Wednesday, March 20, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Texas Rangers

Napoli and Hamilton won't be doing
this again for the Rangers...
2012 Record: 93-69

It wasn't so bad. The Rangers off-season that is. Yes, they lost Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli,but, if you look deeper into the off-season, they actually did pretty well. Yes, Hamilton signing with L.A will sting, but the Angels are going to be paying him a lot of money over the next 5 years for a player with a history of injury and drug abuse, both things that could cause him to miss significant amount of time. Not only that, but he's turning 32 in a couple of months. I don't want to be paying him $32 Million when he's 36 and 37 years old, so maybe the Rangers not re-signing Hamilton is a blessing in disguise for the franchise. For Napoli, he's such a big question mark because of injury and his little success in the past that I think bringing in A.J Pierzynski to replace him is a much better deal than a move to re-sign Napoli. Instead, Napoli has gone to play in Fenway with the Red Sox, and they will be the ones who'll have to find a replacement when he inevitably gets injured and misses time. The off-season wasn't so bad that it will effect the Rangers chances this year, rather the injuries they have will. But, watch out for these Rangers in August-September, because when those injured pitchers come back, this is going to be one scary team (or not).

Key Additions
DH Lance Berkman (1 year, $10 M w/ $12M team option for 2014)
RP Jason Frasor (1 year $1.5M)
RP Josh Lindblom (Trade w/ PHI)
C A.J. Pierzynski (1 year $7.5M)
RP Joakim Soria ($2 years $8M w/ $7M team option for 2015)
SP Randy Wells (MILB Deal)
C Eli Whiteside (MILB Deal)

Key Losses
RP Mike Adams (2 years, $12M w/ $6M team option for 2015 w/ PHI)
SP Ryan Dempster (2 years, $26.5M w/ BOS)
SP Scott Feldman (1 year, $7M w/ CHC)
OF Josh Hamilton (5 years, $133M w/ nLAA)
1B Mike Napoli (1 year, $5M w/ BOS)
RP Koji Uehara (1 year $4.25M w/ BOS)
UTIL Michael Young (Trade w/ PHI)

Acquisition that will have the biggest impact in 2013
If Berkman can regain his 2011 form,
the Rangers offence will once again be scary.
Lance Berkman missed virtually all of 2012 with numerous injuries to his calf and knee, resulting in only 32 games played for the veteran first basemen from Texas. At 37 years old, he's going to have a tough time getting back to the level he's used to after multiple surgeries and injuries last season, but I wouldn't call it impossible, I'd actually call it likely. The guy has shown the ability to bounce back from down years or injury riddled campaign's multiple times throughout his illustrious career, and even if his awesome hit tool struggles, he'll still have his unbelievable eye that has brought him an OBP of above .368 in every year of his career aside from his first cup of coffee back in 1999 with the Astros. He should have plenty of opportunities to come up big hitting behind Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus at the top of the order, something that definitely cannot hurt him. This will be the first time in his career in which he is a full time DH, so if he can make the necessary adjustments to get use to the position, the Rangers might have gotten a steal for just $10M. Just 2 years ago he produced 3.3 rWAR, and he might be the perfect replacement for a big bat like Hamilton's in this loaded Rangers lineup.

Spring Training Battles:
Right now, the Rangers roster is quite set, although there is a little bit of a battle going on for the #5 spot in the rotation because of the injuries to Colby Lewis, and most recently, Martin Perez. Oddly enough though, there is only 1 player currently in the Rangers organization competing for this battle. Robbie Ross is the inside candidate, while the other options are Tigers starter Rick Porcello, and Free Agent Kyle Lohse. The Rangers are said to be pursuing Porcello and keeping in contact with Lohse, although a deal with Lohse is unlikely, and if he does sign with them, he won't be ready for Opening day. I'll take a look at Ross.

Ross is a lefty who threw in 58 games last season for the Rangers in their bullpen, but has yet to make a major league start. He throws his fastball around 92, and compliments it with a slider and change that sit in the mid-80's. He's no strike out machine, and his control isn't that great as well. He does have a knack for not surrendering the long ball, putting up a very good HR/9 ratio throughout his short minor and major league career. You could definitely do worse than him for a number 5 starter(I think the Jays are actually), so he's a viable replacement until Lewis and/or Perez come back.

