Rangers Look to Return to Elite Status
Oh how quickly the world of professional sports can move on. It seems like just yesterday that the Rangers were the up-and-coming team in baseball and owners of one of the best managers, top young players, a genius general manager and fans that quickly learned how to appreciate a sport that didn’t include touchdowns. But just like that, the team that played in two straight World Series, is now on the outside looking in. Those Series were in 2010 and 2011. We’re heading into the 2014 season. Those years are long gone and those teams have been dismantled. That’s how short the window is in sports. Here’s the projected starting lineup for the Rangers on opening day:
LF Shin Soo Choo
2B Jurickson Profar
SS Elvis Andrus
1B Prince Fielder
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Mitch Moreland
CF Leonys Martin
RF Alex Rios
C Geovany Soto
It’s a strong line-up with both power and on base percentage. What kind of seasons Fielder and Soo Choo have will go a long way to determining how good this team is and if they can overcome Oakland in the AL West. Adrian Beltre is their best player and has been almost since he arrived. Every expert that ranks major league players puts Beltre in the top 20. And now that Profar has the second base job all to himself, we’ll see if he lives up to all the hype of being the top prospect in baseball (for like the last 6 years).
We’re in an evolving baseball universe, one that caught former Rangers President Nolan Ryan and General Manager Jon Daniels in the vortex. Cyber-metrics versus old school, gut feeling. Cyber guys don’t like the sacrifice bunt, Ron Washington uses the sac bunt a lot. Will Daniels eventually have a team filled with cyber-players and coaches? Is that ultimately what he wants? In the meantime, this is the team he’s assembled and I like it. They should have enough firepower to challenge for the West title.
Pitching is all about Yu Darvish. With Derek Holland out for up to half of the season, it will be up to Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and whomever else surprises us out of Surprise. If Darvish can dominate and develop even more and be one of the top 5-6 pitchers in the league, the others will hopefully ride behind him. If so the Rangers should shake off the past few years of mediocrity and move back into the high rent district that they want to be in. From a fan’s standpoint, it would be great to have a team that everyone comes to expect to contend for World Series every season, not just once every 30 years.