texas rangers

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Texas Rangers?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Texas Rangers?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Texas Rangers?

They weren’t good last year, missing the playoffs after back-to-back division titles in 2015 and 2016.

In the same American League West (there is only one American League West) as the seemingly invincible Houston Astros, it’s difficult to forecast a positive outlook for these Rangers. But they were still in that maddeningly crowded wild-card race in September last year, so maybe they can sneak their way into the postseason.

If that’s going to happen, it’s going to be in large part because they have Joey Gallo, who hits the ball about a million miles every time he launches a homer into that second deck at Globe Life Field or whatever they now call what they used to call the Ballpark in Arlington. Gallo hit 41 homers last year. One of them went 491 feet. That’s far. And if you’re a nerd who loves exit velocity, then you’ll love Gallo, who had the third highest average exit velocity in the game last season, trailing only Aaron Judge and Nelson Cruz.

There are plenty of other good long-ballers on the Rangers, too. Infamous face-puncher Rougned Odor hit 30 homers in 2017 despite having the worst on-base percentage in the AL. Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara all hit 20 of ‘em.

But the pitching is another story, and the cavalcade of new faces brought in to bolster the rotation doesn’t seem capable of much bolstering. Matt Moore led the National League with 15 losses as a San Francisco Giant last season. Doug Fister put up a 4.88 ERA in just 18 outings for the Boston Red Sox. Mike Minor was actually really good out of the bullpen for the Kansas City Royals, but he hasn’t started a big league game since 2014, when things didn’t go so hot as an Atlanta Brave.

Of course, the most fun thing about the Rangers this season — aside from 500-foot homers and the potential for further face-punching — is the return of Tim Lincecum. Yes, good ol’ Mitchy Kramer is back, and he’s trying another late-career revival after his last late-career revival back in 2016 spawned a 9.16 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels. This time around, there probably won't be any starts for Big Time Timmy Jim, but in a wild twist of events he could end up the Rangers’ closer!

Anything else to know about the Rangers? Well, we’ve come this far without mentioning Adrian Beltre, the soon-to-be 39-year-old who had one of the game’s best on-base percentages last season and achieved the rare title of simultaneously being baseball’s greatest prankster and baseball’s greatest hater of pranks:

That’ll cover the Rangers, for the most part. The postseason might be a longshot, but if you live anywhere in the Metroplex, know that a Joey Gallo home run ball can reach your house. So souvenirs!

2017 record: 78-84, third place in AL West

Offseason additions: Matt Moore, Doug Fister, Mike Minor, Tim Lincecum, Chris Martin, Jesse Chavez

Offseason departures: Mike Napoli, Andrew Cashner, A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinez (worth noting that the Rangers traded Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress during the 2017 season)

X-factor: The Rangers have a guy named Carlos Tocci, who the White Sox had for like five minutes after picking him in the Rule 5 Draft in December and then immediately trading him. He's not the X-factor, though, unless he ends up on that singing show with Britney Spears. No, the X-factor is Willie Calhoun, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect acquired in the Yu Darvish trade last summer. The outfielder had a small taste of big league action last season, picking up nine hits including a homer in 34 at-bats. But he was pretty darn impressive in Triple-A, slashing .300/.355/.572 with 31 homers in 128 games split between the Dodgers and Rangers organizations. He figures to be up soon.

Projected lineup:

1. Delino DeShields Jr., CF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
3. Nomar Mazara, RF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Joey Gallo, 1B
6. Elvis Andrus, SS
7. Rougned Odor, 2B
8. Robinson Chirinos, C
9. Drew Robinson, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Cole Hamels
2. Matt Moore
3. Doug Fister
4. Mike Minor
5. Martin Perez

Prediction: Fourth place in AL West, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants


Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes

Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes

Chris Gimenez, come on down.

