If you can’t beat ‘em, hire the manager that beat you. Yeah! That’s the phrase. At least it is for the Texas Rangers, who successfully courted Bruce Bochy out of three-year retirement to become their new manager. Bochy is best known to Texas as the mafioso who picked them apart in the 2010 World Series with the Giants. He won two more championships in the Bay Area before he left San Francisco after the 2019 season.
Rangers fans will remember how Bochy unleashed the trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner in that championship tilt, making everyone in the Metroplex jealous that their local professional team has never had a trio of starters like that. Then again, most teams never have. And Bochy’s track record of elevating pitchers at the major-league level addresses the biggest weakness Texas has had since the move to Arlington. Plenty of Ranger teams have been above-average offensively. They could win a game 11-10. It was extremely rare they’d get the job done by only scoring two runs.
After a big-spending offseason, bringing in the middle infield of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien for around $500 million, those pockets will open again with one huge target, Clayton Kershaw. Wooing one of the best pitchers in the world away from the 2020 World Series Champions and the ace from a team that won 111 regular-season games this year will be tough but doable. Wouldn’t that be a huge goal for Bochy in his staff, to maintain the Cy Young quality we’ve seen from Kershaw? The Rangers have dabbled with some of baseball’s best over the years in Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee, with Darvish being the only one with long-term success in Texas. It’d be a turnaround to have Bochy keep Kershaw’s consistency should he court him to the American League.
Turnaround is the key word when describing Bochy’s hire and what the Rangers hope to get from him. He’s the 20th full-time manager for the team since moving out of Washington D.C. and the only one to have won a World Series prior to being hired. Heck, only three Rangers managers ever have led them to a playoff game: Johnny Oates, Ron Washington, and Jeff Banister. With how relevant the Rangers were for most of the last dozen years, what an odd stat.
Bochy will turn 68 early on in his first season managing the Rangers. His age by itself isn’t an issue. Dusty Baker leads the rival Astros, in the midst of their sixth straight ALCS appearance, at 73. Proving the game hasn’t passed him by like it did Tony La Russa is critical early into his tenure. Should Texas deal out more cash to win now — and with a deep farm system — results will be expected quicker than in most posts. Chris Woodward made it three seasons and some change before getting a pink slip. Bochy likely has an even shorter leash should he fail to become the fourth Rangers’ manager to lead the team to the postseason. And that’s the bare minimum expectation.