2011 Texas Rangers Spring Training Season Outlook Surprise Arizona

2011 Texas Rangers 

 I am being a homer and putting out my spin on the Texas Rangers and the 2011 season. Sitting in the stands of the Ballpark in Arlington last season including the final out of the ALCS Championship game made me a HOMER! I still love my Cleveland Indians and wear my wahoo gear on game days in Texas. I am hoping the Rangers as the Indians grow can keep my baseball hunger until we are competitive again. 
 Enough about my beloved Indians. Let's take a look into the prospects of the Rangers a full year under the ownership of Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan.
The boys are in Surprise Az. and are all willing and most are able to get the work in to be ready for another exciting season. The off season had it's drama with the Cliff Lee trade saga and the acquisition of Adrian Beltre at third. It made the start of the year press friendly.

Now to the projected Starting Lineup!

The Infield:

Catcher: Mike Napoli
Projection: 425AB/100H/65R/25HR/65RBI/5SB/40BB/125SO/.250AVG
Chatter: A trade over from the Angels gives Napoli a great park to hit in and a line-up around him that can hit. He will get a significant load at catcher with a sprinkle of DH and a little 1B. Napoli can really slug the ball when he hits it with 137 SO last year we need a little more plate discipline to help set up the long ball! Behind the plate he will really help out the young pitching staff.

First Base: Mitch Moreland
Projection: 460AB/135H/65R/20HR/70RBI/3SB/75BB/100SO/.275AVG.
Chatter: Moreland will need to prove he can hit left handed pitching to get playing time. The defense keeps him at first but a slump out of the gate could really hurt his chance of at bats with Young and Napoli looking for at bats. He could hit the 20 home run club this year with enough at bats. He is a slugger that needs to cut down the strikeouts and stretch the count a little more to get the pitch he can take out of the park. The power is definitely there for him to use on opposing pitchers. Could this be a break out year and the Rangers find the next Mark Teixeira or become the next Chris Davis?
Back Up: Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Chris Davis

Second Base: Ian Kinsler
Projection: 525AB/150H/100R/22HR/80RBI/25SB/50BB/70SO/.275AVG
Chatter: What if Kinsler was healthy a full year could we see a 30/30 guy? The speed and power are both there it's the injuries and lack of at bats that keep haunting Ian from being a perennial all star second baseman. He comes to play baseball every time he straps on the cleats. All out and 100% is all he knows and injuries will happen, but let's hope the 2011 season will be injury free and we get to see his greatness.
Back Up: Michael Young and Andres Blanco

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus
Projection: 550AB/150H/90R/3HR/40RBI/35SB/50BB/85SO/.270AVG
Chatter: Andrus stole more bases than any other shortstop last year. He has the speed with no power an old school shortstop from the Ozzie Smith mold. He also hit .347 with runners in scoring position 7th best in the majors last year. With all the hitting around him batting second his talents of being able to take a walk, bunt or use his speed will help the offense produce much like last year. His price asset is the way he masterly plays defense. A wizard with the glove like the aforementioned Ozzie he makes the impossible look easy. With Derek Jeter staying as a Yankee the all star votes will be watered down but the future is bright for the 22 year old.
Back Up: Michael Young and Andres Blanco

Third Base: Adrian Beltre
Projection: 575AB/175H/85R/25HR/90RBI/10SB/40BB/90SO/.285AVG.
Chatter: One of the top free agents on the market for 2011 and a player with lots of upward mobility at age 31. He has some franchise shoes to fill with the moving again of home town favorite Michael Young. But, he can spray the ball and has a mean glove. Defensively maybe the best third baseman in the major leagues. It will be a win win for the pitching staff a high average hitter and the great glove. Question is, what will he do in the launching pad in Arlington? He is a little banged up with a calf injury at the start of this spring training so we hope that maybe a couple of spring games and slowly get him in the mix early in the season. We do have an all star needing at bats!
Back Up: Michael Young and Andres Blanco
Utility: Michael Young
Projection: 625AB/180H/90R/20HR/75RBI/5SB/50BB/100SO/.300AVG.
Chatter: What team wouldn't love to have this kind of production from the utility spot? Every team at a cheaper price tag. The demands for being traded have been subdued and Young is ready to prove to the MLB brass that he is an all star. Playing for a place on the field in Arlington or on another team Michael will do what he has always done, play professionally. If he does stay the whole year the asset should pay off and get the Rangers deep in the playoffs!
Back Up: Andres Blanco, Mike Napoli and Chris Davis

The Outfield:

Left Field: Josh Hamilton
Projection: 530AB/180H/100R/30HR/100RBI/8SB/40BB/90SO/.330AVG
Chatter: The best athlete on the field. Raw power and plate awareness will have him in the leaders for MVP again in 2011. An astounding .359 batting average last year will be tough to accomplish again. With contrasts looming ahead we should see the best of Josh if the common injury bug stays away. With the addition of another good bat in the mix could we see Josh get 100/30/100 this season. I know he wants the sparkling cider to flow in October this year.

