For years, when the Texas Rangers were mentioned in conversations, names like Michael Young and Ian Kinsler came to mind almost immediately.
Other words came to mind when mentioning the Rangers in recent memory like ‘winning,’ ‘World Series’ and ‘consistency.’ We know all about the Rangers of recent memory as they went to back-to-back World Series during the 2010 and 2011 seasons and lost both, which was followed by late-season flameouts and watching key players sign elsewhere as free agents.
The Texas farm system is widely lauded as one of the better systems in baseball, and the Rangers have slowly but surely transitioned from a veteran-laden team to a younger team with less experience.
Kinsler was the latest to experience this first-hand as he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers this winter for Prince Fielder in what was widely considered as a salary dump by Detroit and a move to make way for Profar in Texas. Kinsler was one of the game’s best offensive second baseman, but has tailed off offensively of late after a couple of 30-home run seasons.
Now 31, Kinsler is looking to prove he is still a solid second baseman, and not the player that was asked to move to the outfield to make way for Profar.
Kinsler was recently interviewed by ESPN the Magazine regarding the trade that went down this winter, and he certainly had a lot to say about his old team. Kinsler voiced his concerns about the team’s direction in recent years, criticized the stripping down of players that occurred when the Rangers opted to go young when their older veterans walked away.
This left Kinsler as the lone veteran in the room, which he never seemed to take to and claimed he was “bogged down” by the responsibility that comes with being a veteran in a room full of younger players. Kinsler also criticized how Nolan Ryan left the Rangers organization and called GM Jon Daniels a “sleazeball.”
Kinsler said a lot of things about other people, that much is obvious. However, the most Kinsler said about anything was his character, which makes it easy to see why he was dealt.
When one is a veteran player with a decade of major league experience, like Kinsler, there is an expectation, fair or unfair, that he should step up and become a leader. That is a burden that some players embrace, some avoid, and some take on reluctantly. Kinsler took it reluctantly and it shows in his words.
He saw his own struggles as the main issue in his mind, and felt as though he should not be bothered with policing the Rangers clubhouse and showing younger players how to stick in the major leagues. Kinsler also said he was expected to lead young players when all he should be concerned about is how to end his own struggles. And who can blame him — it’s not like baseball is a team sport, right?
What Kinsler revealed in this interview goes far beyond the words he articulated. This is nothing short of a me-first player being put into a situation they never believed they should be put in, and shrugged off responsibility to other veteran players. Kinsler is obviously self-absorbed and completely uninterested in doing anything that involved putting himself in the back seat, whether it is giving a young player advice or being any kind of leader.
It is easy to see why the Rangers traded Kinsler, and Detroit may have made a big mistake in acquiring him.