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AL West: Three fixes for Rangers, et al

12/4/2011

ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl lists three fixes for each of the AL West teams. You can read her entire story here. But here's what she thinks about the Rangers:

1. Rotation: Add a veteran? Or re-sign C.J. Wilson?

It isn’t that what the Rangers have right now isn’t good -- most teams would love to have a young quartet as talented as Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison lined up with Colby Lewis. They could probably win the division with that. But is any one of them that stopper you expect to beat a playoff team with? Holland or Feliz might grow into it, or Ogando, but do the Rangers want to count on the Madduxes and the talent, or will they hedge their bets by bringing Wilson back or going after someone like Roy Oswalt?

Likely solution: If they don’t bring Wilson back or win the bidding on a high-profile vet with playoff experience like Oswalt, they’ll opt out and not buy a veteran guaranteed rotation slot just for the sake of it. It’ll be either a significant upgrade or some retread for organizational depth, with nothing in between.

2. First base -- Settle or shop?

Last season, it might have seemed like they did quite nicely without having an everyday answer, rotating Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Michael Young through the slot. However, Young isn’t much of a first baseman, Moreland failed to develop at the plate and Napoli spends a good chunk of his time catching. Rangers first basemen rated a whopping 12th in the American League in OPS, beating out only the A’s grab bag of prospects and the Rays rentals. While they’re not likely to get in on Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, is there anyone else worth chasing?

Likely solution: Unless the Rangers want to revisit last winter’s drama of shopping Michael Young, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll end up spending serious money at first base. Seeing if Moreland develops at age 26 while they settle for good defenders in center wouldn’t be the end of the world, but this is the team that might get the biggest benefit from sneaking in on Carlos Pena.

3. Center field -- Settle or shop?

The Rangers will need to sort out whether or not they want to add someone new to the mix. Josh Hamilton made only a month’s worth of starts in the middle pasture, and the Rangers spent much of the season with Endy Chavez and Gary Gentry batting ninth and splitting time in center while Julio Borbon’s season was lost to injuries. Will they settle for Gentry and Borbon in 2012, and take their blend of defense and OBP? The market isn’t exactly rich in alternatives.

Likely solution: Here, they can let it ride or go cheap on another defensive specialist, say, Rick Ankiel, with the hope that he rebounds in the Ballpark’s friendly confines. There’s not a lot of point in overpaying the likes of Coco Crisp to be just slightly better.

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