Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with the media today to wrap up the 2011 season and look forward to the 2012 season. Here are a few notes from it:
* The Rangers have exercised the $3.25 million option on Colby Lewis for the 2012 season. Lewis went 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA over 32 starts for the Rangers this past season. In the last two postseasons, Lewis went 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA. “Nobody you want on the mound more than him, especially in October,” Daniels said. “So we’re real happy to have him back.”
* As it was the case last offseason, closer Neftali Feliz is a candidate to move to the starting rotation. This year, however, the Rangers will make that decision before spring training. Daniels believes that’s the best way to approach it this winter.
* The team hasn’t set a payroll budget for 2012 yet. The 2011 payroll was in the $92 million range, and Daniels expects it to be higher. “Ownership is really committed to keeping the core together and keeping a winning product on the field,” Daniels said. “That’s not only a factor of major league payroll, but also what we do scouting/ development wise, building the infrastructure and keeping that strong. But I do expect payroll will go up from where it was this year.”
* The preferred position for Josh Hamilton in 2012 is left field. The organization has several internal candidates for center field, including Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin.
* First baseman Mitch Moreland played through right wrist tendinitis the second half, as he posted a .241 average with five home runs and 27 RBIs after the All-Star break. In the first-half, he had a .272 average with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs. “We still have confidence in Mitch,” Daniels said. “I don’t think the second half is a fair indication of what he’s capable of.”
* Ron Washington’s job security isn’t in jeopardy. As of now, Washington is signed only through the 2012 season, but Daniels said the team will handle that situation at some point this offseason. Daniels also said the entire coaching staff has been extended offers to return for the 2012 season, and expects that all will come back.
-- Drew Davison