Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: No matter what Daniels calls it, it's time to embrace the long-term plan

Cole Hamels wasn't pleased with his outing Thursday after allowing five runs in 7 1/3 innings, but he didn't do anything to hurt his trade value.
Cole Hamels wasn't pleased with his outing Thursday after allowing five runs in 7 1/3 innings, but he didn't do anything to hurt his trade value. Associated Press

When teams start to call the Texas Rangers for rotation help over the next two months, the Houston Astros won't be one of them.

So far this season, the 2015 Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel, is the worst of the Astros' five starters. The best has been Justin Verlander, who will take on the Rangers on Friday, and Charlie Morton will go Saturday.

On Thursday, Gerrit Cole and his upper-90s fastball and low-90s slider overwhelmed the Rangers, though it wasn't his best outing against them this season. He entered with 25 strikeouts in 14 innings this season in two starts vs. the Rangers, but on Thursday struck out a mere eight in six innings.

Oh, the shame.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

1. News that Jon Daniels had received a multi-year contract extension was met overwhelmingly on the Twitter and the Facebook with the following sentiment:


Almost all who took time to comment on the initial tweet of the news and the ensuing story were not fans of the decision by ownership, especially in light of the season the Rangers are having and had in 2017.

The pro-Nolan Ryan crowd spoke up, too.

The failure of the season, critics of the deal said, were rooted in the off-season, when they accused Daniels of doing nothing to help the club's 2018 chances.

Well, yeah. That was part of the plan that came more to light Thursday.

Daniels was right when he recalled how often he said during the off-season that the Rangers were going to lean on the development of young players and rebound seasons of value free agents to carry the Rangers this season.

The Rangers weren't going to spend money on the top free agents, no matter how much sense it made.

(And Daniels said that's what he told Adrian Beltre, too.)

It wasn’t a tank job — and the Rangers haven't yet sold off their key veterans — but to continue the organization-wide development plan.

The presentation Thursday was more resolute. The next few seasons are going to be rough.

Development? Rebuild? What's the difference?

A more urgent mind-set, Daniels said, though the Rangers' development plan might not be completed by the time Globe Life Field opens in 2020.

The difference is semantics. Whatever he wants to call it, it's time to embrace the hell out of it. Sell the hell out of it to the fans rather than teasing them with the thought that the expectation is to win. Lower the bar, and if the team plays well, they've exceeded expectations.

Daniels' honest words Thursday might have been the beginning of that.

2. The development/rebuild plan doesn't necessarily mean that the Rangers will sit out the star-studded free-agent market over the off-season.

A developing/rebuilding team needs to have veterans around to watch and learn from.

The Atlanta Braves had that with Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis last season and this one. The San Diego Padres have that this season with Eric Hosmer. The 2008 and 2009 Rangers had that with Michael Young.

Maybe the 2019 Rangers will have Beltre back. Maybe Elvis Andrus doesn't opt out of his contract. Does anybody think the young players aren't currently learning how to take an at-bat from watching Shin-Soo Choo?

"I look at what we did previously and having some of those guys and that nucleus, and then to bring up Elvis into that crew and Derek Holland into that crew, there's definitely an advantage to having that stable nucleus," Daniels said.

"Whether that's extending our own or finding the right guy from outside remains to be unseen, but there's definitely value in that."

The right free agent might also be a gate attraction for the final year of Globe Life Park and the first of Globe Life Field if the development plan takes a pit stop along the way.

It's hard to envision Bryce Harper coming. Or Manny Machado. Or Clayton Kershaw, if he opts out of his deal.

The Rangers have had a fondness for Andrew McCutchen, and that would make sense again if Jeff Banister, who knows McCutchen well from their Pittsburgh days, is still the manager and if Joey Gallo is moved out of left field.

It seems unlikely Keuchel would make the Astros-to-Rangers jump, but he's the kind of striking-throwing, sinking-fastball pitcher the Rangers like.

The best course is to offer Beltre a contract, if he decides he wants to continue playing, and to convince Andrus to stay put. Maybe throw him a couple more million a year.

The Rangers could also be in a position to keep Cole Hamels. Then again ...

3. Hamels' night was wrecked by one pitch. One really bad pitch in the fourth inning to Evan Gattis.

It was an 80-mph changeup, and Hamels couldn't have put it in a worse spot. Gattis, who crushed it for a two-run homer, would counter that Hamels couldn't have put it in a better spot.

The blast, the bulk of the Astros' three-run fourth inning, snapped a 1-1 tie and put Hamels in a no-win situation. The Rangers were lucky to have scored once against Cole, and the Gattis homer, his RBI single in the sixth and an Alex Bregman homer in the eighth were way too much for the offense to overcome.

Hamels wasn't as good as he had been of late, and the four strikeouts he mustered were an indication that his command might wasn't as good as it has been this season, either.

He lamented that and questionable pitch selection to hitters who know him well.

"If you’re not able to find the zone right off the bat and really get guys to be aggressive early, then you’re going to get yourself into some situations," Hamels said. "If you look at the way I was going after guys, and not really being able to get ahead, and then just not throwing the right pitches at the right time."

The question, especially in light of Daniels telling the beat writers (and, thus, the baseball world) that he is willing to listen to trade offers, is if Hamels made himself any less desirable to potential suitors.

With the season a lost cause, that's the story going forward each time Hamels pitches.

He would serve as an upgrade to many rotations, notably the New York Yankees' after starter Jordan Montgomery underwent Tommy John surgery. The Yankees could afford his contract, which will be less-than-desirable to some potential suitors.

Not only would a team be taking on the rest of his 2018 salary, probably somewhere around $10 million, but they would also be on the hook for at least another $6 million. That's the buyout on the $20 million club option for 2019.

Of course, not all of that money has to change hands. The more the Rangers eat, the better the package they will get in return.

Offers will comes if Hamels continues to pitch like he has this season. He usually gets better as it gets warmer, too.

Things should really heat up in late July.

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