Texas Rangers: End Awful Season, Future Bleak

Rougie Odor has had his memorable moments, but can he produce on a consistent basis?
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers have disappointed their fans for the last time in the Jon Daniels era. The Rangers beat the Astros in the last three games of a dead, joke season. If the Angels were not so hapless, the Rangers could have denied the Astros a chance at the playoffs. The Astros made the playoffs with a losing record. Because of the virus, the Astros were spared the brow beating of a permanent hostile crowd. They still finished with a losing record in the worst division in baseball.

Give the Astros the Boot
The Houston Astros are frauds. Repugnant shysters that made a career out of stealing signs with technology. The Astros stole a World Series from the Dodgers in 2017. The players know it. The fans know it. The league knows it. The league went out of their way to sweep this disgusting truth under the rug with the suspension of Joe Kelly early in the season. 

The Astros did not have the talent to win straight up and had to go all the way to a deciding 7th game against notorious playoff choker Yu Darvish to capture the title. Darvish was rattled in the deciding game of that World Series, and the integrity of the Astros will always be called into question. 

The Texas Rangers committed fraud at every turn just like their dim General Manager Jon Daniels. The positives of this season are highly limited and will be summed up with appropriate alacrity. Lance Lynn is a warrior. He is a hefty, strike throwing monster. The guile and grit of Lance Lynn is something Rangers fans became acquainted with in the 2011 World Series. In Cardinals Skipper Tony La Russa’s book One Last Strike he spoke about how the Texas crowd was so loud in the 2011 World Series his calls to the bullpen were unable to be heard. The crowd was whipped into such a frenetic fervour that the bullpen coach could not even hear La Russa, and Lynn was mistakenly inserted into a game days after starting. Texan baseball fans were so loud it inhibited the strategy of the opposing manager. These days, Texas fans have nothing to cheer for. The very best thing they could hope for is Lance Lynn carrying a game like he was Kenny Rogers in the early 2000s. The Lynn start against Colorado where he threw a complete game and won 3-2 was the only Rangers game worth watching all year. The ending series against Houston was supposed to mean something. When the schedules came out following the delay of the season, Rangers fans pointed to the final series of the season, 4 against Houston at home. A few things stood out: because of the different format, this series would probably have playoff implications. This was also the first time the cheating Houston Astros would come to the new park. This led many Rangers fans to speculate that this final series might not only be the most exciting one of the season, but one of the few that fans would be allowed to attend. None of these things turned out to be true, and Rangers fans were left holding a big steaming pile as usual. 

The truly disgusting thing about the final series of the season was not the lack of attendance or the Rangers lack of playoff threat. The Astros relied on cheating so heavily that despite not having to face hostile crowds they were still at risk of missing the playoffs even in a JOKE of a season where basically half the league makes the playoffs. That’s how much of a repulsive disgrace the Houston Trashtros are. AJ Hinch and Carlos Beltran should be dismissed as cheaters and frauds with the same flippant dismissal that Shoeless Joe Jackson is treated with. The Houston Astros cheated to win a World Series. Tell your mother. Tell your father. Tell your friend who started following baseball in 2016 and is an Astros “fan” who has never heard of Jeff Bagwell or Mike Scott. No amount of contempt is beneath the cheating Houston Trashtros. No jeer too juvenile, no heckle too mean. The Astros cheated and disgraced the game of baseball. There are no two ways about it. The league was not rife with electronic cheating. This was not something being done by all teams, despite the intellectually dishonest protests of Astros fans. This was an issue specific to the Houston Astros. This was a cheating scandal spearheaded by Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora. These two repugnant deviants disgraced the game of baseball and sullied the reputation of the first MLB team Texas ever had. 

Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran were the brains and enforcer behind the cheating scandal. Cora oversaw the scandal with the same inspidid, vacuous look he had when he said his World Series winning team would not be visiting the White House (because Orange Man bad) and his teams “played the right way.” Cora is a despicable, false person. He should be dismissed with scorn any time he speaks. His integrity and motives should be questioned at all times. He is a cheating fraud, a truly repulsive disgrace to the game. 

