October 9, 2013

Positive meetings jump-start Rangers’ off-season planning

A busy week has included dissecting the 2013 club and looking at free-agent options.

The group of Texas Rangers executives, scouts and coaches that has gathered this week at the club’s spring training complex would much rather have been elsewhere.

Manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and hitting coach Dave Magadan wish they had been in Arlington on Monday and Tuesday, finishing up a division-series win against Boston. General manager Jon Daniels would have preferred shaping the roster for the American League Championship Series.

The scouting department, in a perfect world, would have been scattered across the other three playoff series to gather info on potential opponents for the ALCS and World Series.

But 91 wins weren’t enough to push the Rangers to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, so the club’s brain trust gathered at the Surprise Recreation Campus to get a head start on 2014.

Daniels put together a packed agenda, with no room for finger-pointing or for crying on each other’s shoulders. Instead, ideas have flowed freely, and energy and accountability have filled every meeting.

“It’s been quite interesting, the information that has been gathered,” Washington said Wednesday. “Very constructive. Very informative. Everyone has taken their part of the responsibility.

“We all have areas that we can be stronger in, and all of that strength can come together so that one person doesn’t have to carry the load.”

Wednesday was spent looking at the free-agent pool, including the nine the Rangers have remaining after infielder Jeff Baker was designated for assignment so that Matt West could be activated from the 60-day disabled list.

Meetings were held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday as the group took an in-depth look at what they have on the roster, going player by player.

Many believe that the best is still ahead for first baseman Mitch Moreland, who batted only .183 in 67 games after the All-Star break, and the preference is to find an everyday spot for Jurickson Profar.

Alexi Ogando seems destined for the rotation, and there was some discussion about Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz also getting a chance to start at some point.

Ogando, though, could also be a closer candidate along with Scheppers should Joe Nathan not re-sign and Joakim Soria be deemed not ready to open next season saving games.

“Our guys have been really prepared,” Daniels said. “It goes a long way toward continuing to bring everyone together and get different perspectives. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take a lot of us to get it done.”

The meetings come to a close Thursday afternoon, but the work will continue once Daniels is back in the Metroplex. Up first will be contacting the Rangers’ free agents, and he and Washington will sort out the candidates to join the coaching staff as bench coach and first-base coach.

But the meetings this week, the first of their kind since 2008, have given the Rangers a head start and a jolt of positive energy as they move toward what should be a busy off-season.

“We’ve had a chance to get together as a solid group that we haven’t had the past four years,” Washington said. “It’s been awesome.”

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