Here’s Evan Grant’s attempt at a weekly Rangers newsletter to keep you on top of all the news and catch you up on anything you may have missed.
This remains a work in progress and we are eager to engage and tailor it to you, the readers. If there is a feature you’d like to see added or something that doesn’t work for you, email Evan at [email protected].
In less than a week, Elvis Andrus should be back in the Rangers lineup. That will trigger other decisions about the Rangers infield, especially about the future.
Here is what I think I know: Given playing time together in the infield, Jurickson Profar has outplayed Rougned Odor.
But not well enough.
In this season, which is not actually about this season at all, it’s easy to be fooled by even the slightest improvements in play. Yes, Profar has been an offensive improvement over the still-disappointing Odor. But it’s more complicated than that. This season is now about figuring out the long-term future and it’s hard to see where Profar has made a compelling case to be part of that.
Entering Wednesday’s game at Los Angeles, Profar was hitting .242 with a .304 OBP and .762 OPS since moving into the everyday lineup on April 13. It’s a significant improvement over Odor’s similar slash-line elements over the last two seasons: .206/.257/.637. It’s just not significant enough.
The Rangers have a long-term investment in Odor, who has shown some small signs of finally “getting it” in the last two weeks. The Rangers could have him under control through 2023 for, all things considered, pretty reasonable costs whereas Profar is going to be eligible for free agency after 2020. Odor is a year younger and has two full seasons with a higher OPS than what Profar has shown. Odor’s power, which admittedly has not been visible this year, trumps any singular tool Profar has displayed.
I know what you are thinking: But what about shortstop?
The Rangers have a shortstop in Andrus who could opt for free agency after the year. Even if he doesn’t, he’s about to turn 30. Doesn’t Profar fit as a replacement for him? And if Andrus stays, then he could move to third base and Profar could play short and then the Rangers would have a solution to the impending departure of Adrian Beltre.
The thing is: Andrus, despite being five years older, still appears to be a significant defensive upgrade over Profar at short. Of the 25 qualifying shortstops, according to fangraphs.com, Profar ranks 22nd in the defensive runs saved category at -8.
Perhaps, you say, DRS is a projection stat and not an actual stat. OK, well, there is this: He leads all MLB shortstops in errors with 12. There are two guys, the Chicago White Sox Tim Anderson and Oakland’s Marcus Semien, with 11. They have both played at least 90 more innings at short than Profar. Next is a group at eight. They have all played more than 100 innings at short than Profar. The point: Profar has not been very good defensively. Case in point: He simply rushed and threw wildly for error No. 12 Tuesday on what should have been a double play. It extended a big Dodgers inning.
I know you’ve got one other question: Why not send Odor down to send him a message and play Profar for a while?
To this, I would say: Fair point. On the plus side, maybe Profar would raise his trade value a bit by staying in the lineup regularly, too. Ultimately, though, Profar’s value is not great and not going to get significantly greater. Odor is still more part of the future. Profar hasn’t made a clear and compelling case for the Rangers to change directions. Players are smart enough to pick up on this. Send Odor down and it comes across as nothing more than punitive and you risk losing the player’s belief in you.
The bottom line is the Rangers have finally given Jurickson Profar the long-term look he always deserved. He has done OK but has not seized the opportunity.
Best of the worst
In the moment we have all waited for this season, Bartolo Colon grounded to the pitcher with the bases loaded in the second inning Tuesday in his first at-bat as a Ranger. Alas, there was no repeat of the earth-shaking homer he hit in 2016. In fact, Colon is, statistically-speaking, the worst-hitting pitcher to ever hit a homer (minimum 250 career at-bats). The five lowest batting averages of all-time among pitchers who have homered:
Scouts honor: With the Rangers’ season pretty much a hopeless mess just a month in, we decided to spend more time focusing on the draft and, in particular, the scouting process. Pretty proud of the package of stories we put together. The last piece, however, ran after the draft. It was a look at who I got a chance to see with scouting director Kip Fagg and where they ended up going.
Speaking of: The Rangers signed their top five draft picks on Tuesday. It’s notable that not only did they get the guy they really wanted in the first round – high school right-hander Cole Winn – but they also got him well below slot value. That savings helped them sign Forney’s Mason Englert, who will bypass a commitment to Texas A&M to join the organization for a cool $1 million bonus. The Rangers loaded up on high school picks early in the draft and it may have been part of a strategy to exploit an undervalued market. The thought being: So many clubs are now focused on analytics and analytics tend to favor more experienced college kids than the projection that goes along with high school kids. Only time will tell if they were right.
Up next: Now that the draft is done, let’s move along to the next topic: Firesale! I expect Cole Hamels will be the Rangers’ most desirable piece, even though he’s giving up homers like hot dogs at a Costco. Despite the homers, his value is going up. Here are five spots that make sense.
Me: Let’s see: The last time the Rangers went into a new park, they came up with bold new uniforms and changed their primary colors to red. And it was glorious. The hats and helmets popped. The logo became more sophisticated. And, of course, they added a few more dollars to the MLB licensing and apparel coffers. It could be argued that at that time, the organization was taking a step into the world of MLB legitimacy. But it could also be argued, additional revenue streams are good for ownership.
The Rangers have traditionally made some kind of tweak every five to eight years. And they started wearing their current primary logo in 2014. For the five years before that, the block letting style and “TEXAS” were the same. The only difference is the blue doesn’t quite bleed so much into the red piping. I imagine some kind of tweak will be forthcoming either for the opening of the park in 2020 or the 50th anniversary season.
My hope is that nothing is done with the font. I think it’s exceptional. As for colors, I’ve always favored red as the primary color, but I’m an interloper. So I could live with that. One thing I saw recently that really caught my eye was that the St. Louis Cardinals somehow found a way to make the best uniform logo in baseball pop even more. On home unis, not sure if this was for a throwback day or an alternate top, there was piping along the seams where buttons on the jersey met. It ran the length of the jersey and around the collar. Retro. Hip. Sharp.
Photo of the week
This Topic is Missing Your Voice.