Carlos Beltran’s career should be viewed in a similar light. Except with Beltran you have to consider his history of choking in every big series he played in, too. Carlos Beltran was originally slated to be the New York Mets manager in 2020. It was a match made in heaven: they were both born losers! But Beltran pissed away that opportunity when his lead role in the Astros cheating scandal came to light. It was revealed that Beltran was the primary enforcer in the Astros cheating scandal. If any player had a problem with the obvious and scummy breach of rules and etiquette, Beltran was there to shout them down. Beltran was far more suited to his role as bully than he was to his one as Star in New York, where he struck out looking with the game on the line in the 2006 NLCS. He was also bad with the Rangers in the 2016 ALDS, batting and slugging .182. It turns out the game is a lot harder when you don’t know what pitch is coming. 

One of the main talking points of why Beltran was qualified to manage the Mets despite lack of experience was his Latin heritage. 

“The Latin players really respect him!” crooned Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts of the WFAN afternoon drive program in New York. 

I guess the Latin players really appreciated being told to shut up and keep quiet about cheating in Spanish. Beltran surely had some quick tip quickies on how to be a fraud too, something the 2017 Astros appreciated to be sure. 

The Astros should be treated with venom and disdain for the next decade. 

The Rangers two bright spots other than Lance Lynn were Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Joey Gallo. Gallo and IKF both finished top 3 in Defensive Runs Saved, the best metric for defense. The top player was Nolan Arenado, a player that would have fit the Rangers perfectly that Jon Daniels did not have the stones to trade for. But just like his whole tenure, Jon Daniels was never willing to take any more than a half measure.

Gallo had a clownish offensive season. He batted below .200 and had a below league average OBP. Gallo was exceptional defensively though. Gallo being an asset in this way makes him a much more palatable option even when he cannot hit. 

IKF proved his poor performance last year was a result of the failed experiment to move him to catcher. IKF finished top 3 in defensive runs saved this season along with Gallo. After Todd Frazier vacated 3rd base, IKF was a stalwart there. He deserves a gold glove at 3rd and was solid at the plate too. IKF is one of the few bright spots of this team. Crucially, his path to victory is one already paved. He can be a utility man with above average offense and be a huge asset to this team. The Rangers started Rougie Odor and Elvis Andrus this season up the middle. That says all that needs to be said about their infield.

Lynn, IKF, and Gallo’s defense were the lone positives on this disgrace of a team. The list of negatives runs way longer than the list of positives on this team, as one could imagine. No Rangers fan wants to plow through paragraph after paragraph of why their team sucks. But since it is the season review, I am obligated as a journalist to do a post mortem over this joke of an organization and their insipid lies of being a competitive team. 

Obvious Issues
Due to the overwhelming volume of ineptitude, I am forced to segment the flaws of the worst team in the AL. This section will fall under the category of “issues so obvious even dim selfish Jon Daniels knew them during the offseason.”

The pitching: if any old school fans are still reading this article, they know what I am talking about. For years the mantra of the Rangers was the pitching was the downfall of a team that boasted sluggers like Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. Now, the offense is a joke. It is not like it has swapped though, the pitching is still a joke. OPS+ is an advanced stat that is used to sum up an offensive players performance. 100 is average. The Rangers do not have a single position player above 100. No one was even average. For those old head baseball fans who are vexed by advanced stats, here are some old school numbers for you: No Rangers starter batted above .300. Joey Gallo, Rougie Odor, and Jeff Mathis all batted below .200. The Rangers ranked DEAD LAST in the AL in the following categories: Runs, hits, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, and total bases. The last time the Rangers were this bad was 1973, where they set records for ineptitude. Do not let the small sample size fool you, the Rangers were truly awful this year and it was not a fluke. So is the old cliche about the pitching being the problem proven false? Not really. The Rangers were simply inept across the board! 

