I spend a fair amount of time on here defending Ron Washington. Not because I think he's a particularly good manager -- I am starting to think that he might be a hell of a third base coach who is an example of the Peter Principle at work -- but because I think that a lot of the complaints leveled against him are overblown or misguided. And also because I think that the impact of a manager on game situations is somewhat overblown, while the impact of a manager in terms of his managing people skills is underrated.
However, I do think Washington is not a real good in-game manager. And his actions today -- specifically, his handling of the top of the 7th -- are an example of why.
First of all...I don't get pulling Scott Feldman. Feldman had a shaky 5th inning, but he was solid in the 6th and was only at 85 pitches, and had a 3 run lead. Yes, he's a converted reliever...but before today, he'd thrown at least 87 pitches in every one of his starts. It was a hot day, and it is possible Feldman could have told the manager he was gassed...but if not, I'd have stuck with Feldman, at least to face Ellis.
Why Ellis? Because Ellis is a righty, and after him, you had Travis Buck, Carlos Gonzalez, and Daric Barton -- all lefties -- due up. Ideally, you leave Feldman in to face Ellis, then go get Eddie Guardado to face the three lefties.
Now, Guardado had pitched the previous two days, so it is certainly possible that Guardado wasn't available, although he only threw 7 pitches yesterday.
If that's the case, and you are committed to making a move and Guardado isn't available, then you probably are going to go get Jamey Wright. He's your 7th inning guy, he's been effective against lefties this season (although he's walked more of them than you'd like), and really, he's been one of your best relievers this season.
However...Wright was terrible today. And this is the problem that you run into when you go the LaRussian route of making a ton of pitching changes. The more changes you make, the more likely it is you are going to put a guy into the game who has nothing on this particular day. And by the time you figure that out, you can be in a heap of trouble.
Which is what happened today. Rather than stick with Feldman, who wasn't great today but was good enough, Washington pulled his effective starter to go with (as it turned out) the godawful Wright.
Wright threw 20 pitches, only 8 for strikes, got no one out, and ended up getting yanked after having allowed 1 run and leaving the bases loaded.
This is when it gets bizarre.
Because, see, I understand the thought process behind going to Wright in the 7th. I don't agree with it, wouldn't have done it, but I can understand why it was done.
But when Wright goes to pieces in the 7th, and you've got a critical situation against a division rival in front of a home crowd that is desperate to see the Rangers pull one out, and you've got the biggest series of ABs in the game coming up...
You bring in Robinson Tejeda?
A guy who hasn't pitched in the majors since the middle of last year? And who has been starting in the minors for the past month (his last relief appearance was on April 30), which leads to legitimate questions about whether he'll be able to warm up properly and whether he'll be effective when he's brought in?
You bring in a guy whose career has been derailed by control issues, to pitch with the bases loaded, against a lineup full of guys who are great at working the count?
That's the best you can come up with?
Now...you don't want to bring in your closer in that situation? Fine. I understand that.
Bring in Joaquin Benoit, then. Or bring in Frankie Francisco. (Actually, Kam Loe would have been a great choice, since he throws strikes and gets ground balls, but we sent him down to make room for Tejeda, so he wasn't really an option).
Bring in, basically, anybody but Tejeda, the guy who was brought in.
Predictably, Tejeda blows up, throws 16 pitches, half of them for balls, walks a guy and gives up a double and a single.
And then, with the game pretty much down the tubes...you bring in Frankie Francisco?
Hell, if Francisco was available to pitch with the team down 4 runs, why don't you bring him in with the bases loaded and none out in the 7th? If you need someone to come in and get a couple of Ks and a popout, he's the guy.
I mean, I just assumed that Francisco wasn't available, or something, when Washington went to Tejeda in the 7th. Bringing in Tejeda in the crucial situation, and then bringing in Francisco in garbage time to clean up the mess...
I just don't get it.