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Rangers Shouldn’t Need the Russell Wilson Sideshow

Marc McLemore surely did not mind when the Rangers gave the No. 3 he had worn for years with the club to Alex Rodriguez, given what was expected of A-Rod when he came to Texas in 2001.

But you have to wonder what he feels of the person currently wearing that number in Surprise, AZ, right now.

The Rangers Spring Training facilities have suddenly become home to a media circus, with reporters from ESPN and the MLB Network and thousands of new fans in droves. But are they there to see the Rangers’ new acquisitions, or even the international star that is Yu Darvish?

No. All they care about is someone who’s chances of playing at Globe Life Park are beyond nil – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who the Rangers acquired in the Rule 5 Draft last December.

The throngs in Surprise Stadium with footballs, not baseballs, to sign, made it clear they didn’t give a crap about the actual baseball players. One even showed up with a sign reading, “Sorry Rangers’ Fans, We’re Here For Wilson.”

“Hopefully, the Dallas fans won’t get too mad,” Wilson told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.

Consider this one Rangers fan more than a bit perturbed.

This is not what should be getting the Rangers a front-fold sports story in The Nation’s News.

Instead of focusing on whether Prince Felder will turn his career around now that he’s in new territory or whether Shin Soo Choo will live up to expectations, this Rangers’ preseason has been overtaken with the question of whether the current NFL champion will become the next Bo Jackson.

Really? Does anyone really think that’s going to happen? Forget whether someone who so far has a .229 average in two years at the lowest level has a snowball’s chance in You-Know-Where of making a team with an infield of Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar – do you really think the Seahawks will allow their golden QB to take the field in another sport?

And there are definitely some within the baseball ranks not happy with Wilson taking up a Spring Training spot, like Giants pitching prospect Andrew Carignan, who Tweeted, “Hey, .230 hitters in A Ball, you want to go to a big league camp? Win a Super Bowl.”

The more I look at this, the more I get a bad gut feeling this has Ray Davis and Bob Simpson written all over it and that now that a certain strikeout king is no longer in North Texas, they feel free to churn out any sideshow-like activity that will draw the fringe media out there rather than actually let the club focus on the game itself.

General manager Jon Daniels is doing nothing to diffuse this situation, saying things like, “If we can just get Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake out here, we can take it to another level.”

Why? Why does a team that was in the freaking World Series less than three years ago and supposedly won this past off-season (which quite a few people seem to take stock in) need to send a sideshow from another sport in order to garner attention?

It seems the only one who is currently maintaining any sanity is Ron Washington, who has refused to allow Wilson to play the field or take batting practice.

Wash should get another year on his contract just for that decision alone.

He used the politically correct response of “Man, I can’t just do that. We wouldn’t be able to sleep the night on the half-percent chance that something would happen.”

I can’t help but wonder what the people in Seattle think of this. You would think they would be in an uproar that their meal ticket to football dynasty is even considering playing another sport. If so, it may be the first time Seattle fans and I ever agreed on anything. (Well, that and the fact that they got screwed out of their basketball team, but that’s another story.)

And before you accuse me of just being a whiner because of my well-known dislike of American football, let me ask this: What would you think if LeBron James showed up at Cowboys training camp in pads?

Do you think the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Dodgers would allow a sideshow like this to take over their preseason? This sadly goes to show once more, how little the Rangers are respected as an Organization and the lengths they must go to in order to garner attention.

That attention will all go away in a week or two when Wash is able to put that red card in Wilson’s locker (Do they still do that like they did in Major League?) signaling has being cut from Spring Training.

The good news: The real baseball players can get back to preparing for their season.

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Rangers Trade Ian For Prince… WHAT??????

DFWSportatorium - Logo6

What happened?

I come back from a long trip to Lexington to see the UTA Mavericks try their hardest but still get soundly beaten by Kentucky, and I expect things to be a bit calmer for at least a while. Ho boy, was I wrong on that.

