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.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
On the bright side: he has his velocity back.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT
Two key players are ready to rejoin the Yankees after missing extended time with injuries.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:57 PM EDT
He’ll likely be evaluated for a concussion.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
Yes, those are real people.
Jul 7, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
He went 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in five starts.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT
Can you feel the excitement?
Jul 7, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
There are guys who check stuff these days, Dave. So better to be vague.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
Jaso has been out since Opening Day with a bruised left wrist.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Many have sured Major League Baseball over such things in the past.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
“I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it.”
Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
And even Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player in baseball, says he wouldn’t sit as close as that without protective netting.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Odorizzi threw 5.2 shutout innings on 73 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Monday.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT
Not that I’m gonna try to tell you how to play this game.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:28 AM EDT
Short version: Ned Yost thinks this is an actual baseball game!
Jul 7, 2015, 6:55 AM EDT
Not-an-All-Star Brian Dozier showed that, while his .500+ slugging percentage is apparently not worth a trip to Cincinnati, it’s worth something.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT
White Sox ace Chris Sale entered tonight’s start against the Blue Jays with eight straight starts with 10 strikeouts or more, tying Pedro Martinez for the major league record. He fell a little bit short in his efforts of securing the record all for himself.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT
Nolasco will have a bone fragment removed from his ankle.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Lester was 0-for-66 (0-for-71 if you include the postseason) before collecting his first major league hit tonight.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
It’s a bummer that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will have to miss the 2015 Home Run Derby due to a broken hamate bone, but now we can also scratch Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper off the list of participants.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT
And once again, there’s no A-Rod to be found.
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- Looking at the All-Star team snubs and surprises 60
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 51
- “Final Vote” balloting opens for 2015 MLB All-Star Game 49
- Pitchers and reserves for 2015 MLB All-Star Game announced 64
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 51
- AL and NL Starters for the 2015 All-Star Game announced 106
- That time Manny Ramirez nearly became a Met 10
- AL and NL Starters for the 2015 All-Star Game announced (106)
- Mike Scioscia says Josh Hamilton should apologize to Angels owner Arte Moreno (90)
- What Yasiel Puig being a pain in the butt means. And what it doesn’t mean. (78)
- Report: Jerry Dipoto “definitely out” as Angels GM (77)
- Brian Dozier is the best second baseman in baseball (72)