The Texas Rangers Are Following a Plan, Despite Their Record
By Ben Zajdel
The Texas Rangers are competing for a wild card spot, yet seem to be content with the roster they have. Here’s why they aren’t making any moves.
I’m not going to bury the lede here: the Texas Rangers aren’t making the playoffs this year. They are a mediocre baseball team, partially by design. This team was never intended to compete for the playoffs, and the only way that was going to happen was for a bunch of veteran pitchers with shaky elbow ligaments to have career years. That hasn’t been the case.
Despite many fans’ wishes, the Rangers aren’t going to make any moves to get better this season. Here’s why.
Texas is 12th in ERA in the American league. They are 15th in batting average against. They are 11th in strikeouts. These pitching problems aren’t going to be solved by one or two pitchers. It’s a staff wide problem.
The bullpen has struggled mightily, starting with Jose Leclerc and finishing with everyone else. Sure there have been bright spots as of late, but it’s hardly a reliable ‘pen. It’s easy to say the Rangers should just bring up some of their younger relief pitchers in Triple-A and Double-A to replace the struggling major league staff, but it’s just not that simple.
The Rangers have a plan for developing these young players in their farm system. The big league club sporting a record that constantly hovers around .500 isn’t going to convince the front office to deviate from its plan. Nor should it.
Texas’ current playoff odds sit at 9.2%, per Baseball Reference. Their Pythagorean Record is 32-27, just ahead of their actual record of 31-28. That means their record probably won’t see any notable improvements as the season unfolds.
Now, Texas could absolutely bring in a couple of pitchers via trade or free agency to make a playoff push. After all, that’s what they did in 2015 by acquiring Cole Hamels, and they ended up winning the AL West after a terrible first half of the season. Why couldn’t they do that again?
First, I’m not sure if there’s a trade like that available right now. The big appeal of Hamels, besides his ability, was the two and a half years of team control he had left when the Rangers made the trade. The pitcher that fits that profile right now is Noah Syndergaard, and the New York Mets aren’t currently shopping him.
Which brings me to my second point: the Texas Rangers won’t be able to acquire the type of pitcher who can make a difference without short-circuiting this rebuild. It takes a deep team to make a deep playoff run. The early part of a rebuild isn’t when you move prospects.
Jon Daniels and the Rangers’ front office decided on a plan of action years ago. A middling record only a third of the way through the season isn’t going to make them deviate from that plan. The baseball season is long, and if you abandon plans early, you’ll end up like the Seattle Mariners, forever adrift.
Many fans thought the Rangers would lose a hundred games this year, and seeing the team hover around .500 has convinced those fans that Texas can make a run. Optimism is nice, but don’t get carried away. While the Rangers aren’t a dumpster fire, they aren’t a World Series caliber team either. There’s no reason to derail this rebuild now.
Daniels and the Rangers are being patient. It’s tough, but Rangers fans should do the same.