Tag Archive | Rangers

Metropolitan Division 2014-15 Preview

October is upon us which means that we’re officially less than a week away from the start of the 2014-15 NHL Season. So before the season starts next Wednesday, I’ll give you a look at each of the 30 teams by division and then give you my predictions. So without further delay, let’s begin this year’s preview with the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina Hurricanes
With Jordan Staal out until at least December, the Hurricanes will have to rely on his brother Eric, who comes off of the least productive season since his rookie season, and Jeff Skinner. Carolina brought in new head coach Bill Peters as they undergo “a transition” to performing well once again. Cam Ward is still in net, and that’s great, but the Hurricanes are not expected to do much this season.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets traded for Scott Hartnell during the offseason and that should provide an immediate improvement on the offensive end. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will once again carry the team. Alexander Wennberg and Kerby Rychel are two young players that provide hope for the future. On the defensive end, Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski will man the blue line for a Blue Jackets team that hopes to return back to the playoffs.

 

New Jersey Devils
The Devils made some great offseason additions, bringing in Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat. Adding them to a forwards group that includes Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac and Patrick Elias turns the Devils into an intriguing team. The team said goodbye to the NHL’s all-time winningest goaltender Martin Brodeur at the end of this season. They’ll instead opt for Cory Schneider to become the full time starter in net and brought in Scott Clemmensen to be his backup. It’ll be interesting to see how the Devils compete with the rest of the division.
Mike Cammalleri will have a fresh start, as he joins the Devils (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty)

Mike Cammalleri will have a fresh start, as he joins the Devils (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty)

 

New York Islanders
This preview was scheduled to go up earlier this morning. However, there were rumblings  that Garth Snow was on the phone with a few teams and so I held off on it. The Islanders acquired Nick Leddy from Chicago and Johnny Boychuk from Boston this afternoon, changing the face of the team. Here’s the updated preview:

 

The Isles went out this offseason and brought in some great players. In free agency, the Islanders signed former Toronto Maple Leafs Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, who could possibly be paired on the second line. Grabovski may also be used on the number one power play line alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. On defense, the recent acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy prove that GM Garth Snow is playing to win now. They also have Griffin Reinhart and Calvin de Haan, providing hope for the future. In goal, the Islanders situation may have finally been settled. Jaroslav Halak will take over for Evgeni Nabokov, who signed with Tampa Bay. Former Boston Bruins net minder Chad Johnson was also brought in and will likely serve as Halak’s backup. For the first time in recent Islanders history, they’ll have two polished veteran goalies. The Islanders will be playing at Nassau Coliseum for the final season and the stakes are going to be high, so the Isles look to go out in style and reach the playoffs.

 

New York Rangers
The Rangers lost a bunch of key players this Summer including Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Dorsett. Their only major signing was 38 year old defenseman Dan Boyle. Henrik Lundqvist will still be great in net but it should be interesting to see how head coach Alain Vigneault makes his lines, especially after losing top center Derek Stepan to a fractured fibula.

 

Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers haven’t had much going for them since going to the Stanley Cup Finals a few seasons ago. They added Michael Del Zotto and R.J. Umberger. They also have Steve Mason in net and are hoping that he improve this season. They’ll struggle but it’ll be fun to watch the line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins added Patric Hornqvist, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau and Christian Ehrhoff to an already deadly threat in the Eastern Conference. The power play is always fantastic and with a line like Malkin, Crosby and Hornqvist, I believe that it’ll be the best in the league this season.

 

Washington Capitals
New coach Barry Trotz is defensive minded and that should help the offensive powered Capitals. The additions of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen make for a crowded blue line in our nation’s capital. They’ll join John Carlson and Mike Green on defense. Calder trophy candidate Evgeny Kuznetsov should make a huge splash into the NHL and could see time on the power play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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2014 NHL Free Agency Preview

By Brett Malamud

Forwards

Thomas Vanek- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 27 G, 41 A, 68 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild

Vanek has narrowed his list to “4 or 5 teams” and I’d be shocked if the final decision wasn’t Minnesota.

