I’m not a homer for the Rangers. There must be some small insecurity deep inside me that makes me feel compelled to mention that every once in awhile. I came into 2013 with the mindset that this baseball season could drastically play out in any number of directions, and like life I planned to roll with the punches, periodically reevaluating where we stand.
So even though 10 games isn’t exactly the biggest sample in the world, it’s still a sample nonetheless, and as such we can start to manipulate and digest certain information. Because it’s real, now. It’s tangible. We as fans are the lucky ones, for we will have another fifteen 10-game samples before the postseason comes around.
Through the first 10, the Rangers are 7-3 — the 2nd best record in the American League. Only Oakland, the team who supplanted Texas for the AL West crown in 2012, has been better (8-2).
The rest of the West has looked bleak, with Seattle (4-7), Houston (3-6) and LAA (2-7) off to rough beginnings. But it’s early. If we concede that there probably isn’t one truly great or dominant team in baseball this season, we can still look at these three teams as having more problems than they ought to, relative to most teams in MLB.
- Houston is young and cheap and not terribly talented. They aren’t expected to win, so they get a free pass.
- Seattle thought they improved this offseason adding Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales to a pretty dismal lineup, but the reality is what they gained in offense, they lost on defense. The transactions have forced Michael Morse to play RF, Jesus Montero to be the regular catcher, and Justin Smoak‘s bat in the lineup at 1st base. If their moves produce more wins, that’s fantastic, but right now I don’t see it. In 2014 when some of their minor league talent starts manifesting at the Major League level, they could be a division contender.
- The Angels were supposed to be one of the best team’s in baseball when Jered Weaver was healthy. They weren’t. Now their postseason hopes are pinned on which replacement-level starting pitcher they are going to use to fill the void of Weaver, virtually their only pitching asset, for 4-6 weeks. There’s a completely logical scenario we could see unfold where the Angels are 12.0-14.0 games out of the division by the time Weaver returns from injury.
From the Rangers’ end, life is pretty good right now. This isn’t a time to get complacent or anything, but help will be on the way, and this team is going to get better over the course of the season. Oakland has that potential, too, just not with the same impact.
We are only about a month and change from when Colby Lewis is scheduled to begin rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. My impression is that his arrival will correlate directly with how well the 5th starter is performing for the Rangers, so if Nick Tepesch (presumably) remains an asset, it affords the Rangers more time in letting Lewis groove his way back into form. If Tepesch falls off — which is entirely possible — then Lewis will return earlier (or on schedule, as it were). Above all, the Rangers like Colby Lewis as a human being (proven by the charity $2 million they gave him to get healthy and get a new job elsewhere in 2014), a lot, and they aren’t going to jeopardize his health beyond this season.
And then there’s Jurickson Profar.
This may be out of left field a bit, but if I was running the Rangers, here’s how I would do it: Jurickson Profar starts the year in AAA to preserve his arbitration clock, thus keeping him under team control for 6 years post-2013. At the middle/end of May (which is when he would be eligible to join the big league club without any arb-clock penalty), we bring him up to be the team’s 2nd baseman.
Ian Kinsler moves off 2B to play 1st. He may like it; he may not like it. But you put him there and make him deal with it, because that’s the best team Texas can produce — “three shortstops and Adrian Beltre,” as Jason Parks put it — on the field. Kinsler is a competitor. He wants to win. After seeing Michael Young‘s battle with the Rangers through the media, does he really want to repeat it? I’ve never looked at Ian as that guy.
So, in essence, 10 games isn’t much, but it’s something. Everyone prefers something over nothing. Right?