As part of the SB Nation MLB awards, the Lone Star Ball community is nominating and voting on the most regrettable Rangers moment in 2014.
It's a sad state of affairs when it is far easier to think of regrettable Rangers moments from this season than it is to remember any funniest moments, but that's where we are. In fact, were you to describe the 2014 season as a whole, you could do worse than simply "Regrettable."
So, let's have some fun and wallow in our depression by voting for the most regrettable moment of the 2014 Rangers season!! Once again, the winning moment will go up against the winning moments of the other team sites later this month when we will determine the most regrettable moment in MLB this year.
Let's get to the nominees!
Signing Shin-Soo Choo
One of hallmarks of the successful Jon Daniels era has been Daniels' avoidance of terrible contracts. Be it Tom Hicks' frugality preventing JD from even trying, or general aversion to being tied down to a bloated budget, JD and the gang have been very good at preventing aging Yankee syndrome. What that has meant is making tough decisions like letting Josh Hamilton walk while showing restraint in the free agency market.
It's no surprise that free agency is a tempting, risky proposition. Free agency is where you can find the most immediate talent for the big league roster with only little green pieces of paper being exchanged. The problems is, those little green pieces of paper are finite and to play in free agency, you have to bring a whole bunch of them. The other problem is, these days, players reaching free agency are either at the tail end of their peak or already past it.
That brings us to Shin-Soo Choo. Choo had a marvelous 2013 season and looked like a solid fit for the Rangers last offseason. The Rangers were looking for a player who gets on base and that had been Choo's specialty. Unfortunately, Choo hurt his ankle and had easily his worst season of his career. Whoops.
For the pleasure of said worst season, the Rangers paid the free agency premium and JD is on the hook for another six years and $116 million dollars. Choo could obviously bounce back to '13 levels of production next season, but with each passing year, that becomes less likely. For 2014, at least, this was a regrettable condemnation for JD's most expensive free agent signee to date.
Tanking the Tank
Boy the Rangers really do choking with aplomb, don't they? After making us miserable all season long by being the worst team in baseball for the majority of the season, the Rangers rallied in mid-September to win a bunch of meaningless games and sink any hopes of a reward for our suffering. What possible reward could there be for being the worst team in baseball? MLB's CBA incentives being terrible by allocating more money for drafting and signing international free agents. Additionally, if you're worst, you get the pick off the litter in the draft.
On the day Ron Washington abruptly resigned, on Sept. 6, the Rangers were 53-89. The Rangers held a "lead" in the reverse standings for worst record in baseball by five games. The Rangers then went 14-8 -- including sweeps of Atlanta, Oakland, and Houston -- under Tim Bogar to finish with the third worst record. To make matters worse, because the Houston Astros failed to sign 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken, they automatically receive the second pick in the 2015 draft. That dropped the Rangers to the fourth pick in the upcoming draft and gives them a drastically smaller budget allocation.
Oh yeah, even though we're a long way away from next June's draft, the current consensus is the top three players in next year's draft class are in a tier pretty far above the rest of the talent. Or, you know, a tier right before where the Rangers will pick now. The Rangers seriously can't even do losing spectacularly right.
Ron Washington's departure
Whether you loved him for his passion for the game, unparalleled millionaire ego babysitting skills, and ability to make being a baseball manager entertaining (virtually a miracle), or if you hated him for poor in-game decisions and bunts, Ron Washington is an indelible part of Texas Rangers history. The sudden resignation of the baseball lifer in mid-Sept. was therefore shocking and ultimately sad.
From the uncomfortable team press conference where JD and the owners took questions while being handcuffed from giving answers, to the news that Wash left because he "wasn't true" to his wife -- with rumors of something perhaps even more sinister -- the quick and secretive exit by the most successful manager in team history ended up being yet another strange tale in the lore of Texas Rangers baseball. In retrospect, it seems like a perfect capper to an otherwise bizarre and awful season.
