Thursday’s decision by Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery sent a shock wave through Rangers Nation. Fielder is tentatively scheduled to have a herniated disc repaired on Tuesday.
A rash of injuries has all but derailed the Rangers’ playoff hopes. Is the loss of their big first-baseman the final nail in the coffin for the 2014 Texas Rangers?
As irony would have it, the Rangers found themselves visiting Fielder’s old stomping grounds, Comerica Park in Detroit, when the news was announced. Texas got a big 9-2 win on Thursday behind Yu Darvish to move to one game under .500. But the Tigers snapped out of a 4-game funk with a 7-2 win on Friday. Ian Kinsler, who was traded to Detroit for Fielder, went 3 for 4 with three doubles and three runs scored. The former Ranger now boasts a .326/.358/.481 slash line. Fielder’s numbers: .247/.360/.360.
Friday’s loss drops the Rangers to a disappointing 23-25 record for the season. The club now sits seven games behind the division leading Oakland Athletics.
Fielder wasn’t the only member of the Rangers to get bad news on Thursday. It was also announced that 2B Jurickson Profar, one of the top rated prospects in all of baseball, re-injured his throwing shoulder. Profar’s 2014 season is now in jeopardy. The infielders are two of 13 players currently on the Rangers’ disabled list.
The starting rotation has been the hardest hit. Injuries to Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Joe Saunders, and Martin Perez prompted the Rangers to summon Scott Baker from AAA to start last night’s game against the Tigers. In its current configuration, the Rangers’ rotation includes Darvish, Baker, Nick Martinez, Nick Tepesch, and Colby Lewis. Robbie Ross has also made nine starts.
Most of these guys started the season in the minors. Lewis, who has battled injuries for the past couple of years has a 1.745 WHIP in 36 & 2/3 innings. I think it’s safe to say that the Rangers aren’t going to reach the 2014 World Series with this rotation. Perez is out for the year with Tommy John surgery and Harrison is dealing with a career-threatening spinal condition.
Gone are the days when a team can get by on offense alone. And, suffice to say, this isn’t the same Rangers offense that led the club to back-to-back World Series appearances a few years ago. In fact, entering this weekend’s action, the Astros are the only A.L. team with a lower cumulative WAR than the Rangers.
Despite a contribution of $30 million from the Tigers, Texas is still on the hook for $138 million of Fielder’s contract which runs through the 2020 season. The club also signed Shin-Soo Choo to a 7-year, $130 million deal over the winter. That probably doesn’t leave much in the cookie jar for Jon Daniels to go out and make any significant moves. Even though the A.L. Wildcard race looks to be wide open, it would take a minor miracle for the Rangers to get back in contention.