Rangers to rely on pitching without deadline bat
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels knew how badly his team needed another right-handed bat. But he also knew the list of candidates was less than stellar.
The organization didn't have any problem giving up premium talent to land one of the most coveted pitchers at the deadline in Matt Garza. Daniels basically admitted Wednesday that the team's playoff hopes rest on the shoulders of the pitching. And then he watched rookie Martin Perez silence the Angels.
The Rangers recorded their third consecutive walkoff win over the Angels thanks to Adrian Beltre's homer in the ninth inning. The win brought the Rangers to within four games of the Oakland A's in the AL West and finished off a sweep that may have temporarily saved the season.
The fact that Daniels didn't land a bat at the deadline seemed to embolden certain players in the Rangers clubhouse. Ian Kinsler told reporters he didn't believe the team needed another bat. And there's something to be said for battle-tested players trying to figure things out on their own.
The Rangers did have an interest in a couple players, but the price wasn't right. Former Rangers Michael Young and Marlon Byrd were both in the mix. And names like Justin Morneau, Michael Morse and Jason Kubel were kicked around. I did hear from someone close to the talks that Daniels would not have had a problem bringing back Young. The two did not see eye to eye in recent years, but Daniels didn't let that affect the baseball evaluation.
The Rangers simply decided that Young would not have been an upgrade at designated hitter, which is really the only spot that would've been available.
Daniels believes the Rangers are good enough to make the playoffs as currently constructed. And he's leaving the door open to add another bat in August. The status of rightfielder Nelson Cruz remains unclear. Given the Rangers reluctance to add a bat, maybe it means that Cruz will appeal the looming suspension and keep playing. That scenario certainly benefits the Rangers the most. For Cruz, it would likely have an adverse effect on a deal in free agency.
It will be interesting to see how manager Ron Washington handles this team down the stretch. At the start of the Angels series, he moved Leonys Martin to the leadoff spot and Kinsler to No. 3 in the order. The change paid off immediately.
Washington hasn't played rookie Jurickson Profar in 7 of the past 10 games. It really does Profar no good at this point to only play once or twice a week. He should probably be in Round Rock with Manny Ramirez and the gang.
If the Rangers' offense can just show marginal improvement, this team could get on a roll behind Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Garza. The Rangers have a relatively soft schedule in August that includes seven games against the woeful Astros. The A's will face five teams in August that currently have a .500 record or better. All of those teams are in the hunt for a playoff spot. And the Orioles just added a quality starting pitcher in Bud Norris from the Astros.
The Rangers decided not to dip into their farm system to trade for a right-handed bat. I think if they were in first place by four games right now, trading for a decent hitter would've made more sense. But this team isn't one hittter away from making a serious playoff run.
If that's going to happen, it will be on the basis of great pitching. The Rangers got that Wednesday against the Angels.
Now, we'll see if that propels them into August.