There are 67 games left in the 2014 season for the Texas Rangers, and as bad as it has been, there are good things to look forward to as they close out the year. Their record currently stands at 38-57 which is a winning percentage of .400, the lowest since 1985. If the Rangers hold at the current pace they will finish around 65-97, meaning a 100-loss season is not out of the equation. That last sentence was something I never thought I'd write until years down the road. There are expectations and things to look for during the remainder of 2014.
The ONLY benefit from a terrible year like this one is a high draft pick, and a pick in the top 10 is protected from compensation if the Rangers sign a qualified free agent in the off-season. As it stands today, the Rangers have the worst record in baseball, meaning if the season ended today they would have the no. 1 pick in next year's June draft. Many experts have been on record as saying that the 2015 draft is not as deep as recent years, but the quality at the top (where the Rangers will be selecting) is full of great talent. Daz Cameron, the son of former Major Leaguer Mike Cameron is considered to be the best player available by some scouts. Mike Matuella, a big right handed pitcher from Duke and Nathan Kirby, a lefty from Virginia are also names to watch.
The only hardware anyone cares about is the World Series trophy, but in a year like this there are players quietly having good years and that should be celebrated. Adrian Beltre is currently leading the American League in batting average over Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Beltre isn't slowing down and that is a great sign looking forward, as a Silver Slugger and league batting crown may be in his future, as well as the Hall of Fame. Yu Darvish has struggled recently and his Cy Young chances are slipping with each bad outing. He is fourth in the American League in strikeouts behind Felix Hernandez, David Price and Max Scherzer, but has at least two fewer starts. His strikeouts per nine innings lead the league and with a great two month stretch could take over the lead in K's.
Texas has quite a few players whose development can get a boost with regular playing time or appearances. With the pitching woes and the uncertainty of the 2015 starting staff, Nick Tepesch can take a big leap forward this year. Nick has started 10 games this year with a 4.31 ERA, which is respectable considering his youth and limited experience. Leonys Martin still struggles at times and with less pressure, he may be able to find his groove at the plate. The Rangers need Leonys to improve and show consistency to solidfy the center field position for the upcoming season and beyond.
All the young players that have been used have a tremendous opportunity to get some experience and tutelage from the veterans on the club. I'd list the younger players, but that list is far too long. The pitchers, such as Miles Mikolas, Ryan Feierabend, Matt West and Roman Mendez can have an impact on their futures with consistent production. With the September call-ups, Alex 'Chi Chi' Gonzalez and Luke Jackson may get a look. Joey Gallo will not be among the group that gets the late season call to Arlington, at least he shouldn't be.
The trade deadline is approaching and the Rangers have already moved Jason Frasor to Kansas City for Spencer Patton. Patton is a young RHP with a high strikeout rate. Frasor, while cheap on the MLB pay scale, is 36 (37 in August) and may not have a lot of time left in his career. The Rangers will likely trade Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria in the next few days to try to get young pitching in an attempt to bolster the pitching staff for seasons to come. GM Jon Daniels said recently that they owe it to themselves to look at every possibility and that could mean a bigger deal could come down the pike.
These are rough times in Rangerland, but all is not lost. The 2013 Red Sox went from worst to first, as did the 1991 Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, as well as the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. I'm not predicting a first place finish for Texas in 2015, but things will be a whole lot better. 2014 is important for many reasons like development and being able to see what certain prospects bring to the table at the Major League level. We'll have to power through the rest of this year, but at least there are enjoyable aspects of the team.
Patrick Despain has been writing about the Rangers for several years in the DFW market. Before WFAA he was a writer at Shutdowninning.com and frequent guest on 1340 AM radio in Lubbock.
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