Thad Levine was once again on MLB Home Plate, and here is what he had to say:
- Lowell - They've had lots of interest in Lowell going back to the Winter Meetings, but the team has a number of holes to fill with limited financial resources. If the Rangers are to add a bat then they need to be confident that they will provided lots of quality AB's. As it stands right now, the Rangers are not sure if Lowell can do that. They are still interested in Lowell, and discussions could take place again down the road. The Rangers would like to see how Lowell is recovering before talks get serious, and the Rangers' medical staff said Lowell should be ready to go by Opening Day. However, Levine said that any future Lowell talks are dependent on future moves. Lowell's leadership qualities were once again praised.
- DH - Levine said there is no heir apparent for the DH position, so the Rangers can provide a unique opportunity for free agents looking for regular playing time. The Rangers are looking for a middle of the order bat who can take some of the pressure off of players like Kinsler and Hamilton. The Rangers want a run producer, and leadership would be a plus.
- Ownership - Things are still in limbo. The operating budget currently being used is from Hicks. Levine does not expect the new ownership group to be fully in place (should everything be approved) until Opening Day. The new ownership group will allow for midseason acquisitions rather than an increased budget for the offseason.
- Oliver - The deal is not 100% final. Levine knows Oliver from their days together in Colorado. He praised Oliver's leadership/presence/poise for a relatively young bullpen. Talks about the value Oliver provides from his previous experience in Arlington and in the AL West as a member of the Rangers' "chief competitor".
- Feliz - Feliz has been asked to report to camp to compete as a starter. The Rangers would like to add 30 to 40 innings to Feliz's previous workload. As such, he would be a reliever for the Rangers at first and then move to the rotation. Of course, if Texas is in the playoff hunt, he could remain in the bullpen for the season. Levine said that there are come coaches and other people who want to see Feliz stay in the pen.
- Harden - Levine said the key to this deal is managing expectations. They don't expect him to pitch 200 innings, rather they expect Harden to improve upon last season's 140 IP. Levine tossed out the number "150+" for expected IP. The Rangers are confident that their training staff and strength/conditioning team can help keep Harden on the field.
- Bradley - Levine referred to Bradley as the most misunderstood player he has met. He also says Bradley is very intelligent, and provides some great baseball conversations. Levine said Bradley's relationship with Washington was key to his success in his time with Texas. Washington allowed him to get his frustration out on the field. Levine believes Bradley had a positive effect on the younger players.
Some of the things that stood out the most for me were the fact that the Rangers are looking to add one bat. I assume that once a bat is brought in, there will be no more free agent acquisitions. Also, the phrase "no heir apparent" for the Rangers at DH is a bit puzzling. Does that mean that they don't expect Smoak to contribute this season? The fact that referred to the Angels as the "chief competitor" is interesting considering how much the Mariners have improved for this season.