Friday, March 1, 2013

Offseason Review: The Texas Rangers

Does veteran switch hitter Lance Berkman have what it takes
to fill Josh Hamilton's shoes?  Spoiler Alert: No.
Few teams that have as much money as the Rangers do, have had as much recent success as the Rangers have had and preside over a farm system as talented as the Rangers farm system is, emerge from an offseason a notably worse team than they were the year prior.  It would make sense that a team that had such a frustrating collapse, followed by a one-game elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles would want to do something to ensure another return to the World Series.  Apparently this train of thought isn't weighing to heavily on the minds of the Texas Rangers front office.

The Rangers were very inactive in 2013, even after being unable to retain Josh Hamilton or sign Zack Greinke.  One of the more substantial moves made by Texas is the signing of Lance Berkman, a veteran slugger who was on the verge of retirement after injuries kept him out of almost all of the 2012 season.  Another, slightly more sensible signing is of the durable backstop A.J. Pierzynski, who won the AL Silver Slugger award for catchers after putting up a career high 27 home runs in 2012.  While Pierzynski is a likely candidate to add pop to a lineup, and while both of these one-year contracts are low-risk, odds and age wouldn't suggest that these moves are going to be enough to fill the void left by Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli.  What makes the situation look worse for the Rangers is not who they've signed, but who they haven't.  After waiting on the free agent market late in to the offseason, Michael Bourn was signed to the Indians despite the fact that he was a premium free agent outfielder who's lethal speed could have played well in Rangers Park.  Zack Greinke, this years uncontested best free agent pitcher, actually gave the Rangers a chance to beat the Dodgers offer, but Texas didn't want to budge on offering the former Cy Young winner an opt-out option after three years.

Despite how easy it is to criticize the Rangers for their inactivity, the reality of the situation that they are still a pretty brutal team that's definitely not beyond contending.  The Athletics won the AL West amidst pretty flukey circumstances in 2012 and aren't likely to repeat, and while the Angels have bolstered their lineup with the addition of former Ranger Josh Hamilton, they are relying on a lot of things meshing in order for their superstar laden lineup to live up to it's full potential.  Further increasing the Rangers chances of returning to the postseason is the addition of the Astros, who are going to be Major League Baseball's punching bag for the next several seasons.  Furthermore, their farm system is absolutely loaded.  If the Rangers do happen to find themselves in the hunt, they have a ton of talent that's either major league ready or close to it.  The talent they have that isn't ready to contribute directly to the Rangers in the bigs could be used as a trade chip to real in some big names on the block come July.

Veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski hopes to retain the power
he found in 2012 in his new stadium.
Assuming the Rangers can move past the loss of Josh Hamilton's presence at the plate and Michael Young's presence in the clubhouse, they still have the potential to be very good.  Rangers fans may have just cause in being upset over the Rangers inactivity, as the addition of a player of Zack Greinke's caliber would have preserved their status as "dominant" as opposed to "very good", but there should by no means be a doom and gloom feeling in Arlington.  Whether the Texas Rangers make it to the postseason or not, it will be determined by a very close margin.  Worst case scenario for Texas: injuries and hesitation in the postseason leading up to 2013 cost them a playoff appearance this season, but up-and-coming talent and a flexible ownership group retain competitiveness for many seasons to come.  Best case scenario: another run at the World Series is a legitimate possibility, and while one slugger has defected to the division rival Angels, an all around solid lineup perseveres and finally gets the Rangers a ring.  Either way, it will be an exciting season in Arlington.

No comments:

Post a Comment