Breaking Down the Texas Rangers' Offseason Plans in the Wake of Coming So Close

Categories: Sports

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Photos courtesy Texas Rangers
No need to place all of the blame on Nellie. There are plenty of other folks at fault for losing the World Series.
No matter how hard you try to find a scapegoat, the story of the 2011 World Series doesn't have a chapter about its version of Bill Buckner, nor should it. Buckner only dominates the narrative of the 1986 World Series because media and fans ripped out the other chapters.

With the Boston Red Sox just one out away from a World Series title in '86, reliever Calvin Schiraldi allowed three-straight singles. In three chances to get one out to end the series, he failed. And with the Red Sox leading 3-0 after five innings in Game 7, Schiraldi and his bullpen mates surrendered eight runs in the next three frames, including three in just one-third inning by Schiraldi. Even though he was the losing pitcher in both Games 6 and 7, his name is virtually unknown.

Bob Stanley took the mound in relief of Schiraldi in Game 6 with the Red Sox still one out away from victory. Stanley proceeded to throw a wild pitch, which scored the tying run and advanced Ray Knight to second base. After Knight took a big lead, shortstop Spike Owen sneaked in behind him. A good throw would have nailed Knight for the final out, but Stanley never looked at him. And, had Knight not been on second, it's unlikely he scores on Buckner's error. Yet no one knows Stanley's name either.

Nelson Cruz has shouldered most of the blame for misplaying a potential series-ending fly ball off the bat of David Freese that instead turned into a game-tying triple, but there's no shortage of explanations for the historic and heart-wrenching World Series loss by Your Texas Rangers.

Ron Washington's confusing managerial miscues. Michael Young's awful defense and lack of offensive production from the cleanup spot. Alexi Ogando doing his best Koji Uehara impersonation. Neftali Feliz allowing a double to Albert Pujols and walking Lance Berkman in Game 6. C.J. Wilson not pitching like an ace. Josh Hamilton straining his groin. The entire pitching staff allowing a record 41 walks.

Yup, there's plenty of blame to go around. Even Mike Napoli (errant throw to home plate in Game 3) and Derek Holland (homer allowed to Allen Craig in Game 6) weren't without their own gaffes.

In fact, the only argument I've heard so far that doesn't make sense is blaming the way home-field advantage is determined. Even if it hadn't been changed to the winner of the All-Star Game in 2003, the series would have still started and ended in St. Louis because the previous rule gave the advantage to the NL in odd-numbered years.

It's only been a couple days, but the focus of my frustration has been Wash. I'm not advocating firing the guy or declaring him the scapegoat by any means, but I have a feeling that I'll never forget Wash's decision to not start Holland in Game 7, his overconfidence in his starting pitchers and the skipper's refusal to change the lineup.

I also have a good feeling that the pain I've suffered as a Rangers fan won't subside until they win it all, but I'm much more confident of a return to the series this year than I was last year.

This team is poised to get better. How much better depends on what general manager Jon Daniels can accomplish this offseason with presumably a bit more dough to spend. This year's payroll jumped from around $65 million in 2010 to approximately $95 million. Only Wilson and a handful of others are free agents for Texas, while the rest of the free-agent class includes big names like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes. Co-owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis haven't discussed specifically what the payroll will be next year, but Simpson has committed to another increase for the right player or players.

The Rangers made it as close as anyone has ever been to winning a championship without sealing the deal -- twice just one out away -- and that was with no true staff ace, poor defense at first base and a weak bench.

There's really no sense in reliving any more of this season, so let's take a detailed look at roster to see just how JD and his crew might go about making it to a third-consecutive Fall Classic.

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Signing Nappy to a long-term deal should be the first item on the Rangers' to-do list.
Catchers

Mike Napoli, C/1B

Age on Opening Day 2012: 30
2011 regular season stats: .320 BA-30 HR-75 RBI-1.046 OPS (369 AB)
2011 World Series stats: .350 BA-2 HR-10 RBI-1.164 OPS (20 AB)
Contract status: final year of arbitration (FA after '12 season)
2012 salary: TBD ($5.8 million in '11)

He's the best catcher in baseball right now, a crowd favorite and the team's MVP of the World Series. As I've said a couple times before, inking Nappy to a long-term deal should be the organization's top offseason priority as opposed to battling him in arbitration, which could pay him somewhere around $10 million.

