Unless you are Randy Galloway, or some mindless facsimile drone thereof, it's likely you have at least some confidence in the direction of the Texas Rangers moving forward. When I'm being overly critical of myself (which is often), it's easy to notice my level of optimism for the Rangers is abnormally high, but even I have a hard time rationalizing that 2014 was a lost season through any cause other than an abundance of injuries. Jon Daniels detractors like to cite not bringing back Nelson Cruz, or for trading Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, as the reason(s) Texas didn't compete. And they are missing the point.
Back in May, Keith Law wrote (Insider required) that the Rangers should shop Adrian Beltre, citing: "It's reasonable to expect to have to at least retool at some point in any 10-year span, and the injuries may force the Rangers to look at 2014 in that way -- the same way the Red Sox, a team with the financial wherewithal to compete every year, had to concede 2012..."
That, I believe, is what the Rangers front office had to reconcile with itself before going ahead with their course of action this year. Which is really to say they didn't do much of anything. Comparing Texas of 2014 to the Red Sox of 2012 could prove prescient, as Boston went on to win the World Series in '13, exactly where Daniels and the Rangers front office are trying to steer their own organization in '15.
The panicked, reactionary faction of the fan base would have preferred a complete stripping of the foundation of the franchise. To do this, Texas would have had to commit to the idea that they wouldn't win a title while Yu Darvish was under contract (through 2016 or '17), and thus would have looked to move him, Beltre, Elvis Andrus, and made attempts at dumping Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder.
In reality, they didn't even trade Alex Rios or Neal Cotts -- two veritable locks to get moved by the deadline -- and wound up shipping only Joakim Soria (to the Tigers) and Jason Frasor (to the Royals). Of everything that transpired during 2014, by not executing a fire sale the Rangers declared they have no plans of going anywhere over the next few years.
A day after Baseball America placed nine Rangers prospects on their Carolina League top-20 list, they put five Rangers prospects on the top-20 in the Texas League. (More specifically the top-12.)
Joey Gallo checks in at #1 on both lists, and by the time 2015 gets underway we're very likely to see him as a unanimous top-25 prospect in MLB, if not higher. Jorge Alfaro, the odds-on favorite to be the starting catcher on Opening Day 2016 (if only for the fact there are no other obvious candidates), was #2 on the Carolina League top-20, and it's probably he's a top-40 guy on most boards heading into next year. Those are the two gems on the farm.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara, 19, ended the season at Double-A Frisco, and he figures to be the #3 prospect in 2015. Other notable names to keep an eye on are RHPs Chi Chi Gonzalez, Luke Jackson and Jake Thompson, OFs Lewis Brinson and Nick Williams, and there are a bevy of others. The list goes on. There's an excellent chance the Rangers enter next year with a top-5 farm system, wedged somewhere behind the Cubs and Twins.
Like I mentioned, I'm an optimist. But when you follow a team like the Rangers, like I do, it's a lot easier to be optimistic than anything else. Sure, there have been more crippling blows to this franchise than most (if not all) others over the last five years, like two World Series losses in '10 and '11, two rough collapses in '12 and '13, and a terrible injury-plagued year in 2014. But the roster is still seriously loaded, given a little health fortune, and, unlike this year, the reinforcements are on the way. The depth isn't here yet, but it's coming.