Wednesday, November 7, 2012

baseball has my heart too...

Today is a day when the air is thick with the buzz of political drama and forecasting. While the outcome of today’s election weighs heavy on my heart and mind, my passion for sports is strong and imminent as ever.

First of all, I believe college football history is to be made this weekend between the Alabama Crimson Tide, ROLL TIDE, ROLL!!! And the Texas A&M Aggies, Whoop, Gig’Em!!! The reigning champions are having a phenomenal season and playing their hearts out as they hold onto their undefeated title, and the Aggies have made a strong debut in the SEC, that has brought shock to fans of all conferences and teams. I truly believe Bama will hold on to their reign after week 11, but I know A&M will put up a good fight with their flighty offense and they’ll make the Tide play hard to win it. Needless to say, I can’t wait to share the afternoon Saturday with some of my closest friends, as they all stay true to the heart of the lovely Texas, and I lonesomely bear all and holler for the Tide. It’ll be fun no matter what happens and we’ll make memories. And I have my hound’s-tooth cardigan, worthy of Bear Bryant himself, all ready to show my pride for the Tide!

On a more serious note, even though baseball season just ended, trade agreements and free agent talks are just beginning to get heated up. You all know I’m as die-hard a Texas Rangers fan as I am an Alabama fan. So the fact that there are so many grey area players this off-season is a little disturbing. I’ve tried to stay up to date with TR Sullivan’s blog, and other MLB rumors, but I wanted to put all of my opinions into writing and officially declare my feelings, so I can look back in a few months when the season begins and see how cut out I am for the industry I’m working hard to make my way into.

So If you’re not into sports, you’ve surely had enough by now, so you can forgivably be done reading and check back in a few weeks for a new post related to more practical musings of my life. But if you know me, and how I feel about my passions, and you enjoy the entertainment of my ramblings, stay tuned for my 2013 Rangers forecasting, and some general MLB predictions.

Josh Hamilton is quite possibly the hottest topic of discussion in the Rangers front offices right now. Everybody knows that this 5x American league all star, former AL MVP, 2x silver slugger and winner of multiple other batting and performance awards on the field has literally been through hell and back in his career. But remarkably, Josh has prevailed through all with the grace and strength of God on his side and proven to be an incredibly talented baseball player. In his 5 years with the Rangers, Josh has had stellar seasons, consistently setting and breaking records and blazing paths for himself and the team as they made their way to post season play multiple times and made franchise history in not one, but two World Series runs.
Josh is a hot topic, not only because of his offensive and defensive productivity and success, but also because of the impact that his time in Texas has had on his personal story. His comeback has been with the Rangers, and many have expressed that if he leaves Texas, there’s a significant chance that he could relapse. He has an awesome support system in the clubhouse, so that’ll be a huge loss to undertake in moving to a new team, but if money is what he’s truly interested in rather than proving his talent on the field and continuing to be a good ballplayer committed to the excellence of being part of something larger than self, is he truly worth keeping in Texas?

I’m biased, and I love him, but this ball club can’t afford arrogance, and unfortunately that’s what society has turned the game into. Nobody above the college sophomore level plays just for the love of it anymore. That’s just sad.
So to sum up my thoughts on J-Ham, as sad as I am to say, I don’t think we’ll see him on the home bench in Texas come spring. So with his shoes to fill, lets talk about more players.

Mike Napoli has also moved to free agent status but may be a more wise choice to keep around the clubhouse than Josh for the figures that they’re worth. Josh has high interest, and Napoli is darn sure worth it, but doesn’t top as many lists so he’d surely be easier to bring back, but equally worth the fight. Plus, on the field, Nap’s far more versatile than Josh. He’s great behind the plate, but he’s also strong on 1st and he can fill the DH spot when Young needs to be on the field, not just in the lineup. He’s strong, offensively and doesn’t hit defensive slumps and I think he’s got longevity in him so he’d be good to invest in as far as high price offerings are concerned for the Rangers this year.

