Managers are the fans’ favorite punching bag. When the team’s going bad, they blame the manager. Even when the team’s going good, as the Texas Rangers have been for the past three years, the manager takes the brunt of the blame for any perceived shortcomings.
So how about this? I want to give Wash a lot of credit this morning for the way he was thinking ahead during last night’s win over the Cleveland Indians.
For Rangers fans, the win was nice but it came at a price. Adrian Beltre left the game early with a shoulder injury. He’s scheduled to get an MRI today. His replacement, rookie Mike Olt, hit a single in his second plate appearance, but hobbled so badly to first base because of the Plantar Fascitis he is suffering, he had to be pulled.
With expanded rosters in September, it would have been easy for Wash to either put Brandon Snyder in at third, since he was the utility corner man for the first half of the season, or put Michael Young there and do without the DH the rest of the game. Since it was already the 8th inning, that wouldn’t have posed any significant hardship on Texas.
Instead, Wash went a completely different route. He moved Ian Kinsler over to third base and inserted rookie Jurickson Profar in at second. Judging by the tweets I read, this move had fans collectively scratching their heads. Kinsler had never played any position other than second base in his entire major league career. After the game, Kins said he hadn’t played third since he was in the minors in 2005.
Many didn’t understand the move, but I don’t think a lot of Rangers fans think Ron Washington has the ability to think ahead.
Wash certainly wanted to win last night’s game, but that wasn’t what was most important to him. He has the post-season to think about. And if there’s any possibility he will have to do without Adrian Beltre in the post-season, he has to figure out how he will do that. He’d love to go with Olt, but his balky foot may not allow that. Brandon Snyder is strictly utility. He can’t replace Beltre for more than a couple of games. That leaves Young as the back-up, which is probably what will happen, but Young is also a defensive liability.
So Wash put Kinsler in at third. He didn’t have to field anything in his brief time there, but if he had, Wash would have gotten a good look at it. If he liked what he saw, then Kinsler could be the late inning defensive replacement for Young while Profar takes over at second. That’s a much stronger team than one which features Snyder.
We’ll find out more about Beltre today. Hopefully, he won’t be out for very long. But if he is, Wash already has a potential plan in mind.