Thursday newsletter time: Optimism high as Rangers spring camp nears. It was high in 2020, too
(Rangers Today/Jeff Wilson)
Spring training the past three years has been, well, different.
The 2020 camp was stopped in March because of COVID. The media was kept out of the clubhouse in 2021 and was forced to watch workouts from a tower. The lock out threw everything off last year.
But that 2020 camp opened with some optimism, believe it or not. The Rangers had acquired Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young winner, in the offseason, and the thinking was the Rangers were going to pitch their way to the postseason with Kluber, fellow right-hander Lance Lynn and left-hander Mike Minor.
Joey Gallo was going to be healthy after seeing his first All-Star season in 2019 end early because of a broken hamate bone.
Things didn’t work out that way, as the Rangers stumbled to the second-worst record in baseball, but I’m still curious what would have happened had COVID not delayed the season and shortened it to 60 games. The Rangers likely were short on offense, but might have been able to find a remedy somewhere along the way. The starters might have stayed healthy had they not had to go through, essentially, two offseason buildups and a rushed spring training 2.0.
The Rangers acquired a two-time Cy Young winner this offseason, Jacob deGrom, and put Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney around him, Martin Perez and Jon Gray. This could be the Rangers’ best rotation since … at least 2011 and maybe well beyond.
Josh Jung will get his chance to be the third baseman of the future. Year 2 should be better for second baseman and shortstop Corey Seager. Seager should benefit from the banning of the infield shift.
And, of course, manager Bruce Bochy is leading the team. Pitching coach Mike Maddux is back.
Optimism? I’d say so.
All but done
A well-run ballclub never closes the door to potential opportunities, so general manager Chris Young did not say earlier this week that the Rangers were done acquiring players before spring training.
“But we’re pretty close to being done if we are not done,” he said Monday.
The camp roster sits at 70, though not everyone has a shot at the Opening Day roster. The Rangers can always make room for additions, and it’s not as rare as it used to be to sign a player after camp starts.
A left fielder and a bullpen veteran would make fans feel better about things, but the market is pretty thin. Young all but confirmed that a left fielder won’t be added when he said that designated hitter will be filled by catcher Mitch Garver, outfielder Brad Miller, or whoever isn’t in left field that day.
The reliever still dangling in free agency is left-hander Matt Moore, who at one point last summer was a candidate for an extension and now might be out of the Rangers’ price range. They have money to sign him, but they also feel like they have spent enough of ownership’s money and want to keep some in reserve.
Consider, also, that the Rangers have depth in the bullpen with a bevy of young arms. Among them is left-hander Lucas Jacobsen, who is a dark horse to make the Opening Day roster.
If the Rangers are done and there’s no news to write, the good news is that spring training is starting Wednesday and there will be news to write every day.
It’s getting a little thin here.
Rangers Today has been the home this week to a pretty riveting T.R.’s Memoirs, as T.R. Sullivan revisits the career of Jon Daniels from beginning to end. It’s a six-part series, and we’ve gotten halfway through it. Part 4 is due later today. That’s not all that has been on the website, which costs as little as $5.99 a month for full access. Here’s our latest content, in case you missed.
Excellent form. Enjoy.
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Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org