Posted on September 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Texas Rangers were unwilling to wait until the end of the season to part ways with manager Jeff Banister. The Rangers informed Banister on Friday that he was being let go with one year left on his contract. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named the interim manager. He will manage the Rangers for the rest of the 2018 season.
“I want to thank Jeff for his dedication and efforts with the Texas Rangers over the last four years. This organization is very appreciative of what he has contributed to the club on the field and in the community,” said Rangers GM Jon Daniels. “This was not an easy decision and comes after a long period of evaluation. However, we feel that a change in the leadership of our Major League club is necessary as we move forward. Once this conclusion was reached, I felt it was appropriate to make the move now.”
Banister took over as manager prior to the 2015 season on the heels of the Rangers finishing last in the AL West. He promptly led Texas to back-to-back division titles in 2015 and 2016, although the Rangers were knocked out in the ALDS both years. He was also named American League Manager of the Year in 2015.
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However, things took a bad turn last season, as the Rangers finished six games under .500 and fourth in the division. Those struggles have continued this season. Texas began Friday 22 games under .500 and a distant last place in the AL West.
Banister can hardly be blamed for the team’s problems this season. The Rangers would have been wise to start a rebuilding project after last season. Instead, Daniels tried to use affordable free agents to plug some holes in hopes of making a surprising run in the AL West. When those moves didn’t work out and the Rangers lost key players to injuries, things quickly spiraled out of control. Now that the Rangers are likely heading for a rebuild this winter, Banister may not fit what Texas needs in a manager.
“Let me say this, Banny was the right person for the job when he joined us in 2014,” explained Daniels. “Ultimately came to the conclusion that we are in a different spot than when he was hired. Largely due to that, we felt a different voice was needed and appropriate as we are in a different position and slightly different direction.”
Daniels went out of his way to praise the job Banister did. However, his comments indicate that Banister’s direct and intense leadership style may not be a good fit with the Rangers not set up to compete in the immediate future. While disappointed, Banister seemed to understand the decision made by Daniels and the organization.
“We had some great times here, but it doesn’t last forever,” Banister said in a statement. “To the fans, I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated your support and kind words over the last four years. I certainly regret that we were not able to make a deeper playoff run for you in 2015 and 2016. Certainly, I am disappointed that I was not able to finish the job. But this has been the experience of a lifetime.”
This was Banister’s first managerial job, but it may not be his last. Taking the Rangers from worst to first in 2015 was an impressive feat. It remains to be seen how many teams have a managerial vacancy this winter. However, Banister is likely to draw interest. Meanwhile, the Rangers will soon begin their search for a new manager as they start from scratch.