Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fade to black.

It's all over for the 2013 season. Last night's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in game 163 means Texas misses the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Time to close the book on the 2013 season and start looking forward to 2014. The cover of the 2013 Rangers Yearbook seems to be a fitting summation. Here's a few things that stick out to me about the season as the ballpark lights fade.

91 wins. That's the fifth most wins in a season in franchise history. It's an astronomical amount of wins considering the injury battles the team faced. It wasn't enough to win the division or even lock down a Wildcard spot. Going to have to aim higher so long as the A's are cooking.

Injuries. Matt Harrison lost his whole season. Alexi Ogando, Ian Kinsler, Lance Berkman, Jeff Baker, and Nick Tepesch all lost big chunks of the season to various ailments. That cost the Rangers several games. If healthy they might have kept pace with Oakland, they would have kept the Wildcard.

Suspension. Nelson Cruz played the fool with PED's and paid the piper with a 50 game suspension. Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one who paid. The loss of his bat in the order handcuffed the offense going down the stretch.

Disappointment. Matt Garza was a bust. He's the second straight front-line pitcher Texas rented for the stretch run to fail. Ryan Dempster last year was worse but Garza was definitely not worth giving up Mike Olt. David Murphy was also a big let down. I like Murph but he just didn't hold up under the pounding of every day play.

Gone? Lance Berkman was a gamble. He really didn't pay off through the whole season but that was expected to a degree. He's likely to return to retirement. Matt Garza probably won't get the big offer from Texas he's looking for. Can't blame them since it's pretty obvious he can't pitch in the American League. Geovany Soto is more likely to return but could be snagged by another team needing a platoon/backup receiver. Nelson Cruz will be looking for the big money. His suspension should play a role but probably won't. Texas will make him an offer but isn't going to be able to match the market. David Murphy may not even receive a contract offer from the Rangers. If he does it will be with the stipulation that he is the fourth outfielder. That may or may not sit well with him. I can't see anyone picking him up as an every day player but he'll get a call or two from teams looking for a platoon player. A.J. Pierzynski was not my favorite off-season signing last winter. He won me over though, at least for the most part. I would like to see him back but am not expecting it. His age and budget considerations point to a signing with another team. Joe Nathan has done very well in Texas. Ron Washington wants him back and so do I. Joe finished enough games to trigger his option to void the Rangers one-year option. If he hadn't the team would definitely pick him up for next year. As it is, we are likely to find out if his talk of wanting to stay in Texas is for real or just talk.

Arrivals. Martin Perez is here to stay. Barring injury or a sudden failing look for him to be in the starting rotation in 2014. Leonys Martin seems to have staked out his claim in center field. He needs to keep developing and stay ahead of Craig Gentry but it's likely he'll be in center on opening day. Jurickson Profar is also going to have a shot at next year's roster. In what position is the puzzle.

Baseball town. The team continued to draw well. Very well. In fact, they outdrew every other team except the New York Yankees. (That includes out drawing the Angles, sorry Josh.) That's nice to see. I expect the fan support to continue in 2014.

All in all it was an interesting, and somewhat painful, 2013 season for the Texas Rangers. The off-season should be interesting as well. There are several areas the team needs to address. Time for the front-office to work their magic.

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