No matter how hard you try to find a scapegoat, the story of the 2011 World Series doesn't have a chapter about its version of Bill Buckner, nor should it. Buckner only dominates the narrative of the 1986 World Series because media and fans ripped out the other chapters.
With the Boston Red Sox just one out away from a World Series title in '86, reliever Calvin Schiraldi allowed three-straight singles. In three chances to get one out to end the series, he failed. And with the Red Sox leading 3-0 after five innings in Game 7, Schiraldi and his bullpen mates surrendered eight runs in the next three frames, including three in just one-third inning by Schiraldi. Even though he was the losing pitcher in both Games 6 and 7, his name is virtually unknown.
Bob Stanley took the mound in relief of Schiraldi in Game 6 with the Red Sox still one out away from victory. Stanley proceeded to throw a wild pitch, which scored the tying run and advanced Ray Knight to second base. After Knight took a big lead, shortstop Spike Owen sneaked in behind him. A good throw would have nailed Knight for the final out, but Stanley never looked at him. And, had Knight not been on second, it's unlikely he scores on Buckner's error. Yet no one knows Stanley's name either.
Nelson Cruz has shouldered most of the blame for misplaying a potential series-ending fly ball off the bat of David Freese that instead turned into a game-tying triple, but there's no shortage of explanations for the historic and heart-wrenching World Series loss by Your Texas Rangers.
Ron Washington's confusing managerial miscues. Michael Young's awful defense and lack of offensive production from the cleanup spot. Alexi Ogando doing his best Koji Uehara impersonation. Neftali Feliz allowing a double to Albert Pujols and walking Lance Berkman in Game 6. C.J. Wilson not pitching like an ace. Josh Hamilton straining his groin. The entire pitching staff allowing a record 41 walks.
Yup, there's plenty of blame to go around. Even Mike Napoli (errant throw to home plate in Game 3) and Derek Holland (homer allowed to Allen Craig in Game 6) weren't without their own gaffes.
In fact, the only argument I've heard so far that doesn't make sense is blaming the way home-field advantage is determined. Even if it hadn't been changed to the winner of the All-Star Game in 2003, the series would have still started and ended in St. Louis because the previous rule gave the advantage to the NL in odd-numbered years.
It's only been a couple days, but the focus of my frustration has been Wash. I'm not advocating firing the guy or declaring him the scapegoat by any means, but I have a feeling that I'll never forget Wash's decision to not start Holland in Game 7, his overconfidence in his starting pitchers and the skipper's refusal to change the lineup.
I also have a good feeling that the pain I've suffered as a Rangers fan won't subside until they win it all, but I'm much more confident of a return to the series this year than I was last year.
This team is poised to get better. How much better depends on what general manager Jon Daniels can accomplish this offseason with presumably a bit more dough to spend. This year's payroll jumped from around $65 million in 2010 to approximately $95 million. Only Wilson and a handful of others are free agents for Texas, while the rest of the free-agent class includes big names like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes. Co-owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis haven't discussed specifically what the payroll will be next year, but Simpson has committed to another increase for the right player or players.
The Rangers made it as close as anyone has ever been to winning a championship without sealing the deal -- twice just one out away -- and that was with no true staff ace, poor defense at first base and a weak bench.
There's really no sense in reliving any more of this season, so let's take a detailed look at roster to see just how JD and his crew might go about making it to a third-consecutive Fall Classic.
Mike Napoli, C/1B
Age on Opening Day 2012: 30 2011 regular season stats: .320 BA-30 HR-75 RBI-1.046 OPS (369 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .350 BA-2 HR-10 RBI-1.164 OPS (20 AB) Contract status: final year of arbitration (FA after '12 season) 2012 salary: TBD ($5.8 million in '11)
He's the best catcher in baseball right now, a crowd favorite and the team's MVP of the World Series. As I've said a couple times before, inking Nappy to a long-term deal should be the organization's top offseason priority as opposed to battling him in arbitration, which could pay him somewhere around $10 million.
Yorvit Torrealba, C
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: .273 BA-7 HR-37 RBI (419 AB) 2011 World Series stats: two singles in five at-bats Contract status: final year of two-year deal (FA after '12 season) 2012 salary: $3.25 million
He's no longer needed in Arlington after the emergence of Napoli as the full-time backstop. With a reasonable one-year contract, Torrealba should be easy to trade.
