The Texas Rangers continue to sit in that weird place of almost-complete success, but does anyone else feel like something is ominously off with this team?
After reaching the World Series two years in a row but coming up just short, it seems like the team is in an uncomfortable do-nothing or must-do-something quandary. Regardless (or perhaps because) of this stasis, the lineup remains the club's biggest strength, Lone Star Ball looks forward to Martin Perez and somewhat laments the ousting of Darren Oliver:
Olney Ranks Rangers as Overall 2nd-Best Lineup - ESPN (Insider)
"During the course of the 2011 season, Texas suffered significant injuries to Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz -- and the Rangers still managed to finish third in the majors in runs scored, through the excellence of Michael Young, and the emergence of Mike Napoli. The band will be back together again in 2012. Can you imagine what the Rangers would be like with the addition of Prince Fielder, dropped right into the middle?"
Martin Perez Scouting Report - Lone Star Ball
"What does the future hold for Perez? Barring injury or regression, I expect we will see Perez in the majors in 2012. I think if injuries or ineffectiveness strike the rotation, we'll see Perez make some starts for the Rangers in 2012, and I imagine he'll get some innings out of the bullpen at some point."
- Darren Oliver to Toronto - Lone Star Ball
"The Rangers have generally carried at least two lefties in the bullpen, but currently don't have anyone definitively in place for a lefty role in the pen for 2012. Texas is reportedly interested in bringing back Mike Gonzalez, acquired from the Orioles for Pedro Strop last August, and Michael Kirkman will probably have a chance at earning a bullpen job."
- Oliver leaves Rangers, signs with Blue Jays - Star-Telegram
"In the postseason, Oliver had a chance to close out the Rangers first World Series title in Game 6. He came in for the 10th inning with a two-run lead, but was charged with the tying runs and recorded only one out. The St. Louis Cardinals went on to win the game, and then the series in Game 7. With Oliver's departure, the Rangers have no left-handed relievers in the bullpen."
- Peace Out, Darren Oliver - BBTIA
"With a lefty-killing Koji Uehara still taking up residence in the Rangers' bullpen, you would figure that the plan might be for the Rangers to simply roll with one true left-handed specialist out of the gates next season, and worry more about filling out their 2012 bullpen with the best possible talent than force-fitting another left-hander into the mix just because he happens to be left-handed."
- Ivan Rodriguez Open To Returning To Texas Rangers - MLB Daily Dish
In fact, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer told ESPN Dallas in an interview that he would welcome a return back to the Texas Rangers, the club he spent his first thirteen seasons with. Rodriguez also told ESPN Dallas he is willing to accept a limited role on any club, which is what he's done for the past several years.