Solid off-season hints at great season

Rangers Spring Baseball
Ron Washington has been the Manager of the Texas Rangers since 2006. (Courtesy of AP)

 

The Texas Rangers, when seen last, had lost a tiebreaker with the Tampa Bay Rays who made it to the postseason, there was talk of their window closing when it came to winning the World Series, and Ian Kinsler was the longest-tenured player on the team.

The Rangers decided to break out the checkbook in order to push the World Series door wide open.

While the team decided to leave the rotation and bullpen alone, allowing additional experience and depth to keep it afloat until Derek Holland and Matt Harrison return from injuries, the offense has undergone a significant facelift.

Let’s start with arguably the largest move of the off-season.

Kinsler, the team’s second baseman who has constantly left the fans wanting a little bit more, was traded for Prince Fielder. It was a blockbuster trade that included only those two players, giving each a new setting.

With Jurickson Profar, who was the No. 1 prospect in baseball, looking for a position to cement his self, Kinsler was available. The Detroit Tigers, who needed a second baseman, traded Fielder, who underperformed last season. The Rangers were able to add power to their lineup in the process.

In acquiring Fielder, the Rangers have one of the more powerful corners of the infield with Adrian Beltre at third base. They also have a stellar defense up the middle with Profar and Elvis Andrus.

It’s hard to challenge that in terms of franchise-changing moves. However, the Rangers tried to do that by signing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

With Nelson Cruz and the Rangers unable to agree on his value, the Rangers needed an additional outfielder. And with a seven-year, $130 million contract, the Rangers locked up Choo.

While not a speed threat on the base paths, Choo offers a 20 home run threat with fantastic skills in getting on-base. In other words, he’s someone that the Rangers can put into the one or two hole of their lineup.

It cost quite a bit of money to do it, but the Rangers were able to fix their two largest needs effectively.

The Rangers also did the work needed to create depth at the other positions.

They traded outfielder Craig Gentry for outfielder Michael Choice as part of a four-player deal. Choice has much higher power potential than Gentry. If he were to tap into that, this trade would a win for the Rangers.

They also signed Daniel Bard, a reliever who has completely lost his control, and Tommy Hanson, a starter whose decreased fastball velocity deteriorated his performance. In those two signings, the Rangers are hoping to resuscitate their careers.

The Rangers are looking to win now and they have one of the better lineups in baseball. The only thread left hanging was the possibility of having a manager on the hot seat.

They fixed that by signing Ron Washington to a one-year extension. Now his contract runs through the 2015-16 season.

The Texas Rangers are ready to go. They’ve got the right personnel in place to make a deep postseason run, something missing from the last two seasons.

With Spring Training starting up, it’s now time to sit back, relax and enjoy some good, old-fashioned baseball.

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