Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Alternative to Firing Wash

by Dustin Copening

If a team begins hemorrhaging losses in historic fashion as the close of a season nears, you are going to hear about the possibility of it’s  manager/coach losing their job. The team’s CEO and GM can both come out publicly and announce that the manager’s job is safe, but that will not stop the angry Tweets and calls to sports talk shows demanding a change.

There are times where the mob hits on a valid point, like Ron Washington choosing to pitch Joseph Ortiz in the 12th inning of Wednesday night’s loss in Tampa. Though, their argument is more often selective, for instance when yelling about Wash calling for a bunt to move the go ahead runner to 3rd in the top of the 12th, but not issuing a single peep when Joe Maddon calls for the same strategy in the bottom half of the inning.

What’s ultimately lacking with the #FireWash movement is a lack of creativity. There is no solution that they ever put forth along with their constant complaining about game strategy, bullpen management, and lineup adjustments. So I did the dirty work for them by asking a few of those I consider experts (whose identities shall remain hidden for their own protection) about an ultimate solution.

In the days following the conclusion of the World Series, which it would seem will be long after the Rangers have recorded their final out of the season, is it possible that Jon Daniels gets on the phone and dials up Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays to hammer out a trade for David Price and Joe Maddon?

It’s a near unanimous consensus that Maddon is a more effective manager than Washington, although I did attempt to poke a few holes in that theory several months ago.

In this scenario, the argument shifts from who is the better manager to how much would the Rangers be asked to part with for this duo, and at what point does Texas risk giving up too much compared to the probable return of such a deal.

I present to you my best guess at what such an offer would be, and the responses I received from the 5 experts I asked about it:

“Your thoughts on dealing Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, Lewis Brinson, and Joey Gallo in return for David Price and Joe Maddon?”

Expert 1: “You know, I've wondered that before. Before they sent him to Chicago, I wondered if they'd do something like Olt for Maddon...remember: Price is crazy-valuable and under contract through 2015...that might do it. TB would understandably ask for a king's ransom.”

Expert 2: “I don't want either...First off, Maddon won't be dealt away. It's the clubs (one) asset. That and player development...I see no reason for Tampa to do anything like that.”

Expert 3: “That’s way too much...You’re sacrificing a lot of potential cost-effective long term value...for three expensive years of a late 20’s pitcher, and a (manager) who manages his bullpen similar to Wash...Your proposal might do it. However, Perez might turn into Price. You don’t know.”

Expert 4: “That's tough. There isn't a way to place value on a manager for trade purposes. For Price it's Profar, Brinson/Gallo, Luke Jackson +...That might be a bit steep.”

Expert 5: “I've lost the will to argue this stuff anymore. Some people don't listen to reason. It kills me...That's not crazy for (the Rays) to ask (for though).”

That’s a wide variety of responses, but the general conclusion is the asking price is high. Some might say ridiculously high, and one expert pointed out that the likely response from Friedman would be a giggle followed by a hang up.

Also, if Maddon doesn’t manage the bullpen differently than Washington, where else does he display an obvious advantage over Wash?

Ron Washington is viewed as weak when when his team visits NL parks, but since he began managing in 2007, Washington has a 38-23 record in NL parks versus Maddon’s 33-28 mark. And if you want to pull the “Texas played Houston” card, realize that the Rays natural rival is the Miami Marlins.

Would Joe Maddon squeeze one or two extra wins out of this Rangers team by calling for fewer bunts and managing the roster differently? I’m inclined to guess that he would, but is that enough to deliver a title?

Is it worth trading away a bulk of your most valuable assets in the farm system when the answer isn’t a clear cut yes?

I can’t imagine it is.

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