The 2012 version of the Texas Rangers has obviously come to a bitter ending.
The question now is to assess what went wrong so the team can decide if it’s correctable issue, so they can decide on who to keep for 2013, and who should walk.
What did go wrong for the Rangers? Especially the last two weeks?
The Rangers got nothing in three starts by their No. 5 starter, and the offense fell into a skid that saw them falter with runners in scoring position.
It wasn’t just a failure to get hits, but a failure to execute. All manager Ron Washington asks of his players is to do whatever the game asks of them.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Washington said Friday. “It came down to being able to execute against good pitching, and it wasn’t the base hits or anything like that. It was just the fundamentals that we just… we tried and we just couldn’t get it done.”
In the end, though, there were several theories as to what went wrong after holding a five-game division lead with nine games to play.
Murphy suggested the Rangers ran out of gas, possibly a by-product of playing more games than any other major-league team the past two years. Derek Holland said that the Rangers lacked their usual energy and didn’t play their usual brand of baseball.
Michael Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player, couldn’t put a finger on it.
“I really can’t,” Young said. “The effort level was there every night. It was one of those things that seemed like the harder we tried, the tougher it became.”
So with the jury still out on why the Rangers folded like a cheap suit, lets look at the potential free agents and in my opinion, what needs to happen:
Potential free agents
These 2012 Rangers can become free agents as soon as the World Series ends.
OF Josh Hamilton – The five-time All-Star will be seeking a multi-year contract worth more than $100 million. The Rangers love his production, but Hamilton comes with a lot of risk and a lot of drama. In my opinion, Josh played perhaps half the season. April, May, and part of August. I believe his cold offense in the other times set in motion, a team-wide freeze at the plate. It was like a common cold, everyone but Beltre caught it. I think Josh is too expensive, and too old risking this cold to turn in to pneumonia. Let him go.
RHP Mike Adams – I’ve never been a Mike Adams fan myself. His herky, jerky wind-up always looked goofy to me, and seems like everytime I watched him, he was always giving up runs. Let him walk, like he did to the opposing batters.
RHP Koji Uehara - Uehara may have been the only bright spot for the month of September and October for the Rangers. It looked like he was pitching much better. Sign him!
RHP Ryan Dempster – Sign him as a #5 starter.
RHP Mark Lowe – Let him walk. The guy is bad news.
RHP Roy Oswalt – The most disappointing signing of 2012 for the Rangers. Let him go. In fact, help him get on the plane.
RHP Scott Feldman* – For the love of anything Rangers, let this guy go….
*The Rangers hold a $9.25 million club option, but can buy it out for $600,000 and let Feldman become a free agent.
The rotation will have two holes to start the season, with Lewis and Neftali Feliz unavailable until at least summertime because of arm surgeries. They can be filled with Alexi Ogando, an All-Star starter in 2011, and left-hander Martin Perez.
“I want to be a starter,” Ogando said Saturday. “That’s my goal. That’s what I like. That’s what I hope.”
Manager Ron Washington rode his lineup hard. Seven Rangers played at least 147 games. Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre all started 152 or more games.
Did Wash’s loyalty to his veterans pay a price?
Rookie Mike Olt started only 11 games. Young star-in-the-making Jurickson Profar started only four.
Outfielder Leonys Martin hit .359 with a 1.033 OPS at Triple-A Round Rock, but in 89 days with the big club he was penciled into the lineup only 13 times.
This club, frankly, could have used an occasional kick in the posterior. Instead, it had the soft cushion of an everyday spot in the lineup, no matter what.
Somewhere along the way, bad habits crept in.
Down the stretch, the Rangers seemed to forget how to play situational baseball. Runners would get on, and somebody seemed to immediately decide that a three-run homer was the only option. Wild, futile swings littered the roadside throughout the Rangers’ ride to elimination.
That must be remedied for next season. If leadoff man Kinsler is going to get on base at a meager .326 rate, he needs to bat elsewhere in the order.
That wasn’t the season’s most sour stat, however. Somebody needs to explain how a guy can play 156 games in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup, as the veteran Young did, and manage only 67 runs batted in.
In the end, the mental grind seemed to finally wear them down. There was only one finish line allowed this season — winning the World Series — and it became a cross they could no longer bear.
New faces should mean a fresh start. The lineup card shouldn’t be a security blanket.
The organization has proudly worn its badge for having one of baseball’s best farm systems. It’s time to trust some of those kids, or find capable veteran backups that the manager isn’t afraid of using.
Teams fall. But the best ones get back up and remember where they were going.
Are we there yet?
No, not this year. But a long, disappointed winter’s nap, it’s been said, can do wonders.