Where are the Rangers Headed?
Pitchers and catchers will report to the Rangers spring training home in Surprise, Arizona in four days. That’s right – four days from today they report. Hell, the Super Bowl just ended and BAM! spring training is here. The Rangers will be a different team than last year and the debate is whether or not they have improved. The two main new ingredients in Jon Daniels line up stew is Prince Fielder and Shin Soo Choo. Their bats should definitely help the Rangers score some runs. Of course acquiring Fielder cost the Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, but that also opens a position for Jurikson Profar to prove that he’s as good as advertised. Any changes that the Rangers make are for one purpose, to de-throne the Oakland A’s in the A.L. West.
In my thinking the A’s are going about things the correct way. By that I mean they don’t over-spend for out-dated players, and they have a farm system that replaces anyone whom they lose to free agency. By adding Choo and Fielder, the Rangers added $268 million to their payroll over the next 7 years. That’s $130 million for Choo and $138 million for Fielder. That’s $18.5 million and $20 million PER SEASON for those two guys. That adds up to $38.5 million per season just for those two guys. The A’s won the division last season with a payroll of…$68 million. For the entire team! The Yankees spent $228 million and didn’t even make the post-season. The Rangers have to learn from other’s mistakes. The Angels keep thinking that they can buy a winner. All they have to show for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are zero playoff wins and a LaBrea Tar Pit-like hole that they keep pouring money into.
The A’s do what they do out of necessity. They’re a small market team with a weak fan base that can’t afford to spend big on free agents and certainly can’t pay a Japanese team $50 million just to sign one of their players. So they figure out how to do it with Josh Donaldson. Who? Donaldson led the A’s with 93 rbi’s and a .301 batting average last year. Nobody outside of his immediate family and the A’s locker room even know who this guy is. Guess what he made last season? Go ahead take a shot. Donaldson made $492,000. That’s not a typo and that’s the point. The A’s don’t have superstars–they have team players–who play well together and win.
While the Rangers payroll will move up considerably from the $127 the spent last year, will it mean more wins, a division title or a World Series? The pitching staff is still filled with questions after Darvish. Will Choo and Fielder and Profar make the Rangers better in 2014? They hope so but the Angels have proven there’s no guarantees and the big salaries mean they’ll be limited down the road on what they can spend.
I’d feel a lot better about this upcoming season if they told us they have a handful of unknown young players coming up…give Oakland a taste of their own medicine. We’ll have a pretty good idea by the middle of June what they really have.