Organizational Rankings: #12

One quick note – for those of you wondering why these are so different from the “organizational rankings” I did on USS Mariner in 2007, it’s clearly a different criteria, which is explicitly stated in the explanation of that post. And, if you’re one of the 0.1% actually leaving intelligent responses in the comments section, I’m sorry, but for obvious reasons, they’re getting lost in the noise of the masses.

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners
#14: Philadelphia Phillies
#13: Los Angeles Dodgers

#12: Texas Rangers

Ownership: B-

Since Tom Hicks bought the Rangers, he’s poured a mountain of money into the franchise. The “buy a ton of free agents” plan didn’t work out, so now, he’s allowed the front office to develop talent internally, but the capital will still be there when they need it. Budget problems won’t be an issue as long as Hicks owns the team. He’s been too involved in some personnel decisions (the Michael Young contract, for instance) and the hiring of Nolan Ryan to serve as a check on GM Jon Daniels just added an extra chef to the kitchen, but Hicks isn’t overly meddlesome, mostly allowing the front office to do its job.

Front Office: B

Let’s just get this out of the way – Daniels has made some really bad trades, no question. The Adrian Gonzalez deal and the John Danks deal were bad moves that blew up in his face. But focusing on just those two moves hides a track record of identifying young talent and building a solid foundation for the future – he turned Ricardo Rodriguez into Vicente Padilla, Kenny Lofton into Max Ramirez, Mark Teixeira into Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, and Jarrod Saltlamacchia (seriously, holy crap), and Eric Gagne into David Murphy and Engel Beltre. He identified Josh Hamilton as a franchise cornerstone, and though he paid a steep price in Edinson Volquez, building around an outfielder is smarter than building around a pitcher. The Rangers front office has done a good job of accumulating talent, and there are some smart people working in Arlington. If you just judge them on their recent win loss record, you’re missing the bigger picture – the Rangers are an organization on the upswing, and they’ll be reaping the rewards of their hard work shortly.

Major League Talent: C

From the perspective of a young core, the Rangers have a top notch group. Hamilton, Kinsler, Davis, Cruz, and the Saltalamacchia/Teagardan/Ramirez catching trio give the team impressive young talent at five positions, plus enviable catching depth that they should be able to convert into useful pieces that fit in elsewhere. David Murphy, Marlon Byrd, and Michael Young are solid role players that round out an offense that will be among the league’s best. The problem, as always, is the pitching. Kevin Millwood is the only decent starting pitcher the Rangers have, and he’s not exactly a building block for the future. However, with the team focusing on improving their defense by shifting Young to third and getting a real shortstop into the line-up, the team’s run prevention should be somewhat improved while they wait to develop a couple of arms. They probably won’t win in 2009, but they’re poised to be very dangerous in 2010.

Minor League Talent: A+

It doesn’t getting any better than this. Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, and Elvis Andrus might be the best prospects in the game at their respective positions. Derek Holland, Michael Main, and Martin Perez give the organization talented pitching depth. Engel Beltre and Julio Borbon have to fight to fit into the team’s top 10 prospects, while they’d be the best prospect in other systems. It’s just a ridiculous collection of talent knocking on the door in Arlington. Even with the attrition rate of prospects, they should get two or three franchise cornerstones out of this group, and that might be conservative. This kind of talent depth is similar to what the Rays accumulated a couple of years ago. That worked out okay, I think.

Overall: B

The Rangers have been a punch line for several years, but that’s not going to continue for much longer. With a remarkable group of young talent, an underrated front office, and an owner who isn’t afraid to invest in the product, Texas has the ability to get good in a hurry. By acknowledging their defensive shortcomings, they’ve already made steps in the right direction, re-aligning their talent to give their pitchers a fighting chance. Give them another year of development, and the Rangers are going to be a force in the AL West.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

Who knows what to make of the budget situation. Ever since the “Spend lots of money” plan didn’t work, the Rangers have been reducing their payroll. Despite being in a large market, Tom Hicks has decided to keep a major league budget more in line with the Oakland A’s than the Angels and Mariners.

That being said, where Tom Hicks has not been a scrooge is in signing Latin American players and giving the go ahead to draft players that may be difficult to sign. While they passed on Porcello twice, they don’t show many qualms about going over ‘slot’ in rounds 2-5 or so of the draft.

The new emphasis on defense (at the cost of PR goodwill) and the minor leagues give me hope, which is good, because the past few years have been terrible.