Texas Rangers: 2024 Season Preview: Raising the Banner

The Texas Rangers are looking to repeat as world champions with strong defense and red hot bats.
Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers will begin the season as champions for the first time ever. They retained much of their core and have a real shot to make a deep playoff run again. The offseason was defined mainly by inaction. The ongoing TV deal drama dragged on as the “championship parade” was little more than tepid product placement for Toyota. As the players rode around in the beds of trucks in a terribly tacky product placement “celebration” one thing was clear: the Rangers would struggle with creating a lasting winning identity. The organization has shamelessly cashed out whilst leaving some of its most loyal contributors out in the cold. The Rangers might have won a World Series, but it takes more than a title to build a respected organization.

The most notable player the Rangers lost to free agency was rock solid lefty starter Jordan Montgomery. Monty started many of the notable swing games in last year’s playoff run. He went through the offseason asking for Carlos Rodon money (6 years, 27 million each year) and settled for a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will make 25 million this year and has an option for next year. The Rangers also lost catcher/DH with pop Mitch Garver. Garver had several clutch hits throughout the Postseason. Garver went to rival Seattle, which makes it sting more. The Rangers will rely on young talent to replace Garver as a DH and Andrew Knizner to replace him as backup catcher. 

The Rangers lost some other, less useful pieces. Will Smith signed with the Kansas City Royals. He spent the first half of last season as a solid closer but ran out of gas down the stretch. He will join Opening Day starter Cole Ragans in KC after the Rangers traded Ragans for Aroldis Chapman last season. Ragans blossomed with KC last season, winning pitcher of the month and looking very nasty. Chapman went to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where his playoff choking habit is not likely to rear its ugly head. He joins Martin Perez in Pittsburgh. “Return To The Mean” Martin fell back down to earth last season after a flash in the pan the prior year earned him over 18 million dollars. Perez was the top prospect in baseball in 2010 and never reached his true potential with his initial run in Texas. 

Cleveland paid catcher Austin Hedges a few million to be baseball’s answer to Jim Breuer. Robbie Grossman took his middling talents to the awful Chicago White Sox. Chris Stratton also left. 

The Rangers will begin Opening Day with their top hitting prospect on the roster. Wyatt Langford, the slugging University of Florida product, will play some outfield and DH this season. He surged through the levels of the minors last season and did very well in Spring Training. He will fill the void left by Mitch Garver. He will join another young phenom outfielder. Evan “The Little Savior” Carter helped carry the Rangers out of the gutter during his September callup. He had a legendary Postseason and will be a mainstay in the Rangers lineup for years. These two kids will define the Rangers outfield for the next decade. They join established electric cleanup hitter Adolis “El Bombi” Garcia in the starting outfield. Leody Taveras finally developed in center last season and will get plenty of looks out there.

Langford will probably DH and split time at the corner outfield spots. Travis Jankowski is the fifth outfielder. He plays good defense and is fast. The Rangers outfield is staggeringly good. The defense is easily the best in the AL. Garcia is a Gold Glover with a cannon. Carter, Langford, and Tavares are all young and fast with a ton of room to grow. The Rangers will be able to consistently use fresh outfielders all season long. Their outfield was one of their biggest weaknesses at the beginning of last year. The rise of Carter and Langford not only changes this, but is franchise defining. 

The infield remains very promising. All five starters stayed. Shortstop Corey Seager had one of the best seasons in Rangers history last year. He was runner-up in the MVP race. Second baseman Marcus Semien set the plate appearances record last season, overtaking the 1993 season of Lenny “Nails” Dykstra. He led the team in WAR and played great defense. Those are the two vets locked up on long term deals. They hit 1st and 2nd for nearly the entire season last year. They stood tall and will be relied upon to anchor the team again this season. 

Nate Lowe mans first. He went from the worst first base defender in the AL to a Gold Glover last season. He is an above average hitter with a solid approach. Texas Tech grad Josh Jung plays third. He improved severely last season both at the dish and in the field. He will turn in a campaign worthy of an All-Star nod. Catcher Jonah Heim is the best catcher in the American League. The switch hitter is very tough and plays great defense. Zeke Duran and Josh Smith will be the two utility men off the bench. Smith is fast but cannot hit. Zeke cannot field but can hit well. 

This offense is lethal and deep. It has no real weaknesses. The Rangers will score a plethora of runs this season. They should be top 3 in MLB in runs scored.

