Restoring the rosters: No. 14 – Texas

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
The Rangers fare surprisingly well here, given their apparent struggles to produce pitching. They actually developed a strong rotation, only to allow other team to reap the benefits.
Rotation
Ryan Dempster
John Danks
Edinson Volquez
Aaron Harang
Doug Davis
Bullpen
C.J. Wilson
Ramon Ramirez
Scott Feldman
Nick Masset
Darren Oliver
Scott Eyre
Derek Holland
Volquez went 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA as a Ranger, while Davis was 21-21 with a 5.09 ERA. None of the other three starters ever pitched for the team, and only Volquez brought a fair return when moved.
The bullpen is nice, too, in part because of Ramirez’s presence. He signed with the Rangers in 1996, pitched for the team in the Dominican Summer League in 1997 and then didn’t resurface until 2002, when he played in Japan.
Based on his performance this year, Feldman should be in the rotation. However, I’m not completely sold on him as a starter going forward. He’d still be the obvious choice to move into the rotation if anyone gets hurt. However, Holland and Tommy Hunter remain in reserve as well.
Lineup
CF Julio Borbon
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Carlos Pena
RF Edwin Encarnacion
3B Hank Blalock
C Taylor Teagarden
LF Scott Podsednik
SS Rich Aurilia
Bench
DH Travis Hafner
C Ivan Rodriguez
INF Tug Hulett
OF Fernando Tatis
Most wouldn’t guess it, but the Rangers scored more points for pitching than for hitting in these rankings. Kinsler, Teixeira and Pena qualify as stars, but they may be the only above average regulars. Decisions loom everywhere else.
Catcher: Teagarden’s future versus Pudge’s past. I’ll take the youngster, which is what the Rangers seem to be doing right now.
Third base: Blalock, Chris Davis and Encarnacion are all defensively challenged and inconsistent offensively. Blalock seems like the best option at the moment if he’s fit to handle the position, but Davis should be superior going forward.
Shortstop: The biggest problem area. Aurilia and Hulett were the choices, and while Aurilia’s shortstop days should be over, Hulett is really more of a second baseman.
Right field: This is where I struck Encarnacion. I think it makes a lot of sense to try him in the outfield anyway, and he does have the arm for right.
Center field: Borbon’s defense makes him the better option than Podsednik, even if he’s not ready to hit like Podsednik has this year. Then again, Podsednik didn’t seem to have much chance of hitting like he did this year.
Left field: Podsednik, Tatis, John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Brandon Boggs were the options. Podsednik probably won’t ever be this good again, but he still might be the class of that group.
Bench: Hafner and Davis were the options as the team’s top pinch-hitter. Ideally, there’d be room for both, but neither has any outfield experience at all.
Summary
I didn’t expect the Rangers to place this well when I started putting together these rankings, but a rotation full of No. 2 and No. 3 starters is able to make up for some significant lack of depth on offense. The actual Rangers, though, are working on just their second over-.500 season of the decade. There’s plenty of blame to spread around. Former GMs Doug Melvin and John Hart both made plenty of mistakes, as did Jon Daniels when he first took over. Owner Tom Hicks opened his wallet in a huge way for Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park and then set the Rangers back years by deciding to turn the team into a mid-market club. Also, let’s save a little blame for those who approved the design of The Ballpark. Developing pitching has been a nightmare for the Rangers, and they’ve typically overpaid for what they’ve brought in through free agency and trades. A kinder environment could have resulted in some wildly different Rangers teams over the last 15 years.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.