Baseball is the greatest sport ever invented. Do you want to know how I know that? Because it is. It encompasses the best of what is America, it is our national pastime.
Specifically, one of my favorite things about professional baseball is that, even when the season ends, all that really means is the offseason is beginning and the hot stove is getting first up.
So, in typical fanboy fashion, I have crafted my own Texas Rangers offseason plan, detailing each move in preparation for Spring Training 2013. I have also included my Opening Day 25 Man Roster, salaries and details as to why I have crafted my team as I have.
And without further adieu, here you are: Your 2013 Opening Day Texas Rangers.
25-Man Opening Day Roster
NAME- 2011 WAR
C- Napoli, $11 Million (3 Years, $33 Million)-2.0 WAR
(.227/.343/.469 24 HR, 56 RBI, 53 R, 108 G)
1B- Mike Olt, $500k OR Napoli OR Young
(.288/.398/.579, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 65 R, 95 G)
2B- Kinsler, $13 Million -- 3.2 WAR
(.256/.326/.423, 19 HR, 72 RBI, 105 R, 157 G)
3B- Adrian Beltre, $16 Million - 6.5 WAR
(.321/.359/.561, 36 HR, 102 RBI, 95 R, 156 G)
SS- Jurickson Profar, $500k
(.281/.368/.452, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 76 R, 126 G)
LF- Murphy, $6.5 Million - 4.0 WAR
(.304/.380/.479, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 65 R, 147 G)
CF- Gentry, $500k - 2.9 WAR
(.304/.367/.392, 26 RBI, 31 R, 13 SB, 121 G)
RF- Martin, $3.25 Million WAR
(.359/.422/.610, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 48 R, 55 G)
DH- Cruz, $10.5 Million - 1.3 WAR
(.260/.319/.460, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 86 R, 159 G)
BN- Blanco, $500k
BN- Young, $16 Million
BN- Shoppach, $2 Million (2 years, $4 Million)
BN- Borbon, $500k
Position Player Total: $80.75 Million
SP- Price, $9.5 Million-5.1
(20-5, 31 GS, 2.56 ERA-3.12 xFIP, 205/59)
SP- Darvish, $9.5 Million - 5.1
(16-9, 29 GS, 3.90 ERZ, 3.52 xFIP, 221/89)
SP- Harrison, $6 Million (4/$40, 6,8,12,14) - 3.8
(18-11, 32 GS, 3.29 ERA, 4.13 xFIP, 133/59)
SP- Holland, $3.2 Million - 1.7
(12-7, 29 GS, 4.67 ERA, 4.14 xFIP, 145/52)
SP- Grimm, $500k
(11-6, 22 GS, 2.81 ERA, 103/30)
RP- Kirkman, $500k
RP- Tateyama, $1 Million
RP- Ross, $500k
RP- Scheppers, $500k
RP- Uehara, $4 Million (2/$8 Million)
RP- Ogando, $500k
CP- Nathan, $7 Million
Pitching Staff Total: $42.7 Million
Roster Total: $123.45 Million
- Let's start with the position players. Josh Hamilton will be lost to free agency, this is a foregone conclusion by everyone who follows the Rangers. It is too bad, I wish I could look back on the Hamilton years with joy and happiness for all the wonderful moments we had together. But, alas, the premadonna side came out strong in 2011 and 2012, and fans have seemingly moved on from the star.
- Mike Napoli is also a free agent, but I believe he will be back with the Rangers in 2013. Napoli is a solid offensive player and an average catcher, but he is also average at first base and I expect him to get no more than 1/3rd of his at bats at catcher in 2013. I have him coming back on a three year deal at $11 Million per year... If Napoli would have had a more solid 2012, he would be in line to get more than that and will likely see more money in the form of a one year deal this offseason, but I believe he is looking for security right now more than cash, and this deal is fair to both sides.
- Mitch Moreland is gone (more on that later), so first base will be occupied by a number of different people in 2013... Mike Olt is one option, I think we have to give him a shot if he isn't traded this offseason, but I expect to see Mike Napoli there a lot as well. Michael Young, super utility guy in 2013 (ughhhh) will likely see time there as well. But, for Olt's sake I hope he plays well early and locks down the position as his own, I would love to see a .275/.350/.450 year out of him in 2013.
