The last time we saw the Texas Rangers, they were walking off the field after a lack luster performance against the Tampa Bay Rays in a “play in” game in late September. It was a crushing defeat for the team and fan base which had high hopes of returning to the World Series. But as they were thrust into an early off season, things started happening for the Rangers and moves were being made to try and shape this team for the 2014 season. While some moves were unpopular, there were some moves that look like it could help improve the team going forward into the season. But first, we will look at who the Rangers lost from last season.
There was a lot of hope within the fan base and organization to keep the team as close to intact as they did the year before. But immediately it looked like this wasn’t going to happen and it seemed there was almost a mass exodus out of Texas for some very popular players. Unfortunately some of the most popular players with the fans all left the team this offseason.
- Jeff Baker to Miami
- David Murphy to Cleveland
- Joe Nathan to Detroit
- A.J. Pierzynski to Boston
- Matt Garza to Milwaukee
Add to that list Lance Berkman also chose to retire instead of accepting the club option for this year. The one loss which most fans complained about was David Murphy, he was a quiet leader in the clubhouse and was a fan favorite. But each of those losses will all be felt this season. The Rangers were also active in the trade market sending Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom to Oakland, Ian Kinsler to Detroit and Chris McGuinness to Pittsburgh. Along with Murphy, Gentry and Kinsler are two players fans hate to see leave. But they got some players back in the trade and I will let you know who they got back in next section. Before looking at what the Rangers gained, it would lead a fan to think the Rangers are in trouble losing three players who were fan favorites and were good pieces for the team. But now let’s look at who the Rangers gained this off season.
While it may seem like all doom and gloom after reading about who the Rangers lost this off season, there is some hope because of who the Rangers picked up this off season. The Rangers made some important moves to bring some pop into the lineup and help bolster a rotation which looked pretty decent throughout last season. Here is the list of additions the Rangers made.
- J.P. Arencibia
- Shin-Soo Choo
- Pedro Figueroa
- Tommy Hanson
Those players were all signed because they were free agents looking for a new home, but the biggest splash came in the trade market when the Rangers acquired Prince Fielder in the Ian Kinsler trade, he will be a solid every day first basemen and should help with the need of a solid bat in the lineup. The Rangers also got Michael Choice to help out in the outfield from the Craig Gentry trade. Last but not least is acquiring Miles Mikolas in the Chris McGuinness trade and the Rangers hope he will be a serviceable relief pitcher.
Adding Prince Fielder is probably the biggest thing the team did this offseason and with the fact Globe Life Park is a hitters park, he should hopefully put up big numbers. But as Spring training gets into full swing, there are some bigger problems the Rangers are facing and that is the growing list of injuries.
It seems like every day there is a new story of another player getting injured, and while the season is still a few weeks away, it is concerning because if this team can’t stay healthy in Spring training, then can they stay healthy for 162 games? Right now with a lot of the injuries there is an unknown time table because you can’t be sure if the team is playing it safe or if it is worse than they really want to let on. Here is the breakdown of who is injured right now.
- Derek Holland(Midseason return)
- Matt Harrison
- Jurickson Profar
- Tanner Scheppers
- Geovany Soto(3 weeks)
- Joeseph Ortiz(60 day DL)
Also take into account Colby Lewis is coming off a hip injury which shut him down last year and there is no guarantee he will be able to pick up where he left off before ending his season early. Other than Derek Holland and Ortiz, the Rangers will tell you most everybody else should be ready for opening day. But obviously things change and things could be worse than originally thought. The thing which will scare fans more than anything on this list will be all the pitchers who are listed, and everyone knows about the Rangers history of pitching woes.
Because of the recent success and back to back World Series appearances recently the bar has been raised significantly for the Texas Rangers. When Fans would once hope for the team to competitive into September, now fans are almost expecting 90-95 plus wins a year. While a win total in the 90’s almost guarantees a playoff spot, Fans probably need to adjust their thinking just a little bit this year.
There are far too many questions and concerns for this team to feel comfortable with a win total in the 90’s. First you have to have concern about the ailing health of the team, especially the pitchers. Yes, injuries are part of the game, but the fact multiple pitchers were shutdown early last season due to injuries is a little concerning going forward. Not to mention the loss of production at the plate the team lost this offseason.
Prince Fielder should probably make up some of that production if he is able to have a good season. But you will need the usual suspect to step up and have good seasons. Namely Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus. I am sure there will be another player or two who could surprise this season, but you need your big names to carry the load this year to have any chance at being competitive.
The AL West looks to be an open race this year, the Angels should be improved, the Athletics will look to keep winning and the Mariners will probably be more competitive this year than they were last year. A 90-95 win total is not out of reach for the Rangers if all the pieces fall into place. But a realistic expectation should be around 85 wins and a solid shot at a wild card spot. This year will be a telling season for the Rangers, if they win and make the playoffs, then it is business as usual for the team like the last few years. If by chance they slip and don’t make the playoffs and aren’t in contention for the division, then there will be a lot of questions about the team missing it’s window of opportunity.