Will the Rangers try to keep up with the Angels?

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The Rangers can come close to matching their AL West rivals; all they’d need to do is commit $150 million-$200 million to free agent Prince Fielder and then another $80 million-$100 million in the form of a posting fee and a contract for Yu Darvish. What’s the big deal?

As things stand now, the Rangers are currently looking at about a $111 million payroll with a 25-man roster that looks like this:

C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
CF Leonys Martin
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young

C Yorvit Torrealba
INF
OF David Murphy
OF Craig Gentry

SP Colby Lewis
SP Derek Holland
SP Neftali Feliz
SP Alexi Ogando
SP Matt Harrison

CL Joe Nathan
RP Mike Adams
RP Koji Uehara
RP Darren Oliver
RP Scott Feldman
RP Yoshinori Tateyama
RP Mark Lowe

I’m assuming that an Oliver deal gets done for about $4 million, leaving the utility infield spot as the only hole on the roster. The Rangers could opt to non-tender Lowe, making Mark Hamburger the favorite for the last spot in the pen, but that’d only save about $1 million. Trading Uehara, on the other hand, would free up $3.5 million.

The Rangers opened last year with a $92 million payroll, so it’s not at all likely that they’d jump all of the way to the $140 million-$150 million range, which is what it would take to include both Fielder and Darvish. Still, it’d sure be nice if they could squeeze in one of the two. Fielder would look awesome behind Josh Hamilton in the lineup, and Darvish’s arrival would push Ogando back to the pen, giving the Rangers a potentially dominant setup man or closer if Nathan falters. Carlos Beltran is another who would make sense for the team. Young could then play first base most of the time, with Beltran, Hamilton and Cruz all sharing time between the outfield corners and DH.

Texas did win the AL West by 10 games in 2011, so it’s not as though the Rangers necessarily need an impact player. Still, a lot of things did go right last season and GM Jon Daniels can’t count on Napoli, Kinsler and Harrison to perform so well again.

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.