10 things I think I think about the 2012 Texas Rangers...
1. CJ Wilson will NOT return to the Rangers.
The Rangers know CJ is not a true Ace, but there will be other teams willing to give him Ace money. While they would like him back, there will be a limit. Real Ace money would be spent on a guy like Sabathia first. But I don't see that happening either.
2. The Rangers will sign Yu Darvish.
The Rangers have already been linked to Darvish as a strong candidate to sign him. They also have 2 Japanese pitchers already there in Uehara and Tateyama who make Texas seem like a comfortable situation for Darvish to transition to the MLB with. The Rangers are comfortable with pitching success in the Japanese league translating to MLB. See Colby Lewis. ...and remember, they chased Dice-K too.
3. Neftali Feliz will join the rotation.
It's not too late to turn him into a starting pitcher. He'll follow the path of CJ Wilson before him and give up closing duties to fulfill his real destiny.
4. Mike Adams will be the team's new closer.
Adams has been one of the better set up men in the game and will finally get his chance to prove that he can get the job done.
5. Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman will remain in the bullpen, and Tanner Scheppers will join them.
The strength of the Rangers bullpen has been the ultimate balancer to their lack of elite pitching. Keeping it strong will be a priority. Look for a key FA signing here too.
6. Michael Young will be traded.
He's the highest paid player on the team at $16M per year and that is a ridiculous number for a DH/UTIL player, even if it is the heart and soul of the team.
To give you an idea how expensive he is, here are the Top 10 Rangers salaries:
1. Michael Young - $16,174,975
2. Adrian Beltre - $14,000,000
3. Josh Hamilton - $8,750,000
4. C.J. Wilson - $7,000,000
5. Ian Kinsler - $6,200,000
6. Mike Gonzalez - $6,000,000
7. Mike Napoli - $5,800,000
8. Scott Feldman - $4,400,000
9. Nelson Cruz - $3,650,000
10. Darren Oliver - $3,250,000
7. FA candidates to replace Young...
I think Josh Willingham 1B/OF/DH stands out as the most attractive fit for the Rangers. Others include Jason Kubel, Edwin Encarnacion, and Xavier Nady.
8. Leonys Martin will provide an immediate impact.
He'll either be an early season call up or break with the team out of camp and push for playing time at Center Field. The Rangers gave Martin $15.5M dollars, the 2nd most given to a Cuban defector after Aroldis Chapman. If he has a hot preseason, he could be with the team from the start. There are high expectations for Leonys and the Rangers could really use his speed to upgrade their defense at CF as well as getting steals along the base paths.
9. New Rotation and Bullpen
SP1 - Yu Darvish - Darvish will be paid like an Ace, so his role will reflect that.
SP2 -Derek Holland - Holland took a big step forward in his sophomore season and more will be expected.
SP3 - Colby Lewis - Lewis is really a #3 pitcher who has been tasked to be more than that. This is where he should be.
SP4 - Neftali Feliz - Feliz will be eased into the rotation and could have a lot of success being in this spot.
SP5 - Matt Harrison - Keeping this spot warm until Martin Perez is ready.
CL - Mike Adams
RP - Alexi Ogando
RP - Scott Feldman
RP - Koji Uehara
RP - Tanner Scheppers
RP - Possible FA signing
10. New Lineup
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
Josh Willingham, 1B/OF/DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mike Napoli, C
Nelson Cruz, RF
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Leonys Martin, CF