We have grown accustomed to still seeing the Texas Rangers and playoff baseball in October, and this year was no different. But what many didn’t expect was it to be a short trip for the Rangers this time around in the form of a one-game wild card loss to the Baltimore Orioles at the Ballpark in Arlington. That game, along with the loss of the A-L West division title down the stretch to the Oakland Athletics, left Rangers Nation wondering “what went wrong?”
The word “collapse” has been used to describe the last month of the season. In my opinion, it should be “exposed”. The Rangers offense wasn’t the high powered offense everyone perceived it to be. Don’t get me wrong, it looked like it during the first two months of the season. But they didn’t just happen to hit a slump towards the end. Other than a couple of starters, the batting averages were horrible throughout the year, along with hitting in the RISP (Runners in Scoring Position) category when it counted. They had big games early on against bad teams, but as the season went along, and they started facing better pitching, the lack of “boomstick” became evident. Bottom line, outside of Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus, that was a bad-hitting lineup. The hitting didn’t disappear, it was never really there.
You can say the same about the starting pitching. First two months of the season, the talk was there may be too much, never a bad thing. At the end, there wasn’t enough. Outside of Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison, the pitching failed to deliver more often than not. Derek Holland still looks like he just doesn’t get it, making the same mistakes with control issues and leaving the ball over the plate just like in previous seasons. It will be interesting to see how much more patience they’ll have with him. Going out and getting Roy Oswalt and Ryan Dempster didn’t pan out as expected. The loss of Colby Lewis midway through the season due to an arm injury was huge as the pennant race picked up. You may make the case that Neftali Feliz’s injury also hurt the pitching staff, since he was penciled in as the fourth or fifth starter. I’m just not completely sure about that one. One positive was the Rangers did have a solid bullpen.
So what now? The Rangers are left with about seven free agents, including Hamilton. Hamilton may not have only played his way out of Arlington, but also talked and acted his way out (that’s a story within itself to be explained at a later date).
I wouldn’t expect to see catcher Mike Napoli back next season. He really only hit against two teams (Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox) and was a sure out against the rest of the league. Oswalt and relief pitcher Mark Lowe are as good as gone. There’s a small chance they bring Dempster back, but don’t hold your breath. I do think they will resign pitchers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara since they were effective out of the bullpen.
Yes, I understand this team won 93 games, but I really don’t know how. There is talent on the roster, and they were considered among the best teams in baseball most of the year. The frustrating part for Rangers Nation is they could have been alot better. All these problems were spotlighted at different times throughout the season, and it just came back to haunt them at the end. I guess that’s really “how baseball go”.
No doubt there are issues with this team that will need to be addressed, and I only touched on a few of them. But the Rangers brass has shown over the last couple of years they have no problem reevaluating everything during the offseason and acting accordingly to how they feel the team and organization can better itself. After an epic collapse like that, you can expect adjustments to be made.
What those adjustments are remains to be seen.
Written by C. James