No one in the sports media should expect any player to talk after a game or before a game. Writers, radio folks and the TVs should be happy just to have access to a clubhouse or locker room or interview room or press box.
That goes for when a team is winning and when a team is losing, as the Texas Rangers are this season and especially over the weekend, and when a player is going well or not going well.
However, some players need to realize that it isn’t fair to leave their teammates to answer questions about them. It’s not fair for veterans like Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Jonathan Lucroy and the starting pitcher each game to have to face the media in trying times.
Yet, that’s what has been happening during the Rangers’ recent slide, which reached its low point Sunday after a 7-2 loss to the Houston Astros that completed a three-game sweep and left the Rangers 15 games out of first place.
It can’t be any fun to answer questions when the team is losing or when a player is struggling. Believe me, it’s not fun asking the questions. So, hats off to the Rangers players who spoke over the weekend.
But not being accountable puts a player in a tough spot with some of the media, those with a sense of entitlement. Forget the media, though. It could put a player in a tough spot with his teammates.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the aforementioned loss to the Astros.
1. Only time will tell if the Rangers will become sellers at the trade deadline and enter into a rebuild mode, which seems to be the people’s assumption after the miserable weekend at Globe Life Park.
The evidence — namely a 26-31 record — has them trending that way with only seven weeks to go until July 31, when the Rangers will be playing their 105th game of the season.
So, let me get this straight: There is no fathomable way that the Rangers keep their playoff hopes afloat over the next 47 games?
They won’t win a third straight American League West title. That ship appears to have sailed, with the Astros up 15 games on them. But those pesky wild-card spots are well within reach.
And that’s the dilemma Jon Daniels will face in the coming weeks. The players will wholeheartedly be glad to win a wild-card spot. Once in the tournament, theoretically with Yu Darivsh and Cole Hamels, an extended run is possible.
Then again, the Rangers would draw the Astros in the division series if they were to win the wild-card game.
But baseball happens, and who knows? That’s about as good a bet as landing the next wave of young stars via a bevy of trades.
The Rangers could get a nice payday for Yu Darvish, but not as good as they are expecting. Lucroy? Probably some takers, though, again, not for as much as the Rangers would want.
Choo? Not sure there’s a trade partner for that contract. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross? Maybe, but a future ace or left fielder isn’t coming back in return.
How about trading Adrian Beltre? He has another year of control after this season and would make most teams better. The Rangers can’t trade one of their few ticket draws away, especially with 3,000 hits approaching.
A sell-off would also likely result in a high draft position. Great, for three to five years down the road.
But let’s say the Rangers hold a July fire sale and for 2018 field a team similar to the post-deadline 2007 club and 2008 team. Are all of those fans favoring a rebuild going to come to the ballpark and support it?
This isn’t to say Daniels shouldn’t consider trading to restock the system. But to commit to it now, which he absolutely isn’t doing, is premature with 47 games to go until the July 31 deadline.
2. Martin Perez didn’t have it Sunday and hasn’t had it in two starts on the homestand. He’s now matched Sam Dyson with six losses, and his ERA after 12 starts now sits at 4.64.
Losses, of course, don’t tell the story how well or poorly a pitcher has pitched. Perez hasn’t received a ton of run support this season, and that has contributed to his Dyson-esque loss total.
But Perez was supposed to take a step forward this season, his second full season after Tommy John surgery. He posted career-highs in starts and innings last season, also boosting 2017 expectations.
As was mentioned above, there’s plenty of baseball left this season. Perez might make as many as 22 more starts. There’s time for him to be the pitcher the Rangers expected/wanted he would be.
His latest outing was a stinker, albeit against the world’s No. 1 offense. The right-handed bats of George Springer and Carlos Correa proved to be too much for the left-hander, though he did get the righty-hitting Jose Altuve three times.
(Tampa Bay’s offense is better than most realize, too. In fact, the Rays are very similar to the Rangers. Lots of homers. Lots of strikeouts.)
However, it’s time for Perez to put the team on his back for extended stretches, as he did in 2014 before his elbow ripped apart. He’s capable, but it hasn’t happened enough in his career.
After Saturday, he’s not giving the Rangers what they expected this season. The good news for him is he has as many as 22 starts to be that guy.
3. Good did happen Sunday for the Rangers.
Adrian Beltre had another hit, giving him a six-game hitting streak to start his season and only 49 more hits until he reaches 3,000.
Andrus had another hit, giving him a 10-game hitting streak during which he has 19 hits.
There were two more meaningful:
Rougned Odor was dropped from the fifth spot in the order to seventh, and he connected for a home run in the fifth. It’s a very small sample size, but it’s encouraging to see that A) the Rangers pulled the trigger on the move and B) he did something to affirm their decision.
Nick Martinez tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and no walks. Maybe the Astros’ offense had packed it in for the day, with a cozy lead, a flight to catch and weather threatening.
That’s not the case. Martinez has shown well in relief previously in his career (he entered with a 1.47 career ERA as a reliever) and could be a solution to the bullpen woes. He could, say, get the Rangers from the fifth to the seventh with a lead or keep them close.
By using Martinez, Dillon Gee will start Tuesday against the New York Mets. Give me Gee until Cole Hamels is ready and put Austin Bibens-Dirkx back in the long role.
The return of Ross, which seems imminent, will fill out the rotation. Martinez, though, needs to stay in the bullpen rather than go to Triple A Round Rock.