Rangers Gift Wrap

 By jan hubbard  

We send our most sincere congratulations to the Rangers for getting in the spirit of the season. In the last week, they practiced what others might preach when they gave a lot without receiving much.

First, Michael Young was given to the Phillies for two players who will not have anywhere near the impact that Young would have had on the team. The trade did open up playing time for some of the Rangers’ young players and it’s always important to build for the future. But sending Young to Philadelphia was a nice gift for the Phillies.

And then the Rangers also gave Josh Hamilton to the division-rival Angels. That terminology may be disputed by some, but the truth is by not being more aggressive in negotiations with Hamilton, the Rangers in essence pushed him away. If you tell a player you’ll give him three or four years but that if he gets a better offer you’ll match it, you are insulting him. And players who are insulted are likely to respond with an insult of their own, and as the Rangers learned, Josh had the last word.

By not being more aggressive, and by not learning from the Angels’ recent history of spending, the Rangers gave the Angels an opening to get Hamilton and got nothing in return.

Rangers fans, however, have reason to be optimistic.

Seriously.

I’ll give you four words:

The St. Louis Cardinals.

Two years ago, the Cardinals won 90 games and the World Series. The same Angels then made a huge offer to Albert Pujols, who left St. Louis after 11 years.

The result? The Angels improved three games but finished only third in the AL West. The Cardinals, meanwhile, won 88 games and again made the playoffs. They went on to beat Washington in the first round of the playoffs, only to lose to eventual World Series winner San Francisco in the NL Championship Series.

That story should be encouraging to Rangers fans. It means little on a practical basis, of course. What the Cardinals accomplished last year will not replace what Hamilton did for the Rangers.

But they will find out if their organization is as good as the Cardinals’. Because St. Louis did not miss a beat.

In the Rangers case, the departures of Young and Hamilton will force them to find out about young players with star potential – Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez for starters.

There has been discussion of Ian Kinsler moving to first base and that would open up a spot at second for Profar. One of the most compelling stories in the Major League last season involved the play of two young players – Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Could Profar and Olt follow that act with one of their own?

Rangers manager Ron Washington is old school and given a choice between a steady veteran and developing a future star, he’ll take the vet because that’s a far more sound way of winning.

But now, he’ll have no choice. As Rangers management gift wraps players for other teams, Washington is left with talent that might be inconsistent, but talent that can also develop.

And if those young players follow the path of Harper and Trout, then the Rangers could follow the path of the Cardinals.

Perhaps the Oakland A’s are even a better example of the possibilities. Last season, the A’s had the second lowest payroll in the league at $55 million – which is only $5 million more than the combined average salary for Pujols and Hamilton.

Yet they won the AL West title. Even though they lost in the ALDS, it was an entertaining, successful year for the A’s.

The Rangers had big losses last week, but they also have role models in the Cards and A’s. This year, we’re going to see exactly how good the Rangers’ organization is.

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