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Did the Rangers need a manager change at this point in the season?

Did the Rangers need a manager change at this point in the season?

Typically when a mid-season coaching change happens, in any sport, it signifies more than losing. It suggests that a manager lost a clubhouse, which didn’t appear to be the case for the Rangers.

“I don’t feel like we needed a change in that case. But I mean, as players, we needed to change for sure,” Brad Miller said. “I don’t think any of us want to sit here and be how many games under .500. I always try to have a sense of urgency, but no, I think Woody was right there with us doing as much as he (could). I wish I could have played better for him.”

The Rangers let go of Chris Woodward on Monday. Every day I walked up to the field and saw guys prepare by taking ground balls, shag fly balls, partaking in batting practice, and other pregame activities. I’m one to give the benefit of the doubt and not question the pregame and in-game effort, and to me, players took pregame seriously. There was hard work but smiles, and I saw players participate in most activities (the ones that didn’t were currently hurt or rehabbing). I would see Woodward having conversations with players listening and with an engaging look. The firing came as a surprise for a lot. “Mid-season, it was a little bit of a shock,” Dane Dunning said Thursday.

In talking with Charlie Culberson, it was about players taking responsibility too.. “Sometimes change can be a change of players too. It doesn’t have to be staff,” Charlie said. “A lot of the games that we’ve lost by one-run can come down to us players not driving that extra run across the board [or] not making that extra play. It’s weird how that works.”

How does the change in management affect the younger players? “In a weird way, it might put things in perspective and shows you that things can change,” Culberson said. “Just because we’re here doesn’t mean that our jobs are safe. You can’t be content just by being here.” Of course, everyone knows it’s a business with hires and firings happening yearly, and for players, it’s an acceptance that it’s part of the game. “The biggest thing is just be a professional,” Miller said. “We got to show up, do our jobs [and] understand that we hold in a balance [with] some other people around us. Our job doesn’t change. That’s what being a professional is about regardless of all the other stuff going on.” The Rangers went out immediately Monday and won. However, lost the next two games and capped off the week with a Thursday afternoon win vs. Oakland.

So what was the problem that possibly sped up the firing process? Aside from disasters in one-run games, the sense of urgency wasn’t as prominent as earlier in the season. There wasn’t as much structure, and even after bad at-bats and bad games, there wasn’t a sense of fire in the club. I could even say that during victories, too, there wasn’t too much fire. Players celebrated, but it felt like a “we won and now let’s move on” instead of basking in the victory (based on my personal observations). Was the clubhouse lost? No, I believe players wanted to play for Chris Woodward. However, it was like that nice Aunt that everyone likes but doesn’t pack a lot of punch when it comes to discipline. I don’t think there was as much leadership as there needed to be, especially with a more veteran roster than the last few years.

I’ll say this, Chris Woodward is a good coach, and I think if a team hires him to be a manager (even bench coach), he’ll do well. He managed through a pandemic and a lockout when the team was at a low point (which I think would have happened with any manager). That’s extremely difficult to do. Chris Woodward didn’t meet the expectations, and the decision to fire him happened.

There are a few things I’ve noticed in the short three days. Different types of practices (pitcher’s fielding practice, outfield drills, etc.) and unified pregame shirts. The shirts aren’t exactly the same but are blue, similar to a phrase I’ve heard from Tony Beasley: “we’re all in this together.” Will that fix the issues? Possibly, but remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. I think Tony Beasley’s energy and positivity mixed with discipline and structure will get the best out of the group and regain the fire and passion the team may have lacked. “I have confidence in Tony, excited, and that’s why we’ve put him into this position,” Rangers GM Chris Young said. “I look forward to having deeper conversations with him as we get through the end of the season.”

Did the Rangers need a leadership change? I would say “need” is not the right word, although I think it would have been in October if the firing didn’t happen in mid-August. I do believe a change would slightly benefit. It’s not always about the man in charge; it’s about the twenty-six active players on the MLB roster. Charlie Culberson told me, “It’s on us [as] we’re the ones playing the game. So, we have to take responsibility too.” Now that the past happened, it’s time to focus on the future. A mantra that both Culberson and Beasley preach.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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