The Rangers are having only their second losing season since the World Series years.
Think about that.
The fact that this is only their second failed season since 2010 is something that should be put up in sky writing in bold letters. It’s been a pretty successful franchise the past eight years. Learn more about writing at sodapdf.com/compress-pdf/
But, because of all the post-season failures, it doesn’t feel that way. The Rangers have lost six straight playoff games, nine out of the last eleven post-season games, and five consecutive post-season outcomes.
All the winning is over shadowed by post-season failure that’s piled up like a stack of discarded credit card statements. You can throw away the bills but the debt still lingers.
So when the Rangers are playing as bad as they are playing now, it’s difficult to stand on the shoulder of their recent success and see the past. Or see what’s ahead.
There are a couple approaches the Rangers can take in the near future to get back to championship caliber.
They can sell every living, breathing asset, declare this a total rebuild, and start from scratch. That’s a formula we’ve seen work recently for the Royals, the Cubs, and now the Astros.
The Rangers traded Darvish and Lucroy. But they still have plenty of assets they can unload after yesterday’s non-waiver deadline. In fact, players like Napoli, Cashner, and Gomez are better deals after the deadline because they fill specific needs, and it’s highly doubtful any team claims them off waivers as a strategy to block a potential deal since they would have to pick up the rest of their salaries.
Then, they can unload more in the off-season, like Andrus, and Odor and Choo and Gallo. Even Beltre if they are true to the fire sale philosophy.
The total burn down fire sale is dangerous in this case because Jon Daniels is not Theo Epstein. Jon Daniels is not Jeff Luhnow. Jon Daniels is not Dayton Moore.
Epstein and Luhnow and Moore are the poster boys for how to rebuild a team. It takes discipline. It takes begin able to withstand pain. It takes a willingness to swallow the ego and take it on the chin for a few years.
And, above all else, it takes an uncanny ability to judge talent.
The other approach is this: throwing up the white flag this year doesn’t have to mean giving up on next season. On the contrary, there are scenarios where the Rangers can be competitive next season. It might be too much to ask them to be World Series worthy, but they could still be much better than they are this season. It’s a matter of building the offense around Beltre, Andrus, Mazara, and Odor.
But that will take a new approach to constructing the offense. And a conscientious effort to stop ignoring defense.
Rule one, hitters should be able to hit. Pick on-base percentage over home runs. Strikeouts are bad. In other worlds, the front office has to quit thinking they are building a roster for fantasy baseball.
Then the challenge will be to build a rotation around Hamels. That might be the downfall of this approach.
Since the Rangers have so little talent in their farm system to turn into pitching, and such a poor track record of developing pitching, they are going to have to spend to get it. Good pitching comes at a premium
Daniels shops at the Goodwill store. That’s where you can get two for one A.J. Griffins, or an irregular Andrew Cashner. His bargain shopping skills are going to have to be out in full force this off-season.
The bullpen will be what a bullpen always is. A crap shoot. The crap that they shoot out there on a nightly basis this year could just as easily be lights out next season.
There is hope that the Rangers could be competitive next season. It won’t be cheap. But that’s the price you pay when you can’t develop talent on your own.
The Rangers can burn it all down and start over. Or they can plug and play.
My guess is they pick the second option.
Erasmo Ramirez (4-3, 4.80) vs. Nick Martinez (3-3, 4.56)
Game time: 7:05