Here’s the good news about the offseason so far.
The Rangers starting pitching, which ranked twelfth out of fifteen American League teams in ERA, has improved.
Every man, woman, and child in America, except for one, knew that Smyly, Miller, and Volquez were going to be monumental failures. Gibson and Lyles and the combination of Allard/Burke/Palumbo or whoever it ends up being automatically make the 2020 rotation much better. If nothing else, they will be serviceable starters, not meltdowns waiting to happen.
If the Rangers end there, it will be disappointing, but it will be a window into their true expectations for contending in 2020. The current rotation means they will be happy with .500.
But while the rotation has improved what is being overlooked here is that the lineup has been significantly downgraded.
The Rangers were middle of the pack in the A.L. offensively. Ninth in team hitting and team OBP, eighth in team OPS, sixth most runs scored, third most strikeouts.
On top of all that, they lost an All-Star outfielder and all his offensive performance that went with it.
Hunter Pence was responsible for a ton of offense. The Rangers have not done anything to make up for that yet.
As of now, the offense has gotten slightly more worse than the rotation has gotten better.
But the good news there is, even if the Rangers just dip their toe in the free agent market, employing their customary It’s-The-Least-We-Can-Do approach, the team will get better. There’s almost no way they could not improve at catcher, first, second, short, third, left or center if they wanted to.
The Rangers have too many holes to fill all at once. But they need to start filling them, planting trees in those holes instead of just covering them with fill dirt. They need to start bringing in players to build around, not just to work around.
They have Gallo. Okay, there’s one. But he’s temporary. He’s here only two more years. So, get another cornerstone. At first, third, center—wherever, it doesn’t matter. Okay, now you have two positions figure out. Maybe you make a trade for that third position during the season. Maybe you fill a few more holes next offseason. Maybe one of the players in your system develops. It’s been years since the Rangers have brought up an impact position player. It’s unlikely but not impossible.
While fans ultimately want a championship caliber team, Rangers fans would like to start with a competitive team.