The Texas Rangers are coming off of their two most successful seasons as a franchise. A team that before 2010 had one playoff win has made back-to-back World Series appearances. The Rangers won't be the favorites to go back in 2012. In order to make a third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic, they'll have to be active in the offseason.
Christopher John is a different ballplayer. As polarizing as any on the roster. Either way you feel about him, his stats can't be argued with. He's a 16-win pitcher with an ERA under three. He pitched 223 innings, saving the bullpen. During the season he was a losing-streak stopper and a dependable No. 1. He's not an ace but the innings-eater would be missed by any team.
CJ loves being the go-to guy in the rotation. He liked his situation in Texas. Wilson reportedly wants six years and close to $120 million. I don't think that will happen, but a fair offer and a legitimate attempt is warranted. Fans can only hope the Rangers don't get caught up in a bidding war with a team who is willing to overpay.
With or without CJ Wilson the Rangers should target Buehrle. Only a year older than Wilson, Buehrle is good for 200-plus innings and 10-plus wins. Texas scored over 200 runs more than the White Sox last year. Any pitcher would benefit from more runs scored.
Buehrle would also bring a veteran presence to a young pitching staff. Buehrle would fit in with a staff that all had 10-plus wins last year. With a competent pen and a reliable defense, Buehrle could get close to what he was in '05.
Longtime Rangers fans remember the highly-touted minor league combo of DVD. DVD consisted of Thomas Diamond, Edison Volquez and John Danks. The three were considered untouchable as far as trade prospects. Diamond is a free agent rolling around in baseball anonymity. Volquez was eventually traded to Cincinnati for a project center fielder named Josh Hamilton. The Rangers traded Danks for Brandon McCarthy. Two of those three didn't end up working out, but they could right a wrong here.
Danks has solid stuff. A young pitcher with four to five pitches who can change speeds, Danks could be a major contributor to a staff that is already solid. It is being reported that the White Sox are shopping Danks and Floyd as they are on the verge of being in a rebuilding mode. The Rangers are rich in minor league prospects. Danks won't require a Martin Perez or Jurickson Profar type. The Rangers will take a long look at the native Texan.
The Rangers' bench is serviceable, but it needs to improve in order to keep up their reign as the best team in the American League. Craig Gentry is one of the fastest players in baseball. David Murphy could consistently start on most any other team in the league. Torrealba is one of the best hitting bench catchers in baseball. The Rangers could still use another bat on the bench. David DeJesus could fit a number of roles and is a solid player. He could also provide the Rangers an elite backup to the oft-injured Nelson Cruz. Cody Ross is a more realistic target. He would also be an above average bat off the bench.
Mike Napoli was, in a number of ways, the heart of the Rangers. Offensively he was a force with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs. He was more than advertised defensively throwing out 36 percent (fourth best in the league) of would be base-stealers. Starters' ERA was below three with Napoli behind the plate.
All that being said, catchers need time off. Napoli has proven that he needs time away from the plate in order to stay fresh and thrive. The Rangers are in a fortunate situation with Torrealba as their competent No. 2 catcher. As long as Mike is given some rest and stays fresh this year, we should be able to expect more of the same from him in 2012.
Successful teams have quick memories. They can't let one mistake or loss lead to another. Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was something that a team may never come back from mentally. One. Strike. Away.
Nefti has been a reliable closer for two years now. His body of work speaks for itself. Even so, Washington said himself that Feliz was too shaken up to come back in the game. If he comes back as a closer in 2012, his early success is an absolute necessity.
Nolan Ryan and the front office seems to be set on giving Feliz another chance at being a starter. In any event, Feliz is anything but a lock to be the closer next year. Luckily, one of the best options to replace Feliz is in house. Mike Adams is a shutdown setup man. His stuff is deceiving and he doesn't rely on any single pitch. Ryan Madson is also a more than acceptable option but will come at a price. The best option is with Adams.
Jon Daniels has been the architect of this team's success. The Teixeira trade has made this team win the last two years, and they're set up to be successful in the future. He's made deadline and offseason moves that keep the Rangers atop the American League. Nolan's continued trust in Daniels will be key to the Rangers' makeup in 2012.