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image found at biggestrangerfan.mlblogs.com
By James Holland


There’s no arguing that the Texas Rangers had one of the best relief staffs in baseball last year and when used correctly they could shut down any team. Next season shouldn’t see too many changes if the front office makes the right moves. Mike Adams, Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara are free agents. The team has already declined Scott Feldman’s large option. 


 
 
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Photo courtesy of ESPN.com
by Patrick Despain


The 2012-2013 off season maybe the most important in Rangers’ history for pitching, especially the starting rotation. There are several starters back for the upcoming season, but not enough on the current roster to fill out the staff. With the addition of Yu Darvish and the emergence of Matt Harrison, the Rangers have a bright outlook. However, with the inconsistency of Derek Holland and the injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, the rotation is in the air as of right now. The Rangers will probably be in play for Zack Greinke and if so it completely changes things, if not, there are holes to fill. So here’s the outlook, heading into the off season:

#1 Starter

The Scenario: The Ranger front office would like to go into the season with either Darvish being the #1 starter, or landing a top flight free agent pitcher like Greinke. However, since no top flight free agent, aside from Nolan, has ever come here, I would not expect that to happen. RBIA is a destination for free agent hitters, but pitchers don’t have a lot of success in Arlington. I would love to be proven wrong by a free agent, but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

The Plan: Yu Darvish or Zack Greinke. Darvish became nails down the stretch for the Rangers, and he’ll be the opening day pitcher for Texas in Houston next April. He is signed here for 4 more years, so the Rangers have nothing to worry about in the case of Yu.....injuries aside. (Knock on wood)



 
 
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by Mike Luna

Going into 2013, the Rangers’ outfield is the 2nd biggest question mark behind the bullpen. No one outside of the walls of The Ballpark knows for sure what will become of Josh Hamilton. Until that domino falls, it will be tough to predict where and how other pieces will be utilized going into next season.

Still, I will do my best to lay out what I think might happen between now and Spring Training.

Center Field


The Scenario: Josh Hamilton is a free agent. He wants to get paid. He wants to save the world. When he’s on, he’s the greatest player you’ve ever seen. When he’s not, he comes off as flippant and lackadaisical. There are questions about his dedication and work ethic. There are questions about how his body will hold up in his mid-to-late 30s. There are questions about his standing in the clubhouse.

Oh, but when he’s on, he’s still the greatest player you’ve ever seen.


 
 
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by Jeff Johnson


To say that this off-season is an important one for the Rangers franchise would be an obvious understatement. The questions that this team must answer this off-season involve more key players than any hot stove period I can remember for the Rangers. I believe this is the most pivotal winter in the history of the Texas Rangers. How they handle some of those crucial questions could shape this franchise’s future for many years. I traded in my coaching whistle for a GM hat and below is what my plan would be if I were King for a day (or an entire off-season).


3B

THE SCENARIO:  Adrian Beltre


THE PLAN: Adrian Beltre


SS

THE SCENARIO: One of the more intriguing debates going on this off-season is the status of Elvis Andrus. Do the Rangers trade him now in order to capitalize his market value while it is at a peak?  Or do they keep him and try to either resign him or utilize his talent until the contract expires? Andrus is signed through the 2014 season and there is the risk that he will walk and take his talents to the Bronx or elsewhere, so I understand the trade discussion and why it makes sense to trade him now. Coupling Andrus with another prized prospect or major league player could return a Texiera type player haul, but there are no guarantees in the trade market.


 
 
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Episode 11 with Mike Luna, Dan Allsup, Eddie Middlebrook and host Patrick Despain.


  • Dave Magadan
  • Off Season Expectations
  • Eddie and Mike argue about intangibles
  • We lose Dan to technical difficulties

 
 
by the SDI Staff

Starting Pitching
The Tigers seem to have the advantage in this category going in. With Justin Verlander being able to go 2 times, Detroit has their rotation set up in order. Also the Giants are relying on Barry Zito to possibly go twice against Verlander.

