<
>

It's up to the bats if Rangers are to hang in

Let's be honest: This injury news makes expecting a run at the AL West title, let alone the wild card, pretty unlikely for the Texas Rangers.

But that's not a good enough reason to surrender the season and move on, either. After all, teams have made runs under unlikely circumstances before. And while it's easy for some fans, not to mention columnists -- see this story from the not-so-hopeful Jean-Jacques Taylor -- to go ahead and end the season before Memorial Day, the Rangers players, manager and coaching staff don't have that luxury.

So, realistically, what's the path to this team hanging around and perhaps making a run at one of the two wild-card spots? The offense. We can talk all we want about Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez doing what they can on the mound in replacing Martin Perez and Matt Harrison, but if the bats don't start swinging, it won't matter.

Now that the planned rotation in December has just one remaining member, Yu Darvish, it's time for the bats to start carrying more of the load for this team. The Rangers made headlines this offseason with the signings of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder. Choo has been consistently solid as the club's leadoff hitter, even fighting through an ankle injury.

Texas is 11th in the AL in runs scored, in part because the club can't generate much power. Only the Kansas City Royals have fewer home runs than the Rangers' 26. The club is 10th in slugging percentage and third in average.

It's not just about Fielder, who is hitting the ball well of late, or Choo. It has to be Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios. Why do I single those guys out? Because it can't and won't come down to Josh Wilson or Robinson Chirinos or Donnie Murphy. No, this offense comes down to its star players. The big boys have to get the job done.

If you're hoping that help is on the way at the trade deadline, I don't think that's a smart approach at this point. General manager Jon Daniels should wait and see what this club looks like in the next month or two before making any decisions. And even then, you have to hang on to prospects that can help you long-term rather than give up some of them for a short-term fix. It would have to be a unique deal to trade off some of those pieces at the lower end of the system that appear to have such bright futures.

No, it's up to the group in the organization now. More specifically, it's up to those hitters. It's time for Choo, Andrus, Beltre, Fielder and Rios to push the accelerator and help this team score more runs, especially with the current condition of the rotation. If the Rangers are to hang in the playoff chase, the bats must carry them.