Another baseball season come and gone. Another Texas Rangers season without a championship (42 seasons and counting).
And a lot like the other seasons, disappointment at the end. 3 years ago it ended in the World Series. Two years ago it ended one strike short. Last year it ended after a loss in the one-game wild-card game. This year didn't even make it as far.
So what now?
After 39 years of utter futility and some of the worst baseball ever played the Rangers seemingly were poised to become a dynasty. Following a 5 year plan, devised my General Manager Jon Daniels, this was to be the culmination of brilliant organizational work, headed by the always impressive Nolan Ryan.
So what went wrong?
Some will use the excuse that injuries, seemingly non-existent for the past few years, finally caught up with the team. At one point, four-fifths of the assumed starting rotation was on the disabled list. Some of the injuries (especially to the numbers one and two starters) were early season ending.
But that doesn't jive when you realize it was the pitching that kept them afloat most of the year. In fact, the Ranges had their best starters ERA in many years. Add the terrific job done by the bullpen and you'd have to admit the pitching was the highlight of the year.
Some will blame it on Nelson Cruz' 50-game suspension. But they were struggling on offense long before game 112.
Some will blame it on the loss of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young. But when you add their numbers to the what the replacements did, it's basically a wash.
I look at the season a different way. Texas feasted against two teams - Los Angeles and Houston. In games against these two teams, Texas was 32-6 (.842)! Add Seattle to the mix and they were still a very impressive 34-13.
But against everyone else? 57-58. Basically, a .500 team. Average. Yes, good teams are supposed to beat inferior teams. But the numbers for Texas against LA, Houston and Seattle speak of a team that only beat the bottom feeders. And truthfully, there is enough blame to go around. The offense, which not only didn't hit well with runners in scoring position, but also had no idea if they were a power team, a running team or pitching team.
Too many times the players acted as if they were trying to do too much and too hard. Frustration set in and that led to some very ugly losing streaks. But when they put it all together they were unstoppable. Sadly, that was only against those bottom feeders. Even the last gasp, seven game winning streak that got them a one game tie-breaker was built against Houston and Los Angeles.
So where to they go from here?
Clearly, Daniels and Ryan have a lot of decisions to make. Because they are committed to Ron Washington for another season, nothing will change at top. But changes must be made. I do not envy the front office for what will be the most tumultuous off season in 4 years. But the direction they go here will effect the franchise for many years forward. Most of all, the personality of the dugout needs to change. The team is not good enough as built. The sooner the organization acknowledges the sooner they can correct it.
Now is not the time for specifics, simply because losing stings too much. But there are obvious holes that need addressing, no matter how much I may like a particular player.
It will be an interesting off season. It's just too bad it hand to start so soon.