Matt Treanor, C
Age on Opening Day 2012: 36 2011 regular season stats: .214 BA-3 HR-22 RBI (196 AB) 2011 World Series stats: did not play Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
There was no reason to put him on the World Series roster, and there's also no reason to re-sign him.
Taylor Teagarden, C
Age on Opening Day 2012: 28 2011 regular season stats: .285 BA-12 HR-22 RBI (151 AB) at Triple-A Round Rock
He's proven his worth as a backup, so Texas shouldn't be looking for one elsewhere if Torrealba is dealt.
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Age on April 7, 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: .296 BA-32 HR-105 RBI (487 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .300 BA-2 HR-3 RBI Contract status: four years remain on five-year deal, $16 million vesting option for '16 2012 salary: $15 million
Like Napoli, Beltre was the best at his position this year, and fortunately he'll be here for at least four more seasons.
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Age on Opening Day 2012: 29 2011 regular season stats: .255 BA-32 HR-77 RBI-121 R-30 SB (620 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .360 BA-2 RBI-7 BB-1 SB-3 CS Contract status: final year of five-year deal, $10 million club option for '13 2012 salary: $7.2 million
He played a career-best 155 games, and the result was a career year. Only Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia were better at second base. But, given his injury history, he's probably a goner at the end of the '13 season when he'll be looking for a pricey, long-term deal.
Elvis Andrus, SS
Age on Opening Day 2012: 23 2011 regular season stats: .279 BA-5 HR-60 RBI-96 R-37 SB (587 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .276 BA Contract status: first year of arbitration (FA after '14 season) 2012 salary: TBD
His age showed in the World Series, but so did his potential. He's only gonna get better.
Mitch Moreland, 1B/OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 26 2011 regular season stats: .259 BA-16 HR-51 RBI (464 AB) 2011 World Series stats: 1-for-10 with a solo home run Contract status: under club control for five more years (FA after '16 season) 2012 salary: approximately $450,000
The Rangers committed to Moreland as their first baseman at the beginning of the season, but it waned throughout the year, leading to a minimal role in the World Series. He may stick with the team, but it's hard to imagine Texas offering him the same opportunity next year.
Esteban German, INF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 34 2011 regular season stats: .301 BA-7 HR-56 RBI-44 SB (508 AB) at Triple-A Round Rock 2011 World Series stats: 0-for-3 in three pinch-hit appearances Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
His speed and versatility are valuable, but Texas is likely to look to someone else to be the club's utility infielder.
Andres Blanco, SS
Age on April 11, 2012: 28 2011 regular season stats: .224 BA (76 AB) 2011 World Series stats: N/A Contract status: first year of arbitration (FA after '14 season) 2012 salary: TBD
Blanco could be the guy who replaces German, but I wouldn't rule out Texas declining to offer him a contract because I'm not sure he brings anything more to the table than German.
Free agent and trade possibilities
Albert Pujols, 1B
Age on Opening Day 2012: 32 2011 regular season stats: .299 BA-37 HR-99 RBI-.906 OPS (579 AB)
He reportedly declined a nine-year contract offer from St. Louis worth between $21.1 and $22.2 million per season, so it's clear the financial commitment to land him will be sizeable. But that's hardly surprising. He's one of the best players ever.
I'm pretty convinced he'll re-sign with St. Louis, but it's certainly worth finding out what it would take to bring him here. Unlike when Texas inked Alex Rodriguez to a $252 million contract, the Rangers are a contender, and no one knows when the window will close.
There's no better way to fill the hole at first than to bring in Pujols. However, the nine-year commitment is likely to scare away Texas, and if the Rangers are gonna spend big bucks on a slugger, they are more likely to look at left-handers since the lineup is dominated by righties.
Prince Fielder, 1B
Age on Opening Day 2012: 27 2011 regular season stats: .299 BA-38 HR-120 RBI-107 BB-.981 OPS (569 AB)
He's no Pujols, especially with the glove, but he's closer than you'd expect. And at five years younger than Pujols and left-handed, he could be the perfect fit for Texas. He's likely to become a DH later in his career, but he still has plenty of years left at first base, where he's actually played better than his reputation.
Since the New York Yankees (Mark Teixeira), Boston Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez) and Philadelphia Phillies (Ryan Howard) already have first baseman locked up long term and Pujols is also vying for free-agent bucks, Fielder's price tag could fall into the Rangers' comfort level. It's hard to say what he'll get so early in the process, but I'd pull the trigger at seven years and $150 million.
