The Rangers have officially arrived into their third full month of the offseason, and with only minor acquisitions to account for at this point, more questions loom beyond the baseball horizon than answers. It’s mysterious. Since nothing has happened, the level of anticipation amongst the collective Rangers fan base has grown to limits linking unbridled excitement to intolerable frustration. As a whole, all that is left to the imagination is whatever is within the realm of possibility. Everything. And now, as we sit here one day away from baseball’s Winter Meetings, patiently and at attention, we’re preparing ourselves for the storm that’s been gathering behind closed doors, ecstatic for it to dominate the silence that’s grown deafening around us.
What is the master plan? We are ready for it to be known.
As referenced previously, the Rangers front office is dealing with roughly $20M of capital to fill the holes of several pertinent positions. We have reached the dying days of the Josh Hamilton era in Texas, possess only four solidified rotation slots, and have no viable catching options now that Geovany Soto has become a free agent. And yeah, last, and least, we could probably use a couple arms to lubricate the transition into Joe Nathan in the backend of the bullpen.
$20M is a lot of money if I’m looking to purchase a new house and new car and several mistresses, but to acquire key commodities on a potentially World Series-competiting roster? It seems like a lot less. Which it is.
I’ll be the first to tell you: I haven’t a goddamn clue what Jon Daniels is going to do in Nashville when December 3rd rolls around. I have a feeling the Rangers want Zach Greinke, and that they want Mike Napoli back, but the reality is that signing the former probably negates the latter, and that whatever contracts are given will most likely be backloaded because of the disparity between how much money is available now versus how much will be here next year, the year after, and then in 2015 when the purported $3B television cash comes into circulation.
I’ve been in the extreme minority in relation to this issue, but I just don’t see how it’s reasonable that we should expect Elvis Andrus back on the club on Opening Day in 2013. With an age-20 Jurickson Profar ready to go at shortstop — the same as Elvis was back in 2009 — Andrus is replaceable in Texas, valuable on the open market, and a slam-dunk bet to bring back a top-of-the-rotation pitcher or middle-of-the-order bat. At this moment, the Rangers need both, but arguably don’t have enough money to acquire either, particularly with respect to how thin this free agent class happens to be.
I’ll handicap the odds of Josh Hamilton coming back to Texas at 20-1, and if Zach Greinke chooses to sign with anyone other than the Rangers, you can expect Jon Daniels to execute more trades this offseason than in any other year he’s held his position.
That is both scary and exciting. Probably more exciting than scary given his recent track record, but still scary nonetheless.
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As it stands right now, we’re looking at a lineup looking something like this (because Ron Washington is our manager) :
1. Kinsler – LF
2. Andrus – SS
3. Beltre – 3B
4. Cruz – RF
5. Murphy – DH
6. Young – 1B
8. Profar – 2B
9. Martin – CF
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 3rd place and about 80-82 wins. And I’m sorry, but that lineup makes no sense whatsoever, and Martin Perez is not ready for a full-season in the rotation. Those are just the facts as I perceive them.
a. Michael Young is a worse option at first base than just about anyone else on roster. Mitch Moreland and Mike Olt would each deliver better offensive and defensive value. If Jon Daniels can somehow swing a deal where the Rangers eat $12M-$13M of the $16M owed to Young in 2013, I will rejoice unremittingly and not ask Santa Claus for any presents for the rest of my life.
b. If the plan is the move Kinsler to the outfield, I see it as a major mistake. You’re losing his offensive value from a WAR perspective, because outfielders generate runs on the average at a much higher rate than 2nd basemen do, and you’re likely losing defensive value at the position Ian occupies as well as Jurickson Profar playing outside his element. You’d be losing value on several fronts.
c. If, as it’s been reported, all the Rangers have to give up to acquire Justin Upton is Elvis Andrus, Texas should pull the trigger. It helps matters significantly on multiple levels. And if David Murphy was thrown in the deal, the expected $6M he’s going to be owed through arbitration, combined with the $4.5M Andrus will make it 2013, will pay for the $9.75M Upton will earn next year. It will clear up our outfield situation, deliver us a middle-of-the-order bat, and keep both Jurickson Profar and Ian Kinsler at their natural positions. It just makes too much sense.
d. Given that scenario (c) somehow came into affect, we could then leave Michael Young, if he is to clog up the lineup as designated hitter again in 2013 as he did in ’12, out of the defensive alignment. Mitch Moreland and Mike Olt could platoon at first base, and Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry could do the same in center field. Those are four extremely cost-effective players who should combine to add a solid amount of surplus value next season.
e. The Rangers rotation is pretty good. No need to exaggerate or sugarcoat that fact. But if we acquire a Justin Upton-type to insert into the middle of our batting order, we could then use the $20M or so in the bank to make a serious run at Zach Greinke. Like I said, if he is to receive a massive contract from the Rangers, it will almost assuredly be backloaded to the degree that he’d only make $14M-$15M in 2013, then that figure would escalate somewhat significantly over the life of the deal. If we ascertain a big bat for Andrus, a top-of-the-rotation pitcher becomes our main priority.
f. What we do at catcher is anyone’s guess. Good luck.
Now, I understand, I’m a measly little writer on a measly little blog. What I say means absolutely nothing. But since we’re dealing with such a limited amount of cash, this seems to me a pretty rational and efficient way of maximizing our assets, transmogrifying an 80-82 win team into a 90-95 win club by virtue of adding a 4-5 win bat (Upton) along with a 4-5 win pitcher (Greinke).
I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting patiently. It feels like December and I want Christmas to finally get here. It feels like I’ve been across the country and I want to get home to see a lost love. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I want it all to get here. And I want it now.
Topics: A's, Angels, Elvis Andrus, Geovany Soto, GM Meetings, Ian Kinsler, Jon Daniels, Josh Hamilton, Jurickson Profar, Justin Upton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Mike Olt, Rangers, Speculation, Trades, Winter Meetings, Zach Greinke