According to Sports Illustrated‘s Cliff Corcoran and Jay Jaffe, Ron Washington and Mike Scioscia – the managers of the Rangers and Angels respectively – could start to feel some pressure to win this season or their jobs could be in jeopardy. Both franchises have underachieved the last couple years and the “lack of talent” cannot be used as an excuse.
The Rangers won back-to-back A.L. pennants in 2010 and 2011. While they came up empty in both trips to the World Series, Washington’s stock had never been higher. Since then the Rangers have struggled to find consistency and have lost the final game of the regular season to be eliminated from the playoffs the past two seasons.
The roster has changed considerably since the 2011 World Series run. Left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson left for the Angels following the 2011 season and outfielder Josh Hamilton followed after 2012. Michael Young went to the Phillies and this offseason Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz left as well. In Washington’s defense, his team did change and they did lose some key pieces.
However, the Rangers acquired Prince Fielder in a trade with Detroit and signed Shin-Soo Choo as a free agent. Both bring enormous talent and potential to help propel the Rangers’ offense. Also Cy Young Award finalist Yu Darvish was not a member of the ’11 squad. One could make a case that this team has the potential to be better than the pennant-winning teams.
Washington signed a one-year contract extension in the offseason which will remove the questions from the media about whether he’ll be back next season; however, if the Rangers don’t win this year the front office might make that decision for him.
The case with Mike Scioscia is similar to Washington’s. Unlike the Rangers, the Angels haven’t experienced much postseason success since their 2002 World Series title. Like the Rangers is hasn’t been because of lack of talent or regular season success. Furthermore the Angels have not been shy during free agency either in recent years.
In the past two offseasons they’ve signed Hamilton and Albert Pujols to giant deals and unfortunately for the Halos, both players underachieved from what they were expected to do. Both of those deals have the Angels strapped financially for years to come and in Pujols’ case, no other team is going to want to acquire the aging designated hitter and his monster salary. Admittedly those contracts are not Scioscia’s fault, but there’s still plenty of talent to go around in Los Angeles.
Mike Trout has emerged as the game’s best all-around player and C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver are a solid 1-2 punch in the rotation. The Angels added 3B David Freese and OF Raul Ibanez in the offseason while losing Mark Trumbo to Arizona. Again, every team loses guys to free agency and trades, but just like the Rangers, the Angels’ front office have brought other pieces in to improve the ball club.
Scioscia has long been respected as one the games’ best managers and his resume reflects that (1233-1035, .544). In today’s baseball though, front offices aren’t as patient as they used to be. The Angels need to win now or else Scioscia might the most highly-sought manager in the offseason.