Just hours after getting home, the news hit hard. Ian Kinsler gone – traded to the Detroit Tigers for… Prince Fielder???

Of course, everyone is dancing in the streets at this, especially shouting, “that worthless piece of sh*t Kinsler is gone!!!” Pretty much everyone in so-called “Ranger Nation” has spewed venomous abuse at Kinsler, acting like he was the absolute worst player ever and that they wouldn’t mind at all if he got hit by a semi several times. I’ve already seen posts about “addition by subtraction,” like he was this horrible person in the clubhouse too even though there is every indication he was the exact opposite.

Well, pardon me if I’m not among those declaring this to be the greatest move in the history of baseball and another shining reason why Jon Daniels is a greater genius than Stephen Hawking who has never made a bad move in his entire life.

When the Rangers failed to sign Fielder back in January of 2012, I breathed a sigh of relief, especially with the contract the Tigers ended up giving him. I didn’t want Texas throwing away that much money on his type of player then, so I do have precedent with this.

If I was more of a Grassy Knoll type of guy (ironic, given what anniversary is upon us), I might say this is yet another move Jon Daniels is making solely to try ad drive Ron Washington out of town. I will say this is a move that makes very little sense in that Prince Fielder is the exact opposite of everything Wash wants in a player and everything the Ranger shave stood for since 2009.

Once upon a time, the Rangers chose to build a team solely around big guys who hit for power and nothing else – no speed and no defense. It did not work, to say the least. Then Ron Washington came on board, and at long last things started changing. You had to be able to field your position well to get on the field. You had to be able to run and make things happen on the basepaths.

Well, that’s all out the window now, as the epitome of “can’t field and can’t run” will be wearing their uniform.

If Fielder is a full-time designated hitter and Mitch Moreland or almost anyone else plays first, this might look better. But within a short time after the trade, Daniels began saying that Fielder is definitely their first baseman. (Um, why is the GM and not the manager saying where someone is going to play months before spring training even opens?)

Remember how everyone complained about bad Michael Young was at first in 2011, how his lack of range killed a team that still was one play (elsewhere) from winning it all? Yeah, sure bet Fielder’s even worse. In fact, he should be legally required to change that name, because “fielder” isn’t anywhere in his game.

Basically, here’s the strategy for anyone playing against the Rangers: Hit a grounder. Especially to the right side.

People are quick to point out how the Tigers still made the World Series in 2012 and ALCS last year with not only Fielder at first but another limited defender in Miguel Cabrera at third. The Tigers could get away with that because their pitchers led the majors in strikeouts. Outside of Yu Darvish, the Rangers’ pitching staff is built around putting the ball in play and trusting their defense. Can’t do that anymore.

I get the logic. The Rangers desperately needed power, and the free agent crop in the department is thin. They had to pull off some type of move like this to improve there. But outside of hitting home runs, there pretty much is nothing else Fielder can do.

Heck, this will likely result in Adrian Beltre having the worst year of his life if he’s going to bat after Fielder. No more doubles for Belt; if he’s batting with Prince on first, he can’t get anything other than a single if he keeps it in the park, – even with a shot into the 407 gap, he’ll still have to stop at first because Prince can’t go past second.

Doesn’t it say something that the Tigers were willing to pull this trade just two years after giving Fielder a nine-year contract? At least A-Rod lasted three with the Rangers.

So basically, by making this trade, the Rangers took on someone with a contract with A-Rod-like implications and the inability to catch anything, and they have now quadrupled the demands for Jurickson Profar, so so far has failed to live up to all those lofty expectations. He now has to become one of the absolute best players in the game, or else.

If Fielder plays the field and Profar is anything less than an All-Star, don’t expect the Rangers to even come close to a tie-breaking game in 2014.

What has happened to me? At one time in my life, I was the pinnacle of seeing the Rangers through rose-colred glasses, to the chagrin of almost everyone I knew. Now, it looks to me like, little by little, this front office is destroying everything they built because the GM wants to treat them like a fantasy team and not an actual team. They’re slowly turning back into the Rangers of the 90s, and that’s not exactly a good thing.

