By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Oh, the Rangers were still among the league leaders in home runs, but despite an increase in stolen bases were unable to manufacture cheap runs mainly because they led the AL in strikeouts. You can count on one finger the times that the Rangers' bats kept them from the post-season. This one.
With the Rangers' offense deader than Saturn, their margin for error proved too small.
In other words, despite his past and his popularity, Jaramillo must go. And with him, left-handed relieving flop Eddie Guardado and the cranky, under-achieving Hank Blalock.
Without an infusion of money, which might lead to the addition of a right-handed bat via free agency, next year's Rangers are going to look a lot like this year's. And that's good news.
The pitching rotation should include Kevin Millwood, Feldman, Hunter, Derek Holland and Feliz, with McCarthy, O'Day, C.J. Wilson and Frankie Francisco leading a solid bullpen.
Catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden proved adequate, Chris Davis re-discovered his swing, Ian Kinsler had a 30 homers/30 stolen bases season at second base, Andrus will likely be Rookie of the Year at shortstop and Young is the unequivocal team leader at third. In the outfield the Rangers should have David Murphy, Marlon Byrd (who they need to re-sign), Borbon, Cruz and Hamilton.
The key to it all, of course, is Hamilton.
It's amazing the Rangers stayed relevant for so long this year considering their best player contributed only 10 homers and 54 RBI in 89 games because of various injuries. Consider that in 2008 he had 54 RBI by May 27.
The question: Is Josh Hamilton the feel-good, play-great story from '08? Or the injury-riddled disappointment who last January sloughed off his celebrity sobriety for a night of binge drinking in Arizona and on the field made the Rangers' front office seem shrewd for not signing him to a lucrative contract?
For the Rangers to be next year's champion, Hamilton must be as durable as he is dominant. If not, all this teasing will deteriorate into torment.