We're friends right? This is a blog about baseball cards, right? I need you to bear with me and read through to the end even though this isn't necessarily a post about baseball cards. Especially since most of you aren't Rangers fans.
I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and I just had to sit down, do the research and write about it.
The Texas Rangers are driving me crazy, but a little background first.
I started cheering for the Rangers when I was 8 years old. That's 1978. I cheered patiently, and not so patiently, for 32 years before they finally made it to the 2010 World Series. They lost, but I was riding high on the World Series experience and while I was sad, I was just happy they finally made it.
Lo and behold, they made it back in 2011. Unlike the previous year, I wasn't satisfied just to see them in the Series. I was devastated when they lost. Especially when you consider how close they were to winning in Game 6. 2012 was disappointing with the failure in the play-in game and in 2013, they faltered badly late in the season and allowed Oakland to take the West.
Fast forward to 2014. Injuries have devastated the pitching staff. Losing Derek Holland before Spring Training was a killer. Questions about Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison returning from injury were there, but Harrison slept on a mattress that was too soft(?) in ST and missed the beginning of the season. Now Martin Perez is injured and last night Harrison had to leave the game in the second inning with a stiff back. On Wednesday, the Rangers will start Nick Tepesch, their 9th different starting pitcher in 41 games.
The Rangers are experiencing one of the most Jekyll and Hyde seasons ever for a pitching staff. The Rangers pitching staff has 9 shutouts this year, with Martin Perez throwing two complete game shutouts. In the other 31 games, the team ERA is 5.75! That's a 5 in front of that number. How does a team throw 9 shutouts in 40 games and post a near 6 ERA in the other 31? It's mind-boggling.
I'm just thankful for the shutouts. The Rangers offense is terrible. Two of the Rangers shutouts were 1-0 wins. Two others were 3-0 wins. In 40 games this season, the Rangers have scored 3 or few runs 21 times, with 9 games of 1 or fewer runs. That's not going to cut it in the American League.
In 2013, the Rangers hit 176 home runs (6th in A.L.) and scored 730 runs (7th in A.L.). The pace in 2014 is nowhere near those numbers. This season the Rangers have hit 25 home runs (on pace for just over 100 for the season) and have scored 163 runs (on pace for about 580). Those are huge drop offs for a team. I keep hearing the bats will come to life, but I think 25% of the season is a pretty good sample size. At this point the two big bats in the lineup are supposed to be Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder. Beltre gets a bit of a pass, but he's only got 3 homers and 12 RBIs through 40 games. Fielder is a different story. He hasn't missed a game and is on pace for 12 homers and 56 RBIs for the season. That is an EPIC FAIL for the kind of money he is getting, regardless of the fact that Detroit is picking up some of the contract.
Having watched a number of games this year, I think Fielder has lost considerable bat speed. He just doesn't get around on the ball like he used to and my lord he hits into that funky shift a lot. I think the Rangers got hoodwinked on the Fielder-Kinsler trade. Kinsler is a head case sometimes, but I'm afraid Fielder is going to be the financial albatross around the Rangers' necks the same way Alex Rodriguez was for so many years. I'll be the first one to stand up and eat crow if Fielder comes around and starts mashing balls out to right field the way he should be doing. As a matter of fact, I'm praying that I have to eat that crow. Nothing would make me happier.
Now come on Rangers, don't get embarrassed by Houston again tonight. (And don't look up, but you're in 4th place in the West for goodness sake!)