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Ron Washington still doesn’t know how to leverage Neftali Feliz in non-save situations

Apr 5, 2011, 11:19 AM EST

Neftali Feliz

I saw the “Feliz won’t be saved for saves” headline on ESPNDallas.com and thought maybe Rangers manager Ron Washington had finally figured out how to get value out of closer Neftali Feliz in non-save situations after repeatedly leaving him in the bullpen in key non-save moments throughout the playoffs.

Turns out, it’s just more of the same with a clever-looking headline, as Randy Jennings reports that Washington has now taken to using Feliz to close out four-run leads.

As the manager explained: “I’m trying to win a game. … I’m going to get the ball to him and let’s go home.”

Washington has yet to show that he’ll find more work for Feliz by bringing him into, say, a tie game or game in which the Rangers trail by one run–you know, the crucial non-save situations that can decide a game–but is now using him in even lower-leverage spots. I’m sure the Rangers’ winning percentage with a four-run lead in the ninth inning will skyrocket from 99.4 percent to 99.6 percent, though.

  1. The Dangerous Mabry - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Perhaps he’ll show true enlightenment and start bringing Feliz in when they’re DOWN by 4 as well. I think it’s the logical next step. Searching for lower and lower leverage situations for your best relief pitcher makes a ton of sense to me.

  2. Gobias Industries - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Good lord, Aaron, get a grip.

  3. jdmcmill - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!! I LOVVVVEEEEEE ME SOME NNEEFFTTAALLII STORIES!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Mark - Apr 5, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    It’s decisions like this and his “managing” in the playoffs last year that make me wonder why he still has a job. Texas is a very talented team, but I can’t see them winning it all if Washington refuses to put his best players on the field in the most important situations.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:08 PM

      Maybe he is Daniels’ only connection to get the good stuff…or he was, that one time.

    • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      Mark; He took your team to the series for the first time, got them out of spring training intact and playing well, wins a lot, players like him, seems to know what he’s doing otherwise (logic of which is based on previous statements), and he seems to not want to ruin his pitcher, which is consistent with team philosophy to bring the kid along slow and move him to the rotation next year. So if someone else could do the job better, send that name to Nolan Ryan and then I’ll send an urgent message to Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays to immediately hire Washington should Ryan decide to replace him. IMO EVERY manager mishandles something at some point. Getting Neffi into games may indeed be Ron’s blind spot. If so, it didn’t hurt them till the Series last year. I’d love to see the Blue Jays in the WS with a great power arm like Feliz in the pen. Win or lose, what a great season that would be. I’ll make you a deal; Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, & Justin Beiber for Feliz & Washington. C’mon man, you gotta like that.

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        You have it backwards. A very talented young team that Washington had nothing to do with assembling took Washington to the WS, and played so well that they erased many of his managing mistakes. This isn’t football or basketball where coaching and teamwork (a result of good coaching) can over-come talent, this is baseball….where the best thing a manager can do is put the best players on the field and get the heck out of the way.

      • Mark - Apr 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        I’m not a Rangers fan, so he didn’t take my team anywhere. All I can judge him by is what I saw during the playoffs and by what I hear him say. In the playoffs he wasted opportunities to bring Feliz in, saving him for a save situation that never came around. That save situation never appeared because inferior relievers were used in high leverage spots, times when Feliz should have been used.

        I’m not saying throw him out there for 3 innings, but if the heart of the lineup is coming up in the 8th in a tie or 1 run game, that might be a better choice then waiting till the ninth with a 4 run lead with the 7-8-9 guys coming up. I mean, if the other 6 guys in the BP can’t hold a 4 run lead for one inning, the Rangers have bigger issues then when they use Feliz.

        Another brilliant idea was to lead off with Andrus. He was one of Texas’ worst hitters last year, and they gave him a ton of PA by letting him lead off. He doesn’t hit for power, his OBP was brutal for a leadoff hitter, and the only reason he was leading off is because he steals a ton of bases. A healthy Kinsler with his 382 OBP (329 for Andrus) and 412 slugging (301 Andrus) would have been much better leading off.