Yorvit Torrealba, C

Age on Opening Day 2012: 33
2011 regular season stats: .273 BA-7 HR-37 RBI (419 AB)
2011 World Series stats: two singles in five at-bats
Contract status: final year of two-year deal (FA after '12 season)
2012 salary: $3.25 million

He's no longer needed in Arlington after the emergence of Napoli as the full-time backstop. With a reasonable one-year contract, Torrealba should be easy to trade.

Matt Treanor, C

Age on Opening Day 2012: 36
2011 regular season stats: .214 BA-3 HR-22 RBI (196 AB)
2011 World Series stats: did not play
Contract status: FA
2012 salary: TBD

There was no reason to put him on the World Series roster, and there's also no reason to re-sign him.

Taylor Teagarden, C

Age on Opening Day 2012: 28
2011 regular season stats: .285 BA-12 HR-22 RBI (151 AB) at Triple-A Round Rock

He's proven his worth as a backup, so Texas shouldn't be looking for one elsewhere if Torrealba is dealt.


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baseballball
baseballball

I think Matt Cain would be the guy to go for rather than Shields.  Cain is younger, more consistent, and I think San Francisco would ask for less than what Tampa Bay would for Shields.  I'm not even sure we'd have to give up Hamilton...maybe they'd do it for Cruz.   While Cain isn't a true ace, he's about as close as it gets, and I just don't trust Shields the way his 2009-2010 seasons went and coming off a career season by a mile at age 30. 

BJ Upton has huge upside but has never put it all together.  And add in some work ethic concerns and I'm not sure he's worth going for.  I believe this team sees Leonys Martin the starting center fielder sooner than later. 

I think Koji Uehera is back and could be a huge asset.  He had a terrible postseason, but he was amongst the best relievers in the game the past two regular seasons and did it in the toughest division in baseball.  Plus he and Tateyama gotta sweet talk Yu for us. 

There's some good closers on the market and if the team nabs one that seems like an easy transition for Feliz to the rotation.  Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, K-Rod all seem like possibilities.  Or maybe Nolan will suit up and show these young punks how it's done.  

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

I don't think we are going to see CJ around here next year. After CC re-signed for an ungodly amount of money with the damnyankees he is the best available. The price is liable to be out of  sight. Not sure I am willing to pay 15+ for him. Heard the Musers talking the other morning that some unnamed source in the Media said they were happy that SOMEBODY noticed just how douchey arrogant he can be. I am not saying he won't be missed, but I am not ready to see the team shell out a heap of cash and several years for a pitcher as aggravating as he can be. Shoulda, woulda coulda. It don't feed the bulldog. Trying to think positively. Ugh, nothing. I ought to be glad we got this far again, I ought to be excited for another season next year, but it just isn't there yet. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Here's an option:  A coworker just told me that the Kardashian chick is available again.  Try to get an option on her for next season.  Get her to date one of the Rangers and sabotage the relationship.  Not sure of the numbers, but I believe it's better than .500 that athletes that date her and dump her within a single season have rather good seasons.... just an idea

Throws Likea Girl
Throws Likea Girl

C.J. Wilson spotted every Rangers opponent one game in each playoff series including the World Series and when he came to the mound in relief, he plunked a batter at the worst possible time. The guy is bad news in a Ranger suit -- dump him. Find a chimp who can throw toward the plate 3 out of 5 times and sign him instead.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

I've been in a self inflicted coma since watching the ball go over Nelly's head..

We won right?

Quality recap and game theads through the WS run, Slinging Sam, wish Joe T would fire about 18 of the food effing writers and give you their combined 150 bucks a week to write about sporty for us.

Goodbye Ceej, hope you sign with NYY and have a career arc similar to our last great F/A lefty that went up there. (Rogers,Kenny)

I don't likey Yu if it cost's 100 million bucks, that being said..it ain't my money, and I'm not a Billionaire like the two principal owners of the Redshoes.  Hell, sign Pujols and Fielder too..use the Face for PH duties and backkup PH duties for the next three years.

Teagarden sucks, he can't hit at all...keep freaking Torealba..he's signed and he can share catching duties with Nap Nap Winner til we need Nap to take over and power this thing on a another run for One.

