Retooling Indians Welcome Rangers to Progressive Field
After the events of Wednesday and Thursday, it seems likely that the 2014 season is officially a lost cause for the Cleveland Indians. One day after trading away Justin Masterson, the Indians said goodbye to veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and then promptly dropped the third and final game of their series with Seattle Mariners. Combine those changes with the Tigers acquisition of David Price and it appears highly unlikely that the Indians will win the AL Central (barring a Detroit collapse and Major League style rallying of the troops by the Indians).
Also growing increasingly unlikely is a run for a wild card spot. At six games back with much stronger and consistent teams ahead of them (Angels, Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals, Yankees), it’s hard to find a realistic way in which the Indians climb to the top of that dog pile. Sure, anything can happen, but based on what we have seen out of the Indians in 2014, they lack the type of consistency required to not only make a run, but to also maintain the type of pace in the standings that could get them there.
Of course, things could always be worse. Enter the Texas Rangers.
Decimated by both injuries and lackluster performances across the board, and the once mighty rangers are looking at their worst season in nearly five o six seasons. With a record of 43-65, they are the worst team in baseball. Yes, even the Astros and highly disappointing Rockies are better, but not by much. For a team that expected to compete for the AL West crown, or at least one of the two wild card spots, 2014 has been about as bad as it could possibly get.
In actuality, 2014 has been so bad for the Rangers that their troubles started well before the season. Derek Holland, arguably their best starting pitcher not named Yu Darvish, injured his knee while running with his dog and require microfracture surgery in order to repair the damage. After months of waiting it looks as if he is close to returning, but at this point one has to wonder if it is worth the risk.
And the injuries didn’t stop with Holland. Also hitting the disabled list was talented young middle infielder Jurickson Profar, who has been shelved all season with a shoulder injury. Former Indian farm hand Kevin Kouzmanoff was looking like a diamond in the rough before a back injury ended his season back in April. Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando have both been lost for the season. And the list goes on and on and on.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the biggest disaster of all, Prince Fielder. The Rangers shipped off an all-star second baseman for the once feared slugger, hoping that a change of scenery and the friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington would help him find his power stroke. Nope. After battling his way through the first part of the season with lackluster results, a neck injury and subsequent surgery ended his season.
One would hope that a team such as the Rangers, with their talented and highly compensated roster, would be able to make up for the losses they’ve had to endure. Well, not so much. Yu Darvish, sporting a 2.90 ERA and 167 strikeouts has been remarkable and Adrian Beltre, who continues to build a case for his hall of fame worthiness, leads the Rangers in every offensive category worth mentioning. After that… Well, let’s just say things could be better.
Shin-Soo Choo, brought in to lead the offensive charge atop the lineup, has been abysmal this season. His slash line of .240/.351/.361, 9 home runs, 49 runs scored and 34 RBI is not living up to the $14 million dollars he is making this season. Perhaps it’s just a down year for the former Indian, but if it’s not things could get dicey considering he has six years and $116 -million remaining.
Alex Rios is another player with whom the Rangers can find fault with in 2014. He has all of the talent you could possibly want in a baseball player. a potential five tool player when he is at his best. Unfortunately, 2014 has seen him back at his very worst. Yes, his .304 average is impressive, but his OBP isn’t much higher at .335 and his power has been non-existent, .430 slugging and a whopping 4 homers on the year. For a player of Rios’ caliber to only have 4 home runs while playing hs home games in Texas is almost an embarrassment. One has to wonder why the Rangers were so hesitant to deal him at the deadline.
It’s possible that 2014 might just be “one of those years” for the Rangers. By that I mean it’s a season where nothing goes right and everything goes wrong. Injuries, poor performances, and incorrect decisions all coming together to form the perfect storm of lackluster baseball. Looking at the roster, and I’m talking about the full roster, and it is apparent that there is talent here. On paper this is not a 43-65 baseball team. But, that’s why they play the games.
Perhaps the Rangers’ front office feels the same way. Based on their lack of activity at the trade deadline it appears obvious that they think this team can do better and be better. To them, making a move would have been viewed as making a move just for the sake of making a move. Sometimes there is value in stepping back, realizing that there were forces outside of your control at play, thinking through things rationally, and standing pat. There is nothing wrong with thinking that in an alternate time line your team could be better.
In the case of the Rangers it makes sense then to stand pat and bring this team back for a second go around. A healthy Prince Fielder, the good version of Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios, and the constantly steady Adrian Beltre could turn things around. Add in Leonys Martin (quietly having a solid season), a healthy Jurickson Profar, and a healthy supporting cast and this team could be a contender once again in 2015.
And if not? Well, then the Rangers can think about blowing things up and starting anew. But for now, there was no need to panic. No need to rush the process or make a drastic change of course. They know who they are and who they think they can be. We’ll see just how well that plays out as the season winds down and we head into 2015.
Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.25/3.85) vs. Yu Darvish (10-6, 2.90/2.85)