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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ron Washington Believes He Would Have Made A’s Winners [Unlikely]

I know, I know. Upon reading the headline, I’m sure your first inclination was to throw in a cocaine joke. Ours too. But we here at LBS are tasteful, and don’t have to resort to such low-hanging fruit when it comes to humor. So we won’t.

Getting to the story, in light of all the Moneyball talk lately, Ron Washington raised some mustaches by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that if he had been named manager of the A’s in 2006, they’d be winning just like the Rangers have.

“If I took this team over when I went to Texas, I believe the same thing we did in Texas, we’d be doing here,” said Washington, referring to Oakland. “Billy (Beane) had that chance. I’m not saying he didn’t want me, but he went in another direction, and another team wanted me.”

Washington was hired to manage the Rangers in early November 2006, while the A’s went with Bob Geren a week or so later. The A’s haven’t had a winning season since, and they have finished third or worst in the AL West in four of the five seasons. Texas, meanwhile, has enjoyed three winning seasons in a row, and even reached the World Series last year. But few people, outside of Ron Washington and Ron Washington’s mother, will argue that Ron Washington is the reason the Rangers have been successful while the A’s have not.

2006 marked the last season the A’s had any of their big three pitchers on the roster. You know, the triumvirate of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito, all of whom keyed Oakland’s successful run the first half of the decade. They lost Frank Thomas in free agency, saw Eric Chavez get hurt, and in general, Billy Beane lost his magical touch. Some of his bargain signings didn’t pan out (e.g. Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas), and his outfielder projects never developed (e.g. Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck). Beane also began losing trades, such as dealing future star Carlos Gonzalez to Colorado for a few months of Matt Holiday.

Relatedly, the success in Texas can be attributed to several shrewd moves by the front office. Power hitter Nelson Cruz was obtained in a trade with the Brewers. MVP Josh Hamilton was acquired in a trade with the Reds. Cliff Lee was brought in through a trade. Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison, all came in the Mark Teixeira deal with the Braves. They also signed Vladimir Guerrero as a free agent, and got Mike Napoli in a trade.

Ron Washington has done a good job with the Rangers the past few years, but the real MVPs in Texas are the people in the front office that have built a fantastic roster. Likewise, Billy Beane has proven that he can no longer work wonders in Oakland, and his team has failed as a consequence. I highly doubt that Washington, or any other manager, would have led the A’s to winning seasons all these years.

Maybe Ron Ron just was getting his buzz on when he was speaking.

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