Spring Training is less than three weeks away and the Rangers have questions that need to be addressed like any other team.
Perhaps the biggest questions are in the rotation, which actually isn’t a new problem for Texas.
This is the second year in a row that the Rangers are replacing the ace of their staff. Should the team not sign Roy Oswalt, Colby Lewis will slide into the spot vacated by C.J. Wilson. Lewis has been solid the last couple of years, but the 35 home runs he gave up last year are troubling for a guy at the front end of the rotation.
After him is Derek Holland, and the question when he takes the mound is usually “Which Derek Holland will we see?” Will it be the guy who carved up the Cardinals in the World Series? Or the one who didn’t make it out of the first inning against Florida?
After that it’s Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz. Darvish has yet to pitch in the MLB and Feliz will be in the rotation for the first time after two years as the team’s closer. That leaves Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman to battle for the fifth spot.
The good news is that a lot of these guys have “ace” type stuff. Holland has shown flashes of brilliance and if he can build off his momentum from the World Series, he can be a huge asset.
Feliz was an All-Star closer thanks to his terrific fastball. He can be an All-Star starter if he couples this with a consistent off-speed pitch.
Darvish is the man the Rangers spent over 100 million dollars on this off-season. He dominated hitters in Japan and it is safe to say that Texas wouldn’t have spent that type of money unless they were confident in the investment.
Mitch Moreland had wrist surgery in November and says he is recovering ahead of schedule. It will be interesting to see the type of Spring Training he has after this injury.
Despite hitting poorly in September and the playoffs, Moreland is still a good power hitter to have in the lineup.
Michael Young can fill in at first, but if Moreland isn’t ready to go, the Rangers will have to rely on the inexperienced Brandon Snyder as the only other true first basemen.
Centerfield is a position that has come up at this time the last couple years. The Rangers want Josh Hamilton in left to help keep him off the DL, creating an interesting battle for the starting spot.
Endy Chavez is gone, which leaves Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon as the leading candidates. There is also Leonys Martin, but he might need more time in the minors.
Both Borbon and Gentry can help the team with their tremendous speed, but it’s the inconsistencies at the plate that can be concerning. A healthy Hamilton makes a happy team, which is why a dependable centerfielder is key.
Who replaces Darren Oliver?
This is not a huge concern, but it is worth mentioning.
His performance in Game 6 of the World Series not withstanding, Oliver was still a reliable left-handed specialist out of the bullpen the last two seasons. His departure to Toronto leaves the Rangers searching for his replacement.
Michael Kirkman comes to mind, also maybe bringing back Michael Gonzalez. Either way this is something the Rangers will need to address during Spring Training.