Relief Pitching
San Francisco, at this stage, has the upper hand. With Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez to bolster the back end of the bullpen. For Detroit, Jose Valverde has struggled at the end of the season and post season, and Leyland may have to go to a committee.


 
 
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image found at nydailynews.com
By Mike Luna


The Rangers’ magnum opus of failure reached its climax almost 2 weeks ago, and I imagine that many of you opted to go into a sort-of baseball coma rather than dedicate time to the postseason.

Personally, I wouldn’t blame you for taking a break, if that’s what you chose to do. The last 3 seasons have been a beating and there’s no moral obligation to watch the playoffs if your team isn’t involved.



 
 
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by Chris Kautz


If you're a regular reader of SDI, you're probably familiar with the names of the writers you see pop up on the site. There is a name you may not know, though. He's the unsung hero of Shutdown Inning, and his name is Kazuto Yamazaki.


Kazuto does what none of the rest of us would be capable of doing. He translates our articles into Japanese and posts them on his blog, 1000 Ballgame Ways. If we were an overly formulaic CBS crime drama, Kazuto's efforts would be called "SDI: Tokyo".


Until this week, that was all I knew about Kazuto. He was a guy who translated our articles and I sometimes talked to on Twitter. That all changed when he made his first trip to the United States, and we went to last Thursday's Ranger game (a 9-7 win over Oakland). After the game, I got the chance to get to know Kazuto a bit and thought I'd pass on what I learned to our readers.


Kazuto is 21 years old and lives in Tokyo. As I already mentioned, this was his first trip to the United States. It required some fine tuning of my country boy ears to adjust to his accent, but one thing certainly was not lost in translation: his love of baseball.


 
 
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by Jeff Johnson

Meet my friend Benito. Benny (as we call him) is a life-long Astros fan. He was born in Conroe and has lived in the Houston area his entire life. He attended many games in the Astrodome during the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and when he starts telling stories of the great Astros teams of the past (yes they did exist), you can really see his passion for his team come out in his storytelling. The Astros hired him about ten years ago, and his passion turned into a part-time job that allowed him to watch his team up close and personal on a semi-daily basis. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s his team was one of the best in baseball and arguably was the most consistent team in the National League for a 5-7 year period. Why did I introduce you to Benny? Benny is a loyal fan and even though the Astros are in a bad way right now, they are HIS team and he won’t quit being a fan of a team he has rooted for through thick and thin just because they are down right now. The fickle nature of Ranger fans (myself at times) really came to a head after the “collapse” last Friday night against the Orioles as many threw their Rangers to the birds. It’s easy to get caught up in the melodramatic nature of the final weeks of a season or playoff baseball, but we often forget to step back and look at the big picture. The other day Benny sent me a text trying to make me feel better about the plight of the Rangers.



 
 
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by Bob Bland


While opinions differ on exactly why the Rangers exited the postseason practically before it even began, one thing just about everyone can agree on is that this team clearly lost its mojo.  The magical blend of confidence, focus, execution and swagger that carried them to consecutive World Series appearances completely evaporated down the stretch this year.  And though mojo is a mysterious and elusive element with no easy way of being captured, here are five important steps the Rangers can take which should help improve their chances of reclaiming it in 2013:

1. First, Figure Out First

The Rangers had five different guys play first base during 2012.  They did not have a clear starter, nor did they even have a true platoon system in place.  Mitch Moreland started the most games there this season with 82, which is the third-lowest total among American League teams for their “primary” option at 1B.  The league average in 2012 was 109.3 games started, and each of the two teams with fewer starts from their “primary” 1B option (Toronto and Oakland) employed a traditional platoon.

Moreland is a solid fielder with a somewhat streaky bat, though he still has never really been given the opportunity to prove himself as the team’s everyday first baseman over a full season.  He’s never going to develop further without being given that chance, so the Rangers need to decide once and for all whether he’s the man at first base moving forward.  If so, give him enough starts so he can legitimately try to build and sustain momentum at the plate.  If not, stop playing a shell game and find someone you feel confident in as your regular first baseman.  Either Mitch is your guy, or he’s not - figure it out.