Found October 31, 2011 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The calendar still has 2011 on it but Texas general manager Jon Daniels is already on 2012 time.
Daniels met with the media Monday and said the best way to get rid of the bitter taste left by the World Series loss to St. Louis is to win the championship next year.
Step one towards that goal will be to bolster the pitching staff in the offseason.
"Pitching is going to be priority one, always will be," Daniels said. "I think that's the mindset that's changed and a large reason why we've had some success to this point. No doubt we've got a decision to make and a discussion to have with (free agent pitcher) C.J (Wilson). He's the most notable of our free agents. We've got a lot of good arms both at the big-league level and close to it that we've got to sort through before we start looking externally."
Wilson, the free-agent left-hander, is the big domino that will likely have to fall before the Rangers can decide how to build their rotation. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis will all be back next season.
If the Rangers are unable to sign Wilson, they could still move closer Neftali Feliz back into the starting rotation. He worked as a starter last spring before getting moved into the bullpen at the end of spring training.
Daniels said the Rangers won't wait until spring to decide what role Feliz will have with the team in 2012.
"The unknown is can he start," Daniels said. "The big difference between this year and last year is we're going to make that decision before we get to spring training. I can't give you an answer sitting here today as far as exactly what we're going to do."
Daniels said that it's easier to find bullpen pieces than it is to find a starter. The free-agent pool for relievers is a lot deeper than it is for starters, where Wilson is the marquee name.
Another possibility for the rotation could be Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who could command even more money than Wilson. Daniels didn't sound convinced he would be an option.
"I think the reality is where we've done the best so far over there is with the under-the-radar guy," Daniels said. "Our scouts did an amazing job with Colby (Lewis). When we first signed him there was surprise we gave him a major-league contract. Two years later he's been the workhorse of the rotation. (Yoshinori) Tateyama the same thing. He really saved our butts in the middle of the year. I know speculation on some of the bigger guys coming out is going to be there."
While pitching is the No. 1 goal, Texas would also like to lock down players like catcher Mike Napoli, who is coming off a career year and is arbitration eligible for the last time. Josh Hamilton can also be a free agent following the 2012 season.
Keeping the key Rangers here is more important than looking outside the organization.
"As far as planning purposes, we want to make sure we retain our core," Daniels said. "The guys that are responsible for getting us here. The guys our fans associate with. Any free agent or big spending acquisition outside is going to have to be looked at through that prism, what impact that will have on keeping our group together. We're not going to do anything to jeopardize keeping the players we want to keep here."
As was the plan the plan last year, the Rangers would like to move Hamilton into left field, although he could still wind up in center. He played center primarily in the second half of the season and in the playoffs. Daniels doesn't think the Rangers will go outside the organization to find a centerfielder, and instead will rely on a pool of players that includes Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin.
Daniels is also confident Mitch Moreland can rebound from his struggles this season. Daniels said that Moreland was dealing with right wrist tendonitis throughout the second half of the season and played through it instead of resting.
Moreland will get his wrist re-evaluated this week.
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