It seems natural in any chain of events life has to offer that the folks making the most money should be producing the most for the team/company/etc.
Unfortunately for the Texas Rangers, they’ve been sorely let down in this department the past few seasons.
The Opening Day payroll for the Rangers spiked from about $65 million in 2010 to $92 million in 2011. That’s what making your first World Series can do for you.
In the following seasons the club far and away eclipsed the century mark, rounding out to roughly $121 million in 2012 and here in 2015 they opened with just under $142 million.
Much of this has to do with the huge bonus given to shortstop Elvis Andrus, the signing of international free agent pitcher Yu Darvish and then two years later the high-priced trade for first baseman Prince Fielder and the signing of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
The Rangers success in the past six plus seasons (got over .500 in 2009 for the first time since 2004) meant a boost in the budget, so Jon Daniels and company have decided where they wanted to spend it and well, spend it.
Unfortunately injuries to Darvish and Fielder crippled the franchise’s progress in 2013 and 2014. There’s no injury excuse for Elvis Andrus, there’s no excuse at all for the steep decline in production at every corner for the once thought cornerstone player, who is in just year one of his mega-deal of eight seasons and $120 million dollars.
2015 started out with many of the same fears plaguing the Rangers high paid players naturally expected to carry the load and lead the team in an effort for a surprise campaign.
Tommy John for Yu Darvish.
Derek Holland hurts his left shoulder in the Home Opener.
Shin-Soo Choo left early in the ball game with back spasms.
One of the bright young players on the Opening Day Roster, Ryan Rua, also fell to the Disabled List in the club’s home opener. The culprit was a severely sprained ankle.
It was happening all over again.
The calendar entered May 19, just a bit over a month into the new season. The Rangers were 16-23 and headed to the East Coast to begin a nine game road trip.
However, Prince Fielder was scorching.
Shin-Soo Choo was healthy and hitting.
The Indians were coming up in a week, so Elvis Andrus was going to get some hits.
Oh yeah, and Josh Hamilton was back. Back with a contract the Angels gave him in 2012 that the Rangers didn’t come close to matching, yet not even three seasons into the 5-year/$125 million dollar deal L.A. gave Josh, he was back with the Rangers –with the Angeles and incompetent Owner Arte Moreno covering around $63 million dollars– to give away Hamilton back to Texas.
The Rangers haven’t lost since May 19th, winning seven in a row. Things aren’t looking good (at all) in Cleveland as I type this, but there’s nothing wrong in the world with a 7-2 road trip.
Hamilton is currently in Game Three with the Rangers, and is hitless but making an impression in left field, the clubhouse, the dugout and with his old teammates.
Prince Fielder is hitting .371 and has 10 home runs. At this time last year he was shelved for the year. Fielder has five home runs in the past week alone.
Shin-Soo Choo started slow, got hurt, came back slow and still hurt, but now he appears healthy and the Rangers are finally getting some value from the monster contract the corner outfielder signed in 2014. Choo is hitting .288 in the last month with 19 runs scored and 9 free passes.
Elvis Andrus is hitting .308 in the last two weeks, raising his season average up to .247. Hit a homer on Monday, though…
The player I haven’t named of the Rangers top five payroll members is Adrian Beltre. And that’s because Adrian Beltre can do no wrong. His overall season numbers aren’t Beltre-esque but he is a year older, recently turning 36 and in year 17 of his Hall of Fame career and is in the running for an All-Star spot.
Through the winning streak, which has seen some surprising pitching from guys like Nick Martinez, Wandy Rodriguez, and Colby Lewis, plus the emergence of a new closer in Shawn Tolleson, perhaps a new setup man in Ross Ohlendorf, increased play of new leadoff man and center fielder Delino DeShields and then of course the re-arrival of former All-Star Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre has been and will be the anchor for this Texas Rangers ball club as long as it’s this group filling up Manager Jeff Bannister’s lineup card.
One that, despite being down 11-0 as I type this, is tentatively finally at .500, a stepping stone to a bigger goal, and is getting production from the guys they paid big bucks to give them just that.