Thursday, December 17, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Our Guest today is Jamey Newberg from the Rangers Blog, The Newburg Report.
1. Josh Hamilton went from beast to injury plagued and mostly absent. What are the expectations for him in 2010? Can he stay on the field?
He’s clearly one of Clint Hurdle’s biggest priorities as the club’s new hitting coach. Hamilton was out of sync mechanically last year, and he took on the weight of expectations, trying to match what he’d done in 2008. Add in the injuries and he was never able to find any rhythm, and he lost confidence. He’ll be moved to a corner outfield spot in 2009 (in an effort to reduce the physical toll on him defensively), and the hope is that he can return to form as a legitimate run producer. He doesn’t need to repeat 2008 – just give this team a reliable middle-of-lineup presence.
2. 2009 was like a roller coaster ride for Ian Kinsler. He started the season playing out of his mind. He sunk midseason, especially July and he rose up and played really well in August just to see it tail off again in September. Can Kinsler be consistent in 2010? What is his absolute ceiling?
There’s no question that he can. He’s got as much talent as any second baseman in the league, and is a pure baseball rat. He’s another one who let things get away mechanically, as he was opening up too quickly and allowing pitchers to exploit that by keeping the ball up and in. Ceiling? He can be what he showed to be in the season’s first six weeks – an Utley-like MVP candidate.
3. What are your thoughts on the Rangers two biggest pitching moves thus far this offseason (Trading Millwood Adding Harden)?
I wrote extensively on that pair of moves in my Dec. 11 report. Based on what Millwood gave this team in the middle of the 2009 season, when they needed him most, I’m not sure banking on him to rebound at age 35 – especially at $12 million (or even $9 million, which is what the O’s will be responsible for) – would be a very good risk. Harden is a health risk, but when he’s right there are few pitchers in the league with better stuff. I’m thrilled with the moves.
4. What can we expect from Neftali Feliz this season? Is he a future closer or a future ace?
He’ll be given a full opportunity to break into the rotation in March. Too soon to say whether he can be a future ace – there’s a lot more that goes into that than just “stuff” – but he’s certainly a candidate to be a core member of a contending pitching staff regardless of his role.
5. Nelson Cruz had 33 home runs but just 75 rbi. Something seems wrong there. Why such a low rbi and run total? What are the expectations for Cruz in 2010? More April May Cruz or more 2nd half of the season Cruz.
The Rangers did a poor job in 2009 reaching base. Cruz simply didn’t have enough RBI opportunities. He actually had a higher batting average with runners in scoring position than with the bases empty.
6. Will the Rangers look to add anymore arms this offseason? If so whom? and what happened to Ben Sheets, he looked a certain Ranger last year at this time.
I would bet on seeing one more starter added. Whether it’s high end like Sheets, or more of a non-roster invite type, remains to be seen.
7. I'm giving Jon Daniels and endless checkbook. Which 3 free agents does he bring in?
John Lackey, Mike Cameron, and Mark DeRosa.
8. Which Rangers prospect are fans most looking forward to in 2009 and beyond?
Lefthander Martin Perez, righthander Tanner Scheppers, and first baseman Justin Smoak are neck and neck and neck. All three may be in the top 25 of the winter prospect lists when they come out.
9. I'm giving Jon Daniels the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Rangers does he part way with?
There’s not a bad contract now that Millwood and Padilla are gone. Some people underestimate how important Michael Young is to this team.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Rangers will win the West in ________.