With the Texas Rangers again at the bottom of the AL standings, general manager Jon Daniels is ready for a more critical look at the team.
The Rangers have lost eight of their last 11 games, even after a 2-1 win Monday night to end Houston’s 10-game winning streak. At 9-16 under new manager Jeff Banister, they have six fewer wins than at the same point last season when they finished with an American League-high 95 losses.
“We took the approach the first few weeks of patience and I’m glad we did, let things play out a little bit, give guys a chance to get their feet under them. It has not really picked up with an exception of a few individuals,” Daniels said before Monday’s game.
“I think in conversations with our group, we’re going to take a little more critical look at things over this road trip,” he said. “We need to start seeing some production.”
During a 20-minute conference call, Daniels said he still believes in his team. But while there have been flashes of good play, there have also been too many lapses in focus, with repeated mistakes and a lack of execution at times.
“If it was one thing that was easily identified and fixed, we’d have addressed it already,” he said, without elaborating on possible changes.
With 2010 AL MVP and five-time All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton still a few weeks away from rejoining his former team, Texas is hitting a majors-low .216. Eight of the current 13 position players are under .200 – Prince Fielder, at .354 and among top 10 in the majors, is the only regular above .300 after missing most of last season because of neck surgery. The team has an AL-high 24 errors.
Ace pitcher Yu Darvish had Tommy John surgery after throwing only one inning in spring training. Left-handed starter Derek Holland is still a couple of months from returning from a shoulder issue that sidelined him after his only inning in the home opener.
Daniels said he regrets being so reliant on a young and so-far inconsistent bullpen. The 4.47 ERA for Texas relievers is second-worst in the AL, and their six blown saves match Miami for most in the majors.
“When you’re dealing with a number of young players, and a number of guys that missed quite a bit of last season from a health standpoint, I think patience was warranted,” Daniels said. “But we’re in month two. … It’s no panic, nothing like that. It’s just a reality. I want to see guys turn the corner, see the results of the hard work pay off.”
Beating Houston to start a seven-game road trip was a good step, but the Rangers are still the only team in the majors without consecutive victories. Their .360 winning percentage is better than only Milwaukee. The Brewers have already fired their manager, but that won’t happen in Texas.
Daniels is pleased with Banister’s performance as a first-time manager in the big leagues, from how he communicates with players to working with the staff to prepare players.
“He’s a competitor, and he wants to win, and he understands that there are going to be bumps in the road,” Daniels said. “There’s a lot of time left. But I think it’s time to pick it up a notch and lock in and get going. He shares the feeling.”