The Texas Rangers have the worst record in baseball. They’ve played at a level the Ranger fan base hasn’t seen in a while. There were high hopes coming into this season, but with all the injuries the roster has suffered it would’ve been a minor miracle had the Rangers been able to compete in the AL West. However, the Rangers’ roster is still loaded with talent top to bottom, with a very solid starting rotation when healthy and potential rotation arms, Alex Gonzalez and Luke Jackson, waiting for the call. That’s why I believe the Rangers will be back to form in 2015 and will, hopefully, produce at a level that we the fans know they are capable of.
I expect Daniels is still looking for trade partners for a few of the remaining, desirable trade pieces he has, but unless they’re on a contract that ends after this season I doubt they will be shipped off. A position of strength for the Rangers’ organization is relief pitching. They lack the dynamic arms that they once had, although they may be the same players they once had, Feliz, Ogando, Cotts, but they make up for that with depth, both with the big club and minor league system. So, seeing a trade of one or two of these players would not surprise me. I know they’ve already traded Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor, so that may do it for the bullpen arms this season, but I expect there to be more action come this offseason. Washington said the bullpen would play out as an open tryout of sorts for roles next season. So, expect for Daniels to retain the arms that continue to produce for the rest of this season. The one part of the bullpen that is lacking is left handed specialists. I’d expect them to address that situation this offseason as well.
Odor vs. Profar
One of the more interesting plot lines to watch this offseason is the competition of Odor and Profar come spring ball, if they’re both still teammates come that time. Profar injured then reinjured his throwing shoulder so I doubt Daniels would trade Odor. I would hope he learned his lesson this season on the importance of viable bench players. However, that’s not to say that Profar will be “the man” next year. Odor has held his own this year and plays with a fearlessness that Washington seems to really like. It will be a battle of two former Ranger top prospects. Both players have their strengths and weaknesses, but both have equally as high of ceilings. Profar seems to be a player that contributes in all aspects of the game. He is extremely well rounded. He has a good approach at the plate, hits from both sides, and has enough range to play short. Odor has a confidence about him. He looks extremely comfortable in the batter’s box, in all counts. He has more raw power and perhaps more potential as a hitter. I doubt Daniels will simply ship off the loser of the competition so it will be interesting to see how the Rangers decide to utilize two of their brightest young players.
Fielder and Choo
The Rangers’ offseason was marked by a big trade, a headline signing, and a headline non-signing. The Rangers welcomed Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo and said goodbye to Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. Well, the two that left have had the better seasons. Both made the all star team while Fielder has undergone season ending neck surgery and Choo has literally hobbled, on a bad ankle, from one at bat to the next. However, I believe the two the Rangers ended up with are the two more talented of the group and should be poised for big seasons in 2015. I certainly hope so at least, they’ll be donning the Ranger colors for many years. With a healthy Choo, Fielder, and Beltre the Rangers have the potential to have one of the best cores in the league. They, as in Choo and Fielder, just need to produce at the level that made Ranger fans so excited when they arrived.
There were high hopes for the Rangers’ staff back in Spring Training. Since then the wheels have fallen off and disappeared. Martin Perez, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison have missed nearly the entire season. That’s your number 2, 3, and 4. Thank goodness Yu has been able to stay healthy. It at least makes the games fun to watch, even though we can’t score for him. There is no team in baseball that could compete without their number 2, 3, and 4. And that number four arm of the Rangers is likely a two and certainly a three on most other staffs.
When the Rangers are returned these players their overall competitiveness on a night to night basis will drastically improve. Which is how you win in this league. Teams don’t win by consistently blowing teams out. They win on the back of their staff in one or two run ball games. Unfortunately, that won’t come until next year.
The Red Sox missed the playoffs two years ago then won the World Series the next year. The Giants missed the playoffs both seasons before they won their two recent World Series Championships. Perhaps the Rangers can be the next team to go from cellar dwellers to Champions. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.