The Texas Rangers sent a message with the firing of manager Jeff Banister on Friday after four seasons.
And it was not a good one.
Texas’ front office decided to serve Banister his pink slip with ten games remaining on the team’s horrendous 2018 season. Bench coach Don Wakamastu will serve as the team’s interim manager until the season ends Sep. 30.
After taking over the team in 2015, Banister amassed a 325-313 overall record. His tenure will be remembered by two years competing, and two years of cellar dwelling.
Banister became the first manager in franchise history to record back-to-back Division titles in his first two seasons. In his next two, the script flipped. Banister’s teams recorded a 142-172 record on the way to fourth and and soon fifth place finishes, respectively.
Texas is headed for consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2007-08. Banister is now the first Rangers manager to record consecutive losing seasons.
Speculation arose recently after the team’s play had dramatically declined over the past two months. At time of publication, Texas sits with a 64-88 record, including a 26-41 record since July.
Many wondered whether Banister was the right man to oversee a rebuild- an unproven area of his coaching expertise.
With the team’s success from 2015-16, he proved he was the right man to oversee a contending team. By virtue of Friday’s move, the front office clearly didn’t think we was the right man to oversee the team as it embarks on a firm rebuild.
That’s all fine and good. But the way the Rangers went about his firing is not.
Banister has proven to be a mild-mannered but likeable representative and a good ambassador to the franchise during his time with the team. Furthermore, no matter what happens in the team’s final ten games, he would’ve finished with a record over .500.
Firing a coach from his job with ten games remaining on the season is no way to treat someone who’s never caused trouble and had an overall winning record in his time. It also sets a bad precedent for future job candidates.
Some might argue that ten games in a lost season are irrelevant, to which I’d emphasize the principle over the time itself.
It’s unfair to speculate Texas mutually agreed to part ways with Banister in his interest, so that he may assess the job market to take a different MLB job. Maybe there was unrest between the coaching staff and front office. At time of publication, Dallas Sports Fanatic has not found anything credible to support either one of those conjectures.
Banister is due $950,000 for the 2019 season according to a USA Today salary survey from earlier this season.
It’s also unfair to speculate on possible replacements for his position, but one would think that Wakamatsu will be a lead candidate. He proved himself capable of managing a young time with Seattle from 2009-10, going 127-147 with little talent.
No matter what direction the Rangers go as far as their next manager, the way the team handled Banister’s firing is a testament to the contorting direction of this rebuild, and generally disrespectful to a fine representative of a struggling franchise.
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