Mike Cuddyer, 1B/2B/OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: .284 BA-20 HR-70 RBI (529 AB)
He won't get the headlines that Pujols and Fielder will, but there will be more interest in Cuddyer, mostly because of his lower price tag and versatility.
He's known as a terrific clubhouse guy and played first base, second base and right field last year, and he's just one season removed from a career 32 homers and 94 RBI.
If attempts at Pujols and Fielder are unsuccessful, I expect Texas to aggressively pursue Cuddyer as Plan B to solve the first-base conundrum.
Josh Hamilton, CF/LF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 30 2011 regular season stats: .298 BA-25 HR-94 RBI (487 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .241 BA-1 HR-2 2B-6 RBI Contract status: final year of two-year deal (FA after '12 season) 2012 salary: $15.25 million
If you extend his stats in his four years with the Rangers to a 162-game average, Hamilton's at a .311 BA with 33 HR and 123 RBI, which is one homer and 23 RBI more than he racked up in his 2010 MVP season.
Obviously, he hasn't played every game. Not even close. Hamilton has averaged just 125 games played per season in Texas because of an assortment of injuries. And, of course, he was hampered by a strained groin in the last couple months of this year. That's precisely why, as I said during the World Series, I don't expect the Rangers to sign him to a new deal when he becomes a free agent at the end of the upcoming season.
He could even find himself on the trade market, especially if Texas lands a left-handed slugger like Fielder to replace his bat in the lineup.
Nelson Cruz, RF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 31 2011 regular season stats: .263 BA-29 HR-87 RBI (475 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .200 BA-2 HR-3 RBI Contract status: second year of arbitration (FA after '13 season) 2012 salary: TBD ($3.65 million in '11)
Like Hamilton and Kinsler, Cruz's biggest downfall is his inability to stay healthy, averaging just 120 games over the past three seasons. He's also an incredibly streaky hitter, but he's certainly worth hanging on to for the next two seasons.
I'm still having a hard time with folks who see him as the guy who ruined Game 6 instead of the ALCS MVP (.364 BA-6 HR-13 RBI against Detroit) and record holder (tied with Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds) with eight postseason bombs.
David Murphy, LF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 30 2011 regular season stats: .275 BA-11 HR-46 RBI-11 SB (404 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .222 BA-4 BB Contract status: second year of arbitration (FA after '13 season) 2012 salary: TBD ($2.4 million in '11)
I've always viewed him as a fourth outfielder, and he continues to prove me right. Unfortunately, he could be a starter once again if Texas fails to solve its problem in center field.
Craig Gentry, OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 28 2011 regular season stats: .271 BA-18 SB (133 AB) 2011 World Series stats: 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Contract status: under club control for five more years (FA after '16 season) 2012 salary: approximately $450,000
His defense and speed are valuable enough to expect him to be back on the bench next year.
Endy Chavez, OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 34 2011 regular season stats: .301 BA-5 HR-27 RBI-10 SB (256 AB) 2011 World Series stats: 0-for-1 Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
I have to think he's a goner, especially with Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin as better options.
Leonys Martin, CF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 24 2011 regular season stats: .295 BA-4 HR-42 RBI-19 SB-11 CS (302 AB) at three minor-league stops
The Cuban defector was supposed to be the team's starting center fielder at the end of the year, but that never happened, as he struggled to find his footing at the plate after his promotion from Double-A Frisco.
He could make the roster as a backup, but it seems premature to expect he'll be able to play every day next year.
Julio Borbon, OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 26 2011 regular season stats: .298 BA-16 SB (131 AB) at Triple-A Round Rock
If Chavez isn't re-signed, Borbon would likely be his replacement.
Engel Beltre, OF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 22 2011 regular season stats: .231 BA-1 HR-28 RBI-16 SB (437 AB) at Double-A Frisco
I'm still waiting for him to become the five-tool threat he was expected to be, but he's so darn young.
Free agent and trade possibilities
B.J. Upton, CF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 27 2011 regular season stats: .243 BA-23 HR-81 RBI-36 SB (560 AB) Contract status: final year of arbitration with Tampa Bay Rays 2012 salary: TBD ($4.8 million in '11)
With the Rays needing to cut payroll, I expect them to trade Upton, who's one of the best center fielders in the game. He won't come cheap, but Texas has a strong minor-league system with enough prospects to get the deal done.