IKF was exceptional on defense as said before. He was decent on offense too. Other than him, the offense was largely disgraceful. Nick Solak was the closest to passable. He played sloppy defense and batted .268 with a little pop. In the Rangers offense, that is what passes for second best. Leody Taveras was finally called up to the bigs and revealed as another failed Rangers prospect. Just like Scheppers and Perez. Taveras can field center and not much else. He cannot hit well. .227 BA. .308 OBP. Taveras has had all the time in the world to develop and will never be anything more than a scuffed version of Jake Marisnick. 

Rougie Odor led the team in RBI and HR despite being injured and unplayably bad for most of the season. This really does say it all about the Rangers. A clownishly inept player with one of the worst contracts in baseball leads the team in counting stats as fans clamor to re-sign a sub .200 hitting player (Gallo) because they have been cheering for a joke organization that cannot develop talent for 40 years. This revolting revelation will rattle any true Ranger fan to the core if they understand the depth and brevity of the situation. How is a team that misses on every big free agent but also cannot develop talent supposed to succeed? Certainly not with Joey Gallo, the sub .200 hitter, signed to a Scott Boras approved monster deal. 

Odor is not the answer. He is not even playable despite the power. He is a player who will be remembered for blasting Joey Bats in the face with his fist, not blasting homers. Between him and Jurickson Profar, there could not have been a pair of more inept clowns to fill the throne of Ian Kinsler. 

Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos were both traded mid season. Neither did anything worth mentioning.

Elvis Andrus turned in a third straight year of coasting off his reputation. He was awful again and might never play another game in a Rangers uniform. Elvis lost his status as the beloved holdover of the 2010/2011 glory years when he solo lost the 2015 ALDS with his defensive ineptitude. He destroyed the career of Sam Dyson in the process of his choking, a feat not to be forgotten in a season where there was not a single reliable bullpen arm. Elvis has to go and his legacy will be one of failure and choking. He does not belong in the Rangers Hall of Fame and any attempt to nominate him to such a position should be dismissed as what it clearly is: an attempt to make a loser feel better about his career of choking and failure. 

Willie Calhoun got hit in the mouth in Spring Training and never recovered. Not only did he fail to develop in an important year for him, he looked laughably bad. I do not need to go on and on about the ineptitude about Willie Calhoun. The Rangers traded Yu Darvish (who was considered an S class ace at the time) for him. He has been decent at the plate but unplayable in the field since the trade. Did injuries set Willie back this season? Sure. Has he been disappointing before and after the injury? Yep. 

Catching prospect Sam Huff was solid at the plate during his brief showing in the bigs. He is so tall he will probably have to be moved to first at some point, like Joe Mauer. This severely inhibits his value. But the Rangers have been screwing the pooch at first for the last decade, so perhaps this will be a welcome reprieve. 

Prospect Eli White looked unplayably bad in his showings. Ronald Guzman was merely passable in his few starts. Even though Rougie Odor led the team in counting stats, he still had an awful 58 OPS+. Calhoun’s was even lower. The vets did not perform for the Rangers. The kids were bad too. The pitching was almost as bad. 

Kyle Cody was exceptional in his 22.2 innings. That is not a large enough sample size to be excited about. Same goes for Jonathan Hernandez throwing just over 30 innings of sub 3.00 ERA ball. Jimmy Herget also had a solid few innings. A few kids being decent down the stretch out of the pen does not mean much though honestly. How did the starters (the pitchers the team relies on) do? Pretty awful minus Lance Lynn. 

The Rangers went into the season expecting a powerful trio of Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Corey Kluber to carry them into the playoffs and be the linchpin of their playoff run. Lynn held his end of the bargain. Mike Minor was poor for over half the season and Corey Kluber lasted one inning before hurting his arm. The regression of Mike Minor was particularly vexing because he was awful the first half of the year and had no trade value. Minor only salvaged his season after the inept Rangers
sold at the deadline, where he had no value. 

