You’re still here? It’s over. Go home.

It’s fun to be watching the Rangers in the middle of a pennant race, battling the other top teams, on a hot streak, closing the gap on the leaders with every win.  Just a little more of this and we’ll be just about guaranteed a playoff spot.  We’ll certainly be among the favorites for next year.

And that’s the worrying thing about the current streak.  You can hear it talking to people, you can hear it from the announcers, you can hear it from the players and from the manager and the general manager.  There are a lot of people all of a sudden believing in the Rangers.  And they shouldn’t be.  It doesn’t matter what they do in June and July.  What matters is what they did in April and May.  I recently did a post about how they’re slow starters, and April and May killed this team off.  Now I have to say they are not zombies, they will not come back from the dead.  Okay, so they’ve won some games against some bad teams, then against some good teams.  But they’re still not gaining any ground, even with these two wins against Anaheim they’re still fifteen games back, which is where they were at the beginning of June.  As hot as they might have been, that heat has not gained them anything in the standings.  And now, fifteen back, and there’s only twelve weeks left in the season.  Do you think the Rangers can gain more than a game a week against the Angels?  No.  And even if they did, do you think Seattle and Oakland will stand still?  No.

Much as I hate to say it, stop believing in the Rangers.  You’re going to make them do some dumb things.  If you see anything from Jon Daniels saying how they might consider trading for some help to get them over the top, run the other way, fast.  If you see any quotes about how this second half surge has set them up for next year, and they don’t need to do much to get this team in contention in 2008, run.  It’s a myth.  It’s a magic trick.  It’s someone pulling the wool over your eyes, either to make you buy tickets, or to make you keep attending next year.  This team is bad.

Laird.  Tex.  Kinsler.  Young.  Byrd.  Benoit.  Francisco.  Gagne.  Aki.  Loe.  McCarthy.  Millwood.  Wilson.  That’s 13 players.  Thirteen I would write in for next year right now (based on ability, not contracts, although I think just about all of them except Byrd and Gagne are either under contract or under control for 2008).  That’s half the team.  Add in Botts and maybe one or two others, and you’re looking at at least ten players being needed.  Where’s the rotation?  Millwood is probably a 3.  Loe is pushing to be a 2 or 3.  McCarthy the same, a 3.  Where’s the number one or two starter?  What free agent is available who would come here?  Who can we trade for?  Shame we don’t still have Chris Young, he of the 2 ERA, but of course it is too hot here for him to succeed.

So if you hear of anyone saying they’re going to contend next year, simply because of the little bubble they’re in right now, ask them this question:  What ten players are the Rangers going to obtain that will make them contenders?  Okay, you might not need 25, if you have quality in other spots you might be able to get away with a little dead wood, but that’s still a huge task ahead to fill those gaps.  Imagine you can fill five of those spots with quality, something that I doubt you could do in a single year anyway.  That puts them two years away, assuming these guys stay together.  More likely three years, and then you’re hitting 2010, the year that I have said before is about where the Rangers are going to get back into contention.  Anything earlier than that and you’re either going too far too fast, or you’re back to signing all those old guys they did a few years ago, and pretending they will carry you to a division title.

Is there anything much to say after that?  No, not really.  Just enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t pretend it’s something it’s not.  Wait until you’re over .500 before you start printing playoff tickets.  And don’t pretend the second biggest crowd of the season was there for anything other than seeing some fireworks.

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