I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door: There’s a reason 24-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus’ contract runs out after 2014 and may not be renewed. Andrus is a good, young, shortstop, but Jurickson Profar is a better one. Profar is 20 and from the island of Curacao, off the South American coast. Last year the island sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Braves. It’s a good bet major-league teams who aren’t scouting the island — who knew proficiency in Dutch would be an attribute for a baseball scout? — will be making more of a commitment. Profar homered on the first of his 17 big-league at-bats last year — he hit 14, walked 66 times, stole 14 bases and batted .281 as a 19-year-old in AA. None of this is a surprise to anyone who watches the Little League World Series — Profar’s Curacao team won in 2004 when he was 11, and lost in the finals in 2005 when he was 12.
What is this man doing here? The Rangers only signed veteran Derek Lowe in the aftermath of 21-year-old Martin Perez’s fractured arm. To which we can only ask: Why bother? If Lowe’s sinkerball was dropping as rapidly as his career path, he might still be effective. He led the National League in losses in 2011 with 17 and lost 10 of his 21 starts for the Indians before they released him in 2012. Haters should have known as soon as the Yankees signed Lowe last summer, they weren’t winning. Lowe’s ERA hasn’t been less than 5.05 since 2010, and hasn’t been less than 4.00 since 2008, his last good season. Forget about Lowe’s two shutout innings Friday. He’s 39 and will turn 40 on June 1. Rangers’ fans can only hope he’s not celebrating as a Ranger.
What he said: Rangers manager Ron Washington: “I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.” What he meant: “Are we still talking about Game 6? Or are you asking me how we blew the AL West last year.”
Outlook: The Rangers have lost star players to free agency in each of the last two years — pitcher C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton to the Angels and damaged-goods catcher Mike Napoli and pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Red Sox — and it’s bothered them far less than memories of the World Series they had won but didn’t.
Of course, it’s easy to be frugal when your farm system is rich, and the Rangers’ is (are you listening Elvis Andrus?). Consider these next-generation Rangers:
There’s no reason to spend millions on every salary when investments are returning prospects. Of course, the Rangers’ problem isn’t philosophy so much as completion.
Last year, in its own way, was as embarrassing as 2011. Which is worse: to lose a World Series when a strike away, or a division by being swept away? (We opt for the former.)
It seems a distant memory that the Rangers were favored to return to the World Series as late as last September. Perhaps there’s less suffering by such an early collapse.
Hamilton will be missed, but the Rangers led MLB in runs scored last year. They can spare a few. They can’t spare innings though — both Ogando and Robbie Ross, staples of the bullpen in 2012, might start in 2013. And Neftali Feliz, who started last year, might return to the bullpen, if he ever returns from injury. We’re not sure which is more traumatic.
The Rangers may not be as good as the last couple of years, but not just because of Hamilton’s departure. They’re short of pitching, and patching up the rotation by borrowing from the bullpen might hurt both.
Still, there’s plenty of talent, and with all the youth, just as many options. We’re not so sure about persistence.
Team song: Alanis Morissette: Incomplete