Hopefully the front office members of the Texas Rangers bought name tags prior to Spring Training. This roster had as many changes as a typical Jerry Dipoto roster gets over the off season. Much of this roster reshuffling is the result of Texas naming former big league pitcher Chris Young as General Manager.
And the man we all love to hate, Rougned Odor, was designated for assignment as camp broke. The Rangers will simply eat his contract rather than let him strike out and commit dirty slides for another two years.
So after all the musical chairs, where does this leave the Rangers?
While not a scary rotation, Gibson has been a decent arm for most of his career and Arihara is coming off a successful career in Japan. Getting 5 years of Dunning who projects as a mid to back end of the rotation arm for one year of Lynn is probably a good long term play but it won’t help them much now.
The Rangers lineup is the biggest key that these aren’t your Hamilton/Beltre AL Champion Rangers. Names like David Dahl and Brock Holt join the ultimate boom or bust bat in the game of Joey Gallo and the solid Nate Lowe.
Fangraphs projections show only two of all of their bats expected to be above average, Gallo and Lowe. Part of this drop off might be the new ballpark playing more fairly, some might be the deader ball, but really the lineup just lacks both power and OBP. Plus there’s not a lot of speed when guys do get on the base paths.
The Rangers bullpen took a huge hit when closer Jose Leclerc was placed on the injured list with elbow soreness and projected to miss significant time. At least until prior to this development the team could realistically hope to close out most games in which they led.
The Leclerc injury came on the heels of promising youngster Jonathan Hernandez going down with a sprained UCL. Those two were supposed to provide a powerful 1-2 punch.
Not much. The headliners getting injured was the worst news but a good half dozen bullpen arms are down for Texas at this time. Some will be back in a week or two, others will be out longer or indefinitely.
Look for the Rangers to try to patch the unit together using unknown quantities like Josh Sborz, Hunter Wood, and John King until the cavalry arrives. If it doesn’t the depth, or lack thereof, will really hurt.
They aren’t pretty. Texas fans were promised a competitive team and a beautiful ballpark this season. They got neither. A mediocre at best rotation and weak lineup isn’t a good recipe for success. Then when the projected strength of the club, the back of the bullpen, goes down with injury things just get worse.
Teams like Texas often play a big role in who wins a division or Wild Card spot. You beat up on them and you have a good shot. Struggle against them while your division rivals beat up on them and you put yourself at a disadvantage. This is a year in which the Angels really need to tee off against the Rangers. Whichever of the Astros, A’s, or Angels that does the worst against Texas stands a good chance of missing the playoffs.