I, like many of you apparently from the recent diaries, have been thinking about the Rangers future. But as I daydream/procrastinate/waste hot water, I realize that there are a few things that I'm not sure about so I don't even know what the Rangers' options are.
There are certain things that are a given. The Rangers have multiple needs (2-3 starting OF's, DH, and probably 2-3 better starters) before they can be considered contenders. Also, there is a rare opportunity this year to address the organizational lack of talent (unless you want to count some AA and lower) with many high draft picks in a pretty decent draft class. Lastly, we have an owner who lists his first priority as making money (and second and third, too, I'll bet), which has the downside of him not wanting to invest too much in a losing cause, but the upside of not being too afraid to go after big named free agents because he looks at them as attention grabbers.
I've given up on this year. I basically agreed with Adam in that we needed everyone to perform to their expected numbers with 4-5 guys to step it up/mature (McCarthy, Blalock, Tejeda, Cruz, maybe Benoit). However, in addition to Blalock being out, and Cruz, McCarthy and Tejeda being worse than expected/hoped for, our so-called locks have not come through for us (Millwood, Young, maybe Padilla and Kinsler). Since this year is shot, I'm hoping that that they get their prospects up soon so that they can evaluate them (AAA guys only, no AA, NO HURLEY!) In looking to the future, I see two possible scenarios. One involves playing for next year, and the other involves a 2-3 year plan.
In the first scenario, Texas trades away everyone they can who's contract expires after this year. I understand that not many people would be interested in Lofton and Sosa, but take whatever you can get. The emphasis should be on players who are ready as close to the bigs as possible, even if they're relievers. You don't trade Tex unless it's for players who are either in the majors right now or will be by the end of the season. Then, in the offseason, go on a spending spree. There are two problems I see with this plan. The first one is obvious in that you have to get Hicks to open up his wallet (who knows?), outbid other larger market teams (mainly the Yanks and Cubs since the BoSox and Mets seem to be doing pretty well), and convince them to come to a losing team. Hopefully we've kept Tex and we can add 1-2 of the following: A.Jones, A.Dunn, J.Dye, I.Suzuki, B.Abreu, maybe T. Hunter. I understand that those guys are older and will want at least 4 year deals, but realize that we have 3 outfield spots and a DH. So if one of them gets too slow in the field, we can progressively shift them out of it. Also, you've got to add a front of the rotation starter, whether it's by trade or signing (preferably signing Zambrano).
My other question about this plan is, wouldn't the Rangers lose their top draft picks for this method? Wasn't that the problem when they tried to do this last time? Even if the Rangers just sign one of those guys to try to fill CF and replace Tex for the fans (and don't make themselves significantly better), you would still lose what seems to be a pretty good draft pick, right? So, when you combine the loss of the draft pick, I think that's why the Rangers' should be forcing themselves into...
The second option which is a 2-3 year plan. It's hard to plan farther out than that, plus it's depressing. Here you trade everyone as before, but with a focus on players with the most upside, even if they are farther away. Tex is definetly gone, along with others who won't be here in two years. Use this year's draft and next year's high picks (should be 2 picks in the top 35, minimum, right?) to replenish the farm system. This way, by the time 2008 rolls around, the rotation probably includes Millwood, McCarthy, Hurley, Tejeda, and Padilla, but has much better options for the last spot than this year (Loe/Chen/Wright).
But the problem is, this would mean the Rangers have to admit to a rebuilding plan that will last at least 2 years (more like 3) before they are contending. That all but kills this for me, if it weren't for that small little thing about them being 15 games under .500 right now. Obviously this band-aid method isn't working. So let's try it a new way.