Rangers fans are lukewarm on how the off-season has gone
01/13/2013 12:05 AM
04/18/2013 7:29 PM
ARLINGTON -- Count Ray Obregon as one of several Texas Rangers fans who are skeptical about how the team's off-season has gone.
The first portion of the winter wasn't too favorable for the Rangers by any stretch. They missed out on top free-agent starter Zack Greinke, who signed with the Dodgers, and then saw the Rays trade James Shields to the Royals. That was followed by trading fan favorite Michael Young to Philly and watching other fan favorites, Josh Hamilton (Angels) and Mike Napoli (Red Sox), depart via free agency. And they were not able to complete a trade with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton.
Despite all that went wrong, the Rangers were determined not to overreact and make knee-jerk decisions. They did that and have rebounded in the past month, notably signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reliever Jason Frasor and designated hitter Lance Berkman. There is still time for more moves, and the Rangers are considering free-agent right-hander Kyle Lohse and outfielder Michael Bourn.
But Obregon, a season ticket holder since 2007, isn't pleased about the off-season as a whole, which also included ticket prices being raised last week.
"Not really too excited," said Obregon, a 46-year-old from Frisco who attended the team's Fan Fest on Saturday at the Arlington Convention Center.
"You can't sign all the big-name players, but I just hope we can keep up. I like the Pierzynski deal, but I'm a little pessimistic about this year. The Angels just seem to be spending money to get better, so we'll see."
For Kayla Lewis, 24, from Wichita Falls, it was difficult to see Young, Hamilton and Napoli leave the team. She remembers the moment when she found out Hamilton was headed for the division rival Angels.
"That broke my heart, especially since it was the Angels," Lewis said. "My phone was going off that day. It was sad at first, but I feel they're still going to do good this year."
Jeremy Earnhart agreed that the Rangers will still be competitive, but shrugged his shoulders when asked about the off-season moves.
"You hate to see players like Hamilton leave, but they did it for the betterment of their own families," said Earnhart, 30, from Van Alstyne. "Who is going to turn down an extra $25 million? We all know that the team can't keep them all."
Kady Kreis, 20, from Keller, said it will be an interesting season with all the new faces and she's hoping to see top prospect Jurickson Profar at some point.
It appears, however, that Profar will begin the season at Triple A Round Rock, with Ian Kinsler staying at second base.
"I wanted to see [shortstop Elvis] Andrus and Profar turning the double play with Kinsler at first," Kreis said. "But the Rangers know what's best."
The loss of Hamilton, Young and Napoli will certainly be felt throughout the clubhouse, too.
Nelson Cruz laughed when asked if he could fill the void left by Hamilton, who had 43 home runs and 128 RBIs last season.
"Nobody is going to do what Josh did," Cruz said. "I've just got to do my role."
The big hole, as Cruz and Adrian Beltre called it, will be replacing Young, the unquestioned leader of the team.
"Not only did Josh and Napoli leave, but our man left, which is the main piece of the team," Beltre said. "That's going to be a little difficult to adjust to without him in the clubhouse and how much he meant to our team."
Beltre said it's "a little disappointing" to see the off-season unfold as it has with the Rangers coming close, but ultimately not acquiring, players such as Greinke.
"We still have a very good team that's going to compete," Beltre said. "I would love to have Michael back and Napoli back and Josh back, but there's nothing we can do about it as players. They're now gone, so we have to do our job and win games."
General manager Jon Daniels knows the club has not made the splashes this winter as it has the past two off-seasons -- signing Beltre before the 2011 season and Yu Darvish last year -- but he remains steadfast in his message that the 2013 Rangers will contend.
Daniels compared the Rangers' off-season to the movie Goodfellas, saying it's essentially two movies in one. The first part of the winter for the Rangers wasn't great, ending with Hamilton's departure. The second half has shown more promise, but fans weren't quite sold that the later additions have offset the early losses.
Manager Ron Washington addressed their concerns during a question-and-answer session and had a simple message:
"There's no reason to be worried," Washington said.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760
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