The Rangers improved their pitching staff by signing RHP Yu Darvish. They let free agent LHP CJ Wilson (16-7, 2.95) sign with the division rival Los Angles Angels. The signing of free agent closer Joe Nathan will allow closer Neftali Feliz (2-3, 2.74, 32 saves, 64 games, 0 starts) to become a full time starting pitcher for the first time in his MLB career. The rest of the rotation has postseason experience with Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40), Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) and Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95) all pitching in the playoffs the last two seasons. Alexei Ogando (13-8, 3.51, 29 starts, 2 relief appearances) looks to start the season in the bullpen paired with Mike Adams (5-4, 1.47, 75 games) and Koji Uehera (2-3, 2.35, 65) as the three of the best late inning relievers in the game.
There has been a concern about OF Josh Hamilton staying healthy. His presence (.298, 25, 94 last season) will help the Rangers immensely. MIchael Young (.338, 11, 106) will DH and play some 1B and C Mike Napoli (.320, 30, 75 in just 113 games and 368 AB: 1.046 OPS) looks to duplicate his 2011 season where he was the most underrated player in the game. Adrian Beltre (.296, 32, 105) plays 3B and Elvis Andrus (.279, 5, 60) is at SS. Nelson Cruz (.263, 29, 87) has played very well over the past two seasons, but he may not be able to keep up with the numbers he has been putting up, particularly in the postseason. Ian Kinsler (.255, 32, 77) is a free agent after this season as well as Hamilton. Mitch Moreland (.259, 16, 51) will be the starting 1B, whether or not he is able to play opening day. Julio Bourbon, Chris Gentry and David Murphy are all battling for the other outfield spot, with the Rangers hoping that somebody becomes the everyday player. Bourbon and Gentry are the favorites because the Rangers would prefer to play Hamilton in LF as opposed to CF. Murphy is the better power bat, but can only play the corners.
Overall, the Rangers had the best AL team over the past two seasons. The competition has gotten stronger with the Angels and Tigers making big moves this offseason and the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all poised to make postseason noise. The fact that I don't see the Rangers in the playoffs doesn't mean I think they are a bad team; I think they will be back. I have concern about Hamilton's health and Beltre being able to duplicate his past two seasons (Beltre is a very up and down player). It is also hard to expect Napoli, Cruz and Kinsler to perform at the level they were at last year. Darvish should pitch well, and I can't see the bullpen not being one of the best in baseball. Vegas gives them a very deserving 91.5 O/U, and I have them under, at 83-79, second in the AL West. From here forward, the picks are going to be controversial. Not that it would surprise me if the Rangers were back in the playoffs, but I got them ranked number 14- and only ten teams can make it.