The Texas Rangers used to be nothing but an afterthought in this town. They used to be back-page news after the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks. They were a side show when you had nothing to do on a weeknight or on a weekend.
In other words, they were the loveable losers. Not much was expected of them, and not much was given.
Now that the calendar has turned to 2013, expectations have gone from “not much” to “not enough.” In the last three seasons, the Texas Rangers have won two American League West division titles, two American League pennants, and been two World Series, each of them not ending in their favor.
You can see why expectations have changed. Not that it’s a bad thing, but maybe too much is expected. Maybe expectations have reached the levels that is usually reserved for the Dallas Cowboys. Though some wish expectations for the Cowboys wouldn’t be as high as they are but that’s a different story for a different day.
The question I have to wonder is, have the expectations reached a level they never should have reached? I understand where they are because of the back-to-back appearances in the big show, but after a disappointing 2012 season, fans should realize they aren’t the New York Yankees. They aren’t going to be the belle of the ball every year.
With just under two months until spring training arrives and the team losing more players than they’ve been able to replace, some are wondering if this team is rebuilding instead of reloading. You didn’t think they were going to keep up this pace did you?
Josh Hamilton has moved on to Anaheim, Michael Young was traded to Philadelphia and was joined by Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara signed in Boston and could be joined shortly by Mike Napoli. Not a mass exodus, but one bad enough to notice.
The only big name the Rangers have brought in is former Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and they tried to wrap Geovany Soto and Eli Whiteside in a nice little bow to present them as legitimate Christmas presents. It didn’t fool anyone.
With a pitching staff that boasts a Japanese right-hander coming off his first season in Major League Baseball, a young left-hander who goes from looking like an ace to looking like someone who fits at the back end of a rotation and not the front, another left-hander who makes the word “inconsistent” seem like a compliment, and a reliever turned starter turned reliever turned starter again.
Give anyone the warm fuzzies going into the 2013 season? No? Didn’t think so.
How about a bullpen that boasts a 38-year old closer who’s almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery, a reliever who is coming off two surgeries of his own and won’t be ready to go until late May or early June, a left-hander who is getting more talk of being a starter and not a reliever even with starting experience, and a host of others who were average at best this past season.
Not feeling much better, huh?
There is some silver lining in all of this, there are still moves that can be made to make this team better. Moves they may not make, but at least it’s some sort of hope to hang on to.
I’m not going to tell you things you want to hear, and I’m not going to tell you to expect much of anything from this Rangers club in 2013. I don’t want to say the team is rebuilding, but with each passing day, and each passing opportunity to sign another player, I can’t help but wonder if every bit of the pressure is going to go straight onto the shoulders of Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt. That’s a lot of pressure to put on two young, but very hyped, players.
But, if the Rangers feel strongly enough about these two young men, then maybe the pressure will make them better. Or maybe that pressure will be too much to bare.
They aren’t the loveable losers anymore, but don’t expect them to be world champions either. At least not yet.