The Rangers pitching staff remains much the same. Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Opening Day. The veteran righty is known for throwing hard and having a nice splitter. He is very talented and the Rangers can rely on him. Andrew Heaney returns as well. He is an inconsistently lefty with a nice slider. When he is on, he is elite. Jon Gray is coming back too. He is a hard throwing righty who is deeply underrated. Dane Dunning had a career year last season. He will start the season in the rotation. He led the staff in IP last season. Michael Lorenzen and Cody Bradford will compete for the final rotation spot. Bradford stood tall in the playoffs last season. Lorenzen threw a no hitter last year.

The Rangers signed Tyler Mahle after he spent the last 2 years hurt on the Twins. He will return a few months into the season. Mad Max Scherzer will return from back surgery a month after that. The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, a month after him. The Rangers have a solid rotation. 

The Rangers bullpen is their biggest weakness. Jose Leclerc and Josh Sborz are the anchors. Kirby Yates and David Robinson were both added to bolster the pen. Robinson has a big curveball. He closed for the Mets last year before being traded to the Marlins and checking out. Yates used to be a top end closer. He tore his arm up and missed several years, but did well last year.  Jonathan Hernandez and Grant Anderson showed flashes of brilliance last season, but were also ineffective. Brock Burke is on the roster but looks pretty bad. 

GM Chris Young assembled a brilliant team. The team is led by an exceptional manager that will lead them to over 90 wins. What the organization does not have is class. This organization pretends like it did not spend over 50 years being a joke. The tawdry shopping mall where the Rangers play their home games lacks a soul. The vacuous, overpriced clip joint lacks an organ. An organ helps add levity and personality to a ballpark. The Rangers decided they did not need an organ in the cavernous, empty, husk of a park. The bland sterility of DFW’s newest shopping mall is ever present as highly compressed modern pop is blasted out ad nauseam. Fans are supposed to be happy about a Whataburger going into the stadium. Why should fans be excited about paying 200% markup for a chain they can find every five miles? The fact that the stadium has a Whataburger (half the quality and double the price) but not an organ shows exactly what is wrong with the stadium. Repugnant, tawdry corporatism has sunk its hooks into MLB.

There is no better example of this than the tacky ads being put on jerseys. Owners make money hand over first. Ticket prices always go up, concession prices always go up, parking prices always go up. But the experience gets worse! The owners do not actually care about the game. They just want to squeeze every last little drop of what is left before the game is ruined and they sell. There are ads on every surface. There are ads mid inning. We have now seen the hilarious but predictable adding of advertisements on the jerseys. Nothing is sacred or not for sale. Owners show their lack of honor and standards when defiling the integrity of the sport to do things like this. Obviously it is unnecessary and tacky to put gross ads on the jerseys. Owners know this. They simply don’t care. That is the mindset of the owners when it comes to the fan experience. They spit in your face then pedantically wring their hands about things like TV deals. 

The Rangers never had a real TV deal. They paid a joke company, Bally Sports (owned by Sinclair) to carry the channel on one lousy ISP. So if you did not have access to that cable company, you could not legally watch the games. But what about online? Everything is possible in the internet age, right!? Nope, the owners hilariously agreed to blackout restrictions with ISPs, meaning if you buy the full “MLB EVERY SINGLE GAME” package, you are unable to watch your local team. These usurous restrictions even apply to other teams in the state that are not even in your market. For instance, a Rangers fan in Amarillo will be blacked out from watching The Astros hundreds of miles south. This is obviously repugnant and backwards. This is the main factor in people not watching baseball. For all the ostentatious hand-wringing that occurs about “WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT WATCHING BASEBALL!?” this is the reason. They literally can’t. Even the neurotic fan who wants to pay hundreds of dollars up front cannot watch his local team. They also cannot watch the nationally televised games with their most expensive MLB package. Funny how this is not the very first thing mentioned during discussions of declining viewership. 

The Rangers used their “lack of TV deal” as the reason to not re-sign Monty. Their TV deal last year purposely exposed the games to as few fans as possible. The fly by night joke company they signed their anti-fan deal with could not even make its payments. Great example of how if all parties involved a deal are consumed with avarice what happens: The Rangers knew Bally would not be carried by MOST networks, they did not care about the fact most fans could not watch, or how the payments would be made if the product could not be watched. It did not matter. All that mattered for ownership was that dollar figure, regardless of what it did to the fans or even if Sinclair could pay it. So after the obvious outcome of Sinclair bottoming out occurred, the Rangers dishonestly sold this as the reason they were unable to get Monty. They intentionally failed to mention the initial moronic and facile nature of the deal. They failed to mention their initial usurious implications or that they acted in bad faith. These greedy, dim decisions were made with purpose, with the obvious result of selling a TV deal to a network that had no real intention of broadcasting being a massive failure.

