Posted: 10:00 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4, 2013
Let me begin before everyone jumps me by emphasizing this in no way reflects the two teams win-loss records. The Rangers are far (far, far, far, far) and away a better baseball team than the Houston Astros in almost every statistical category. As a team the Rangers hit .262 compared to a brutal .240 for the Astros. Rangers on base percentage- .323 to the Astros .299. The Rangers scored 730 times to an Astros 610. Joe Nathan alone just about had as many saves as Astros had wins. See where I’m going with this? The Rangers are on paper a very solid baseball team while the Astros are just another doormat for the rest of Major League Baseball to stomp all over.
So why can’t the Rangers take the next step? One year after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, they lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the one game Wild Card playoff while this year they completely missed the playoffs all together. They are built to win a championship now. They haven’t won a championship before and they aren’t built to win one in the future. They have spent 112,939,500 million on payroll this year. Adrian Beltre makes 16 million alone. Not only did they spend on long term deals in free agency, but they depleted much of the farm system in the mid season trade with the Cubs to acquire Matt Garza to bolster the rotation, who did not turn out to be what they thought he would be compiling a subpar 4.38 ERA with Texas. That deal sent highly touted third base prospect Mike Olt and four other future hopeful big leaguers to Chicago. Quite a steep price for mediocrity. This was supposed to be the year they take that huge step forward. Maybe it’s Ron Washington, maybe the players don’t gel as well as they appear on television, or maybe they just aren’t what everyone thought they could be. If not making the postseason wasn't bad enough, the off season didn't get off to any better of a start with Nolan Ryan leaving the team. Not only that, but they lost a bidding war to the White Sox for slugging Cuban first baseman Juan Abreu.
Meanwhile down in Houston, The Astros are rebuilding and everybody and their mother knows it. They went into the season and made it well known they will not spend in free agency, rather use that money towards the draft. In my recent conversation with ESPN analyst Buster Olney, he said, "rival GMs say what the Astros are doing will produce a juggernaut in the 2-3 years." Although he doesn’t agree with not spending money in free agency, the Astros are doing the right thing. The Astros also lost out on Abreu this offseason, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nobody should be ready to give up on top first base prospect Jonathan Singleton after one down season, and you don't have to pay him 68 million dollars when he does arrive. At least not yet. Along with Singleton, they have completely re stacked the farm system and are built to win sooner than most people believe as they have more top 50 prospects than any other team in baseball. I digress.
Ultimately what is being stated here is the Rangers were a complete bust this year, having World Series aspirations while the Astros were just one giant roster filler until the kids reach the bigs. For the Rangers to completely miss the playoffs this season is a huge let down to that "baseball town" up there in Arlington. The pressure is on GM Jon Daniels to make another splash in free agency this year and if after next season they don’t produce a true playoff winner, maybe it’s time for them to take the Astros route and rebuild through the farm with Jurickson Profar as the cornerstone of the franchise. Your move, Jon.