Rangers 2021 Preview: Misery By Design

The Texas Rangers have a new home, a new season, a new hope… Photo Courtesy: Minda Haas Kuhlmann

By Wiley Singleton

Glory Days Left Behind: The last remnants of the 2010/2011 Pennant glory years were snuffed out this offseason when rapidly declining Elvis Andrus was traded to Oakland for notorious Rangers killer Khris “Krush” Davis. The last remaining vestiges of the last great Rangers team are gone, and thus, the rebuild commences. The last three years of Rangers teams have been riddled with gaping holes. If not for sharp starting pitching from Lance Lynn and  Mike Minor, those Rangers teams would have been in last place. Vexingly, the Rangers could not coordinate having solid starting pitching with a good offense. That is the story of their entire existence as a team. Although usually the offense is present, never the pitching. Lynn and Minor are gone. The only starters keeping the deluge of runs against from drowning the Rangers are in Kansas City and Chicago. 

2015/2016 ALDS Disaster: Elvis Andrus and Rougie Odor were the faces of the clownish 2015/2016 ALDS embarrassments against the Blue Jays. The Rangers middle infield was the backbone of the repugnant collapse in game 5 of the 2015; the era-ending disastrous 7th inning that culminated in Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista hitting one of the biggest playoff homers ever. A homer that broke the Rangers spirit permanently and Sam Dyson’s brain. Dyson was never the same after the homer. The next season, 2016, Hamels and Darvish were ruthlessly firing squaded by Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Joey Bats in what was far and away the worst 2 baseball games I have ever attended. This includes the World Series loss. 

After Hamels and Darvish became washed up/broken the Rangers had a couple teams that had multiple awful players in the lineup that were automatic outs with little else to offer. Players like Jeff Mathis, Nomar Mazara, Rougie Odor, Ronald Guzman, choked a lineup with .200 batting ineptitude and sunk any chances the Rangers had from the jump.

A New Era Of Suffering: The Rangers roster at this point is a desolate wasteland. The difference is now the Rangers front office is no longer pretending to compete. It was blatantly obvious the Rangers were not playoff threats and never could be for the last 4 seasons. The Rangers are no longer marketing the team as a potential playoff one. If everything went right and there were no injuries, the Rangers could potentially get 3rd over the Angels and Mariners. However, in typical Rangers fashion, a plethora of awful things have already occurred.

The Rangers closer and best young arm, Jose Leclerc, blew his elbow out (UCL) and will require Tommy John Surgery, the worst news possible for a pitcher. The Rangers 2nd best young bullpen arm, Jonathan Hernandez, also suffered a UCL injury. His is not a full tear, it is a sprain. However, once a pitcher tweaks their UCL, it is frequently a recurring occurrence. Sometimes a pitcher will tweak their UCL, take significant time off, and when they return fully tear the UCL. Young eclectic Texan Kerry Wood, the 2003 Cubs ace, is a great example of how elbow issues can linger throughout the career of a power pitcher.  Hopefully this does not happen to Hernandez, considering his talent level.

Brett Martin will also open the season on the IL. He is hurt less severely. 

Matt Bush had UCL issues take the last 2 years of his career from him. But the scrappy 2004 1st overall pick will be the Rangers closer in place of Leclerc. “MFB” as he is known affectionately amongst his fans, showed his signature 95+ MPH heater this Spring Training with a developed curveball. Matt could net 25+ saves this season. Most likely half with a middling contender after he is dealt before the All-Star Break. 

Former Royal Ian Kennedy will try to compliment Bush as another late inning veteran. 

Rotation: The Rangers starting rotation is just as abysmal as their decimated bullpen. Kyle “Ace” Gibson will be the Opening Day starter. Gibson has a career losing record and a 4.57 ERA. The “Ace” moniker comes from Gibson being the Rangers Opening Day starter, not his stuff. The best thing that can be said about Gibson is he eats innings. He averages 194 innings a season and has been pitching since 2013. He is similar to Jason Marquis, the 4th starter of Sweet Lou Pinella’s mid 2000’s Cubs. Those teams had a plethora of old Rangers, like Marlon Byrd and Mark De Rosa. Another Ranger they famously had was Milton Bradley, who holds the single-season Texas Rangers OBP record. This is impressive considering how many historically great sluggers the Rangers have boasted. Two time MVP Juan Gonzalez, 2010 MVP Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and many others.

Bradley had the best OBP in Texas Rangers history 2008 at .436. Bradley spent one year in Texas and it was his career year and lone All-Star appearance. Bradley melded well with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young. He was a huge part of Hamilton’s breakout season in 2008. Bradley provided lineup protection to Hamilton, and would quip “anytime people got on base, Josh drove them in ahead of me.” Hamilton’s 2008 130 RBI season was predicated on Ian Kinsler and Michel Young getting on base ahead of him and Milton’s lineup protection. 

After that season, Milton Bradley became a Chicago Cub for Sweet Lou Pinella. Bradley flamed out BADLY in Chicago in 2009. He made a plethora of mental mistakes, had a massive hitting dropoff, and eventually destroyed his reputation in  Chicago after calling the notoriously loyal fans racist. Bradley had a sense of comradery with Kinsler, Young, and Hamilton. He was never able to fit in with a team like he did in Texas, before or after 2008. 

