Surprise positional outlook: Manager

A few weeks ago, manager Ron Washington earned a two-year contract extension, making him the skipper of the Rangers through 2014. Assuming he serves out the life of that contract, he could become the club’s all-time winningest manager and have managed the most games in the organization’s history.

Today's position: Manager

We talked a lot about Washington’s style when he got the extension, but perhaps no team in the majors plays as hard for its manager as the Rangers do for Washington. He trusts his players but isn’t afraid to jump on them when needed. He’s honest, letting everyone know where they stand. And he’s a master motivator, making sure his team is prepared to play each day, but also loose and having fun.

He’s also improved as an in-game manager. Some of that is because of the trust he places in his coaches. But he’s learned when to let his gut make some key decisions for him and when to go by the book. He doesn’t get too caught up in statistics or matchups. And if he makes a mistake, he learns from it.

Perhaps Washington’s biggest challenge in the early part of spring training will be to get his team to move on from how 2011 ended. He was able to rally them around a single goal last season after losing the Fall Classic in 2010. He must do it again, knowing the disappointment was a lot bigger in 2011. Washington isn’t concerned about it and says his group is mentally tough and will be ready to play.

Washington will be entering his sixth season and his teams have improved in wins every single season he’s been in the dugout. That’s not going to be easy in 2012 after the 2011 edition won a club-record 96 games.

“It’s not about the wins, it’s about improving how we play the game,” Washington said. “If we do that, all that stuff will work out.”