Jon Daniels sat in his spring training office explaining/defending the decision to sign Shin Soo Choo, and while he acknowledged the risk he said the team’s success would ultimately swing on the development of the young players behind him on the backfields in Surprise, Arizona.
That conversation between the Texas Rangers’ GM/President and myself occurred in the spring of 2015, and here on July 25, 2018, there was Carlos Tocci explaining his space on the team’s roster.
It’s fantastic he can explain it because no one else can.
Tocci is a Rule 5 player who has to be on the Rangers’ roster in order for him to remain in the organization, but he’s overmatched and he should never have been here. Meanwhile, manager Jeff Banister is left to defend the decision to have Tocci in center field with Delino DeShields in the minors.
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“He’s a premium defensive player,” Banister said Tuesday.
Well ... that should do it.
Tocci is here because Daniels and his staff have not done specifically what he said needed to be accomplished after the Rangers buried Choo with a seven-year, $130 million deal after the 2014 season.
They have a few nice, young bats, but this franchise’s biggest problem remains its biggest problem: It’s not developing players, specifically pitchers.
The Texas Rangers are one of the worst teams in baseball, yet all of the decision makers involved blissfully, and securely, march on because no one pressures this team at all. They’re like your local weather forecaster: They can be wrong virtually all the time and we keep watching.
Ownership has all but checked out, which is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to personnel. However, given the state of this team’s farm system, someone upstairs with the corner window office should have smashed the alarm button.
Not only have the Rangers missed on draft classes for the past several years, they currently feature a roster loaded with high-priced parts at the MLB trade deadline that are virtually untradeable for a decent return.
Whatever you thought of the return on the Yu Darvish deal, expect even less when the Rangers start selling parts this week.
The team’s most attractive parts are not the likes of Choo, Adrian Beltre or Cole Hamels, or even Elvis Andrus. Clubs are going to be more interested in relievers Jose Leclerc, Keone Kela and maybe Jake Diekman.
Power bullpen arms are the most desired currency at the deadline, and no one within the Rangers should believe this trio of arms will be as effective in two years as they are right now. Relievers blow hot and cold, and JD should cash in on these arms before they all need Tommy John surgery.
Finding a taker for Leclerc will be easy whereas finding a partner for some of JD’s high priced toys is the challenge. In order to deal these veterans the Rangers are likely going to have to take on salary in return for a middle tier prospect.
Hamels has a one year, $20 million option remaining on his deal, and the Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested. Choo has two years and $42 million left on his contract.
One MLB scout who has tracked Hamels this season told me, “He looks finished.”
Finished is too strong of a word. Go with “Defeated.” Or “Resigned.”
He’s 34, and he knows he is pitching for nothing when it comes to the Rangers. Put him on a decent team and see what he can do.
The same can be said of Beltre, who currently is the leading vote getter for the “2018 Most Frustrated Ranger” award.
Guys like Beltre or Hamels, who are both trustworthy professionals, have been around too long. They both need to be in a lineup where their team has a shot.
Since the start of 2017, the Rangers are only 25 games under .500.
“Previous years we were chasing division titles,” Banister said. “Now, it’s ‘What are we developing here?’”
The obvious answer is Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo, Ronald Guzman, Willie Calhoun and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. What this organization did to Jurickson Profar is a baseball crime.
Focus on the bats. For the love of all things holy don’t look at the arms.
However you want to spin it, the only way the Rangers are going to start improving is through their farm system. But they haven’t developed the players, and the veterans they do have are not going to replenish the system with upper tier prospects.
Regardless, all of the decision makers involved blissfully, and securely, march on.