 

Jarome Iginla- 36 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 30 G, 31 A, 61 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Bruins, Wild, Canucks, Red Wings, Lightning

Unless Iginla decides that he’ll take a pay cut to return to Boston, I’m not quite sure how the Bruins will find salary cap space to sign him. This should be an exciting bidding war.

 

Paul Stastny- 28 Years Old- C (2013-14: 25 G, 35 A, 60 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Blues, Predators, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Avalanche

Speaking of bidding wars, the most pursued free agent out there is none other than Paul Stastny. Stastny grew up in St. Louis and so the Blues are certainly intriguing. I think that they’ll make a good offer. Colorado would like to keep him but could very well be outbid by a team that’ll overpay for him.

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

 

Matt Moulson- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 23 G, 28 A, 51 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Sabres, Senators, Stars, Predators

Let’s get this out of the way: Don’t doubt a Moulson return to Long Island. The 30 year old still remains close with one of his best friends John Tavares. Moulson loved being an Islander. Isles GM Garth Snow made his mistake when he dealt Moulson to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek, who told the team a few months later that he wouldn’t re-sign. I’m sure Tavares will be chirping in Snow’s ear.

 

Mike Ribeiro- 34 Years Old- C (2013-14: 16 G, 31 A, 52 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Flames, Blackhawks, Predators

The Coyotes bought out Ribeiro for his behavior off the ice. Should be interesting to see who will take a chance on him.

 

Daniel Alfredsson- 41 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 18 G, 31 A, 49 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Red Wings

Alfredsson has indicated that his two options are the Detroit Red Wings and retirement.

 

Defensemen

Matt Niskanen- 27 Years Old- (2013-14: 10 G, 36 A, 46 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild, Islanders, Capitals, Lightning,

Niskanen is the top all around defenseman on the market in my opinion. The Lightning cleared a ton of cap space and I think signing Niskanen is the reason why they did.

 

Dan Boyle- 37 Years Old- (2013-14: 12 G, 24 A, 36 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Rangers, Canadiens, Red Wings, Maple Leafs

Boyle’s rights were traded to the Islanders, but they couldn’t nail down a deal so he’ll hit the FA market. His age will effect his contract so don’t expect anyone to break the bank on Boyle.

 

Christian Ehrhoff- 31 Years Old- (2013-14: 6 G, 27 A, 33 Pts.)
Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Red Wings

Ehrhoff was bought out of his remaining seven years of his 10-year deal with Buffalo. Detroit showed a lot of interest at the trade deadline, so keep an eye on them.

 

Michael Del Zotto- 24 Years Old- (2013-14: 3 G, 13 A, 16 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Maple Leafs

Del Zotto was not given a qualifying offer by the Nashville Predators, making him an unrestricted free agent. The question with Del Zotto is: can this be a good value pickup? He won’t get paid as much as the others, so a low spending team like the Islanders may take a good look at him.

 

Brooks Orpik- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 2 G, 1 A, 13 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Blues, Sabres

If you notice, the Islanders were listed on each of the defensemen’s free agents possible destinations. Yes, they need a defenseman and so they’ll look at each one. I believe that they should sign Orpik but don’t think they will. He has a blistering shot and is a force on defense. A hard hitter, Orpik will be a good fit wherever he goes.

Goaltenders

Jonas Hiller- 32 Years Old- (2013-14: 29-13, 5 SO, 2.48 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Lightning, Jets, Canucks

This is a rough spot for Hiller here, sharing the market with Brodeur, Miller and Nabokov. But he could go to a team such as the Lightning and Jets who have a shaky situation when it comes to a plan B in net.

 

Martin Brodeur- 42 Years Old- (2013-14: 19-14, 3 SO, 2.51 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Maple Leafs, Devils, Lightning, Bruins, Blackhawks, Penguins

Instead of retiring, Brodeur will explore his options outside of New Jersey. I don’t expect him to be signed on the first day of free agency.

