Restoring the rosters: No. 14 – Texas

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
The Rangers fare surprisingly well here, given their apparent struggles to produce pitching. They actually developed a strong rotation, only to allow other team to reap the benefits.
Ryan Dempster
John Danks
Edinson Volquez
Aaron Harang
Doug Davis
C.J. Wilson
Ramon Ramirez
Scott Feldman
Nick Masset
Darren Oliver
Scott Eyre
Derek Holland
Volquez went 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA as a Ranger, while Davis was 21-21 with a 5.09 ERA. None of the other three starters ever pitched for the team, and only Volquez brought a fair return when moved.
The bullpen is nice, too, in part because of Ramirez’s presence. He signed with the Rangers in 1996, pitched for the team in the Dominican Summer League in 1997 and then didn’t resurface until 2002, when he played in Japan.
Based on his performance this year, Feldman should be in the rotation. However, I’m not completely sold on him as a starter going forward. He’d still be the obvious choice to move into the rotation if anyone gets hurt. However, Holland and Tommy Hunter remain in reserve as well.
CF Julio Borbon
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Carlos Pena
RF Edwin Encarnacion
3B Hank Blalock
C Taylor Teagarden
LF Scott Podsednik
SS Rich Aurilia
DH Travis Hafner
C Ivan Rodriguez
INF Tug Hulett
OF Fernando Tatis
Most wouldn’t guess it, but the Rangers scored more points for pitching than for hitting in these rankings. Kinsler, Teixeira and Pena qualify as stars, but they may be the only above average regulars. Decisions loom everywhere else.
Catcher: Teagarden’s future versus Pudge’s past. I’ll take the youngster, which is what the Rangers seem to be doing right now.
Third base: Blalock, Chris Davis and Encarnacion are all defensively challenged and inconsistent offensively. Blalock seems like the best option at the moment if he’s fit to handle the position, but Davis should be superior going forward.
Shortstop: The biggest problem area. Aurilia and Hulett were the choices, and while Aurilia’s shortstop days should be over, Hulett is really more of a second baseman.
Right field: This is where I struck Encarnacion. I think it makes a lot of sense to try him in the outfield anyway, and he does have the arm for right.
Center field: Borbon’s defense makes him the better option than Podsednik, even if he’s not ready to hit like Podsednik has this year. Then again, Podsednik didn’t seem to have much chance of hitting like he did this year.
Left field: Podsednik, Tatis, John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Brandon Boggs were the options. Podsednik probably won’t ever be this good again, but he still might be the class of that group.
Bench: Hafner and Davis were the options as the team’s top pinch-hitter. Ideally, there’d be room for both, but neither has any outfield experience at all.
I didn’t expect the Rangers to place this well when I started putting together these rankings, but a rotation full of No. 2 and No. 3 starters is able to make up for some significant lack of depth on offense. The actual Rangers, though, are working on just their second over-.500 season of the decade. There’s plenty of blame to spread around. Former GMs Doug Melvin and John Hart both made plenty of mistakes, as did Jon Daniels when he first took over. Owner Tom Hicks opened his wallet in a huge way for Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park and then set the Rangers back years by deciding to turn the team into a mid-market club. Also, let’s save a little blame for those who approved the design of The Ballpark. Developing pitching has been a nightmare for the Rangers, and they’ve typically overpaid for what they’ve brought in through free agency and trades. A kinder environment could have resulted in some wildly different Rangers teams over the last 15 years.

The Days of Chief Wahoo are numbered

Fox Entertainment

One of the more common responses to what I’ve posted about Chief Wahoo lately is “it’s just a cartoon character! Nobody cares!”

Well, looking at that guy in the photo above and many others dressed like him at Progressive Field the past two days is evidence that it is not just a cartoon character. A certain swath of Indians fans think that, because of their team’s name and mascot, it’s totally acceptable to show up in public looking like this. Wahoo as an official trademark of a Major League Baseball club gives people license to dress up in redface — or in this case, red and blackface — with headdresses on, turning a real people and a real culture into a degrading caricature. It’s not just a cartoon character by a long shot. To many it’s a get-out-being-called-a-racist-free card.

As for “nobody cares,” well, yes, someone does. Go read this from Sterling HolyWhiteMountain over at ESPN, talking about both Chief Wahoo as a symbol and America’s treatment and conception of Native Americans as a whole. It’s moving stuff that puts lie to the idea that “nobody cares.” It likewise puts lie to the false choice so many Chief Wahoo defenders reference in which they argue that people should care more about actual injustices visited upon Native Americans and not mascots. One can and should care about those injustices. And one can do that while simultaneously finding Chief Wahoo to be an odious symbol that serves to dehumanize people. Once people are dehumanized, it’s far easier to treat them as something less-than-human, of course.

But it’s not just Native Americans or anti-Wahoo folks like me who care. While I have been critical of Major League Baseball for not taking its own stand against Wahoo publicly, it seems pretty clear at this point that the league is weary of Wahoo and is looking to pressure the Indians to eliminate it. Last night, at the Hank Aaron Award ceremony, Manfred spoke more expansively about Wahoo than he did the day before. Manfred is a lawyer and he does not choose his words carelessly. Read this and parse it carefully:

“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.

“I’ve talked to Mr. [Indians owner and CEO Paul] Dolan about this issue. We’ve agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we’ll go from there. At this point in this context, I’m just not prepared to say more.”

Yes, he’s still trying to be diplomatic, but note how he (a) acknowledges that Wahoo is offensive to some people; (b) that “all of us at Major League Baseball understand why” and (c) does not validate the views of those who do not find it offensive. He acknowledges that they feel that way due to history, but he does not say, as I inferred from his previous comments the day before, that both sides have merit. Indeed, he says he’d like to hear Paul Dolan’s side, suggesting that while he’ll listen to argument, he doesn’t buy the argument as it has yet to be put.

I still wish that MLB would come out hard and strong against Wahoo publicly, but the more I listen to Manfred on this and read between the lines, the more I suspect that Major League Baseball is finally fed up with Wahoo and that it wants to do something to get rid of it. That it’s not just the hobby horse of pinko liberals like me. I believe Manfred realizes that, in 2016, Chief Wahoo is an embarrassment to an organization like Major League Baseball. Maybe, because of p.r. and political considerations, he doesn’t want to stand on a soapbox about it at the World Series, but I believe he wants to put an end to it all the same.

You can call me names for being against Wahoo all you want. But you can’t say it’s a non-issue. You can’t say that it’s just a cartoon character and you can’t say that nobody cares. To do that is an exercise in denial. I have come to believe that Major League Baseball cares and that it’s going to push hard to make the 2016 World Series the last time it is embarrassed by anachronistic racism on its biggest stage ever again.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.