After dropping Game 7 of the 2011 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals by a 6-2 mark on Friday night, the Texas Rangers must now try to forget their postseason miscues and focus on a promising offseason.
Truthfully, there aren’t many holes hampering Ron Washington’s club moving forward. However, rumor has it that they may be in the mix for signing formerMilwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder—a move that would almost certainly put the club over the top in 2012. Its a bold task to pursue, especially with the incredible competition vying for Fielder’s services this offseason. However, if they are truly intent on returning to the Fall Classic next year and beyond, they must resort to acquiring the hefty vegetarian.
Here are three concise reasons the Rangers will succeed in signing Fielder this winter.
Supply and Demand
At their very best, the Rangers were an offensive juggernaut in 2011.
Stacked up against MLB teams, Texas ranked second in home runs (210) and SLG (.460), third in RBI (807), as well as second in extra-base hits (552) in the regular season. If there’s one thing Ron Washington’s crew knows how to do best, it’s hitting the baseball with authority.
However, they were insufficient in their postseason efforts, especially in the World Series. The Cardinals simply outperformed Texas, particularly in the clutch. Signing Fielder this winter to either become their designated hitter or platoon with Michael Young at first base would add unquestionable power to their lineup, thus putting them over the hump in 2012.
They Can Probably Afford Him
Despite having MLB’s 13th-highest payroll last season at just over $92 million, the Rangers were able to reach the World Series for the second straight year.
With a number of contracts ready to come off the books this offseason, there’s no disputing that the Rangers have enough money to sign Fielder to a long-term deal. C.J. Wilson’s lofty $7 million 2011 salary will no longer have to be fulfilled, giving GM Jon Daniels a reasonable amount of payroll to work with this winter.
Nolan Ryan Won’t Let the Opportunity Slip Away
With Albert Pujols likely to wind up re-signing with the Cardinals this offseason, the Rangers’ free-agent options have now waned significantly.
There are a handful of bats Texas could pursue this winter, but with Texas already having such a balanced lineup, Nolan Ryan will be intent on increasing payroll to bring in an MVP-caliber talent such as Fielder.
Here’s a potential outlook at what Texas’ Opening Day starting lineup could look like with Fielder in the mix:
1. Ian Kinsler 2B
2. Elvis Andrus SS
3. Josh Hamilton CF
4. Prince Fielder DH
5. Nelson Cruz RF
6. Michael Young 1B
7. Adrian Beltre 3B
8. Mike Napoli C
9. Endy Chavez LF
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.