At the All-Star Break, the Texas Rangers are 50-38, in first place in the A.L. West, and with a 4.5 game lead on Anaheim, despite getting swept at home by the lowly Orioles in the last series before the break.
Texas has been a fairly balanced team this year, third in the league runs scored as a result of being fourth in both on base percentage and slugging percentage, while being seventh in the league in runs allowed. The offense has been led by Josh Hamilton, who is performing at an MVP-type level, while Nelson Cruz and Vlad Guerrero each have an OPS over 900. The starting rotation has been a mixed bag, with Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson putting up sparkling ERAs while Rich Harden and Scott Feldman have lagged behind. The bullpen is loaded with power arms, though, and the Rangers defense - led by 21 year old All Star Elvis Andrus - has been good enough to help compensate for some of the weaknesses in the rotation.
The Rangers would be buyers right now, except it looks like they've already done their shopping. Texas acquired Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for Chris Ray and Michael Main, a controversial deal among Rangers fans, many of whom do not see Molina as an upgrade over Matt Treanor and Max Ramirez. Oh, and there's that Cliff Lee guy the Rangers went and got last week. You might have heard about that.
The biggest hindrance right now to the Rangers making any additional moves is the muddled ownership situation. The team is in bankruptcy, and its budget is being overseen by MLB, which has been having to advance the organization money to pay its bills. As a result, the Rangers can take on very little in the way of additional payroll, which is why Texas had to pay a steeper price in the Molina and Lee trades in order to get its trade partners to absorb more of the salaries of the players Texas was acquiring.
One thing that the Rangers have been in the market for all year, and will likely continue to pursue at the trade deadline, is a right handed bench bat, preferably one that can play first base. Chris Davis, who started the season as the team's first baseman before getting demoted in April, has been called back up to replace Justin Smoak, who was dealt to Seattle. However, the Rangers have no real viable option behind the lefthanded Davis, and could use a righty who can play some first base as an insurance policy, and also to pinch hit late in games.
What the Rangers have to trade are pitchers, pitchers, pitchers. The Rangers are particularly stacked in two categories. First, relievers who are near major league ready...the Rangers could shop hard-throwing righties Pedro Strop, Guillermo Moscoso, Omar Beltre, Warner Madrigal, or Evan Reed, and lefties Zach Phillips, Ben Snyder, Clay Rapada, or Kasey Kiker, and not even impact the major league bullpen. The Rangers dipped into this group when they included Josh Lueke in the Lee trade.
In addition, the Rangers are loaded with live arms in A-ball, even after parting with Michael Main in the Molina deal. Wilmer Font, Robbie Ross, Robbie Erlin, Wilfredo Boscan, Carlos Pimentel, Matt Thompson, Joe Wieland, Richard Bleier, Braden Tullis, Neil Ramirez, Jake Brigham...the Rangers are loaded with guys in the lower levels who have major league potential, and who could be potential trade chips at the deadline.
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