MLB: 7 Reasons Nolan Ryan Will Bring a Championship to Texas Within 5 Years
The Rangers can't do anything about those last two trips to the World Series, so let's look to the future.
The American League is tough, but there is no reason to think they can't make more attempts in the coming years. The Rangers have quickly become one of the model organizations in baseball. They have a solid roster, ownership and front office.
The leader is Nolan Ryan, who is the face of the organization. Here are some reasons why he will lead Texas to a championship in the next five years.
The Rangers have a collection of young players who should be around to help the team chase championships for a number of years.
Just look at the rotation. After 32-year-old Colby Lewis, Texas does not have another starter in the rotation over the age of 26. The Rangers will probably tell you that these players (Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz) have yet to tap into their full potential.
There is also young talent sprinkled into the lineup. Elvis Andrus is entering his fourth year in the league and already has an All-Star appearance on his resume, all before his 24th birthday. Mitch Moreland is still somewhat a work in progress at age 26. But if he couples his solid play in the field with more consistency at the plate, he could give the Rangers another All-Star-caliber slugger in the lineup.
Ian Kinsler is also in his prime. He is fresh of signing a five-year extension with the team. The second baseman is a multiple-time All-Star and has hit 30 homers and stolen 30 bases in the same season twice. He has also yet to turn 30 years old.
Texas has a lot of young players on the major league roster, but there is also a well of developing talent in the farm system.
The system is ranked seventh in the major leagues by Keith Law. This is pretty amazing, considering the number of prospects that have been called up the last few years (Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Elvis Andrus to name a few).
This is a testament to Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and the rest of the Rangers’ scouting and development staff. With a number of players with expiring contracts, like Josh Hamilton, Colby Lewis and Mike Napoli, it will serve the team well to have players who are ready to make an impact.
Texas can also use their loaded system as a way to improve the ballclub via trade. Should the situation present itself like it has the last two years, the Rangers’ could trade a prospect or two for a player who can be essential to a title push.
You can't talk about the Rangers' success and future without mentioning the job Nolan Ryan has done.
Ryan has ushered in a new culture in Texas. He has had an enormous impact on the pitching staff in particular. In 2007, the year before he arrived as president, the Rangers ranked 11th in the AL in ERA, 12th in shutouts and had no complete games.
Compare that to 2011, when Texas pitchers ranked fifth in ERA, first in shutouts and had 10 complete games. It makes it a lot easier to win games with numbers like that (Texas finished last in the AL West in 2007 by the way).
Also give credit to Rangers' pitching coach Mike Maddux for the turnaround.
Then, there's the work Jon Daniels and his staff are doing.
At age 28, Daniels was the youngest GM in history of baseball. He overcame a shaky start and has pulled off some of the best transactions in the history of the franchise. He traded Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a group of prospects who have turned into staples on the Rangers’ roster (Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison). He traded for a then unknown Josh Hamilton, which turned out pretty well. Daniels also snatched Cliff Lee right from under the Yankees during the 2010 trade deadline.
He also made key acquisitions of Mike Adams and Koji Uehara in 2011 instead of dealing top prospects for a half-season loan of Heath Bell. Uehara has not turned out so well, but Adams is a big key in the bullpen.
In other words, the Rangers are in good hands while Jon Daniels is running things. He has helped construct a team built for the long term.
After the owner and front office, the Texas' skipper is also key in delivering a championship. Ron Washington might not be your typical manager, but he gets results doing things his way.
The Rangers were regulars at the bottom of the division when he took over, now they are a team with ample playoff experience. Texas has improved their record in each of his five seasons. Washington's 18 playoff wins are easily the most in club history.
He is a player's coach and the team seems to love playing for him. If the Rangers are going to win the World Series, they will need to keep to their good organizational structure, which includes Ron Washington at the helm.
Texas made a lot of headlines in 2010 when they signed a new television contract with Fox Sports Southwest that was worth an estimated $1.6 billion. The deal begins in 2015. This contract will put the team at the top of the league, with the exception of teams like Boston and New York.
With an abundance of talent and a boatload of cash, there is no telling where the ceiling for this organization can be. The trick is not to spend it like Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow so eloquently described as “drunken sailors.” This might be a little easier since Tom Hicks is no longer around.
Dallas/Fort Worth is a big market and the Rangers look like they will finally have the pocketbook of a big market team.
Additional Wild Card
This new playoff format has its issues for sure, but that is not the point of this slide.
The addition of a second wild card basically means that one extra team every season can fight for a championship instead of watching at home. It also puts a lot of pressure on teams to win their division because no one wants to play in the one-game playoff.
This can be negative for the Rangers, but it also presents opportunities. The main objective is to make it into the playoffs, after that anything can happen. The team that gets hot at the end of the season is usually the most dangerous. The extra wild card gives every team in contention this opportunity, including Texas.
The Rangers have a tough fight in their division. Should they not win it, at least the battle with teams like Boston, New York and Tampa Bay looks a little less daunting when there is an extra playoff spot open.
The best team in the MLB regular season rarely wins the World Series in today’s game. As mentioned earlier, the extra opportunity to make the playoffs can give Texas chance to get hot and win that championship that has eluded them.