Jeff Banister has made a lot of curious moves in his nearly three years at the helm of the Texas Rangers. Most of them have centered around his struggles at handing a bullpen.
He rode Shawn Tolleson so hard for five games in a row to close out the 2015 season, twice in non-save situations, until his arm ran out of gas and he crashed and burned. It effectively ended his career as a closer. And almost cost the Rangers the division title.
He displayed a strange love affair with Tanner Scheppers and Leony Martin in the face of staggering failures and mounting losses.
He has an unhealthy insistence on pitch counts over effectiveness, constantly pulling dominating starters for the sake of a save stat that often doesn’t come because his bullpen loses the game.
He continued to use Sam Dyson when every man, woman and child in North America knew he didn’t have it in him anymore.
But of all the curious moves, one in particular rises above the rest—the way he used Rougned Odor this season. Abused, actually.
There is simply no logical, rational explanation for it.
Why has Banister played Rougned Odor every single game this season? Odor is the only Ranger to have played in all 145 games. Why? Why did Banister insist on putting someone who was an ineffective as Odor into the number five slot, and leave him there, until well into July, creating a glaring black hole in the most critical run producing role? Why has Banister been a believer in “unplugging” guys in the past as a way to let them clear their heads and re-find their game, like he did with Fielder and Choo, yet he refused to do that with Odor? Odor not only deserved to sit, but early in the season he should have been sent down to rediscover his bat.
He has struggled all season long, yet there he is, still—the worst hitter in baseball, the worst defensive second baseman in baseball—in the lineup night after night after night to fail time and time again.
This is not an indictment of Odor. This is not putting this season’s failures on the back of Odor. Players have bad years, that’s why there is the Comeback Player of the Year award. This is not to suggest Rougned Odor could have a long, remarkable career.
This is, however, saying that one hundred percent of Odor’s miserable season is on the manager. What was he thinking doing this to a young kid?
Whatever it was, it didn’t work.
Managers know their players better than anyone not in the clubhouse could possibly know them. And maybe he figured having his second baseman endure an entire season of embarrassing futility would be good for him. It’s certainly curious.
All manager’s decisions are questioned. It’s the ones that are questionable that start to add up.
Felix Hernandez (5-4, 4.28) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-9, 3.19)
Game time: 7:05