ARLINGTON — From the time Rangers finally got to spring training, Chris Woodward has been direct. There would be no excuses. The team had a new, state-of-the-art facility, an improved roster, three years of experience of a painful demolition and rebuilding process. This Rangers team had to reckon with a win. Even reduced it to a logo – “E2W” – emblazoned on t-shirts.
And on Monday, the two-year anniversary of the last time Rangers spent a day over .500, there were no excuses.
Rangers fired Woodward two games before his 500th with the club and with one season remaining on his contract, the club announced Monday. Third base coach Tony Beasley was appointed interim manager. Whether Beasley would be a candidate for the permanent position is unclear.
“Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of informing Chris Woodward of our decision today,” Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said in a written statement. “During his tenure as Rangers manager, Chris has worked tirelessly under sometimes difficult circumstances. He was dedicated and passionate in his efforts to improve the Texas Rangers’ performance on the field and that is greatly appreciated. He represented the organization with class and dignity.
“We have had extensive discussions over the last few weeks and while the team’s current performance certainly plays a big part in this decision, we also look to the future. As Rangers continue to develop a winning culture and put the pieces together to battle for the postseason year after year, we felt a leadership change was necessary at this point.
“On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, we thank Chris and wish him and his family well.”
The Rangers, on their way to their sixth straight losing season, are 211-287 in Woodwards over three seasons. The .424 win ratio is the sixth-worst in MLB to date. Ironically, the layoff came a day after what might have been the best series win of the season, in which Rangers rallied on back-to-back days to win two out of three from Seattle.
In the end, neither the first three seasons nor the weekend counted. Woodward and the Rangers won 78 games in 2019, their plans for 2020 were dashed by the pandemic and two catastrophic injuries, and they began a full rebuild in 2021. That was the process, building a championship culture. However, after the owners committed more than $500 million to free agents during the offseason, 2022 was more about results.
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And the Rangers just didn’t deliver. After flirting with .500 in June, the club has seemingly taken a step back. Rangers have been 15-25 since July 1 and have fallen back to a 90-loss pace. Management didn’t expect Rangers to go from worst to first in a season, but they did expect more than another 90-losing season.
Part of the record could perhaps be attributed to luck. The Rangers are on course for their worst-ever winning percentage in one-run games, which advanced analytics says are often decided solely by luck.
Then again: no excuses. Baseball, Woodward often said, is a performance-based industry.
More importantly, the quality of the game, which hasn’t been great since the start of the season, has never really improved. The Rangers seemed to function more as individual pieces than as a team. A key element of a championship culture – an all-for-one attitude – never really seemed to develop. Despite the $500 million pledge for free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, there was no electrifying force at the clubhouse.
Both are meticulous in their preparation, which is central to Woodward’s philosophy. However, neither has conquered the clubhouse in the same way as previous leaders of the past 25 years – Will Clark, Michael Young and Adrian Beltré – have. As .500 slipped away from Rangers over the past six weeks, there seemed to be an air of resignation within the team.
Texas Rangers right fielder Adolis Garcia (53) is congratulated by Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward after Garcia scored in the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, May 1, 2022. (Michael Ainsworth / Special Contributor)
Either nobody could – or wanted – to do anything about it.
In early August, when the trade deadline was up, Baseball Operations President Jon Daniels was asked about Woodward’s status. He was noncommittal.
“I think where we are in the standings doesn’t reflect any individual or group,” Daniels said at the time. “Ultimately it works [myself and general manager Chris Young] more than anyone else. I find [Woodward] and the staff work tirelessly and do everything to develop and advance this group. But as far as the evaluation of individual departments or individual people is concerned, I don’t want to do that now.”
A few days later, he expanded slightly more on his weekly radio segment with KRLD-105.3 FM, but also acknowledged that the team underperformed based on both external and internal pre-season forecasts. Rangers had the most outside projections as a 75-76 winning team.
“One thing we don’t want to change is the intensity or the expectations,” Daniels said of discussions with Woodward. “Then things just snowball when you just accept losing. It’s penetrating the culture of the team and we can’t let that happen.”
On Monday, Rangers reached the point where they felt they had to take more drastic steps to stop losing. There were no excuses. Consequences only.
On twitter: @Evan_P_Grant
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