Take the pulse of the Rangers fan these days and ask them who should take the blame for the team’s dive in the standings in September and failure to make the postseason for the first time in four seasons. You’ll get different answers depending on whom you talk to.
Some want Ron Washington gone. Others blame Jon Daniels for his moves (or non-moves) last winter. Nelson Cruz is the culprit to several, choosing to get his suspension over with for the final 50 games of the season.
So, should heads roll at Rangers Ballpark?
How about, “no.” How about we give everyone at the Rangers a mulligan for 2013. OK, maybe not everybody (sorry Jackie Moore and Dave Anderson).
But seriously, you want to moan and complain about a team that won 91 games? Look at the body of work over the last four seasons – the team averaged 92.5 wins-per-season and made the playoffs each year (if you count the one-game tie-breaker vs. Tampa Bay). Even if you don’t count the tie-breaker, this is the first team to win 91 games and not make the postseason since the 2005 Indians.
What do you want? The “good ole days” of winning 79 games and finishing 21 games back. Woo hoo.
Count me out on that one. By the way, that was in 2008.
Nope, the Rangers might face their most challenging off-season in a few years, but Daniels and the Texas brass will get their chance to fix it. And Washington will be the one to manage the club in 2014.
So, what to do with the roster? I’ve given it some thought but I’m unsure on how to make some of the pieces work.
Let’s start with who should be out. I mentioned that most everyone gets a mulligan on the 2013 season, but that does not include the players.
David Murphy and Mitch Moreland – time to move on. Both are great clubhouse guys and play with tremendous heart, but their subpar seasons really set the team back on offense. Lance Berkman was Daniels’ biggest gamble and it didn’t pay off. The veteran was done and should have stayed retired. Both catchers are candidates to move on, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Everything else really revolves around Jurickson Profar. The 20-year-old was touted as the top prospect in the majors at this time last year. But he either needs to play full-time or be traded. With Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre manning the infield for Texas, someone has to either be dealt or changed to a different position.
Kinsler or Profar could be moved to left field, and my first choice there would be Kinsler. Either that or trade him.
The deal for Alex Rios is huge, as he is still under contract for 2014. He too, can play left, and it creates some options when looking at whether or not to re-sign Nelson Cruz (who said Monday that he would like to stay).
Someone’s gotta go between Cruz, Rios and Kinsler, as two of the three can man the corner outfield spots. I’m leaning toward re-signing Cruz (because of his power) and trading Kinsler, though I’m unsure what kind of package you could put together to get maximum value.
Daniels needs to fill first base with a free agent signing or a trade. The Rangers need some power here. Mike Napoli will be available (and he had a career-high 92 RBI with 23 homers and a .259 average this season in Boston), while another candidate is Kendrys Morales (80 RBI, 23 homers, .277 avg. with Seattle). The prediction here is Morales, who struck out 114 times in 2013 to Napoli’s 187.
Brian McCann (57 RBI, 20 HR with Atlanta) will certainly be a target at catcher for Daniels, as he has tried to trade for him in recent years. Geovany Soto is arbitration-eligible, and would be more likely to remain as a backup, rather than A.J. Pierzynski.
So, an infield of Beltre, Andrus, Profar and Morales, with McCann behind the plate. I like Rios, Martin and Cruz in the outfield, and keeping Craig Gentry around would be a good idea.
Pitching? Personally, I would not go after a big fish like David Price. I’d like to re-sign Joe Nathan if he opts out of his contract. Hopefully they can get Matt Harrison back from injury, and Daniels will have to make a decision about Colby Lewis.
My biggest conundrum is, what to do with Kinsler (or Rios)? Hopefully Daniels and his team can come up with a deal that improves the club. I’m sure it’s better than any I could come up with while watching this playoff game between the Rays and Cleveland.
Get to work, boys. And please tell me that Jackie Moore got a hug on the way out the door.