Rangers: Is Rios a perfect fit?

Rangers vs. Astros

Credit: Getty Images

The newest member of the Texas Rangers, Alex Rios, scores a run past Astros catcher Jason Castro during the eighth inning on August 10, 2013 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)



WFAA Sports Blogger

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 12 at 4:59 PM

Alex Rios is an approximately $17 million dollar insurance policy. The suspension of Nelson Cruz for 50 games left a gap in the lineup for the Rangers, having been filled by some platooned combination of our stable of outfielders.

Jon Daniels played a game of relatively low-stakes poker through the waiver claim process – knowing that Rios’ contract paid him slightly more than his worth, and knowing that spending that much money on an older outfielder was probably not part of the game plan for the “reloading” White Sox.

To be honest, the White Sox are closer to rebuilding than they are to being a few pieces from legitimately contending next year.

So what did we get?

A plus defender and baserunner with a bat that will probably be more consistent but less powerful than that of Nelson Cruz. Something can be said towards the value of having low variance with a position player.

Minus a couple puzzling anomalous years, Rios has been a fairly consistent producer even if he is aging a bit. Rios figures to actually end up being more valuable to the Rangers down the stretch than Nelson Cruz probably would have been.

Also, with the possibility of Cruz returning for the playoffs, you have to like a lineup that features Cruz periodically at the DH, particularly if our eggs are residing in the Berkman/second catcher basket.

I’ll remind you of the importance of not playing a catcher in the DH spot by recalling the Rangers’ one-game playoff last year, when Ron Washington opted to play Michael Young at first base instead of Mike Napoli. When the Rangers needed to pinch hit for Soto, they had to take designated hitter Napoli and put him in the field, meaning the Rangers lost the DH and the pitcher would either have to hit or have a pinch hitter in the lineup. Why Michael Young was in the field over Napoli, even disregarding this nuance of the game, is beyond me.

A playoff plan cannot rely on a catcher in the designated hitter spot. It also can’t rely on a platooned approach to practically your entire outfield on a nightly basis. Not because playing splits is a poor idea but because platoon situations typically happen when you don’t have a player that’s an unquestionable starter.

Rios is an everyday right fielder and he will make the Rangers better, albeit at the cost of a slightly overpaid contract and the loss of a utility infielder in Leury Garcia, who was probably never going to see consistent time on the field in a Rangers uniform. If Rios’ spectacular two game introduction to Rangers fandom is any indication, then he should fit right in.

Suddenly, a team that was impatiently waiting in the five items or fewer line to purchase its own grave-digging shovel decided that all that talk was a bit premature.

Rangers fans – thank Jon Daniels for his patience and prudence at the trade deadline and after. In a market that is still adjusting to a revised CBA that eliminates one of the major benefits of trading for a rental player (draft pick compensation) and an extra wild-card spot, the sellers did nothing short of losing their minds. The White Sox undoubtedly had better offers for Rios on the table before the non-waiver deadline but their misreading of the trade market led to a coup for the Rangers.

That doesn’t happen without the brain trust of Jon Daniels and Thad Levine – the same two men responsible for making DFW care about baseball.

I like caring about baseball.