Bally Sports also managed to put together one of the most pathetic talent rosters imaginable. The on air “talent” ranges from decent talking heads like Jared “Sanny” Sandler to vacuous husks like Lesley McCaslin. Perhaps Rangers fans should be happy they are unable to watch the games. David Murphy and Mark McLemore have had about as much luck developing on-air charisma as they did making an All-Star team in their career. Dave Raymond calls the game with the tepid pacing of a man watching a preview monitor six seconds behind. His home run calls are especially awful. Mike Bacsik joins the crew this year after a decade of uninspired sports radio babble. He is most famous for giving up Barry Bonds’ record breaking homer. He will spend this career going to work in a building surrounded by people magnitudes better than him at this craft too. 

Broadcasting legend Eric Nadel will anchor the radio broadcast. Nadel missed the first half of last season battling depression. Matt Hicks is Nadel’s co-commentator and does a good job. That is the best way to follow the game. 

The Rangers shocked the world and won a title last year. It is clear nobody in the organization (except Chris Young) understood what that meant or how to build off of it. The Rangers lost on purpose for seven straight years; then after the first good season jacked up the already insane prices even higher. The average fan has been priced out of going to the games at the cavernous shopping mall known as Globe Life Park. The fact that the new and old stadium have identical sponsorship title sponsors shows the backwards, plastic nature of the society we live in. Neither are worthy of honorable title, or even worthy of being able to be told apart, apparently. When you stack the elements like this up against what was an already deteriorating experience, the Ranger fan should be happy they won a title before the sport became a complete joke. 

The Rangers will begin this season with a patch on their jerseys. Not a World Series patch, but an advertisement on the sleeve. Very few fans in Texas will be able to watch live. Ticket prices are insanely high, marked up moments after Josh Sborz recorded the final out of the World Series. The laughable TV deal was used as an excuse to not sign free agents at the peak of the Rangers window. The TV deal is used as a cudgel against fans: the dim, selfish owners signed it knowing it would minimize coverage and Sinclair would be likely to default and coverage would suffer. The Rangers still made a massive profit this season, just like they do every year. All the elements of the park become more expensive. Advertisement became more pervasive, even to the insidious level of putting ads on the jerseys. Services got worse/turned into kiosks at the park. The experience was systematically degraded, the brilliant game muddied by avarice. Baseball rapidly careens to the point of no return. Advertisement and gimmickry have infested the game to the point where the viewing experience is being severely damaged. The Rangers are leading the charge in this. 

The Rangers won the World Series last year. They are poised to win 92 games and make a deep playoff run. They will hang a banner in a hollow, soulless cave bereft of the lively organ tones that have defined and colored baseball for years. The Rangers enter this season as champs, but not as favorites. The front offices’ tacky, shallow behavior through the entire offseason undermines the incredible job the players and coaches did on the field. The dopey owners do not understand that a championship gives you the ability to build a dynasty. Imagine spending over 50 years trying to get over the hump and your parade is a stupid, low rent product placement photo op? Has anyone in the front office heard of the phrase “parade float?” Which stooge in the organization is driving the things like the embarrassing Tundra Product Placement Parade and the ads on the jerseys? Does MLB not understand the concept of diminishing returns and ad spam ruining things? The Rangers showed they were forerunners in embarrassing themselves with thinly veiled corporate avarice. 

The Rangers will spend this entire season shamelessly milking last year’s World Series run. They will do this with the greedy shamelessness of a premier baseball market like New York. They have enough good young talent to be contenders for the next few years. The team looks incredibly similar to last year, minus the awful bullpen and the young stud outfielders. Thus it was worth taking a look at the Rangers offseason behavior that was exemplified by lowballing Monty. 

The Rangers conquered their demons last year. They are no longer defined by 2011. Their identity now also includes a corny patch of an energy company. In a couple more years there will be another sponsor on the chest. A couple years after that there will be ads on the pants like they were made by Juicy. The sanctity of the mound has already been violated with ads. Ads are plastered onto walls, sometimes obstructing players. The league makes money hand over fist as the viewing experience is intentionally degraded into nothing. The grotesque truth of this is that many do not notice because they are blacked out of the game. The others who are able to watch cannot distinguish MLB’s product placement from that in the latest Marvel Movies. 

The Rangers are fine. They kept most of their core and will have the best pitcher in baseball return down the stretch. Baseball is not fine. It is being looted and run into the ground by bad faith actors feigning poverty.