Center Field: Julio Borbon
Projection: 450AB/130H/70R/3HR/35RBI/25SB/25BB/65SO/.295AVG.
Chatter: He may not start the season in the lead off spot? What he will do is run, and run every ball down in the outfield and swipe bases on the basepaths. Could we see a breakout year. Maybe a Carl Crawford like year? Julio is only 25 years old and in his third season with the Rangers. Would like to see the batting average climb over the .300 mark and see little more time on the field to give this youngster a chance to shine. The pieces are around him to score a 100 runs but can he get on base? Breakout alert?
Back Up: Craig Gentry

Right Field: Nelson Cruz
Projection: 500AB/150H/80R/30HR/85RBI/15SB/50BB/100SO/.300AVG
Chatter: At age 30 he is in his prime. The average and power he possess really helps the Rangers line up. When the hamstring is healthy so is the bat. Last year was an up and down season for Cruz, luckily for the Rangers the playoffs he shined with some crushing homeruns. Would love an injury free season and at least 500 at bats with an all star bid in his future.
Back Up: Craig Gentry

Staring Pitching:

Ace Pitcher: C.J. Wilson
Projection: 16W/200IP/165H/90BB/165K/3.50ERA
Chatter: Wilson led the league in walks last year a habit that will have to be broken. With Cliff Lee in Philly the "Ace" tag is on him and he will need to throw like one. He did throw 204 innings last year so arm strength seems to be there. Anchoring this young staff will be a tough task. Rangers baseball has in the past lacked great pitching with the bats helping out. This year will be no exception. Look for the three run homers and win 9-7 bottom of the ninth.

Starting Pitcher: Colby Lewis
Projection: 16W/200IP/175H/70BB/190K/3.75ERA
Chatter: Who would have thought Japan would have helped bring back a pitcher that would go on to beat the New York Yankees twice in the playoffs and 3-0 overall last year. Maybe Colby is for real. Like, Wilson threw for over 200 innings and he had 196Ks. Was this a breakout season? Can he repeat?
My thinking is is stuff is for real and look for another great season.

Starting Pitcher: Brandon Webb
Projection: 9W/115IP/115H/40BB/100K/.390ERA
Chatter: Health Risk!! The Rangers took a flier on an ex Cy Young Award winner. The arm through the first few days of spring training has the Rangers staff optimistic in having Webb early in the season. All eyes will be eagerly awaiting the Brandon Webb project to see if this ground baller can be a worthy asset. Keep in mind he is only 31 and two years away from surgery.

Starting Pitcher: Neftali Feliz
Projection: 10W/150IP/110H/38BB/160K/.325ERA
Chatter: Well, this was a tough decision. In spring training so far he has looked great on three pitches and his curve is all the rave. Mike Napoli of last years Angels stated "His arm speed does not change much like last year when it was noticeably slower when throwing the curve". So, maybe a future ace in the midst. It would be nice to have on home grown instead of an over priced free agent. The closer roll is still an option just my observation!

Staring Pitcher: Derek Holland
Projection: 13W/165IP/150H/60BB/150K/.385ERA
Chatter: Upside is the key word for Holland. Will the hype of this 24 year old be ready to put it all together. He pitched well in the bullpen down the stretch after a rough season. Hopefully the off season and spring training help help put the pieces together to set him up for great success this year! This will be a battle in the spring for the number five spot. He could still land in the bullpen.

The Closers:

Closer: Mark Lowe
Projection: He will need 25 saves and help!
Could an oft injured player shine. His back injury may cause some concern. He throws hard when healthy?

Closer: Alexi Ogando
Projection: 10-15 saves?
Closer by committee may be the short term answer in Texas. Ogando throws in the upper 90's and does have a decent changeup and slider! If Feliz stays the closer Ogando could be the next option at starter project from the bullpen?

The Bullpen:

Projection: 50 Holds
If they do decide to move Feliz into the starting rotation look for the bullpen to hold onto the leads in the 7th and 8th for the closer committee to lock it down

The Manager:

Projection: 90-72
With the talent and a full year under new ownership we should see the Rangers back in the hunt for the World Series. Pitching will be his toughest challenge. Will the ownership go out and pull in another starter before the trade deadline? With the additions and subtractions the Rangers still have a competitive team and should put the exciting runs on the new jumbrotron and watch the fireworks all year long.


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