Mac Engel

June 7, 2014

Rangers bought hype on Profar too soon

Much like the Cowboys with Sean Lee, the Rangers went all-in with Jurickson Profar, who has yet to show he can stay healthy.

Baseball America is not to blame for Jurickson Profar, but where is all of that love for the “best hitting prospect” in baseball? It’s moved on to some other kid, who may or may not actually fulfill those stupid expectations.

We all fell for it, up to and including Rangers GM Jon Daniels, who insisted this kid should be in the majors last season even though his body did not appear ready.

Much like Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, Profar just might be a case of a guy with major league ability without the right body to have a long major league career.

And that can’t-trade status the Rangers slapped on Profar has been reduced to junk bond status.

“His future is still bright,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told me the day after Profar told reporters he will miss the season with a bum shoulder. “It will heal and he will get back to playing baseball.”

In fairness to Wash — what else is he going to say?

Throw me into the masses who fell for the hype, and thought to trade Profar for a high-profile, established pitcher was too rich. That the Rangers had the next great whatever.

JD did not want to see Profar tearing it up for the Rays knowing he could have had an All-Star middle infielder for cheap for five years.

It was a mirage.

The planned Opening Day second baseman for the Rangers told our Jeff Wilson a few days ago he expects to lose the season with a shoulder injury. The best-prospect-in-baseball tag that he handed by Baseball American in 2012 was just that — a ranking, which is as worthless today as it was then.

The way his career is going, it looks as though he is the second coming of Ruben Mateo.

Mateo was the second coming of Ruben Sierra in 1999 when the Rangers promoted him as a 21-year-old. Mateo was regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball. In 2000, he suffered a broken leg and was never the same again.

Pundits like to say it was the injury that derailed his career, but the reality is he may never have been a high-caliber major league talent. The Rangers traded him in ’01, and by 2004 he was out of the major leagues forever.

With 303 at-bats in his career, we have no idea what kind of major league hitter Profar could become. He may be just a weak hitting infielder with a slick glove. He may become a solid .290 hitter with a slick glove who could replace Elvis Andrus at shortstop with a slightly more potent bat.

What we do know is that he was a great minor league player whose body has broken down as a major league player.

Unlike Lee, whom the Cowboys know for sure when he is on the field is a rare three-down inside linebacker who can make plays everywhere, the Rangers do not know about Profar.

Lee, who has a history of injuries both in college at Penn State and his first four NFL seasons, looks like a man who may never fulfill his promise because his body won’t allow it.

Profar, who has been hurt in each of his first two MLB seasons, now has a history of major injury without the proven, prolonged major league production.

From a big league production perspective, Profar is still a prospect. To the eyeball, he looks like a little guy with a good glove. If he can’t play second or short, he can’t be a major leaguer.

It’s not his fault Baseball America labeled him the No. 1 prospect.

It’s not his fault he got hurt again.

The fault lies on the Rangers, who bought it before Profar proved it.

Now they are left with baseball junk bond who, hopefully, comes around in 2015 and proves he was worth it.

Triple downer

Horse racing won on Saturday by just having another horse with a shot at the Triple Crown, but California Chrome’s tie for fourth at the Belmont felt depressing. On behalf of a generation of sports fans, we want our own Triple Crown winner.

California Chrome never looked like he had the kick to take it home, and his placement — far wide around the final turn — was too much to win the Belmont.

The schedule of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont, plus the mileage, remains under intense scrutiny as being too much for the horses. Three races in five weeks is a lot, and the Belmont’s 1 1/2-mile course is a killer.

No one in horse racing, with the exception of a few loyalists, would complain if these three races had an additional week or two put between their dates. Or, do as a bitter California Chrome owner Steve Coburn told NBC after the race, that if you don’t run the previous two you can’t run the Belmont. Horses that skip the Preakness enjoy a huge advantage in the Belmont.

“It’s a coward’s way out,” Coburn told NBC.

Horse racing will never regain the popularity it once enjoyed, but a Triple Crown winner would help.

Hip to be Lewis

Right hander Colby Lewis is the Texas Rangers’ No. 2 starter by default, and with a 4-4 record and a 5.77 ERA an argument can be made he shouldn’t be in any rotation. Lost in his season is the mere fact he is pitching at all.

Lewis is the first major league player to have “hip resurfacing” and continue his career. The surgery has worked, and could provide hope for other big leaguers who have similar symptoms.

“It’s perfect,” Lewis told me this week. “There is more range of motion with it now, and once I made that adjustment to having that again it’s been fine.”

Lewis said he will have an X-ray with the doctors around the All-Star break to monitor the hip’s progress, but that all signs are positive.

It would be wonderful if his statistics were, too.


Linebacker Bruce Carter will be an impact player for the Cowboys this season.

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