It is almost time, once again, for baseball in Texas. Opening Day is only 3 days away, but sometimes it pays to look back before moving forward.
So, briefly, I want to break down the Rangers’ off-season. I’ll go over each move and let you know whether it made the team better or worse. Here we go!
Yorvit Torrealba – PLUS
I wasn’t sure about this at first, but it made more sense as the winter started to shake out. Above all else, the Rangers look for their catchers to handle the pitching staff. If that’s what you want, then Torrealba is a nice addition. Like a lot of active catchers, he might be a little light on offensive pop, but his defense should make up for that.
Bengie Molina – PLUS
I have nothing against Molina personally, but it’s fair to say that Torrealba is an upgrade. He is younger, faster, and more athletic than Molina, who was contemplating retirement anyway.
Cliff Lee – MINUS
He only won 4 regular season games in a Ranger uniform, but there’s no doubt his early postseason performances were invaluable. He’s a big game pitcher and it won’t be easy to replace him. No question this is a big loss.
Brandon Webb – ????
Nobody knows where this experiment is headed, but I’d bet house money on one of two scenarios. Either he puts it together enough to stabilize the middle of the rotation or he experiences a series of setbacks similar to his most recent and never really sees much service. Whatever happens, I don’t see him being the Rich Harden of 2011.
Arthur Rhodes – PLUS
Rhodes will be a solid bullpen piece if he can stay healthy and not exhaust himself before the end of the regular season. It was pretty clear that the heavy workload took its toll on Darren Oliver down the stretch last year. Hopefully, with Rhodes and Oliver splitting time, they can both stay fresh enough heading into the latter half of the season.
Adrian Beltre – PLUS
Beltre has a reputation for being a guy that only plays up in his contract years. Maybe I’m giving him too much of a benefit of the doubt, but for now I’m giving the organization credit. If for no other reason than seeing some of the magic he’s already performed with his glove at 3B. If his bat and his clubhouse presence can keep up, then he will be well worth his FA contract.
Vlad Guerrero – PLUS
If Beltre hadn’t been signed, Guerrero would have made sense. With Beltre sandwiched between Hamilton and Cruz, it doesn’t fit to have a pure DH-type on the roster. Loved watching Vlad swing, but unfortunately that’s about all he can do anymore.
Michael Young – ????
This is a move that never happened, but I still wonder how it might have affected the club if it had. My brain says Young would be hard to replace, but my gut says the team would be better off in the long run. Hard to say for sure.
Rich Harden/Jorge Cantu/Christian Guzman – PLUS
All experiments that never panned out. No great loss with any of them.
Mike Napoli – PLUS
To me, this is the most intriguing move of the off-season. Napoli is young enough and versatile enough to make a considerable impact on the club. It will be especially delicious if he comes up big once or twice against his old team, the division rival Angels.
Frank Francisco – MINUS
That’s a minus only under the condition that Francisco gets healthy and stays that way. His presence in the bullpen was hard to replace in the 2nd half of 2010 and the big question in 2011 is how the bullpen will perform. Of course, none of that matters if Franky Frank spends most of his season on the DL. I’ll call this a loss for now.
Chuck Greenberg – MINUS
It never hurts to have as many smart people in the room as you can get. We will see if Nolan the Infallible can keep the train on the tracks.
Matt Treanor – MINUS
This one happened just yesterday and makes little sense to me. The apparent reasoning is that the club needed the roster spot for an extra arm in the bullpen. Treanor is never going to set the world on fire, but he’s a competent backstop. Napoli as the only safety net behind Torrealba is questionable and Treanor’s departure leaves some roles less well defined. This also makes Teagarden 3rd in the depth chart, which isn’t very exciting news to most Rangers fans.
I think that should just about do it. Everything was off the top of my head, but I don’t think I missed anything or left anyone out. I may have overlooked some smaller transactions, like Mason Tobin, but I hit on all of the big impact deals.
The final tally comes with a lot more positives than negatives. Missing out on Lee is a big hit, but nothing that could have been helped. By and large, the club is better off today than they were a year ago.
I’ll save a prediction for another update later in the week.