It’s time for Texas Rangers fans to face the facts. This team is not the same as it was back in 2010 and 2011 when they appeared in back-to-back World Series. Heck, this team isn’t even the same as last year. When the Rangers cut ties with Michael Young, Mr. Texas Ranger, and when they let Josh Hamilton. David Murphy, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz leave in free agency, they became committed to rebuilding.
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Whether you agree with what Jon Daniels has done the past few years, or whether you think he’s a moron, it’s time to support the team we have, and stop comparing them to what used to be. No, this team will likely not make the playoffs this year, especially after losing Yu Darvish for the season, but that isn’t to say the season is a washout. Rougned Odor is getting valuable playing time maturing at the major league level. Others, like Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski are getting a chance to showcase their ability.
Jeff Banister isn’t the same manager as Ron Washington. We all know he is a sabremetrics guy, and relies heavily on numbers and statistics. Washington was old-school, relying more on the flow of a game or season. And of course, Nolan Ryan left to go to Houston.
The Texas Rangers were an offensive juggernaut when they won consecutive American League pennants. From top to bottom, every person in that lineup could hurt you. Now, the Rangers rely on pitching and defense. They’re often forced to play small ball, stealing bases and sacrificing to get runners in scoring position.
The pitching staff has changed. Matt Harrison is coming off of two spinal fusion surgeries, and may never pitch again. The bullpen has seen a complete turnover. Guys like Alexei Ogando, Mike Adams, Koji Uehera have left. Neftali Feliz isn’t the same closer that could come in and blow people away with a 99 mph fast ball. Now, it seems as though he struggles to get it up to 95.
Josh Hamilton said Texas “Wasn’t a baseball town.” Well I disagree. The passion for the game is there, both on the field and in the stands. It’s obvious the young guys want to win, and more importantly, have talent. Joey Gallo is an absolute stud, and will one day replace Adrian Beltre at 3rd base. I’m definitely not hopping on the bandwagon to trade him should the Rangers struggle down the stretch, but the future is bright. Jon Daniels has indeed made some moves I disagree with, but the one thing he has done is built an incredible farm system.
Much like any sport, rebuilding an empire takes time. Indeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but sports fans are usually impatient. I can’t explain the injuries that have decimated the Rangers lineup, and I certainly can’t explain many of the other strange things that have happened since we lost the 2011 World Series. But what I can say is all hope is not lost. The cavalry is coming. It just will take a little time to train the horses.