 

Ryan Miller- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-22, 3 SO, 2.72 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Canucks, Sharks

Miller already met with Vancouver officials and my belief is that he’ll be signed by them.

 

Evgeni Nabokov- 38 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-14, 4 SO, 2.74 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Flyers

Another interesting signing will be Nabokov. He wasn’t close on a deal with the Isles and so he’ll go out to free agency. The Capitals need a backup for Braden Holtby. Philly is over the cap and so I think Nabokov will end up with the Caps.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

2014 Stanley Cup Preview

By Brett Malamud

The puck drops in Los Angeles tonight as the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings will battle it out for all the marbles. It should be a great series, as both teams deserve to be there. After missing out on the finals berth last year, the Kings return to hockey’s biggest stage for the second time in three years. At the same time, the Rangers return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

 

The Goalies

An interesting matchup to say the least, the series will feature two of the top goalies in the league going head to head. Henrik Lundqvist has stood on his head, making some pretty acrobatic stops these playoffs. If it weren’t for him, the Rangers would probably not be playing in this series. With a 2.03 goals against average, he has carried them the distance and hopes to continue that over the coming games. On the other side of the rink is Jonathan Quick, who will look to capture his second Stanley Cup. He’s had quite the experience in net, and that should help as he has been playing well this playoffs.

Edge: Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist must be on his game for the Rangers to take home their first cup in 20 years (Via ISN)

Henrik Lundqvist must be on his game for the Rangers to take home their first cup in 20 years (Via ISN)

 

The Defense

Defense should be a huge part of this series. The Kings can score in a blink of an eye, and the Rangers…well let’s just say they can thank the opponent’s lack of defense for a handful of their goals during the playoffs. The Rangers shot blocking may be the storyline going into this one. Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh have led the charge on that front. The Rangers did a good job holding down PK Subban, but it’ll be interesting to see how they do with the quicker Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty.

Edge: Kings

 

The Offense

Well not a lot of debate here. The Kings average 3.48 goals per game. The Rangers average 2.70. The Kings scored 28 goals in their seven-game Western Conference Finals series. The Rangers scored 19 goals in their six-game Eastern Conference Finals series. It’ll be interesting to see Marian Gaborik this series. The former Rangers forward leads all playoffs scorers with 12 goals. Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams will all play a major role as well. For the Rangers, the newly acquired Martin St. Louis leads the way, as well as Rick Nash, who hasn’t done much this postseason

Edge: Kings

 

Verdict

At the end of the day, the Kings are the better team. Don’t think that the Rangers will go down easy though.

Prediction: Kings in 6


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

 

2014 MLB Predictions

By Dan Lagnado

National League

East: Washington Nationals

Coming off a disappointing season in which the Nats were 10 games behind the first place Braves, I expect a bounce back season and 95+ wins from the Nationals. An improved starting rotation with the addition of Doug Fister and a lineup without a weakness, the Nats and first year manager Matt Williams can make a run in the playoffs.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Last year’s National League champions continue their regular season success led by a batch of young starters. The loss of Carlos Beltran is minimized by the arrival of Jhonny Peralta and the Cardinals have a good chance to defend their title.

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers simply have too much firepower to not win this division. They won the division by 11 games last season and there is no reason for them not to repeat unless the team is decimated by injury.

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Wild Card 1: Cincinnati Reds

The NL Central is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball with three teams making the playoffs last year. I think the Reds jump up a spot from WC 2 to WC 1 in the upcoming season behind the strength of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Another reason for the improvement is that Pittsburgh’s dream run last year does not have the same impact this time around and they drop off enough for the Reds to overtake them down the stretch.

Wild Card 2: San Francisco Giants

In a bounce back year the Giants will finish second in their division and take the second Wild Card position. The starting rotation will return to its former glory and the addition of Tim Hudson will add stability to a rotation that already contains Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

American League

East: Boston Red Sox

This was not an easy decision but in the end I have to stay with the defending champions. A solid pitching rotation returns intact and the playoff experience will help this team retain their division title.

