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There’s no curse. Nolan Ryan might have been the Team President, but this was always Jon Daniels’ team during Ryan’s tenure. The guy above him is better known and whacked Robin Ventura around and has a plaque in Cooperstown, but what’s important for the Texas Rangers isn’t the guy who used to be above Daniels, but the people that used to be below him.

Success is imitated in sports and the easiest way is to grab the people attached. Daniels always knew that if his plan paid off in Arlington, his people would get opportunities. It’s more than AJ Preller (and Don Welke) taking over in San Diego.

The Rangers have lost a lot of the people that built this Rangers club. Now, can Daniels replace them with people that can continue the rebuild?

Getting back to the playoffs in 2015 was nice, but the Rangers still want to get past being one strike away just a few years back. Ron Washington is gone and Jeff Bannister seemed an upgrade in most ways.

On the field, there’s power to spare, solid defense, but there’s a clear period of transition ahead. Josh Hamilton can do anything or nothing on any given day, but the Rangers didn’t find a LF that clearly slots ahead of him, unless they elect to give 80-power Joey Gallo a chance to play there or Lewis Brinson comes in ahead of schedule. With Gallo, Brinson, and Nomar Mazaro, the Rangers have their OF for 2017, but ’16?

2016 Texas Rangers Team Preview

Projected Go-To Rangers Lineup

  1. CF Delin DeShields Jr. (R)
  2. RF Shin-Soo Choo (L)
  3. DH Prince Fielder (L)
  4. 3B Adrian Beltre (R)
  5. 1B Mitch Moreland (L)
  6. LF Ian Desmond (R)
  7. 2B Roughned Odor (L)
  8. SS Elvis Andrus (R)
  9. C Robinson Chiros (R)

The pitching staff is better and with Yu Darvish’s return, the Rangers will have a 1-2 in Darvish and Cole Hamels that stacks up with anyone in the AL, let alone the AL West.

Projected Pitchers

Rangers Starting Rotation

  1. LH Cole Hamels
  2. LH Derek Holland
  3. RH Colby Lewis
  4. LH Martin Perez
  5. RH Nick Martinez

Behind those pitchers mentioned, it’s a little bit dicier, but here’s where all those scouts and front office types who’s names you probably don’t know come in. They’re the ones that found and developed the talent that you’ll see in these slots, in the pen, and to some extent in the field. There is a deep, deep pool of talent that hasn’t dried up, but past the Joey Gallos, Rougned Odors (the other Rougned, not this Rougned), and Jairo Beras’, the Rangers will have to prove they can keep the seemingly endless pool of talent coming up to the majors.

Derek Holland has ace stuff, but spends more time with ace bandages. Martin Perez has ace stuff, but was drastically inconsistent in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Chi Chi Gonzalez and Colby Lewis will both start the season in the rotation, but it will be a bake-off for the five slot when Darvish gets back.

Rangers Bullpen

  • RH Shawn Tolleson (closer)
  • RH Keone Kela (setup)
  • LH Tom Wilhelmsen (setup)
  • RH Jake Diekman (middle)
  • LH Sam Freeman (middle)
  • RH Sam Dyson (middle)
  • RH Tony Barnette (long)

The bullpen was an absolute mess at the start of 2015, but it was righted through trials and trade. Full credit to Daniels again for stealing guys like Sam Dyson and giving Keone “Stone Cold” Kela a real shot. By the time they made it to the playoffs, the pen was a strength. It’s amazingly deep, which gives new pitching coach Doug Brocail options. (Don’t sleep on bullpen coach Brad Holman. His work as AAA pitching coach was well-noted by other teams. “He’s like one of those reality shows. You find a junked car in a barn and some guy turns it into an auction piece. Holman does that with pitchers,” said one AL talent evaluator.)

The biggest question marks are at 1B and C. Mitch Moreland was discussed in deals, but will start the season as a better glove than DH Prince Fielder, but he needs to hit more and more timely. Robinson Chirinos was thought to be just a place holder, but with Jorge Alfaro traded as part of the Hamels deal, the future at C is blurry.

What Should We Know About the 2016 Texas Rangers?

The biggest key for this team is less about the talent on the field and more about keeping it there. Only one team in baseball has had more injuries than the Rangers over the past two seasons. They already were dealt one this offseason with Josh Hamilton going down and who knows for how long.

There have been some significant changes in the organization to try and address that, most notably the Ian Desmond signing, but we’ll have to see if those results come through sooner rather than later. If the Rangers could improve to just league averge in terms of days lost to the DL, they would pick up three wins.

The Rangers have enough talent to compete with their AL West rivals, but the development of the Houston Astros through upper level picks is going to make ’16 pretty interesting. If the back half of the rotation doesn’t turn into a revolving door and a road trip to and from Round Rock, this team should be an upper-80 win club yet again. That should put them in the hunt for another chance at October.

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