I love me some Rangers. There is no doubt they are the greatest team EVER in major league baseball history (modern era...I always like when this is added to an article...like who cares). They are led by the best player in baseball history (a mix of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Pablo Escobar and Jesus Christ). They are most likely not going to lose another game the rest of the way.
Well, except for the first sentence that was all crud. But, it is getting pretty boring reading all of the articles and web sites because it seems that the Rangers can do no wrong. The players all love each other, Hamilton hits another homer, Darvish is unhittable, minor league system is one of the best, etc. So, since my little Rangers have the championship all wrapped up, I decided to focus on the 2013 season and see if there is anything of interest there.
Looking at the hitters, we roll out Young, Moreland, Kinsler, Andrus, Beltre, Napoli, Cruz, Hamilton and a (sort of) Murphy/Gentry platoon. The players not under team control next year are Napoli (uh oh) and Hamilton (ugh). Two very big holes to fill if they cannot be resigned. I think for the sake of this blog, Hamilton will not be resigned but Napoli will. With respects to Hamilton, I get the feeling that he wants to be paid and I believe that some other team will blow any offer for Josh out of the park (further than one of Josh's upper deck home run porch shots at the ballpark). I think the Rangers will go 5 years at $22m per/year but no higher. I see him getting 6 years at maybe $25m...he walks. Napoli is making $9.4m and the Rangers also have Torrealba coming off the books at $3+m. Combining those numbers I think you get close to what Napoli would take to stay. This is a no brainer to me. Without Hamilton, however, the offense goes from great to good. There are some options in the minors - Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin, Engle Beltre and Mike Olt (could move Moreland to the OF). None of these guys gives you what Hamilton does but you also save a bunch of money. I think the Rangers will actually look at upgrading the LF spot (currently manned by David Murphy) then leave CF to Gentry platooning with either Borbon or Martin. They have a lot of prospects to get this upgrade or they could go the free-agent method (Andre Ethier anyone?).
So, the 2013 hitters remain the same with the exception of Hamilton turning into a Andre Ethier type player and Murphy turning into a Gentry/Martin platoon. Definitely a downgrade but still a lineup that can take you to the playoffs.
Looking at the starting rotation, the only pitcher not under team control is Colby Lewis (the others are Darvish, Feliz, Holland and Harrison). I think Colby could be back if he's price is cheap enough, but, in the end, I think he is also gone. There are just too many options to consider in tying him up for additional years (suffers from a poor hip, too). Ogando and Robbie Ross (both currently in the bullpen) would get shots to replace Lewis. The Rangers also have Neil Ramirez and Martin Perez in AAA. They are getting to the point where they need to be at the major league level or traded to maximize their value. The Rangers could use the savings from Hamilton and sign a free-agent pitcher (Cole Hamels) but I don't see them going in this direction. This is nothing more than a hunch because the Rangers have shown they will spend the money on pitching. I just think we are too deep in possible rotation guys to spend $20m on Hamels. I think the rotation in 2013 is Darvish, Holland, Feliz, Harrison and Ogando.
Looking at the main guys in the bullpen, we have Joe Nathan under team control (not counting Ogando as I see him moving to the rotation). Mike Adams is free and I think he looks for a closer's job on another team. Koji Uehara is gone, too. Too much for a fly ball pitcher in our ballpark. I think the Rangers bring up Tanner Sheppers to fill a role and Robbie Ross gets more responsibility (like Ogando has received during the 2011 playoffs and this season). Losing Adams and Uehara frees up $8m+ for 2012 and I think the Rangers will be active in the free-agent market with respect to the bullpen.
So, looking at 2013 - Everyday lineup gets worse but is still very strong. A lot depends on the player we bring in. If we get an Ethier type player then the drop off is not very large. If we play Olt at 1B and move Moreland to the OF then there are some issues. The rotation is stronger in my mind. The loss of Lewis is more than made up for the extra year of experience by the young pitchers. Plus Ogando will do better than Lewis straight up. The bullpen on the surface will get worse, but the Rangers will have a lot of money to fill the holes and the front office will do a good job here. In the end, I think the bullpen will end up only slightly worse then where they are this year.
In summary, the 2013 Rangers lose Hamilton, Torrealba, Lewis, Mike Adams and Koji. They resign Napoli. They find another strong hitter in free-agency (or a trade), fill in the rotation loss from within, and use $8m+ to replenish the bullpen. Can't wait for 2013 to get here! Can't they just mail us the 2012 World Series trophy now so we can get this started?