Texas Rangers @ Miami Marlins Preview
By David Cash
Jun 11, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (73) tags out Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) after Ozuna attempted to stretch a single into a double during the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Here are a few questions from Chris Logel that he asked me about the upcoming series:
1. To say that this season has gone as expected for Texas would be an understatement. One of those reasons are injuries. Which ones had the largest impact in your mind?
The season hasn’t gone the way anyone has expected. During the offseason the Texas Rangers made several moves to bolster the lineup with the blockbuster trade of Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder and acquiring on-base specialist Shin-Soo Choo. ESPN’s Buster Olney picked the Rangers to having one of the best lineups if not the best lineups in the American League. Even the pitching staff was looking to return stronger than ever. But none of those plans worked out.
This season has been an utter disaster and one everyone hopes to soon forget. At this point with the disabled list being used 24 times this season it’s hard to pick out a single player that has had the biggest impact. But, if you look at maybe one pitcher and one hitter then it’s easy to say they are definitively missing their number two starter Derek Holland and power hitter Prince Fielder.
With those two big holes the starting rotation has been filled with a wide array of various pitchers trying to fill the hole and it hasn’t really gotten any better until recently. The absence of Prince Fielder can be felt for sure. After the team decided not to pony up to the demands of Nelson Cruz they were hoping to plug in Fielder as a power hitter. But, Fielder didn’t look good in April and just when things were starting to lookup for them the was sided lined for the remainder of the season.
2. Is Ron Washington on the hot seat and/or should he be?
No, Ron Washington shouldn’t be on any hot seat this season. He’s basically been managing a high triple-A team this season. When you have guys basically coming from high-A ball to pitch for the season you know there has been some serious depletion in your system. Washington has been focused all-season long on mentoring and developing the young players such as Rougned Odor, Nick Martinez, Luis Sardinas and others. Jon Daniels and the front office guys all support the work that Washington has done and he’ll return next year.
3. Being Marlins’ fans, we are quite used to being out of the playoff race by the middle of August (or earlier). We love to talk about the future. What does the future for the Rangers hold?
For Rangers fans this is really something new for them. Not many fans can remember the disastrous seasons of 1972 and 1973. Honestly they are before my time as well, but I’ve read about how horrible they were. Right now the team is set to lose more than 100 games and there are a section of fans that are abandoning ship. It isn’t really fair to the team or the other fans to do that because overall this is still a very good baseball club. Jon Daniels and his front office staff has done an outstanding job of building this team from the ground up and have been able to plug in a few key veterans over the years to get the team where it is today. They still have one of the top 5 farm systems in the league which has helped the overcome some of the injuries this season.
Next season should be another good year for the Rangers. They expect to have most players back with the exception of Martin Perez who is coming off of Tommy John surgery and probably won’t have Matt Harrison unless some miracle happens there with his back. During the offseason they will need to find some starting pitching to plug some of the holes. With the division overall getting better the Rangers will find it harder to make the playoffs than they did back in 2010 and 2011, but they have the tools and smart front office personnel to do the job.
4. Preview the pitchers that the Marlins are going to face over the next two days?
The Rangers will send Miles Mikolas to the mound tonight and Nick Martinez on Wednesday. Mikolas was recently banged up by the the Tampa Bay Rays, but before that was starting to look pretty good. He has a record of 1-5 with a 7.71 ERA over 8 starts/44.1 innings. When he’s finding his spots and is able to command his pitches he’s a pretty good pitcher, the problem is when he’s off he is pretty awful. He’s allowed 7 or more earned runs 3 times this season. To his credit he hasn’t posted back-to-back bad starts this season. He’s been able to bounce back each time and hopefully he’ll do it again.
Nick Martinez, or as we call him the Bulldog, will finish the series on Wednesday. With a season that’s been filled with disappointment, Martinez has been one of those bright spots. He only has a record of 2-9 with a 5.27 ERA, but it should be noted that this season wins and losses really don’t have the same weight as they normally do because the Rangers’ offense has been very spotty. Martinez was able to keep the power hitting Angels down to just 4 earned runs during his last out. Which should have been enough to help the Rangers win, but the offense struggled to post 4 on the board. Martinez like Mikolas has had some bad outings, but he has been able to fight back and find ways get outs in key situations.
5. Texas has a few young players that are very exciting and have some solid depth in the middle of the infield. Unfortunately Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor have struggled this season. Do you see this as a bump in the road, or a more significant issue?
Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor and probably everyone but Adrian Beltre have been struggling this season. Several reasons can be given to answer this, such as the large number of different players they have used, the injuries and the number of rookies they have used this season. For Andrus, this is the first season he didn’t play winter ball and admitted he didn’t do much during the offseason. This change in his routine can probably account for some of his issues this season. Also, the change at second base might have a little bit to do with. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus had a good thing going in the middle infield. Now that the parts have been changed out, both Odor and Andrus are learning each other and how to best play together. Odor is continuing to develop his offensive and defensive skills. He should be in the minors still, but with Jurickson Profar missing the entire season the Rangers needed to call him up a bit earlier than planned. Going in to next season both players should be fine. Odor will continue to develop and Andrus will probably make some offseason adjustments.