Feb 26, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. First up: The Texas Rangers.
The Big Question: Were the bold moves bold enough?
The past two offseasons seasons saw the division rival Angels make huge additions in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. Those moves didn’t work and, indeed, those moves are cited as part of the reason the Angels have fizzled. Too much star power, not enough depth, they’ve said. It takes more than the big moves to make a contender. So why should the Rangers’ big offseason moves — trading for Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo be any different?
Because they fit a heck of a lot better with the Rangers than those other guys fit with the Angels, that’s why. The Rangers needed on-base ability at the top of the lineup. They needed someone with pop from the left side who can take advantage of the short porch in right down in Arlington. Choo and Fielder supply that in spades. Indeed, Choo is one of baseball’s true on-base machines, and the fact that Jon Daniels and Ron Washington have committed to batting him leadoff is going to mean good things for the lineup. Getting Prince Fielder out of Detroit — and getting him in shape — will do wonders as well. It’ll be hard to find anyone the baseball punditry says will have a better bounceback year than Fielder.
Yes, the Rangers had to give up Ian Kinsler to snag Fielder, but havung Jurickson Profar move into a regular, everyday role at second base is a nice fallback option. If he plays to his potential, the Rangers could have another star on their hands. If he falters, at least his glove should be solid.
Unlike the Angels, the Rangers were not a team trying to patch over several holes with a couple of high-profile signings. They were a strong team who needed a push over the top after falling a couple games short for the AL West title the past two seasons. With Choo and Fielder they should get it.
What else is going on?
- Injuries to the rotation are going to go a long way towards determining the Rangers’ fate. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez make a nice 1-2-3, but Harrison’s early-spring back issues are worth watching and not having Derek Holland around for the first half of the season due to knee surgery is a big problem. If Harrison is OK and Holland can step in when he’s healthy, the rotation should be OK. If both of those guys are gimpy much of the year Ron Washington is going to lean heavily on Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson, and all of those guys are question marks. There’s a lot of depth here, but there’s also a chance that Texas is sporting a rotation with way too many 4-5 guys as the season wears on.
- The closer spot could be an all-or-nothing proposition. With Joe Nathan gone we have Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria vying for ninth inning duties. Both are not too far-removed from dominant pitching and even less far-removed from Tommy John surgery. If one bounces back to his old form, the Rangers have a closer. If both do, they have a two-headed monster in the late innings which could shorten games.
- A.J. Pierzynski is in Boston, leaving catching duties to Geovany Soto, who has been a backup the past couple of seasons, and J.P. Arencibia, who was one of the worst offensive players in all of baseball last year. Each is capable of so much more than they’ve done recently. It’ll be interesting to see if either of them can regain lost form.
- Ron Washington’s contract was just extended through 2015. Seems like a late and somewhat short vote of confidence compared to how these things usually go for guys with a couple of pennants under their belt. If the Rangers, after taking on Fielder and signing Choo, underachieve this season, it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see Wash on the hot seat.
Prediction: That seat shouldn’t be too hot, though. The lineup is stacked. If the rotation doesn’t implode, this is one of the best teams in the AL. First place, AL West.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT
Not the sort of thing you typically hear in these situations. Not that this situation has happened in this exact way very often.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:05 AM EDT
Looking ahead to the first action of the 2014 Postseason: The American League Wild Card Game.
Sep 29, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Rodriguez had to settle for a one-year, $3.25 million contract before the beginning of spring training and began the season in a set-up role, but he ended up with a 3.04 ERA with 73/18 K/BB ratio over 68 innings while going 44-for-49 in save chances.
Sep 29, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
After being limited to 16 starts last season, Buchholz managed to make 28 starts this year, but he saw his ERA jump from 1.74 to 5.34 in the process.
Sep 29, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT
Castillo landed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston in August and batted .333 (12-for-36) with two home runs, one double, and three stolen bases during his first taste of the majors earlier this month.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT
Roark has a 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
The Mariners gave Hart a one-year, $6 million deal last winter in hopes that he would be able to get his career back on track after multiple knee surgeries cost him the entire 2013 season, but he batted just .203 with six home runs and a .590 OPS over 68 games this season.
Sep 29, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT
Joe Girardi says “we have to see where he’s at.”
Sep 29, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT
Plouffe is expected to be ready for spring training.
Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
Gardenhire will be paid by the Twins in 2015 as part of a two-year contract signed exactly one year ago tomorrow.
Sep 29, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
Josh Hamilton has been limited to just one game since September 4 due to right shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but he’s still hopes to be ready for the upcoming division series.
Sep 29, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Lewis has been with the Rangers since 2010.
Sep 29, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Hey, Joe. Whaddaya know!
Sep 29, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT
A good attendance season for MLB. Not the best, but still strong.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Roenicke has a 335-313 (.517) record in four seasons as the Brewers’ manager.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
The former Diamondbacks manager gets a second chance.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
Craig had a season unlike any other first baseman or corner outfielder in 70 years.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT
Here’s how far Edinson Volquez has come in one year: Last season he posted a 5.71 ERA and allowed the most earned runs in the league.
Sep 29, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
Part Two of our handy guide to help you pick a team to root for in the event your team is not in the playoffs.
Sep 29, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
For a few years there, I saw it as my personal mission to the spread the gospel of Ron Gardenhire.
- Playoff Reset: The American League Wild Card Game 1
- REPORT: The Astros to name A.J. Hinch their new manager today 18
- Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire 35
- Pouliot’s 2014 American League awards picks 18
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs 79
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 84
- Reds beat Pirates behind Johnny Cueto, hand National League Central title to St. Louis 20
- Video: Steven Souza Jr. makes sensational catch to secure Jordan Zimmermann’s no-no 24
- Hunter Pence dropped a bunch of F-bombs in his postgame speech. Good. (116)
- Derek Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium could be cancelled because of rain (85)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (84)
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs (79)
- Bud Selig says A-Rod will “have a clean slate” once his suspension is over (78)