MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - INSIDE PITCH


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Considering the team's lofty expectations when 2014 began, the Texas Rangers enter the offseason coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Everything went wrong, starting with injuries to key pieces.

The resignation of manager Ron Washington with 22 games left in the season capped a horrible year.

"Certainly, at the lowest point of the summer, when the writing was on the wall and we were out of it, it was disappointing, and I think, at times, we were embarrassed," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Obviously, we have high expectations as we go into this offseason. We expect to win every year. We've created that expectation, created that atmosphere, the culture."

The first order of business, of course, is hiring a new manager.

Interim manager Tim Bogar is thought to be the leading candidate to take over full time, though Daniels won't rubber-stamp his ascent. Daniels will conduct a search involving, at this point, two other internal candidates and four or five external candidates. Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux and Triple-A Round Rock manager Steve Buechele, a former Rangers player, will be interviewed.

"I think the atmosphere that was created, the communication with the players, the in-game management ... were all very good," Daniels said of Bogar. "I really appreciate the job he did and that factors in for me."

At the same time, Daniels added, "I think it's really important for the organization to get this hire right."

Daniels would prefer to have the manager hired by the end of October.

Texas figures to be vastly improved in 2015, if not a contender, with players such as first baseman Prince Fielder, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and left-handed pitcher Derek Holland returning to full health. Holland came back from knee surgery late in the season and was very effective.

Daniels said his focus as far as on-field personnel will be on adding a starting pitcher to join staff ace Yu Darvish, Holland, one of either right-handed pitchers Nick Tepesch or Nick Martinez and a fifth starter, likely Colby Lewis.

The bullpen wasn't spared injuries, either. Right-hander Tanner Scheppers, who began the season in the rotation, moved to a relief role and eventually was lost to an arm injury. However, right-handers Phil Klein and Roman Mendez both demonstrated ability while forced into action this year.

Even if everybody missing from the lineup returns, the Rangers are expected to be a bat, maybe two, short with the expected departure of right fielder Alex Rios. Team management is also enthusiastic about the development of 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor.

"I think all that said as we've come through here the last month, for me, there were a lot of building blocks," Daniels said. "A lot of positive things to look back on, high expectations."

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MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - NOTES, QUOTES


TEAM MVP: As bad as it got for the Rangers, it is hard to imagine where they would have been without 3B Adrian Beltre, the team's most consistent player and a mentor to the young players in the clubhouse. His return alone gives the team's chances for 2015 credibility. Beltre, without any viable protection almost the entire year, hit 19 home runs, drove in 77 RBIs and batted .324, fourth in the American League. The third baseman is due to make $18 million next season with a vesting option of $16 million in 2016 that the team can void if Beltre fails to either have 1,200 at-bats in 2014-15 combined or 600 at-bats in 2015. He had 612 at-bats in 2014.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: OF Shin-Soo Choo never lived up to expectations in the first year of a seven-year, $130 million free agent contract. Before missing all of September, Choo played through a bum ankle for much of the season, and it showed. He hit .242 with 131 strikeouts in 123 games. Choo's career averages are 19 home runs and 78 RBIs, appreciably better than the 13 and 40 he registered in 2014. His last appearance in the clubhouse was in a walking boot. He underwent left elbow surgery in late August and left ankle surgery in mid-September. Choo will be back, but perhaps not in the leadoff role. Interim manager Tim Bogar said he visualizes Choo in the No. 5 slot if he is the full-time manager in 2015.