Questioning. 955 comments

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Jeff Banister’s unconventional managing style is starting to get noticed.

And not in a good way.

Yesterday, he pinch ran for the one guy in the lineup you really should never take out of the lineup. He sent Delino DeShields in for Prince Fielder.

It might have made sense if DeShields represented the tying run. He didn’t. It might have made sense if DeShields represented the go-ahead run. He didn’t. He was on first, with Elvis Andrus, the go-ahead run, on second.

So DeShields wasn’t even in a stolen base situation. His only weapon, his speed, wasn’t relevant.

In what was a 1-1 game, and with the Rangers’ propensity for leave runners on base, you’d want your one RBI guy to stay in the game unless the situation absolutely dictated he come out of the game.

It didn’t.

The Rangers did score on an Adrian Beltre single, his second RBI of the game. What happened to DeShields? He got as far as second, then was doubled off trying to go to third the next play.

There was no reason he should have been in the game in the first place.

Not finished, with a thin 2-1 lead, Banister pulled Choo, who had already had two doubles, for defense. For Jake Smolinksi.

That might not seem to have been a bad call in a vacuum. But suddenly you have removed your number one and number three hitters in the lineup. Who does that?

If Tampa Bay were to tie it—and with the Rangers bullpen, you had every reason to think it would—you have to go to battle in extra innings without the precious few offensive weapons you have. Without your leadoff and your third-place hitter.

Am I being too critical? I am not alone.

Steve Busby, the second-biggest Rangers apologist alive, questioned Banister’s moves. “Interesting that you would take out your number one and number three hitters in your lineup.”

Interesting indeed. But even more interesting is the effect those moves had on the biggest Rangers apologist alive.

Even Mark McLemore, the king of homers in all of homerdom, questioned the move. On a team that is struggling to score runs, he said, “I want my best hitters in the game.”

I don’t think I have ever heard Busby or McLemore critical of anyone who has worn, had worn, or ever will wear a Rangers uniform.

Before yesterday.

It’s only because the Rays runner at second, who could have easily scored in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game on a base hit, made one of the worst reads on a ball a runner can make and instead of scoring, stopped at third, that Banister’s calls didn’t backfire.

He is lucky. Even though his team scored only two runs once again, he had Wandy Rodriguez pitch a gem, Adrian Beltre wake up from a slump (as everyone knew he would), Elvis Andrus turn a critical double play, and Logan Forsythe lose his mind on the base paths.

Now his team plays a team that is really good.

He will need more than luck.