The Texas Rangers’ relative success vs. the Houston Astros this year may give people hope for a post season. But the Rangers we know are the Rangers that are struggling to stay above .500.
So the question now is the same one we had nearly two months ago, only with more urgency. Namely, how to handle the market before trade deadline. In other words, do the Rangers buy or sell?
The prerequisite question is, can this team – with a few high-profile additions, make a run to the World Series?
First of all, baseball is all about winning series, even in the regular season. So let’s look at how the Rangers have done in series against other class teams this year. And by class teams, we mean those that are better than .500.
Yes, they have fared decently against the Houston Astros, winning two series, losing one and splitting one. But overall, against American League foes, they have won two series, lost four and split four. Texas have not swept any series but have been swept by Houston and Oakland.
Against National League teams, the Rangers have won series against the Cubs and St. Louis and split with Arizona.
This all pretty much reflects Texas’s position in the standings, so the chances of making a wild card date might be good. But going further is in serious doubt.
Yes, the Rangers have played better than expected. But playing better than bottom dwellers doesn’t put them in a championship series.
The Rangers as Buyers
Now, let’s look at the buyers’ approach, if we think the Rangers can make a run.
Pitchers are usually in demand this time of the year, because pitchers are the players who can put good teams over the top in a playoff situation. And the Rangers could certainly use mound help.
One name that has come up across the board this year is Marcus Stroman. The Toronto right-hander doesn’t have knockout stats, with a 5-10 record, 3.25 ERA and a good strikeout-walk ratio. But he is certainly serviceable, and he doesn’t become a free agent until after next season.
Then there is Madison Bumgarner, who has not been as effective this season, but has a proven track record when the post season rolls around. He would probably be a short term rental.
So would Zack Wheeler, but news broke this week that the Mets might put him on the injured list because of shoulder problems.
Rangers as Sellers
Finally, what if the Rangers decide to sell. Pitchers Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have had struggles in recent starts, and it may just be time to let them move on.
One trade scenario has Minor and reliever Shawn Kelley going to Atlanta for pitchers Ian Anderson and Tucker Davidson, and catcher William Contreras, all currently in the minor leagues. The two pitchers are considered promising prospects, and the Rangers need catching help in the system.
There are a number of other options, but you see where we’re going here. The Rangers have enough question marks particularly in pitching to make us think this ain’t the year to trade up and go for the gold.
Sticking to The Plan
So Texas could be buyers or sellers, but likely in the quest for young players who will make a difference in the long run. That reflects general manager Jon Daniels’ stated approach of making decisions based on knowledge as opposed to sheer hope.
Look for the Rangers to deal, but to judiciously maneuver to get a better pitching staff for the long-term future.