I need to find something to take my mind off of this. Oh look, the Rangers have sent out their ads for next year’s season tickets.

There’s a picture of Kinsler on it. Smooth, Rangers.

Daniels Got Rid of Nolan; Now He Has No Excuses

I do find myself wondering just why I have such issues against Jon Daniels lately.

I mean, under Daniels, the Rangers have been operating exactly as I’ve wanted them to for years. They don’t overspend on free agents that end up mailing in their performances, and they actually trust in their prospects, especially pitchers.

So why do I have this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach now that Nolan Ryan has officially left the Rangers as co-owner/CEO (effective Oct. 31) that the good times are now dead and gone and things are going to get worse before they get better?

Is it because of how JD seems to act more and more like he’s operating a real MLB club like a fantasy league team – just plug stats and sabers here and there and bam, success? Is it how he constantly treats players worse than Nolan does the cattle on his ranch, sullying the reputations of the likes of Michael Young while shipping them off for a song so he can look for his next shiny new toy?

Is it that his Billy Beane tactics seem to be turning the Rangers into the Oakland A’s, devolving from a World Series team into one that could just make the playoffs and little else?

Maybe. But it goes deeper than that.

Daniels’ entire reputation as this absolute perfect genius has been built on that one time he committed grand larceny on the Atlanta Braves in 2007, getting Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and more for Mark Teixeria. Lost in that has been getting Josh Hamilton for Edison Volquez later that same year. But since then, what has Daniels himself really done?

For example, many of the moves since that did work were luck more than anything else. You want to say Cliff Lee was a good move even though he had a losing record here? Well, unless JD knew Jesus Montero was injured, that was luck. If Montero had been healthy, Great God Cliff would have been in Yankee pinstripes.

And Adrian Beltre? He was looking forward to returning to SoCal playing with the Angels. It was only because Jerry DiPoto balked at the chance to sign him that Beltre had to settle for the Rangers’ offer. Granted that worked out in so many ways from Beltre playing with a chip on his shoulder to the Angels wrecking themselves in making sure they miss out on no more free agents. But again, more luck than skill.

So the only big move remaining has been Yu Darvish. And so far, while the ace potential has clearly been there, all Darvish has done is split the fan base among those who say he’s an ace and those frustrated with his supposed inability to get the “shutdown inning” and tendency to blow leads. The fact that such a rift exists is enough to say it hasn’t completely worked – yet.

But for me, the move that may define Daniels the most was getting Matt Garza. I still don’t get that move in hindsight. Daniels parted with another first base prospect to get a supposed top level pitcher, but he didn’t actually expect that pitcher to play for the Rangers; he only wanted another bargaining chip to use with Joe Nathan to get Justin Upton. Again, the Rangers had their shot at Upton in January and balked because Daniels still refused to part ways with Jurickson Profar or some other top prospect. But then he expected the team that did get him to give him up six months later while in a playoff race in exchange for two more players set to be free agents?

That’s over-thinking, and it backfired, and the Rangers were left with a pitcher that faded down the stretch.

But despite all that, Daniels has been absolute Teflon to criticisms. If it was under John Hart, Doug Melvin or Tom Grieve that the likes of Adrian Gonzales, Chris Davis and Prince Fielder continued to put up the numbers they have while the Rangers continued to stick with Mitch Moreland, they would be roasted. Yet North Texas continues to stand by their golden boy and agree with him that the solution lies in forcing Ron Washington to move Ian Kinsler to first base or the outfield, which hasn’t happened yet and Wash still seems unwilling to budge on.

Nolan, meanwhile gets all the blame for the signings that didn’t work, like Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman – even though reporter Mike Young says it was only after Nolan stepped away from the negotiating table that Berkman agreed to sign. Therein lies the double standard: Nolan can’t get credit for any of the good moves since about 2011 because Daniels has been the one really making all the decisions and having the final say. Yet Nolan DID have the final say on moves – just the ones that didn’t work?

