The Rangers were generally considered the best club in the American League throughout the regular season, only to get swept in the final series of the year and wind up losing a one-game Wild Card playoff. Looking back at the ups and downs is Jared Book, former Editor of Nolan Writin’.
Author: Jared Book
The Texas Rangers, for better or for worse, are used to losing their last game of the season in the playoffs. For the second straight year, they lost a winner-take-all game. Only this year, it was in the first American League Wild Card game and not Game 7 of the World Series.
After two straight American League pennants, chinks appeared in the armor of the Rangers. Nolan Ryan’s development idea of letting pitchers throw as much as they want came back to haunt the Rangers this year. Colby Lewis, and Neftali Feliz both missed time with arm injuries and were lost for most of the season. Other pitchers also saw time on the disabled list.
After the team lost the American League West division on the final day of the season to the Oakland Athletics, there was a lot of criticism for manager Ron Washington. Washington played his regulars and was slow to play top prospects Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar while remaining loyal to Michael Young. This is the first season where there could be a change at the top for the Rangers. I don’t expect one as the team’s shake up will likely happen with the team’s roster.
The team has three major free agents that could have played their final game in a Rangers uniform. The most important is most likely Josh Hamilton. Hamilton struggled throughout the season due to his quitting chewing tobacco. However, he drew criticism for his performance from Nolan Ryan and from Washington and general manager Jon Daniels has said that the team will not offer Hamilton a contract before the start of free agency. The writing is on the wall that he will be with another team in 2013.
The second major free agent is Mike Napoli. Napoli was injured through September and had a hard time repeating his stellar 2011 season. I believe that he will remain a Ranger but the market will be after him and that may drive the price tag up. There is no immediate replacement available for the Rangers at the catcher position as I don’t think they believe Geovany Soto is an everyday catcher.
Ryan Dempster and Roy Oswalt are both free agents and I would be surprised to see either of them back for Texas. I wouldn’t expect Scott Feldman’s option to be picked up nor Yoshinori Tatayama. I expect the team to try to retain Mike Adams and Mark Lowe.
The biggest pawn the Texas Rangers have is their glutton of middle infielders. Between Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and top prospect Profar, they have three major league calibre middle infielders for two spots. They could try and move one (probably Kinsler) to the outfield but I think the biggest thing would be a trade. The Rangers are a good team but do have holes. They have problems in the starting rotation, they will have a hole in the outfield with Hamilton gone and Andrus has a lot of value and it may never be higher.
The team also has Michael Young. Young is the team’s highest paid player but doesn’t deserve an everyday spot, especially a DH spot on one of the perennial favorites in the American League. He still has one more year on his contract at $17 million and it will be interesting to see how loyal they remain to him. A managerial decision may seal the fate of Young who probably will not see a reduced role with Washington at the helm.
This is a team with a lot of talent and will expect to return to the postseason next year. Anything less would be a disappointment. This year, it was a given they would have won the division until the relentless Oakland Athletics refused to lose and took the Rangers title. In the end, the holes this team had were more glaring than when they were coasting and I expect Daniels to fill them this offseason.
However, the team had two of the top prospects in the minor leagues this season – Olt and Profar – and they were not used very well and were not given much of a chance to give the regulars a break. That, and the lack of a reliable rotation, might have been the downfall to the Rangers season. It doesn’t take a genius to see this, however, and with the Rangers means and depth they have a good opportunity to improve and make sure they can take that next step in 2013.
Jared Book is the editor of District on Deck, Fansided’s Washington Nationals site. He spent most of the 2012 season at Nolan Writin’ and lives in Montreal with his wife.