As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, the Rangers’ 25 man roster has been set. Still, I wanted to mark it and get ready for the new season. Here’s what we’re going to bat with for opening day tomorrow (or later today as the time is now 1:30AM Monday as I start writing this):
Starting Pitchers: Scott Feldman, Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, CJ Wilson
Relief Pitchers: Neftali Feliz, Frank Francisco, Doug Mathis, Dustin Nippert, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Chris Ray
Catchers: Jarrod Saltamacchia, Taylor Teagarden
Infielders: Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Chris Davis, Ryan Garko, & Michael Young
Outfielders: Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz, Vladamir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, & David Murphy
Notables here are Ian Kinsler being put on the DL as well as Tommy Hunter. I wanted to say a few words about each of these guys, my opinion of them so to speak..
- Scott Feldman: Scott surprised the heck out of a lot of people last year. He won 17 games despite not being on the opening day roster. He had some struggles in his last 3-4 starts, and he did have a realistic shot at 20 wins, which was impressive. Got a nice contract extension this spring, let’s hope he lives up to it.
- Neftali Feliz: Came out throwing smoke and looked very much like the guy we were told he’d be. The league adjusted, and he appeared (to me) to have some struggles adjusting to that. Hopefully he can get that worked out. I’m sure he’ll be fine in 2010, but I don’t think he’ll be 101 every pitch, and strike out 8 out of 10.
- Frank Francisco: There’s a lot of talk we’re going to let him walk after 2010. I’m not so convinced of that. He’s definitely not an elite level closer (Rivera, Papelbon), but he’s definitely serviceable. I think the walk talk is that he’s making $3.6m this year, and that’s a lot for a “serviceable” closer.
- Rich Harden: A big enigma. Brought in when we traded Millwood away. It’s a gamble, for sure, and he by far hasn’t looked that impressive this spring. But, like everyone else, I know he can be great if he’s “on”. Let’s just hope he’s on more often than he is not. Assuming he’s even on the hill in the first place.
- Matt Harrison: I liked Matt a lot when he first showed up. Pitched well, and made you feel good about the fleecing of Atlanta. He’s come back to Earth a bit since then. Hopefully his spring ERA of 5.68 isn’t an indicator of where he’s going. Still positive about him, but not as strong as before.
- Colby Lewis: I know when he was brought back, a lot of people were excited about it. I heard on Baseball Tonight & the MLB Channel that there was more than just the Rangers after him. I remember what he was like when he went out the door, so I wasn’t thrilled that he was coming back, despite all he did in Japan. Still, he’s done well enough this spring, and he has done well in the K department (16 in 18.2 IP).
- Doug Mathis: Also doing well in the K department (10 in 10.1 IP this spring). He had a nice ERA. Mathis isn’t one of those guys who is a big time sexy name, but is durable, and seems to do well.
- Dustin Nippert: Dustin’s spring allowed BA was .112. His WHIP was 0.42. He’s struck out 10 in 12 innings – over five games. His spring ERA was ZERO. Bring it on. His stock has certainly rose given the way he performed when he first got here from the D’Backs.
- Darren O’Day: Since the day he wore Kason Gabbard’s uniform in Toronto, he’s done nothing but been one of the best bullpen pickups we’ve ever made. Hopefully that continues into the new season.
- Darren Oliver: Another guy with a spring training ERA of ZERO! Where was this guy when he was last in Texas ping-ponging back and forth between the rotation and the pen? Glad he’s finally figured it out. We could use it, as I believe he’s the only lefty in our bullpen.
- Chris Ray: The guy we got back from Baltimore in the Kevin Millwood trade. I’m not really terribly thrilled with this move. Not expecting much here. Hopefully I’m wrong.
- C.J. Wilson: What a surprise this was in spring. I don’t think a ton of Ranger fans were that jazzed about him trying out for the rotation, but he nailed it. While his record was 0-2, he had a good ERA (3.24), and his other numbers were good too. I wonder how long this experiment will last.