Converting Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers
The Rangers had great success in the past with converting Kenny Rogers to the rotation from the bullpen. More recently, they transformed C.J. Wilson from a reliever to a quality starting pitcher. Derek Holland is a bullpen graduate -- though to a lesser degree as his future was always as a starter. Alexi Ogando had varying degrees of success moving from the 'pen to the rotation. Sure, the Rangers broke Neftali Feliz with role flip-flopping shenanigans, but that's just because he's lazy, right? Anyone can be a starter if they try hard enough!
After basically the entire rotation came down with the Nolan Ryan voodoo curse by mid-March, the Rangers were faced with the unseemly reality of having Double-A's Nick Martinez in their rotation. What were they supposed to do? Were they supposed to just let Tommy Hanson's arm fly off in Arlington? Instead of that unavoidable disaster, the Rangers chose an avoidable one. The Rangers went back to the convert-a-reliever well and named Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross to the rotation.
Scheppers was a highly regarded starter in college but with an arm made of tissue paper. Robbie Ross was a starter throughout his minor league career but his future and upside in that role was rather dubious. Both pitchers had had success out of the 'pen. Covert! Covert! Covert!
Sadly, but predictably, Scheppers and Ross were pretty terrible as starters. Scheppers looked like he was trying to make sure he didn't get hurt on every pitch before ultimately getting hurt anyway because he's Tanner Scheppers and we all knew he had a limited number of bullets in that gun. Robbie Ross as a starter pretty much just escalated the innings it took before his yearly second half slide at breakneck pace.
While regrettable, one good thing came from trying to convert Scheppers and Ross. The Rangers recently said that they probably won't try converting pitchers all willy nilly anymore.
Trading for Prince Fielder
This one sure made sense at the time, didn't it? Hindsight can be so harsh. The Rangers were in danger of starting the 2014 season with Mitch Moreland at first base for what seemed like the 20th straight season. The Rangers had a stable of young exciting middle infielders just champing at the bit for playing time. The Rangers had a power deficiency that needed to be fixed. The Rangers had just months previously courted Prince Fielder before he signed with the Detroit Tigers. It just made too much sense.
On Nov. 21, the Rangers swapped second baseman Ian Kinsler for Fielder to fill the hole at first base and infuse the lineup with a middle of the order slugger to take aim at the The Ballpark's right field short porch. The added benefit came from opening up a full time spot at second base for baseball's top prospect Jurickson Profar.
Of course, because we can't have nice things, Profar went full Joaquin Arias and came down with season-long shoulder issues. Profar didn't play a single game all year. More terrifying, however, was Fielder hitting exactly three home runs (Hey, still one more than Moreland!) in 48 games before succumbing to season-ending neck surgery.
Now the Rangers are on the hook for another six years and $144 million on the nearing 31-years-old Fielder's contract after experiencing the worst season of his career by far. (This seems to be a reoccurring theme.) On the bright side, at least we know what he looks like naked.
Letting Derek Holland have a dog (or play hockey)
Seriously, it's Derek Holland. I tense up at the thought of him cutting his own steak. Why would you ever let him do anything, much less play hockey? Or own a dog? Or ever leave his house?
When Holland suffered a knee injury that required microfacture surgery while playing with his dog (aptly named Wrigley after the cursed Cubs) on some stairs in his home in January, the season was pretty much over before it began. With Holland out for an undetermined large chunk of the season, the rotation went from one with some question marks to FULL BLOWN PANIC.
The season basically rested on Matt Harrison's creaky back and Colby Lewis' cyborg hip to keep things afloat until Holland could return. Harrison reinjured himself by May and may never pitch again while Lewis experienced the ups and downs of coming back from a ton of injuries. Couple that with the fact that Martin Perez caught the Tommy John pandemic and it became apparent that the Holland injury was the first blow to the bow that eventually sunk the 2014 Texas Rangers.
All of it. The entire thing.
Just all of it. The whole year. The whole team. Everyone but Adrian Beltre. The fact that we're even still talking about 2014 is upsetting.