We're a week away from Opening Day and will spend the next few days talking about some of the key storylines, questions and issues for this club heading into the 2014 season.
The Texas Rangers made two big offseason acquisitions to bolster the lineup in acquiring power-hitting, left-handed first baseman Fielder and leadoff man Choo (shameless plug: you can read about how they did that here: Part 1 and Part 2). The question is, which player has the better year?
Choo, 31, takes over the leadoff spot vacated by Ian Kinsler, who was traded to Detroit for Fielder. Choo brings experience and a track record for getting on base often -- and in a variety of different ways. In many ways, how well he plays will impact Fielder's numbers.
Fielder, 29, is coming off one of the worst years of his career. But understand that Fielder's worst year was still a good one. He had 25 homers, 106 RBIs and a .279 batting average in 2013 with the Tigers.
I think Fielder is set up for a big year. And clearly, based on how things have gone this spring and the uncertainty of the rotation, the team needs that from the first baseman. The ballpark sets up well for him -- not just the right-field porch, but the large left-center gap where he also hits a lot of balls -- and I don't think the hot weather will get to him. He'll have Adrian Beltre batting behind him, which Fielder points out "won't hurt" at all.
Both contracts are long and the Rangers are certainly taking risks knowing that both players could be on the decline as the final years of those deals come to fruition. That's why they need production now from both players. But as for 2014, I'm taking Fielder. I just feel like a fresh start and the chance to drive in Choo and Andrus is going to help his overall numbers.
Who do you think will have the better year?