I'll discuss it more when we move on to starting pitching, but a mega-deal with Tampa Bay including James Shields would be worth emptying the farm.
Carlos Beltran, RF
Age on April 24, 2012: 35 2011 regular season stats: .300 BA-22 HR-84 RBI (520 AB)
Signing Beltran to play right field and moving Cruz to left undoubtedly makes Texas better, but the Rangers probably will be uncomfortable with the years and bucks sought by the aging switch-hitter.
Josh Willingham, LF/DH
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: .246 BA-29 HR-98 RBI (488 AB)
Willingham, who had career highs in homers and RBI while playing in a pitchers' park this year, could be a decent option for left field and perhaps DH if Michael Young is dealt.
Grady Sizemore, CF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 29 2011 regular season stats: .224 BA-10 HR-32 RBI (268 AB)
He's roughly the hitting equivalent to Brandon Webb this year as a former All-Star looking to rebound from injuries. After surgeries on both knees this year and a lengthy list of other ailments over the past few years, he's a big-time gamble. But it could pay off handsomely if Sizemore returns to his 2008 form (.268 BA-33 HR-90 RBI-38 SB).
Ryan Ludwick, RF
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: .237 BA-13 HR-75 RBI (490 AB)
He's dropped off considerably since his breakthrough season in '08 (.299 BA-37 HR-113 RBI), but he could be productive in a hitters' park, while splitting left-field duties with Murphy.
Michael Young, DH/1B/2B/3B
Age on Opening Day 2012: 35 2011 regular season stats: .338 BA-213 H -41 2B-11 HR-106 RBI (631 AB) 2011 World Series stats: .259 BA-1 HR-5 RBI Contract status: two years remain on five-year deal (FA after '13 season) 2012 salary: $16 million
The actual amount remaining on Young's five-year, $80 million is unknown since some of the money is deferred. However, just by the virtue of having two years left, the commitment is less burdensome for a team looking to acquire the frequently unhappy Young.
He's only suited to be a DH with this team, but others are likely to consider him as a passable second baseman, which translates into trade value. The Rockies could come knocking again.
Texas could attempt to solve its first-base problem by putting Young there full time and hoping he improves defensively, but they're likely to listen hard to offers if the Rangers can improve as a team by dealing him.
Free agent and trade possibilities
David Ortiz, DH
Age on Opening Day 2012: 36 2011 regular season stats: .309 BA-29 HR-96 RBI-.953 OPS (525 AB)
If Texas does deal Young or moves him to first base full time, there's no better option for DH than Big Papi, who proved this year that he has plenty left in the tank.
Jason Kubel, LF/DH
Age on Opening Day 2012: 29 2011 regular season stats: .273 BA-12 HR-58 RBI (366 AB)
Again, if Young is moved out of the DH spot, Kubel's kind of a poor man's Ortiz, hitting at least 20 homers from '08 to '10.
C.J. Wilson, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 31 2011 regular season stats: 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 206 K, 1.19 WHIP (34 starts) 2011 World Series stats: 12 1/3 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 11 BB, 9 K (2 starts, 1 relief app.) Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
How hard is it to believe his ERA in this World Series is 2.92? Despite that, I lost my faith in Wilson in the ALCS. Someone's gonna overpay for him, and, as I've said before, I don't want or expect it to be the Rangers.
Derek Holland, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 25 2011 regular season stats: 16-5, 3.95 ERA, 162 K, 1.35 WHIP, 4 SO (32 starts) 2011 World Series stats: 1-0, 10 1/3 IP, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K (1 start, 1 relief app.) Contract status: under club control for four more years (FA after '15 season) 2012 salary: approximately $450,000
The second half of the season and his Game 4 start in the World Series proved that Holland's ready to become a bona fide No. 2 starter next year.
Colby Lewis, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 32 2011 regular season stats: 14-10, 4.40 ERA, 169 K, 1.21 WHIP (32 starts) 2011 World Series stats: 0-0, 12 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 8 K (2 starts) Contract status: '12 club option exercised 2012 salary: $3.25 million
His 2.34 ERA in eight career postseason starts makes him a strong candidate to receive a contract extension this winter.