- Jarrod Saltamacchia: I’m starting to wonder if he’ll ever come through on the promise he had when he was obtained originally as the centerpiece of the Teixeira trade. While I don’t think he’s awful, he has had a lot of problems, and needs to make a lot of noise to claim the catcher’s role as his. It’s part of why guys like Toby Hall are on our roster.
- Taylor Teagarden: Taylor’s problem is his bat. I don’t think anyone doubts his defense or game calling. But he’s got some big offensive problems at the plate. He did bat .319 in 2008, but he only had 40 some at bats. In 2009, he batted just .215 and this spring he was around .225. That’s not gonna get it done. If he could bat even something like 260 or 270, he’d probably nail the job as his.
- Elvis Andrus: What a surprise Elvis was last year. Much was made about Michael Young’s move to third, and Elvis needing to be “helped” by Omar Vizquel. But Elvis seemed to do well. He had the usual rookie mistakes, he wasn’t godlike, but wow was he great when he was “good”. Hopefully he improves this year, as his rookie year was pretty darned good. Plus I took him in one of my fantasy leagues, he’d better do good. ;)
- Joaquin Arias: See Saltamacchia. This guy screams unfulfilled promise. The Yankees went through great lengths to keep us from finding him when we chose someone as the PTBNL in the Alex Rodriguez trade. He is the last remaining tie to that trade, too. Probably only here due to injuries. Suspect he goes down when Kinsler comes back in a week.
- Andres Blanco: Don’t know much about him, but I’ve read where his defense is good, which is why he was brought in late in spring to be a backup infielder. Always need guys like this around.
- Chris Davis: Defense is great. He seems to have solved his major epic level offensive funk from the middle of last season. Let’s hope he rakes. Plus I know if he’s around a friend of mine will go to games just to see him, as she thinks he’s hot (Hi Jen!) ;)
- Ryan Garko: See Andres Blanco.
- Michael Young: Don’t need to explain Michael Young to a Rangers fan. He handled the move to 3B defensively extremely well last year. Can’t see any reason why (barring injury) we won’t get another “Michael Young” season from Michael Young. Also goes into the season with a plus .400 batting average.
- Julio Borbon: Our anointed center fielder and leadoff hitter. He’s young, I don’t think he’s going to have an OBP of like .500 or something, but it feels like the same kind of gamble this year like they made with Elvis last year. Hopefully it works out as well.
- Nelson Cruz: Nelson finally figured it out last year, and if he has another year like last year again, I think he can shake the 4A tag he had become attached to somewhat. Almost won the Home Run Derby last year, so he’s definitely been noticed nationally.
- Vlad Guerrero: He’s not the total rake hitter that he used to be, and his defense (well, his body really) has made him mostly a full time DH. But he can still hit, and I saw enough of that “swing at anything and still get a single” that used to irritate the heck out of me in spring training to tell me that he can probably still hit well. Let’s see if 81 games at our ballpark helps him more. Granted he’s not hitting against us anymore, so that could be a factor.
- Josh Hamilton: Down year last year for Josh. Played with his mechanics, and was hurt a lot. Everything this spring says he’s back to the form he was at in 2008, so if that’s true, then look out for a big year from him.
- David Murphy: I thought Murph had earned a permanent spot in the lineup, but he goes into the season as the fourth outfielder. I hope the lack of regular playing time doesn’t hurt him, as I like Murph a lot. Reminds me of Rusty Greer.
That’s our starting 25. Ian Kinsler was hurt in the spring, and was only in five games, so it’s impossible to judge him for 2010. I had seen where Clint Hurdle has made a difference in his “Capt Fly Ball” mentality from last year. Hopefully that sticks once he comes back.
Overall, despite our crappy record in the spring, I think it could be a very good year for us. The Angels are still the team to beat, but they lost a bunch of pieces after last year, so they could be down a little (but not a lot, they’ll still be great). The Mariners have improved a lot, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to make a real threat at the division, but they’ll definitely be better. The A’s, I dunno. So I think the division is more open than it has been in years. We certainly could win it. I’m not making any win predictions, but I think a 90 win season is not out of the question.