God Bless Opening Day!

Well, here we are. Opening Day for the Texas Rangers. In the 50 year history of the franchise, it’s the first time ever we go into a season with “Defending American League Champions” on our necks. It’s a good sign to be wearing. Yeah, all the talk about not sneaking up on people, and they’ll be gunning for you applies, but man. It still feels good to wear that sign.
The 25 man roster was set while I was down in Round Rock the other night, I wanted to say a few words about the roster before today’s game actually happens, as my thoughts might be clouded by an actual game if I write afterwards.
Our pitching staff:

Dave Bush, Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis, Mark Lowe, Darren O’Day, Alexi Ogando, Pedro Strop, Mason Tobin, Matt Harrison, Darren Oliver, C.J. Wilson, Arthur Rhodes, Derek Holland.

Of this crew, Bush, Tobin, & Rhodes are new guys. A couple others are making their first opening day roster. A few remarks:
Dave Bush – I’m not sure what to expect here. A middle of the road starter when he was in Milwaukee, he’ll be in our pen. I don’t think we’re getting a spectacular performance out of him here, but he’ll probably be just “OK”.
Feliz: Lots of talk about back and forth between rotation & pen. Late it was decided he was going to remain the closer. I suspect that will stay that way all season unless we fall out so bad, they start looking towards next year. So long as we’re winning or in the race, he’ll stay there, then they’ll move him to the rotation next year, and bring in someone else.
Lewis & Wilson: With Lee gone, these guys will be expected to carry the load. I think Lewis is probably better suited to repeat 2010’s performance, based on his longer time being a starter. A lot is made out of Wilson’s prep work, so that could be a factor, too. Hard to tell what will happen here.
Harrison & Holland: These guys need to grow into their roles as starters. The tag of young starter I think has worn off, and if they don’t deliver, they’ll get passed by with other people going forward. I think at least one of them will rise to the challenge this year. If we get both? Wow, we’ll be in good shape if the guys up top hold up their end of the rotation, too.
Darren O’Day: Ugh. Horrible spring training. Hope he can turn it on now that the bell has rung, but man, I’m not comfortable with him now.
Oliver & Rhodes: I see them as mostly the same thing. Older guys who can still pitch well. Probably should be solid numbers from both, but not spectacular.
Mark Lowe: Not sure what to think here.
Mason Tobin: He’s had a great spring, but as a Rule 5 guy, you wonder at what point do we have to make the decision of “do we let him ride it out”, as he’s not likely to be able to stay if we need to send him down.
Pedro Strop: Fantastic spring. I really hope he keeps going, as the up/down/up/down from last year really devalued him in my eyes, and I suspect messed with him. Be nice to see him stay here for awhile.
Alexi Ogando: Nice that he’s getting a shot to start in place of Tommy Hunter. Bad for Tommy, of course. But if Ogando can grab a hold of that and not let go, man, we’ll be even more better off. We’ll see how it goes in his first start.
Napoli & Torrealba: Yorbit will probably be fine, but I can’t see him being any better than Pudge is at this point in Pudge’s career. Can we have Pudge back, please? Napoli has more power, and probably will I think work out better numbers wise. Behind the plate? Hard to tell, dont’ know enough about either of them as a catcher for that.
Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, & David Murphy: I’m lumping all these guys together as I expect the same thing from all of them. Which is “more of the same”. Not expecting surprises here, assuming they all stay healthy.
Andres Blanco: Good bench guy. Valuable 25th man on the roster for sure.
Adrian Beltre: I suspect he’ll disprove the contract year talk. I’m figuring on a big year by him, assuming he stays on the field.
Julio Borbon: By all accounts, he’s improved his offense, which in the past was his weak point. Now his defense is suspect, which is exactly backwards of how he’s been in the past. Not sure how this will play out. If his defence remains a question mark too long into the season, I see him being moved out of the lineup pretty quickly.
Mitch Moreland: Gut feeling, but I figure on a huge season for him. Can’t tell you why, just a “gut” thing.
I also expect “just missed” guys like Michael Kirkman & Chris Davis to be up here before too long. Davis first, once the 13th pitcher idea is done away with. I’ve got this vibe about Chris Davis. Kind of like when Nelson Cruz was sent out on waivers, and nobody claimed him. He kid of shook the 4A player label that Davis kind of has now. Rakes in the minors, bring him up, not so much. If Davis can shake that, I suspect he’ll get traded for some big chip, as I don’t see him here long term – he’s blocked in too many places (at the moment Beltre & Moreland). Granted, the last time we had a hot first base prospect who was blocked, he was moved, and we ended up probably needing him. This is of course Adrian Gonzalez, who was blocked at the time by Mark Teixeira.
Then there’s also the story of Michael Young’s 10-5 rights. While a lot of happy talk is being made because he’s on the opening day roster, I suspect the trade talk will start up again soon. Not actual “talks” per se, but the fan/sports writer talk once his 10-5 date gets closer (what is that date, actually)?
This is the last thing I’ll write before the game, which starts in about four hours from now. It’ll be fun. While I am still mildly irritated that I’m not going (this is the first home opener I haven’t gone to since the one in 1996), we have some friends coming over from our church to watch. We’ll still have fun, just not the SAME fun.
So thanks be to God for this day, thanks be to God for my life, and the blessings bestowed upon all of us this day. May everyone at the game get there safe, get home safe, and know that they’re loved. Thanks to God for my friends, and thanks for my being able to be in a position in life where I can have a house, and have the means to be able to enjoy these things, despite my continued involuntary unemployment situation.
Play Ball!