The Texas Rangers aren’t the first team in MLB history to take on an organizational rebuild in the hopes of winning a World Series.
Among them, most notably to Rangers fans, is the Houston Astros, who from 2011 to 2013 failed to win 60 games a season. They won the World Series in 2017, the legitimacy of their title now doubted by some, but there’s no doubting the Astros were and are good.
Another rebuilder that has opened its window as a contender is the San Diego Padres, another team of interest to Rangers fans.
Padres general manager, A.J. Preller arrived from the Rangers’ front office in 2014 and tried to win right away before going into a rebuild. Preller hired former Rangers coach Jayce Tingler before last season, when the Padres snapped their 14-year playoff drought.
San Diego is officially in go-for-it mode, having added to the roster via free agency and trades, but is still armed with a young lineup and talented farm system.
That plan is one the Rangers, and others currently rebuilding, hope to duplicate.
Judging by the past three days at Globe Life Field, the Rangers have a long way to go.
The Padres completed a three-game weekend sweep of the Rangers on Sunday with a 2-0 victory in which the Rangers couldn’t get anything going against the San Diego bullpen after its starting pitcher left injured in the first inning.
“We’re at where they were a few years ago,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I guess it depends on how quickly do we develop our guys. We have some guys that haven’t necessarily established themselves as regular, everyday guys. From the pitching side, I feel like we have a lot of talent.
“But we’re not far off. I don’t think that at all. We have a really competitive group. Hopefully guys take a big step forward this year. That’s the key, and then we’ll see where we’re at next year.”
The Rangers’ goal this season is for their young players to develop to the point where the front office believes a young core is in place and needs to be complemented with veterans acquired via free agency and trade.
It’s too early to pencil anyone down for 2022 or scratch anyone from consideration.
Center fielder Leody Taveras is better than his .080 average, and right-hander Kyle Cody is better than his 6.75 ERA.
But they’re still young, which means they’re prone to inconsistencies and pressing and not having the experience to navigate through certain game situations or tough times.
That showed in the Rangers’ offensive approach after Padres left-hander Adrian Morejon left with two outs in the first inning with a forearm strain.
The Rangers were into the Padres’ bullpen, but they never made the relievers work.
“They had their starter go out in the first inning, and we had their bullpen the whole game,” Woodward said. “That’s on us. We’ve got to do a better job, knowing that they’re thin. That’s what I was most disappointed about.”
Mike Foltynewicz (0-2) gave the Rangers a chance. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits in seven innings in his second start since signing in the offseason. As he finished, the Rangers’ offense started applying pressure.
Jose Trevino was on third with one out in the seventh for Anderson Tejeda, who struck out on the three pitches. After Taveras was hit by a pitch, Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out.
The Rangers had the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth, an inning in which Eli White was caught trying to steal second on a call that stood after a review, but pinch hitter Ronald Guzman struck out.
Tejeda, White and Guzman were trying to make something happen, and Woodward isn’t faulting them for it. But they might be trapped by inconsistency and trying to do too much.
“That’s part of being a youthful, inexperienced team,” Woodward said. “They’re all trying to prove something.”
The Rangers are scheduled to play their next four games at Tampa Bay, the defending American League champions. Another tough test is ahead.
That’s a good thing for a team that needs to keep playing and keep learning if it’s going to move the rebuild plan forward.
“The games are going to keep coming at us, and that’s the beautiful thing about the MLB season,” Woodward said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself, and the beautiful thing is we have a game tomorrow.
“We lost three in a row. We felt like we were playing well coming in. You’ve got to move on. You’ve got to keep playing. You’ve got to keep grinding.”