What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
Colby, Feliz, and Soria comeback in June. Maybe even late May. If we can hold on and just make the playoffs, even by WC route, we'll have a playoff rotation of Yu, Harrison, Colby, Holland, with Ogando, Feliz, and Soria as setup guys for Nathan. That is one hell of a pitching staff. If we can just find some offense I think we'll be alright. Also, there's the trade deadline. If we're still in it I expect the Rangers to be major players this year.
I like your reasons for optimism. I'll add another: I think we have the players that'll enable us to compensate for a lack of power in the lineup by manufacturing runs. We'll adapt more of a station-to-station small-ball approach with 4 guys with speed in the lineup during any given game and potentially hitting all in a row. Say Kinsler and Andrus at the 1-2 spots and Profar and Martin/Gentry at 8-9. All 5 guys theoretically at least can hit for average, and Murphy and Profar take walks so they can still get on base when they're not hitting - as long as they can advance a runner if there's one on base ahead of them or set the table it's all good. I kinda think Kinsler should hit lower in the order - say at the 5 or 6 spot - to take advantage of his power, and Profar could show enough plate discipline that he could eventually move to the top of the order. No biggie though if Kinsler stays up there as having a potential 20-20 man leadoff is a plus.
Unfortunately, the Rangers can't stop scoring runs because the other teams balls are still going to fly over the fence at the increased RBIA rate. This is why teams have to play to their home park's strength, because the other team sure is going to come in and get those effects added on. Fact: while improved starting pitching has been the keys to the Rangers success, they have never made the playoffs without scoring craploads of runs. Their AL runs scored rank in their 6 playoff seasons: 4, 2, 2, 4, 3 and 1. And the HR ranks are pretty close to the same. Having said that, I'm interested to see if they can find another way to get it done... but as the roster looks right now, I don't think they can score enough.
I'll be interested to see how the renovations behind home plate affect the jet stream. We could see RBiA playing a lot closer to neutral moving forward.
Something people still tend to forget is that the Rangers still have the best infield defense in all of baseball, and with all that speed in the outfield between Gentry and Martin in center Cruz still has a plus arm and Murphy is still solid, we will be a great team defensively. Maybe one of the best in baseball.
Maybe it was because they got tired last year, but the stolen base totals were down. If JD has no plans of adding another hitter, that is the only way I see the Rangers being competitive in 2013. They need Kinsler, Andrus, Gentry, Martin and Profar to do damage after walks and base hits.
Strangely, stolen bases do factor in to the wRC+ and wOBA formulas. So even though we're largely a light-hitting team, there is quite a bit of upside involved in having a lot of speed. It should factor in to the defensive side of the field as well.
I'd say a big reason for optimism would be an improved defense. With Josh out of CF, hopefully Nellie out of RF, and Young off the field altogether, there's a significant jump in defensive efficiency. I think the pitching has fewer question marks this year than last, to be honest, though there's still uncertainty. I'd call it a wash at this point.
Obviously, it looks like we've taken a giant step backward offensively...on paper anyway. Then again, the "light-hitting" Giants and A's scored more runs after the AS break than our "one of the best offenses in baseball" Rangers did last year. On paper, we definitely had the advantage...just didn't produce. I think adding speed to the lineup (e.g., adding Profar while retaining Kinsler, playing Gentry everyday, having Garcia off the bench, etc.) will help tremendously and COULD overcome some of the offensive weakness we see right now. Still, it'll be an uphill battle.
I'm also excited about potentially seeing a team that's excited to play baseball again. It just wasn't there last year,and I think one of the guys who was a big reason for that (Hamilton) is gone. I'd love to add some pop to the lineup and some more pitching (you can never have too much), but there's a good side to this offseason.
I am pretty sure we will be better than the Mariners!