Central: Detroit Tigers

Even with injuries to Jose Iglesias, the Tigers are still the team to beat in the AL Central. Miguel Cabrera is coming back healthy and new acquisition Ian Kinsler will provide a big boost at second base. Joe Nathan will provide a boost at the back of the bullpen and Justin Verlander should be back healthy.

West: Texas Rangers

The arrival of Prince Fielder and Alex Rios and the first full season of Jurikson Profar will key the Rangers to a division title. Yu Darvish looks to follow up a dominant year and cement himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a competitive division that goes down the wire, the Rangers will edge out the division.

Wild Card 1: Oakland Athletics

The A’s continue their recent success by locking up another playoff birth, this time by Wild Card. Despite injuries to the starting rotation, Oakland does have enough young pitching to get them through the season effectively.

Wild Card 2: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels’ power bats finally get it together and make it into the postseason. Mike Trout once again will be one of the best in the league and Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols finally get it together in the American League to carry the Angels to success.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

Prince Fielder Traded to Texas Rangers in Exchange for Ian Kinsler

By Ben Ozur

This is no joke! It has been confirmed that this trade is official. Quite the movement of talent to say the least, not to mention the money! But why did this trade happen?

The Texas Rangers made it very clear that they wanted to move a middle infielder, whether it be Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, or Jurickson Profar. It was clear that Kinsler would be the best of the three for them to move, as the other two are still in their young 20s. Also, Kinsler’s contract doesn’t last as long as the others, so they don’t lose a ton of control of a valuable player. With this trade, Profar can now become the everyday second baseman. But there’s more to that than you may think.

The Texas Rangers wanted Profar in the lineup every day, as opposed to the utility role he served in 2013. Thus, a trade needed to be made. But was Kinsler unhappy about this? Perhaps. There were many rumors that Kinsler would have to change positions to either leftfield or first base. Kinsler is a two-time 30/30 player (HRs and stolen bases), so considering his speed, moving him to first base would waste that speed. This potential move makes sense, considering David Murphy just left as a free agent to play with the Cleveland Indians, and Mitch Moreland hasn’t played up to his full potential. There are plenty of outfielders on both the free agent and trade markets, but not first basemen. So they made it happen by acquiring Prince Fielder. Now, why would the Tigers do this?

Prince Fielder is now a member of the Texas Rangers (Via AP)

Prince Fielder is now a member of the Texas Rangers (Via AP)

The Detroit Tigers were expected by many to repeat as AL Champions in 2013 and maybe even win the World Series. They received these expectations after signing Prince Fielder to a 9-year/$214M contract in the 2011-12 offseason, and his first year was a huge success. He won a Silver Slugger and took his team to the World Series. This was seen as a very hefty contract, but the Tigers had the money to spend and felt that they needed that left-handed bat in the middle of their lineup. Though he had a down year in 2013 (at least for his standards), he has done everything the Tigers have asked him to do.

The Detroit Tigers also have a large hole at second base. Omar Infante, their regular second baseman in 2013, is now a free agent. Not knowing if he would resign, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski didn’t hesitate in finding his replacement. Ian Kinsler, in my opinion, is the third-best second baseman in the game (only behind Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia), and with the inflation currently in the game of baseball, Kinsler’s contract doesn’t comparatively look too much look like an overpay. Trading for him seems to be worthwhile, but at what cost? Prince Fielder!

