Washington a symbol of stability for Rangers
Recently extended, skipper has had more success than anyone in club history
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For all the changes that the Texas Rangers have undergone, manager Ron Washington has become a symbol of stability.
It wasn't until this week that the Rangers made it official, signing Washington to a contract extension that covers the 2015 season.
Not that there was ever any doubt -- at least not among the parties involved.
"Our conversations over the winter were about what we needed to do for the team," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We knew we had a lot to get settled, and once those things were put in place, we took care [of the contract] at dinner the other night.
"Literally, we spent about five minutes working it out."
For Washington, it wasn't.
"Everyone wants security," he said. "I have security for another year."
And the Rangers have put to rest the speculation that Washington was on the hot seat in light of Nolan Ryan resigning as CEO in the offseason, shortly after bench coach Jackie Moore was dismissed. They were strong allies of Washington.
They, however, weren't alone in their respect for the job Washington has done.
"I have always been a huge believer in him," said Daniels. "I never bought into the idea of a lame duck. Maybe that would be the case with an inexperienced manager or a guy without skins on the wall. But with Wash, you are taking about a veteran guy who has had success and is well-respected by the organization and the players."
Washington does after all have the best record of the 20 full-time managers the Rangers have had in the 53 seasons since their inception as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. He has a 611-524 record and a .538 winning percentage in seven seasons. He has managed the Rangers to three postseason appearances in the last four years -- which matches the total for the organization's first 49 years of existence -- including back-to-back American League pennants in 2010-11, the only World Series appearances in franchise history.
That's why the Rangers may have shook up their roster -- only three position players (Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland) and five pitchers (Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando) remain from that 2011 World Series roster -- but don't hesitate to keep Washington in the managerial chair.
"Some of the change is a natural turn of events," said Daniels. "There is constant change. Some of it involves bringing in quality veteran players, like Prince [Fielder] and [Shin-Soo] Choo. Some of it is bringing in younger players like Michael Choice. It is part of trying to keep a team moving forward."
Said Washington: "With all the roster turnover, the expectations have never gone down. I wouldn't want it any other way. I expect to win and so does everyone else in the organization."
Winning has not always been a part of the franchise's DNA. While the Rangers didn't advance to the postseason for the first time in four seasons last year, they did win 91 games. It was their fourth year in a row with at least 90 wins. They had only three 90-win seasons in their previous 49 years.
"When he first got the job [in 2007], he was an older age  than your typical first-year manager, and he embraced the building process we faced at that time," said Daniels. "His commitment to what we needed to do and ability to get us through those first couple of years was a big part of our developmental process and the success we have had."
The Rangers were 75-87 in Washington's 2007 debut, and 79-83 in '08. And after those two years, they became a factor in the AL West. He is tied for fourth in terms of managerial tenure with his current team with Bud Black of San Diego and Bruce Bochy of San Francisco, and behind Mike Scioscia, who has managed the Angels since 2000, Ron Gardenhire, who has managed the Twins since '02, and Joe Maddon, who has managed the Rays since '05.
Since Washington took over the Rangers in '07, only Scioscia (624 wins) and Maddon (616 wins) have filled out a lineup card for more victories. And the Rangers' 457 victories in the last five seasons rank behind only the New York Yankees (475).
"He is a baseball guy," said Daniels. "He is a lifer, a winner, a survivor. I'm fully vested in Ron Washington and his ability to run a ballclub."
Daniels said that -- and more -- when he signed Washington to that contract extension.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.