Lots of pitchers have declared free agency, which is totally normal, making the pitcher market so vast. Currently the Rangers are looking at a rotation of Darvish, Holland, Lewis (set to return for the ’13 season), Harrison and either Ogando or the returning Feliz will complete the Rotation. These guys have the potential to be strong with the two recovering from surgery and with relievers in the pen like Ross, Grim, Kirkman and Scheppers I hope they look as good as they sound. As far as the guys who have declared free agency, the Rangers need to bring in someone who can join Joe Nathan to close out the games. Scott Feldman needs to go. That’s plain and simple, his season of productivity in Texas has come and gone. Guys I’d like to see stick around for a bit are Dempster, Oswalt and Lowe. But, I know there are lots of other guys on the market to look at who could come with low prices so seeing these guys go won’t necessarily be too heartbreaking.

As for the Rangers current active and 40 man rosters, they could definitely make it with what they have. Last season lots of young guys dazzled fans with great talent and the farm system continues to show potential.
Jurickson Profar tops the list for future Ranger all-stars! This kid can play ball, y’all, and biased as I am towards Ian Kinsler, he needs to watch his back.
In the case that Josh isn’t back for the 2013 season, I think Kinsler moving to the outfield could be good. His speed would be viable there and it would give Murphy (who’s spotlight is to come) and Cruz time off, and help Gentry as he eases into regular outfield play. Martin also shows potential, but definitely isn’t ready for a regular spot in the lineup, so with Kinsler in the OF, Washington could start Murphy and Cruz daily, rotating Kins and Gentry sending in Martin and Beltre if someone needed a pinch hitter, runner or day off. As for Julio Borbon, he makes the list of Rangers I wouldn’t be upset to see go. He’s yet to prove himself offensively consistent and hasn’t worked to earn a lot of playing time. If you don’t prove you want it, why are we keeping you around?
In 2012, David Murphy definitely showed that he’s ready to be an every day player, and Ron Washington has definitely seen that, and shown it by starting him more towards the end of the season. He’s not up for free agency for another year, and if he plays well this season, I definitely feel that the Rangers will make him an offer. He’s a local boy and I think he’ll want to stay around. Money’s not a big issue in his contracts either, so fingers crossed that the Murph stays on fire and keeps burning up in Arlington.

Moving to the infield, with the possibility of Kinsler on the grass and Profar taking his spot at 2nd the rest of the diamond seems pretty set. Obviously Beltre’s got 3rd handled. Andrus and short are great and Papa Moreland was heating up offensively and at first base towards the end of the season. Then you have Napoli to stand in on first when Mitch is off. Mike Olt and Brandon Snyder can also fill in at 1st and 3rd respectively if needed and Snyder could also be converted to outfield if trades required one of the bench players to leave. But Snyder and Olt are also young, viable players who are available to trade in order to gain bullpen help.

My final note will be that although I love Ian Kinsler dearly, it may be time for the Rangers to let him go. He could be the key to keeping Hamilton and Napoli and they combined are definitely worth seeing him leave. His levels of productivity have been down across the board. There’s less consistency batting leadoff, less homeruns, RBIs, and stolen bases, and he missed several critical routine plays last year picking up unneeded errors like never before. I love the boy, and he’s still young with lots of ball left to play, but maybe he doesn’t need to play it calling Texas home.
So basically, other than Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli, the bullpen is the major area of concern for Texas this offseason. If there had been greater consistency from some in 2012, there may have been a longer post season run, but maybe a break from playoffs was good for the boys. Who knows?

I’m very optimistic and ready for December meetings to get here and action to happen. It’s so much easier to just know what’s going on than to have to wait.
Stay tuned for my further ramblings on who the Rangers should consider investing in outside of the clubhouse, especially to build their pitching staff.
And please, let me know what you think of my first sports blog!!!

Love y’all!

In Grace’s Amazing Hands,
Katelyn “The Huke”

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