I ain't trading Profar, no way no how..he will be needed in Arlington as soon as Kins leaves, or God forbid, when Lil E takes his talents to NYC to replace Mr. 3000.

This thing hurt alot worse than last years thing, I'm still in a bad, bad place..

How many days til Spring Training? I need some baseball...the horses are ready and so am I..when does the GD NBA start back up? I need something....soooo sad.

Storm_71
Storm_71

My whole weekend sucked ass. I helped coach my son's t-ball game on Saturday morning that helped. Then put Halloween crap up. I had to go to teh store and get some food, I had my little Ranger cap on. The chick behind the  counter goes "did you watchthe game"? Stupid bitch what do you think? I wanted to say that but I didn't. She rambled on about how she wanted the Rangers win and all that. She put me right back in teh shit hole I was in Friday night.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Re: MertenCouldn't agree with you more. Actually, I'd prefer if out of 3 posts a day Merten would write, one of them would be on food. I like my bloggers when they're not being douchey and talking about what strip club they're going to that night. I actually didn't mind it from BDH ironically enough. Hey good buddy, we have hockey in this town. Go get ya some! (I'll pass on that and I'll double pass on hockey radio...wtf KTCK???)

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I'm just happy the Rangers got a real write-up, when Richie would've given us twice as many words about Tashard Choice being cut than an off-season hardball recap.

Rage still sucks, by the way. That whole station is trying so hard to appeal to the mouthbreathing redneck demo.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Ah Neffie sweet sweet Neffie. Scatter shooting while wondering what the Rangers could get for him in a trade????? Looks like we are going to have to rehash the same conversations we had this last srping about him. What the hell happened to those new pitches he was working on?? He used the change and the curve at the start of the season and I thought did very well. Then as the season went on seemed like he just shit canned them. I don't think he has what it takes upstairs to be a starter at least right now. As he great Mr. Merten said he is young. Maybe one day he'll see the light.

I changed my Facebook status with CJ Wilson to "it's complicated" this post season. Please little baby Jesus with your balled up little fist don't let the Rangers re-sign him.

Believe or not I have a an old Army buddy that now lives in Sapporo and he goes to see the Fighters play quite a bit. He says Yu Darvish is like no other pitcher he has ever seen. Simply nasty stuff and can changes speeds on almost all of his pitches at will. That being said he facing Japanese hitters on Japanese teams and by in large most of the teams according to my buddy just don't have the stacked line ups like there are in the MLB. It's a lot easier to pitch around the better hitters. Personally I would like to see the Rangers roll the dice with this guy. Also if they could pick up Oswalt on the cheap (relative) I think that would make for a good rotation.

I also like the idea of the Upton/ Shields trade Mert mentioned I just don't like the part about including Profar. I think that kid is the real deal.

As always very nice job Sam. I'm with RDP1 let us know if and when you score your own blog.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

I think Neffy was screwed up from the start..I think something was wrong with him, more than between his ears.  I think he played hurt or something the whole dang year.  And it was caused by jerking him around last spring training. 

Dear JD, make him a freaking starter and stick with it or leave him in the pen and stick with it. 

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

F you. You assured me everytime I questioned him scaring me with his aloofness. How do I trust him as a starter? 

just sayin'
just sayin'

I was yelling at Wash through my tv several times during the series. I wanted to blame him and his "gut" for the series loss. But the fact of the matter is that his gut led the Rangers to a 2 run lead heading in to the 9th of clinching game with the ball in the hand of his stud reliever. If Neftali does his job, the baseball world would still be calling Ron a fucking genius.

Steve
Steve

You know what, don't.  Just....don't.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Re: WashI'm with you Mert. Still scratching my head on how he was willing to alter 6-9 but wouldn't alter 1-5 where he was having production problems. If he was doing it because of ego issues then he's not a good manager. A good manager, wait, a great manager, will have the respect of his players and be able to make a change. It goes for the pitching, too. Don't be worried about hurting a guy's feelings, it's THE WORLD SERIES. The Rangers might not ever get back.

Re: Nellie/NeftaliI'll go with Neffie first. I commented on the Sportytorium(rip) a couple of times how Neffy would lose games for us with the way he gets started. I was chastised, every time, because he's not blowing game #7 or game # 82, but when it happens in the WS, it's magnified. We all saw it all year. It only created a perfect storm for what happened. When there's failure, we always want to point the finger. I love Nellie, and IMO, he should have made the catch. He made himself look bad by not going into the wall for it. Honestly, if he does that, I don't think he shoulders as much criticism.

