Texas Rangers and the Business of Baseball

Jon Daniels needs to make the tough decisions this offseason (Image: Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

The Texas Rangers have some decisions to make during the 2015 offseason to change this team into a perennial contender and some of those decisions may be the hardest this front office has ever had to make.

But, for general manager Jon Daniels, it might be time to make those decisions.

There are fan favorites on this team and players who have made themselves a part of the community in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex, but that doesn’t always mean that they are going to remain with the team for their entire career. In fact, these days that has become extremely rare.

Baseball isn’t personal, it’s a business.

That doesn’t just have to do with the front offices around baseball, it has to do with players as well. While most of them will be rather upset about being traded or the team making a decision not to sign them, they are quick to point out that this sport is a business the moment they decide to take the most money or sign with a different team.

It goes both ways.

For Daniels, it’s time to look at this team like a business deal and make the best decision for this team going forward. There’s one decision in particular that will be extremely difficult because of how much this player is beloved in this area, how much he always makes himself available to the media, and how relatable he is to the fans themselves.

But, for Derek Holland, his days of being a Texas Ranger may have to come to an end for everything that has nothing to do with what he does off the field. It isn’t personal, it’s a business.

Holland has missed the majority of the last two seasons and while he looked every bit like the dominant left-hander we all knew he could be at the end of the 2014 season, he looked anything but this season down the stretch when the team needed him the most. Over his final six starts of the 2015 season, Holland gave up a combined 30 earned runs in 30.1 innings pitched and gave up four or more runs in five of those six starts

When the Rangers needed him to come up with the biggest start of the year, Holland was as flat as could be giving up six earned runs over just two innings of work against the Toronto Blue Jays in game 4 of the American League Divisional Series. It was that loss that allowed Toronto to take the series back home for game 5 where the Rangers would find themselves going home earlier than they had hoped.

You can look ahead to the 2016 season and hope that Holland will finally be healthy to start the year and do so with left-hander Cole Hamels as well as getting Yu Darvish back from Tommy John surgery some time in May. But can they count on Holland to be that solid, dominant, left-hander?

That’s the question that makes my opinion shift into another direction. I like Derek personally, you won’t find many professional athletes like him. But, like I said before, this is a business. It’s not personal.

If I’m the Rangers’ general manager I would start calling around and gauging interest in Holland on the trade market and what other teams would be willing to give back. Maybe another power bat in the outfield, especially since the team can’t exactly rely on Josh Hamilton to play every day nor can they count on his bat which disappeared down the stretch as well.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is of the opinion that the Rangers should pick up the phone and dial the number for Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane and ask what it would take for them to part ways with Sonny Gray. Grant says it won’t be cheap, that much is for sure, but could you include Holland in a deal to bring in one of the best young starters in the game?

But Holland isn’t the only business decision the Rangers need to make. This one might be equally as hard especially seeing what veteran right-hander Colby Lewis has done for this team over the years. I wasn’t a fan of bringing him back this past year and my opinion remains unchanged going into this offseason.

It’s time to move on. You might be able to get Lewis to “eat up innings,” but as I told someone before the 2015 season began, you can find a better version of that guy. I know there are plenty of you who are wondering what names I might be interested in and even more of you who think I’m just going to go with, “there have to be a few guys out there they can choose from.”

Scott Kazmir, John Lackey, Doug Fister, Chris Young, or if Daniels wants to be so bold as to pony up more money for guys like David PriceJeff Samardzija or Zack Greinke who is expected to opt out of the remaining three years on his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Assuming Martin Perez is in the starting rotation plans, the Rangers would need a number five starter and the Rangers need to go in another direction that doesn’t include Lewis being in those plans. He’s been a lot of things to this team especially in their back-to-back trips to the World Series in 2010 and 2011 but we’re going on four and five years respectively.

Lackey and Kazmir both had big years and both might be huge additions to this team especially with both being Texas kids. It would also give the Rangers two starters who could not only fill in the missing spots in the rotation but also stem the tide until Yu Darvish returns from surgery.

One of the biggest reasons for the Rangers having to win the AL West on the final day of the season was due to the lack of pitching not only in the rotation but also in the bullpen early on in the season. Sure this team wasn’t expected to even get to the 70-win mark by most of the national media before this season began, but there were some of us who expected more than that.

Going into next season, the expectations to return to the playoffs will be there within almost the entire fan base. But that only becomes a reality if the Rangers’ front office makes the moves necessary to become a very different team than the one that lied down and played dead over the final three games of the ALDS.

In this game, there are tough decisions to make and some of them come with a lot of heartache and a lot of wondering if the right decision was made.

For Jon Daniels, the time has come to make those decisions. They won’t be easy, but they will be necessary.

It’s not personal. It’s just business.

About Todd Kaufmann

Growing up in San Diego, CA, Todd made the move to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 2008. Since then, he has covered events such as the Byron Nelson Classic, the Colonial Tournament, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, numerous home games for the Texas Rangers as well as high school football around the metroplex. You can also find some of his written work in the weekly Prosper Times and monthly Prosper Magazine. He and his wife Kerri make their home in Little Elm, Texas with their daughter, Hannah, and yellow lab, Ranger. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | More Posts

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