Matt Harrison, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 26 2011 regular season stats: 14-9, 3.39 ERA, 126 K, 1.28 WHIP (30 starts) 2011 World Series stats: 0-2, 7 2/3 IP, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (2 starts) Contract status: first year of arbitration (FA after '14 season) 2012 salary: TBD
He took a huge step forward in the regular season but then took two steps back in the postseason. This year should determine if he's in the rotation for good or merely an adequate bullpen arm.
Scott Feldman, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 29 2011 regular season stats: 11 G, 3.94 ERA, 22 K, 1.09 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: 5 IP, 5 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 2 K (5 relief app.) Contract status: final year of two-year deal, $9.25 million club option for '13 2012 salary: $6.5 million
Like Harrison, he'll also be trying to prove whether he can be an effective bottom-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Alexi Ogando, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 28 2011 regular season stats: 13-8, 3.51 ERA, 126 K, 1.14 WHIP (29 starts) 2011 World Series stats: 2 2/3 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 BB, 3 K (6 relief app.) Contract status: under club control for five more years (FA after '16 season) 2012 salary: approximately $250,000
He makes it a trifecta, joining Harrison and Feldman among those looking to claim a spot in the rotation instead of the bullpen.
Eric Hurley, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 26 2011 regular season stats: 8-3, 5.55 ERA, 46 K, 1.70 WHIP (16 starts) for Triple-A Round Rock
He's still relatively young, but it might be time to officially label Hurley as a first-round bust. There's just no evidence to suggest he can be effective as a starter or reliever in the bigs anytime soon.
Free agent and trade possibilities
Age on Opening Day 2012: 30 2011 regular season stats: 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 K, 1.04 WHIP, 11 CG, 4 SO (33 starts) Contract status: club options for '12, '13 ($9 million) and '14 ($12 million) with Tampa Bay 2012 salary: $7 million
If there ever was a time to capitalize on prospects like young left-handed starter Martin Perez and shortstop Jurickson Profar, using them in a package to trade for Shields and B.J. Upton this offseason would be it.
Shields gives Texas a much-needed ace -- one that is inked to a team-friendly deal for a potential of three more years. Detractors will point out Shields' 5.18 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in '10, but he's as durable as they come, never spending a day on the DL and posting double-digit wins and more than 200 innings in five-straight years. Had it not been for Justin Verlander winning the pitching Triple Crown, Shields would be the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young award this year.
Age on Opening Day 2012: 27 2011 regular season stats: 12-11, 2.88 ERA, 179 K, 1.08 WHIP (33 starts) Contract status: final year of three-year deal with San Francisco 2012 salary: $15 million
The Giants need a slugger. The Rangers need a replacement for Wilson. May I suggest a Hamilton for Cain swap?
With Cain's contract expiring at the same time as Hamilton's, it's unlikely the Giants will re-sign him, especially with Tim Lincecum's contract up at the end of '13 and a couple years still remaining on Barry Zito's fat contract.
It actually makes too much sense to happen.
Yu Darvish, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 25 2011 regular season stats: 18-6, 1.44 ERA, 276 K, 232 IP (28 starts) in Japan
If Darvish is posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters as expected, the bidding for the 30-day window to negotiate with him could exceed $50 million, with the winner likely to sign him to a contract north of that number as well for a total commitment of more than $100 million.
Prior to the 2007 season, the Red Sox made a similar investment ($51 million posting fee and six-year, $52 million contract) in Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has been a disappointment after winning 33 games in his first two seasons.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and posting a 1.81 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 807 K and 792 1/3 IP from '07 to '10, he's supposedly even better than Matsuzaka, featuring a mid-90s fastball, hard slurve, splitter and cutter.
He may be the next best thing to come from Japan since Ichiro Suzuki, or he may be the second coming of Kei Igawa, who was a huge bust after the New York Yankees paid a $26 million posting fee and signed him to a $20 million contract.
It's hard to evaluate Darvish not having seen him play and not knowing how successful he'd be in the major leagues, but it seems like a big gamble for a team that can't afford another Chan Ho Park disaster.
Roy Oswalt, RHP
Age on April 24, 2012: 34 2011 regular season stats: 9-10, 3.69 ERA, 93 K, 1.34 WHIP (23 starts)
He's supposedly fully recovered from the back problems that actually had him considering retirement this year. If so, he'd be a welcome addition, especially since he's just one year removed from posting the lowest WHIP (1.03) and second-lowest ERA (2.76) of his career.