Liking the optimism here. I'll just throw this out there. Just a thought. More of an opinion. But hearing JD talk the other day on Ben & Skin made me think that he is very intrigued by the Giants/Cardinals model aka developing and playing your young talent, making smart FA decisions, building a team that will win in the playoffs (great pitching, great situational hitting, a lot of energy from young players, etc.). He said there's really something to building a team with your own guys and winning with that team. Yes, our power numbers might and probably will go down next year. But who's to say that our batting average and OBP won't go up? Who's to say we aren't in a better position now to execute the game the way it's supposed to be played? The way Wash really wants to manage is that way. That's what he's good at. I think giving him a team that can play the game that way will really allow Wash to be a great game manager. We saw that more on our first WS team and less and less since then.
@SkeletorYour post about the pitching staff has me pumped up. That's a dang good staff. It will be interesting to see what we do with Feliz this year. The assumption is back to the bullpen but he wasn't half bad in the rotation before he got hurt.
A positive thread! The rotation and bullpen are shaping up nicely. I've wondered whether the front office has considered overpaying a bit for Soriano to add to the killer bullpen. At 32, he probably has some useful years left and the team clearly has the money to spend.
I agree that offense is the biggest question mark here but unless Texas trades some of its existing outfielders, a Swisher or Bourne signing would clog the DH spot and possibly retard the development of an Olt, Profar, or Moreland (who needs to have a defined role this year).
If the Rangers go into the season with the current crop of players on their 40 man roster, a 75-85 win season is the most likely outcome, period. Texas currently has a huge hole at catcher, which weakens their middle infield defense .. slow foot speed in the corner outfield slots (Murphy and Cruz) ... likely to receive less offensive output than average value from the outfield, 1B and catcher (Cruz declining, light hitting from Gentry/ Martin, Moreland and Soto) ... an incredibly thin and inexperienced bench ... thin on "experienced" pitching depth until Soria, Colby and Feliz are ready to return. Ranger fans need to focus on 2014 by allowing their young budding stars like Profar and Martin to gain playing time and make mistakes along the way. Adding Swisher (move Cruz to DH), and another catcher .. perhaps AJ ... would help greatly. Note: speed and improved OBP, if utilized correctly, would potentially offset the dropoff in power.
Stiil think we'll be better than Mariners and will have legitamate shot @ .500! Go Rangers!
I will posit that Cruz may not be a good DH option. Look at his numbers, look at them very carefully. Not good, and on a marked downward trend. To add onto an observation on another thread, I strongly believe that Cruz has been wildy overrated in his time here. The man is a wonderful person but he looks lost on the field and in the batters box 90% of the time.That said, if we can get Gentry and Martin geared up, and Murphy continues to play his adequae defense and intelligent hitting, we should be ok. I agree, the single biggest problem we have is catcher. Not to take anything away from the people they are bringing in for the job so far but we can't expect all new catchers to have a career year like Napoli did.
Better clubhouse this year w/o "K"amilton! Better defense with Cruz at DH most of the time and the infield hole Young created gone. Everyone will not be distracted waiting for"K"amilton to jack one. Base running will be better because everyone was afraid to try to steal with "K"amilton at the plate lunging for the 3 foot outside pitch. Special treatment for a distraction is never good, especially when that special person id NOT coming through.
The offense is the weak point of the team this year. Man it seems weird saying that about Texas. However, Profar should get 12-18 HR, Kinsler should rake around 20, Andrus another 3-5, Murphy can probably rake close to 15, Cruz if he has a good year 30, Beltre 30, Gentry 1 or 2, Moreland another 15, maybe Martin contributes 5-10, Olt if he has a good year may bring 15-20, and a couple off the bench. Which is not near the normal but is respectable. Personally I would like to see: Kinsler RF/1B/2B with 20, Cruz DH/RF 30, Beltre 3B 30, Murphy LF 15, Olt DH/RF/1B/3B 15, Soto C 10, Andrus SS 5, Profar 2B 15, Martin/Gentry CF 15. I think that is reasonable power projections. Then you add in an improved Holland as the #3 or 4 starter, Ogando returning to form as a Starter, a solid year from Harry and Darvish taking that next step to being an ACE and you have a solid rotation. Then Perez has to be better than Feldman/Oswalt in the 5 hole. If the bullpen gets an upgrade or two we could win a few games this season.
