Texas Rangers: Conclude Miserable Season, Look To Next Year

The Texas Rangers need lots of help and lots of hits to be successful next season. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers are concluding another joke season where they were completely out of the playoff picture by June. They couldn’t pitch, the lineup was deeply flawed, and they frequently showed up to games lifeless. The rot was so bad that they canned their GM and skipper halfway through the season. Both Skipper Chris Woodward and GM Jon Daniels showed no sense of urgency over the past four years. They both treated their jobs with the same apathetic approach as Peter (Ron Livingston) from Office Space.

Things did not get any better after Chris Woodward was replaced by 3rd base coach Tony Beasley. The team showed the same flaws and listless approach. Corey Seager seemed to shut down after Woody was canned. Woody and Seager were friends, going back to their Dodger days. Seager is signed for nine more years and is the franchise player. He needs to pull up his skirt and get over his bald dopey friend getting canned after four years of ineptitude.

The Rangers did not really expect to be a playoff team this year. They did, however, expect to lose less than 90 games and show some signs of life. What they got instead was a lifeless corpse of a team that did not show up every 3rd day. The amount of time this team ran through the motions and put up 3 or less runs was truly staggering.

Since 2017 the Rangers were obviously not going to contend for the playoffs. For the last FIVE YEARS even the casual fan could look at the roster and deduce it was never going to make the playoffs. That’s a half decade of not even pretending to compete. What did the Rangers do during the peak of this sickening era? Raised ticket and concession prices.

So why were the Rangers so bad this season?

The Bad
The Rangers kicked the can down the road this offseason by signing hard-washed ancient free agents. At least most of these were one year deals. The best thing about this Rangers team is most of the scrub players’ contracts come off the books this offseason.

Kole Calhoun– Calhoun couldn’t hit all season and was nothing special defensively. The days of him being a .250 hitter with pop with a big arm are long gone. He killed the Rangers for years on the Angels and he killed the Rangers from within this year.

Charlie Culberson– this utility infielders biggest contribution was throwing mop up innings in the frequent beatings the Rangers would take. He was supposed to be able to hit lefties but really never could. His biggest defensive contribution was running into his own Center Fielder at full speed and knocking him out for the year. Culberson is another player that can’t cut it in the Bigs anymore and was total dead weight.

Nick Solak– the Rangers traded a pitcher that went on to become incredible for this disappointing return. Sound familiar? While Pete Fairbanks is on the Rays being unhittable Solak has neither a defensive position, nor a clue at the plate. The Rays exceptional coaching and analytics department improved Fairbanks tremendously. The Rangers analytics and coaching staff is a joke. You NEVER hear of the Rangers getting a mediocre pitcher and making him great.

Mitch Garver– the injury prone starting catcher with pop played about a month and a half before getting severely injured and having to shut it down. He finished the season with a .207 batting average.

Brad Miller– Miller is unfortunately one of the only vets on the books for next season. He is scheduled to steal 4 million dollars next season. Like Solak, he is a positionless dope that also can’t hit. In short, he is a sewer player.

Sam Huff– sometimes a “top prospect” retains his “top prospect” label years after he is drafted because he never develops. Huff falls into this category. The tall catcher has been developing at a snail’s pace since he was drafted.  He is a clown behind the plate and will probably have to be moved to 1st base at some point. He strikes out way too much. He is a streaky hitter that will probably never make an All Star Team.

Willie Calhoun– Big Willie is the ultimate joke player. He can’t defend and has no position. He can’t stay healthy. He whines all the time. He was given the starting job for 5 years and when he was cut said “I could have been a .300 hitter if given the chance.”

Sloppy Willie spent his entire offseason playing the latest awful Call of Duty gimmick game. He is not focused enough to be good at either game. He should retire from baseball and become a CoD progamer- that way he can be a failure at two different games that used to be great. Willie is a joke, a crybaby rat, and a fraud. He has the only guy the Rangers received for Yu Darvish. They would have been better off asking the Dodgers for an envelope of anthrax. It would have done less damage to the roster.

Zack Reks, Steven Duggar, and Steele Walker– All three of these chumps would be lucky to make a roster in the Japanese League. They don’t deserve a spot on the roster, nor their own individual assessments.

Kohei Arihara– the Japanese leaguer doesn’t have the stuff to cut it in the bigs. The Japanese League is often described as “AAAA,” meaning it is better than AAA but not as good as MLB. This means when Japanese players come over to the states you have more Kohei’s than Ohtani’s. That is to say, MLB is the best league in the world and many of the Japanese players that come over to the states are unable to keep up with the Big League game. Kohei had a 9.45 ERA this season and just doesn’t have the stuff to pitch in MLB.

Spencer Howard and Glenn Otto– these two young arms are some of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers organization. They were given a plethora of opportunities in a battered starting rotation. Neither were able to rise to the occasion.  Otto was better than Howard, but both had an ERA+ well below 100. They are still young and can improve, but it’s not like they showed flashes of brilliance.

Taylor Hearn– Hearn throws hard with no control and no secondary pitch. He was awful and vexing to watch all season. 5.29 ERA.

Dennis Santana– started the season hot with his sliders but has been atrocious since. 5.46 ERA.

Dane Dunning– Dunning threw sinkers down the middle without an out pitch all season. He has the ability to be a big league 4th starter, but needs the help of a good pitching coach. His current bag of build orders and strategies is awful.

Cole Ragans– another young arm that isn’t ready for the Bigs. 4.95 ERA.

Joe Barlow– was decent for a month, then awful, then hurt.

