These are the things that need to happen for the Rangers to compete for the AL West Division Title and a spot in the playoffs this season:
1. Yu Darvish needs to continue being Yu Darvish, and cannot get hurt.
2. Derek Holland has to pick up where he left off last season and pitch like a #2 starter.
3. Yovani Gallardo needs to eat up innings. He doesn’t have to pitch as well as Holland and Darvish, but he needs to throw 200+ innings, consistently taking games into the 7th inning and then leaving it to the set up guy and closer.
4. Prince Fielder needs to be healthy and to play like a healthy Prince Fielder. If his poor performance last season was due to his injury, then he should be able to be the Prince Fielder we thought he could be. If not, then we spent a lot of money…well…for not much.
5. Shin-Soo Choo needs to be healthy and to play like a healthy Shin-Soo Choo.
6. Mitch Moreland needs to figure out how to be a good DH and sometimes position player. He has not met expectations.
7. Neftali Feliz needs to figure out how to be a good closer. Sometimes he looks brilliant, other times he looks awful. He needs to be consistently good.
8. Elvis Andrus needs to be a solid hitting, good defensive short stop. He was not that last year.
9. Jurickson Profar needs to quit being the second baseman of the future and be the second baseman. He needs to meet his potential and become the game changer the team seems to think he is.
10. The bullpen needs to be good.
11. Adrian Beltre can’t get hurt.
12. They need an every day catcher that hits better than .239.
All the teams in the division have questions like this. But the reality is the Mariners should be better this year, the Astros will be better this year, the Angels are the exact same team they were last year, and Oakland should still be pretty good. This division is tough and getting tougher. The Astros should be competing for the title in only a few seasons. They are no longer the door mat they have been. I’m not saying that this season is the last big chance for the Rangers to get back to the World Series, but they need to be successful, if only to keep Yu Darvish. He is not going to stay on a team that he doesn’t think will be competing in the playoffs on a routine basis.
On a different note, I will be heading to Spring Training for a few days again this year. The wife is going along for the first time and we are looking forward to watching some games and enjoying the beautiful weather. I will try to update with some pictures and stories from the trip.