        It’s not a matter of mishandling something. He’s not a good strategic manager. Maybe he’s great at motivating guys, but from an in game, tactical point of view, he’s pretty below average. One brutal decision after another.

      • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 3:11 PM

        paperlions; Respectfully, I disagree. How do the very talented Cubs lose year in year out? They have TONS of talent. Arguably its a history of lousy management erasing the club’s talent. Washington has managed the Rangers from 2007. Every year they’ve improved. If they are talented (and they are) he helped cultivate it. When Buck Showalter had that team his record was poorer than Washington’s. But if any manger landed in a talent oasis it’s Buck Showalter in Baltimore, not in Texas, hence the IMMEDIATE improvement. Buck manages talent well. I contend that a lousy manager will ruin talent, as in, arguably, Buck’s Orioles predecessor, Tremblay; same talented team, lousy record. The team’s talent erased by lousy management. Till Buck. So, your logic that a good manager makes no difference to a talented team isn’t supported by Showalter in Baltimore vs. Showalter in Texas. Same manager, different results, talent being the difference. As for Ron Washington, he grew his club’s talent over 4 years, steadily improving each year. The effect of Washington’s presence is noticeable in the win vs loss. He compares well to Madden with the Rays. Managers do more than “put the best players on the field and get the heck out of the way”. They coach, mentor, cheer lead, psychoanalyze, evaluate game to game performance, mind read the opposition, alcohol, drug and marriage counsel, work with front office, and do PR; all for their players. Ron Washington’s effect is directly noticeable on his team’s performance. He gets the most from his talent, just like Madden, just like Showalter. All those guys who manage winning clubs have to work with their players and front office efficiently to pull that off. Its not as dynamic as in other sports but there is a very definite effect.

        Sorry about the wall of text.

      • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 3:21 PM

        Mark; Sure, using the playoffs, he looked pretty ordinary against the Giants. Its all a learning process though. That club had never done anything like that before. The World Series was likely an overwhelming event and there was clearly a lot of 2nd guessing going on and some really curious decisions. End of the day, though, what an awesome season and post season. Results speak for themselves, after all. I’m betting with experience, it’ll get better. Keep in mind that not all of those decisions were just Washington’s either. I bet Nolan Ryan had some input on batting order and pitcher decisions. I cannot believe he just squatted in the stands and didn’t in any way make his wishes be known.
        Whoever you root for could do a lot worse than Ron Washington as their manager, and since they weren’t in the Series last year (unless you’re rooting for the Giants), I’d say he outperformed your guy.

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        Joe Torre is a lousy manager and the Yankees did just fine with him around.
        .
        I agree that a crappy manager can do a lot of damage, but a good manager can do almost nothing positive beyond staying out of the way and letting the talent take care of itself. The difference between last year’s Rangers and previous versions was not Washington, but an increase in talent on the team….mostly on the pitching staff.
        .
        As Yogi Berra (possibly) answered the question “What makes a good manager?”…..”Good players.”

      • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        paperlions; disagree about Torre. He was mediocre to decent. Tremblay was lousy. Your argument still doesn’t explain Showalter v Tremblay. Or Madden v. Pinella. I contend; a good manager on a talented team will win a lot more than they lose. You CANNOT have one without the other and expect a winner, the league is just too competitive to allow continual mistakes from not being capitalized on. I bet Washington outperformed whomever your team’s manager was (unless it was the Giants, in which case you win) or are you contending that the Rangers are more talented than your team?

      • Mark - Apr 5, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        “Mark; Sure, using the playoffs, he looked pretty ordinary against the Giants. Its all a learning process though. That club had never done anything like that before.”

        Unlike the Giants, backed by the playoff veterans such as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Oh wait no, that’s right, they hadn’t done anything like that either.

        My point is that Washington looked pretty lousy the entire season, not just in the playoffs. His mistakes were magnified in the playoffs. He did nothing different in the playoffs than what he did in the regular season, based on his comments.

        “I’m betting with experience, it’ll get better.”

