All offseason, general manager Jon Daniels has been wheeling and dealing. Landing Prince Fielder via trade and signing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo were the biggest splashes made by the Rangers so far. Meanwhile, passing on the talented Robinson Cano was a smart move made by Daniels, although it was probably never considered for the price he eventually signed for.
When Choo was signed, the Rangers got the leadoff man that they were in search for after sending Ian Kinsler to Detroit. Here's how the lineup is shaping up for the 2014 season in the embedded image below via RotoChamp, a type of fantasy baseball draft management software.
Looking at that lineup there is uncertainty in terms of production with the Nos. 6-8 spots. While Leonys Martin makes for a perfect No. 9 hitter, Jurickson Profar is still extremely young and unproven as he's turning 21 in February. Geovany Soto will be splitting time with J.P. Arencibia at catcher, and Mitch Moreland hasn't shown that he's capable of consistent offensive production.
The Rangers have yet to make any positive changes to the rotation for the upcoming season as well. Matt Garza is not expected to come back; the possible rotation for 2014 is in the embedded image below, via RotoChamp.
As it stands, Alexi Ogando is the possible third starter. There's also no telling whether or not possible fifth starter Matt Harrison will regain his form. And just like Profar, left-handed starting pitcher Martin Perez is still young as he turns 23 in April. The Rangers must add pitching to solidify a 1-2-3 rotation for the playoffs. This means finding another ace.
Here's a look at some missing pieces for the pitching staff and offense to help the Rangers win the World Series in 2014.
Michael Young is one piece that could help the Rangers in 2014 MLB season. His versatility would help the team in the field and at the plate. Young can play any position in the infield, making him the perfect backup.
His bat is also contagious, and he could drive in a lot of runs with Fielder, Beltre and Rios in front of him. What if Profar slacks because of lack of experience? Young can replace him. Is Beltre is ailing? Young can replace him. Young could be a low-budget signing for the Rangers, especially if he wants to retire in a Rangers uniform and increase his chance at a World Series ring.
Even though the Rangers have backup utility men, Young's veteran leadership and experience, as he demonstrated as a Ranger from 2000-2012, should not be overlooked as a missing piece.
Another missing piece that the Rangers could add is Kendrys Morales. He was a 23-home run hitter with the Mariners in 2013, and can easily take advantage of the Rangers' home field. From the left side, in roughly 65 percent of his at-bats in 2013, Morales hit 17 home runs. With Texas' short porch in right field, Morales would prosper. Watch, in the embedded video, how the ball flies off Morales' bat in Arlington:
Morales had exactly 301 home at-bats and 301 away at-bats in 2013. In 139 career at-bats at the Ballpark in Arlington, Morales has 10 home runs. Project that to a season with the Rangers based off his 2013 production, and that's roughly 21 home runs.
That might be a little skewed, but a revived Morales would see increased production, especially with Alex Rios hitting in front of him. Morales could do what former No. 7 hitter Mike Napoli did in his first year with the Rangers after leaving the West Coast: 30 home runs, 75 RBI and a .320 batting average.
As for pitchers in the free-agent market, Masahiro Tanaka is as good as it gets. Not only is he a Japanese phenom, but he is a missing piece that the Rangers would need to pick up in order to get to the 2014 Fall Classic.
Take away Yu Darvish from the Rangers and the next best pitcher is Derek Holland. Is he an ace? That's tough to argue in his favor. Tanaka would be the second ace for the Rangers. See the embedded video for some of his nasty stuff, which would translate well in America, just as Darvish's stuff did. Having Holland as your third pitcher would make for a devastating rotation.
That's a 1-2-3 that could dominate in the postseason, hence the reason why adding another ace is crucial for postseason success.
This 162-game season should just be a preseason for the Rangers, as the real season begins in October. Whether the Rangers go out and sign another ace or not will determine how good of a rotation they'll have come the 2014 MLB playoffs.