OK, so now what?
The Texas Rangers just produced their latest, greatest season. Tonight at 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington we'll toast the 2010 team one last time with not a victory parade, but more so a second-place appreciation party to be shown on Fox Sports Southwest and heard on 105.3 The Fan.
Immediately after the warm hug in the cold rain, however, we'll all turn our thoughts to 2011. If the Rangers aren't to be a one-hit wonder that comes around once every 39 years, there's work to do.
Mainly, signing a free-agent pitcher named Cliff Lee. And ...
*Jon Daniels: The architect of the rebuilding plan that commenced in 2007 must remain in place. His current deal runs through 2011, but expect a new extension in the coming weeks, if not days. His ability to pull off the trade for Cliff Lee with his team in bankruptcy remains one of the all-time baseball coups.
*Ron Washington: Some of his in-game maneuvers are still befuddling, but there's no doubting that Rangers' players believe in their manager and that the manager coaxed a max-out season out of his players. If Daniels stays, one of his first moves will be rewarding Washington with a new long-term contract.
*Cliff Lee: Like baseball's other 141 free agents, Lee's contract expired immediately after Monday night's Game 5. Down from 15 days in years past, teams now have a 5-day exclusive-negotiating period to re-sign their own players before they hit the open market. That means the Rangers sign Lee by Saturday, or else. Lee, of course, desires the most money and that will come on the open market. I know he lost two games in the World Series, but he's still an elite ace and the most coveted free agent in baseball this winter. Says Lee, "I would love to be a part of it here again next year, but there are so many things that could happen, you never know." It looks good for the Rangers. Owner Chuck Greenberg promises to make a competitive bid. Lee's family lives in nearby Arkansas. He wants to play for a winner. And, assuming he is as disappointed by his World Series outings as we are, there is unfinished business in Arlington. The Yankees will be bidders, which always makes things interesting. Let's start the auction at around six years and $130 million.
*Vladimir Guerrero: The 35-year-old with the creaky knees hit only .267 with 9 homers and 46 RBI over the season's final 84, including going hitless in last 13 World Series at-bats. Is he finished? Or merely slumping at a bad time? The Rangers must decide whether to re-sign him.
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*Michael Young: At times a defensive liability at third base, it might be time to move him to DH.
*At catcher both Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor are free agents and Molina, 38, is considering retiring. The Rangers somehow hid their catching deficiencies this year, but they'll need an upgrade moving forward. Can Taylor Teagarden be the answer?
Just as Super Bowl XLV is sweeping up its dust from the metroplex in early February the Rangers will be packing up for spring training in Surprise, Arizona. Will they be ready to be even better?