I love this team of year because it's when every writer and blogger decides to play GM for their team and let everyone know just what they would do to improve for the next season.
With the Texas Rangers I don't see too many deals being made but the ones that are will be big. So where do I begin? First I would address the team's sputtering offense in the second half of the season. Like most teams you go with a scapegoat and in the case of the Rangers it would be Scott Coolbaugh. I don't fire him though. Instead I fire Dave Andersen as third base coach and move Coolbaugh to that position. Then I hire Carney Lansford, who was just let go by the Colorado Rockies, as my new hitting coach. Andersen's ineptitude as third base coach has bothered me the past two seasons and the moves keep Coolbaugh within the organization and allows Texas to improve at the hitting coach position.
For my next move I would offer Josh Hamilton a one-year contract worth $13 million dollars. Yes he's just going to laugh at that but I have my reasons. First, I didn't want him back at the high amount he's going to command in free agency. He's simply not worth it. Second, by offering him a one-year deal at that price I am abiding by the new CBA rules which state that if he turns down the offer and signs elsewhere the Rangers get a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the draft. The team that signs him would lose their first round pick. Shrewd and cunning I know. It's addition by subtraction.
What about the other free agents? I let Ryan Dempster go. More than likely he heads back to the National League. He was good for us but in spurts. He showed that he couldn't pitch against a good AL offense. Roy Oswalt is gone as well. I offer Mike Napoli a three-year deal at $13 million per. I also do my best to re-sign Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. I know that Adams recently had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome but the recovery time is typically three months meaning he should be available during spring training. Uehara proved this season just how valuable he is as he can get both righties and lefties out. I do not let him go. And I also don't offer Mark Lowe a new deal. Finally I decline the option on Scott Feldman though I do offer him one-year at a considerably lower cost as he knows he has no role in the starting rotation.
Next it's time to sign some new players. First I offer a four-year deal to Zack Greinke. I'd give him $14 million per season with incentives. Then I offer a nice two-year deal to Nick Swisher. Then I sign Kelly Shoppach as the backup catcher to Napoli.
As far as trades go I would pull a minor one at first. With Shoppach on board that would give Texas three catchers. That's why I would trade Geovany Soto and a couple of low-tier prospects for a decent utility infielder. Michael Young cannot play defense anymore and can no longer be known as the "super" utility guy. Then I pull the trigger on the big trade. I would send Elvis Andrus and Martin Perez to the Tampa Bay Rays for David Price. This move solidifies the Texas starting rotation and gives Tampa Bay what they like: young guys at low prices.
My 2013 Starting Rotation
*When Colby Lewis returns in the middle of the season I foresee Holland being trade bait with Lewis assuming his spot in the rotation. Neftali Feliz will return by then as well but he'll go back to the bullpen. Feliz simply doesn't have what it takes to be a starter in my opinion.
My 2013 Lineup
1. Jurickson Profar (SS)
2. Ian Kinsler (2B)
3. Nick Swisher (RF)
4. Adrian Beltre (3B)
5. Nelson Cruz (LF)
6. Mike Napoli (C)
7. Michael Young (DH)
8. Mitch Moreland (1B)
9. Craig Gentry (CF)
What Texas would have now is an offense that can still produce at high levels and a starting pitching staff that would be one of, if not the, best in the American League. In a few more weeks I'll be able to compare my moves with what Jon Daniels and the rest of the Rangers front office actually do. I cannot wait.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
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