2016 Team Preview: The 2016 Texas Rangers

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Today, we put our shit kickers on and head down south to check out those whiskey swillin', cocaine lovin' Texas Rangers.
Prince Fielder: Nude and inconclusive.
 2015 Finish: 88-74 (1st Place in AL West)

So Long: Yovanni Gallardo, Mike Napoli, Will Venable, Leonys Martin

Welcome: Tom Wilhemsen, Justin Ruggiano, AJ Griffin, Ian SUPERSTAR Desmond, Ike "Could Try Harder" Davis

Projected Lineup
1. Delino DeShields Jr, CF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
3. Prince Fielder, DH
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, LF 
7. Rougned Odor, 2B
8. Elvis Andrus, SS 
9. Robinson Chirinos, C

Starting Rotation: Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish (eventually)
Bullpen: Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, Tom Wilhemsen, other guys I haven't heard of and you don't give a shit about
Closer: Sean Tolleson

Disabled List: Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton (heaven needed another drug addict), Tanner Scheppers 

Country Lyric That Describes their 2015 season:
"Now a solo cup is the best receptacle, for barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals. And you sir, do not have a pair of testicles, if you prefer drinking from a glass." 
- Toby Keith, Red Solo Cup

So, for my first post-9/11 writing assignment for TMS, I draw the Texas Rangers, a team that is neither egregiously offensive (other than the fact that they're in Texas), nor terribly exciting. They're just kind of there. It's like reading a 2.5 star review of a movie, devoid of the kind of hyperbole that gets you really excited to see a movie, or the vitriol and snark that makes reading critical pans so enjoyable. That said, if you want to stop reading now (you probably already have) and go check out animal videos on Buzzfeed, by all means. 

Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Ranger, but they ended up trading for Cole Hamels mid-way through the season and pretty soon they were like, "Fuck it, we actually have a shot at this". They made the playoffs on the last day of the season against the division rival Angels, in a game that I hold near and dear to my cold, dead heart, as Garrett Richards' 3 ER had huge implications in my fantasy championship match-up ("dude, no one cares about your fantasy team"). So thank you, Texas. Alas, they were promptly eliminated by the Blue Jays in the playoffs and by the following morning, all of the water cooler talk had already shifted to the Cowboys. 

This year brings higher expectations, although they'll have to fend off a dick-punching Houston team and a Seattle squad that has "trendy sleeper" written all over it, thanks to jettisoning their human albatross of a manager, Lloyd McClendon. The A's look pretty terrible and boring (of course, they always do and still win in spite of that) and the Angels are wasting the prime years of Mike Trout. So for once, they may not have to worry about those two assholes. 

2016 will be another sweaty year in Arlington (seriously, I start sweating like Marlon Brando just watching their home games on TV) with high hopes and inevitably, crushed dreams. And admittedly, they were a lot cooler when they had the original Coked Up Werewolf, Ron Washington, at the helm. But they have a solid core of veterans, some intriguing young guys knocking on the door and they serve Lone Star beer at the stadium, so it could be a lot worse. Wild Card or GTFO! 
We miss you, Wash.
Reason to Watch: Yu Darvish. When he comes back (May/June), he'll be a huge boost in the arm to a rotation that gainfully employs Martin Perez and Colby Lewis. He's one of those rare pitchers that I'd actually pay to watch pitch, with a dick-in-the-dirt arsenal capable of striking out 15+ guys any time he takes to the mound. Aside from Ichiro, he's definitely the "Asian ballplayer I'd most like to have a Sapporo with" (along with his translator of course; otherwise it might just be awkward). 


Reason to Drink: Until Darvish gets back, the starting rotation kind of falls off a cliff after Cole Hamels. Colby Lewis somehow won 17 games, defying any sort of metric you want to apply to his "pitching". Martin Perez couldn't strike me out and Derek Holland will be hurt before you get done reading this. But for God sake, if you're going to drink, please, I beg of you, don't do it in front of Josh Hamilton. 

The Fans: I have no idea. They seem jovial enough come playoff time. I imagine a bunch of old-money rich people that are super nice to you as long as you're Caucasian. Ladies with big hair and old guys that call Tommy Buzanis a dear friend. They're probably very leery of the concession workers. But then again, I like to think the worst of people. Honestly, the Rangers are probably just a cute diversion until football starts. 
"Hey, at least I'm not Ted Cruz. Hehehe."
Their Worst Contract: Thank Christ they aren't on the hook for much of Josh Hamilton's $28M salary, although even paying $2M of that seems a bit much for a human paper weight. So let's give this distinction to Elvis Andrus. His defense is perfectly cromulent, but $15M a year is a bit much for a light hitting SS who doesn't get on base enough and puts up replacement level numbers. Could try harder. 

Fantasy Standout: Prince Fielder. As a kid, I loved Prince's dad, Cecil. Look at that fat guy let er' rip! Remember that time he hit one out of Tiger Stadium? What a glorious, pre-roid era, home run hitting son of a bitch. Anyway, I think Prince might have daddy issues, but that's neither here nor there. Prince is still pretty good, especially in OBP leagues, but you'd hope that fat man could hit the ball over the fence with a little more regularity. 
These two single-handedly kept Little Caesars in business during some (ironically) lean years.
Fantasy Bust: I love Delino DeShields like an adopted son (if he were white, he'd be "scrappy"), but with Dave Kingman Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara waiting in the wings, he's one prolonged slump away from being relegated to permanent Eric Young Jr career status. 

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: A Melissa McCarthy movie. Generally inoffensive, and maybe even entertaining in parts, but there are probably better things to Redbox. 

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