For the past two seasons, the Texas Rangers have had to agonize in late October, watching other teams win World Series titles while they walk away empty-handed.
Part of the reason Texas hasn’t gotten over the hump is that the team has never had a roster that could compete in a National League ballpark.
In the 2011 World Series, the Rangers bench players went 1-for-12 with a .083 batting average. Conversely, the Cardinals bench went 7-for-16 for a .438 average.
When you are counting on Esteban German and Endy Chavez for production—guys who had just 267 at-bats all season—you are going to struggle to produce anything from the pinch hitter role.
This season, the Rangers have had some luck with Brandon Snyder as a pinch hitter, as well as Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry. This should allow them to finally compete in a National League park in October.
However, the bigger problem this season is not going to be the pinch hitters Texas can bring in, but rather the lack of depth in terms of being able to step up for injured players.
When the Rangers played 20 games in 20 days, they played .500 baseball. A lot of that was due to minor injuries to Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre and the inability to replace them both at the plate and the field.
Alberto Gonzalez performed well in the field, making a couple of dazzling plays, but he could not find his groove at the plate when he filled in for Beltre after the Rangers star third baseman tweaked his oft injured hamstring.
Craig Gentry and David Murphy have actually played relatively well in the outfield, but Murphy will never be able to make the spectacular plays that Hamilton does. He just doesn’t have the tools.
Texas may escape the major injury bug and get by with what they have, but they really should be trying to make a move through a trade to solidify the bench and for insurance against injury to one of their stars.
The addition of Roy Oswalt helps the Rangers make this move. They now have some expendable parts in the bullpen that could be turned into a top-tier utility infielder like a Mark DeRosa or Jerry Hairston Jr., who are both former Rangers.
The depth on this team is enough to be able to finally compete in the World Series and win it, but it is not enough to survive a major injury to any of the team’s stars without some help.