Mac Engel

For the sake of the new stadium, the 2020 Texas Rangers need to contend for playoffs

No one in the position likes the question because it sets an expectation, but if there is one thing the Texas Rangers should do again is aim higher than to celebrate the closing and opening of new buildings.

Having embraced “transitioning” and “rebuilding” the club, I asked Rangers general manager Jon Daniels for his timeline for when this team should contend for the playoffs again.

“2020, the new stadium, with some additional resources, we thought we could take a real step,” JD said during a season postmortem on Tuesday at the Ballpark. “And certainly every year after that. The expectation is for us to contend. That’s where we are.”

When the Rangers signed their trillion local TV deal with Fox Sports Southwest a few years ago, the club bragged about how the infusion of money would allow them to remain competitive.

Now they need the Rangers Parks Mall for “additional resources” to sign top players.

“I hope the efforts of everyone in the organization enable us to be sitting here talking about postseason baseball next year,” JD said. “I’m not going to guarantee anything because we have a lot of work to do before then.”’

Barring catastrophic injuries to players, JD has to mean this. He needs to be accountable and held to this standard for 2020. The same for co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, however much longer they own the team.

At this point, it appears that Simpson’s role with this team is barely in name only. This is Ray’s toy.

Mr. Davis, you got Arlington’s money and you got a new stadium that you don’t need. You will open the mall next spring. It doesn’t mean you should spend dumb money, but now is not the time to be cheap.

Once the allure of the new place wears off, and it always does, they will only come if they win. Air conditioning can only sell so many over-priced seats.

“The only way to market a team is to win,” JD said. “It’s pretty cut and dry.”

Anyone with any sense of history of this franchise should fear that the Rangers from 2010 to 2016, when the club made the playoffs five times and World Series twice, was the equivalent of the IRS admitting it was wrong.

That the mighty Texas Rangers are, ultimately, no different than the San Diego Padres. The Seattle Mariners. The Baltimore Orioles. The club is stuck with this identity, and they are simply born to lose.

That they are back to doing what this club does best - underwhelm and generate apathy like no other team does in the great state a’ Texas.

The Rangers are not trying to win 83 games next season, or contend for the playoffs. They are trying change the entire perception of their franchise, and to remain a player in Major League Baseball.

This is the third straight year the club missed the postseason, and posted a losing record. While there was some progress early in the season, the six-month schedule buried ‘em.

If the Rangers are going to do as JD said he expects next year, which is to legitimately contend for the postseason, they will have to flirt with 90 wins. The Wild Card teams in the American League this season won 96 and 97 games.

JD has to find another starting pitcher. JD has to find a third basemen. JD is going to have to trade a corner outfielder, possibly Nomar Mazara.

Then JD needs Rougned Odor to be a serviceable major little middle infielder. And JD needs for what did go right in 2019 to improve in 2020.

Nope ... the 2020 Texas Rangers are not going to improve by 12 wins.

The only way JD has a prayer is for Ray to spend at least a little of that cash on a player or two.

He doesn’t have to give out a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado type of contract. Only dumb and desperate teams do that. The Rangers don’t need another A-Rod experience.

What they can’t afford is another losing season when they are done by Aug. 1.

A growing number of fans want JD sent to Siberia, but his boss loves him. Kids, always remember if you work for a private company and your boss loves you, that will take you further than an Elon Musk rocket.

JD was given the time to re-make this team in the mold of some of the other top franchises in MLB, and after three straight dog years he needs a winner.

He said it. The 2020 Texas Rangers need to contend for a postseason spot.

After all, at this time next year, there will be no new building to celebrate.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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