COMMENTARY | Much was said about the Texas Rangers not adding a right-handed power hitter in the days immediately following the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
General manager Jon Daniels was hard at work, however, and the Rangers have acquired several players to load up for the stretch run. The Rangers have been a hot team since falling a season-high 6 games behind the Oakland A's in the American League West on July 29, winning 17 of 21 games and reclaiming first place in the division.
Daniels deserves credit for making improvements as the Rangers have rediscovered how to win after forgetting how for much of June and July. The deals started on July 22 with the Rangers getting starting pitcher Matt Garza from the Cubs in exchange for prospects Justin Grimm, Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, and a player to be named. The price paid for Garza was steep, but the Rangers have won 5 out of Garza's first 6 starts, and he has averaged 7 innings per start.
The trade deadline came and went without Daniels making a move. On Aug. 5, the Rangers' leading home run hitter and run producer, right fielder Nelson Cruz, was suspended for the remainder of the season for PED use. Four days later, on Aug. 9, the Rangers made another high-profile trade when they acquired right fielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for infield prospect Leury Garcia. Rios, a 10-year veteran who has never played in the postseason, went 4-for-7 with 3 runs scored in his first 2 games with the Rangers.
In some less-heralded moves, Daniels claimed infielder Adam Rosales off waivers from Oakland twice in a 2-week period. The Rangers also purchased left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley from Houston and they won the first game he started, which coincidentally was against Houston. Blackley was strictly a reliever for the Astros, but he did have success as a starter for Oakland last year. In fact, 4 of his 8 major-league wins have come against the Rangers.
With starting pitchers Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison shut down for the year; another starter, Alexi Ogando, not in any position to contribute; and Nelson Cruz now on the sideline, Daniels needed to do something to keep the Rangers from completely folding in the last 6 weeks of the season like they did last year. The A's slumped for the first half of August, but the Rangers cannot count on that to continue, especially from a team that has been traditionally hot in the second half since the turn of the century.
Daniels needed to make the moves he did if for no other reason than to reassure his team that the Rangers' front office is committed to winning a championship. So far, his team has responded.
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.
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