Texas Rangers News and Notes

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016


By Dic Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers’ offices are closed for the
holidays this week. There are still rumors floating about moves
involving the Rangers, but so far this fall the Rangers have been
relatively quiet. Almost three months have passed since the Rangers
season came to an end at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Indeed, almost two months have passed since the World Series ended,
and the off season officially began for Major League executives.
So far, the Rangers have signed free agent starting pitcher
Andrew Cashner, and re-signed outfielder Carlos Gomez. Those are the
only two major moves, while other teams have signed upper end free
agents such as relievers Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark
Melancon to record contracts for relievers. Trades have moved
significant players such as starting pitcher Chris Sale and center
fielder Adam Eton. The Rangers have been involved in none of the
transactions involving major pieces to the puzzle.
At this point, the Rangers have lost three offensive players
that usually batted among the top six in the batting order. Ian
Desmond signed the third largest contract procured by a free agent
this year. He’s with the Rockies. Mitch Moreland has moved on to the
Red Sox, while Carlos Beltran is an Astro. Those three combined to
hit 65 home runs last season.
In other words, they left a big hole. Ranger Hall of Fame
announcer Eric Nadel appeared on Norm Hitzges’s “Normathon” this week.
Hitzges did an 18 hour show at the StarPower store at Arapaho and the
Toll Road in which he lined up outstanding guests, such as Nadel. The
marathon show raised almost $500,000 for the Austin Street Homeless
Shelter from donations, a raffle of two Infiniti automobiles, and the
auctioning of sports oriented packages, such as suite rentals for the
Rangers and Stars.
Nadel said the Rangers have two batting order spots to fill. He
expects the Rangers to sign one of the two remaining top hitters
available in free agency – Mike Napoli or Mark Trumbo. Youngsters
Jurickson Profar, Ryan Rua and Joey Gallo could fill the other spot.
Nadel believes the Rangers need to go with the youngsters for just one
of the open positions.
Rumors this week have the Rangers getting close on a two-year
deal with Napoli. If it happens, Napoli will join the team for the
third time, joining Bill Haselman, Darren Oliver, Kenny Rogers and
Ruben Sierra as three time Rangers.
The third opening is allocated to Shin-Soo Choo. Nadel hopes it
shakes out that Choo ends up as the designated hitter. Theoretically,
it will lessen the chance of injury and keep his bat in the lineup.
Choo played just 48 games in 2016.
Nadel expects the team to trade for a significant pitcher. Right
now, the starting rotation is penciled in to be Yu Darvish, Jason
Hamels, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner and A.J. Griffin. There is
speculation that Colby Lewis, currently a free agent, will return.
However, Nadel thinks step one is to sign the significant middle of
the order bat so that the team will know who they need to keep among
the young players, and who they can trade to land a significant
addition to the starting rotation.
Josh Hamilton will be a candidate to crack the lineup this
spring. Hamilton was released in a procedural move that allows the
Rangers to sign him to a minor league contract with an invite to
spring training without having to utilize a roster spot on the 40-man
roster. Hamilton has been medically cleared to play, and an agreement
on such a minor league contract appears imminent.
Ranger fans may be disappointed that the Rangers have not made
more significant moves this off season. However, fans need to look
back no further than last year to see that opportunities are still
available. Ian Desmond was the Rangers’ clear cut MVP at the
All-Star break. He was sitting at home unsigned by any team as
training camps opened last February. The Rangers got interested after
Hamilton, who was targeted to be the starting left fielder, reported
to training camp complaining of knee soreness. Desmond agreed to
switch positions to the outfield and signed in late February.
There are still significant players available, and there is still
a significant amount of time to bring them in the fold. The lack of
block buster quality roster moves so far is not a harbinger of a bad
season to come. Opportunities still abound.
The former Rangers’ catcher is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the
first time. The opinion here is that a first ballot election to the
Hall is a no-brainer. He played 21 years in the Majors, a Herculean
number for catchers. 12 of those were with the Rangers. He earned an
American League record 13 Gold Glove Awards, which are the most ever
by a catcher. 10 of those seasons came in consecutive years. He
caught the most games in Major League history. On the offensive side
of the ball, he has more hits (2,749), runs scored (1,316) and RBIs
(1,290) than any catcher in history. He ranks second in stolen bases
(124) and third in home runs (304) among catchers. He made the
All-Star team 14 times.
The hang-up is that there is suspicion that he used steroids. He
never failed a test for PEDs. He was not mentioned in the infamous
Mitchell Report of 2007. He was however accused of being a user by
Jose Canseco.
There are approximately 500 voters for Hall of Fame candidates,
and it takes 75% of the votes to get in. The ballots are due by
December 31, and the results will be announced on January 18. The
voters that have cast their ballots and revealed their vote have
Rodriguez on more than 80% of the ballots. His chances of getting
elected are very good, but there is some doubt.


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