Countdown to Spring Training Part 1: Cole Hamels

by Ben Dieter on January 31, 2016

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First of all I would like to say happy birthday to one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Nolan Ryan. The man still is a legend in Texas, and I really wish he was still one of the owners of the Texas Rangers.

 

Spring training is now nineteen days away, and I thought I would start counting down to spring training by talking about some of the positives and some of the negatives I see going into the 2016 season. One of the biggest positives is starting pitcher Cole Hamels.

 

Hamels joined the Texas Rangers via trade in the 2015 season, and he seems legitimately excited to be a Texas Ranger. He has evenmlbtr_hamels_rangers

purchased a house in the area according to sources, so it seems like he wants to stick around. Cole Hamels is a true ace, or at least he was when he was with the Phillies, and by what I saw last season I believe he still has the stuff to be a dominate starter in the American League. With the Rangers in 2015, Hamels went 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA, posting 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He was great in the post season as well, pitching well enough to win game 5 of the ALDS, but we all remember that the game itself did not end well.

 

Hamels comes into 2016 ready to go, healthy and knowing that he is now pitching for a contending team.

“I’m pretty comfortable and confident that I will be where I need to be,” Hamels said. “I always try to make sure I go off the mound in February. I have a pretty good schedule that by April 1, I’m always good to go.” texasrangers.com

Cole goes on to say that he is pretty excited about spring training and feels like this team is going to be very good. I agree with him.

 

It is always nice to go into a season with a solid no. 1 starter like Cole Hamels, and with the other pitchers that the Rangers will be running out there (Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, and around June Yu Darvish), the Texas Rangers look to have some solid starting pitching lined up for fans in the 2016 season. Cole Hamels is the key though. If Cole stays healthy and gets his 32 starts in, this team will be in contention at the end of the season in my opinion.

 

Of course there are always factors that no once expects, but overall I think the first big positive going into the 2016 spring season is #35 getting ready for a full season with the Texas Rangers. This team surprised everyone with a post season appearance in 2015, and I think that it will surprise everyone in 2016 if it does not make the post season.

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Do the Rangers have enough?

by Charles Parker on January 29, 2016

All off-season John Daniels has talked about adding depth to the pitching staff. They have re-signed Colby Lewis, and a host of bullpen candidates. On paper the team will go into training camp with what is supposed to be one of the deepest bullpen’s in all of baseball.  Further, the starters seem set with Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Lewis, and a host of competitors for the fifth spot. Those candidates would include Chi-Chi Gonzales, Nick Martinez, Anthony Ranaudo, and A.J. Griffin.  Meanwhile, like the past couple of years they will wait to see how another pitcher, this time it is Yu Darvish, handles rehab and how/when he might return as the cavalry.  There is no doubt that should Darvish return to form, and with Hamels, this team for the first time in franchise history will have two true Aces in the starting rotation.  Let’s hope that happens before the All-Star break, because that will be fun to see!

All of the other positions seem set outside of a couple of players working their way through the arbitration process. Which leaves the biggest concern still unanswered.

What to do about the need for a big right-handed bat, and what is going to happen in left field. Josh Hamilton had double knee surgery in the off-season, and is having shots in his knees to control inflammation and pain. What Josh was in 2010-2011 is an extremely unrealistic expectation, and he is yet another left-handed hitter. The team needs a right-handed bat that can hit, and they need it badly.  The team is just to left hand dominate, and that creates serious match-up problems at times..

In the off-season the team added Justin Ruggiano, James Jones, and Ryan Rua to add to the competition. On the farm they have third baseman Joey Gallo, outfielders Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson are all at Triple-A Round Rock but could be added to the mix.  Mazara and Brinson made the top 10 outfield prospects to watch in all of MLB, with Brinson as #2, and Mazara at #3, and Joey Gallo is the #1 prospect for 3B.

Is that enough? It would have been great if they could have signed Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets have evidently reached a deal for 3-years and only $75 million. It would have been a budget blower for the Rangers with a payroll in the $140-$150 million range. Another $25 million with another long-term contract was just too much for the team.

Personally, I hope it was not a mistake to let him get away. Throughout the off-season Justin Upton’s name came up often, but the Tigers jumped on him with a long-term deal that eclipsed $130 million. This all means the Rangers go into the season with some projects and prospects, but they are the defending AL West Champions. However, according to the folks that project wins/losses they say the team should only win 83 games.

The goal is 90 wins, and make no mistake every team within the division will be better than last year. Houston looks like the team to beat, and yes, they have fortified that porous bullpen that cost them down the stretch last year. I don’t care what the projections or prognosticators have to say, the defending champs are the team to beat, and just like last year all the columnist and sports writers figure the Rangers are a third or fourth place team.

Well that’s why they play the game. This is essentially the same team as last year, but with a much deeper bullpen, and some much healthier guys. Keep in mind that only two of the five starting pitchers finished the season with the team. Health always figures into these things, so maybe they should have signed Cespedes, maybe not.  He sure would have solidified the outfield, and provided what is needed most. Just put me in the corner of one who figures anything we get from Hamilton is just a bonus!

As always it will be pure joy to see how the young guys do, and if the old guys still have it.  John Daniels has done his job the past few years, and I have learned to trust him and Jeff Bannister.

Whatever my opinion is, we are just a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting. It is nearly time to play ball!!!!

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