We can forget about post season play this year

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2014

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By Dic Humphrey

The “critical” June road trip came to an end last Sunday with the Rangers winning three and losing six to the three teams ahead of them in the American League West.
Compounding that result with two more losses to start the current six game home stand, losses which ran the Rangers’ losing streak to a season high seven games; it has become apparent that Texas won’t be participating in post-season play this season.
The deficit in the West has reached double digits with three teams to pass, and Texas actually was closer to the last place Astros than they were to the third place Mariners on Thursday morning.  In short, the Rangers know that if they make July deals this season, they will be sellers sending out veterans for prospects.
It’s really impossible to predict what the Rangers will do near this year’s trade deadline.  Ultimately, it gets down to the offers they actually receive.
Certainly, the trade that had a major part in turning the Rangers’ fortunes around earlier this century was the trade of Mark Teixeira to Atlanta.  Atlanta thought that Teixeira’s bat with almost a year and a half of contract control could propel them to a World Series.  The Rangers were thus able to grab a bounty in a Major League player, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and four prospects, three of which, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Elvis Andrus have made All-Star teams.  David Murphy was acquired in another transaction that July.  Murphy and the three future All-Stars were an integral part of the 2010 and 2011 teams that played in the World Series.  In other words, trades in a season such as this can be very meaningful in years to come.
Literally every contending team in the history of baseball has sought bullpen help near the trade deadline.  No matter how well things are going, a strong relief pitcher is always welcome.
Consequently, Joakim Soria will be the most sought after Ranger this year.  He’s experienced at age 31.  He’s a former All-Star, and at mid-week, he had converted 15 of 16 save opportunities for Texas.  Even if a contending team has a closer, they could easily fit Soria into a setup role.
The question for Texas is “do they really want to move Soria?”  The team holds an option for 2015 at a reasonable $7,000,000.  If the Rangers expect to contend next year, they likely want Soria back as their closer, rather than hope that Neftali Feliz or Tanner Scheppers could step into the job.
Teams in a pennant race seeking bullpen help are interested in experienced pitchers that have been through the pressures of pennant races.  The other two Ranger pitchers that fit that bill are right-hander Jason Frasor and left-hander Neal Cotts.  They are the two most probable players to be traded, though they likely won’t bring a bonanza in return.
But you never know.  One of the most famous trade deadline stories occurred in the late 1980’s.  Houston was out of the pennant race and wanted to trade a middle reliever akin to Cotts and Frasor.  The playoff bound Red Sox wanted the reliever.  Houston asked for the Red Sox’ top minor league prospect, third baseman Scott Cooper, in return.  Boston, who looked pretty set at third base with Wade Boggs, said “no”, and countered with their third baseman at AA.  Houston held out for Cooper.  Boston resolutely refused.
In the end, Houston blinked.  They accepted the AA third baseman, a player by the name of Jeff Bagwell, who had a far superior Major League career to Cooper.  He led the Astros to the 2005 World Series, won an MVP Award, and has credentials to receive strong consideration for the Hall of Fame.
Alex Rios could also be of interest.  He was hitting .312 earlier this week and will get consideration for the All-Star team.  However, he is not the base runner he once was, having just one steal in four attempts so far this year.  He’s not a defensive liability in right field by any means, but he is not a plus defender.
Elvis Andrus is also a possible trade possibility.  He is signed to a multi-year contract and may actually need that contract subsidized by the Rangers to move him to another team.  One theory is that this team needs a culture change and moving Andrus would be a good start.
Texas still has a glut of middle infielders after trading Ian Kinsler last winter.  Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas have impressed.  Odor is possibly already set as the Rangers second baseman for years to come.  Jurickson Profar is expected back next year.  That’s four players for two positions; so moving Andrus would not only relieve the glut, but would also ease the salary burden.
If the Rangers are to make a blockbuster deal akin to the Mark Teixeira deal, they would have to trade Yu Darvish.  This franchise has struggled to find a true top of the rotation starting pitcher.  Darvish is one.  It is unlikely that Texas will trade him.  However, such a trade would be an admission that the team needs to be blown up to rebuild a contender that probably won’t be a factor in the race next year.
Adrian Beltre could also be a trade candidate.  Again, it’s not likely.  However, he’s 35.  He’s hit well lately, but has been on the disabled list already this season.  The knee and hamstring problems of recent years are causing some deterioration in his play.
This team undoubtedly will sell their fans that they can contend next year and pursue the Jerry Jones a little dab’ll do you approach.  Doing otherwise doesn’t sell tickets.  However, this team has a lot of holes.  It is questionable as to whether the Rangers would have contended this year without the unprecedented spate of injuries.  The team may really need wholesale changes to rebuild into another World Series team.
Barring a postponement this week, the season will reach the halfway point this Sunday when the current home stand concludes.  The die is cast for this season.  The Rangers won’t be playing post season baseball, and they will be sellers at the trade deadline.  Ultimately, the offers received will determine what trades the Rangers make this season, but the hunch here is that they will not do much and count on the return of injured players and growth from within to bounce back next season.

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