The Rangers seem to have the AL West all but locked up. They have by far the largest lead in any division in baseball, yet some things just don't seem right at the moment.
With Ian Kinsler and Joaquin Arias on the disabled list, the Rangers are a little thin at second base. Ron Washington seemed to think that we may need a bit more help in that area so Christian Guzman was introduced as a Ranger.
Nice acquisition, right? Starting shortstop for the Washington Nationals since 2005, averaged .328 and .316 in 2007 and 2008 respectively! That's actually pretty impressive!
So why do I get this sinking feeling when I watch him play?
Well, lets review how his play has been on the Rangers. Since becoming a Ranger, Guzman has had numerous fielding errors, is hitting .103, and is below average in speed. This shows the signs of a slumping player, not a bad player. But that makes me wonder even more.
Washington in the past has given rest to slumping players. Even Vladimir Guerrero has been getting more days off than usual lately. So why hasn't Andres Blanco started more at 2B?
Andres Blanco has at times this season made my jaw drop on defense. He has an accurate arm and his fielding range is absurd. He is very quick and is hitting .230 on the season as a Ranger. If not for the batting, which although isn't great it is much better than .103, then just for the defense!
It is tiring seeing Guzman giving up on turning two after catching the ball at second base, and throwing from his bum because he toppled over while trying to field the ball, and missing ground balls in the ninth to let the Yankees tie the game.
Bottom line is that you play to your hot hand. Guzman needs to sit for a while and adjust to the Texas heat.
Another thing I feel Ron Washington is missing the mark on is bullpen management. Although Mike Maddux can be somewhat blamed here, Ron is making the plan and makes the final decisions.
Whats with Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver's rather short outings lately? Are the Rangers really that anxious to pitch Frank Francisco? Again, you have to play to your hot hand, not give the ball to 6 different pitchers in one game.
Frank Francisco (3.86) is just having a bad year to say the least. So why is he still the setup man? Is it because we pay him so much, we just feel like we have to play him? I'm not sure, but I know Alexi Ogando (1.13) has been doing much better and would serve as a good setup guy to Neftali Feliz.
Maybe Ron is concerned with giving lower paying players bigger roles because they may want more money later, thinking they are a much bigger part of the team. This kind of thinking won't win ballgames, or championships. I rather doubt Ron is thinking this way, but it just seems that maybe he is being stubborn, keeping players he has had in places for a while, afraid to move them around.
I really do like Ron Washington, though. I may disagree with some things he does, but overall it's really good that he is the manager of the Rangers. Let's review some of the things he is doing that I like.
With enough cushion to rest some guys, a lot of Rangers are seeming to get injured at the moment. Gosh it sure is handy that they waited to get hurt till now right? Or maybe its just good planning.
Ian Kinsler shows up at the clubhouse a little sore. Why send him out and keep beating him up with such a big lead in the division? We are getting to the back end of the season and Ron is sending players with the tiniest dings to the DL to get some rest. I love this kind of playoff preparation. It's very smart, as long as Ian Kinsler, Joaquin Arias, Matt Treanor, Derek Holland, and Dustin Nippert don't mind letting their season stats slip a little that is.
So I was unable to decide whether he is a crazy man or a genius. Perhaps both. Perhaps neither. There is only one thing for certain: The suicide rate in Arlington will skyrocket if the Rangers let this chance slip away, and Ron Washington will likely be the scapegoat if they do.