There's a tendency to make the firing of bench coach Jackie Moore into just a Jon Daniels vs. Nolan Ryan battle. After all, Moore said Wednesday that he couldn't think of a reason for his departure, other than he was "a Nolan guy." But I don't think that's fair. (As an aside, if we were simply dumping folks into groups, wouldn't Dave Anderson be a "JD guy?")
Hours after losing the job you've loved for five years and leaving the game you've devoted the last 55 years -- yes, more than five decades -- of your life to, it might be difficult to come up with reasons why it's all ended. That's understandable. I'm not saying Moore is wrong, either. But to simply pin this on the fact that he's aligned with Ryan means ignoring the big picture.
Let me make this clear: I'm sad today. I've had the pleasure, like so many who have been around the team the past few seasons, to get to know Moore at least a little bit. No one that's spent even a small amount of time with Jackie comes away with anything but love for the man. He's just a terrific person. He cares about everyone. He's the guy that will always ask how you or your family is doing before he ever starts talking about himself. He's been an important ally and advocate for manager Ron Washington. I asked him after the 2010 season, the club's first World Series appearance, what he was most proud of and he said: "That Ron Washington is finally getting his due." (And if you're curious how much impact a bench coach can have, check out this story from the 2011 playoffs.)
I'm not surprised that changes were made to the coaching staff Wednesday. You can't have two consecutive Septembers like the Texas Rangers did and expect an entire on-field staff to return.
Since 2009, the one revolving spot on Washington's staff was the hitting coach. Other than that, pitching coach Mike Maddux, bullpen coach Andy Hawkins, Moore, outfield coach Gary Pettis and infield coach Dave Anderson have comprised the rest of the staff. The only difference was Pettis and Anderson flipping roles on the bases last year with Pettis moving to third and Anderson to first.
That's five years. It's a long time. They had tremendous success, including two straight World Series appearances. That success, in part, is the reason Moore and Anderson, who were let go Wednesday, aren't on the staff any more. They, along with the team that Daniels and his staff assembled, altered expectations. This isn't a team simply pleased to make the postseason. It's about winning championships. And for the second straight year, this club wasn't good enough late in the season to go on a deep playoff run.
So changes had to be made. For those worried that the skipper might not have the close relationship with the next bench coach that he did with Moore, let's not forget how Moore and Washington were united in the first place. It wasn't because Washington made the call. Art Howe was Washington's first bench coach, shortly after he got the job prior to the 2007 season. Two years later, Howe was out. It was Ryan who insisted that Moore take his place. It was a forced marriage. And Moore and Washington's hugs after wins proves those can sometimes work.
Sometimes different voices, though, can help a staff and team. Washington will have someone else sitting beside him on the dugout bench in 2014. You can be sure they'll be input from various folks in the organization as to whom that might be. The goal is to hire someone who finds chemistry with Washington and earns his trust. That's the guy that bounces ideas off Washington during critical points in the game and helps him make certain decisions.
Randy Galloway, on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, says this is about Daniels getting someone in that carries "his message" to the manager. Maybe so. Honestly, I can understand Daniels wanting to try to do that. But I don't think that has to be a negative. It's still Washington's call. He's the manager. If that means there's a different voice, that's just one more opinion for Washington to consider as he's making decisions. What can't happen is any kind of end around or lack of trust between the two. The bench coach's first priority must be the manager and the manager has the final word. Moore understood that as the two developed their partnership.
The bench coach is an important job on any staff. Moore did it well. But there's now an opportunity for a different voice. As Moore's hiring back in 2009 proves, that can be a good thing.