Latest Skid Could Be Blessing in Disguise for Texas Rangers

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 21: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers strikes out in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 21: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers strikes out in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Although the Texas Rangers are trapped within a seven-game losing streak, this brand of mediocre baseball and organizational frustration could pay off for club down the road.

If there were any questions as to what kind of team the Rangers would be heading into the July 31st Trade Deadline, any further speculation can now be laid to rest.

The Texas Rangers are selling.

To which degree they decide to blow up their roster is still yet to be determined, but there’s no doubt Jon Daniels will have his season eulogy ready. After surprising the league with a first-half winning record, sneaky clutch offense, and some starting pitching that have far surpassed the uninspiring expectations of March, the Texas Rangers find themselves in a free-fall at the worst possible time.

Currently sporting a 4-11 record during the month of July, the Rangers have fallen out of postseason contention at a time where teams try to legitimize themselves for an October push. Currently trailing the 2nd AL Wild Card spot by 6.5 games, hope seems to have all but evaporated from the 2019 Texas Rangers, and the team will most likely send some of their studs packing in exchange for some shiny toys to add to their prospect pool.

It may not be such a bad idea.

This early season success has tainted what, by all accounts, should’ve been another disastrous year. Season previews painted a rather dim outlook for Texas, yet the team went as far as finding themselves tied for the 1st Wild Card spot by June 28th. For awhile, it looked as if Mike Minor and Lance Lynn gave the Rangers a lethal one-two punch atop the rotation.

Further defining their season start were the ability of men like Hunter Pence, Danny Santana, and Logan Forsythe to vastly out play their initial “bench guy” labels and ignite offensive production throughout the lineup. But perhaps above everything else, Joey Gallo finally blossomed into the bona-fide star everyone thought he could be.

At first, the Chris Woodward led Texas Rangers had the makings of a perfect underdog. 

Unfortunately, the glasses are not as rose-colored as they seemed. Untimely pre all-star-break injuries to Gallo, Pence, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa planted the first seeds of offensive dysfunction within the lineup. Players such as Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, and Ronald Guzman were then asked to carry a heavier load, to abysmal results.

The youth of starting pitchers Ariel Jurado and Adrian Sampson, following periods of promising dominance, is starting to show. The bullpen is taxed, exposing the Rangers lack of depth behind Jose Leclerc, Chris Martin, and Shawn Kelley, who ultimately hurt his arm during a Sunday afternoon loss in Houston.

Gallo has since returned, but the bleeding refuses to stop. Currently sporting a seven-game losing streak, the Texas Rangers are plummeting in the standings, working their way towards baseball’s basement. As it stands today, Texas hitters have gone ghostly quiet at the plate, batting .203 with 107 strikeouts since the break, both of which mark last in the MLB.

Contrary to popular opinion, this is actually a good for the organization. Let me explain.

Let’s not forget what 2019 was supposed to be about: the next installment of an organization rebuild. With a farm-system depleted of upper-level talent, this season marked an opportunity for young bats to receive consistent playing time and for pitching prospects to further along their development while cheap veterans filled in on the big-league rotation. The next wave of prospective talent would come via the draft and trade deadline.

It’s worth noting that the Texas Rangers, by these standards, have done amazing. Willie Calhoun has an amazing bat that’s worth building around, even if the team can’t do that quite yet. Joey Gallo has improved tremendously from last season, and looks to be the team’s offensive and defensive force of the future.

Mike Minor is a legitimate MLB Ace, and is pitching his way into Cy Young contention. And instead of continuing to sit through nightmare outings from Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller, young arms Ariel Jurado, Adrian Sampson, and even Joe Palumbo have forced their way onto the mound.

One could argue that even with their latest skid, the Texas Rangers have far surpassed the initial bar set for 2019. The rebuild is going so well that the club had also originally ready to buy at the Trade Deadline. That should be looked at as a huge accomplishment from a team who most thought were destined to be swirling the MLB cellar this year.

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What this losing skid will do, however, will inch the Texas Rangers further along in their rebuild. Using Ranger assets to acquire more high-end talent should open their competitive window for 2020 and beyond.

One example quickly comes to mind.

It’s abundantly clear that Willie Calhoun deserves an everyday role with the big club.

Between Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Delino Deshields, Shin-Soo Choo, and Hunter Pence, the young hitter simply fell victim to entering a crowded room instead. Trading someone like Mazara or Pence could not only open up a roster spot for Calhoun, but can also net the farm system a couple of quality prospects. Giving more ABs to a young stud while furthering your prospect pool should be an easy choice to make come July 31st.

The ballclub will also be presented with a rare opportunity to trade Mike Minor or Lance Lynn for several top prospects, although an interesting case is to made about keeping them around for the long-term as well. Jon Daniels is presumably going to want to keep an Ace around for the opening of Globe Life Field in 2020, and either pitcher could also figure into the organization’s long-term with their friendly contracts.

Realistically, I could see the Texas Rangers parting with Lynn but not Minor. Starting pitching is always in high demand, so between Lance’s fantastic 4.6 WAR season to this point and his modest 3yr/$30m deal can most likely fetch the club a blue-chip player.

Trading Minor would definitely inject premium talent into the farm system, Texas would also be pushed further behind in the overall rebuild. It may take another year or two before the Rangers could regain even the prominence they’ve earned to this point in 2019 without him.

In addition, a few key cogs in the Texas Rangers farm system can be brought up as a result of a few trades. Packaging away Minor or Lynn could open up a spot for players like Brock Burke and Taylor Hearn, while Eli White could be given a fair shot to take over Asdrubal Cabrera’s hot corner post-deadline. Relievers like Joe Barlow and Demarcus Evans could be added to the roster and provided extra big-league opportunities as well.

These developments may come with a ton of growing pains, but this is how the Texas Rangers will expand their future competitive window.

Of course, selling will be an emotionally tough process. There’s nothing more deflating than pulling the plug on your current roster. It’s even harder to justify when that team looked to be a dark horse for the AL Wild Card a month ago.

But when the Texas Rangers come back with a more dynamic, competitive roster for their 2020 début in a beautiful new stadium, all of 2019’s scars will begin to heal.

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#TogetherWe Call it a blessing in disguise.

  • Published on 07/22/2019 at 12:00 PM
  • Last updated at 07/22/2019 at 10:17 AM