Category Archives: Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers made a lot of headlines this off season, and most were negative. Take that back, all of the news was negative, as the once powerful Rangers were falling apart at the seams. Josh Hamilton split to the rival Angels, and bashed the Dallas/Forth Worth fans along the way. Longtime Mr. Ranger himself Michael Young was traded away for little, and another fan favorite Mike Napoli also left Texas. The Rangers made no big free agent splash, and no big trade. And to make matters worse, the Dallas media created another bad story for the Rangers. It was “reported” that Rangers part owner, CEO, and hall of fame face of the franchise Nolan Ryan was leaving the organization.
The newly built solid foundation of one of the best franchises in sports looked to be crumbling, and all in 1 offseason. The thing is, once a great foundation is built, its easy to rebuild, or in Texas, we prefer the term reload. The Rangers didn’t make a big free agent splash, but they did sign two veteran bats, Lance Berkman to DH and AJ Pierzynski. Both have fit in nicely, and have added the pop needed after losing Napoli and Hamilton. The Rangers decided this was enough to reload the former back to back AL champs, and it turns out they were right.
The season is only a month old, but the Rangers have jumped out to the best record in all of baseball. The young rotation has looked solid, and Yu Darvish has looked like a true Ace. The bats haven’t always been hot, but they’ve exploded when needed too. All in all the Rangers are a far more balanced team than last season. The faith the Rangers put in guys like Darvish, Kinsler, and Andrus has paid off. The Rangers have battled early injuries to their rotation, but rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm have been a very good band aid until Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison come back. So good that they have made a case to stay in the rotation no matter who gets healthy. The depth on this rotation might be the deepest in team history.
Hamilton’s and the rival Angels struggles have been icing on the cake, as has the current 6 game lead the Rangers enjoy in the AL west. The same Dallas/Fort Worth media that claimed the castle was crumbling, and even tried to kick out the king, haven’t been as vocal at the success that the front office has done reloading. The season is still very young, and the Rangers could fade, but as of now the Rangers front office have seem to made all the right moves.
The Texas Rangers had a ton of off season changes, and one big one was trading away Michael Young. Young had been the heart and soul of the Texas Rangers for 13 seasons, developing into the kind of leader that the entire team could lean on. Young was the old man, with all star credentials, the man willing to move from 2nd base to short stop, then to 3rd base, and finally to designated hitter in his final two seasons with the Rangers.
With Young gone, someone had to step up and be a clubhouse leader, and the face of the franchise. As soon as Michael Young was out of Texas, Ian Kinsler became the most tenured Ranger on staff, with eight seasons under his belt as a Texas Ranger. ESPN had a “face of the franchise” tournament, and picked Kinsler to represent the Rangers. Kinsler hasn’t asked for this role, but has embraced it. The question is, would his teammates and fan base accept it as quickly as ESPN would.
In order for Kinsler to be taken serious as a locker room leader, he had to get back to his all star status. Kinsler has got off to a quick start to the season, with 3 home runs in 6 games, including a huge 3 run shot in Sunday’s game against the Angels, which put the game and series away for Texas. Kinsler is batting .333, and if he continues this hot streak he could be back to playing in All Star games. Being an All Star is a big step in becoming a leader, as players tend to follow the best players.
Kinsler was given a long term extension, so the question as to would he be a Ranger long term should’ve been answered. But with Jerickson Profar, the best minor leaguer in the MLB farm system sitting in Round Rock, many feel kinsler is trade bait. Profar is a middle infielder, and with short stop Elvis Andrus signing his long term extension, Kinsler quickly became trade bait, at least in the rumor mill. But Kinsler has seemed to learn from his mentor Michael Young, and has stated he is willing to move positions on the field to make room for Profar. If Profar looks ready to play in the big leagues, don’t be shocked if Kinsler is in right field next season, or perhaps 1st base.
So far Kinsler has shown everything needed to fill the huge locker room void left by Young. Time will tell if he can keep up his all star numbers, or if he truly is willing to change positions for the good of the team. But as of today, Kinsler has all the right moves, and is proving ESPN right that Kinsler is indeed the face of the franchise.
Josh Hamilton returns to Arlington Texas on Friday night, and expects to get the coldest reception of his life. As we all know by now, Josh Hamilton turned down the Rangers offer to take his talents to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County. So not only did Hamilton not sign with the Rangers, he ended up signing with the Rangers biggest rival, to team up with the other hated ex Ranger, CJ Wilson. And if that wasn’t enough, Hamilton decided to take a jab at the Rangers fan base, saying they weren’t “real baseball fans”. Hamilton was clearly hurt with the boos he got last season, as he took the last two months of the season off. Ranger fans will never forget his lackluster end to his 2012 season, with the dropped routine fly ball in Oakland that ended up costing the Rangers the AL west, or the horrible at bats in the wild card game against Baltimore.
Josh Hamilton always said he owed no loyalties to the Rangers or to Texas, but his lack of loyalty and commitment last season and off season shows he had a real distain for the area and team that gave him a chance to get his life and career back on track. Even during his relapses, Texas supported him. When the Rangers won the AL pennant, both times the Rangers celebrated without the traditional champagne out of respect for Josh. So, if the Rangers and the fans feel a little betrayed, and a lot of hatred, they have a right. No, Hamilton didn’t owe the Rangers or Texas anything, after all Josh did lead them to back to back World Series appearances. On the flip side, the Rangers fan base didn’t deserve the jab Hamilton took as he cashed his new check in Anaheim.
Many national media outlets will judge the Texas fan base, saying Josh doesn’t deserve the boos. But Texas knows, the more you coddle Josh, the more he needs it. So think of the boos as tough love, and a reminder that no matter how much you preach of loyalty, it’s your actions and not your words as to how you are judged.
YU Darvish came oh so close to perfection on Tuesday night in Houston, pitching 8 2/3 perfect innings before giving up a base hit. Even though the Rangers won 7-0, the game really did feel like a letdown for the Rangers. Yes, they got a much needed win after dropping the nationally televised MLB opening night game in Houston. But after the disappointment of not getting YU that perfect game, the Rangers do need to look at the bigger picture. YU Darvish looked like a true Ace on that mound, the Ace that the Rangers pay him as, and the Ace the Rangers need.
With Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young gone, this Rangers team will try and win games a little differently than in years past. With a more athletic line up, and a little better defense, the Rangers are hoping to manufacture more runs with their legs, and win some close games with solid pitching and defense.
The Key to the pitching is YU Darvish, since he is being asked to be the true Ace of the Rangers. The rotation is very solid, but lacks a proven big time Ace that you have total confidence in. The Rangers front office hopes YU Darvish is that Ace, and has enough confidence in him to pay a hefty fee to bring him from Japan. Darvish wasn’t named the #1 starter as the season started, that honor went to Matt Harrison. But make no mistake about it; YU is the one that this rotation will follow in 2013. If YU develops into a nightmare for batters, an ACE that a team has total confidence in to hand him the ball and win the game, the this rotation can be very special. YU might have just missed perfection, but deep down after a day to really think about it, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have to be excited about YU’s performance. It’s only 1 game, and YU could still bomb the rest of the season, or at the very least fail to meet expectations. But if his near miss with perfection is any indication of his 2013 campaign, YU and the Rangers might be back in the Fall Classic.