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Texas Rangers: Projecting the Rangers’ 5-Man Rotation for 2013

Last season, manager Ron Washington went with Colby Lewis as the Texas Rangers‘ Opening Day starter. This coming season, the decision has to be between Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish. 

Both pitchers had stellar seasons in 2012, and, as a result, both players have made a strong case to toe the rubber on Opening Day in 2013. 

The biggest loss is Neftali Feliz, who moved into the rotation last season after two All-Star-caliber seasons as the closer. Feliz is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will likely make his return to the Rangers bullpen sometime in the middle of the season. 

Washington will have some interesting decisions on how to set up his starting staff. Let’s take a look at the Rangers’ projected rotation, starting with the No. 5 starter. 

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Texas Rangers Reportedly Sign Free Agent Lance Berkman

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Texas Rangers will sign free agent Lance Berkman to a one-year deal, which may include a vesting option. Berkman had been leaning toward retirement, but this deal signals an apparent change of heart.

The Rangers have been in the market for a bat all offseason. The addition of Berkman should help fill that void and give manager Ron Washington plenty of options with his lineup.

Berkman is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him play in just 32 games for the Cardinals. His first DL stint was due to a calf injury in May. He returned in July, but went out again with a torn meniscus that required surgery. Berkman would undergo a second meniscus surgery after re-injuring himself in September. 

In 2011 he showed that he still had the potential to be an impact bat, hitting 31 home runs and driving in 94 runs while batting in the middle of the Cardinals order. He also hit .301 and had an on-base percentage of .412.  

For Texas, Berkman is likely to hit in the designated hitter spot, and may occasionally play first base. Berkman is a switch hitter, and could enter into a right-handed platoon with Mitch Moreland as the Rangers will also be looking to squeeze Mike Olt’s bat into the lineup.

Berkman will be 37 years old on opening day. If he remains healthy, he could provide the Rangers some of the offense they have been in search of all offseason after losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.

The addition of Berkman gives the Rangers a potential middle-of-the-order hitter to bat with Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre. I could very easily see Berkman batting cleanup, breaking up the two right-handed hitters, or used as protection in the five-hole. 

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MLB Rumors: Should Rangers Trade for Upton, Stanton or Build from Within?

The Texas Rangers have been in the market for an impact bat all offseason. They have been in discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks regarding Justin Upton for what appears to be months now. As the months go by, Arizona continues to flip-flop on trading Upton. According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Upton is once again on the block. 

The Miami Marlins traded virtually their entire roster to Toronto in December, and now are reportedly “willing to listen” to offers for Giancarlo Stanton, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

What is the best move for the Rangers going forward? Depleting their farm system to acquire Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton, or building from within? 

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Can Yu Darvish Be the Ace of the Rangers Pitching Staff?

The Rangers need Yu Darvish to be their “ace” in 2013, but is that something he is capable of shouldering at this point?

Last offseason, the Rangers heavily courted and eventually lured the young, talented right-hander to Texas. Darvish was very impressive out of the gate, mowing down hitters and showing off his extensive repertoire. He then went into a little funk before finishing the season strong, going seven innings or more in six out of his last eight starts.

The Rangers rotation as presently constituted is in a state of flux. The team traded for and then lost Ryan Dempster. Neftali Feliz is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and they are planning to bring Alexi Ogando back into the rotation. Matt Harrison had a great season, but it may not be realistic to believe he will repeat that performance.

In my opinion, an ace is someone who gives you a chance to win every time they toe the rubber. They battle and keep their teams in the game, even when they don’t have their best stuff. They go deep into games, get strikeouts when needed and act as a stopper during losing streaks.

From August 17th to September 20th, Darvish showed that he has ace potential and the ability to lead a staff. Darvish went seven innings or more in six consecutive starts during the aforementioned time frame. He struck out eight or more batters in five of the six starts, including two 10-strikeout performances in back to back games. 

That should pretty much answer the question as to whether or not he has the ability. The question then becomes, does he have the consistency to do it night in and night out?

Darvish had a very stellar rookie campaign, but it was not all smooth sailing. He struggled with his command, walking four or more batters in 11 outings. He also hit 10 batters and threw eight wild pitches.

Darvish flashed his dominance during his first big-league season, as he recorded seven double-digit strikeout performances on his way to 221 strikeouts as a rookie. The Japanese hurler pitched deep into games, going seven innings or more in 14 of his 29 starts. Darvish went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA, and he showed that he has the ability to be a power pitcher (based on his high strikeout totals) as well as the potential to be an ace of a staff.

The Rangers have many questions to answer regarding their rotation. From whether Matt Harrison can repeat his 2012 performance, to if Neftali Feliz will return to the rotation or go back in the bullpen. The one question they may already have an answer to is who their Opening Day starter will be. 

I think the choice is pretty clear that Yu Darvish will get the nod, and Rangers fans may be in for a ride if he improves in any way on his 2012 performance.  

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Ryan Theriot and 2 Other Bench Options the New York Mets Should Target

This past season the New York Mets had a very productive bench. The offensive charge was mostly led by Scott Hairston, who is unlikely to return after his 20-home-run season in 2012. The Mets are also likely to let Ronny Cedeno walk and would like to upgrade their catching situation, as well.

As a result of Hairston‘s departure, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will have a lot of production to replace.

Let’s take a look at some viable options for the Mets in their quest to re-build their bench.

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5 Players New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson Will Let Go This Winter

Only the Mets can find a way to not keep a pitcher who wins, or contends for a Cy Young award. The New York Mets have a lot of roster spots to fill, and no money to fill them. Is the best strategy to spend all of their money on re-signing David Wright and R.A. Dickey, leaving all their holes unfilled?

I don’t think that is a wise choice. The Mets have a lot of players leaving via Free Agency, but some players who are under contract for 2013 may not be here as well. 

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is tasked with changing the makeup of this team, and it starts with the departure of the Knuckballer, who had one of the best seasons in franchise history.

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