So now everyone wants to know: who won this deal? It’s too early to tell, considering it just happen. But I’d presume that most people believe that this was an absolute steal for the Rangers. Not so fast. There are many factors that must be considered in this:

 

  1. Who wins the money-side of the trade? Considering that there isn’t a drastic difference in their talent, I would rather take a guy who’s making over $100M less. This is a big win for the Tigers.
  2. Who had a bigger net upgrade between first and second bases? I believe that each player is a top five player at his respective position. Because first base is a significantly stronger position than second base right now, finding a good second baseman is hard. It’s not as difficult to find a talented first baseman. Now, I still believe in Mitch Moreland. I don’t think that the Rangers HAD to trade for Fielder as much as they had to move Kinsler. So it doesn’t make too much sense, from this perspective, for the Rangers. But it made MUCH less sense for the Tigers. Because now we must ask the biggest question of all: who takes over as the Tigers’ first baseman in 2014? Um… exactly! Who will fill the role of cleanup hitter now? Ultimately, Victor Martinez will get the first stab at it, but his hitting prowess doesn’t compare to that of Prince Fielder. It is no contest here: advantage, Rangers.
  3. Who had a bigger hole to fill? There are more available second basemen than first basemen on the free agent market, so finding one wouldn’t be terribly difficult. The Tigers could’ve found any second baseman and given him a smaller contact, and he could’ve been serviceable. Brian Roberts and Mark Ellis fit this profile perfectly. Like I just said, the Tigers’ first base is a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, hole to try to fill. So the Tigers didn’t fill a hole, they created one. On the other side, the Rangers had a surplus of middle infielders and felt a need for an upgrade at first base (like I said, I don’t completely agree, but I understand where this is coming from). So, there wasn’t a huge problem to fill, by default, the Rangers win this argument.
  4. And, of course, who’s the better player? You could look at this from a bunch of different angles. To make it simple, we’ll look at three: at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. Fielder clearly has the advantage at the plate, but not as much as you may have first expected. There are many comps to Fielder as a first baseman at the plate (i.e. Votto, Goldschmidt, Davis, Gonzalez, and Freeman) and not as many to Kinsler (considering power and contact, only Robinson Cano and Brandon Phillips). I’ll still give Fielder the benefit of the doubt. On the bases and in the field? Kinsler is the clear-cut winner. When you put this all together, what’s the answer? They really are so close, it’s hard to make the call. I could easily be persuaded either way.

So one edge for the Tigers, two for the Rangers, and a tie. Does this mean that the Rangers automatically win the trade? Not quite. The money argument is the most lopsided, in my opinion. They are similar players, after all, yet Fielder is being paid more than double what Kinsler is making.

So considering all of this, who wins the trade? I really don’t know. It is still too close to call and too early to judge. If I had to make a guess, I think this gives the Rangers a bigger immediate boost, but the Tigers will be more satisfied in the long haul. Again, I don’t feel strongly about this on either side; it’s just my prediction. What I can tell you is that a trade of this magnitude (one star for another, straight up) is very rare. Normally, it’s easier to judge the winner, but not here.

The Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers have made significant trades to their roster, so these two teams will be very interesting to watch going forward.

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Top Five MLB Teams That Need To Take Out Their Checkbook For 2014

By: Sam Breiter

Baseball in 2013 was a season to remember to say the least. Whether you are talking about the unbelievable breakout season from Chris Davis, who led major league baseball with 53 homeruns, or if you are discussing the legacy of a man named Mariano, you can clearly see how extraordinary this year in baseball was. Just three days ago, the Boston Red Sox organization gained the title of World Series Champions. For now, they will be noted as the best team in baseball, but April is just around the corner and now every team will have fair game to work on improving their team to become potential champions for 2014. Some teams may look at their 40-man roster today and feel a sense of comfort and confidence for next year, knowing that they may be one small signing or trade away from being contenders. Other teams may look and find that there are many holes that need to be covered, and they have a lot of work cut out for them this winter. Noting, there are some organizations that have more available money for the elite free agents than others. For example, the Houston Astros may need an outfielder, but do not expect them to spend $20 million on a five tool superstar, but rather a player with mediocre talent since they are many years away from being competitive.  What I am about to review is the top five teams who need to make moves this offseason in order to have a fighting chance in 2014. I took into consideration the available funds the team has, what they need, and their desire to improve to stand a chance next year.

