Assembling A New Core

Holland
With the departure of Ian Kinsler, it got me thinking about how many pivotal pieces are still around from  the 2010 World Series squad. So here’s a quick rundown:

*players still under contract with the team are in bold

RH Pitchers (6)

•Neftali Feliz (second year arbitration eligible)

•Tommy Hunter (traded with Chris Davis for Koji Uehara)

•Colby Lewis (strong possibility to be re-signed after missing all of
2013)


•Mark Lowe (was property of the Angels, Dodgers and Nationals in 2013, after
leaving via free agency in 2012, just signed a minor league deal with the Rays)

•Darren O’Day (was claimed off waivers by the Orioles after the 2011
season)

Alexi Ogando (first year arbitration eligible)


LH Pitchers (5)

•Derek Holland (signed through 2018)

•Michael Kirkman (pre-arbitration, third year)

•Cliff Lee (signed with Philadelphia after the 2010 season)

•Darren Oliver (signed with Toronto after the 2011 season, recently
retired)

•C.J. Wilson (signed with the Angels after the 2011 season)

Catchers (2)

•Bengie Molina (retired as a Ranger after the 2010 World Series)

•Matt Treanor (signed with the Royals after the 2010 season, came back in
September 2011, left again after the season and retired after the 2012 season as a Dodger)

Infielders (6)

•Elvis Andrus (signed through 2023)

•Andres Blanco (last played for the Phillies AAA team in 2012)

•Jorge Cantu (blasted 31 home-runs for the Quintana Roo Tigres in 2013)

•Ian Kinsler (traded to the Tigers for Prince Fielder)

•Mitch Moreland (first year arbitration eligible)

•Michael Young (traded to Phillies for Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla)

Outfielders (6)

•Julio Borbon (claimed off waivers by the Cubs)

•Nelson Cruz (current free agent)

•Jeff Francoeur (left for the Royals after the 2010 World Series)

•Vladimir Guerrero (played one more year with the Orioles before
retiring)

•Josh Hamilton (signed with the Angels after the 2012 season)

•David Murphy (recently signed with the Indians)

In four years, that’s a lot of turn-over. Only six remain from the 2010
American League pennant winning team.

In Game Two, Holland had the major meltdown that seems like it was ages ago.
He was in for 13 pitches, he walked three, and only got one pitch across the plate for a strike. Moreland had the homerun in Game Three at home, the only game the Rangers won in the series. Andrus was barely 21 years-old and only hit .176 in the series.

So other than a fun trip down memory lane, what’s the point? The goal is to win a championship and get back to the World Series; and that these players are all very replaceable. They’re all pieces of the chess board- some are pawns, and others are rooks and still others are kings or that pipe looking-thing.

The addition of Fielder is the definition of a win-now move. It’s an aggressive move that says, “Hey, I don’t care if he’s an albatross 2017-on, we’re better this year and next year”.

The team composition had to change, the front office couldn’t continue to run
out the same core unit and get the same lackluster results. Fielder, Jurickson Profar and even Leonys Martin are being assembled into the core of Andrus, Adrian Beltre and the young, cost-controlled pitching staff.

For what it’s worth, Fielder has been to at least the League Championship
Series each of the last three years. Maybe, he has enough grit and leadership to recoup our losses in Murphy and Kinsler.

Jon Daniels told Zach Links, of MLBTR that Fielder is worth the gamble, “We
looked at it quite a bit. If he was coming off the best year of his career then [he wouldn’t] be available. I think that’s kind of the whole idea of this deal. If anyone feels like that’s a sign of things to come, that he’s slipping, you may not like the deal, we don’t feel that way…based on what we got from our scouts, and some of the analysis we did, we think there’s a lot more to come.”

Either you believe the scouts or you don’t, based on their track record
recently, I’d side with them. Sure there’s a lot of analysis out there that Fielder’s stature will likely cause his game to erode soon. But I have to imagine that JD has read those reports too and has more information to gleam from that’s beyond the surface.

The change of scenery may play a huge factor here as well. Fielder was apparently playing last year through a difficult divorce and the fan base quickly soured on him throughout the season because he failed to hit 40+ home-runs.

Coming to Texas, where he is wanted and welcomed could be all he truly needs
to regain the monstrous numbers he accustomed to. The preemptive demise of Fielder’s skills is quite exaggerated, you can find articles questioning his decline from his age 26 season, four years ago. The Fielder-decline will surely happen just as all players eventually fade. I’m just not sold on it being anything more than an easy narrative at this point. He’ll be 30 in May, and has only missed 13 games in
his career since becoming a regular in 2006. No narrative there, just stats.

Ron Washington has been dealt a new hand on the field and in the dugout. This
will challenge him and the rest of the team to buck the status quo. This isn’t the 2010 or 2011 Rangers and that’s OK- there’s new memories to be made in 2014.

Dan Allsup is a  Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach him on Twitter @DanAllsup, or email him at Dan.Allsup@shutdowninning.com
Dan Allsup

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