Geovany Soto stopped the Texas Rangers' free fall on Monday night with an improbable walk-off home run. The fact that the team is depending on its backup catcher for such heroics attests to what a huge mistake it was to acquire Matt Garza instead of an impact hitter prior to the 2013 trade deadline.
The ugly offensive trends have been impossible to ignore. Look at these discouraging July numbers (past 24 games):
|Stat||AL Rank in July|
*Courtesy of MLB.com
That doesn't even tell the whole story.
Consider that 14 of the 24 contests were played at Rangers Ballpark, which typically yields high run totals. Texas has totaled double-digit hits just twice since the All-Star break while being shut out three times at the right hands of Hiroki Kuorda, Justin Masterson and—gulp—Ubaldo Jimenez.
David Murphy's ongoing struggles against southpaws and Lance Berkman's career-threatening injuries should have convinced general manager Jon Daniels to save his top prospects for a difference-making position player.
His patience ran thin, however, as Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and others went to the Windy City in exchange for Garza.
To be fair, the red-hot rental is making a positive impact through two starts with the Rangers (14.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 11 K). No opposing lineup can intimidate this 29-year-old who has spent most of his career in the American League.
Still, the Rangers should have resisted temptation and waited for their rotation reinforcements. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports that Matt Harrison is cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment, and then there's this update on Neftali Feliz from skipper Ron Washington:
Wash on Feliz: "The target is August the 2nd, he should be through with all his rehab, and that should be when he can start competing"— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) July 24, 2013
Meanwhile, Texas doesn't have any prominent internal options to ignite the lineup. (No, Manny Ramirez isn't "prominent" anymore.)
After shedding so many prospects for Garza, doing the same for reputable targets like Hunter Pence or Alex Rios carries the risk of completely depleting the farm system. Using closer Joe Nathan as a trade chip—the front office tried that last weekend, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram—made even less sense.
Now, the Rangers face long odds of returning to the postseason, all because their priorities weren't in the appropriate order.