MLB: Texas Rangers at the Break

Jordan HofeditzAnalyst IJuly 15, 2008

It’s the All-Star Break and the Rangers aren’t sitting in last place in the AL East. That is good news; they are 7.5 games back of division leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim though. The Rangers are showing signs of fight and excitement that hasn’t been seen in The Dallas- Ft. Worth area since the playoff teams of the late 1990s.

The Rangers are sending four players to the All-Star Game, Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young. Hamilton was the leading vote getter in the outfield, starting and put on a show in the Home Run Derby. Bradley gets the start due to David Ortiz’s injury and Kinsler and Young will come off the bench.

Along with them, the Rangers have gotten significant production from a young core of players. David Murphy, Brandon Boggs, Chris Davis and Max Ramirez have all stepped up in either everyday roles or when needed.

Murphy would be headed for a Rookie of the Year campaign if it weren’t for a third baseman in Tampa with an eerily similar name as a famous desperate housewife. Boggs has seen significant playing time as a member of an ever-changing, ever-productive outfield.

Davis is fitting the big, powerful, home run hitting first baseman Texas fans are used to seeing and Ramirez is quickly developing hero-like status at the Ballpark due to receiving some brutal blows at home plate and not only living to tell about it, but holding on to the ball and getting the out.

With the offense coming from every spot in the batting lineup it is no surprise that the Rangers lead the league in runs scored, including 12 in their final game before the break against the White Sox.

However, since those playoff years of the late 90s, and names on the mound like Aaron Sele who had 19 wins in 1998 and 18 in 1999 and Rick Helling who had a 20 win campaign in 1998. Not since then have, the Rangers had an ace in his prime. Which is why it is also not a surprise that the Rangers lead the league in runs allowed, including 11 in the game against Chicago.

Kevin Millwood is trying to fill that role this season and for the past few years, but has not been very successful. Vicente Padilla is also a veteran of the pitching staff who shows signs of consistency, but then comes an injury or a meltdown on the mound. The Rangers need young names like Edinson Volquez or John Danks.

Oh wait, the Rangers used to have them. No one can blame General Manager John Daniels too much for the Volquez trade because it brought Hamilton to the Rangers. However, it just shows that the Rangers have been too willing to give up good, young pitching in the past.

Now that has come back to bite Texas as they are barely able to piece together a rotation. So the Rangers now have a decision to make half way through the season, are they buyers or sellers?

They should be buyers. This is the closest the Rangers have looked to a playoff caliber team in years. They have shown that they can win the close games, as well as blow teams away. The problem is that, of course, it will come at a cost. They might have to give up a Davis or a Ramirez to bring in a number one starter.

However, that just might be worth it. With Laird coming back from the Disabled List and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Rangers are pretty deep at catcher. Davis has shown his ability to play in the majors. However, the Rangers could be getting Hank Blalock back sometime soon, who would make the move to first base. They also have Frank Catalanotto.

In addition, this team can afford to lose some of the firepower from the lineup if they can get a pitcher in the starting rotation that can shut the other team down. Now's the time to make a move, and the Rangers need to pull the trigger and bring playoff baseball back to DFW.