A couple weeks ago the analysts on MLB Network Radio were discussing managers on the hot seat. C.J. Nitkowski was one of the analysts. When the discussion got to Jeff Banister, the other host pointed out that with the direction of the Rangers this season and last season, Banister’s job should be on the line.
Nitkwoski, knowing where is paycheck comes from, took the other side of the debate. It’s worth noting that of all the managers they discussed, Banister was the only one he defended. C.J. praised the job Banister had been doing the second half of the season. He talked about how the team was really responding to him. How the kids are starting to hit and how he was making a difference.
In fairness, he did fess up that he is a Rangers announcer. Which means, just as Bob Nightengale recently pointed out that managers today are deathly afraid to speak their minds because they will get fired, so too are TV color analysts.
Nobody could have expected anything but the most glowing assessment of the Rangers future from hm.
Fast forward to today. T.R. Sullivan, not employed by the Rangers, writes an article on MLB.com that suggests just the opposite is true. He writes, “This season’s last-place finish in the American League West is likely to lead to major changes for the Rangers, and manager Jeff Banister could be among those in jeopardy.” He goes on to point out that Jon Daniels is not commenting on the situation.
(Interesting that no changes were considered in the general manager seat, but that’s a topic for another story and another three last-place finishes.)
Daniels’s non-comment might bode well for Banister. It’s when the GM says the manager is “our guy” is when the manager needs to worry. The public endorsement is the kiss of death.
As Sullivan points out, the club’s lackluster finish is not helping.
But lackluster has been the norm with Banister led teams. He took over in 2015 and his team immediately had trouble getting out of the gate. His first team started the season 7-11 for April. They were on their way to another last place finish until Daniels swung the trade for Hamels. The Rangers marched into first. But their last couple weeks set a tone for Banister-led team finishes.
They nearly blew it.
2016 saw the Rangers start strong and finish strong. So maybe 2015 was a fluke.
Except that it wasn’t. Turns out 2016 was the fluke.
The Rangers got off to a slow start in 2017. And they finished with a thud, losing eight of ten to end the season.
An 11-19 March/April set the tone for the rest of the 2018 season as well. And now this limp to the finish line.
If the front office is looking at patterns, they don’t have to look far. Banister teams start slow and end dreadfully.
Maybe the front office won’t notice this. But all the fans not in attendance have.
Erasmo Ramirez (2-3. 5.65) vs. Ariel Jurado (2-1, 7.01)
Game time: 7:05