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The Rockies could learn from the Texas Rangers

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, October 25, 2023

For the first time since 2011, the Texas Rangers are headed to the World Series. In a competitive and thrilling series, the Rangers took down the Houston Astros to win the American League pennant. It has been a thrilling turnaround for a team that lost 94 games just one season ago and 102 games two seasons ago. We’ve often heard how the Rockies could learn from and emulate the success of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Rangers are also another source of knowledge and practice the Rockies could strive to emulate.

A man with a plan

When designing and structuring any sort of building that will be sustainable and strong you need the right kind of architect. No one should settle for Art Vandelay when you could have someone legitimate like Frank Lloyd Wright. Such is the case when it comes to leading executives in charge of composing the field of talent. Chris Young has been exactly what the Rangers needed when they began to make changes as an organization.

Young was hired after the 2020 season as the new general manager. Working under the President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels, the Rangers as a whole were not working. They tried to make some moves but they continually struggled across the board. Daniels had been the GM when the Rangers last went to the World Series but near the end of the 2022 season, he was fired along with manager Chris Woodward. Young then assumed full control of baseball operations heading into the offseason.

“Bottom line is we’re not good, and we haven’t been good for six years,” Rangers owner Ray Davis said in his press conference, “To be competitive going forward, I felt that we needed to make a change...I think Chris will come in with new vigor and new enthusiasm and be able to build an organization that we can be consistent for many years,”

Since then, Young knew a culture change was needed, and with the full support of an owner willing to spend in order to bring in more and more talent, he brought in a new credible manager and pursued elite starting pitching while fostering a place for prospects to grow. Young has ushered in a new culture of winning and the results speak for themselves.

A new skipper

The hiring of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy played a big role for the Rangers. The three-time World Series-winning manager brought not only a pedigree of managerial success, but a calming influence to coax as much talent as he could out of his roster. He was a perfect manager, rarely is that the case with anyone, but his blend of old-school tactics with the use of new-age information helped the team perform at an excellent rate.

A manager like Bochy obviously can help with the recruitment of players and with the roster that the Rangers put together, especially on the pitching end of things, Bochy utilized his team the best way he knew how. Along with Bochy came the opportunity to bring in other personnel to his coaching staff such as the return of Mike Maddux who helped the Rangers starting pitchers return to form and go from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.

Bochy and Young worked in tandem to create the best roster possible and also commit to the pieces available. They stuck with rookies and younger players at positions for the majority of the year. If a young player proved he was ready, like Evan Carter, he was promoted and became a regular in the lineup. There was no false loyalty to an underperforming veteran. They put out the best product that was going to help them win day after day.

Talent Acquisition

The story of Young’s first offseason as the man in charge was his pursuit of pitching. Prior to the season, he spent big to bring in Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jacob deGrom. Even though deGrom lasted just a few starts in April before injury, he was still effective as Eovaldi and Heaney had strong years in the rotation. In the postseason, Eovaldi has been dominant and helped stave off elimination in Game Six of the ALCS.

Then, knowing the team needed more and the window was open, Young went out and traded for Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. Scherzer did fine down the stretch but dealt with injury. However, he showed up in the clutch at the start of Game Seven of the ALCS. Montgomery had a great year with the St. Louis Cardinals before joining the Rangers where he continued to be dominant and a key piece in the playoffs.

The free-agent acquisitions by the Rangers have mostly paid off. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are a powerful offensive tandem while the pitching corps has become a dominant factor. They have merged the blend of quantity and quality when it comes to pitching and it has helped them get to this point in time.

Mix in the fact that their prospects are developing and low-risk pickups are finally blossoming, and Young has rarely missed thus far on the talent he has acquired. Choosing to spend on quality talent, and knowing how to improve existing talent makes a world of difference for a team that wants to contend.

Lessons learned?

As you read this I’m sure you’ve been able to draw your own conclusions as to how this all pertains to the Rockies. As I wrote not long ago, the impact of leadership can’t be ignored. Chris Young is effective because he’s not only a modern GM who was also a former player, but he’s aggressive and has a vision for what he wants the team to be. He is then able to do that because his owner doesn’t meddle and provides the necessary support to write the checks and facilitate the action.

That support then bleeds down to making sure the right man is in charge of the clubhouse. The Rangers cleaned house after six years of not being good, perhaps the Rockies should follow suit in some way. That same philosophy then bleeds to the roster as the Rockies have to make serious decisions. The Rockies last had a winning season in 2018 and it has gotten worse each season since. A bold new approach to roster construction is needed to change the culture and find out how to win as an organization.

The Rockies have spent money, but it hasn’t been spent wisely. The Rangers have spent wise money to increase their payroll. They have a strong blend of prospect/homegrown talent in conjunction with free-agent stars. Can we ever say the same about the Rockies?

While the Rangers prepare to play in the World Series, the Rockies once again are destined to sit and watch at home. The path is laid out before them, but it’s up to Dick Monfort and company to look outside of themselves and learn from the lessons being taught by others.


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