Rangers fire manager Chris Woodward in midst of fourth straight losing season

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ARLINGTON — From the time the Rangers finally got to spring training, Chris Woodward was direct. There would be no excuses. The team had a new, state-of-the-art facility, a beefed-up roster, three years’ experience with a painful teardown and rebuild process. This Rangers team needed to expect to win. Even had it boiled down to a logo — “E2W” — emblazoned on T-shirts.

And on Monday, the two-year anniversary of the last time the Rangers spent a day over .500, there were no excuses.

Only consequences.

The Rangers fired Woodward two games shy of his 500th with the club and with a season remaining on his contract, the club announced Monday. Third base coach Tony Beasley was named the interim manager. It is unclear whether Beasley would be a candidate for the permanent role.

“Chris Young and I had the very difficult task of informing Chris Woodward of our decision today,” Rangers President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels said in a written statement. “In his tenure as Rangers ‘manager, Chris worked tirelessly under what was at times some difficult circumstances. He has been dedicated and passionate in his efforts to improve the on-field performance of the Texas Rangers, and it is greatly appreciated. He has represented the organization with class and dignity.

“We have had extensive discussions over the last several weeks and while the team’s current performance is certainly a big part of this decision, we are also looking at the future. As the Rangers continue to develop a winning culture and put the pieces together to compete for the postseason year in and year out, we felt a change in leadership was necessary at this time.

“On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, we thank Chris and wish him and his family the very best.”

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The Rangers, on their way to their sixth consecutive losing season, are 211-287 in Woodward’s three-plus seasons. The .424 win percentage is the sixth worst in MLB in that time. Ironically, the firing came a day after perhaps the best series win of the season, in which the Rangers rally on back-to-back days to win two of three from Seattle.

Ultimately, neither the first three seasons nor the weekend mattered much. Woodward and the Rangers overachieved to win 78 games in 2019, had their 2020 plans scuttled by the pandemic and two catastrophic injuries and embarked on a full rebuild in 2021. That was about the process, about building a championship culture. After ownership committed more than $500 million to free agents in the offseason, though, 2022 became more about results.

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And there the Rangers simply have not delivered. After flirting with .500 in June, the club has seemingly taken a step backward. The Rangers are 15-25 since July 1 and have fallen back to a 90-loss pace. Management didn’t expect the Rangers to go from worst to first in one season, but they expected more than another 90-loss season.

Some of the record could perhaps be blamed on luck. The Rangers are on pace for the worst winning percentage ever in one-run games, which, according to advanced analytics, are often decided by nothing more than luck.

Then again: no excuses. Baseball, Woodward often said, is a performance-based industry.

More significantly, the quality of play, which wasn’t sharp from the start of the season, has never really improved. The Rangers seemed to function more as individual parts than a team. A key element of a championship culture — an all-for-one attitude — never really seemed to develop. There was no galvanizing force in the clubhouse despite the commitment of $500 million to free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.

Both are meticulous in preparation, central to Woodward’s philosophy. Neither, however, has grabbed hold of the clubhouse in the same way that previous leaders of the last 25 years — Will Clark, Michael Young and Adrían Beltré — did. As .500 slipped away from the Rangers over the last six weeks, there seemed to be an air of resignation around the team.

Texas Rangers right fielder Adolis Garcia (53) is congratulated by Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward after Garcia scored during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, May 1, 2022.(Michael Ainsworth / Special Contributor)

Either nobody could — or would — do anything about it.

At the start of August, when the trade deadline passed, President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels was asked about Woodward’s status. He was non-committal.

“I think where we are in the standings, that’s not a reflection of any one person or any one group,” Daniels said at the time. “Ultimately that’s on [myself and general manager Chris Young] more than anyone else. I think [Woodward] and the staff are working tirelessly and doing everything they can do to continue to develop this group and push forward. But as far as evaluating individual departments or individual people, it’s not something I want to do right now.”

A few days later, on his weekly radio segment with KRLD-105.3 FM, he expanded a bit more, while also acknowledging the team was underperforming based on both external and internal pre-season projections. Most external projections had the Rangers as a 75-76 win team.

“That’s one thing we don’t want to change, is the level of intensity or the expectations,” Daniels said of conversations with Woodward. “That’s when things snowball, when you just kind of accept losing. It seeps into the culture of the team and we can’t allow that.”

On Monday, the Rangers reached the point where they felt they had to take more drastic steps to stop the losing. There were no excuses. Only consequences.

on Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant

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