- Ian Kinsler is back and at second base, same with Adrian Beltre at third. There is some talk of moving Kinsler to left field this offseason in an effort to get Jurickson Profar on the field everyday, but if you do that you remove a lot of Kinsler's value and I think diminish his returns. And for a guy who supposedly suffers from bad ADD, playing the outfield is NOT going to help. Adrian Beltre is the new face of this franchise, the stall-wart at the corner.
- Jurickson Profar will be taking over at short stop for Elvis Andrus in 2013 (more on that later), a position he certainly CAN handle and is a place he has tremendous value at. I would love to see an up the middle combo of Elvis and Profar, but it just isn't practical! Trading Kinsler is hard, and we know Elvis is likely gone after 2014, so why not get some value back right now? Profar will be fine, both offensively and defensively. He won't have as many jaw dropping plays as Elvis, but he will likely have fewer errors than Elvis did as a rookie and much more offense to offer. It will be an exciting time people, can't wait!
- The outfield is also getting a makeover. David Murphy earned a lot of playing time in 2012 and produced a very solid season. He was a solid 4 win guy, had an amazing OBP and held his own defensively in left field. He is NOT Josh Hamilton, but won't kill you there either, it is time to give him a shot. FREE CRAIG GENTRY in CF, the stereotypical 9-hole CF'er who is crazy fast with an average arm and tracking ability who showed he is good at getting on base during 2012. My right fielder is Leonys Martin, the Cuban import the Rangers expect to see a lot out of in 2013. The truth is, he is not fast enough to play center, but he might just have enough offense to play right. And, we are certainly going for addition through subtraction when it comes to the defense here, getting Cruz out of right is a win-win.
- Nelson Cruz is a full time DH for me, the guy just continues to regress in the outfield and there is no reason to believe he will ever improve, the guy is in his thirties for heaven's sake. But, Cruz is still a solid power threat and can be a good 4-5-6 spot hitter in your lineup. He has one more year in Texas before free agency in 2013, I hope he ends it on a good note.
- The bench is a combination of new and old. Shoppach is my backup catcher, a guy I have liked for a long time and has experience catching a lot of games. Young is NOT TRADEABLE people, I repeat: HE CANNOT BE TRADED. So, he is back for his final tour with Texas (one can only hope). I have Borbon being the "surprise guys in Suprise" in 2013 and making the bench with former UIF Andres Blanco.
- The starting rotation was tough for me, I sincerely felt like the team needed to upgrade there. Texas needs an ace to compete for a World Series in 2013, no doubt in my mind about that. Is Yu Darvish going to be that person? Maybe, but that might not happen in 2013, the guy is only 26. So I brought in David Price, probably the most accessible ACE in baseball right now, who is still under team control for another three seasons.
- The package for Price was tough... Elvis Andrus, Martin Perez, Cody Buckel, and Mitch Moreland. Elvis has two more years before FA and the Rays need a shortstop who is young, controllable and cheep. Perez is the type of high ceiling arm Tampa hordes, along with Buckel who really took a big step forward in 2012. Moreland will go into Tampa's 1B/DH/OF rotation of bats in 2013, and I hope he figures stuff out for them. He is just yet another young, controllable and cheep player that they will squeeze production out of.
- So, Texas has an ace (former pupal of Jim Schlossnagle, BTW) in the form of David Price, the Holy Grail they have sought after for so long. Behind him will be the guy the Rangers hope becomes an ACE but is still a very good #2, Yu Darvish. Matt Harrison is exactly where he should be, a solid #3 in a playoff rotation and Derek Holland rounds things out at #4. I also gave Harrison an extension, something the Rangers probably wish they had done prior to 2012. I have no idea who the #5 starter will be for the Rangers in 2013, but I figured another Justin Grimm appearance is as likely as anything else. Not that it matters, anyways.
- The bullpen is mostly intact, minus Mike Adams. Mike saw a loss of velocity, swinging strikes and production in 2012 before being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He had surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of ST, but I think the Rangers will let him go find a multi-year deal elsewhere. Nathan is back, Ogando is your set up guy with Koji who signs a multi year deal to return. The rest you know about, I won't take time to explain.
- Here is my predicted lineup for 2012 opening day:
If I was penning the lineup, it would look like this:
Either lineup is not ELITE, but it is still pretty darn good. I expect Texas to be top 10 in runs for 2013 with this lineup, and if the pitching staff does it's job they should be in the hunt for the playoffs yet again.
All together, this $122 Million team is pretty darn good if you ask me. Likelihood of happening? Not much, but that is what the offseason is all about! DREAMING! And I, for one, look forward to seeing the dream turn into reality.