I wrote on Monday that better things would be coming this week for the Rangers, but then Josh Hamilton hopped on over to the dark side and joined the Angels, so turn back now if you no longer find my Rangers opinion valid.
A lot of Rangers followers are calling this the worst offseason in club history, a notion I refuse to acknowledge based upon how poorly the franchise performed for so long. But nonetheless, there is no doubting that this winter has stung a little bit.
Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Zack Greinke and James Shields are all now off the board for the team, so it will now explore other options. In addition, all signs point to the Diamondbacks holding on to Justin Upton, so that’s basically out the window as well.
General Manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan have both said that they feel comfortable with the current roster, but the problem is that no one actually feels that way, especially with the Angels now having arguably the best lineup in the Majors. And it is ridiculous to believe that the team will not make any more moves before spring training. It will happen. It’s just a matter of who will be signed and how much longer the frustrated fan base will have to wait.
Right now, Ian Kinsler is moving to first base, Jurickson Profar is at second, Mitch Moreland is the primary DH and David Murphy is hitting third in the lineup. That’s not awful but it can’t match the other American League powerhouses.
The Rangers primary need is a left-handed power bat, so Pierzynski and LaRoche make a lot of sense from that standpoint.
Pierzynski, who I have targeted in the past as being a villain of the MLB, is making more and more sense with the team’s current starter Geovany Soto and the backup being Eli Whiteside. Unless Soto has a “comeback player of the year”-worthy season and Whiteside all of the sudden decides that he can consistently produce at the Major League level, the team will not have much offense from behind the plate in 2013. I’m on board if Daniels and Co. pursue Pierzynski.
LaRoche is coming off one of the best seasons of his career as he slugged .510, posted a career high 33 HRs, knocked in 100 runners and had a WAR of 3.8. He would be the perfect fit for the No. 3 hole in 2013.
Though he is not a “power bat,” perhaps the best fit for the team at this point is Nick Swisher. I’ve been all over the Swisher-to-Texas idea since I realized he was going to be a free agent. He’s a fit every way you look at it. He could hit in the No. 2 or No.5-8 spot in the lineup, is a switch hitter and can play RF and 1B. He would allow Nelson Cruz to make the much-needed move to DH and could sub in for Kinsler or Moreland (or LaRoche) when needed. Though another villain of the game, he is a tremendous clubhouse guy and always seems to be having a good time. He could add that off-the-field spark that the Rangers might need.
The addition of Bourn would possibly make the Rangers the speediest team in the Majors with Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Profar, Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry already on the squad, but he is not exactly what the team needs at this time because the team lacks power.
After pursuing Greinke and kicking the tires in a trade for R.A. Dickey it seems that the team will look to add a mid-rotation starter, rather than the prototypical ace it sought early on. Jackson would be just that: a solid starter that would come in behind Matt Harrison in the rotation. But, with the market for starting pitchers so high, Jackson may command too large a contract if the team is looking to add some offense as well.
Through trade, they could look at Chris Capuano of the Dodgers — a team that has about eight rotation candidates with the addition of Greinke.
Now, Rangers faithful will remain optimistic that the team has some sort of blockbuster in the works, whether it be swinging Upton after all, trading for a pitcher like David Price or forking over the entire farm for a big time duo like the Marlins’ Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton. The team very well could pull off something like this, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Whatever the case, count on Daniels keeping a cool head despite the buzz going on around him. The cards are stacked against the Rangers front office at this time, but it’s their turn to make a move.
I don’t know when the moves will come, but they will soon enough. We’ve just got to remain patient. Even more patient than we are already remaining.