Woodward is just 42 years old, but he’s made the most of his working years and, at least based on experience, is extremely qualified for the position. A 54th-round pick in 1994 who spent four-plus seasons working his way up the minor-league ladder, Woodward went on to play 12 major-league seasons as a utility infielder for the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners, Braves, and Red Sox. After spending the entire 2012 season back at Triple-A in the Blue Jays organization, he retired and became a coach in the Mariners organization. He was promoted to Seattle’s major-league staff as an infield coach in 2014 and remained there until 2015, after which he was hired to Dave Roberts’ staff in LA as the third base coach. Adding that all up, he’s been in professional baseball for each of the last 24 years, playing for 18 and then coaching for the last six.
Woodward, 42, continues the trend of experienced coaches being hired as managers (and it’s an interesting statement towards the hiring practices of the last decade that this is a trend and not the norm). Aside from the Angels’ Brad Ausmus, who previously managed the Tigers, every manager hired this year is a first-time hire with substantial big-league coaching experience; Woodward follows St. Louis’ Mike Shildt, who followed up a 13-year minor-league coaching and managing career in the Cardinals organization with a year-and-a-half on the Redbirds’ big-league coaching staff; the Reds’ David Bell, who spent a year as the Giants’ VP of player development but previously spent five years as a coach for the Cubs and Cardinals; the Blue Jays’ Charlie Montoyo, who managed for 17 years in the Rays organization before spending another four years as a third base and bench coach with Tampa; and the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli, who served various coaching roles at the minor and major-league levels in the Rays organization for seven years.
Clearly GM Jon Daniels didn’t feel the need to shake things up too drastically from what he’s done before — and though his seat may be warming a bit now that the Rangers have finished under .500 and missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, Daniels has generally gotten things right during a 12-season career that has seen Texas reach the playoffs five times, all of which have come during the current decade. Woodward is Daniels’ third managerial hire, following legendary infield coach Ron Washington, who got his first big-league managing opportunity in Texas and took the Rangers to back-to-back World Series, and longtime Pirates coach Jeff Banister, who also became a first-time manager with Texas and led the Rangers to AL West titles in each of his first two years before floundering in the latter two.