John King and Brett Martin were both average.

The Good

Brock Burke– was unhittable out of the bullpen all season. 1.97 ERA over 82.1 IP. Chris Woodward didn’t use him in enough high leverage situations and that was a big part of why he was fired.

Martin Perez– the most surprising Ranger. Perez was the Rangers top prospect in 2011 and never reached his potential. He was below average for years. He left in free agency for a couple years and was back this season. Presumably the Rangers thought he would eat up innings at his usual below average clip. He exceeded all expectations, finally finding his top prospect form he never realized before. He used the cutter and change-up to great effect. He learned the cutter in Boston. He pitched with extreme grit this season and was selected to the All Star team. The headline to this unlikely power spike is “The Rangers thought Perez would be below average, he was excellent, and they still lost 94 games.”

This is also true of players like Adolis Garcia and Nate Lowe. They outplayed their preseason expectations by a mile and the Rangers were still awful. This is one of the things that has to be considered when looking at the last two Rangers seasons where they lost a ton of games. They did so despite some of their signings working out way better than even the most lofty projections. Yet the Rangers were still awful. This really does say a lot about the front office and the quality of product they knew they were putting on the field. The Rangers flirted with breaking their single season loss record despite multiple career years they could have never seen coming. This is the genesis of why the team is truly repulsive.

Jon Gray was the #2 starter and a good signing. Gray is still young and had good seasons in Colorado. He wasn’t a broken down old veteran a decade removed from his peak, like most of the arms the Rangers target. Gray is the sort of legitimate, competitive signing the Rangers will look to do in the upcoming offseason. He had knee problems at the beginning of the year that inhibited him. But once healthy he was very good. He got hurt late in the year too. Despite injuries, he was effective, talented, and useful. The Rangers need to sign a couple more Gray-esque arms this offseason. Having the likes of Spencer Howard and Glenn “Ottomatic” Loss as the 4th and 5th starters is a recipe for disaster. The Rangers plan to spend big this offseason and really try to compete. Having only 340 decent innings from your entire starting rotation means you will never go above .500. The Rangers know this, but have kicked the can down the road year after year with not enough pitching.

The Rangers spent the last couple years “rebuilding.” This earned them a couple top draft picks. They spent both on high upside top tier college arms. Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are those high picks, expected to anchor the staff in a few years. These were great picks and shows the Rangers have the correct mindset when it comes to drafting. This is the mark of the new Chris Young front office era.

Matt Moore was another lefty who had some bad seasons in Texas like Perez but was great this season. He was sharp out of the bullpen all season long and featured a big curveball.  He had an ERA of 1.95 and an ERA+ of 203.

Jonathan Hernandez came back from Tommy John Surgery and returned to top form. He throws very hard and will be one of the most important bullpen arms going forward. The same is true of Jose Leclerc, who returned from the same injury around the same time. They are both flamethrowing righties.

Matt “MFB” Bush was traded to the Brewers to replace Josh Hader. He was traded for Mark Mathias, a utility player who showed pop and promise in his brief time with Texas. Bush was a stalwart during his tenure in Texas. The former 1st overall pick was originally a shortstop but converted to pitcher with the Rangers. Bush was a top end bullpen guy during the Rangers ill-fated 2015/2016 playoff runs. Bush is old and now plays in the NL, so it is unlikely he will come back to Globe Life Field; but if he does, he would be greeted with cheers.

Nate Lowe– Nate Lowe was the Rangers best hitter this season. He spent most of the season hitting for a top 5 batting average in the AL. He employs an intelligent spray hitting approach. He doesn’t just try to pull everything. He hits for power and reaches base frequently. Unfortunately, his defense is poor.

Jonah Heim– Heim was great for the first few months of the season. But after Mitch Garver went down he was overburdened. He hits for pop and plays great defense.

Marcus Semien– after a cold start Marcus got it together. He hit .248. He led the team in runs. He stole 25 bases. He did not reach base enough or hit for enough power to justify his contract. He was an asset, but underwhelming.

Corey Seager was about the same as Marcus. Above average but disappointing for the money. He also hit around .250 all year and does not walk enough. Seager had 33 homers at least. Both of these players were expected to play at a near MVP level. Both were barely above average. Seager hit a bit better than Semien but played poor defense,  perhaps the most worrying thing about his season. The Rangers will need more out of both of these stars to be competitive. Both of these long term deals will get worse as the players age. These first few years are the ones where they should put up top tier numbers and play good defense. Seager making so many errors at shortstop will only get worse. If the Rangers coaching staff was any good they would work on this element of the game with Seager. Simply put: Seager is under contract for nine more years and needs to be more like Prime A-Rod.

Josh Jung- The Rangers top hitting prospect from Texas Tech showed pop when he came up in September. He will be the Opening Day starter at third and a player the Rangers will hitch their wagon to with years to come. 

Leody Taveras and Bubba Thompson- Both of these young outfielders are fast and play good defense. The crux of the issue is offense with them. How close to .300 can they hit? They need to get on base and wreak havoc on the bases. They will probably get a ton of time next season. The one position the Rangers need to add at in the lineup is corner outfielder. Neither of these youngsters have much pop. Aaron Judge is going to be a free agent this offseason. If the Rangers miss on Judge, they will need two top end starters and some bullpen help too. 

The Rangers got sand kicked in their face all season. They capped the year with Aaron Judge breaking the single season AL home run record in Texas. There are a plethora of free agents out there for the Rangers to sign next season. The shackles of the Jon Daniels era is over. Expect big things next season if they add pitching.