Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I have been fighting the urge to call this season before it even begins. Injuries have ravaged the Texas Rangers’ lineup and pitching staff. The Texas Rangers play in a tough division. One that would likely be tough for even a healthy and productive team to win.
The Texas Rangers are not healthy though and as an eternal pessimist it is tough to resist wondering what the worst case scenario might be for the Rangers. I have argued before that there are reasons to be optimistic about this team. But what if these injuries and acquisitions go downhill? Now we could make up unreasonable things about the players but instead we should examine the realistic worst case scenarios.
The most obvious situations are the players currently on the disabled list. Jurickson Profar is currently on the disabled list for a shoulder injury, from which Profar is expected to come back. Realistically, Profar should bounce back and be fully healthy later this year. Worst case scenario Profar takes more than the three months and he takes what is left of the year after he returns to getting his timing down. Geovany Soto tore his meniscus and is out for 10-12 weeks. Thankfully the meniscus is the least concerning injury to sustaining in the knee. Soto should bounce back fully and be able to play a significant role down the stretch in 2014.
Matt Harrison will start the season on the DL with back injuries that he has fought for over a year. The team hopes that Harrison will recover and be a workhorse for the team. However, there is a realistic chance that Matt Harrison never regains his former production level. Back injuries are difficult to fully recover from, especially for pitchers. A realistic worst case scenario for Harrison is that the Rangers have a long, expensive contract and no pitcher to go with it. Colby Lewis is another pitcher who has been injured for more than a year. It is time for Rangers’ fans to face the music, Colby Lewis is all washed up. He has nothing left to offer this team as a player. The worst case scenario for Lewis is also the most likely. It is unfortunate as many fans seem to like Lewis and hope that he could help this rotation in 2014.
Derek Holland fell and broke his knee in early February and is supposed to be out until approximately the All Star break. The team seems optimistic that Holland should fully recover and contribute significantly in the second half of the season. This should be the most likely case. The worst case scenario is that Holland hurries back and reinjures the knee or develops another injury by compensating for the injured knee. Basically, the worst case scenario is losing Holland for the rest of the year.
Shin-Soo Choo has battled small injures all spring, which seems like it should not be an issue because the veteran likely does not need the reps to get his timing down. However, perhaps Choo is this year’s B. J. Upton. Upton changed leagues and teams and then promptly struggled to his worst season of his career. Choo already has American League exposure with the Cleveland Indians who he played for before the Cincinnati Reds. None the less, we have seen big acquisitions get off to slow starts after landing big deals with new teams.
With Harrison, Lewis and Holland out of the rotation Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Nick Martinez are all forced into the rotation. Of the three only Martinez only has significant and recent experience as a starter. It will be exciting to see these three in the rotation because their ceillings should be high. These kids could be electric in the rotation. Worst case scenario, these three are mediocre in the rotation and reach their innings limits part way through the year. Because none of these pitchers have been major league starters they will not be fully stretched out and will not be able to make 30 starts this year. This will only be a minor problem if Harrison and Holland come back fully healthy. The real risk is that if these three flame out part way through the year they may not even have much value in bullpen.
Neftali Feliz has been sent down to the minor leagues because he has not been performing. It could easily be that Feliz has been ruined by the Rangers’ penchant for converting relievers. It is more than realistic that Feliz may never be the same and never make another appearance in Arlington.
The lineup, as currently constructed, has some unproven players in it. Donnie Murphy, Robinson Chirinos, J.P. Arencibia and Michael Choice will all play major roles early in the year. This could go well but it is hardly a stretch to imagine these four amounting to less than replacement value. Arencibia and Chirinos both had negative WAR last year.
Saving the worst for last, what is the worst case scenario for Yu Darvish? Darvish is going to miss opening day with neck soreness. Darvish has fought neck soreness since early last year and even went on the DL around the All Star break. Realistically, Darvish will eventually come back stronger than ever and return to his Cy Young caliber form, the worst case for Yu is that he misses an extended portion of the season. This team will struggle without Darvish and it could be the worst worst case scenario of all.
Sweet dreams Rangers’ fans.