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Hot Stove Season: Texas Rangers News and Fantasy Analysis

2014 Rangers: The Return to Somewhere

2014 is a critical year for the Texas Rangers. Will the upcoming season be a return to the glory days of 2010 and 2011, or a return to the ignominious mediocrity of the previous 39 seasons? The preliminary returns are in, and the numbers are encouraging.


rotoballer-fantasy-baseball-advice-texas-rangers-logoOffseason priorities

For the first time in many, many years, the franchise that once had to win games 14-12 found itself losing an awful lot of 3-2 games. While the pitching was solid, and perhaps even championship-caliber, there were issues on offense that had to be addressed:

  • Josh Hamilton may no longer have been a fan favorite when he left for the Los Angeles Angels following the 2012 season, but his departure left a huge gap in the lineup. The Ballpark, with its short right-field porch and powerful jetstream, has long been a place that turns ordinary left-handed power hitters into, well, Josh Hamilton on a hot streak. For much of last season, given Nelson Cruz’s 50-game suspension, Texas only had one legitimate power hitter in the lineup.

  • First base was also an issue: perennial placeholder Mitch Moreland was a serviceable first baseman, but he was nowhere near an All-Star caliber player. To expect him to produce numbers approaching those of Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Joe Mauer and other top players was both unrealistic and unfair.

  • The trade of sabermetric poster boy Craig Gentry left a hole in the outfield, particularly the physically demanding centerfield position. Depth is everything over a 162-game season, and the outfield talent pool in Arlington was dangerously shallow.

  • Both incumbent catchers became free agents, meaning that there would be another hole to fill.


Offseason moves

These Rangers are not the financially troubled squad that a new ownership group had to salvage from bankruptcy in 2010-- these Rangers have a seat at the big eaters’ table, largely due to the monster $3 billion cable TV deal they signed late in 2010. And, this past winter, wunderkind GM Jon Daniels had quite an appetite:

  • The signature trade, Ian Kinsler to Detroit for portly slugger Prince Fielder and cash, killed a number of birds with a single stone.

  • Fielder is a tremendous upgrade over Moreland, who will most likely be moved to DH; DH was another rather needy position for Texas in 2013.

  • The lefthanded-hitting Fielder, who does not turn 30 until next May, has 285 career home runs despite a dip in production last year.

  • Kinsler’s aggressive style of play will be missed at the top of the lineup, but former top prospect Jurickson Profar is ready to step in at second base.

  • In the outfield, the Rangers took a bit of a chance with 31-year-old slap-hitter Shin-Soo Choo and his rather bloated long-term contract. But the Bill James crowd likes Choo and his career .389 OBP. Joining Choo in the outfield is another new face, current top prospect Leonys Martin, who will man centerfield and, some scouts claim, is the quintessential five-tool player. Alex Castellanaos, a quintessential quadruple-A player, was recently acquired as well after being waived by the Red Sox. Ironically, with Alex Rios also returning, the once-indispensable Cruz may be the odd man out in the outfield rotation.

  • Returning at catcher is unimpressive former backup Geovany Soto, with equally-unimpressive J.P Arencibia in reserve, but no one hits a grand slam every at-bat. The Rangers would probably be happy if their catchers stayed above the Mendoza line and played consistent, quality defense.


All of this incoming talent provides manager Ron Washington with quite a challenge, as he has just a few weeks in Arizona to turn a conglomeration of fantasy stars into a winning baseball team. Although Oakland is still the clear class of the division, and both Los Angeles and Seattle lurk nearby, the Rangers are about as well-equipped as could be expected to face what could be a watershed season in 2014.