It was a long wait for the Texas Rangers to fill the manager vacancy after firing former head man Jeff Banister in September.
But, for the Rangers front office, it seems like it was worth the wait.
The team officially announced Chris Woodward as the team’s 19th manager in franchise history in a statement Saturday. They plan to officially introduce him in a press conference in Arlington on Monday.
Woodward played 12 seasons in the MLB, most notably with Toronto, Seattle and the New York Mets. After retiring in 2012, he entered coaching, and had been serving as the Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach until the team lost its second-straight World Series on Sunday.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported the team walked away “impressed” with its interview with Woodward on Thursday. The Rangers were reportedly the only team of the six major league clubs with a coaching vacancy to meet with Woodward in person.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was the first to report the news of the hire late Friday night, and the team’s official statement followed soon after. Texas’ selection ends a long hiring process, but perhaps the team was waiting on Woodward the whole time.
The fact that Texas waited so long to make the hire, and confirmed in the statement from general manager Jon Daniels posted on Twitter, affirmed that Woodward fit a very specific mold that the Rangers were looking for: a young, player-peer type manager with experience on a recently successful team, and flexible to the changing, analytics-driven nature of today’s game.
There are direct parallels to last year’s hottest offseason managerial hires: Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees, and Boston’s Alex Cora, who led the Red Sox to a World Series title on Sunday, completing his first season at the helm. Each led his respective team to 100+ wins in 2018.
Of those two, Woodward is most similar to Cora. Cora is young, and recently retired- 43 years old, retired 2011. So is Woodward- 42 years old, retired 2012.
Both began their coaching careers on teams with recent winning pedigrees. Prior to his time with Boston, Cora served as the bench coach for Houston, the 2017 World Series Champions. Woodward served an integral role on the coaching staff of the two-time defending National League Champion Dodgers.
And maybe most importantly, Cora has been an outspoken supporter of analytics- he was cultivated in the data-driven Astros staff, after all. The Dodgers are also an analytical-based team, and Woodward has served a big part of that.
Perhaps that last tidbit is most important to Texas. Seemingly, former manager Jeff Banister seemed resistant to the changing nature of the MLB. If there’s one reason he was canned, maybe that’s it.
At the time of Banister’s firing, the timing seemed strange, but it doesn’t seem to matter now.
Woodward also has direct ties to important figures in the Texas brass. Former Ranger Michael Young affirmed the hire on Twitter- citing the two’s connection through their hometown Covina, California.
Congrats to my Covina sidekick….
Now I get endless opportunities to let him know how badly Amat would’ve waxed Northview. We gotta good one, folks. https://t.co/r3wZACTCTZ
— Michael Young (@MikeyY626) November 3, 2018
When both played for the Seattle Mariners, Woodward was once designated for assignment to make room for current Ranger third baseman Adrian Beltré.
It’s clear that Texas waited so long to hire a manger because it was waiting on its Alex Cora. The new Rangers head man and the head honcho for the BoSox have clear similarities.
By no means should Rangers fans expect the same results from Woodward year one that Cora got with Boston. Nonetheless, the Rangers took a big first step in moving forward with the future of baseball, and were willing to wait on the man that fit the mold.
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