Javier Vazquez, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 35 2011 regular season stats: 13-11, 3.69 ERA, 162 K, 1.18 WHIP (32 starts)
Vazquez, who's surprisingly the active leader with more than 2,500 career strikeouts, quietly dominated the second half of the season, posting an 8-3 record, 2.15 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 96 K in 96 1/3 IP. And it wasn't because he played in a pitcher-friendly environment in Florida, as his road stats were better.
He's certainly not an ace, but if Texas can't swing a deal for or sign one, Vazquez represents a decent short-term option to contribute in the rotation.
Chris Young, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 32 2011 regular season stats: 1-0, 1.88 ERA, 22 K, 0.96 WHIP (four starts)
For a couple years, he was the one that got away. Now he's the one who can't stay healthy, starting just 40 games in the last four years with various injuries. He's currently recovering from rotator cuff surgery, but if he's healthy as Spring Training approaches, he could be worth a flier.
Neftali Feliz, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 23 2011 regular season stats: 64 G, 32 SV, 2.74 ERA, 54 K, 1.16 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: 3 2/3 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 7 K Contract status: under club control for four more years (FA after '15 season) 2012 salary: approximately $450,000
As I've said before, I believe Feliz is best utilized as the team's closer, but the question of whether to put him in the rotation to replace Wilson is sure to be asked once again.
Wherever he ends up, the best of Feliz is likely ahead, as he's only 23 years old.
Mike Adams, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: 75 G, 1.47 ERA, 74 K, 0.79 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: 2 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (3 relief app.) Contract status: final year of arbitration (FA after '12 season) 2012 salary: TBD
Although he had a couple shaky postseason appearances, he's one of the most productive relievers in the past three seasons.
Mark Lowe, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 28 2011 regular season stats: 52 G, 3.80 ERA, 42 K, 1.44 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: 1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2 relief app.) Contract status: final year of arbitration (FA after '12 season) 2012 salary: TBD
It's unlikely he'll ever become anything other than the guy who surrendered the game-winning homer to David Freese in Game 6, but we're likely to see him in the bullpen next year anyway.
Mike Gonzalez, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: 56 G, 4.39 ERA, 51 K, 1.35 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: 3 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (3 relief app.) Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
He's recovering from left knee surgery but is expected to be ready to start the season. He should be re-signed at the right price.
Darren Oliver, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 41 2011 regular season stats: 61 G, 2.29 ERA, 44 K 2011 World Series stats: 2 1/3 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Contract status: FA 2012 salary: TBD
The Rangers and Wash never give up on Oliver, but it sure feels like time to end this relationship for good. Perhaps he'll save Texas the trouble and finally retire.
Koji Uehara, RHP
Age on April 3, 2012: 37 2011 regular season stats: 65 G, 2.35 ERA, 85 K, 0.72 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: not on roster Contract status: '12 option has vested (FA after '12 season)
The only way I expect to see him in the bullpen next year for Texas is if they can't find a suitor. Baltimore's reportedly interested in bringing him back. If so, a bag of peanuts will do.
Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 36 2011 regular season stats: 39 G, 4.50 ERA, 43 K, 1.09 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: not on roster Contract status: '12 club option, '13 club option 2012 salary: option amounts unknown
I don't expect the Rangers to pick up his option. They can do better. [Update: Apparently, they can't. They just picked up his option.]
Darren O'Day, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 2011 regular season stats: 16 G, 5.40 ERA, 18 K, 1.32 WHIP 2011 World Series stats: Contract status: second year of arbitration (FA after '13 season) 2012 salary: TBD ($1.25 million in '11)
Michael Kirkman, LHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 25 2011 regular season stats: 15 G, 6.59 ERA, 21 K, 1.39 WHIP
Maybe he'll become a serviceable starter. Maybe he'll become an effective reliever. But he's nowhere close to either one right now.
Free agent and trade possibilities
Brad Lidge, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 35 2011 regular season stats: 25 G, 1.40 ERA, 23 K, 1.50 WHIP
The market's flooded with closers, including Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell, Ryan Madson and Francisco Rodriguez, which means Lidge is likely to be had for a good price. If he's reasonable, Texas should pounce.
Jonathan Broxton, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 27 2011 regular season stats: 14 G, 7 SV, 5.68 ERA, 10 K, 1.90 WHIP
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Juan Cruz, RHP
Age on Opening Day 2012: 33 2011 regular season stats: 56 G, 3.88 ERA, 46 K, 1.32 WHIP
He's a good option to give Texas some depth.