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

#5 Kansas City Royals- After being regarded as one of the worst teams in baseball after their great run in the 70’s and 80’s, the Kansas City Royals in 2013 really found themselves as a team. Prior to the 2013 season, the Royals had not been over .500 since 2003, and before that 1993. After spending the last couple of years trading away talent to improve their farm system, the Royals have reached that essential milestone where they have developed a group of young prospects into MLB superstars. Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer, to name off a few, had a key role in allowing the Royals to win their 86 games this year. The Royals were just seven games back of the division-winning Tigers, and missed a wild card spot by five and a half games. So what’s it going to take to get over that hump? What do the Royals need to do to go back to the glory days of when they were one of the most feared teams in baseball? I have one answer to that question and that is pitching. If we look at the pitching rotation for 2014, for the team right now you see the names James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen, and two question marks. Ervin Santana, who had an above average year, is now a free agent, and the Royals never really had a true number five guy. Shields and Guthrie provide a great one two punch, yet it is fair to note that Chen has always time after time proven himself to be unreliable with injuries and inconsistent success. With this said, the Royals, in order to get over that hump, need to sign two starting pitchers that will work long innings and keep the rotation intact. The best fit for the Royals would include pitchers who have shown their talent such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Haren, A.J Burnett, Matt Garza, or Hiroki Kuroda. Additionally, they might want to try to get back Santana, and maybe go for some of the lower demand pitchers including Scott Baker, Mike Pelfrey, Ricky Nolasco, or even Jason Vargas.  With this added pitching help, the Royals can easily run away with a wild card spot, or perhaps even be the American League Central Division champs.

#4 Texas Rangers- Ever since 2010, the Texas Rangers have always been looked upon as, if not the best, one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball. Their dominance in hitting the long ball, getting on base, and sustaining an above average pitching rotation and bullpen has allowed their success to last. In 2010, the Rangers made the World Series and fell flat on their face against the San Francisco Giants. The following year, after one of the most dramatic World Series ever, the Rangers fell just short losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game series. The following year, they won the wild card and missed their shot of going anywhere in the playoffs, and this year they did not even get a wild card spot. Clearly it may look as if this team is declining, but do you really expect the Oakland Athletics to come up with another 96 win season considering their best player is not even considered a superstar. If the Rangers brought back the same team they had this year, next year it looks pretty likely they would be the favorite to win the division, but down in Texas these fans expect more than a division title. Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, A.J Pierzynski, and David Murphy, to name a few, are players who will be free agents this year and may just not be a part of the team next year. With this said, pitching (both starting and relief), a left fielder, and a catcher need to be acquired if the Rangers do not want to fall short yet again. In terms of pitching, look for the Rangers to attempt to sign one big name pitcher. I believe Garza will return and they will look to bring Alexi Ogando into their rotation and maybe even sign Roy Holladay if the Phillies part ways with the old ace. In terms of the bullpen, whatever happened to Neftali Feliz? From 2010-2011 Feliz combined for 72 saves, but from injuries the past few years people tend to forget about him. Expect Feliz to be their number one closer in 2014, but do not be surprised if Chris Perez comes in to become either the setup man or closer assuming Feliz does not work to his expectations. Behind the plate, the Rangers have always had power, if we go back a few years to Mike Napoli, or the more current days of Pierzynski. Do not be surprised if either of these players are brought back to the organization, yet I predict Brian McCann will be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform in 2014 because he will get paid the money he deserves, and the Rangers have a better resume of getting deep in the playoffs compared to the Braves. The Rangers have always had big time sluggers in the outfield. The Josh Hamilton/Nelson Cruz combo was one of the best power hitting outfields ever seen on one team. With Hamilton enjoying his money in L.A, and Cruz doubtful to return, do not be surprised to see the Rangers spending huge on a new outfielder. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Morse are the best fits for the Rangers if they are willing to spend big on a new outfielder.

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