The first half of the Major League baseball season has come and gone and players enjoyed their small break for the mid-summer classic. The Texas Rangers sent eight players to Kansas City, but that didn’t help as the American League was defeated 8-0 and will not have home field advantage in the World Series. The Rangers look to have a successful second half of the season and will pursue their third straight AL Championship and the teams 1st World Series title. The team continues to get healthier and rumors of trades are swirling, nevertheless they have a very talented team and a pitching staff that could soon be very, very deep.
Even with injuries to starting pitchers Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando, the Rangers were 19-9 in June after a .500 month of May. They lost yet another starter in Colby Lewis for 15 days in July, but he returned Wednesday night in Oakland to pitch well in a walk-off loss to the A’s. The Rangers started the month of July dismally, going 5-7 as the offense has struggled to score runs (they produced more than 5 in 1 of 12 games in July). Of all the things that the Rangers could struggle to do, scoring runs has never been a problem for any team in the Rangers modern era and though this team still leads the league in many major offensive categories, they were much more consistent at the beginning of the season. Josh Hamilton, once a Triple Crown candidate, has seen his average drop to .300 and in one game last week even below that, something nobody would have seen coming after April and May. A little more than halfway through this season Hamilton is only 8 strikeouts away from his 2011 total of 93 and he’s on pace to obliterate his career high of 123. If the Rangers are going to get to where they want to be, Josh is going to have to learn plate discipline and start hitting better.
The pitching staff took a major hit in the injury department in June and July, but things are looking up. Holland, Lewis, and Ogando have all returned from injury and flamethrower Neftali Feliz will soon be back with the big league club after some rehab assignments in AAA & AA. Once everyone is back (and if everyone stays healthy), the Rangers are going to have a bit of a logjam with 8 possible starters in the bullpen/rotation. That will leave pitching coach Mike Maddux with some tough decisions.
Even with a full roster, it hasn’t stopped trade deadline rumors from swirling that the Rangers may be looking for another starter and/or another bat to add to the lineup. Ace pitchers Cole Hamels(Phillies) and Zack Grenkie(Brewers) have been rumored to be on the Rangers’ radar for quite some time. Recently Cliff Lee, the man credited with leading the Rangers to their first World Series trip in 2010, has emerged as a trade target as well. All of these pitchers would almost certainly require the Rangers to trade at least one of their top hitting prospects (Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt among other players), but I’m not sure if a trade for a pitcher at the top of the rotation is necessary. Who wouldn’t want to have Hamels, Grenkie, or Lee added to a team who’s already a favorite to win the AL? It all makes sense, but six-month rentals are not the way Jon Daniels built this team and not a way they should try and pursue a championship. The Rangers have plenty of starters on the team already and could maybe use small tweaks, but letting their top prospects develop and make it to the big leagues will help continue the winning ways they have had the past few seasons. There is no doubt what the Rangers want to acomplish this season and what the fans want to see, so it should be an exciting second half that will hopefully culminate with a deep playoff run.
The Rangers start a pretty tough schedule over the next few weeks. The next 13 games are against the Angels (7), Red Sox (3), and White Sox (3) – two teams who look like they will make the playoffs and one (the Red Sox) that is extremely talented and have added Jacoby Elsbury and Carl Crawford in the past week. The good part of this schedule is only three of these games (in Anaheim) are on the road, so they will be at home with almost a guarantee of a close to sold out crowd rooting them on.
What are your predictions for the second half of the season? Should the Rangers make a trade for a TOTR pitcher?
Tags: Alexi Ogando Boston Red Sxo Chicago White Sox Cliff Lee Colby Lewis Cole Hamels Derek Holand Josh Hamilton Jurickson Profar LA Angels Mike Maddux Mike Olt MLB Trade Deadline Neftali Feliz Texas Rangers Zack Grenkie