IT’S SPRING TRAINING! No time of year is more filled with optimism. It’s the time when everyone is in first place and outlooks are sunny for everyone (well, except for maybe the Astros). Most of all, it’s TIME FOR BASEBALL!!!
So with that I’ll jump straight into predicting the Texas Rangers’ 2013 Opening Day roster. A lot has changed since my first roster prediction back in October, and there’s lots of stuff to talk about.
Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross
This list stays almost identical to my earlier one, the only change being that Robbie Ross replaces Colby Lewis, who will not be available until at least April due to injury rehab (which by all accounts is progressing well). The Rangers didn’t go out and sign a free agent starter (though not for lack of trying to land Zack Greinke) and neither did they trade for one.
Without Lewis and barring further injury the rotation is set except for the fifth spot, which is a very open competition. Candidates include last years’ call up spot-starters Martin Perez and Justin Grimm, but my bet is on Ross, who had success out of the bullpen all last year but came up as a starter. We’ll certainly get a better sense of all this as camp plays out.
Joe Nathan (Closer), Jason Frasor, Martin Perez, Josh Lindblom, Michael Kirkman, Tanner Scheppers, Justin Miller
If any area of the team is wide open, this is it. Nathan and Frasor are the only members of the ‘pen that are guaranteed at this point. I think Perez makes it, as do Lindblom, Kirkman, and Scheppers as much by virtue of the fact that they’ve pitched in the majors before as anything else. If the Rangers don’t go out and get another bullpen piece before Joakim Soria returns from injury, they’ll need one more. For now I’ll say that’ll be Justin Miller by virtue of the fact that he closed for AA Frisco and thus theoretically has the stuff to get outs. This also means that Justin Grimm starts the season in the AAA rotation. There’s a good chance Perez starts in AAA as well, but of the two I think the Rangers are more content to let Perez go to the ‘pen and keep Grimm stretched out in the minors.
A.J. Pierzynski, Geovanny Soto
And so we move from the most tumultuous position battle to the least. The catching situation is set: Pierzynski and his bat will catch most of the games, Soto will catch Darvish and the odd other game.
Mitch Moreland (1B), Ian Kinsler (2B), Elvis Andrus (SS), Adrian Beltre (3B)
The starting infield also appears to be pretty set. The Rangers are going to give Moreland every chance to lock down the everyday starting position at first and Kinsler with be the starting second baseman.
Nelson Cruz (RF), Craig Gentry (CF), Leonys Martin (CF), David Murphy (LF)
This could change a lot. Cruz may well be suspended for at least a third of the season. Gentry and Martin are supposed to split time in center, but I won’t be surprised at all if Gentry takes over a majority of the playing time before the season starts.
Mike Olt (3B/1B/OF), Lance Berkman (DH/1B/RF), Leury Garcia (SS/2B)
Aside from Pierzynski, Berkman was the big offseason acquisition, and he figures to get most of the starts at DH. There’s a chance Olt starts the season in AAA, but Cruz’s possible suspension and Olt’s ability to play the outfield works in his favor. He can also backup both Beltre and Moreland in the infield. Likewise, Garcia can back up both middle infield spots, and as committed as the Rangers seem to giving Jurickson Profar regular playing time Garcia would seem to have the edge on the bench spot. That said, it’ll really come down to the spring both players have.
I’m not entirely sure how often I’ll be updating new version of the projected roster, but check back from time to time throughout the spring!
And GO RANGERS!