With sharks circling, Rangers refuse to get a bigger boat

Posted Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Should the Rangers have done something before the non-waiver trade deadline?

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lebreton There are sharks in the wild-card waters. And the offense has sprung another leak.

But the people in charge of the Texas Rangers declined to acknowledge the obvious Wednesday afternoon:

They’re going to need a bigger boat.

Maybe they know something that we don’t know. Maybe they think that outfielder Nelson Cruz, the team’s leading home run hitter and RBI man, only visited the Biogenesis clinic for vitamins.

Or maybe they think struggling David Murphy will break out of his season-long slump or Mitch Moreland will roll back the clock to May.

Maybe so. But to the rest of the baseball world, all walk-off magic against the Angels aside, if the Rangers still have postseason ambitions, they’re going to need a bigger boat.

Reports continued to swirl Wednesday night that a mass suspension of major leaguers involved in the Biogenesis case is about to be announced, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

And while Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that the club doesn’t know what Cruz’s plans are for appealing a possible suspension, I’m going to call J.D.’s bluff. Maybe Cruz hasn’t made a final decision yet, so maybe we’re just differing over semantics here. But Daniels’ office has to have discussed Cruz’s suspension strategies with him — as any good general manager would.

Two questions, therefore, would remain:

How soon would the appointed arbitrator hear a possible Cruz appeal? And how, eventually, are the Rangers going to replace 25 home runs, 73 RBIs and (before Wednesday) an .835 OPS?

Surprisingly, no answer to the latter was forthcoming Wednesday. Daniels said he tried, he tried, but ultimately the market was lean and the prices were high.

Chicago’s Alex Rios? A nice player, but as a front office guy from another club told me last week, “He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would rise to the occasion for you in a pennant race.”

Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton? The Rangers probably called, but nobody answered the phone.

The Mets’ Marlon Byrd? Already suspended once for PEDs and a clubhouse blowhard. He’s not as good as your fantasy league thinks.

A homecoming for Michael Young? Sure, if the Phillies are gift-wrapping him.

I can understand the Rangers’ reluctance to plug the looming lineup hole by overpaying with young talent. The trade deadline isn’t done, and the Rangers will have waiver claim priority over the likes of the Athletics, Orioles, Indians, Red Sox, Rays and Tigers. They may yet get Rios or Young, and on their terms.

But the whole day Wednesday was so un-Rangers-like — so unlike the dice-rolling Daniels that we saw in the past.

The Rangers needed at least one hitter. But in a week when the Tigers, Orioles and Red Sox all made moves to strengthen their playoff drives, the Rangers sat quietly, waiting for August?

It is worth noting that none of the hitters that the Rangers were rumored to covet were traded this week. So it wasn’t only Daniels who was unwilling to meet the reportedly steep price.

At the ballpark Wednesday, Daniels offered this:

“There is a makeup component here to our club, both the makeup of the skill level and the makeup of the character. We’ve got guys who fight. There’s an intangible there that we’re going to scratch and claw and pitch our way to some wins here, run the bases and play aggressive baseball.

“We’ve got a nice mix of youth, we’re strong up the middle, and we’ve got to get to the point where our mentality is, ‘Can we get to four runs? Can we score four-plus runs every night?' When we do that, I like our chances.”

That’s it? Four runs or bust, all the way to October?

After scratching out only one run against the Angels’ Jerome Williams on Wednesday, that meager output seems far from an arm’s length reach.

They’re going to need a bigger boat. Still. And probably soon.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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