Times are getting desperate for the Texas Rangers. Already five games off the pace in the AL West and currently on the outside of the Wild Card race, Texas is scouring the trade market for upgrades to their sluggish offense.
If reports are true, that offense is about to get markedly worse when all-star outfielder Nelson Cruz gets hit with a Biogenesis-related suspension, which is expected to happen on Friday. For a team already without DH Lance Berkman, who is considering retirement due to a balky right knee.
The Rangers have checked in on the availability of some of the biggest sluggers in the league, including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brian McCann, and Giancarlo Stanton, but have been turned away in each instance.
The Biogenesis scandal figures to impact about 20 players, both major and minor leaguers, but the biggest names as far as impacting the pennant race are Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, Cruz, and Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta. Given that New York would likely rather A-Rod just go away anyhow, they won’t be upset if and when Rodriguez gets nailed. Detroit saw the writing on the wall and feared a stretch run without their starting shortstop. That fear lead to a deal late Tuesday night to add Jose Iglesias from Boston, a player who solidifies the position both this season and beyond.
The Rangers front office is collectively considered one of the brightest in all the sport, but they swung and missed in the free agent market this past Winter. GM Jon Daniels played it cool with Josh Hamilton, who took that treatment as a sign of disrespect and bolted for the rival Angels. Daniels was smug about bringing in top-tier pitching talent and expected to enter the season with a humbled Hamilton and right hander Zack Greinke in tow. Instead, Greinke went to the Dodgers and Texas sat by and watched.
Still, a team that features Adrian Beltre, Cruz, Berkman, Ian Kinsler and A.J. Pierzynski was expected to be just fine at the plate, especially considering the stadium they call home. Instead, down seasons have been had almost across the board, with only Cruz and Beltre having what could be considered above average production.
Sure, there are some names available for the Rangers to go get. Seattle is said to be willing to move Michael Morse. Adam Dunn might be had from Chicago and maybe even a reunion with Michael Young is in the cards. If Texas intends to make a run to October, they might wanna try to get all three, but none will come cheap.
Opposing GMs smell the blood in the water. The Rangers have been the bullies on the block for a handful of years now, building a dominant team at the big league level while stockpiling prospects. What’s left of a now-thinning group of minor leaguers will certainly be picked to the bone by rival clubs, who can hold Daniels’ feet to the fire in any deal made today.
It’s the price Daniels and the Rangers will have to pay if they intend to win in 2013. It’s payment for misreading the market on Josh Hamilton, payment for letting Mike Napoli walk, and payment for the sins of Nelson Cruz.