After watching for a month, it is hard to imagine that the Texas Rangers have the eighth highest payroll in baseball at $132,457,373. The club is made up of a strange mix of players with astronomical salaries and players that are being paid the Major League Baseball version of peanuts. One of the main reasons that the Rangers have yet to win a series this year and find themselves at the bottom of the American League is because their highest paid players are not earning their salaries.
The good news is that the team’s highest paid player, Prince Fielder, has been by far the team’s best hitter. The burly first baseman is hitting a team best .375 and is the only regular on the team hitting over .300. Though the slugger has hit only one homer, he has driven in ten runners.
Because he makes $24 million, it will always be fair to say that Fielder is over-paid but at least he is contributing to the offense which is more than can be said for the three next highest paid players on the roster.
Third baseman, Adrian Beltre is the second highest paid Ranger earning $16 million this season. However, his batting average of .175 is only 10th best on the team. The future Hall-of-Fame candidate ranks behind such stars as Ryan Rua, Carlos Peguero, Adam Rosales, and Carlos Corporan. Beltre has hit two solo homers accounting for his RBI total on the year. Texas needs much more than that out of their cleanup hitter.
Spare everyone the annual narrative about Beltre being a slow starter, this team came into the season with huge question marks on the mound and the Rangers need more from their second highest paid player. Everyone expects Beltre to heat up when the weather does but the games in April count the same as the games in July. Furthermore if the team continues to struggle at the plate, April games will count more than August and September games because the Rangers will be out of contention by late summer and Beltre will likely be playing for another team.
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The third most well compensated player on the team is the longest tenured Ranger, Elvis Andrus. His 2013 contract extension of eight years and $120 million is turning out to be one of the worst contracts in baseball and an albatross around the neck of Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels. Andrus is yet to hit over .286 for a season in his career and this year he is hitting .211. $15.3 million (Andrus’ salary for this season) can buy an infinite amount of items and it should be able to buy more than a .180 on-base percentage from the man hitting second in the order.
It’s also beginning to look like the seven year $130 million Shin-Soo Choo contract, given to the Korean outfielder before last season, may be another Daniels flub. Choo is making $14 million this season or $538,461 per week (which is higher than the major league minimum). So far, the outfielder has earned over $1.07 million for only five hits, five RBI and four runs scored.
Plus, his on-base percentage (which has long been Ch00’s calling-card) is a meager .264. In his best years, his OBP was around .400. In his final season with the Cincinnati Reds, Choo’s OBP was top five in baseball. The 32-year-old veteran was paid well to get on base and score runs, neither of which has he done for the Rangers.
When Yu Darvish underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, Rangers’ fans had to hope that the team would slug its way into contention through July thus motivating Daniels to bolster the pitching staff with a mid-season trade.
The offense became even more important when Derek Holland left his first start with shoulder tightness, from which he may not return until around the All-Star break (if at all). However, if this team continues to rely on the likes of Robinson Chirinos to lead the team in home runs, or plans on Rougned Odor or Jake Smolinski to be the savior, 2015 will look frighteningly like 2014… with one exception, there may be accountability at the top of the organization this winter.