Even More Spring Training Musings
By Eric Reining
Earlier I read Jason Parks’ overview of the Rangers’ farm system, and I must say: I’m impressed. First and foremost, the Rangers have a healthily-stacked system, but the writing is 2nd-to-none, too. Parks’ mood generally fluctuates between the terse (scouting portion) and the romantic (narrative portion), yet it always makes for a brilliant baseball read. In this particular piece, he came strictly business, doing an objective job breaking down the prospects of his favorite baseball team. That’s not easy to do. So I’m not exactly imploring you to check it out, but at the same time, if you don’t, then you will be missing out.
We are officially, give or take, forty nights away from Opening Day in Houston. I can’t decide if the most recent baseball season felt like forever ago, or if it ended last week. I’m stuck in a floating wave of baseball-induced delirium, but I can’t say I’m fighting it. There’s something addictive-ly intriguing about the 2013 Rangers, and perhaps it’s because we’re heading into the season with lower expectations, and with bigger chips on the shoulders of our players.
I usually enjoy that combination with my favorite teams.
I’m sure the blueprint looked drastically different than how the offseason worked out — what with players like Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton seemingly available — but there does appear to be some strangely calculated formula to why I have faith in this team.
The Rangers added two villains in the twilight of their respective careers (Pierzynski, Berkman), two bullpen arms (Frasor, Soria), and that’s pretty much it. Jon Daniels saved money, and held onto his prospects for a potential trade deadline blockbuster or two.
It’s a stark comparison to their main rivals — the Angels — who’ve committed a ton of money to players in recent years (Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson), and really have no farm system to speak of. They are banking on championships in the next two years, because when Hamilton and Pujols begin to age dramatically in production, they will be left with a pile of albatross contracts and nothing to show for it.
Even in the contracts Jon Daniels gave out, they were mostly for low dollars and finite years. Pierzynski and Berkman both got one-year deals, so did Frasor, and Soria got two years with an option for year-3, I believe. So, in essence, the Rangers are an extremely customizable commodity, because even though they are good right now, they have the money and resources to execute almost any kind of trade they desire. The Angels, for comparative and philosophical purposes, have basically already built themselves into what they are, and are hoping it works out. It will be interesting to see what unfolds during the season.
I’m still a few weeks away from giving my overall WAR projections for each team in each league — which in turn will anoint my projected postseason participants (likely to end up horribly wrong) — and I will stick to my guns in saying the Rangers are an 87-win team. 87-75.
With that acknowledged, I also infer that 2013 will almost certainly contain a major trade. I’d be interested in a big bat or a big arm — who wouldn’t? — but it’s something else to pay attention to. I couldn’t begin to list the names of players who would be feasible to ascertain, but I have confidence Jon Daniels and the litany of elite Rangers’ scouts will pick a strong asset.
Otherwise, I may or may not write another article until I’m in Surprise, AZ, so hopefully by that time I’ll have some cool pictures or autographs, or something. I’d like to ask Ian Kinsler a couple questions, but I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.