30 Clubs in 30 Days: Texas Rangers

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

rangers1One of the most successful teams in baseball over the last 5 years, the Texas Rangers came within an out of winning their first World Series back in 2011. Since then, two late season gag-jobs have resulted in missed opportunities for the talented franchise. After they blew a multiple game lead over the Oakland Athletics with a week remaining in the season in 2012, the Rangers once again claimed second place behind their northern California brethren in the AL West last year. This year, however, there was no Wild Card game to be played, as Texas succumbed to Tampa Bay in a one-game playoff prior to the postseason beginning.

In order to avoid another disappointing finish, the Rangers went out and made wholesale changes to their roster. First, they dealt longtime All-Star 2B Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for 1B Prince Fielder. The move should pay immediate dividends offensively, as Fielder’s left-handed power stroke is a perfect fit for the friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels then went out and landed one of the biggest fish on the free agent market by signing OF Shin-Soo Choo. A phenomenal leadoff hitter, Choo is expected to provide the Rangers with plenty of walks and very few strikeouts. Just what the doctor ordered for a team with plenty of run producers in the middle-of-the-order.

Surrounding these new additions are familiar faces like Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, and Mitch Moreland.  2013 trade deadline acquisition Alex Rios played well after coming over from Chicago and should be expected to continue to thrive in the heat of Texas. Youngsters Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar round out the order. The latter’s progression being a key reason why Kinsler was viewed as expendable.

There’s little doubt that Texas’ offense should be better. But, what about their rotation? Yu Darvish returns for his third season in America. He is a bonafide ace with terrific stuff. Young Martin Perez, who signed a long term extension with the team, should be expected to play a larger role in the team’s success this season. The rest of the rotation remains somewhat of a mystery. Texas went out and signed inexpensive free agents like Joe Saunders and Tommy Hanson this offseason. They should be expected to at least get a chance at a rotation spot. Matt Harrison is coming off an injury. But, once healthy, he and the also banged up Derek Holland are mainstays in Ron Washington’s rotation.

With Joe Nathan departing for Detroit, the team is expected to go with one of Joakim Soria or Neftali Feliz as their closer. The former was once an All Star with Kansas City before injuries derailed his success. Feliz, meanwhile, was the team’s closer during their two World Series runs and should be a fine piece regardless of where they put him.

Key Acquisitions

C JP Arencibia (Blue Jays)
1B Prince Fielder (Tigers)
OF Shin-Soo Choo (Reds)
OF Michael Choice (Athletics)
RHP Tommy Hanson (Angels)
LHP Joe Saunders (Mariners)

Key Losses

C AJ Pierzynski (Red Sox)
2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers)
OF David Murphy (Indians)
OF Nelson Cruz (Orioles)
OF Craig Gentry (Athletics)
RHP Joe Nathan (Tigers)

Projected Lineup and Rotation

OF Shin-Soo Choo – .268-18-56
SS Elvis Andrus – .279-3-55
1B Prince Fielder – .294-30-98
3B Adrian Beltre – .310-28-105
OF Alex Rios – .281-16-81
DH Mitch Moreland – .256-20-63
C Geovany Soto – .238-15-46
2B Jurickson Profar – .254-13-62
OF Leonys Martin – .270-9-62

RHP Yu Darvish – 14-7, 3.11
LHP Martin Perez – 8-7, 4.16
LHP Joe Saunders – 6-6, 4.46
RHP Tommy Hanson – 4-4, 4.40
RHP Matt Harrison – 6-5, 4.05
LHP Derek Holland – 6-5, 3.70

RHP Joakim Soria – 2-2, 4.20, 14 Sv
RHP Neftali Feliz – 2-2, 4.50, 12 Sv

Outlook

The Rangers present the most realistic threat to Oakland atop the AL West once again. Texas made some significant and solid moves this offseason by boosting their offense and trading from their strengths (middle-infield depth) to address their weaknesses (power). Fielder should thrive in Texas, even if his long-term contract will hurt the organization down-the-road.

Expect Profar and Andrus to take the next step, as the two should develop into one of the more fascinating double play combinations in baseball. The Rangers’ outfield is also as athletic as they come, so defense shouldn’t be a problem even after shipping Kinsler out of town.

rangers2The only concern in Texas should be their pitching staff. After Darvish, there are a lot of question marks. Harrison and Holland would be exceptional second tier starters save for their injury concerns. The latter had surgery in January to repair torn-cartilage in his left knee and isn’t expected back in the rotation until June. Harrison has begun to play with the team this spring. But, his struggles raise eyebrows as he recovers from offseason back surgery.

The Rangers’ offense should be enough to keep them in the playoff chase even if their pitching remains in flux due to health. If Texas gets half a season out of Holland, that might be enough to push them into the playoffs. I foresee Texas winning between 88-94 games to dance in October yet again.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s