Eight items of interest as club enters offseason
Will Rangers re-sign Wilson? Will Feliz become a starter?
ARLINGTON -- Eight things to ponder from the Rangers' loss to the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series as the offseason commences. More later as the winter progresses ...C.J. Wilson: He is 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA as a starter over the past two years. Among American League pitchers, he is tied for fourth in wins and 10th both in ERA and innings. He is 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance in the playoffs. The Rangers get to the playoffs because Wilson is in their rotation. Now they have to decide if they are going to pay him like a potential No. 1 starter to keep him in the rotation. "Everybody's negotiations go differently, and I don't know," Wilson said. "I mean I feel like I pitched pretty well in the World Series, and I hope that that rinses out the bad taste people have in their mouth from the bad inning I had in Detroit and the bad game I had against Tampa." Ron Washington: He has taken his team to the World Series two straight years. It's unlikely that he will receive a Manager of the Year Award for his efforts. It would be an upset if he beat out Detroit's Jim Leyland or Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon for that honor this season. Voters have an affinity for managers who take a team to the playoffs when they didn't go the year before. The voting was also done before Washington's team beat the Rays and the Tigers in the first two rounds. Here is an idea. The Rangers could present Washington with a more tangible reward for his efforts. He has one year left on a two-year contract. Perhaps a two-year contract extension is in order before the Rangers get too far into the offseason. Starting pitchers: Texas starters were 74-40 with a 3.65 ERA that was the third-best in the American League during the season. During the playoffs, they were 4-6 with a 4.47 ERA. But they averaged 5.21 innings per start during the playoffs as opposed to 6.14 during the season. Their pitches per inning went up from 16.2 during the season to 18.0 during the playoffs. They walked 2.77 batters per nine innings during the season to 4.47 during the playoffs. They had 2.61 strikeouts per walks during the season and 1.68 during the playoffs. The bottom line is they weren't as aggressive in the postseason as they were during the season. The starters were a big reason why the Rangers won the American League West. The next step for Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison is to take what they did in the season and carry it over into the playoffs. Lineups like what the Mariners and Athletics fielded this year are not what they'll see in the playoffs. By the way, the extra inning of work did not obviously help the bullpen. They went from 48.7 pitches per game during the season to 66.4 during the playoffs. Neftali Feliz: This is the biggest question that faces the Rangers in the offseason. Moving Feliz to the rotation would be the most cost-efficient way to replace Wilson. Would it be the most effective? If they are going to do it, the time is now. He will need a transition year, just like Wilson had in 2010 and Ogando this season. Feliz is unlikely to step into the rotation and become a No. 1 starter overnight. But the sooner he makes the transition to starter, the better chance he has of achieving those high expectations. Feliz has four years to go before free agency. Remember, service time is just as or more important than age in these matters. The Rangers have gotten just two years as a starter out of Wilson. The clock is ticking on Feliz. Elvis Andrus: The Rangers played 17 postseason games. They had one extra-base hit and one RBI out of the No. 2 spot in the order. Only eight other teams in postseason history with at least 10 games played had one or fewer extra-base hits out of the No. 2 spot. Only four others had one or fewer RBI. Andrus remains a gifted defensive shortstop with a superb ability to do all the little things offensively that Washington requires. He plays the game with flair and unsurpassed joy. He has been the starting shortstop on two World Series teams. Still, it is worth wondering if he has hit his plateau as an offensive player or if there is more in him. Catchers: No new car for Mike Napoli. David Freese is driving it. But instead of being the World Series MVP, Napoli clearly is the Rangers' No. 1 catcher going into next season. Is he ready to be the full-time catcher or does he share it with Yorvit Torrealba? If Napoli is full-time, will Torrealba be content as a backup or do the Rangers need to trade him? Or is the club better off going with the same arrangement as it did this season and can the club make it work so well again next year? Josh Hamilton: If you have followed the Rangers for 20 years, you remember this story well. Ruben Sierra, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira ... they were all once there as well. Hamilton, 30, one of the most gifted players to ever wear a Rangers uniform, is going into his "walk" year. He is signed for 2012, but can be a free agent afterward. He is also likely to have surgery this offseason to repair a sports hernia. There are going to be hard choices for multiple people when the Rangers start trying to figure out what to do with the latest franchise icon. Will he ultimately be the latest in a historic line to move on, or can they find a way to keep him long-term while knowing the associated health risks? Craig Gentry: If Nelson Cruz wasn't able to start Game 7, then Gentry would have been in center field even with a right-hander on the mound, because Washington wanted his defense in there. Offensively? During the season, Gentry hit .265 against left-handers and .277 against right-handers. He was 18-for-18 in stolen bases. Is anybody wondering if Gentry could be the everyday center fielder if given a chance? Might it be time to find out?
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.