Since an acceptable trip to New York
and Boston to
start the month, the Rangers have gone 15 for 90 with runners in scoring
position. That’s a .167 batting average
in those 13 games. Roughly one hit per game
with a runner on second and/or third, and just seven opportunities a
While the cast is not exactly the same as last year’s, this
lineup features many of the same players who contributed a year ago to a league-leading
offense that hit .287 with runners in scoring position (third best in baseball)
and slugged .476 (best in the league).
In June, the Rangers are hitting a collective
.218/.277/.363. That’s roughly what Craig
Monroe (.215/.287/.354) was hitting before Pittsburgh designated him for assignment this
You can bullet-point lots of remarkable numbers to tell the
story, or simply watch this club take its at-bats most nights lately. It’s an anemia, a pandemic anemia, that features
a dizzying array of swings and misses, bad counts, lazy pop-ups, and
While the stakes are obviously not the same, the last time we’ve
seen this brand of offensive baseball here, it seems, was in the three playoff
series against the Yankees late in the last decade, before anyone in the
current lineup was in the major leagues.
Fortunately, May was so good for this team, and the pitching
and defense have been so consistent this season, that it wasn’t until late last
night that Texas surrendered its sole lead of first place in the West, a perch
it now shares with the Angels after 47 straight days looking down at the rest
of the division.
Five days from now the Angels stop in for a three-game set
in Arlington, and after three with the Rays we head to Los Angeles for three at
the Angels’ place and then four in Seattle, against a Mariners club that is now
just 2.5 games back. Those 10 games against
Los Angeles and Seattle are very big. Not just because of the head-to-head
showdowns, but also because of where they land on the schedule.
The good thing about this amazing run of unproductive offense
(count on me to seek out the positive) is that it has happened in June. If it were July 24 today, and this club were tied for first in the West, the
pressure to make an impact trade or two would be greater, and based on what
this trade market looks like, it would probably cost more to get something
meaningful done than it should, even for July, in prospects.
Maybe we’ll know a lot more about where this thing is headed
after those 10 with the Angels and Mariners, and unless the hitting starts to
catch up with the pitching and defense, the result in the standings will relax any
urge to make a short-term strike . . . though I’m confident that a two-month
rental pickup has never been a strong consideration, even when the Rangers had
the league’s best record early this month.
trading for C.C. Sabathia last July was not the model. His contract expired after the season.
Boston acquiring Jason Bay
last July was. Two pennant races.
and Mark Teixeira in July 2007: Same thing.
The Rangers aren’t as good as they were playing a month ago,
and aren’t as bad as things look now. I’d
still like to see a deal made – the bullpen is still the priority and appears,
according to several local stories, to be the area most conducive to a
reasonable July trade – because if this team can right itself, there’s still a
chance to be a factor in September. Doesn’t
need to be a blockbuster deal, and it shouldn’t be. Darren O’Day and Jason Grilli upgraded this bullpen
at the cost of $60,000.
(And yes, I think Neftali Feliz is getting closer to
figuring into the equation.)
Once you fight through the disgust of watching your team play
bad ball for an extended stretch – and I think we’d all agree that even disgust
beats apathy – the fact remains that, for all of this team’s extremes, it does
share a division lead. So of course
there’s a chance to get into October.
But lots has to change in the second half, particularly with
the bats. It doesn’t need to be as
dramatic a change as we’ve seen in the wrong direction this month, but this loss
of consciousness at the plate can’t go on.
The problem on offense is obviously something that one trade could never
cure, and it goes much deeper than the absence of Josh Hamilton.
If there weren’t a track record for most of these players to
be more productive than they’ve been in June, then maybe there would be a lot
more apathy out there than disgust. With
Arizona (Dan Haren tonight) and San Diego on the immediate schedule, followed
by 10 of 13 with the Angels and Mariners as this club heads into the All-Star
Break, it’s time to take what the numbers reveal, and what the eyes can see, and
what the players and coaches recognize, and figure out what adjustments need to
be made and execute them. Time to do a
better job getting on base and moving around on them.