Questions Heading into the Season...
Will Lance Berkman and A.J Pierzynski be able to make up for the lost bats from the off-season?
Honestly, I think the answer is yes. Hamilton and Napoli combined for 5.8 rWAR last year, something I think AJ and Lance will be able to match, and maybe break. They are coming into one of the best hitters parks in the game, and if they can stay healthy, and produce, 3 wins a piece might not be so hard for them. Besides, the major question for this team isn't the offense, but rather, it's the pitching, which brings us too...

Can the pitching hold up until the injured return and the current state gets reinforced?
Again, I have to say yes. The rotation is filled with 5 young guys that are all getting better, and when Coby Lewis and Martin Perez come back, they'll have some tough decisions to make that frankly every GM wishes they can have. The bullpen is a bit more of a concern in my opinion, but Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz should both be coming back mid-season (the former much earlier than the latter). The final line for the Rangers pitching is all about the waiting game. Once the 4 injured pitchers come back(which won't be complete until August), this staff is going to be one of the best and deepest in the game. And,  if need be, Kyle Lohse is always there waiting :)

Prospect Profile-
Gallo was also being scouted
 as a pitcher in high school,
 a testimony to his great arm.
Instead of talking about Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, two of the best prospects in the game, in which I'm sure you have already read about, I want to talk about the Rangers 1st rounder in 2012, Third Baseman Joey Gallo. I have a special interest in the 6"5 power hitting lefty because he was probably the only player going into the draft that I actually knew something about, and really wanted the Jays to take him. I had read up on him and watched whatever video of him that was available on youtube about him, and fell in love.

He was taken 39th overall in the draft, after the Jays already had two picks, so I was very disappointed, especially after the numbers he has been putting up and the things the scouts have been saying about him. He set a new record for home runs in the Arizona Rookie league before getting called up to low-A ball, where he "struggled" a bit, only hitting 4 homers in 16 games. What a dreadful pace(that was sarcasm)!!! According to Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus, he has 80 raw power, has the potential to hit 40+ homers a year, and has arguably the most power in the entire MILB system. Of course, the side affect of swinging for the fences is whiffs, which he is going to need to refine in the next few years. That's the major problem for Gallo, as once he gets to the upper levels of the minors, pitchers won't give him pitches that can be hit out of the park, so he is going to have to adjust and learn to hit for average. He already knows how to take the walk, but the average will be key for him. If everything goes right, he won't be in the majors for a few more years, but boy is he fun to watch. The ball absolutely dances off his bat into the bleachers, something anybody could stare at all day. He also features a 70 arm according to scouts, so he might just stick at third base, and not move over to first.

Projected Roster via
Projected 'Go-To' Starting Lineup 
1 2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
DH Lance Berkman** 
4 3B Adrian Beltre
5 RF Nelson Cruz 
LF David Murphy*
C A.J. Pierzynskivs RHP
1B Mitch Moreland*
CF Leonys Martin* BA#4 vs RHP

Projected Bench 
C Geovany Soto vs LHP
IF/OF Jeff Baker 
IF/OF Leury Garcia**  
OF Craig Gentry vs LHP

Projected Starting Rotation 
1 RHP Yu Darvish
LHP Derek Holland
LHP Matt Harrison
RHP Alexi Ogando
5 LHP Robbie Ross 

Projected Bullpen 
CL RHP Joe Nathan
SU RHP Jason Frasor  
SU RHP Josh Lindblom  
MID RHP Tanner Scheppers 
MID LHP Joe Ortiz  

MID LHP Michael Kirkman
LR RHP Derek Lowe

Projected Disabled List
Position Players

RHP Neftali Feliz +  TOMMY JOHN SURGERY ON 8/1/12 
RHP Colby Lewis  +  FLEXOR TENDON SURGERY ON 7/27/12 
RHP Joakim Soria +  TOMMY JOHN SURGERY ON 4/2/12 - expected back in late May 
LHP Martin Perez BA#3 +  NON-DISPLACED FRACTURE OF ULNA ON 3/3/13 - out 2 months

Projected 2013 Record: 90-72 (Tied for 1st Wild Card)
I think this projection is very reasonable for Texas, but it all depends on health for them. If the bullpen can stay healthy until Soria and Feliz are back, and until a starter or two move their from the rotation when Lewis and Perez come back, then they are in good shape. Their offense is always going to be one of the best in the game, so if the pitching holds up...Watch out Angels!

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