Last on the AL West list is division winner and AL Champions, the Texas Rangers. As of this post, the Rangers are up 3-2 in the World Series, with Game 6 to be played tonight.
The Rangers made a major jump in payroll since Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have owned the team, from $65 million last year to $92 million this year. Let’s see who’s on deck.
C.J. Wilson – After a 15-8, 3.35 ERA season last year, Wilson actually improved on that. He went 16-7 in 34 starts, and threw a shutout in one of his 3 complete games. He threw 200+ innings in the second straight year, and also threw 200+ strikeouts for the first time in his career.
Thoughts/Prediction – There’s no doubt in my mind that Wilson is the ace of this staff. He’s both durable and effective when he starts, and his first all-star appearance this year was much deserved. What’s also cool about Wilson is his ability to throw a gyroball, something that’s more attributed to Japanese pitchers rather than American. He’s likely going to be #1 most looked-at starting pitcher in the market, outside of C.C. Sabathia (if he does opt out). He’ll make a big jump from his $7 million this season; I’d say in the $14-18 million range. He’s 30, so right now he’s in the prime of his career. A 4-5 year contract wouldn’t be surprising. But considering he’s likely the #1/#2 pitcher in this free agent class, where does he go? Well, the Rangers will definitely try to resign him, considering that without him, they lack a true ace; considering that, plus the fact that his whole career has been spent with the team, makes Texas the favorite.
Colby Lewis (’12 club option) – Thank goodness for Lewis that he played for a team with such a high-powered offense. He went 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA, but allowed more hits and homers than he did the previous year (including a league-leading 35 home runs allowed, ouch!). However, in the postseason, he has been a lot better. He pitched well in Game 3 of the ALDS, going 6 innings, allowing just one hit and run (it was a homer, go figure!). In Game 3 of the ALCS, he wasn’t as fortunate, allowing 4 runs and 8 hits in 4 2/3 innings. In Game 2 of the World Series, he pitched a one-run, four-hit game in 6 2/3 innings. Barring something happening, he’s scheduled to pitch in Game 6 of the Series.
Thoughts/Prediction: A mixed bag on this one. He does a great job during the postseason (including last year, winning 3 of his 4 decisions) and has the ability to strike out a lot of batters. However, he needs to work on not giving up so many home runs; you can’t give up 35 homers in one season, regardless of where you pitch. That number just makes me shudder, and if the Rangers don’t pick up his club option, I’m sure the front offices will look at it and do the same thing. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I see the Rangers picking up the option anyway; it’s relatively cheap at $3.25 million. I think it’s worth the risk, as #2, 3, or even #4 guy in the rotation.
Brandon Webb – It’s been a rough three years for Brandon Webb. In 2009, with the Diamondbacks, he suffered a season-long injury on opening day. He didn’t play any games in 2010. The Rangers picked him up on a 1-year, $3 million deal, hoping they’d get something out of him. It didn’t happen. He began the season on the 60-day DL. He did make his first appearance in a ballgame since Opening Day 2009, pitching for Rangers’ Double-A affiliate Fresno. He then went back on the DL in August, and he won’t be ready until the beginning of next season.
Thoughts/Prediction: He hasn’t played a game in the majors in three seasons, and is too oft injured for the Rangers to resign him, nor is it a good idea for any team for that matter to take him. I’m sure there might be some offers those willing to sign him for the bare minimum, though I’m not sure who. If I was a GM though, I’d look away.
Endy Chavez – The Rangers signed him last year to a minor-league deal with a club option. He didn’t play a game in the majors that year, as he was recovering from an ACL injury he suffered the year before. However, he did enough in the minors that the Rangers picked up that option. This year, he did play at the major league level, covering all three outfield positions, particularly center field. In 82 games, he hit .301 with 5 homers.
Thoughts/Prediction: Ranges really had not much to lose with the option on Chavez, worth $1.25 million. This year, he was able to provide in games, able to hit for contact and provide defense as a substitution. He surely can continue to do so, so long as his doesn’t collide with anyone (as he did in 2009, tearing his ACL in the process). I can’t see why the Rangers won’t resign him as backup for guys like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, although since he was able to perform this year, he may ask for a slight raise (about $2 million, which seems fair).
Matt Treanor – Quite an odd year for Treanor. He was traded from the Rangers to the Royals for cash considerations but was then traded back (again for cash considerations) in August. In a combined 72 games (65 with Royals, 7 for Rangers), he had a .214 batting average, and hit 3 home runs with 22 RBIs.
Thoughts/Prediction: At 35, and with Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba, and Taylor Teagarden on the depth chart, there’s no place for him on this roster. I think his days in the majors are over. He hasn’t done enough off the bench in his 7 years in the majors to really warrant a look.
That’s it for the AL West. Next up, I take on the NL West.