You're expecting Profar to hit 12-18 HRs this year? That's a pretty unreasonable expectation. Also, you do know there's more to power than HRs, right?
I'm more hoping for good OBP. HRs are hard to predict and thus counting on them is less of a sure thing than situational hitting. To expound:
Ian, Elvis, and Murphy, in particular, know how to take walks. Napoli did too, so it's a shame we won't have him back. If we get on base and take the running game back, we can score runs. If we're going to run a bunch of young guys out there, we might as well play to their likely strengths (speed) and not try to force HRs (something they probably can't count on having many of). You can teach discipline (and thus walks) more easily than you can teach HRs, especially because some guys just don't have much power (e.g. Gentry).
The Rangers won a lot of games this year by having a big inning and holding off the opposition. They lost a lot of games when they couldn't get a big inning going and the other team scratched a couple runs out here and there. Trying to return to a station-to-station game could be key to going back to the playoffs.
Station to station sounds like we have clods on the basepaths...with Profar, Kinsler, Andrus, Gentry, & Martin...we should be playing a ton of hit and run and going first to third a lot.
I disagree. "Station-to-station" is a good way to put 3-4 runs up in an inning consistently. Obviously singles & doubles are more feasible for most of the lineup to hit, and more common. If a hitter is trying to hit a HR and comes up short, he is out. If a hitter is trying to go opposite field for a double/single, and comes up short, he could still wind up with a single.
Elementary way of putting it, I know... not trying to be condescending. I've just never understood the fascination with having 1-2 "big HR guys" when having multiple guys who can drive the ball to the gaps will pay much higher dividends.
Re-reading what I wrote, it sounds like I'm insinuating that this approach would put up 3-4 runs / inning, every inning. Haha, did not mean that at all, but hopefully you get what I'm saying.
I still find it hard to beat the Earl Weaver system: strong pitching, and 3 run homers, with a lot of L/R platooning.
Home runs aren't what they are cracked up to be. San Francisco was absolutely dead last in total team home runs last year. St Luis was 17th. Texas was 5th. Texas was 6th for fewest at-bats per home run. San Francisco was dead last with almost double the plate appearances per home run. Last year we had a lot of swinging for the fences and everyone ridiculed Washington for playing small ball whenever he got a chance. The supposed Sabermetricians here could learn a little if they expanded their scope of metrics and look at something other than how many home runs a player is good for. 30 home runs with nobody on base doesn't mean a whole lot...give m the team that hits well consistently, lol.
The way SF and STL got to the finale is through pitching, not hitting. No big power numbers, just fundamental hitting. Last year was a train wreck from a pitching standpoint due to injuries, and we weren't going anywhere...the smell was in the air in August. This year I am hoping that they can get a consistent year out of our pitching staff and then the Rangers will go far.
@gnats: yes, you can put up 3-4 runs an inning with STS hitting. But you don't always. I'd rather have a run or 2 every other inning than take my chances on putting up a 5-spot in the 6th, if only because as a fan I don't feel like our team is completely floundering.
And you made my point exactly. Instead of trying to hit HRs when we might often fall short, a double in the gap will score all but 1 of those runs. Doing that 2-3 times a game will often make for more runs scored than swinging for the fences, given how often HRs occur.
Rangers just are NOT going to give up a draft choice for any FA, that's received a QO.Sorry, the tweak(s) come from trades, in my view. Bourn has to be the most inane rumor.
I don't see why the Rangers can't sign a FA that received a QO. We know a lot of draft picks don't work out. Even a lot of first rounders don't amount to much (what is Kiker up to nowadays?) so it's not the worst thing in the world to lose one.
Great insight as always Andy. You are always dead on. Maybe we could meet for coffe and talk baseball sometime. I know a great spot.
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