Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Next stop in Surprise! is Texas camp, where the Rangers keep the Will Harridge Trophy on a table inside the lobby of their complex. They are perfectly willing to go to IKEA and pick up a bigger table to fit the Commissioner's Trophy.
2010 RECORD: 90-72, first in AL West
BIGGEST ACQUISITIONS: Braintrust Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan missed on retaining Cliff Lee(notes), but Adrian Beltre(notes) was a nice (albeit expensive) pickup at third base. Mike Napoli(notes) gives them some offense behind the plate, too.
BIGGEST DEPARTURE: Lee, for sure. But at least he didn't sign with the Yankees or another American League rival.
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RANGERS
1. Is Michael Young(notes) still here, and is that OK? It's OK with this guy! And, as of Wednesday morning, yes, he was still on the team. It still makes sense for Daniels to move Young, who is owed a lot of money and is blocked by better players at the positions he plays (including DH). But Young seemingly is respected by his peers and, despite the trade demands, isn't a bad guy to have around.
2. Are relievers Neftali Feliz(notes) and Alexi Ogando(notes) really going to move to the starting rotation? It's possible, especially for one of them — probably Feliz — whose talents would be more efficiently used over seven or eight innings rather than one. The Rangers, like they did with C.J. Wilson(notes) a spring ago, are letting both try. Darren Oliver(notes), a veteran who has gone back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in the past, says Feliz's and Ogando's "long body types" benefit them in the move to starting.
3. Who closes if they don't? The Rangers really like Mark Lowe(notes), who had a great season for the Mariners in 2009 but was injured this past season after coming over with Cliff Lee from Seattle. Lowe is a hard-throwing sinkerballer, which would be handy in any role at Rangers ballpark. He says he's healthy after back surgery.
4. What's Brandon Webb's(notes) status? They seem cautiously optimistic, though Webb has made precisely one start since the 2009 season started because of shoulder issues that required surgery 18 months ago. He also hasn't been throwing from the mound yet. But pitching coach Mike Maddux is the best in the business, so if Webb's arm is sound then maybe he'll be a great pickup. We just don't know yet if that's probable.
5. Can Ron Washington's club repeat as AL champions, or do even better? Wash would tell you yes, as long as the team does what it does and do what it do.