The sky isn’t falling on the Texas Rangers … yet
By CJ Berryman
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I know there hasn’t been much good news – aside from Michael Choice deciding to do his best young Vernon Wells impersonation – that came out of Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.
Injuries have hit with a left, another left, another left and then another left …
See what I did there?
There’s no right-handed knockout hook or uppercut coming. If any team is built to deal with near-catastrophic injuries to core players, it’s the Texas Rangers.
Yes, the pitching staff has been decimated.
Yes, Martin Perez is the only projected off-season starter that remains in the starting rotation.
Yes, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison won’t be there come Opening Day, and Alexi Ogando will be hiding his tail between his legs as he waddles to the bullpen before first pitch.
Yes, Neftali Feliz – as of right now – is not the same pitcher we saw in 2010 and 2011, and he’s been demoted to AAA Round Rock.
Yes, Jurickson Profar was due for a breakout year at second base before a freak injury to his throwing shoulder shelved him for 10-12 weeks.
Yes, the Rangers’ catching situation looks cloudy, even when Geovany Soto returns from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, which will shelve him for 10-12 weeks as well.
Yes, Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross will be in the starting rotation – not in the bullpen – come opening day and, yes, Scheppers is your Opening Day starter.
Yes, somehow Joe Saunders will enter the 2014 season as a starting pitcher in the Rangers’ rotation. Get them gloves ready in the left and right field seats when he pitches, by the way.
Yes, a guy who should be starting out the year in AA Frisco, Nick Martinez, is your current No. 5 starter.
… I’m just about out of breath …
The excuses for a sour season are there, and I don’t blame the many, many Rangers fans that are pushing the panic button, but listen to me: The sky isn’t falling … yet.
Maybe I’m just trying too hard to find a silver lining in the absolute madness that has happened to the Rangers, but I have to point this one little thing out: Look what they have.
We’ll start with pitching.
Scheppers and Ross were projected to help anchor a bullpen that would have easily been one of the strongest – if not the strongest – in the league. They’re in the rotation now, and they flat out deserved it.
Both of those guys went out there and pitched their rear-ends off in Spring Training, no matter how you slice it.
Scheppers features a fastball that Matt Vasgersian calls a “two-seamer with some hair.” It’s nasty, it’s hard and it’s going to break a lot of bats.
Ross does a great job of changing speeds and painting the corners. If he can continue that, he can be effective.
I will say I do not like Saunders in the Rangers’ rotation … period. That’s it.
Nick Martinez is a kid with raw, electric stuff. He shouldn’t be asked to prove it so early, but the Rangers’ brass feels he’s shown enough to start in the Major Leagues … at least until Colby Lewis is ready.
Now let’s turn it over to the lineup.
The Rangers have a top five or six in the batting order that should flat out rake, period.
Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder are going to give pitchers lots and lots of fits – and then comes Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios.
And I’m very, very high on that Leonys Martin guy. He’s in a perfect spot – in his second full season – to flip the lineup over and cause even more headaches for opposing pitchers.
Mitch Moreland can – and I say “can” very lightly – explode this season.
Mark my words: If the Texas Rangers are at around .500 when April ends, it’s going to be a very, very special season.
Colby Lewis – with his robotic hip – is looking better and better, and the Rangers can expect Darvish and Harrison back before April ends.
There is your reinforcements, and Derek Holland should be showing up some time around June and, according to him, he may be back come July.
And Profar and Soto should be back around then, so the sky could be the limit.
If the Rangers can stay afloat in April, then May will show the true color of this now unknown team.
But I do know this: I’ll be enjoying the look Prince Fielder gives as he watches a high fly ball sail into the North Texas Sky.
Wait until the end of June to panic.
The April skies aren’t falling on the Texas Rangers … yet.