15 Reasons To Watch The Rangers in ’15

Leonys Martin 2

After the news of Yu Darvish needing Tommy John surgery came on top of losing Jurickson Profar for the season due to a bum shoulder, Rangers fans everywhere had the same cumulative thought:

“Here we go again!”

And who could blame us? After the dreadful season we endured last year, any little injury or thing gone wrong would deter most fans away from this season. Who would want to sit around and watch what we watched last year?

Not many.

So here are 15 reasons to watch the Rangers in 2015, despite losing Darvish and Profar.

15. Mitch Moreland and Colby Lewis’ final year – This could very well be the end of Moreland and Lewis in a Rangers uniform. Both are on one year deals and both men could find themselves without a position to play next season.

Colby Lewis, while he wasn’t very good last year and we don’t really know what to expect from him this year, is a Rangers postseason hero. Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason games since 2010. Many of you might recall Lewis’ magical 2010 ALCS in which he went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA, and 13 strikeouts in just 13.2 innings against the Yankees. That alone should make him a Rangers legend. Remember him for that, not his final two years here.

The Rangers could be faced with a mammoth dilemma come the 2016 season. With Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, and a 36-year-old declining Adrian Beltre, the Rangers could have a terrible defense. Moreland could find himself on the outside looking in if his bat doesn’t produce this year.

Think about it, the Rangers could move Beltre to first base, Prince to DH, and could conceivably bring up stud prospect Joey Gallo to play third base next season. You instantly get better on defense by having Fielder put his glove on Craigslist and moving an aging, defensively declining Beltre off the corner. There are doubts about Gallo and his glove, but I still think I would take him at third base over Fielder at first, all day. By this measure, Moreland doesn’t have a spot on this team. He could easily be non-tendered.

14. Local product Yovani Gallardo – Gallardo may not be what he used to be, but having a local product pitch in Arlington is always a good time. With the loss of Darvish, that has allowed the new kid on the block to step in and take the lead and start Opening Day for the Rangers. Gallardo shouldn’t be a number one starter in the American League but he will be a decent replacement in the rotation this year.

13. That Leonys Cannon – Let’s be honest here, we all hope that anytime there is a runner on base that the ball is hit to Martin, right? Everyone loves watching the Cuban Missile hose people trying to take that extra base. Just ask these victims:

12. Alex Claudio’s changeup – There are still a lot of fans that don’t know who Claudio is even though he had a cup of coffee in the bigs last year. This year, he is expected to be a bullpen piece the entire season. His changeup? HA! And you thought Darvish made hitters look foolish?

11. Another year of Rougned Odor – “Stinky” as some call him, came up last year despite not “being ready”. The Rangers really had no choice. The plethora of second basemen they ran through just wasn’t getting the job done.

Odor shined though, and boy did he win the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere. From his first home run being an upper deck shot in Houston, to his big day in Detroit, Odor has quickly become a fan favorite. As long as he can be a more selective hitter this season, there is nowhere to go but up for him. Ian who?

10. Chi Chi Gonzalez – Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez wants you to know that he is not a golfer and his last name is not Rodriguez!

Gonzalez is one of the Rangers top pitching prospects and has run through the system like the Roadrunner being chased by the Coyote. With the Darvish injury, the door has opened for him to break Spring Training as the fifth member of the Rangers rotation. However he gets to Arlington doesn’t matter, this kid is for real and will be damn fun to watch.

9. A healthy Shin-Soo Choo – The signing of Choo last off-season to a seven year $130 million contract didn’t sit well with most folks. Tack on an injury plagued season in which Choo statistically had the worst year of his career and people wanted General Manager Jon Daniels’ head on a stick.

Choo is healthy this year. No ankle issues, no elbow issues, nothing. At 100%, he still has time to be the player that the Rangers envisioned when they signed him – a .285/.375 hitter that can get on base and set the tone for the rest of the lineup. A healthy Choo is a good Choo.

8. A healthy Prince Fielder – This goes along with a healthy Choo. Prince said that his neck injury was bothering him all the way back into the 2013 season and he tried to play through it. Fielder had neck fusion surgery (the same surgery Peyton Manning had) and has since said that he has full movement and is 100% healthy and is ready for a big rebound season. Dallas Morning News and Rangers beat writer Even Grant wrote a phenomenal piece on Fielder and his rehab. If you haven’t already, give it a read.

While he has virtually nothing to offer on defense, his bat in the middle of the lineup is huge for the Rangers. Last year the Rangers #3 hitters collectively slashed just .223/.269/.324 with nine home runs and 74 RBI. Say it with me, DREADFUL! A healthy Prince Fielder obliterates those numbers.

7. Martin Perez makes his comeback –  A young controllable lefthanded starting pitcher who can induce ground balls and comes relatively cheap? Yes, please.

