By all accounts, Chris Woodward seems like a good man. Whether he’s a good manager is difficult to determine.
Woodward signed a three-year contract to manage the Rangers starting in 2019. This is year three. He started strong, though. In a reversal of the Jeff Banister years, the Woodward-led Rangers bolted out of the gate in 2019, winning five of the first seven games, and being ten games over .500 by the end of June.
Then the bubble burst. Or, more aptly, Joey Gallo’s, Hunter Pence’s, and Danny Santana’s bubbles burst. After the highwater mark of 46-36, the Rangers lost fourteen out of twenty, and fell into baseball oblivion, finishing ten games under and in third place.
After the season, a lot of players complained they had trouble buying the new approach Woodward was trying to sell.
Season two was a total disaster. The Rangers ended up with the second-worst record in baseball, and the third-worst winning percentage in Texas Rangers history. Players still grumbled about the system. But who’s to blame here? It’s hard to teach offense to hitters who can’t make contact.
Now, going into the final year of his contract, Woodward enters spring training with a team with as many holes and question marks as last year’s. Finishing anywhere but last place in a very weak American League West would be a miracle.
His rotation is considerably weaker than what he started the season with last year. His bullpen is just as chaotic. The offense looks to be a tick better, assuming Nate Lowe replaces Ronald Guzman, and David Dahl can stay on the field longer than a week.
But Woodward has his work cut out for him. Losing is never easy. And being thrust into a no-win situation in your first shot as a major league manager has to be disheartening.
It seems certain the Rangers will give him an extension beyond this year. Why not? Who else? Why subject another poor sap to the same pain? Given the team can’t reasonably expect to be competitive for another three or four seasons, why not let Woodward ride it out all the way through.
But, to the question of whether he’s a good manager, it’s difficult to determine. He wasn’t given much to work with.
No jockey can win a race on a three-legged horse.