He gets all the blame and Daniels gets all the credit. What’s more, absolutely no credit goes to the likes of player development Tim Purpura or pitching coach Mike Maddux, both of which were Nolan hires, Or no blame to the revolving door of hitting coaches since the departure of Clint Hurdle – another Nolan hire.

JD can find all the talent he wants. But it ultimately comes down to whether that talent produces. That’s why the intangibles of Nolan doing things like installing a mindset that pitchers don’t need to worry about pitch counts or the Ballpark’s “blast furnace” and jetstream were so important. Where is it on JD’s iPad to replace that?

One comment I frequently heard since the news of Nolan’s departure came out was, “Now the Rangers will finally start spending some money.” Within hours after the announcement, word has been that the Rangers have lost Cuban defector Jose Abreu to the White Sox, because they weren’t comfortable with his six-year, $68 million asking price. And this was after Daniels himself said weeks ago that the team expected to have a smaller payroll.

Not even I will pin that on Daniels completely. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson deserve most of the responsibility for being so tight-fisted, which won’t sit well for a fan base frustrated at a 115 percent increase in ticket prices over the past two years.

If they aren’t going to give 68 million to fill a position they need, what do you think the chances are they’ll be okay with 300 million to add another middle infielder in Robbie Cano?

It’s anyone’s guess which owner is more behind these money-grubbing tactics, but the one responsible for driving out Nolan is pretty clear. According to Randy Galloway, Davis is the one joined at Daniels’ hip and responsible for all this. Simpson had tried and tried to keep Nolan around and still called him “irreplaceable” to the point where the team won’t appoint a new CEO.

With that, the members of “Team JD” won and got rid of the supposed old man which the game had passed by. But they also just lost their scapegoat.

Ultimately, it comes down to winning on the field. And if the Rangers find a way to gat back to the World Series in 2014, all will supposedly be right.

But if they do throw nine figures at a Brian McCann only to see him play worse than Geovany Soto, or if they stand pat for another off season and the likes of Profar and Leonys Martin don’t take the next step toward being the next big pieces of the puzzle, and this gradual slide in the American League continues, Daniels’ fanboys may find themselves less and less able to not blame him.

And Nolan Ryan can chuckle at that from either his Alvin ranch or the Astros front office, whichever he’ll be in at this time next year.

Rowdy Time Gamenight: 8/23/13

TEXAS RANGERS @ CHICAGO WHITE SOX

RANGERS 0 4 1 1 1 0 1 2 1 11 11  1
WHITE SOX 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1  5 11 

ROUGHRIDERS 4 @ SAN ANTONIO 2

RIDERS 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 10  0
 SAN ANTONIO 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

W – Jerad Eickhoff; L – Donn Roach

 AIRHOGS 3 @ WICHITA 5

AIRHOGS 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
 WICHITA 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 1

W – James Giulietti ; L – Curtis Camilli
HR – Andres Rodriguez

Rowdy Time Gamenight: 8/21/13

RANGERS 5 HOUSTON 4

HOUSTON 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 8 2
RANGERS 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 5 7 0

W – Nathan ; L – Lo

FC DALLAS 3 @ CHIVAS USA 1
De La Fuente, 43′ ; Perez, 71′, Ferriera 86′, Nunez, 90′

ROUGHRIDERS 5 @ SAN ANTONIO 6

RIDERS 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 5 9 2
SAN ANTONIO 1 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 6 9 1

W – Geer ; L – Tufts

AIRHOGS 2 AMARILLO 0

AMARILLO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
AIRHOGS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0

W – Aaron Wilkerson ; L – Jason Mitchell
HR – Andres Rodriguez

Rowdy Time Gamenight: 8/19/13

KoenAd

RANGERS 16 Houston 5

HOUSTON 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 5 9 2
RANGERS 2 0 11 1 0 1 1 0 16 14 0

W – M Garza ; L – L Harrell

FW CATS 6 EDINBURG ROADRUNNERS 10 (10)- UNITED LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 5
EDINBURG WINS SERIES 3-2

EDINBURG 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 4 10 12 4
CATS 3 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 6 6 1

W – Alex Schmarzo ; L – Trevor Longfellow

It May Be Now Or Never For the Rangers Organization

So two games into Matt Garza’s brief time with the Rangers?

