With the new year approaching, I thought I’d put together my top 5 worst Ranger moments in 2013. To me, these 5 things in had a major impact on the season and ultimately caused the Texas Rangers not to make the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.
5. There’s no crying in baseball. – The Michael Young trade to the Phillies
I know this happened in Dec 2012, but it impacted the 2013 season. When Jon Daniels traded Michael Young to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor leaguer Lisalverto Bonilla.
To me, Michael Young’s presence was missed all season. He played well in 2012 and a bit better in 2013. He managed a batting average of .279/.335/.395/.730 over 147 games in 2013. That’s a bat the Texas Rangers could have used. That might have been enough to put them in the playoffs. If we look back to the month of September, if that consistent bat could have joined with Alex Rios, there wouldn’t have been a need to have a one game play in game for the playoffs.
Besides his bat, Young brings his leadership to the club house. That to me is the most important thing the Texas Rangers lost when he was traded to the Phillies. Young was the role model the help guide the team. During the 2013 season, it was evident that there was a void. I know I miss Young and I’m sure I don’t stand alone. Maybe by some chance he’ll rejoin the Texas Rangers and finish his career here.
4. Oh my back – Matt Harrison injury
One of the worst things that happened to the Texas Rangers happened just a few weeks into the regular season. The opening day starter Matt Harrison only pitched in two games and was then out for the remainder of the season with a back injury. After an outstanding season in 2012, the Rangers were ready for him to help lead the team back to another postseason run. Instead, Harrison had surgery and missed the remainder of the season. His presence was definitely missed. Pitchers like Martin Perez, did manage to step up and kept the Rangers in it until game 163. We know how that went down against the David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays.
How would the season have ended had Matt Harrison been healthy all year? With a record of 18-11 and an ERA of 3.29, my guess is the Rangers might have been able to hold of the Oakland Athletics and win the division. But it would take more than Harrison to probably in the division. Hopefully in 2014, we’ll see the 2012 version of Harrison.
Yu Darvish started off the season with a stellar game against the Houston Astros. Darvish managed to get through 26 consective batters only have to his day spoiled by a single threw the legs by Marwin Gonzalez. To me, Darvish has a chance at the ball, a long shot of a chance, but a chance. Had he made that play, Darvish would have recorded a perfect game for the Rangers on game number 2 of the season.
One thing about no-hitters and perfect games, you don’t talk about it until it’s in the books. Maybe that’s what jinked it, but it was still an awesome game. And the Texas Rangers won the game 7-0. Darvish flirted several more times with no-hitters during the season, but didn’t manage to get it done.
I’m sure some point in his career he’ll reach that achievement. But that first one where Gonzalez was a heart-breaker. I thought he had it, and was disappointed that Gonzalez spoiled it. Maybe games like that hurt Darvish at the end. During all of those no-hitter attempts, Darvish extended his pitch out. Maybe in 2014 Ron Washington should keep his pitch count down and save his arm for September.
2. Nolan leaves the ballpark in a gorilla suit – Nolan Ryan resigns
At the beginning of the season when Jon Daniels was given a promotion and some of Ryan’s executive powers were removed, it was the beginning of the end. I was pretty surprised to see that he did stay at that point, but was glad. I’m sure he wanted to see the results of his work one more time. Especially since his group helped rebuild the Texas Rangers into the club it has become today. After two World Series trips and an additional playoff run in 2012, Ryan did what seemed impossible. He turned Arlington into, what could be called around here, a baseball town. Now that the Texas Rangers are a top contender club, and now much talked about in the playoffs, Ryan has established the club as one that will compete for years to come. No longer is the club in the bottom each year, but at the top of the division striving for that top prize…a World Series championship. Ryan barely missed out and he will be missed.
After the end of the season, Ryan resigned and is now gone. Again, I wasn’t surprised. I’m glad he finished the season, I wish the Rangers would have made it 4 playoffs in row for him. Ryan left his footprint with the club, and for many, that will never go away. I don’t think his departure caused them to lose, but I know it was a bad moment in Rangers history.
1. Say it ain’t so Nellie..say it ain’t so. Nelson Cruz 50 game suspension
Probably one of the worst things that happened this season was the 50 game suspension of Nelson Cruz. It also didn’t help that it seemed to drag out all season and didn’t finally come to end with game 163 of the season.
Jon Daniels did bring in Alex Rios, which did help fill some of the void in the line up, but Nelson Cruz was missed. The offense missed what Cruz could have produced in September. The Rangers were on pace to have one of their worst September’s franchise history, but managed to pull off some wins at the end to avoid that and force a one game play-in game for the playoffs with Tampa Bay.
When Cruz came back, I was less than optimistic that he would make a difference in that game. As we know, he didn’t do anything to help the Rangers in that game.
Now, Cruz has 2 strikes against him as a Rangers, game 6 of the World Series and two being a cheat. We all wanted to think the best of him, but it seems apparent he was part of it and tarnished his name. Along with that, he probably cost the Texas Rangers a 4th playoff run by not being int he line up for 50 games when it counted.
After the signing of Shin-Soo Choo and the Rangers letting him have number 17, it seems pretty unlikely that Jon Daniels will re-sign Nelson Cruz. Some will miss Cruz, I will a bit, but it is time for him to move on.