The 35-year-old catcher isn't exactly a household name, but he's been signed by the Cubs to add backstop depth, according to Chris Cotillo and Ken Rosenthal:

The Cubs didn't have much depth in the catching department beyond Willson Contreras and inexperienced rookie Victor Caratini and while Gimenez doesn't light up the stat column, he's a link to Yu Darvish that could give the Cubs a unique advantage in that domain:

Darvish and Gimenez played together with the Texas Rangers in 2014-15 (though Darvish was hurt in 2015) and Gimenez has been shedding some light on what the free-agent pitcher may be thinking this winter. Is this Part II of a David Ross-Jon Lester personal catcher situation?

That may be reading a bit too much into things, as the Cubs were always going to sign a veteran catcher to provide depth beyond the unproven Caratini. They saw how important that was in 2017 when Alex Avila spent roughly a month as the starter when Contreras was hurt.

The link between Gimenez and Darvish is real, but the frontline starter has also made 48 starts over the last two seasons while throwing to a catcher not named Gimenez. And the free agent catching market is pretty thin beyond Avila and Jonathan Lucroy, both of whom should earn starter's money or close to it.

Gimenez has played 361 games in the big leagues over the last nine seasons as a journeyman, with stops in Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Texas, Cleveland (again), Texas (again), Cleveland (again) and then Minnesota last year. He played for Cubs manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey while in Tampa Bay.

Gimenez turned in a career season in 2017 with the Twins, notching new highs in games played (74), at-bats (186), runs (28), hits (41), homers (7), RBI (16) and walks (33).

He has a career .218 batting average with a .309 on-base percentage, .345 slugging and .654 OPS. 

But Gimenez isn't just a catcher. He's made nine appearances as a pitcher over the last few years, including six in 2017, where he allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.

Gimenez will probably compete with Caratini for the backup catcher role in Chicago and can lend a veteran presence. He's also the best bet to take for first position player to pitch in a game in 2018.

Cubs reportedly interested in adding Yu Darvish to starting rotation


Cubs reportedly interested in adding Yu Darvish to starting rotation

The Cubs aren't expected to bring back Jake Arrieta. But what about adding the other top pitcher on the free-agent market?

According to a Saturday report from The Score's Bruce Levine, the Cubs are showing interest in Yu Darvish, who they recently saw in the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Darvish joined the Dodgers in the middle of last season after spending five and a half years as a Texas Ranger. He pitched Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cubs, holding that unusually cold lineup to just one run in 6.1 innings at Wrigley Field, helping the Dodgers reach the World Series. Darvish pitched twice in the Fall Classic against the Houston Astros, taking losses both times and twice failing to get out of the second inning against his old division rivals, including in the decisive Game 7.

The 31-year-old Darvish has been excellent since coming over from Japan ahead of the 2012 season. He's been named to four American League All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 in AL Cy Young voting in each of his first two seasons. He missed the entirety of the 2015 campaign with an injury.

Darvish has a 3.42 career ERA in his five big league seasons and three times has struck out more than 200 hitters in a season, including a baseball-leading 277 in 2013.

Along with Arrieta, Darvish is expected to fetch a huge payday this offseason. The Cubs' reported interest could show that they're not finished adding to their pitching staff despite signing four arms in recent weeks. Tyler Chatwood was a free-agent addition to the starting rotation, bringing the number of spoken-for spots there to four, with Chatwood joining Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana as rotation locks. Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek were added to the bullpen, while Drew Smyly — who's expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery — was signed with eyes on 2019.

After Mike Montgomery's desire to be a starter or go somewhere where he could be was reported during the Winter Meetings, there was a thought he could be the answer at the No. 5 spot on the starting staff. But this reported interest in Darvish — not to mention the team's previously reported connections to free-agent starter Alex Cobb — could mean the Cubs are still looking to add a big name to make the rotation more closely resemble what it looked like in recent seasons with Arrieta in the mix.

The Epstein's front office certainly has options, and the team has frequently voiced its confidence in Montgomery as a starter. But the team, for all its additions, has yet to make a splash this offseason. Stay tuned.