        Actually, he’s getting worse. Because now he’s leaving Andrus in the #2 spot, which is still far too high for a batter with such poor OBP and slugging skills. And as this article proves, he hasn’t got any smarter when it comes to use of his closer.

        “Keep in mind that not all of those decisions were just Washington’s either. I bet Nolan Ryan had some input on batting order and pitcher decisions. I cannot believe he just squatted in the stands and didn’t in any way make his wishes be known.”

        Which is a problem, because the manager should have full control over who bats where and when. But that’s neither here nor there.

        “Whoever you root for could do a lot worse than Ron Washington as their manager, and since they weren’t in the Series last year (unless you’re rooting for the Giants), I’d say he outperformed your guy.”

        The team I root for has a superior manager, and the sad part is he’s managed a grand total of 3 games in his career. My team didn’t make the playoffs because they were rebuilding. Making the World Series isn’t an indication of a manager’s ability. Francona and Maddon were vastly superior in managing compared to Washington, but neither of those teams won the World Series.

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        Torre is the perfect example. His teams sucked with bad players (every pre-yankee experience), were great with the Yankees, and okay with the dodgers….his teams performed exactly as good as the talent on the roster. When Torre left, the Yankees didn’t get worse, because he was just along for the ride…which is exactly what an effective manager will do.
        .
        Small sample sizes, don’t forget them when making spurious arguments about managerial “performance”. If you look at Showalter’s performance as a manager at his stops, his teams have done about as well as you would expect them to do given their talent…and his teams didn’t exactly get horrible when he left either (the Yanks and D-Backs each won the WS the year after he left).
        .
        Yes, managers can have an effect, usually it is a negative one. The greatest thing a manager can do is put the talent on the field and get out of the way. Washington’s failing is NOT putting the talent on the field and in so doing he is hurting his team…the fact that they are good enough to overcome his failings doesn’t say anything positive about him.
        .
        Last year the Rangers improved because of Wilson, Lewis, Hunter, and Lee…..not because of anything that Ron Washington did. He isn’t a bad manager, he mostly stays out of the way, but he doesn’t maximize the use of his talent.
        .
        Finally, yes, Washington out performed “my guy”, because I root for the Cardinals and Washington is much better at staying out of the way than Tony “the game is all about my micromanaging genius” LaRussa.

      • cur68 - Apr 5, 2011 at 5:10 PM

        But lions I thought you said talent erases manager mistakes? The Cards shoulda been in the series in this case. Maybe your Cards should take on Ron when Mark thinks up a guy who could do better innTexas. Also, if Washington’s so useless as you and Mark contend, he’d be lousy at staying out of the way. He isn’t. He had a mediocre WS v a guy with an excellent WS and lost. Small sample size? WTF? Steady improvement from 2007 to now isn’t enough? The entire 2009-2010 season isn’t enough? Getting to the series isn’t enough? Look, you guys have more stamina than me for this sort of logic, so I give up, but I believe what you are contending flies in the face of results. He took his team to the WS where no other Ranger manager had before. Whatever mistakes he made were as nothing compared to that. Clearly he didn’t do what you would have but clearly he managed a team to a WS and you guys and your team’s mangers didn’t. So whatever he was doing wrong didn’t affect his team that much. He wins and winning forgives most things.

  5. rips08 - Apr 5, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Isn’t it a little early for criticizing Neftali’s usage at this point. What crucial game was he not brought in for? I guess it was tied in the 8th on Friday, but most managers would not have brought in their closer in that situation.

  6. Travis Reitsma - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Managers almost always hurt more than help. How much better would baseball be if this traditional thinking was out of it.

  7. Travis Reitsma - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Managers almost always hurt more than help. How much better would baseball be if this traditional thinking was out of it?

    • Travis Reitsma - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      Internet was being dumb…sorry about the repeat

  8. JBerardi - Apr 5, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Well, why use him in multi-inning stints? It’s not like they’re trying to convert him into a starter at some point, so there’s no reason for him to get stretched out at all….

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