Yes, so far I’m impressed.

Forgive me, it’s sort of become my nature to become cynical about players that come to the Rangers from elsewhere while being hopelessly optimistic about the ones that come out of their own system.

Still, in two starts since coming from the Cubs, the hero of the 2008 ALCS has only allowed three earned runs in 14 innings, bolstering what was already the second-best pitching staff in the American League. (Hey, remember when it was certain that the heat and winds of Texas meant the Rangers would never have good pitching?)

But what also impresses me was in the press conference following Monday’s game, where another poor offensive night cost him a chance at a win and needed two home runs in the ninth to salvage a win for the team. He kept going on and on about, “my team, my teammates.” That automatically makes him light years better than Great God Cliff Lee in my book.

So while Garza can’t carry this team alone, he may just be the addition needed to rescue the season.

Even after their second straight walk-off night where they trailed in the ninth, the Rangers remain five games back of the Oakland A’s in the West. Of course, with nine games remaining against the A’s this season, starting with three this weekend in the toilet that is the I-Forget-What-Company-Name-Is-On-It-This-Month Coliseum, this season still remains far from over.

Which is good, because this has officially become an all-or-nothing season for the Rangers. If they aren’t hoisting the big trophy at the end of the year, they may never get another chance again.

I don’t want to say something like that. But the is organization has already mortgaged its future big time and may not be done doing so.

The Rangers really flushed out their farm system, dealing Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards to get Garza. As I type this, they may very well be on the verge of unloading even more to bring in Hunter Pence (though seeing him in a Texas jersey would be sweet) or even bring back Michael Young (is Jon Daniels ready to tuck that tail between his legs?)

It’s exactly the kind of moves you don’t expect JD to make. Just six years after committing highway robbery by getting the foundation of this Rangers team from Atlanta for Mark Teixeria, Daniels has put himself in the position to be on the other end of such a trade.

Not that he may have already done that, as one of the teams the Rangers are battling for a playoff spot in Baltimore is doing so with a plethora of former Rangers

What I’m mainly getting at is, if you were worried about this team’s chances this year with the lack of off-season moves, it may be even worse after this year.

Let’s get this out of the way: Garza isn’t staying with the Rangers after this season. Nellie Cruz, who may or may not play another game for the Rangers after today with a Biogenesis related suspension now looking like a certainty, isn’t re-signing either. Baseball players don’t stay in a football town.

That’s also why no big name free agent, whoever may be on the market this year, is going to sign either. When you’re in an area where Tony Romo sneezing is ogling to get 100 times more press than the Rangers winning a pennant, yo have to money whip a guy to get him to come here. And JD and Nolan aren’t driving this team back into bankruptcy doing that again.

So the only place they can restock the team next year is from within. And that place just became a great deal thinner.

Especially since they’ll be looking for another catcher again after this year. And that position has sadly become bare in the organization, even before the purging.

Not to mention that the can’t miss prospect Jurickson Profar isn’t lighting it up as much as everyone said he was going to. Granted, that can just mean what we all should know – that rookies usually struggle. Hopefully it’s that and not what a number of his coaches were saying going into this season – that he was being rushed and just isn’t ready.

The point is that if the Rangers have any hope in 2014, Profar will have to find a place to play full time while he and Leonys Martin take a big step up. Derek Holland needs to prove this year isn’t just a fluke and that he has become the frontline pitcher we all have hoped/believed he can be.

And someone else from what remains, like a Ryan Strausborger, is going to have to come out of nowhere.

That may be too much to hope for. So we gotta accept that all the eggs are in this basket and hope for a Giants/Cardinals type rally for this season in Texas.