I know that very few of us considered this team to be a true contender for the World Series this year. I think that most of our hopes going into the season went something like: "Well, if our more veteran players (Millwood, Padilla, Otsuka, Young, Tex) perform how we think they should, we just need some of our younger players (McCarthy, Tejeda, Benoit, Kinsler, Cruz) to perform close to their potential to contend for the AL West."
Obviously, this is not happening.
But it makes me wonder, what if the Rangers front office had approached this season differently? What if, instead of trying to sell us on the small chance that this team could contend for the AL West title, they had just told us (and acted accordingly) that this was a re-building year? From their signing of Gagne and Sosa, it seems apparent that they were trying to convince us that the Rangers were not that far away from the Angels and A's. They waste at bats with Sosa that could go to younger prospects and they waste money with Gagne because neither will likely be here next year.
It's not that it was impossible for this team to contend, it was just unlikely. Our lineup is much worse than it's been over the last few years (I'm still confused as to why there's so much consternation over why "we aren't hitting", I know players aren't at their averages yet, but it's not like it's the NYY/BOS lineup here) and our rotation was dependant on two/three young guys stepping up in a big way. How is this that much different from the Seattle or KC rotation?
Has it been so long since the Rangers have been true contenders that we forgot what it looks like? Usually, it involves teams with top 5 ERA's (Oakland, LAA, Detroit, Minnesota, etc) or ridiculous hitting (the Yankees last year scored 60 more runs than Cleveland, who scored the second most). Assembling an average lineup while calling an above average pitcher an ace, a barely average pitcher a No. 2, and then filling out the rest of the rotation with kids is NOT a contender. It's a developing team.
It's not that I mind the idea of rebuilding. And I think that most Rangers fans are ok with this. But for whatever reason, the Rangers tried to convince us at the beginning of the season that they could contend this year, and (not suprisingly) it just isn't the case. Whether they're worried that Tex will leave if they called this year a rebuilding year (stupid), or thought that the AL West is weak this year (it is, but there were still 2 teams better on paper going into the season), or that their attendance dropoff from last year would continue (mediocrity kills, successful long term plans can work, see: Detroit), why didn't they just call this season a rebuilding year? That way, you could have either saved the Lofton/Gagne money for next year for a true star (A. Jones, Zambrano?) or invested into the draft (to try to catch up with Boston and New York's ridiculous spending there).
Honestly, this would have made me feel better and probably caused me to attend MORE games, not less. The idea of watching a team grow from kids to stars is much more appealing than watching senior citizens (Lofton, Sosa) squeeze some more money out of their careers. Plus, with the experience gained by the younger kids (Botts and maybe Diaz to go along with Cruz, Kinsler, McCarthy, Tejeda, and Loe) to along with the idea of signing at least one big star in the offseason and calling Hurley up sometime in the second half next year, I like their chances. At least it seems like a cohesive, long-term plan that you could stick to. Which is something you haven't exactly been able to say in the past few years.