This post was written with information as of Tuesday.
Looking back on the last week or so, this site has predominantly been dedicated to the ongoing Nolan Ryan saga. So if you prefer a little variety, or, hell, maybe even just a little #baseballtalk, then I apologize. Here you go:
Today the Rangers (8-8) blew out the Brewers (7-9), 12-3. Alexi Ogando (1-1) went 4 scoreless innings, punching out three, and ultimately earned the ever-meaningful spring training win. Mike Olt went 1-1 with a two-run bomb, upping his underwhelming 28-PA spring sample to .160/.250/.440.
As for the position battles:
Jeff Baker has hands-down been the best Ranger in camp, busting out a .529/.568/.735 triple slash line in 37 plate appearances, wielding a glove at a plethora of positions on the diamond. He looks like a lock at carving out a 4-corners (LF/RF/3B/1B) role in 2013.
Leonys Martin needs to start 115-120 games in 2013. He’s also been impressive, hitting at a .394/.447/.576 clip in 37 PA’s, reminiscent of his dominant .359/.422/.610 campaign at Round Rock last year.
Craig Gentry isn’t a slouch, himself, batting .333/.455/.593 in 31 PA’s. Michael Young always owned the title of Most Underrated Player In Baseball; well, Gentry seems to be well on his way to becoming the Most Overlooked. Even in a 4th outfielder role, Craig is a supreme weapon both defensively and on the base paths, two tools that are arguably second-to-none in the game today.
Leury Garcia is hitting .294/.368/.529 in 19 PA’s.
Jurickson Profar is at .222/.349/.303 in 43 PA’s, drawing 7 walks and striking out 10 times.
If I had to take a stab at guessing the Opening Day bench, I’d say Craig Gentry (OF), Geovany Soto (C), Jeff Baker (UTIL) and Leury Garcia (SS/2B). (Though, I will not be surprised if Daniels goes out and gets a backup middle infielder via trade.)
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As for the pitching, Yu Darvish has certainly looked like the same type of guy he was in the 2nd half of last year. This spring he stands at an ERA of 1.04, with 10 strikeouts and just 2 walks in 8.2 IP on the bump. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to: Yu Darvish is going to battle Justin Verlander for the Cy Young in 2013. This prognostication isn’t based on a meaningless spring training sample; it’s just how highly I view Darvish. I will not be surprised if he generates something in the neighborhood of 7.0 fWAR this year.
Nick Tepesch looks like the current frontrunner to become the 5th starter, which is more a statement of how bad everyone else has been. Tepesch sits at a 2.25 ERA in 8 IP (2 runs allowed), striking out a batter an inning and walking 2.
Justin Grimm, who was expected to have the inside track on the 5th spot after Martin Perez broke his arm a couple weeks ago, has struggled mightily, allowing 10 earned runs on 14 hits in just 7.1 innings. He’s allowed 4 walks and has punched out 7 hitters over that sample.
Michael Kirkman has allowed three hits and no walks in 5.0 scoreless innings this spring, striking out 6.
Robbie Ross has a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 IP, allowing 12 hits, with a K:BB ratio of 4:4.
Tanner Scheppers has allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 3.0 innings, with a K:BB ratio of 3:1.
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At this point in time, it’s anyone’s guess who will be the last 4 pitchers in the Rangers bullpen, but I think we have a pretty good idea. Joe Nathan, Jason Frasor and Robbie Ross are all locks. Michael Kirkman seems like a safe bet to get a spot. I’d also be a bit surprised if Tanner Scheppers doesn’t begin the season on the big league roster. Derek Lowe is expected to be the longman.
Yesterday there was a report that the Rangers were scouting and are “mildly interested” in Yankee RHP Joba Chamberlain. I think he would be a pretty interesting reclamation project, mainly because he has always been able to strike people out (9.58 K’s/9 IP in ’12) and isn’t a huge liability in the BB’s department. Pitchers who rack up a ton of K’s while allowing minimal free passes are who you want in your bullpen.
As constructed, I am cautiously optimistic about the success of this year’s club. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been able to get excited for the games; in 2011 and ’12, we more or less knew the team was going to be really good. We could put up with blowout losses and minor losing streaks, because it seemed like the guys controlled when they felt like reeling off 6 or 7 wins in a row — no matter how weak their opponent was.
This year the questions aren’t centered around “How far will we go after we make the playoffs?” but more “Will we make the playoffs at all?”
The latter is more exciting.