Skip to content

2014 Preview: Texas Rangers

Feb 26, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT

Choo Fielder

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Carlos Gonzalez exits game after aggravating ankle injury

    Aug 1, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Carlos Gonzalez AP AP

    Carlos Gonzalez sprained his ankle last Saturday and he aggravated the injury tonight while making a sliding catch.

  2. John Lackey intends to honor contract and pitch at major league minimum salary in 2015

    Aug 1, 2014, 9:27 PM EDT

    John Lackey AP AP

    John Lackey will pitch at the major league minimum next season due to a clause in his contract.

  3. Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t expect Matt Cain to pitch again this year

    Aug 1, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    Matt Cain AP AP

    Matt Cain hasn’t made a decision on elbow surgery, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t expect him to pitch again this year.

  4. Brewers scratch Jimmy Nelson from Saturday’s start due to a “blister”

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Brewers logo

    The Brewers have scratched rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson from Saturday’s start, but it mostly looks like a convenient excuse to manipulate their rotation this weekend.

  5. Brett Lawrie begins minor league rehab assignment tonight

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT

    Brett Lawrie AP AP

    Brett Lawrie has been sidelined since June 22 due to a broken right index finger.

  6. Matt Harvey throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

    Aug 1, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    Matt Harvey Getty Getty Images

    Mets right-hander Matt Harvey threw off a mound today for this first time since he underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow last October.

  7. Marlins place Henderson Alvarez on the disabled list

    Aug 1, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    henderson alvarez getty Getty Images

    Henderson Alvarez has followed up last year’s no-hitter by being one of the best pitchers in the National League this season, but the Marlins have placed the 24-year-old right-hander on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

  8. Orioles sign Joe Saunders

    Aug 1, 2014, 5:19 PM EDT

    saunders getty Getty Images

    Earlier this week the Royals became the fourth team to release Joe Saunders this season and the 33-year-old left-hander has already found a fifth organization, signing a minor-league deal with the Orioles.

  9. Gammons: the Pirates may have made an offer for David Price that was “greater in terms of talent”

    Aug 1, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    But the determining factor was likely the Rays’ belief that they can contend in 2015.

  10. Austin Jackson’s arrival in Seattle pushes James Jones back to the minors

    Aug 1, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    James Jones Mariners AP

    James Jones has been the Mariners’ starting center fielder since making his MLB debut in mid-April, logging more than 300 plate appearances, but now the 25-year-old is headed back to Triple-A following yesterday’s trade for Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson.

  11. See your team’s logo Star Wars-ized

    Aug 1, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT

    Click Here large

    Apologies if the team you root for got a prequel logo. Braves got Boba Fett, though, so I’m happy.

  12. Cardinals demote Carlos Martinez to Triple-A

    Aug 1, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

    Carlos Martinez is no longer needed in St. Louis’ rotation following trades for Justin Masterson and John Lackey, but rather than shifting him back to the bullpen the Cardinals have decided to send the 22-year-old right-hander to Triple-A.

  13. Red Sox designate Mike Carp for assignment

    Aug 1, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Mike Carp AP

    Mike Carp reportedly requested a trade from the Red Sox last week, but after failing to find a taker before yesterday’s deadline they’ve designated him for assignment.

  14. HBT Daily: Winners and losers at the trade deadline

    Aug 1, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    We won’t really know for sure for some time, but for now let us offer knee jerk reactions!

  15. Angels place Tyler Skaggs on the disabled list

    Aug 1, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    Tyler Skaggs Getty Getty Images

    Tyler Skaggs exited Thursday’s start in the fifth inning with forearm tightness and now the Angels have placed the 22-year-old left-hander on the disabled list.

  16. A’s release Jim Johnson, eat $10 million salary

    Aug 1, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Jim Johnson A's AP

    Johnson saved 50-plus games in each of the previous two seasons, leading the league both years, but this season he posted a 6.92 ERA in 38 appearances for the A’s while almost immediately being stripped of closing duties.

  17. Jose Bautista, Casey Janssen “frustrated” and “disappointed” by Blue Jays’ lack of trade deadline activity

    Aug 1, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    Jose Bautista Jose Bautista

    Toronto was 38-24 and in first place by six games on June 6, but the Blue Jays have gone 22-26 since then and general manager Alex Anthopoulos did nothing at the trade deadline yesterday.

  18. Empty Yesterday: Kansas City’s trade deadline day

    Aug 1, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Dayton Moore, David Glass Getty Images

    The Royals just had an infuriating trade deadline day.

Featured video

A's, Tigers big winners at trade deadline
Top 10 MLB Player Searches