Holland's injury a major setback for Rangers
Despite Daniels' offseason additions, rotation now unsteady without left-hander
No, the good times don't last long, not when you are a president/baseball operations running an organization as ambitious -- and snake-bitten -- as the Rangers.
General managers talk about how they can't really sleep well the night after a World Series parade. You're already wrestling with next year's roster and budget, assessing your free agents and the players on the market to get things right again in the always-challenging year after.
Jon Daniels would love to find out if that's true. He twice was within one strike of having his finger sized by Josten's, but Nelson Cruz narrowly missed pulling in the final out of the ninth inning and a shell-shocked bullpen wasted Josh Hamilton's home run in the 10th. So, like the Tigers' Dave Dombrowski, Daniels is left on the seemingly endless quest for the Holy Grail.
Acknowledging that his team lost its swagger, Daniels made two huge moves this offseason. He feels much better about his lineup, and he should. But what about the rotation?
The trade for Prince Fielder and the $130 million signing of Shin-Soo Choo became yesterday's news in a hurry when man's best friend sent Derek Holland sprawling down a set of stairs in his home.
No matter how much Daniels and Holland try to downplay it, the reality is that one of baseball's best front offices is back in crisis mode -- just as it was after Hamilton and C.J. Wilson left after the 2012 season, and just as it was trying to create pitching depth at the Trade Deadline the last two seasons.
Holland, who threw a staff-high 213 innings last year, underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee after his dog tripped him. He will be out until the All-Star break, and quite possibly longer, and that's a long time when you've got only one other starter you can count on for 200 innings.
Here are last year's big league inning totals of the Rangers' other starters: Yu Darvish, 209; Martin Perez, 124 1/3; Alexi Ogando, 104 1/3; Nick Tepesch, 93; Matt Harrison, 10 2/3; and Colby Lewis, zero.
Perez was consistent as a rookie, Harrison is showing signs of a recovery from three back procedures in the last year and Ogando (on the disabled list three times last year) looks like a workhorse -- even if he's never been one. But are there three or four guys in this mix that you can count on until Holland returns? For that matter, how do you know what you'll get from Holland when he returns? It was a serious surgery.
Daniels has to add another starter. After all, look at the teams he's competing against.
The A's decided not to bring back Bartolo Colon, but they are loaded with young starters like by A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone. Billy Beane signed Scott Kazmir to replace Colon, and took fliers on two good-arm guys in Drew Pomeranz and Josh Lindblom. It was Daniels who agreed to send the 26-year-old Lindblom to Oakland, putting him in a trade that got outfield prospect Michael Choice for fourth outfielder Craig Gentry. The A's plan to look at Lindblom as a starter, which he's been in the Minors. That could get interesting, couldn't it?
There's nothing wrong in Texas that Masahiro Tanaka couldn't fix, of course. But does Daniels have the commitment from ownership to add another nine-figure addition on top of Fielder and Choo? That seems to be a good question.
The easiest answer is signing the best available non-compensation starter not named Tanaka, who is Matt Garza. But Daniels previously had shown little interest in a second helping of Garza, who cost the Rangers pitching prospects C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm (along with third baseman Mike Olt) in a midseason trade. And who knows what you'd get from also available Korean Suk-Min Yoon?
Daniels gave up a Draft pick to get Choo, and he seems disinclined to give up another one for Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, but the circumstances could change his thinking. That might also be true about his previous unwillingness to rip through what's left of his prospect supply to make a trade for David Price or Jeff Samardzija.
The Brewers have been trying all winter to interest the Rangers in a trade for Mitch Moreland, who is handing first base over to Fielder. But Daniels sees Moreland getting about 400 at-bats at DH and isn't interested in watching Moreland morph into the second coming of Chris Davis. But packages built around Moreland for Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse has to sound better this week than it did a week ago.
Daniels isn't one of baseball's sharpest executives because he waits for best-case scenarios to come true. He and his staff create options until they find one they like, and Holland has put them back in problem-solving mode.
Can't wait to see how this turns out.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.