be on the hot seat at this point in time?
Tim Brown of Yahoo doesn't think so with his logic basically being, "he's the best manager the club has ever had, and he's been dealt a raw hand this year". Ken Rosenthal of Fox is wondering if Daniels should be the one getting the the axe. And honestly, I can understand both of those viewpoints. It's not Washington's fault that Lance Berkman broke down yet again. It's not Washington's fault that Matt Harrison has made just two starts this year.
Yet at the same time, it's not Daniels' fault that Matt Garza, the premiere starting pitcher on July's trade market, has struggled. It's not his fault that in September, the offense has been carried by August acquisition Alex Rios while the rest of the team has been terrible. It's not his fault that Yu Darvish is 0-3 in September despite a 3.32 ERA.
The sword might not need to fall on Washington. Instead, it might just need to graze him, informing him that another collapse won't be tolerated. After all, it was also Daniels' decision not to resign Josh Hamilton, whose .316 wOBA and 102 wRC+ are pretty similar to the .312 wOBA and89 wRC+ posted this year by his replacement, Leonys Martin. It was Daniels who let Ryan Dempster and his 4.64 ERA in 2013 walk. It was Daniels who excised the awful Michael Young from the club. If you want to quibble about him letting a 31-year old catcher with chronic hip problems or a 38-year old reliever walk, that's fine, but it's not as if he was exactly punting on assets that were appreciating in value.
Washington and Daniels are probably going to be linked together for the rest of their careers in Texas. After rolling through his first full season at the helm of the club in 2006 with Buck Showalter as manager, Daniels fired him and replaced him with Washington. Barring a massive collapse, the Rangers are going to finish in second place in the AL West yet again, the sixth straight season that they've either won the division or finished as the runner-up. The team is also on track for their fourth straight playoff berth. Daniels has as much to do with that success as Washington does, But this club simply isn't playing good baseball right now, and that's something that ends up falling on the doorstep of the manager. Keeping Washington while getting rid of Daniels doesn't change the fact that Washington's players aren't performing. Keeping Daniels while getting rid of Washington shows faith in the Rangers' player development and acquisition methods. If the club goes that route, and they struggle again next year while potentially undergoing a major facelift, Daniels will be out of a job as wel.