2012 did not end well. So many things led to a very weird and frustrating September; however, it’s time to look ahead and see what could be done to help the team going into 2013. Let’s look at the the free agent list and see who may be back and who may be gone:
Josh Hamilton: As I checked Facebook leading up to the half inning that would feature Josh’s last at bat of the game, I saw a post from a friend that alarmed me and stunned me… with it’s 100% accuracy. I quote, “Potentially Hamilton’s last at bat as a Ranger. He will strike out on 3 pitches, none of them strikes.” Sure enough, done on 3 pitches, none in the zone. I then became enraged, but I slept and thought it over, and came to a realization today that softened my thoughts. Josh has his life micro-managed because of his past and his commitment to being better to his family. Baseball is the one area where Josh can have control and not have someone make every decision for him. He gets the benefit of the doubt from Washington and Coolbaugh and gets to decide his baseball fate in each game. To me, that explains the quirky side of all that is “Baseball Josh” and also explains why his responses may seem out there and disjointed sometimes. It was also revealed by Josh that he did not appreciate the way the Sports Illustrated article handled presenting his thoughts on how he and his family wish to use his new contract money. That being said, I believe he will probably stay with Texas, and I won’t mind. His personal fight will never be over, but Texas does the best in helping him fight on and I believe his best place is here. We shall see, though.
Mike Napoli: 2011 was “The Year of the Napoli” but 2012 was not. He suffered an offensive down turn and just couldn’t match the production of the previous year. There aren’t many catchers out there up for grabs, so I believe he will stay with Texas. He likes it here and the fans like him, so if a reasonable deal is struck, it would be good. If he is signed, I hope he and Soto (who is here in 2013) talk shop and work together to establish a unified defensive approach behind the plate.
Mike Adams: I know Adams got sidelined by an injury in September, but I thought he did well for Texas overall in 2012. He also wants to be a closer, which is reasonable because they get the glory amongst relievers. He will command money and I believe he’ll either be a Ranger or a Padre again. We shall see, though.
Koji Uehara: I give Uehara so much credit for bouncing back not only from the second half of 2011 but his injury in 2012 and being lights out for Texas. I will be disappointed if he doesn’t return; I’d expect a two year deal to see him into retirement.
Ryan Dempster: For all the hubbub that surround him wanting to wear Dodger blue, I was shocked that he decided to come to Texas. He was ok, but the AL is too much for him. I believe he will end up in that Dodger blue he covets and will feel much better back in the NL.
Mark Lowe: He was given so many chances and has not delivered. Uneasy feelings should not be apart of a reliever making an appearance. I wish Mr. Lowe luck, but he is not a Ranger any longer.
Roy Oswalt: All I will say is this: Anthony Andro, of FSSW, tweeted that the first official locker cleaned and emptied after the game was Roy Oswalt’s. Bye, Roy.
Scott Feldman: Feldman is due $9.25mil next season for his last year on his contract. There’s also a buy out option for $600,000 to have him gone. I think he is still a good option, even if for just one more season. If the Rangers feel the same, I can imagine they’ll restructure the last year if possible and reduce the amount owed if possible.
Now, I want to give thoughts on the coaching:
Ron Washington: The team has seen unprecedented success under Washington, but how much of it is directly because of him? I believe he has a legitimate passion for the game, but his decision making isn’t on par with what the team needs to sustain themselves over 162+ for multiple years in a row. I was disheartened when he stated that he felt short changed in his career in the Majors and that has influenced his decision to give his veterans the benefit of the doubt. That’s his choice, but to me that seems like he’s operating with a chip on his shoulder. That does not bode well for a manager who is supposed to put the best talent in the line up, regardless of their status. Gentry, Martin, Profar and Olt were not used properly, and it baffled me that the regulars had to worry about being tired and wondering when they would get a break. He has tools, he needs to use them properly.
He also needs to be less hands off. I mentioned earlier that my thought on Josh ties into Wash, so let’s get into that quickly. As I said, Josh is micro-managed by everyone but the Rangers. They did hire an “accountability partner” for him, but that only does so much for him. His coaches can’t just assume that he can self-regulate in his baseball life when he isn’t doing that in his regular life. Wash also doesn’t do any favors to his team by getting onto them in game 162 for a routine mistake. Even if it was light-hearted, in the middle of the game was not the time to confront Josh on any level, especially if you really haven’t shown a habit of that before. I’m not calling for his head, but I am calling for his mindset to change and for him to use the tools he’s given in the best way possible.
Scott Coolbaugh: “I’ve been around the organization for the last five years. I know their swings pretty well. They’re comfortable when I mention subtle things to them. Simple things, so consequently they don’t feel any pressure to make any major changes.”
That quote disturbs me for some reason. I think it’s because I was always taught that if an authority figure approaches you with a real concern about something you’re doing wrong or can fix, you listen and learn and move forward with new knowledge to use. He may not feel compelled to make any major changes, but I look at Soto and see a guy who is used to hitting for the Cubs. When he transitioned to the AL, he very well may need some help adjusting and improving his swing tactics. I see Kinsler, who for a while, shook off the slashing motion that leads to his many pop ups; but, it started again and Coolbaugh did not see fit to get him out of it and back to swinging with control instead of the slash. I am calling for Coolbaugh’s head. I don’t know who else is out there, but again, hands off is not the key to sustaining a line up with the Rangers’ potency.
The Maddux Brothers: I know Greg is more of a “special assistant” but I like that he will be on hand in the off season and in spring training to help brother Mike get the pitching ready for 2013. Darvish and Harrison made leaps in their own rights this season and I can’t help but think these two coaches will help them round out any lingering edges and then start them on polishing certain aspects of their pitching. We know the Big Three (Darvish, Harrison, Holland) will be back, but there are questions about finding two pitchers to supplement waiting on Lewis’ return and Feliz not being placed into the the plans for the starting line up when he returns. I believe these two will help get the rotation in shape for 2013 and pitching will hold up next season.
I want to conclude by thanking you, the readers and fans, for interacting with me on these posts and on Twitter. You have made my first season with Nolan Writin’ so enjoyable and I’m anxious to get to 2013!