<
>

Ron Washington earned his new deal

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Four years ago, Ron Washington earned the Rangers managerial job over Trey Hillman and Don Wakamatsu. He knew then that he was an underdog choice and that many fans felt Hillman or Wakamatsu should have received the job.

Now, as the Rangers head into the offseason following a trip to the World Series, Washington has a chance to become the all-time leader in games managed in Rangers history. Hillman and Wakamatsu both got major league managing jobs. And both don't have them anymore.

Washington's strength is in his ability to motivate a team and allow his veterans to run a loose but focused clubhouse. The Rangers had a lot of fun in 2010. But when it was time to play, they played. That clubhouse reflected Washington's personality.

So on Thursday, Washington got a two-year deal that makes him the manager through the 2012 season. He's already tied for third among all-time Rangers skippers in games managed. This would put him at 1,127 games managed, assuming he manages 162 for the next two seasons. That's just 59 behind Bobby Valentine.

Good for Washington. His teams have improved every season since he arrived, going from 75 wins in 2007 to the 90-win mark in 2010. He's the only Rangers manager to win a playoff series and helped guide the club to the World Series.

He's also improved as a manager each season. Sure, you can question some of his strategic moves. But he's become close with his staff, listens to input and makes the ultimate call. He goes with his gut, and it's usually right. And he's loyal to players. He'll stick with them longer than most other managers would. They usually reward him for that. It's that kind of attitude that also makes players compete extremely hard for him.

The best thing about Washington is that he's down-to-earth. He hasn't changed in four years on this job. And a World Series won't change him, either. He continues to throw batting practice. Why? Because he wants to be involved and be active before games. His coaches have told him he doesn't have to do it. But he insists. (And I'll add that the players like him throwing BP.) He takes time to work with players defensively as often as they want. He'll show up early to hit grounders and takes the time to show players one-on-one the details necessary to be good defensively.

So congrats to Washington. The contract is well-earned.