This is re-posted from September 22, 2014, during the Rangers’ late season burst of spontaneous non-losing. Enjoy:
Rangers’ fans have seen the franchise clean out the pantry when it comes to players appearing in major league games this year. The front office found cans of stuff hidden behind the pickles they didn’t even know were back there.
Guys like Smolinksi, Rua, Odor, Martinez, Telis, Robertson, Mikolas, Claudio and Edwards weren’t even on the radar. Yet they are doing more than filling in holes. They are filling in admirably.
They are The Gang Who Doesn’t Know They Aren’t Supposed To Be Up Here.
A cynic would wonder what would have been had a certain manager been able to keep his pants on. Or, had so many things not gone horribly wrong.
Look at first base. It’s easy to say the Rangers found a future gem in Ryan Rua, a guy who never met a pitch he couldn’t hit hard. But they didn’t find Rua as much as they simply ran out of places to look.
Once Prince Fielder went down, the Rangers went with Moreland at first base. He won that job by default, seeing as he had already lost it to Fielder, and already lost his new DH job to Kevin Kouzmanoff. But both were now gone and Mr. Plan C was suddenly back to Plan A.
Then when Moreland went down, the front office went down the list of every able-bodied member of the population.
They tried the Old Tired Washed Up Has Been route with Carlos Peña and J.P. Arencibia and Mike Carp. That didn’t work.
They went with the Slap A First Baseman’s Mitt On Someone And Throw Them Out There route with Donnie Murphy and Brandon Synder and Chris Gimenez and Jim Adduci. That didn’t work.
They went with the Adam Rosales Can Play Any Position route. But he’s not any team’s first choice for first base.
Then, desperate and out of choices, they called on Ryan Rua.
Eleventh time’s the charm.
Thank the baseball gods that after so much bad luck and bad decision-making, the Rangers knew exactly what they had to do. Go to, literally, the last man standing.
That man was Ryan Rua, the eleventh man to play first base for the Texas Rangers in 2014.
Rua’s first major league home run that won the game for the Rangers in the top of the ninth inning yesterday against the best team in baseball is just the latest in feel good stories that this sad season is producing in its last act.
That these stories have been written once Tim Bogar took over might not be a coincidence. The previous manager was youth-averse.
There seem to be two totally different Texas Rangers teams in 2014. Before The Resignation. After The Resignation.
With pretty much the exact same players over the past three months, this team is playing a totally different brand of baseball since its sudden forced change in leadership.
With each passing day, and each passing win, it is more and more clear that whatever message Ron Washington was preaching was falling on deaf ears.
If Tim Bogar doesn’t get the full-time gig next year, it’s not for lack of success. There really is nothing else he can do to earn the job.
Without the benefit of Fielder, Choo, Kouzmanoff, Darivsh, Perez, or even Rios, that Washingon had in April when he guided the Rangers to eight of nine wins, Bogar has just racked up eight of nine wins with the same team (plus Derek Holland) that had played .250 baseball since June.
Everybody is contributing. Every day it seems like somebody new. Even if nobody inside of the Rangers fan base, or inside the Ranger front office, had ever heard of them before.