I typically don’t have strong opinions about managerial firings because what matters most is hidden from us. We’re not in the room, we can’t gauge the day-to-day interactions between players, manager and upper management, and even the most intrepid reporting will reveal only a partial picture. On Diamond Pod, I’ve been the default Woody supporter, although that’s just my neutral view versus the less enthusiastic opinions of my podmates. Mainly, I felt we couldn’t judge Woodward on the team’s record because he’s not responsible for personnel, and I haven’t looked at the personnel and thought “why aren’t they winning more?”
Certainly, as I’ve mentioned, the one-run record fiasco shouldn’t be his fault. In his first three years at the helm, Texas was 50-48 in one-run games, vastly better than the overall record. If we wanted to create a managerial narrative around that, we’d say Woody had a knack for winning close ones despite managing a bad team. In truth, the Rangers were a little lucky to have a winning one-run record during that span, and now horribly unlucky in having a historically bad record in 2022.
I’d casually predicted around 76 wins for this team. That record pro-rated to 114 games is 53-61, only two more wins than Texas’s actual record when Woody was relieved. Reverse a little bad luck and the Rangers are at least meeting my expectations on the nose.
All that said, I don’t necessarily feel Woodward was wronged. Reasons given for a manager’s dismissal are always guarded and allusive, but clearly the front office believed he wasn’t the right guy for the next, presumably competitive iteration of the Rangers. If a move needed making, better to do it now rather than 40 games into 2023. Woodward didn’t work out. His successor has to.
Per the Rangers, Kohei Arihara will start tonight. His arrival will require a 40-man move. That’s doable. Arihara has a 4.88 ERA in 72 innings. In his most recent five starts, he holds a 3.46 ERA and just five walks but only a 19% strikeout rate. He can be very efficient if the balls in play land in gloves. They didn’t in 2021, leading to his designation for assignment less than halfway into a two-year deal.
RHP Dane Acker was assigned to low-A Down East. He’ll soon make his first full-season appearance since last May, after which he underwent Tommy John surgery. Acker was a well-regarded part of the Elvis Andrus trade. Incidentally, Andrus is on pace for 533 plate appearances, 17 short of what’s needed to vest his 2023 $15 million option. He’s still enough of a defender to provide value (1.2 WAR so far this season) despite an increasingly tepid bat, but I can’t imagine the A’s of all teams would play him enough to lock in that money.
The only listed starter on the farm as of 145pm is AJ Alexy in Round Rock.
Rookie Recap: Games of 8-13 August
Scores: 2-5 (Dodgers), 4-5 (M’s), 7-1 (M’s), 3-4 (White Sox), 6-3 (Royals)
Record: 31-18, +5 G, magic number 2
RHP Aidan Curry (20): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 SO, 4.76 ERA
RHP Ismael Agreda (18): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, HBP, 5 SO, 4.15 ERA
LHP Bryan Magdaleno (21): 3.0 IP, 2 H, BB, SO, 3.24 ERA
RHP Ivan Oviedo (19): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, HBP, 3 SO, 3.40 ERA
RHP Dane Acker (23): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2.08 ERA
OF JoJo Blackmon (19): 6-15, 3B, HR (8), 2 BB, 4 SB (16), .265/.382/.538
OF Yeison Morrobel (18): 6-16, 2 2B, BB, .324/.395/.475
IF Danyer Cueva (18): 5-16, HR (4), .331/.378/.469
IF Josh Hatcher (23): 6-22, 3 2B, BB, .273/.304/.409
IF Griffith Cheney (23): 3-16, 2B, 3B, 3 BB, HBP, SB (1), .188/.350/.375
To date, 2022 9th-rounder Griffith Cheney has played four games at third, and one at second and short. 10th-round selection Josh Hatcher has manned left field once and first four times. Joining them for the first time last night was 6th-round OF Tommy Specht, the youngest of the trio by far at 18. Unfortunately, Specht donned a golden sombrero in his pro debut.
Generally, the guys I’ve been mentioning continue to hit well, and I suppose one or more might see a little action at Down East once the rookies conclude, although finding spots for anyone will be tricky. Anthony Gutierrez (.269/.296/.418) isn’t striking out much but has quieted since a hot start: .209/.244/.302 in his last 12 games. He doesn’t turn 18 until November.
The Rangers are 5-11 since that 16-game winning streak. The division is still nearly assured. Three division winners and a wild card will play a one-game semifinal, and the winners will advance to a best-of-three final. As it stands, the competitors will be the Giants, Reds, Rangers, and Rockies.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
In a 1-0 victory, Wes Benjamin threw 7.2 scoreless innings for high-A Down East, followed by 1.1 clean from Scott Williams, who ran his scoreless streak to 21 innings.