Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New guy Chris' thoughts, musings and predictions regarding your Texas Rangers' upcoming season

My good friend and lifelong Rangers fan Chris will be contributing here and there on the blog. Here's Chris' first contribution. And it was featured at Cards Conclave:
1) What are your thoughts on the team’s offseason?  Did they do what they needed to do?

As of yet, I don't think the Rangers have really done anything this offseason that will have a big effect on the season, for better or worse.  I know there is a lot of buzz around Gallardo, but he has yet to prove he can be the ace he was projected to be when he broke into the league in 2007.  In fact, his career ERA and WHIP are 3.69 and 1.30, and those are great representations of every year he's been in the majors.  Unfortunately, when those numbers are translated to the AL, we're probably looking at a 4+ ERA, which they probably could have found without trading prospects for.  The Rangers also added a former 1st rounder who has been unable to keep a rotation spot, a few bullpen pieces, and Kyle Blanks, an enormous first baseman with a ton of power and an inability to stay healthy. All that being said, the success of the Rangers this season hinges on health (darn), and the players they paid big money to last year showing they're worth anything close to the contracts they were given.  Given the large contracts on the roster and the rash of injuries, there isn't a lot the Rangers can do yet.  I do like the idea of pitching Juan Carlos Oviedo and Leo Nunez in the same game.  

2) What are the expectations for Prince Fielder this year?

I have high hopes for Prince Fielder, but much lower expectations.  It wouldn't be surprising to see him get off to a slow start given the year off.  I'd say .260 with about 22-25 HR's is what I'm expecting, assuming he plays the whole year.  If he can get to about .275 with 30 HR's, it will be a successful season for him.  

3) Jurickson Profar’s name seems to always come up in trade rumors. Is he going anywhere?

A resounding no.  Obviously, this has become a much easier question to answer.  With the state of his shoulder, they can't get enough in return to make it worth trading him.  Might as well hold on and hope he fulfills the immense potential.

4) What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?

I'd love to say Rua or Rodriguez, but I think it has to be Odor.  He flew through the minors and held his own last year with the big club.  He could add twenty points the the batting average, hit about 15-17 HR's, and steal about the same amount of bases.  His stolen base percentage should improve greatly from last year, when he was caught about twice as many times as he was successful.  

5) What’s your projection of the team’s record and where will they finish in the division?

Of the teams in their division, the Rangers are probably the hardest to predict.  I could see them with anywhere between 65 and 85 wins, but I'm going to say 74-88 and just behind the Astros for dead last in the West.  I'd love to be more optimistic, but too many things have to go right, and some of them are already going wrong.  

6) What do you like best about being a Rangers fan?

I live in Chicago right now, so this is fairly simple; Nolan Ryan pummeling Robin Ventura, who was 20 years younger than him.  I love that that wins me almost any argument here.  As Rangers fans, we don't have a rich history full of World Series victories and Hall of Fame players, but I remember where I was when Ryan manhandled Ventura .  I remember the front page of the paper the next morning.  I miss Nolan.  I'm afraid we may be approaching a mild rebuild, so that's what I fall back on right now.  This season, I'll be able to add a food stand at The Ballpark entirely devoted to fried food to this list.  Given the current food climate, fans may actually have a heart attack the next time the Rangers get one strike away.  Twice.

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