Corey Kluber was traded for in the offseason for Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. Clase was suspended for drug use, and DeShields did more virtue signalling than hitting. In typical Rangers fashion, even trades that seem like wins turn out to be failures still. Despite Kluber having virtually nothing to compete with (as far as what he was traded for goes) he still managed to disappoint. One inning. That’s all he got through before getting hurt again. Corey “Klubot” Kluber was a top tier ace from the time the Rangers stopped being good to when they became embarrassing (2011-2017.) The Indians rode the Klubot hard to several division wins and it appears as though there is nothing left in his arm after several 200+ IP seasons. The virtues of the Klubot can be sung by a Cleveland sports writer who was able to derive enjoyment from his exceptional performances. For the Rangers baseball writer, it’s the memories of Matt Moore that ring true, not the 7 shutout innings of Corey Kluber in a quickly forgotten failed Indians season. 

Admittedly, trading for Kluber was the right idea, even if it did not work out. It is far less maddening to see decisions like this where the GM is trying to win than tepid, half-assing nonsense. 

Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles were both brought in as serviceable vets that were supposed to eat innings and support the big 3 of Lynn, Minor, and Klubot. Gibson and Lyles failed over and over. They were both exposed as frauds despite the new Texas ballpark being incredibly pitcher friendly. Gibson and Lyles were not even capable of doing the bare minimum. In the hypothetical 2020 season that went 162 games, had no Kluber injury or CoronaVirus, Gibson and Lyles still would have been determinants. They still would have been 2 talentless clowns at the bottom of the rotation. Just two more washed-up has-beens (if you can consider being slightly above average ‘being’) that JD signed coming off of an injury hoping for magic. In many ways, Lyles and Gibson can be seen as microcosms of JD’s tenure. He signs washed-up pitchers coming off of severe injuries and pretends their career peak year is a reasonable outcome on the heels of significant surgery. JD is not only dim and bad at his job, but borderline cruel in expecting the recently surgically repaired arms of scrubs to turn in 200+ IP of quality work. Has anyone ever held a position of power so long where their cognitive ability was clearly compromised due to lack of dissent? Jon Daniels has been riding the wave of the 2010/2011 years longer than my brain and clearly checked out years ago. Every day that goes by where this team is controlled by Jon Daniels is a direct slap in the face to season ticket holders and hardcore Rangers Fans. 

Then There was The Bullpen
The bullpen was a joke. Everyone knew the bullpen would be a joke. Kolby Allard regressed despite being one of the Rangers lone MLB ready pitching “prospects.” Jose Leclerc got hurt quickly and was the only decent option in the Rangers pen. Even if he had been better than 2003 Eric Gagne it would not have been enough.

The Rangers flaws have been covered with shocking honesty in this article, but what is there to look forward to? The sad truth is there is not a lot to look forward to…

Sam Huff and Leody Taveras are the top prospects of this team. Neither will ever make an All Star team. The future is bleak. Very bleak. Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo will be gone soon. Rougie Odor is unplayably bad. Adrian Beltre is gone. Josh Hamilton is gone. Michael Young is gone. Ian Kinsler is gone. Nelly Cruz is gone. There is nothing left worth remembering, and nothing left looking forward to. 

Agony. That is what the Texas Ranger fan has in store. If you have a recently price increased season ticket package, cancel it. Jon Daniels does not care. The owners do not care. This is an organization that sells you garbage year after year and has the audacity to put a higher price tag on it. The Rangers are a team that smiles at you while they stick you with the shiv. They preach Odor and A/C out of one side of their mouth, and whisper Gibson and Lyles out of the other side.

The Texas Rangers fan has been betrayed. The loyal North Texan is supposed to pay increased ticket prices as their joke of a team gets firing squaded week after week. This sham of a franchise pretends Corey Kluber will get them over the top and uses such gimmicks as the cornerstone of their marketing campaign, despite knowing the team has NO CHANCE in the playoffs, EVEN IF EVERYTHING BREAKS IDEALLY! The sense of betrayal the Texan fan feels goes beyond losing seasons and playoff choking. Rangers fans have been lied to year after year. Decade after decade. From the ownership of Bob Short to former President George W Bush. Enough is enough. This team has not had a real shot to win a World Series since the Ron Washington era. An era that unfortunately ended with Tony La Russa managing circles around the emotive aggressive skipper. 

With Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo probably leaving, even the most romantic fan must face the reality of the eminent abyss. Jon Daniels has no clue and clearly has overstayed his welcome. The good established pieces are on the way out or on the decline. Even if they look good, they fail to bring a good trade return. When the Rangers buy at the deadline, they overpay and get garbage. When they sell, they get so little in return even JD knows not to do the deal. The Rangers (and their fans) are stuck in purgatory. A hellish limbo where the excellent years of stars are wasted and the younger talent never develops. Where does it end? When does the agony cease? 

How is a team that cannot develop young talent supposed to rebuild? Perhaps take an already decent core and augment it with known commodities? JD failed at that year after year. The Rangers consistently miss on big name free agents. The last big free agent the Rangers signed was Choo, over 5 years ago. 

Happy Trails to Choo
The legacy of Shin-Soo Choo probably deserves its own article. Choo is the best South Korean player ever. When many Rangers fans associated South Korean baseball with the repulsive failure that was Chan Ho Park, Choo proved Koreans could play solid ball in Texas. Choo was inked to a monster contract after he and Joey Votto carried the Reds to the playoffs in 2013. Choo led the NL in OBP that year. The Rangers signed him expecting to do the same thing in the AL from the leadoff spot. Choo had a controversial time in Texas. He did not repeat his MVP vote earning Reds season with Texas. But was it foolish to expect him to do so? When JD signed Choo to a 7-year contract ending in his age 37 season, did he expect him to turn in 7 years of 2013 peak performance? A logical person would say no, but JD seemed to think it was likely. More importantly, the Choo contract would go on to define the legacy of JD, especially and crucially in his own eyes. While many Rangers fans might choose to define the JD era by the Ian Kinsler or Cliff Lee trade, Daniels himself seems to view his tenure through one defining turning point: the Choo signing. Daniels has repeatedly referenced the Choo signing as a reason not to give long contracts out anymore. Simply put, Daniels is snakebit from Choo underperforming the massive contract JD gave him. In JD’s eyes, Choo was supposed to hand carry the Rangers through lack of Michael Young, Josh Hamiltom, and Ian Kinsler. Choo was supposed to reload the empty quiver of 2014 and satiate the fans who longed for the glory days of 2010/2011. Choo never lived up to those impossible expectations. He never could. Hell, Ted Williams could not have lived up to those expectations. The Rangers failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs in the Choo Era. In the same way Josh Hamilton and Derek Holland are viewed as the figureheads of the 2010/2011 glory years, Choo is viewed as the figurehead of the 2014-2020 era and their failure to get back to the ALCS. You want someone to blame for the 2015/2016 ALDS fiasco? Blame Elvis Andrus and his pan hands. Blame Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels for both coming up empty when it mattered. But do not go after this best South Korean baseball player ever because JD was too dim to see Martin Perez was a scrub. 

Choo might have gotten hurt a lot as a Ranger. He might not have ever won a playoff series. But he was not a failure. He does not deserve scorn and bile because he never won a playoff series. Save that for JD. Choo kept fighting and did everything he could to contribute to the Rangers, including coaching up younger players. Choo’s approach of patient discipline was a welcome one in a lineup filled with laughably undisciplined hitters. If the 1990’s Yankees were famous for taking a lot of pitches and making a pitcher work, the 2013-2020 Rangers were famous for giving pitchers free outs and swinging at garbage. Rougie Odor has made a career out of this. He is truly sickening to watch. He should ride the horse he was given in his contract the hell out of DFW. 

So what is next for the Rangers? In a word: misery. Not even the most hopeful Rangers fan could predict them to be decent next year. And the year after? Just as bad. Where is the reprieve? The farm system is poor. The beating never stops, the suffering never ends. The Rangers fan is expected to see a declining product for a 9th straight year and pay more for it. That is the franchise in a nutshell.