|2007 Postmortem: The Texas Rangers||| Print |||Send|
Written by Rob Swift (Contact & Archive) on December 06, 2007
Home Runs: Sammy Sosa - 21
Average: Michael Young - .315
RBI: Michael Young - 94
Runs: Ian Kinsler - 96
Steals: Ian Kinsler - 23
Wins: Kevin Millwood - 10
ERA: Kason Gabbard â€“ 4.65
Strikeouts: Kevin Millwood â€“ 123
Saves: CJ Wilson - 12
Highlight of the season: On June 14th, the Rangers played what looked like an insignificant inter-league game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and won by a score of 6-0.Â Unknown at the time to everyone in the organization, this victory would be the turning point of their season.Â The problem was, by this point the team was 20 games under .500 and 17.5 games out of first place.Â The good news is, for the rest of the season, the Rangers would go 52-45.Â The bad news was, the hole they dug themselves into was too deep to get out of and they finished last in the American League West.
Low point of the season: The day before the high point.Â One June 13th, the team hit rock bottom by losing the second of the three game interleague series with the Pirates by a score of 8-1.Â It appeared at this point, with a winning percentage of .364, the Rangers were the worst team in baseball.Â The team just could not seem to sustain any prolonged success; for every two games won in a row they would follow it with a four game losing streak.Â And make no mistake: This was a team that many people predicted would contend for the playoffs in 2007.
Best move of the season: On July 31st the team traded Eric Gagne to the Red Sox and Mark Teixeira to the Braves.Â In return they received a total of eight players including LHP Kason Gabbard and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia who were in the starting lineup from day one.Â The other six players are mid-to-high-level prospects.Â The smart move was getting rid of Gagne who the team could live without due to the depth in their bullpen.Â And since they would not have been able to match the kind of money Teixeira would have commanded on the free agent market, they got five players to make up for the loss.
Worst move of the season: On December 23rd of the 2006 offseason, the Rangers and the White Sox completed what in essence was a pitching prospect trade. The two primaries were LHP Jon Danks from Texas for 6â€™7â€ť RHP Brandon McCarthy from the White Sox.Â I donâ€™t know if getting rid of Danks was the right way to go or the wrong way, but what I can tell you is that trading him for McCarthy was definitely not a good gamble.Â As a starter in 22 games he went 5-10 with 59 strikeouts with a 4.52 ERA.Â In 101 innings pitched which were 17 more than in â€™06, he struck out 10 fewer batters, walked 15 more, and averaged more than a hit per inning.
Danks didnâ€™t fare much better, but it was his first season in the majors and his performance was pretty even the entire year.Â This could work out well for both team in the future but as far as the present goes it did not make sense to me.Â I donâ€™t see how trading a top level left handed starter, who was a first round draft choice, for a right handed starter who had yet to live up to his potential was a smart trade.
Key Player:Â Despite the poor output from the team in 2007, there were a few players that had above average seasons offensively.Â Surprisingly, Sammy Sosa lived up to his claim that he still had some bounce left in his bat.Â In 114 games as the Designated Hitter, he led the team in home runs with 21, was second in RBI with 92 and doubles with 24, and tied for third with 104 hits.Â
Marlon Byrd was a nice surprise for the team with 10 HR, 70 RBI, and a .307 BA and he accomplished that in only 109 games. Last but not least was Ian Kinsler who completely avoided the sophomore slump after placing seventh in the 2006 Rookie of the Year voting.Â Kinsler hit 20 HRs, 61 RBI, 22 doubles, and stole 23 bags despite missing 28 games during July due to a stress fracture in his left foot.
Up and Coming Player: Of all the players acquired in the Gagne and Teixeira trades as well as the Rangersâ€™ home grown prospects, I would say the player who stands to make the biggest impact would have to be Jarrod Saltalamacchia.Â He will start the season at first base but is being counted on eventually becoming the teamâ€™s full time catcher, a position that has been lacking offensively since the â€śPudgeâ€ť Rodriguez era. In 93 games between Atlanta and Texas last season, he displayed the kind of numbers that the Braves thought he was capable of when they drafted him with the 36th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft.Â Now that he is playing in the launch pad known as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, he should be able to avoid the dreaded â€śsophomore slumpâ€ť and make people forget about Mark Teixeira.
What went right: Despite the fact that the Rangers were essentially out of the playoffs by the middle of June, manager Ron Washington and the front office took it all in stride, never panicked, and simply planned for the 2008 season.Â Trading Teixeira and Gagne was the smart move and the players they received will help as soon as the 2008 season.
Saltalamacchia is being counted on to take over at catcher down the road. Kason Gabbard is the number four starter and will look to build on the 6-1 record he logged in 15 games last season. Lastly, David Murphy displayed outstanding potential hitting .343 and 12 doubles in only 105 Abs.Â He will battle for the Right Field job with Nelson Cruz but at the very least, start the season as the fourth outfielder.