ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington knows one thing he would change if he could: He would make sure his everyday players got more rest during the season. Or they might still be playing, and not already several days into what will be a long offseason.
“I could have looked at not having all my regulars play as many games as they played,” Washington said Tuesday. “I think if I could have changed that, and got them some opportunity to get more rest, they’d be much fresher as we went down the stretch. It could have been a difference. I question myself for that.”
After going to the past two World Series, Texas failed to win even one game this October. They lost 10 of their last 14 overall, including a sweep at Oakland to end the regular season before losing Friday to Baltimore in the first win-or-go-home American League wild-card game.
Not counting the postseason game, Texas had seven players who appeared in at least 147 games. Adrian Beltre, the 33-year-old third baseman who just finished his 15th major league season, was among five Rangers who played in at least 156 games.
“Maybe I played them into the ground,” Washington said.
The Rangers, who won 93 games, face some significant changes in their roster with eight players eligible for free agency.
The most notable is slugger Josh Hamilton, and general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that the team is “not going to make a kind of pre-emptive proposal at this point.” The two sides put negotiations on hold earlier this year with the expectation that Hamilton would test the free-agent market.
“I think that effectively what we decided internally and agreed on with Josh and his representatives during the spring was that was the process,” Daniels said. “We’re going to let it play out. If you put yourself in his shoes, if you’ve got this far, you’re going to test the market, find out what’s out there. I think that’s understandable.”
The Rangers were division leaders for a majors-best 178 days this season, taking the AL West lead four games into the season and staying there alone until be caught by Oakland in the 161st game. They then lost the division crown on the final day of the regular season, 12-5 to the A’s after having a 5-1 lead.
That made the Rangers a wild card, and they lost 5-1 at home to Baltimore on Friday night.
“Bottom line, it was a very good year, it was a very disappointing finish,” Daniels said. “I think we’re all on the same page that we want to build on that and get back to where we want to be, which is contending year in, year out for a world championship.”
That was the consensus feeling among team president Nolan Ryan, Daniels and Washington during a season-ending news conference, which came on the same day the Rangers would have been playing Game 3 of the AL division series had Texas won the AL West title.
Instead of batting practice at Rangers Ballpark, stadium workers were stripping away the grass in foul territory between the third-base line and the visiting team’s dugout.
The Rangers payroll this year topped $120 million. Ryan, who is also part of the team’s ownership group, said there have been numerous discussions about the team’s budget for 2013 that will not be affected by the lack of revenue-generating home playoff games.
“Overall, we’re probably all pretty much in agreement of where we’re headed and how we’re doing as organization,” Ryan said, without getting into specifics. “I think that we all have thoughts and opinions on how we can improve our ballclub, and those will be expressed obviously during meetings going forward. But overall I think everybody’s on the same page.”