Thursday Newsletter time: 'It sucks, but we’re not going to quit.' After 100th loss, Chris Woodward sees World Series in Rangers' future
The manager says no one wants to be associated with a 100-loss season, and hopes everyone uses it as motivation to improve.
The inevitable arrived Wednesday night, in the same long, mistake-filled fashion as the season itself. The Texas Rangers lost their 100th game, 7-2, in just under 3 1/2 hours.
Everyone knew it was coming, though not on Opening Day and not when they were 18-18 on May 9. The 12-game skid to open the second half, followed by the July trades of Joey Gallo, Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, put 100 into the realm of possibility.
Now, it’s reality.
“If it’s 99 or 101 or whatever it is, it still sucks either way,” manager Chris Woodward said. “There’s no sugarcoating that. It is triple digits, and it’s something this organization hasn’t done in a long time. Obviously, nobody here is proud that they’re associated with that. And I like to use things like that as motivation. I don’t want to go through that again.”
At 58-100 and with a .367 winning percentage, the 2021 Rangers are the third-worst team in club history, ahead of only the first two Rangers teams in 1972 (54-100, .351) and 1973 (57-105, .352).
The worst the Rangers can finish is 58-104. They will draft either third or fourth in 2022, depending on how the Pittsburgh Pirates (59-99) finish.
Would another Jung, Josh’s little brother Jace, be available there? (Listen to Josh talk about Jace on the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast.)
We’ll find out in July, when we will also know if the Rangers signed any big-name free agents or failed and thus put them on track for another top-five draft pick.
The goal now is to get to Sunday, take a few days off, and get back to work. It’s going to be a busy offseason after a 100-loss season.
“A lot of guys here will be on our team next year in some capacity. I want that to fuel their fire,” Woodward said. “We’ve got to do a lot of things better next year, including every one of these players. We’ve got to be better as a staff. I’ve got to manage better.
“It’s a failure. It sucks, but we’re not going to quit. I have 100% belief in this organization and where we’re going to get. We will win a championship at some point, hopefully soon. So, this 100-loss season we’ll not forget, but it’ll make that World Series championship a little sweeter.”
Andrus trade revisited
Future Rangers Hall of Fame member Elvis Andrus underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a fracture in his left leg that ended his first season with Oakland.
He wasn’t productive at the plate for a second straight season, batting only .243 with three homers and a .614 OPS after a terrible start.
The Rangers sent him and catcher Aramis Garcia to Oakland on Feb. 6 during my son’s basketball game for designated hitter Khris Davis, catcher Jonah Heim and minor-league right-hander Dane Acker.
Essentially, it was swap of Andrus’ big salary for Davis’ big salary.
The Rangers released Davis in June. Acker underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Heim has been on the big-league roster all season, but is batting only .193 with nine homers and a .579 OPS. He’s been very good behind the plate at framing pitches.
It’s hard to say anyone won the trade, but here’s an interesting (at least to me) thought: Would the Rangers have made the trade, or moved Andrus off of shortstop early in the offseason, had they known Josh Jung would not make his MLB debut this season?
Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been an upgrade defensively, but Andrus was the most popular Rangers player. The sense was Kiner-Falefa was moved to shortstop and no full-time third baseman was acquired in anticipation of a midseason promotion for Jung.
Instead, Jung had surgery in March for a stress fracture in his left foot and didn’t play until early June at Double A Frisco. Kiner-Falefa won the Gold Glove at third base last season and has been more productive than the Brock Holt-Charlie Culberson platoon at third.
The Rangers wouldn’t have Heim had they not made the trade and would be on the hook for all of Andrus’ $14 million next season instead of the $7.25 million they are sending to Oakland. Heim is going to be in a three-man catching competition at some point next season, with Jose Trevino and heralded prospect Sam Huff.
Oakland, meanwhile, needs a minor miracle to reach the postseason and might be looking for an upgrade at shortstop this offseason.
Heim is going to get better and Acker is going to heal. Right now, though, no one has won the trade.
The Monday off day really threw me off. All day Tuesday I thought it was Monday, and lo and behold, it’s already Thursday. If you’re like me and need to play catch-up, don’t fret. Here is some quality Newsletter work in case you missed it.
If you really want it, go and get it like this pup. Enjoy. See you Friday.