The Rangers second most talented starter is washed up Braves starter Mike Foltyznewicz. “Folty” is set to appear in the Home Opener against the old rival Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are a great example of a team that rebuilt properly despite being a playoff team in 2015/2016. The Jays have the sons of 2 Hall of Famers: Craig Biggio and Vlad Guerrero. Biggio was the face of the in-state rival Astros, honorably spending his entire career in Houston. Vlad Guerrero is the biggest Ranger killer of all time and holds the record for longest hitting streak against a certain club. Their children look poised to torment Texas for years to come. 

Strikezone pounding Japanese leaguer Kohei Arihara will fill out the middle of the rotation. Hopefully he can eat innings and stay healthy at a replacement level. 

Plucky prospect Dane Dunning, who the Rangers got from Chicago for Lance Lynn, will fill out the 4th spot before July. Dunning really hit his stride for the Rangers to be able to prosper in the future. Lynn was their biggest pitching commodity in years, and like Mike Minor, they waited until his sky high trade value went down before dealing him. Lynn will be reunited with strategic mastermind Tony La Russa on the Chicago White Sox, a flavor of the month team with a plethora of big names. La Russa last managed Lynn in the 2011 World Series, where he made a call to the bullpen and the crowd noise was so insanely loud the bullpen coach did not hear La Russa, and mistakenly sent in Lynn, who had pitched the day before, into a messy inning. It is hard to believe that the Ballpark in Arlington could once be whipped into such a fervor that the opposing manager could not even call the pen. Lynn was vastly underrated due to his lack of offense. He should be respected and appreciated by Rangers fans. When the White Sox visit, he should be cheered just like Derek Holland was when he returns. 

Jordan Lyles will fill out the “rotation” that is reminiscent of the rotation of the 2001 Rangers. This will be another Rangers team with awful pitching. Expect the pitching staff to be worst 5 in ERA, despite incessant complaining that the ballpark is actually a pitchers park.

The Lineup: Isiah Kiner-Falefa was one of the lone bright spots on this Texas team last year. He won a Gold Glove at 3rd base last season after he spent the previous year failing to transition to catcher. Hopefully IFK can transfer his defensive prowess to Shortstop. He will likely bat leadoff. After that will probably be middling, washed up, outfielder David Dahl. Remember, the Choo contract expired along with JD’s tenure. Dahl used to be good, but was useless in Colorado last year. Perhaps he can rekindle the 110 OPS+ season he enjoyed in his career before 2020. He was an All-Star in 2019. Dahl will probably bat 2nd. He looked clueless last year. He seemed to regain his form, batting .395 in Spring Training when everyone else gave him up for dead.

Joey Gallo will almost certainly bat 3rd or 4th. He is a walk or dong, OPS focused player. Gallo will hit for a poor average, but play good defense. Gallo will probably be the lone person on the team to make the All-Star team. Gallo is a great defender with a hose and gold glove. Unfortunately, he has 2 years left on his contract, and the avarice-inspired Scott Boris as an agent. Boris hates extending clients. Look for Gallo to do well in the first half and get traded. It would be cool to keep seeing him in a Rangers uniform, especially considering his defense. 

Nate Lowe is a replacement level (average) 3rd baseman. He will share time with former World Series MVP Brock Holt. Both Lowe and Holt bat lefty.

Ronald Guzman has borderline gold glove defense, the only reason his laughably inconsistent bat is still in the league. Guzman will compete with Lowe and utility man Holt for 1st. Guzman needs to get his batting average up to .240 with pop if he wants to be considered anything more than the lanky version of Martin Perez (failed lefty prospect endlessly heralded.)

Nick Solak will be starting a second base. He was traded for Pete Fairbanks, who was actually talented, from Tampa. 

Rougie Odor did not make the roster despite his insane contract that included a horse. Odor was one of the worst Rangers ever. His 2017 full season played was one of the worst of all time. He was a dim, undisciplined disgrace. The Rangers implied he was too worthless to make the roster, but they did not want to pay off his salary. The Rangers are essentially begging him to go be paid 15 million dollars to play for another team. Rougie was paid 40+ million dollars and a horse to swing at balls above eye level. Rougie was a pathetic, dim, undisciplined, player and deserves to be cut loose. He is worthless and selfish. He never developed and had an equally worthless brother. Who was also selfish, as well a degenerate. Good riddance to the Odor family, a hopelessly dimwitted tribe. Rougie Odor is one of the most pathetic, lazy, awful players to ever dawn a Rangers uniform. He should be ashamed to have even worn the jersey. He took the money and ran, He stopped trying after he got paid after hitting Joey Bats.

Willie Calhoun continues his repulsive ineptitude. He batted .091 in Spring Training despite needing to develop 3 years ago. It is time to stop playing the latest insipid Call of Duty game for attention on Twitch. Willie has been a laughing stock on both games: CoD Domination and the MLB. Calhoun, who lacks the aim to compete with even Pub Stars, sacrifices his baseball career to be a middling scrub in Call of Duty. Calhoun is simply good at neither, and should be equally ashamed of his MP5 aim as he is his batting average.

Eli White and Leody Taveras both failed to develop into starters (shocker.) Delino DeShields spent most of his last 2 years virtue signalling. Which is a terrible place for a 4th outfielder who cant hit .250 to be! The team decided they would rather start garbage in his place. That is how weak the Rangers outfield is: too disgustingly bad for Fan Favorites or Top Prospects. 

Conclusion: The 2021But the truth of the matter is: Gallo, Taveras, White, Dahl, and Calhoun are expected to play the entire season. White and Taveras are bad. Dahl is washed. Calhoun has been one of the biggest failed prospects since Tanner Scheppers. Gallo is deeply flawed. 

The Rangers will have one of their worst seasons ever: 62-100