Texas Rangers Must Sign Japanese Phenom Masahiro Tanaka

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Texas Rangers Must Sign Japanese Phenom Masahiro Tanaka
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers must sign Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka for the 2014 MLB season.

It's pretty simple: Pitching wins in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, given the big-bat signings by the Rangers this offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney has Texas' potential lineup ranked as "the best in baseball," via former Rangers outfielder Gape Kapler on Twitter:

The Rangers were unsuccessful in two consecutive World Series appearances.

In 2010, the team's hitting went cold against the San Francisco Giants' lethal rotation.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Aces Tim Lincecum, left, and Matt Cain, right, have won two World Series with the Giants.

The Giants have won the World Series twice behind their talented pitching. Starter Tim Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Young Awards before becoming a World Series champion in 2010. He also went 4-1 in the 2010 postseason, but his performance there was outdone by ace Matt Cain.

In the 2010 postseason, Cain went 2-0 without giving up any runs over 21 innings. In the 2012 postseason, he pitched his way to a second World Series title, as did Linceum and starter Ryan Vogelsong.

How many players in the Giants lineups can you even name from the 2010 and 2012 teams?

Pitching was the key.

Sure, the St. Louis Cardinals should have lost in 2011, but starter Chris Carpenter was 4-0 that postseason. He shut down the Rangers in Game 1 and Game 7. Meanwhile, the Rangers lacked a second ace to complement arguably the franchise's most complete lineup.

Imagine if the Rangers were able to re-sign Cliff Lee going into that season.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Cliff Lee could have been the missing piece for the Rangers to win the 2011 World Series.

C.J. Wilson lost Game 1 of the 2011 World Series. In Game 2, the Rangers got it done and were able to keep the score close, thanks to Colby Lewis and company.

If Texas had a second ace, Game 1 would have been the Rangers' first win, and Lewis would have won Game 3. Instead, starter Matt Harrison lasted less than four innings in the third game, leaving the Rangers in a 2-1 hole for the series.

The collapse from Game 6 will live forever among Rangers fans from that World Series, but Lee could have saved them earlier in the series.

However, there are some exceptions for a team automatically having a strong postseason with two aces.

The Tigers didn't get it done with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't get it done with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke. Adam Wainwright and the emerging Michael Wacha didn't get it done either. The list goes on from previous years.

However, all of those teams were still World Series contenders.

The 2013 Rangers pitching staff was plagued with injuries. From Matt Harrison to Alexi Ogando, the staff found its way on the disabled list throughout the year, as the Rangers were never truly a contender.

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Projected starter Matt Harrison only pitched in two games last year before an injury ended his season.

Rangers players are coming back from injury in 2014 and, according to Roto Champ, even third projected starter Alexi Ogando will be healthy. But is Ogando really a No. 3 on a contending pitching staff? The former outfielder would only be a fifth starter or bullpen reliever on a contender.

Tanaka would add depth and create competition among the other starters to fight for that fifth spot in the rotation. Adding Tanaka strengthens the bullpen, making another current projected Texas starter move to the pen. That should be Ogando.

The most important reason as to why the Rangers need to add an ace is because they only had two starting pitcher from 2013 qualify for the ERA title, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. They didn't do much in terms of adding pitchers for 2014 and there's no guarantee that everyone will stay healthy.

So why not go into a bidding war for a 25-year old phenom while already boasting the projected top lineup for 2014? He's the best available starter who could instantly make the Rangers pitching staff miles better than if the team were to add any other free agent out there.

Rangers sports writer Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report says that he would rather extend Darvish than throw money at Tanaka, via Twitter.

Darvish is signed through 2017. He has four more seasons with the Rangers before potentially becoming a free agent. Signing Tanaka, with Darvish and a cast of other Rangers fighting to prove their worth in the rotation, would make for a team that can win now. Let them create the chemistry with the 162-game regular season and get hot come October.

If the Rangers get Tanaka, with that lineup, they might set a record in 2015 for most regular-season wins and then move on to a World Series title. Maybe even a second title in as many years in 2015.

At the end of the day, if the Rangers want to win now, they'll either sign Tanaka or they'll trade for another ace. But on this day, Tanaka is the missing piece to the puzzle.

What's better, having two aces or just one? See the video below.

It's not complicated. "Two times is awesome."

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