When I think back to the 2012-2013 off-season I think about how badly it went for the Texas Rangers. They missed out on Zack Grienke, They lost Josh Hamilton to the rival Angels, they lost Mike Napoli to the Red Sox, they lost Koji Uehara to the Red Sox, they traded Michael Young to the Phillies for a bag or rocks (okay, it was actually for Josh Lindbloom who is now also gone), they acquired Lance Berkman and Nolan Ryan was almost chased off by Jon Daniels. It was about as bad as an off-season can go. And with all the bad that happened, the Texas Rangers still won 91 games in 2013 thanks to some good pitching and some streaks where the offense looked really good. But we all know that 91 wins was not enough to win the American League West. All in all my grade for the 2012-2013 off-season was C minus.
Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, so I thought I would take this opportunity to give my rating of the 2013-2014 off-season that was just completed by the Texas Rangers. The one thing that you can say about this past winter is that the Texas Rangers were not quiet. They had an extremely active winter, making moves and resigning guys that they want around for a while. The organization had a serious log jam in the infield with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar to play just two positions. The talk was that maybe Kinsler would learn to play first base or the outfield, but everyone knew that Kinsler did not want to move positions, and he is still (in my opinion) a premier second baseman. So the Texas Rangers made a proactive move and traded Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder, opening up second base for Jurickson.
The Texas Rangers felt that they were not going to resign Nelson Cruz, and they have been going younger lately, so they traded Craig Gentry to the Athletics for highly touted outfield prospect Michael Choice. Choice is younger and has the potential to have more power than Gentry, although Craig was a huge fan favorite and I was sad to see him go. They also picked up free agent outfielder Shin-soo Choo in free agency to replace Cruz, they even gave Choo the jersey number 17, which was Nellys. Choo would take care of the lead off spot which was abandoned when the Texas Rangers traded Kinsler. Mitch Moreland is now going to be the primary DH, and that is where I think Daniels and his staff fell a little short in improving the offense. They are counting on a guy that has shown flashes of brilliance, but overall has not proved that he will be an effective everyday DH. That position was nothing short of a disaster in 2013 (they should have kept Michael Young there), and I hope that it does not come back to bite them in 2014. Also the bottom of the line up will need to be more productive than it was in 2013 if they are to win the division.
The Texas Rangers added some pitching after the news broke about Derek Holland‘s injury, the names include former Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson, former Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, and former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard. All of these guys come with big question marks, and none of them (in my personal opinion) are as good as Derek Holland. The Rangers are also counting on Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison to be healthy for the whole season and for Martin Perez to not go through a sophomore slump. I feel very nervous about the starting rotation after Yu Darvish for the 2014 season, I feel like a lot of things have to go right for them to be successful. I am not saying that then can’t go right, but until we know if Harrison is okay, if Colby Lewis can still pitch, or even who that fifth starter is going to be, we don’t know how that rotation is going to look on opening day. That is the one aspect of the 2014 Texas Rangers that gives me pause going into the 2014 season.
All in all, the Texas Rangers winter was much more productive this year. I give them a solid B for their efforts, and I hope that a solid B is enough to take back the AL West crown.