The Team That Forgot How To Score

The Indians (55-48) shutout the Rangers (56-48) 1-0 on Saturday night, dropping Texas 5.0 games behind Oakland for the AL West lead — the second-widest gap between a 1st- and 2nd-place team in MLB — and is the 11th Ranger loss in their last 14 games.

In those 14 games, the team has scored 36 runs (2.57 runs/game), but if you take out Friday night’s 11-8 loss in Cleveland — as well as the 7-1 win they mustered in Detroit on July 13th — it means the Rangers have scored just 21 runs over the remaining 12 match-ups (a gaunt 1.75 runs/game).

It’s literally been a “power struggle,” and the product has been a 3-11 record, which is slightly worse than the 4-11 mark the team posted from June 1st through the 15th.

If you take a look at Baseball Prospectus’ 3rd order win percentage — which takes into account the strength of schedule, the league, etc. — the Rangers projected record translates to 55-49. Oakland’s is a game better, 56-48.

Texas’s playoff odds are down to 54.3%, a 19.8% drop from last week.

If you are given the keys to the Rangers organization, you are greeted by 3 doors, and they look like this:

(1) Trade for a bat. Trade for two bats. Anything it takes to win go for a World Series right now.

(2) Stand pat. Don’t trade away any more Minor League talent for marginal upgrades. The team may make the postseason, or it may not. You aren’t willing to jeopardize any more of the future for stopgap replacements for a roster that, as currently constructed, essentially has coin-flip odds to make it to October.

(3) Sell players you can get value for. Contenders always need bullpen help around this time. Perhaps someone is willing to overpay for Joe Nathan. Maybe a team is looking for catching help so they come calling for A.J. Pierzynski.

This isn’t a concession of the 2013 season. It’s more a shrewd way of allocating your assets in the current climate baseball is in.

. . .

Door #1 is too obvious, too desperate. Jon Daniels has stated several times in the past that he doesn’t want to create an front office environment that acts out of emotion. If he goes out and acquires a bat, it will be at his price. Daniels knows the value of young, controllable talent as well as any general manager in baseball, so you’d have to believe his level of motivation isn’t exactly bursting through the roof to trade another hefty sum of prospects like he did for Matt Garza.

Door #2 is conservative — something the Ranger Front Office is not — but it could also prove to be the most deft option of the three. Logically speaking, it’s hard to imagine the Garza trade was something Daniels & Co. envisioned standing on its own; all signs pointed to improving the club for a 2013 stretch run.

However, since the trade went down (through no fault of Matt Garza), the Rangers have lost 2.0 games in the standings to the Athletics. A 5.0-game lead probably isn’t substantial enough to abandon all hope, but with a mere 58 games (36%) left on the schedule, it’s only going to get tougher.

Door #3 is probably too radical to actually occur in reality, but it wouldn’t be the craziest concept to exercise. If you can receive over-market value on players like Nathan, Pierzynski, or even Alexi Ogando, it would help the Rangers stock up on more Minor League currency to inevitably flip in an offseason trade for David Price or Giancarlo Stanton.

But the impact would be seen as negative. Ostensibly it would be taken as the Rangers giving up on their season … and that’s why it won’t happen.

You be the judge.

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead— your next stop, the Twilight Zone . . . .

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Tags: Indians

  • Brandon Land

    Almost makes you wonder if Daniels would have pulled the trigger again on the Garza trade if he were to have waited until this week. We all knew the team was struggling, but it’s almost like they’re finding new and inventive ways to make sure they stay out of the win column.

    • Eric Reining

      It’s madness. Pure madness how the Rangers are in this position right now.

      If you ask me, I’d say the team is underperforming as much right now as they were over-performing the first two months. It’s dumb. It’s too simple of an explanation. But maybe that’s why it’s taken so long to realize, because the answer has been in front of our faces all year.

      • Andy

        What’s the answer?

        • Eric Reining

          The whole theory that “The Rangers can only get better as guys return from the DL” was wrong. Maybe the Rangers overachieved ridiculously earlier in the year and the true talent of the club isn’t what people thought.

          • Andy

            I think you might be onto something. The problem I have with it is, we still have a lot of guys left over from the 2011 and even 2010 teams. Were they playing over their heads for 2+ years? Or have they all just gotten that much worse in that time? Or are they simply in a temporary slump?

      • primi_timpano

        Is this really a surprise? 2011 had injury free pitching, Murphy playing high above his mean, and a lot of production from Josh and Napoli.

        This year the only improving bat is Kins. Berkman washed out and Profar has no place to play. Early in the season the Rangers benefitted from good streaks from Martin and Moreland and good play from Baker. I have high hopes for Martin and Baker is a good platoon OF, but these guys don’t exhibit a lot of power.

        At the BPiA the Rangers would be well served trying to use Weaver’s strategy of good pitching and a few .260 hitters who can hit a 3 run HR.

        Whatever the solution, the defense needs tightening and something has to be done to improve the base running.

        2013 is not lost, but 2014 may be worse if the team doesn’t realign.

  • Chuck

    The answer is in the lineup gents. The loss of Hamilton, Napoli, Guerrero, and even MY. The deep lineups of 10-12 are gone. There is no protection for Moreland and he is being exposed as an average hitter at best. Andrus is not seeing pitches to hit because the threat of Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz, etc. is not behind him. You can fix this somewhat by moving Kinsler to #3, Beltre #4, and Cruz #5 with Martin hitting leadoff. But still you are missing one more bat. Now in all honestly I can see the Rangers selling at the deadline and retooling for 14. The free agent market for hitters is dismal. So you trade for them now when folks are desperate. Your rotation is set for 14, as is your pen. The only holes remain in your lineup.

    • Eric Reining

      Lots of narrative in this; very little fact.

      And Mitch Moreland has never been anything more than an average hitter.