So the news hasn't been fun so far for the Texas Rangers this off season. They lost out on the Cliff Lee bidding. They didn't sign Crawford. They didn't get the trade for Zack Greinke (who was traded to the Brewers). It looks like they are going to stick some more duct tape around Vlad for another year. There is all this gloom and doom going on about the Rangers. Cheer up. It's not as bad as it seems.
1. First, remember how pleasant it is to be worrying about holding onto the status of division champs. Before 2010, all you were holding onto was, "Wait Until Next Year." Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the feeling of everyone trying to dethrone YOU. Nice, eh?
2. Your Rangers won the division by nine games. Let's repeat that. Your Rangers won the division by NINE games. In losing Lee, you may lose three games. You're still up six, right? You could have whatever pitcher replaces Cliff Lee end up with zero WAR and still be three games up on the rest of the division.
3. Your Rangers had a Run Differential last year of +100. Your nearest rivals, the Athletics, were +34. Lee wasn't ALL that great down the stretch, so his impact on the run differential was negligible. So you're still up 66 runs on the A's. For what that means, see #4.
4. The only significant upgrade to the A's has been Hideki Matsui. He finished 2010 at 20 runs above replacement. Since the A's were basically at zero last year at DH, they've added 20 runs. Even if their pitching stays phenomenal in 2011 (no easy feat), your Rangers are still ahead by 46 runs.
5. The Angels, your arch rivals and the hated spectre of years past, have not improved at all. Last year they were -24 in Run Differential. That's 124 runs worse than your Rangers. Even if they sign Beltre (no guarantee the way their off season has gone), considering their third basemen offered them little in 2010, Beltre, IF he repeats his fantastic 2010 provides 63 runs above replacement. That's still 61 runs behind your Rangers.
6. You still have the best player on the planet. There is no reason to believe that Josh Hamilton cannot repeat his 2010 season. He is that good.
7. Even without Lee you have a solid core of starting pitchers in Hunter, Wilson and Lewis. Feliz may become a superstar as a starter still and there is plenty of young talent your team can look at in the spring to fill out the rotation. The farm system is chock full of young arms that can provide excellence in the coming years. Gaining Greinke would have compromised that depth of talent.
8. If Cruz and Kinsler can stay healthy all year, your Texas Rangers should score even more runs adding to what was already a good offense.
9. If Elvis Andrus can raise his line drive percentage above 17.8% and if Moreland and other can improve, your team should score more runs.
10. Now with stable ownership and a strong and competent leadership team in place, any needs that arise during the season can be leveraged in trade deadline deals.
It would have been nice to keep Lee, but his signing would have hamstrung the team for six years when there is no guarantee that Lee would have been worth that kind of money that long. It would have been nice to get Greinke, but not at the expense of your best young talent. The Rangers are already strong enough to defend their title and once you get in the post season (as proved in 2010), anything can happen. Cheer up, Rangers' fans. You are the reigning American League champs and until somebody knocks you off, with or without Cliff Lee, that's a pretty cool thing, no?