ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will lift the veil on new manager Chris Woodward at a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park.Woodward is the 19th full-time manager in club history, and he will face many of the same issues as those who came before
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will lift the veil on new manager Chris Woodward at a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park.
Woodward is the 19th full-time manager in club history, and he will face many of the same issues as those who came before him. They will not all be solved in one news conference, but they will invite close scrutiny in the days, weeks and months ahead.
The attention will soon turn to the coaching staff, and pitching coaches Doug Brocail and Dan Warthen will be front and center. It would be patently unfair to blame those two for the Rangers' pitching problems. They instruct and prepare, but they have little to do with the acquisition part of the equation.
Every coaching staff has highs and lows. The high points were Mike Minor, Jose Leclerc and Keone Kela, and the lows were Doug Fister, Martin Perez and Matt Moore. Alex Claudio struggled, but one year ago, he was brilliant. The young kids like Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado weren't quite ready. Texas had to squeeze as much as it could out of long-march veterans Bartolo Colon and Jesse Chavez.
The new manager may decide it is time for new leadership. The front office may prod him in that direction. The simple fact is the Rangers are often quicker to make changes to the field staff rather than front office, even if it often isn't fair.
There is no doubt managers have much less power than they once did. Front offices, buried deep behind the scenes, have grown more powerful and assertive over the past 10 years. There are some managers who no longer even make out the daily lineup.
That hasn't quite been the extreme case in Texas under general manager Jon Daniels. There was no doubt that Ron Washington and Jeff Banister were in charge in the clubhouse and had the full backing of the GM. The success of both proved that was the right way to operate.
But it is also true that the game continues to evolve. The age of information is exploding, and new concepts like the radical use of the bullpen continue to be introduced. Institutional experience is no longer highly prized. Front offices and managerial support staffs are far more complex than they used to be. Lines of sight are adjusting, and so is the role of manager.
Woodward's only experience as a manager was for New Zealand in the last World Baseball Classic qualification. Beautiful country but…
A veteran bench coach is a must, preferably somebody who has managed before in the big leagues. Dave Roberts had former Athletics manager Bob Geren in Los Angeles, and Alex Cora had Ron Roenicke from the Brewers in Boston.
The Rangers have an excellent bench coach in Don Wakamatsu. He previously managed for the Mariners and was the bench coach for the Royals when they went to the World Series in 2014-15. Wakamatsu could be a great asset for a rookie manager. There is just a small matter of him being a candidate for the manager's job and getting passed over for the position.
This is a nebulous term often difficult to define. But it is important. The Rangers had terrible chemistry during the first six or seven years of the new millennium, and it contributed significantly to the fall of Buck Showalter/John Hart in Texas. It improved dramatically under Washington, and it remained that way for at least a couple of years under Banister during two division titles.
Obviously, Daniels perceived a different climate this past year, prompting him to change managers. Perhaps Banister's methods of communication were no longer finding a wide audience in the clubhouse. Maybe there were external agendas that couldn't be controlled. Maybe the ping pong table in the middle of the room was no longer an effective morale booster.
But this is a huge part of being a manager. It is also why the players need to feel that the manager is in command of the team on the field.
Youth must be served
The Rangers have talented young players but…
Maybe the hitters strike out too much or don't deliver with two outs. Maybe the pitchers don't throw enough strikes or miss enough bats. Maybe the defense makes too many errors or isn't fundamentally sound. Much statistical analysis and organizational theory can be devoted to the subject.
The simple fact is some of Texas' young players -- Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields and Rougned Odor -- have hit a plateau short of their high expectations, while others like Ronald Guzman, Willie Calhoun, Isiah Kiner-Falefa are still in the embryonic stages of their careers. The talent is impressive, but it must be accompanied by production sooner rather than later.
Woodward has two big challenges as the Rangers' manager, and one of them is finding a way to get the most out of his young players. It may be as simple as keeping Mazara healthy, showing extended trust in DeShields, anchoring Gallo at one position rather than bouncing him all over the field or lighting a fire under someone who needs it.
The other huge challenge facing Woodward?
Welcome to Arlington.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.