Yesterday we started a two part series aimed at taking stock of the Texas Rangers organization. We analyzed the front office, coaches and farm system. In today’s version we will break down the 25 man roster.
The Rangers’ lineup is shockingly average as currently constructed. The team is potentially losing Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski, Lance Berkman and Geovany Soto. This means Texas needs to replace an outfielder and catcher at least. The Rangers production at first base, left field and DH are the most glaring problems. The only positions where players produced less than two wins over replacement are first, second and DH. Texas first basemen produced 0.4 WAR; good for 22nd in the majors. Texas designated hitters only produced 0.1 WAR which stands 12th in the AL. I am not going out on a limb surmising the Jon Daniels will not add a second baseman unless it is a truly massive impact player like Robinson Cano. It seems like leftfield is an issue but Texas left fielders actually produced over 4 WAR largely because Craig Gentry played a lot of left down the stretch.
The lineup has great players at third and short with solid players in center, right, and second. Leonys Martin has a chance to be special in center field. Adding an impact bat at a traditional power position like left field, first base or DH would give this lineup a chance to be much better than the mediocre it proved to be in 2013.
The lineup has the most question marks and the offseason should be enlightening. Is Jon Daniels as committed to Mitch Moreland as he appears to be? Daniels seems to have been burnt by the last time he gave up on a first baseman. What will Daniels do about left field? It seems likely that the Rangers would consider bringing Nelson Cruz back. The start of the offseason is always exciting and full of opportunity
The rotation looks solid going into next year. Yu Darvish is an ace. Derek Holland is approaching ace status. I would award Derek Holland ace status but I am wary of his inconsistency. Martin Perez appears to be a strong middle of the rotation option. I hope that continues to improve and develops into the kind of solid two he might be able to reach. The back of the rotation may be bolstered by a healthy Matt Harrison next year. I expect Matt Garza will not be back even though the front office seems to like him a lot. Garza will command an absurd contract even after his poor second half of the year facing the big boy league. With Garza the fifth spot is up for grabs. I am crossing my fingers that Alexi Ogando goes into and stays in the pen. I love the guy as a starter but he does not stay healthy in the pen. Same goes for Neftali Feliz. This probably leaves the door open for Nick Tepesch and a few low risk free agent signings to fight it out. I am not sure I see Jon Daniels making a big signing or pulling off a big trade for a front of the rotation arm but that does not mean this group cannot be elite as currently constructed.
The Rangers have already brought Jason Frasor back on a one year deal. Tanner Scheppers, Joakim Soria, and Robbie Ross will be back. The experts expect Joe Nathan to opt out of his contract and if he does that I do not expect us to bring him back. That likely makes Scheppers the closer so the Texas pen should go; Scheppers, Soria, Frasor, Feliz, Ogando, Ross. This leaves room for one major league level addition which Jon Daniels has shown will be a series of uninspiring pickups and one or two will shake out or the sixth starter will land in the pen. Year to year production from a bullpen is always questionable but I am hopeful that this group will be strong in 2014.
Top to bottom this organization is strong. The Rangers boast a good lineup, a good bullpen and a great rotation. There are certainly holes to fill and places to upgrade but I expect this to be a top team in the AL next year. The offseason is an opportunity to significantly shake up the roster and the feeling surrounding this team.