Before Perez got hurt last season, he was showing signs of brilliance. In the five games before we assume his injury began, Perez was 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA with 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 38 innings. He had a two game stretch where he induced nine double plays in 14.1 innings. Opponents were hitting just .208 and he hadn’t allowed a home run all year.

The Rangers need this Martin Perez to come back. Don’t expect a whole lot out of him right away, but watch what he does in August and September. It’s a big stepping stone to 2016.

6. A rejuvenated Elvis – The only thing Elvis Andrus has done his entire career is win. That’s all he has ever known since he joined the Rangers as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. Even during his rookie season when the Rangers didnt compete for a division title, Andrus enjoyed a very good rookie season. He swiped 33 bags, was caught just six times, grounded into only four double plays all year, and he finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting.

As much as I hate to quote this man, I will. Gerry Fraley is quoted as saying

Shortstop Elvis Andrus on Monday surged to the lead for most times invoking the spring training cliché “best shape of my career” by a Ranger.

 

 

One thing. Andrus appeared to be telling the truth . . . He joined a group of about a dozen teammates who religiously worked out daily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He took up yoga and Pilates to increase his flexibility.

 

I, for one, am very interested to see what a newly focused Elvis Andrus can do. With that contract that he signed, he better do something, something better than last year.

5. Leonys Martin hitting lead-off – LEONYS! makes my list for the second time. That is quite the accomplishment, young man. Jeff Banister came out and said that Leonys Martin will hit lead-off, or at least get significant time at the top of the lineup. Many people have wanted to see what Leonys can do in the lead-off spot for some time now.

Martin got a good sample size at the lead-off spot at the end of last season. In the final 21 games of the 2014 season, Leonys slashed .295/.340/.375/.715 while swiping eight bags and only being caught twice. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do in the lead-off spot on a full time basis.

4. A healthy Derek Holland – If it weren’t for his dog Wrigley, Holland might be higher on this list, and for different reasons. Before the tragic stair accident with his furry friend, Holland was coming off a 2013 season in which he was really coming into his own and making a name for himself. He posted a 3.42 ERA and a 3.44 FIP. His FIP and ERA being so close together would signify that he was as good as his ERA suggests. That typically isnt the case with FIP because it takes defense into account. While a 3.42 ERA isnt THAT impressive to most, it’s also nothing to shake your head at, especially in the American League.

During his short stint in 2014, just six games, Holland posted a 1.42 ERA with a 2.19 FIP in 37 innings. Holland has had a propensity to give up the long ball in the past, finishing tied for fifth in all of baseball in home runs allowed in 2012. In his six games in 2014, he didn’t give up any. That is the Derek Holland this teams needs and going into his age 28 season, Holland needs to be the ace that many thought he would be when he broke into the big leagues. He needs to be 2011 World Series Game 4 good.

3. Jeff Banister – When the Rangers signed Banister to be their new manager in October of 2014, it threw everyone for a loop. Everyone expected interim manager Tim Bogar to be the new skipper of the Rangers. I wrote an introductory piece on Banister that explained exactly who he was. In short, the guy is a Dude.

Anytime you get a new boss in town, it’s reason enough to watch. A new skipper means a new philosophy, a new style of baseball, a new lineup. Banister has said that he embraces the sabermetric side of baseball and is in favor of using advanced stats. If that is indeed the case, don’t be surprised to see Adrian Beltre, the Rangers best hitter, hitting in the two hole. Putting your best hitter in the second spot is a growing trend among sabermetric followers. See Mike Trout in Anaheim. That would mean no more bunting Andrus in the two hole. I’m ok with that.

2. Adrian Beltre – Do I really need to write anything here? I mean, come on! Beltre is arguably one of the most popular Rangers of all time. He is definitely on a Rangers Mount Rushmore. Beltre has enjoyed the best years of his career as a Ranger.

Since joining Texas in 2011, Beltre has posted a 25.5 bWAR in just four seasons. That is more than his five seasons with Seattle and even more than his seven seasons as a Dodger. What’s even more impressive, is that he has done that in his age 32-35 seasons. Before his time in the Lone Star State, Beltre had just one season of 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. Since coming here, he has three 30 homer campaigns and two 100+ seasons.

Not to brag but he’s also accumulated three AllStar appearances, two Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, two top 10 MVP finishes and a top three MVP finish. Again, all of this in his age 32-35 seasons.

And then there is his relationship with on field neighbor Elvis Andrus. We kind of know how that has worked out.

And the #1 reason to watch the Rangers in 2015 is..

1. It’s Baseball! – You really need no other reason to watch the Rangers this year other than the fact that it’s baseball. The greatest game on the planet. America’s Past Time. There is no other game like Baseball.

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~~ Roger Hornsby

The smell of hot dogs and fresh cut grass. The crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. There is nothing like the sights and sounds of a baseball game.

And who could forget the mighty Chuck Morgan. It’s not officially baseball season until we hear..

It’s baseball time, in Texas! ~~Chuck Morgan

When we hear that, then it’s baseball season.

See you April 10th.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

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