Position player depth may be the weakest link in the Texas Rangers that needs to be talked about. This offseason alone has seen the loss of Taylor Teagarden, Omar Quintanilla, Andres Blanco, Endy Chavez and Matt Treanor. While none of these players inspire any real concern on the part of Ranger fans, this very face may be the bigger issue. A team that can become a yearly contender has to have talent off the bench available to give the starters time off and still be a powerful team.
Assuming the Rangers opt not to pursue Prince Fielder and Michael Young is again the DH along with Yorvit Torrealba and David Murphy in supporting roles there are two utility positions open. Something also to consider is the huge question mark in Mitch Moreland at first that must soon be answered as well. There are three players that I think would best fit the Rangers needs and make their bench powerful enough to push the Rangers back into the playoffs without breaking the bank or their future like the Angels are doing. These players are Brad Hawpe, Kelly Johnson and Casey Kotchman. The addition of any two of these players would give the bench a bite that it has been lacking.
Brad Hawpe spent the 2011 season with San Diego Padres. The 32 year old veteran can play first base as well as right field. His 2011 offensive numbers were .231/.301/.344 in 195 at bats with 4 homeruns and 19 RBI. Hawpe’s career offensive numbers are .276/.360/.480 which shows over the career he has good production. With his numbers higher at hitter friendly Coors Field playing in another hitter friendly park like Rangers Ballpark in Arlinton should see a return to higher stats. His versatility in the outfield will also give the Rangers a new glove there if an injury situation strains starting core.
Casey Kotchman spent 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays where he posted great offensive numbers in .306/.378/.406 in 500 at bats. These numbers are solidly above his career numbers of .268/.336/.398 in his somewhat of a journeyman history with Boston, Atlanta and the Angels. Compared to Mitch Moreland’s 2011 numbers of .259/.320/.414 he would be an offensive improvement at first, as well as allowing Moreland to get more AB while in platoon role with Kotchman or as utility in the outfield.
While the previous two players give the Rangers options at first base as well as possible utility players in the outfield, the next player will give the Rangers depth in the infield. Kelly Johnson has spent time with the Braves, the Diamondbacks and the Blue Jays. The 29 year old second baseman would give the Rangers a utility middle infielder that could back up either Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler. Johnson’s combined 2011 offensive stats were .222/.304/.413 which shows he is not an overpowering bat he would give a veteran middle infielder on the bench as well as a good pitch runner.
The Rangers are looking at correcting at least one problem with the addition of Brandon Snyder from the Baltimore Orioles who was gained through a trade for cash considerations. It is likely with the trade of Chad Tracy to the Colorado Rockies that Snyder will be in Round Rock to start the season.
If the bench gets deeper now, perhaps the Rangers will have the power to outlast the free spending Angels and make it to the post season again. Where this time some veterans with pedigrees may be able to soothe some open wounds.