MLB Playoffs: Can Ron Washington Lead Rangers to World Series Title?

Richard CaldwellContributor IOctober 14, 2011

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 11:  Manager Ron Washington #38 of the Texas Rangers calls for a pitcher change against the Detroit Tigers in the sixth inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Ron Washington frustrates me.  

As a motivator, as an amateur psychologist, as someone around whom his team rallies, he is outstanding.  It continually impresses to see how this version of the Texas Rangers have a mental toughness that is very rare.

Ron Washington's teams have improved every season he has been manager, and that is no accident.  As a long haul regular season manager he is worth what they pay him and a lot more.

But playoff baseball is a different animal.  Some of his great strengths certainly come into play. Rebounding after a 9-0 Game 1 loss to the Rays was another demonstration of the mental toughness that Washington infuses into his club.  

But is it enough?  Playoff baseball is a chess game like none other.  It is making the right lineup adjustment, proper use of the bullpen, lefty and righty matchups and knowing when to give the starter the hook.  This is where I question Washington's skills.

The frustrating part of Ron Washington as a manager is his game day decisions.  Washington is not only unorthodox at times, he can make decisions that are borderline silly.  

Walking Miguel Cabrerra with one out and no one on base in a tie ball game in the late innings almost cost the Rangers a Game 4 win.  

The fact is, it should have cost the Rangers the ball game.  If not for the rocket arm of Nelson Cruz the Washington "hunch" would have cost his team dearly.  

When facing Rick Porcello in Game 4, Washington decided to stack his lineup with right handed hitters.  Mitch Moreland sat while Yorvit Torrealba was in the lineup.  

It could be argued that Torrealba was coming off a nice Game 3 performance, but left handed hitters had a .320 average against Porcello in 2011.  It was no coincidence that the first two hits in Game 4 were collected by David Murphy (a lefty).  

In Game 5, with the Rangers one game away from the World Series, Washington left C.J. Wilson in the game when he was clearly struggling.  When the smoke cleared the Rangers were down 6-2 and it was pretty much finished with Justin Verlander on the mound for the Tigers.

Ron Washington has the personality and the people skills to manager a World Series champion. The question is whether he has the in-game managerial skills to do so.