While there is no easy solution to fix the Rangers' lineup, something still needs to be done.
By KEITH WHITMIREFS Southwest
ARLINGTON, Texas – Making a change for change's sake almost never works, but what the
Rangers have been doing for six games isn't working, either.
The Rangers lost their sixth game in a row Sunday mainly because of a stagnant offense. The temptation is to shake things up, but manager Ron Washington would rather dig in and trust that things will turn around naturally.
It brings to mind the famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Washington would be the first to tell you he's no Einstein. But he's not crazy, either.
He's got historical proof that this lineup can perform better. It's only been since June began that the Rangers have fallen into a rut. But good gosh, it's a deep one.
"The guys that are in that lineup and where they're sitting right now, is my guys," Washington said after Sunday's loss. "I'm certainly not going to take the middle of my lineup and put it in the bottom. Their job is to drive the bus and I'm going to allow them an opportunity to drive the bus.
"They're struggling right now, but I believe in them. And we're going to move forward."
The Rangers lineup is set up so that the big guns in Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz can drive in runs. Both are doing their part with a combined 30 homers and 82 runs batted in.
It's the batters in front of Beltre and Cruz who are struggling the most.
Leadoff man Ian Kinsler has just come off an extended stay on the DL and hasn't regained his form. Elvis Andrus has struck out 45 times already and isn't providing a spark.
Lance Berkman is hitting .266 at the No. 3 spot and often looks like a player who had to be coaxed out of retirement. He was given the day off Sunday after an 0-for-4 with a strikeout Saturday.
David Murphy has been tried at the No. 2 spot in order to bring him out of a deep slump. He's hitting .211.
So what's Washington to do? Any move he makes now could bring a temporary jolt, but have more negative effects in the long term.
For example, Andrus looks like a batter who's begging for some time at the bottom of the order. Put Andrus in the 8 or 9 hole, and maybe he feels less pressure. Maybe he sees some better pitches. It could snap him out of his current malaise.
But when you place a veteran like Andrus in a position normally relegated for youngsters and Mendoza-line flirters, you're tinkering with the chemistry of the club.
Andrus is the emotional leader of the team, especially with Michael Young gone. The players respond to his enthusiasm on-field determination, regardless of his many off-field pranks.
However, that enthusiasm wanes with each missed scoring opportunity when Andrus is at the plate. The way he's been going, Andrus' ninth-inning infield single Sunday, which broke up a shutout, looked enormous.
However, if you drop Andrus down, who do you replace him with? The entire lineup is in a swoon right now.
But there is one player who seems to have some life in his bat: Leonys Martin. No, Martin isn't a classic table-setter. But he seems least affected by the cloud that's been hovering over the Rangers lately.
Martin had the club's only extra-base hit Sunday, giving him doubles on back-to-back days. He's 6-for-16 (.375) in his last five games.
Is Martin hitting first or second the answer for the Rangers? Heck no. It's just one of many unsolicited, out-of-the-box changes that have no doubt been offered to Washington.
Washington did alter the lineup Sunday by hitting youngster Jurickson Profar in the leadoff spot. That dropped Andrus to his usual No. 2 spot. With Berkman resting, normal leadoff man Ian Kinsler provided a power threat at the No. 3 spot.
That lineup basically got blanked, too. But at least it was a deviation from the norm while the Rangers wait for their bus to repair itself.