It sounds like the first line of a joke:
Tanner Scheppers was walking around in Cleveland one night…
In all seriousness, the fact that Scheppers was assaulted, which was undoubtedly a frightening experience (by the way, for all you Jessica Scheppers conspirators, I blame Tyler Durden), just perfectly embodies the strange funk that the Rangers currently find themselves in.
In a more normal frame of baseball mind, I would usually start the following sentence with something along the lines of, “it seems” or “it feels as if”, but that is entirely unnecessary here, because at this point, what “seems” and “feels” are indeed tangible realities.
The Rangers are playing a strange style of baseball, the type of style that makes one wonder exactly what the team did to anger the baseball Gods (I am now convinced that Manny Ramirez is nothing more than a sacrificial lamb).
When the Rangers pitch well, the team suddenly cannot hit. When the team is hitting well, the team suddenly cannot pitch. When the team is playing well overall, Ron Washington arrives to save the day and/or some strange stroke of bad luck inevitably arrises to ruin all of the goodness (yes, I am referring to you, Kerwin).
The Rangers can pitch, hell, the Rangers can pitch extremely well. The starting rotation can undoubtedly go toe-to-toe with any rotation in baseball, and the bullpen is absolutely loaded from top to bottom with riches. It is the Ranger offense that is not exactly awe-inspiring.
As of today, the Rangers are tied for thirteenth in all of MLB in wRC+ (96), and are seventeenth in position player fWAR in all of MLB with 11.9.
I would not necessarily label the Rangers’ offense as a problem, but it is remarkably mediocre, and if this team wants to put itself at the greatest possible odds to reach the World Series (as evidenced by the Matt Garza trade), the Rangers will trade for a bat. But at what cost?
There is little doubt that the White Sox are aware of Texas’ need for a bat, as are the rest of the teams in MLB. The Rangers do not have much leverage here, especially in terms of making a good trade. The White Sox have all the right in the world to ask for the moon for Alex Rios, given Texas’ legitimate motivation to acquire a right-handed OF, and if the Rangers end up acquiring Rios from the White Sox, I would expect it to be an overpay on behalf of Texas.
In other words, the Rangers are not in a good spot to make a good trade for a bat.
Between a mediocre Ranger offense, the presence of Manny Ramirez in the organization, Lance Berkman kicking the can, Nelson Cruz being pursued by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Ron Washington’s gut, talk of a reunion with Michael Young and Nolan Ryan’s beef, this is a strange season for the Texas Rangers indeed.