As the Rangers resume play on Friday night after the All-Star break, our experts from 105.3 The Fan weighed in with their thoughts on the first half — and made some predictions for the second half of the season.
1. Who is the Rangers’ midseason MVP?
Jeff Cavanaugh: Adrian Beltre. The team has been decimated by injury, but he just keeps hitting, keeps playing Gold Glove defense, and is the leader in the clubhouse on top of it. Honorable mention to Yu Darvish and Nelly Cruz.
Ben Rogers: Adrian Beltre. He is their best defensive player, their best offensive player and is the undisputed leader of the clubhouse. He’s had an incredible season — and on just one leg for the most part. He’s one of the best FA signings in DFW history.
Skin: I give Adrian Beltre the slight edge over Cruz.
Mark Elfenbein: Adrian Beltre
RJ Choppy: Ian Kinsler. Not a huge Kinsler fan, but you can’t deny that this year the offense without him rivaled some of the worst in AA. He changes the game at the top of the order, and lets a weak hitting Elvis Andrus drop to the lower part of the order where he is best suited.
Mike Rodriguez: Adrian Beltre
Mike Dingess: Joe Nathan
2. Who has been the biggest surprise? disappointment?
Jeff Cavanaugh: The biggest surprise has been the bullpen. For a group of guys that didn’t have much as far as expectations, they’ve been exceptional. Tanner Scheppers, Joe Nathan, Robbie Ross and crew have been outstanding.
Ben Rogers: Biggest Surprise — Their rock solid win total. Considering the injuries they’ve had to contend with, it’s a miracle that they have as many wins as they do. It’s a credit to Wash. Biggest Disappointment: Elvis Andrus. He’s been terrible offensively. Have to wonder if all the baseball he’s played over the past 3 years (most in MLB) is taking its toll.
Skin: Surprise has been Tanner Scheppers. Disappointment has been Elvis Andrus.
Mark Elfenbein: Surprise — AJ Pierzynski. Disappointment — Elvis Andrus
RJ Choppy: Biggest Surprise — Leonys Martin. He’s not a 5 tool guy, but he has the chance to be a good 4 tooler. He’s got moxie, swag, and knows it. Slick fielder, getting better with the bat. I love the kid. Disappointment, Elvis. Where are all the people who before the season said he was the best SS in baseball? Awfully quiet. This year was tailor-made for him to make the ASG as a starter, with Jeter being hurt. But he could even beat out JJ Hardy. AVG stinks, OBP is OK, not great, and still no pop at all. What a letdown. Hope that contract isn’t guaranteed…
Mike Rodriguez: Jeff Baker and Jeff Baker for breaking his thumb high fiving.
Mike Dingess: Surprise — Leonys Martin. Disappointment — David Murphy
3. The Rangers should target ____ at the trade deadline.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Matt Garza from the Cubs. It’s harder because his contract is up at the end of the season, but if you could work something out and get him to sign an extension that would set the Rangers up with a rotation of Darvish, Harrison, Holland, Garza and Perez for 5 years. I don’t have a lot of faith in Ogando as a long-term starter.
Ben Rogers: Giancarlo Stanton. Rangers should not trade a massive package for Matt Garza, because he is a half season rental. See the Greinke deal. Think the Angels would like a do over? Stanton locked up for 4 more years.
Skin: If they can’t get a big-time player they expect to keep here beyond this season, then keep your kids
Mark Elfenbein: PITCHING!
RJ Choppy: Giancarlo Stanton. Why settle? Dangle Profar. Dangle Profar and something else. Go for broke. If they don’t bite they don’t bite, but don’t settle. Big fish, and go from there.
Mike Rodriguez: The Best Starter on the market
Mike Dingess: Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano (at a discount on Soriano)
4. The Rangers will win the AL West if…
Jeff Cavanaugh: They get a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, and one of the three guys named Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando or Matt Harrison returns to form to help push them over the top.
Ben Rogers: if JD works some serious magic at the deadline. To make a run at the whole enchilada, they potentially need a SP, LF, DH and possibly another bullpen piece to be a true favorite. Having said that, the AL West is such a parity party that there’s a chance merely getting healthy is enough to win the division.
Skin: The starting rotation gets healthy enough to be reliable in the 2nd half
Mark Elfenbein: Martin Perez & Derek Holland win 15-20 games between the two of them in 2nd half.
RJ Choppy: They’ll win the West if two things happen. If Nellie Cruz doesn’t get suspended, and if Yu Darvish returns to his April form. He’s been really good, but they need him to be dominant, and most importantly, they have to as a team start winning his starts with regularity. Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than to lose games started by your ACE.
Mike Rodriguez: it’s the year 2014…
Mike Dingess: if they get healthy.
5. Your AL West prediction and one bold second half prediction:
Jeff Cavanaugh: The Rangers will win the AL West and they will represent the American League in the World Series again. And thanks to Joe Nathan and Nelly Cruz, they’ll have home field! Baseball party!
Ben Rogers: Rangers will win the AL West. Getting Ogando back, maybe even Colby and Feliz, would make for some nice reinforcements to add to the arrival of Soria. I expect the front office to secure some new deadline pieces as well.
Skin: Oakland wins the West and the Rangers snag a wild-card. Bold prediction is Martin Perez becomes THE Rangers story of the 2nd half.
Mark Elfenbein: Texas wins AL West, Orioles & Rays Wild Cards & PIRATES win NL Central!
RJ Choppy: I still think the Rangers win the division. I don’t think much of Oakland, although I’m coming around more and more. Detroit takes Central, Boston East, Balt and TB WC teams. Bold Prediction. Angels will finish ahead of the A’s, and all 5 AL East teams will win 90 games.
Mike Rodriguez: A’s win the AL West. Yankees and O’s take the wildcards. Derek Holland is the next victim to be bit by the injury bug.
Mike Dingess: Rangers win the West . A’s end up with wild card spot.
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