The Texas Rangers, who won 91 games last year but failed to make the playoffs, had arguably the best offseason of any team in baseball, adding offensive studs Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder to a lineup that underperformed and fell short of expectations.
The Rangers finished eighth in baseball in runs last year, with 730, but they were just seventh in the American League.
For Texas general manager Jon Daniels, seventh isn’t good enough.
“We’ve (had) a reputation over the last 10, 20 years for being a big-time offensive club,” Daniels said on The Morning Show. “And the reality is, last year we didn’t have that type of team. We had six or seven guys turn over the last couple years – a lot by design – but the big offenses that got us to the World Series, it (wasn’t there last year).
“That was our priority going into the winter. We felt the pitching staff would be much improved as we got people back from injuries – (Matt) Harrison, Colby Lewis, (Joakim) Soria and Neftali Feliz.
“But offensively, we just couldn’t supply that from inside our farm system for a couple years. We’ve got some very good, talented offensive players, but they’re at the lower levels. We really wanted to address that, and we feel like we did that with the trade for Prince.”
Fielder was acquired in November for Ian Kinsler, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Rangers.
“It’s tough to trade a guy like Ian Kinsler,” Daniels said. “(He’s) a heart-and-soul player for us and was on some of the best teams in the history of the franchise. But we feel like we’ve got some depth, some young players coming, that can step up in that spot.”
Kinsler, 31, had double-digit homers and double-digit steals in seven of his eight seasons for Texas, but often struggled to stay healthy. Fielder, meanwhile, has played in 157+ games in eight consecutive seasons. His power, however, left something to be desired last year. He finished with 25 home runs – his fewest since 2005 – and hit .279 (this after hitting .313 in 2012).
Daniels isn’t concerned.
“Listen, guys have ebbs and flows in their career,” Daniels said. “I think the guy’s allowed to have a bad year – really a bad couple months. And if his bad year is 25 (home runs) and 100 (RBIs), that speaks volumes of what he’s capable of.
“I think Prince is going to enjoy playing here. If he had hit 45 (home runs last year) and was the force he’s always been, he probably wouldn’t have been available. So in some ways, it was kind of a good thing for us.”
Choo, on the other hand, is an OBP machine and finished second in the National League in that department (.423) last season. Former teammate Joey Votto (.435) finished first.
Choo, 31, also delivered his third 20-20 season since 2009, finishing with 21 home runs and 20 steals.
“Really, both guys have some power,” Daniels said of Fielder and Choo. “Obviously Prince has more, but both guys are really good hitters. And it’s the kind of approach and offensive mentality that I think will be contagious and hopefully help the rest of our guys in our lineup as well.”