Three players that could be out next year

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2019

Image result for rougned odor                                             BY DIC HUMPHREY
DHUMPHREY24@GMAIL.COM

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Las Vegas pre-season over/under number of
wins for the Texas Rangers was less than 70.  After Thursday’s win in
Baltimore, the Rangers were four games under .500 at 69-73.  With 20
games remaining in the season, the Rangers will most assuredly crack
the 70 win mark, and will likely finish with 75 wins or more.

It’s really been a delightful season as the Rangers were in the
hunt for a post-season Wild Card berth until atleast the All-Star
break. The disappointment for the year though is how they got there.
The Rangers were looking for a step up in performance from young
players they had counted on to be the core of another run of playoff
contending teams – Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Ronald
Guzman.  Gallo is the only one that took a step forward as he made the
All-Star team.

Unfortunately, injuries have curtailed the second half of his
season. Veterans Logan Forsythe, Asdrubal Cabrera and Hunter Pence
really carried this year’s team into playoff contention prior to the
All-Star break.

So what happens to the other three?

Odor is the one most likely to be elsewhere next year.  After
Thursday’s game in Baltimore, his batting average stood at .194.  No
chance of writing this off to a small sample size….he’s had 448
official at-bats.

Odor has hit 22 home runs, which is nothing to sneer at. Last
year, he was one of three finalists for the American League Gold Glove
Award at second base, but .194 is a hole in the batting order. Ranger
manager Chris Woodward has talked about the team’s hitting philosophy.

He wants his batters to aggressively swing at pitches in the strike
zone, and wants to see consistently good at bats.  Woodward has
praised Odor’s effort…..he is putting in the extra time, but not
having consistently good at bats. He often swings at pitches out of
the strike zone with the result being that he rarely sees pitches in
the strike zone. For opposing pitchers, why throw a pitch in the
strike zone, when Odor will swing at bad ones outside the zone?

The criticism of Odor from Woodward has grown in volume in recent
weeks. He continues to pencil Odor in at second base when he makes out
the lineup. It gives the feeling that the Rangers are looking for
some sign of improvement over the final month for encouragement to
commit the start of the 2020 season to him.

That option of sending Odor to the minors to work out his problems
at the plate, as they have with others (most notably Guzman), was not
available for Odor.  He passed the five year mark in service time
early in the season.  He thus could not be sent to the minor leagues
without his consent.  Consequently, the Rangers have continued to play
him through the summer and into September with Odor being a hole in
the batting order.

The $49 million plus contract extension that Odor signed last year
enters into the equation.  After this season, there is still
approximately $35 million left on the contract.  That’s not chump
change to write off.  On the other hand, that money was committed when
the Rangers signed the contract.  The money is gone no matter what the
Rangers decide, and the focus should be on putting together the best
team the Rangers can field.

Mazara is surprisingly on the bubble as the Rangers look toward
the next decade.  An injury opened the opportunity for Mazara to crack
the Major League roster in 2016.  He hit exactly 20 home runs in each
of his first three seasons, and his career batting average is .261.

This year, he is hitting .268 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs.
Essentially, Mazara has not progressed from his first year (.266, 20
home runs and 64 RBIs).  He is not anything special defensively….he
doesn’t reach enough fly balls as he is simply too slow afoot.
The drum beats out of Arlington have Mazara on the hot seat.  He
is dealing with an injury that has kept him out of the lineup in
recent days, perhaps robbing him of the opportunity to prove that he
deserves a spot on next year’s team.

Guzman was sent to AAA Nashville July 23.  He was hitting .192 at
the time with just two hits in his most recent 30 at bats (.067).
Defensively, Guzman is not just good at first base…he is superior.
If he establishes himself as a reasonable hitter at first base, he
will be an annual contender for the A. L. first base Gold Glove Award.
He’s absolutely terrific!

At Nashville, he hit .306 with a .400 on base percentage before
getting recalled to the Rangers once rosters expanded on September 1.
Guzman told MLB.com’s

T. R. Sullivan “I didn’t want to be sent down, but it helped me a
lot.”  The Rangers are optimistic that the success he had in AAA will
translate at the Major League level.

There is no question that the Rangers have struggled to score
runs without Pence and Gallo in the lineup. They scored just 15 runs
in the first five games this month with 10 of those coming in the two
wins.  The recent batting orders have Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak
batting third and fourth.  Both players make consistent contact at the
plate.  Solak’s primary position is second base, though he has the
versatility to play third base and the outfield.  He’s also a right
handed batter which is a plus for the Rangers’ too left-handed batting
order.

The messages with the recent lineups then are an emphasis on
consistent contact and fewer strikeouts.  Solak also presents a viable
alternative if the Rangers decide to move on from Odor.
The good news about the Rangers’ youth movement is in the pitching
area.  Kolby Allard and Brock Burke are making strong bids to be part
of next year’s starting rotation. Allard won his fourth game Thursday
in Baltimore, lowering his ERA to a very respectable 3.78. The
Rangers are 5-1 in the six games he has started.

Burke has yet to record a win but has a 1.50 ERA over 18 innings
going into the weekend. He particularly has shown tremendous mound
poise and certainly not intimidated by Major League hitters.
The sample size on these two is small.  It’s also September,
which often looks more like spring training with teams getting a look
at young players.  However, if these two can step up to join Mike
Minor and Lance Lynn in next year’s rotation, the Rangers could well
be on their way to contending again.

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