Just a short one tonight, because it’s late. I read in the Star-Telegram today (apparently someone at the office has begun a subscription and is bringing it in regularly) that Ron Washington said a few days ago that he preferred Mench over Botts, and that if Botts made the team “he didn’t have to play him”. This is exactly the fear I talked about yesterday, that they would let Botts rot on the bench for a few weeks, say he wasn’t hitting and dump him somewhere.
Now, what can Ron Washington possibly be thinking when he says this? Even if it’s your actual thought as a manager, you would have to be insane to say this out loud, especially to the media. The whole article was about how the Rangers had discussed the competition between Botts and Mench and decided that Botts would be on the roster. It said that Washington was opposed, but that Jon Daniels had the final say (as he should).
I think Art Howe ran into similar problems when he was managing Oakland, didn’t he? That GM Billy Beane had chosen the team, but Howe didn’t like them all, and didn’t approve of the statistical approach that Beane took to choose the team, and so snubbed some of the players who Beane wanted to play. Wasn’t that part of Moneyball? I don’t think I’m imagining it. Anyway, Howe was fired from Oakland, and is now the bench coach for the Rangers, whereas Washington was the third base coach in Oakland at the time, and is now manager in Texas. Birds of a feather flock together. I’m all for Washington making in-game decisions (or I should say I’m all for the manager making in-game decisions, since I don’t believe Washington should be the Rangers manager), but he should be using the full set of cards he is dealt, not deciding he doesn’t like some of them. I don’t know what he has against Botts. I do know if you’re playing poker, you can’t say you don’t like threes and will never use them, because you might just flop a set and win a hand with them.
Remember, Howe is the manager-in-waiting. It would be a cunning move on his part to put the idea into Washington’s head that he doesn’t need to use Botts. Then all Washington has to do is blurt it out. It’s kind of a Bush-Cheney thing, with the figurehead up front and the evil genius hiding in back. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit too Machiavellian here.
Anyway, all I ask for is for Botts to get a fair shake this year, not mess him around with an at-bat or two here and there.
Oh yeah, and while I’m at it, the whole Salty thing is a mess. He’s the centerpiece of the Tex deal, and he’s beaten out by a guy who could barely hold his head above water last year. I like Laird, liked him ever since he was the new Pudge in fact, but in terms of the franchise future, Salty is the man. Get him the games, get him the experience that will be useful in a couple of years when the team is contending. Hmm, on second thoughts: maybe it will help to have him in Oklahoma, it gives him a chance to be catching some of the guys he will be catching in 2010. How many of the current pitching staff do you expect will be around then? Two or three, maybe. Salty might get to pitch to two or three in OKC in April alone.