A couple of weeks back, I wrote that the Houston Astros would be better than the Texas Rangers in 2015 in a lighthearted jab at the Rangers’ page on the FanSided Network, Nolan Writin’. Turns out that the editor of that site, Lisa Weatherall, saw that post and had some choice words about the best team in Texas.
She makes the argument that the Rangers have only had one losing season in recent memory, while the Astros currently have six straight such seasons. There was a blatant failure to mention why that is the case, however. The Astros have been losing so many games because they have been a team in transition, both on the ball club and in management/ownership. Fielding a winning team in the short-term has never been the plan, but right now we are about to experience the fruits of Jeff Luhnow’s labor, and it starts in 2015.
Reasons Lisa gives for the Rangers having a better 2015 than the Houston Astros:
- Elvis Andrus took care of himself this offseason
- Derek Holland is 100%
- Yu Darvish was smart and shut it down last season when his body told him to
- Prince Fielder had surgery, is recovered, and feels great
There are more that are listed, but I’ll pick on these four. Andrus took care of himself. Well, yeah every player should. I remember hearing reports in Oakland last spring that Jarrod Parker had added muscle to withstand the rigors of a full season. He was hurt before camp broke and missed the whole season.
Holland is 100%. I’ll allow that when healthy, he can be a very effective pitcher. In 2013, Holland pitched 213 innings with a 3.42 ERA. He is in line to be the number two starter behind Darvish (10-7, 3.06 ERA in 2014), but the big question is whether or not he can hold up after missing most of last season due to injury. There is also the fact that the Houston Astros’ top two pitchers were better last season with Dallas Keuchel going 12-9, 2.93 and Collin McHugh coming in at 11-9 with a 2.73.
Even if both Darvish and Holland survive the season and pitch like they’re capable of, the rest of that rotation is one huge question mark. The next three starters on the depth chart are Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis and Ross Detwiler. Gallardo and Detwiler are average pitchers coming to the offense-heavy American League for the first time. That should go well. Lewis went 10-14 with a 5.18 ERA last season.
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- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
Prince Fielder feels great. Well that’s wonderful. He can feel great, but that doesn’t mask the fact that even before the injury his numbers were downward spiral. From 2011 to 2013, his home run total went from 38 to 30 to 25. It’ll be an uphill climb for Fielder to achieve his previous greatness, and by the looks of him he doesn’t like hills.
While the Rangers will be banking on a healthy return from their core, the Houston Astros will be using a “next man up” strategy. With all of those losing seasons came high draft picks. Those picks are now nearing the MLB level, and if players like Jon Singleton, Dan Straily or even Jason Castro falter in 2015, there are contingency plans in place that will provide stability for the team. As we witnessed last season, the Rangers have one plan, and if that plan goes awry then the season is lost.
As I mentioned before, talent is rising through the minor leagues and will soon be in Houston. 2015 will be a season of breaking the trend, while 2016 will be a year of building, competing, and winning. The Rangers will develop neck problems (Fielder already has) from looking up in the standings at the Astros for many years to come.