Most people look at the baseball offseason in terms of who cut the biggest deals. Popular perception is that a team that spends a lot of money cares about winning, which is probably George Steinbrenner’s greatest* contribution to the game.
*Not to say that there is anything great about it.
There are other deals, ones that go largely unnoticed, that can have a lot more impact on a team’s success than many people consider.
For the Rangers, Yu Darvish stands alone as the biggest get of the offseason, but there are two other moves that should be considered intriguing on their own terms. I of course mean the signings of Brad Hawpe and Kyle Hudson.
As players, the two could not be more different. Hawpe is a veteran first baseman with 8 years of major league experience. Hudson is a 25-year-old outfielder who went to the plate for the Orioles a whopping 29 times last season.
These are the kinds of guys that Jon Daniels knows how to find. Guys that add depth to positions that may not even need it yet.
In 2010, the Rangers seemed to be set at catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the backstop of the future, with Taylor Teagarden ready to step in if needed. That didn’t stop the front office from picking up Matt Treanor late in Spring Training. Although he started out as the backup to the backup, Treanor was eventually asked to take over the starting job until someone else (Bengie Molina) could be brought in mid-season.
Last year, Julio Borbon was the Opening Day starting center fielder. It wasn’t long before he, quite unexpectedly, fell down a well and was never heard from again. As the season wore on, Endy Chavez made most of the starts in CF and boasted a career year at the plate.
The point being that both Treanor and Chavez were supposed to be a part of the plan, not the plan itself. They were insurance policies more than anything, but who knows if consecutive World Series runs would have been possible without them.
It’s the same with Hawpe and Hudson. Neither one is Prince Fielder, but neither one needs to be.
They just need to be ready to do their part.
Press on, Rangers fans.