Rangers Pay the Price

Drastic changes to Texas Rangers roster loom in wake of collapse

Drastic changes to Texas Rangers roster loom in wake of collapse

Seven games remain in this regular season for the Texas Rangers. Seven games for the Rangers to redeem themselves for this horrid September and claim one of two Wild Card berths. Of course, the Rangers claimed a Wild Card berth last year and it got them nothing.

The Rangers are one-and-a-half games behind the Wild Card slot entering Monday’s game with Houston. Even if the Rangers to claim a Wild Card berth, this doesn’t look like a team that could do much with it.

Right now the Rangers are floundering, pure and simple. The offensive deficiencies that the Rangers managed to mask all year — too many run scorers and not enough run-producers — finally caught up with them. September stretch drives have a habit of exposing such flaws.

 Any way you look at it, the Rangers have underachieved for the second straight year.

So let’s say that at the end of this week the Rangers are indeed on the outside looking in for the postseason, or (like last year) make it but lose the Wild Card game. Who pays?

It’s a logical question to ask. Any way you look at it, the Rangers have underachieved for the second straight year. It wouldn’t be the first time someone paid with his job for a season such as this.

Will it be Ron Washington? No. Objectively, Washington has done his best managerial job yet. He managed a beat-up starting rotation and squeezed every bit of life he could out of it. He oversaw the team’s transition to a team that creates scoring with old-school baseball tactics. I know the temptation is to fire the manager. But I’d give Washington a little more rope. 

General manager Jon Daniels is safe, too, at least in my opinion. He built this organization and it has plenty of talent. One national writer, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, wrote this week and he thought a collapse could result in a new power struggle between Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan. That’s an interesting theory, given that Daniels is largely responsible for the moves of this past offseason and Ryan took plenty of time to decide if he wanted to stay with Texas.

By the way, Ryan isn’t going anywhere, either, unless he wants to leave.

This is one of those situations in which the payment will come in the way the team is constructed. The past several offseasons has seen the Rangers tweak their roster in free agency. This coming offseason, I see major shifts coming.

The Rangers have several free agents of their own — David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Colby Lewis, AJ Pierzynski, Matt Garza and Joe Nathan. Pierzynski seems like the most likely returnee, as he’s affordable and can play multiple positions. Murphy will likely chase a better contract.

Cruz is interesting because of the whole PED dynamic and his decision to serve the suspension for the season’s final 50 games rather than appeal and play. I lean toward Cruz not coming back, either.

Joe Nathan is a goner, too. The Rangers will probably hand the ball to Neftali Feliz. If the Rangers keep Matt Garza, then Coby Lewis is probably gone, too.

But this offseason is going to be about offense for the Rangers, and it’s an intriguing roster of possibilities.

Bring Mike Napoli back? He had a huge year in Boston after the Rangers let him go. So has catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for that matter, and Salty can hit the open market, too.

Make a play for Robinson Cano? The Yankees aren’t likely to let him go. But the organization is a mess, thanks to a certain former Ranger, and Cano could be had — for a whole lot of cash.

What about Jacob Ellsbury? The Rangers nearly traded for him in 2012. He’d look good in front of Adrian Beltre.

Atlanta catcher Brian McCann should be out there. He’s Pierzynski, only 10 years younger. Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran would make a nice veteran stopgap, and Justin Morneau could be had for a reasonable price.

When it comes to paying for this season, the Rangers will do it with their wallet in the form of free agency and trades and not their front office.

Jon Daniels
Jon Daniels, Ron Washington and Nolan Ryan don't deserve to lose their jobs after the Rangers' dismal season, but big changes are afoot for the roster. Photo courtesy of Texas Rangers
Matt Garza of the Texas Rangers
Even with all the roster turmoil, pitcher Matt Garza is probably safe. Photo courtesy of Texas Rangers
Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers
Odds are Joe Nathan is a goner. Photo by Keith Allison
Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz will be a free agent next season and could choose — or be forced to — move on. Photo by Keith Allison