Re: Rangers walksNo excuse for this. This is one byproduct of not having CLEE on the roster. The guy went months without walking anyone. Kinda sad looking back now, the Rangers weren't willing to overpay to keep CLEE, and now they'll lose CJ. 

My holster is sliding down my hips, wranglers sagging, brushpopper no longer heavily starched, stetson beat all to hell, and I'm missing one spur from my boots.

Thanks for coming back Mert. If you have a blog, can you please list it here? I know more than a few guys here enjoy your sports blogging.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

No blog of my own ... yet. But I just might get one started soon. Still trying to find out how I can make $ doing so.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Ask Sturm..eh..nevermind he does it cause he loves us.  We'd gladly pay more for your blog than we do for this here paper.  But not much, take care homeless looking fake Mike Modano..

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

RealDirty has it right.  Sam's writing this series is as good as it gets; much, much better than any national or local reporting/analysis I have run across since Roger Angell and Tom Boswell.  Best of luck to you, Sam; I look forward to reading much more from you in the future.  And thx to you and Robert for the live WS blog, it was nice being able to focus on some games without someone asking me why Holland wore a jacket when he was on base.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Thanks for the terrific compliment. Hopefully, I can get a gig somewhere doing this full time. I'll keep you informed.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

We should've made fantasy football a pay-in league, Mr. First Place. Just don't slip up, I'm right there waiting to jump you.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

There are a lot of priests that would prefer him as a tight end.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I wish I could just start Tebow at WR since he's a terrible QB.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

All I have is Megatron, and you're not getting him until I'm completely out of this thing(i.e. check back in 2 weeks)

Storm_71
Storm_71

My old high school coach is heading up my team. We went 2-8 my senior year........

MoronDog
MoronDog

How do I have such a bad record? Wade Phillips was my coach for the first 7 weeks of the season and Jerry Jones is my general manager. So last week, I fired Wade and replaced him with Rowdy.

Storm_71
Storm_71

I'll give ya a hell'vu deal on Ochocinco. Shit man buy me a cold beer and he's yours.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I've got Bradshaw on the trading block if you've got a receiver worth a shit to part with.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

You'll win this week. I don't think I've ever played anyone that was projected, player for player, for more points.How the hell do you have such a bad record?I'm scratching and fighting every week, losing Jamaal Charles in effect wrecked my season.

MoronDog
MoronDog

Dont overlook my 7th place squad.  We are positioned to make a run in the consolation bracket.  I wont settle for anything less than 5th place.  My organization is committed to mediocrity.

Dingus
Dingus

Its not hard to imagine Moreland getting another good look next year considering his wrist injury coincided with decline in production this year and JD stating the fact that extended rest was needed but unavailable for him during the second half of the season.

Napoli as full time catcher is not something I would want to bank on considering he has caught at most 96 games in a season with 4 seasons catching 75 or less games (he caught 61 for Texas last year). Teagarden has not proven enough to take up the slack considering Treanor was brought in over him for the post season.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Agreed. I hate giving up on Moreland, I don't think he's the next Chris Davis, he has something. I don't want to see another 1B go away and prosper somewhere else and MYoung for some reason hasn't been able to pick up the position fast enough.

I'm with you on Teagarden.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I still love you Sam.

Keep in mind Teagarden is out of options. He's gotta prove himself capable of staying in the bigs to stay on the roster.

The thought of Fielder inserted into this lineup gives me a twitch in my baseball pants not felt since it went impotent around midnight last Thursday night.

But this team's first priority has got to be a #1 starting pitcher. I think CJ's offers are going to shoot past realistic territory real fast and some other team can regret years 3-6 of it rather than us. Besides, he's a great 3/good 2, and a crappy 1. CC would've been sweet, but that's not happening now.

Sloppy Joe
Sloppy Joe

I was told Merten would be back eating trash out of a dumpster on Shady Trail when the World Series was over. Yet here he is. I would unretire and vent, but let's face it, there's not too much here to complain about it. I'll cut the Observer some slack today, but I expect this to be the last of Merten for a while.

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