This is horrendous. This is an indictment of Rangers management past and present. And of the future, at least for some time, but when will that happen? 2010? 2012? 2020? 2050?
Idling through some numbers the other day, I came up with this chart:
MLB Standings 2000-08
Uhh, yeah. 21st out of 30. Isn’t that about where you’d expect the Rangers, or maybe a little high? After all, only one winning season in that time, but most of the time they’ve been just a bit below mediocre, in the 70-80 wins range. As I’ve said many times, not good enough to compete, not bad enough to tear it all down and start fresh. Instead we get, year after year, the same old blather about needing to sign just one or two more starters and we’ll be there. Uhh, no.
The Rangers have a shot at getting to 20th (five wins behind a terrible San Diego team), but not 19th (35 wins behind a couple of teams). They could also fall a couple of spots, if Colorado or Cincinnati come on. The truly amazing thing: even if the Rangers went 162-0, and the Yankees 0-162, the Yankees will still have a better record for the decade. And the Rangers are 63 games back of Seattle, the next worst team in the AL West.
Of the current crop of Rangers starting pitchers, who do you think should be there when the Rangers are trying to compete? Padilla maybe, but he only has one year left on his contract (I think). Millwood has flamed out. The others have all been terrible. Of the 15 pitchers who started a game for the Rangers this year, only 3 had an ERA+ over 100: Ponson, who got dumped because he was a cancer in the clubhouse, McCarthy, who had five starts in a injury-plagued year, and AJ Murray, who pitched 7 innings. Feldman, who a few folks laughingly said had a good year? ERA+ of 82. Matt Harrison? 79. At least he’s young. Feldman sucks, and will never be in a rotation that could go to the playoffs.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? Our expectations have become so low about Rangers pitchers, we’re reduced to thinking that Scott Feldman might be a solution. Or Dustin Nippert, good grief! For the first time since 1988 (not including strike shortened 1995) the Rangers drew less than 2 million fans. Even I gave up on them, hardly bothering to watch, let alone post here, after the football season came on. When you’ve killed the fans so many times, and you’ve lied to them about how the pitching is going to be better, and you tell them that this was a good season (take out about three weeks in May and they’d fall back below 70 wins), and they just know it’s going to keep being bad, and you suck the life out of the city’s interest in baseball. Bringing in Nolan Ryan as the savior was kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.
Everyone will tell you that there’s a great crop of kids coming through from the minors, and in a couple of years we’ll be loaded. I say show me the money. Come back here in those couple of years and see how many of them have actually made it. Do you think we’ll get a whole rotation’s worth out of them? Here’s a thought for the day: if you could graduate just one decent starter a year from the minors, you could comfortably turn over your rotation every five years, and that might make you competitive. The guys at the top get sold off for something before they hit free agency, and you plug in someone at the bottom. I know what you’re thinking, this is not a novel idea, it’s what Oakland does. Yep. And look at them in the chart. Fourth place, and they’ll crow about their payroll being half of everyone else.
I honestly cannot tell you who will be in the Rangers rotation next year, let alone in four or five years. I know there’s a bunch of guys down in the minors who are winning (as Jamey tells us), but like I said above, the history of the Rangers is to ruin them or trade them before they get to Arlington. Give me a list of your top 20 pitching prospects in the Rangers system right now, and we’ll see if even two of them are in the rotation in 2012.
I really shouldn’t do this, either:
John Danks 12-9
Edinson Volquez 17-6
Armando Galarraga 13-7
Wow. What if, huh? Just by themselves they’re 65-40. Galarraga had the fewest starts (28) of those three guys. Millwood and Padilla each started 29, then you go to Feldman’s 25, then Harrison’s 15. The Rangers don’t just give arms away, they destroy the ones they have. I’ll go back again to Volquez’s quote about going to Cincinnati, where he was encouraged to pitch, not just throw. Losing Mark Connor is the first step in resolving that, but there’s a lot more to go.
Sorry to be so negative. Every time I’ve wanted to write for the last three months, all I can think of is negative things to say about the Rangers. This is one of those years where you feel even more beat down at the end. I can’t raise my hopes to look at the horizon, because I don’t see anything coming any time soon. I think 2009 is going to be a real trough of a season in terms of fan interest.
Oh yeah, one last note: Shame on you, Rangers, for not having Chris Davis shirts available, even at the end of the season. He was one of the very few feel-good points of the season.