Rangers can’t find offensive help

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2013

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By Dic Humphrey

Wednesday afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline passed without the Rangers making a deal. All reports had the team feverishly checking out every possibility in search of offensive help. Clearly this Texas team is offensively challenged despite the two touchdown outburst earlier this week against the Angels. At the deadline, the Rangers ranked sixth in the American League and 10th overall in batting average and ninth and 13th in runs scored. Ultimately though, Texas chose to make no deal rather than a bad deal.

There were simply very few hitters available this July. ESPN’s Buster Olney quoted one General Manager as saying, “Worst position player market I can remember.”  There are many reasons for the dearth of sellers. The addition of a second Wild Card team in each league is one cause. More teams believe they have a shot at the playoffs, so there are fewer sellers. Also, the trend in recent years to sign young players to contract extensions that buy out free agent years is another factor, as there are fewer free agents to be. Texas for example has locked down Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison to name a few.  The lack of July trade activity is a trend that puts more pressure on general managers to put their teams together in the off season.

On top of the Rangers’ poor offensive showing so far, suspensions in the Biogenesis probe are expected to be announced momentarily.  Major League Baseball has strategically waited until this week to pressure the players involved into accepting the suspensions, which are 50 games for first time offenders, rather than appeal the suspension and have the possibility of losing time next season.

Texas had 55 games remaining when the trade deadline passed Wednesday.  Nelson Cruz has been linked to the Biogenesis probe and could well be lost for essentially the balance of the season if he chooses to accept the suspension, and there is no assurance that the appeal process will not be resolved prior to the end of the season, such that Cruz could miss games even if he does appeal.

Lance Berkman was signed this off-season to be a middle of the order bat, but he’s basically a bust, and may not play again.  Even with the potential loss of Cruz and Berkman and the failure to land offensive help in a trade,

“I like the composition of this club,” Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said. “We’re going to have to win in a different way than we’ve won in the past.  But if we can pitch and scratch our way to four runs a game, I like our chances.”

Certainly at this point, Texas has its work cut out to get to the playoffs.  After beating the Angels Tuesday night, Texas gained a game on the Athletics for the first time in 32 days, reducing the deficit in the West to five games.  On Wednesday, they reduced the deficit again with their third consecutive walk-off win.  The Athletics are very good and will be difficult to catch in any event.  That leaves the Wild Card, and the Rangers were tied with Baltimore for third place on Thursday.  Tampa Bay and Cleveland held the first two spots.  This promises to be a tightly contested race to the end.  Six teams are less than five games out of a Wild Card spot, and two more are less than 10.

It is possible the Rangers will still add an offensive player as trades are possible now that the deadline is passed.  They are simply more difficult to complete, as the waiver process must be observed.  For sure, almost every team in the Majors has already placed players on waivers to gauge interest.  If a player goes unclaimed, he can be traded.  If a player is claimed, the team with the prevailing waiver claim can make trade for that player.  It happens.  In 2010 for example, Texas obtained Jeff Francoeur in an August trade, and Francoeur made a significant contribution.
As for the Rangers’ playoff chances, this weekend could be a step forward, as they will be in Oakland for three games.  The pitching matchups are Alexi Ogando against Tommy Milone on Friday night (9:05 PM Central time televised locally on Channel 21); Matt Garza facing Jarrod Parker on Saturday (3:05 PM televised on the FOX network – Channel 4); and Derek Holland on Sunday going against A. J. Griffin (3:05 PM televised on FSN-Southwest).

The August schedule also provides optimism for Ranger fans.  After this weekend’s series in Oakland, every team the Rangers play for the rest of the month currently has a record under .500.  There is divisional play with six games against the Astros, six games with Seattle and three more with the Angels.  There are two inter-league games with Milwaukee and six games with the bottom two teams in the Central Division, Chicago and Minnesota.  It is a great chance to make up ground in the West Division race.

Notes: Colby Lewis is scheduled to make another rehab start for AA Frisco Saturday at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. … Matt Harrison made his first rehab start for Frisco Wednesday night in Midland.  He threw 31 pitches (18 strikes), giving up two hits and a walk in 1.1 scoreless innings.  His next rehab start is scheduled for Frisco on Sunday. … Frisco also received a major talent influx when the Rangers promoted infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas, as well as starting pitcher Luke Jackson.  Jackson is thought by many to be the best minor league pitching prospect in the Rangers’ system.  Odor becomes the youngest player in the Texas league at 19, and Sardinas is third youngest at 20.

Photo by Chad Conine

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