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TEXAS RANGERS
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Manager Ron Washington announced his resignation; named Tim Bogar interim manager. [9/5]

The manager of a preseason favorite leaving his post after a disappointing season wouldn't qualify as a surprise under normal circumstances. Yet nothing here—not Washington's resignation, nor the Rangers season—can be classified as normal.

Washington had spent most of eight years on the Rangers bench, making him the longest-tenured skipper in franchise history (including the Senators years). He suffered through two losing seasons—his first and last, as it was—but otherwise enjoyed a prosperous run that saw Texas win 90-plus games four times and reach consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011. Of course, with Washington being more of a communicator than a strategist, most of the credit for those teams went to GM Jon Daniels and the since-departed Nolan Ryan. Just how much of the praise Washington, whose value stemmed from work in the shadows rather than under the stadium lights, deserves is unclear to outsiders.

What is clearer then is that Washington deserves little blame for this season. Knock him for his anachronistic tactics, but it's hard to see any manager succeeding amid an injury flood this severe. Not only have the Rangers used a franchise record amount of pitchers and hitters, they received what amounted to a season's worth of games from two of their three highest-paid positional players, and a season's worth of starts from four of their top starting pitchers:

Player

Salary (millions)

Games Played

WARP

Projected WARP

Net

Prince Fielder

$24

42

-0.4

3.5

-3.9

Shin-Soo Choo

$14

123

0.4

3.2

-2.8

Yu Darvish

$10

22

4

4.6

-0.6

Matt Harrison

$8

4

0

0.8

-0.8

Derek Holland

$5.4

1

0.3

0.5

-0.2

Martin Perez

$0.75

8

0.5

-0.6

1.1

TOTAL

$62.15

200

4.8

12

-7.3

*Preseason PECOTA projection

Provided better health, this Rangers club should be in contention next season, so the next manager could have a shot at postseason glory right away. So will they stay internal, removing the interim tag from Bogar, or promoting pitching coach Mike Maddux? Or will they go after someone from another organization? We'll find out soon.

But let's take a moment from the irrelevant stuff and wish Washington the best with whatever personal reasons he's grappling. You might not agree with his tactics or his view of the game, but that doesn't make him less human, and that didn't make his decision any easier to make. Here's hoping Washington is back in a dugout soon.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Fired general manager Kevin Towers. [9/5]

Blame it on last winter's will-they-or-won't-they drama, or the Tony La Russa hiring, but Towers' dismissal is as anticlimactic as they come. The only surprising aspect is the timing, although it seems they wanted to get a start on the process. And so Towers' reign in the desert will be remembered for three things:

1) Trading multiple players for less than they were worth;

2) Having a weird fascination with beanballs;

3) Oh yeah, that surprise playoff run in 2011.

Between La Russa's involvement and the rumored candidate list, the smart money is on Arizona continuing the league's recent trend of hiring first-time GMs:

The GM hires over the past three years

GM

Team

Internal/External

Previous title

First-time?

A.J. Preller

Padres

External (Rangers)

Assistant GM

Yes

Rick Hahn

White Sox

Internal

Assistant GM

Yes

Jeff Luhnow

Astros

External (Cardinals)

V.P. Scouting & Player Development

Yes

Terry Ryan

Twins

Internal

Senior adviser

No

Dan Duquette

Orioles

External (out of MLB)

No

Jerry Dipoto

Angels

External (D'backs)

V.P. Scouting & Player Development

No*

Jed Hoyer

Cubs

External (Padres)

GM

No

Ben Cherington

Red Sox

Internal

Assistant GM

No*

*Served as an interim GM

Whoever takes over will have some interesting decisions to make. While Paul Goldschmidt, the franchise player, figures to be safe from any potential wheeling and dealing, other D'backs like Aaron Hill (three years, $35 million remaining on his contract) and Miguel Montero (three years, $40 million) might not be. The alternative route would be for the next GM to keep the veteran pieces and attempt to patch together a contender; it's not as in vogue as the Astros' and Cubs' total rebuilds, but the Marlins show it can be done.

Speaking of the Marlins comparison, look for a few of the front office personnel to survive the makeover. Chief among the smart, talented folk is scouting director Ray Montgomery, a candidate for the GM job himself. The scope of Arizona's hunt suggests Montgomery isn't the favorite, but he figures to stick around one way or another.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Agreed to a two-year extension with LHP Jorge De La Rosa worth $25 million. [9/5]

If there is a quibble with this contract, it has to be the price. Had De La Rosa signed the same deal last winter, it would've been the richest two-year pact given to a starting pitcher. Whether he's better than some of the pitchers who were on the market—like, say, Tim Hudson—is debatable. More agreeable is the idea the Rockies have to overpay to retain quality arms. Given Colorado's shaky history in attracting pitchers—let alone having those who took the bait succeed—it makes sense for them to keep a proven commodity around, even at the cost of additional millions.

How does De La Rosa flourish where so many have languished? He doesn't have superhuman control, or the league's most insatiable appetite for groundballs. (In fact, his groundball rate is only percentage points better than those posted by teammates Jordan Lyles and Tyler Matzek.) What De La Rosa does have is a three-pitch mix that ignores breaking balls in favor of fastball variations (fastball, cutter, splitter). There are some exceptions—for instance, he's not throwing a ton of first-pitch splitters—but for the most part he uses those pitches interchangeably, leaving batters off balance and unable to enjoy the full Coors experience.

So often the team context is ignored when it comes to the individual—this isn't basketball, after all—but ignoring De La Rosa's significance to the rest of the Rockies robs him of value. Although he's averaged fewer than six innings per start over the past two seasons, he still leads Colorado in innings by a wide margin (roughly 70 frames over the next-closest pitcher). Not convinced that De La Rosa is a rare breed in Colorado? Try this: the Rockies have had 35 starts this season in which a pitcher threw at least 100 pitches; De La Rosa is responsible for 17 of those. He is, in short, the closest thing the Rockies have to a workhorse.

As a result, keeping De La Rosa for a few more seasons makes sense. Even if the Rockies aren't serious about competing—and the odds are they will try to improve, like usual—having a reliable arm around makes life easier for the manager and the bullpen. Of course there's always the chance De La Rosa gets hurt again, but the length protects the Rockies against an albatross. Overall, it's a reasonable deal for a team that might overvalue continuity on the field and in the front office.

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DeathSpeculum
9/08
RIP #grit
hotstatrat
9/08
OK, sabermaticians, many of us have decried Washington's strategic moves, but has anyone checked to see if his ill advised moves had the same failure rate as expected? Perhaps, he sensed somlething about each of those particular circumstances that might have lent to a greater success rate than normal?
mattcz
9/09
I believe Lincecum received a 2 year $35M deal, but not sure if you were excluding him due to the face he received a QO. I also think Montogmery would be a fantastic hire for AZ, he's done a great job in Miami and could potentially be the guy to put them back together.