Mar 6, 2014; Peoria, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder (84) hits a double against the San Diego Padres in the sixth inning at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sink Or Swim, 2014 Texas Rangers Should Be Entertaining

It didn’t cause near the stir that Ian Kinsler’s “0-162″ comment did, but Seattle TV reporter Tom Yazwinski caused a slight ripple when he was caught on camera calling the Texas Rangers “a sinking ship” earlier this week.  There’s certainly plenty of reasons to believe that the Rangers could be in for a long season.  That hasn’t stopped most of the preseason publications from naming the Rangers as AL West favorites and at least one as a World Series favorite.

So is the sinking ship comment just an off-handed comment by a journalist more familiar with one of our rivals?  We will all see soon enough, but Texas has shown an amazing ability to deal with off the field distractions in recent years.  Maybe Jerry Jones should take some notes.

2010 – Ron Washington’s cocaine use

It’s easily forgotten about now, but Washington’s failed 2009 cocaine test was revealed during Spring Training 2010.  When I heard the news, I though that he was done.  How could a team support an admitted drug user as a manager?  Turns out, they handled it just fine.  All the 2010 Texas Rangers did was win the AL West for the first time in over a decade, win their first playoff series, then slay the defending champion Yankees to reach their first World Series.

2009-2012 –  Josh Hamilton being Josh Hamilton

Hamilton’s legacy in red and blue is going to be difficult to gauge.  Good Josh was such an unbelievable talent that it’s criminal to think baseball never got to see it long term.  Bad Josh was downright ugly at times.  The worst thing was, you always knew that he was one step from crossing the line.

His off field problems never surfaced to the extent that ruined the early part of his career, but it hung like a specter over everything he did, causing small infractions to become overblown.  The disappointing end to his final season in Arlington and comments since have sullied some of the memories, but the team still manager to fly high during his tenure, despite the fact that he always seemed a millimeter from disaster.

2013 – The Jon Daniels – Nolan Ryan fued

Egos, egos, egos.  It’s never good for a team when egos start getting in the way.  It’s also never good when the front office is on the front page.  The Daniels-Ryan controversy is probably the biggest contributing factor to the current sinking ship view of the team, at least until Ian Kinsler spoke out.  Bickering in the front office is usually a bad omen for the team as a whole.  Still, the 2013 Texas Rangers managed to lead the West for much of the season and even pulled out of a late summer funk in time to salvage a tie for the last playoff berth.  Not bad when you consider the loss of Hamilton, the injuries that plagued them all season and the public tug of war for control of the team.

So 2014 draws closer.  The Texas Rangers have shored their biggest holes from last year and finally appear to have an answer at first base.  The bullpen could be even better than last year’s.  If pitching coach Mike Maddux can somehow coax a collection of injured veterans and unproven young arms into a reliable pitching staff, the Rangers could again be in the thick of the pennant chase.

Or the Rangers could be the aforementioned sinking ship.  The starting rotation has all the makings of a season long dumpster fire.  The team has hitched a lot of hopes on unproven young players like Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar.  If they fail to deliver on that promise, it could short circuit the offense.  Then there’s Prince Fielder and his reputation as a malcontent.  Add in the team’s recent history of playing poorly at the biggest times and there is reason for concern.

One way or another, whether the Texas Rangers are swinging for the fences or going down in flames, 2014 promises to be an interesting season.

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