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Monday, March 3, 2014

27 Days in March

27 days.  That's what we have left until Opening Day!  That's exciting isn't it? Exciting...and...well...terrifying.

We (yup, still on the team) have some questions to answer if your Texas Rangers are going to be ready to win come March 31st.

Questions like:  Who is our 5th starter?  Who is our closer?  Do we need another bat?  Does Mitch Moreland even know what DH stands for?

Don't give me the side eye, Mitch.  It's a legitimate question.
First things first:  The rotation.
If you asked me in December if this was a concern of ours, I would have scoffed in your face. Yeah, that's right.  SCOFFED.  I mean, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando sounds pretty damn solid to me.  Am I right?  I don't have the utmost faith in Ogando, but as a #5?  Sure, throw him out there.  So what has changed in the last three months you ask?  Here are the Cliff's Notes:

1.  Derek Holland "tripped over his dog".  (And for whatever reason, his dog was playing hockey at the time)

2.  Matt Harrison is more fragile than this guy:

I mean...he needed an MRI after sleeping on a really soft mattress.  Think about that.
So now we have two empty spots in that rotation.  Although, Harrison is really only expected to miss the first series of the season, something tells me we should make a plan B anyway.  (see photo above)

I already mentioned that Harrison might only be out for one series to start the year.  That's the expectation. Now let's go with that and pretend he won't get hurt during the year; so we only need a very temporary stop gap.  And actually, if we go with a four-man rotation to start the year, which is pretty common with all of the off days in the first month of the season, we may not even have to worry about it all.  

Secondly, Holland is due back by the All-Star break.  He recently said in an interview that he is shooting for a June 1st return.  But after micro-fracture knee surgery, that sounds a little to optimistic to me.  But for all I know he was joking and wearing this outfit while he said it:

I think we all know who DumbER is.
I don't think it's a bad idea to go out and get Ervin Santana who is STILL a free agent; at least if he's available at a reasonable price.  The worst case scenario here is that we'd sign him and move someone who is under-performing in the rotation, upon Holland's return, to the bullpen.

If we don't go after Santana, what are the options?  Wash is auditioning the newly-acquired Tommy Hanson, Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman (who is out of options), and young Nick Tepesch for a starting role.  And while I'm not sure any of them should start, at least he has several guys competing.  

Who is our closer?

A guy named Neftali Feliz came into Rangers camp this spring saying he wants to be the closer. You remember Neftali Feliz, don't you?  He looks like this:

Sit down, A-Rod.
Unfortunately, he also looks like this:

sigh...I need a beer...
Coming off of Tommy John and into the closer role seems a little ambitious.  In fact, once Scary Joe Nathan left the team (PRAISE JESUS!), I think I just kind of assumed that Joakim Soria would walk into that role.  So maybe this isn't an issue?  Or maybe it is?  

Let's keep in mind that we still have Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross in the pen that might also be able to fill the role; Scheppers more than Ross, I think. long as he doesn't get beat up by a bunch of street toughs again.  

Just kidding...that never happened.  Scheppers made it up.  Dummy.  
I am hereby deeming this a non-issue. 

Is Mitch Moreland really going to DH?
Somewhere out there, Mitch Moreland is giving me the stink eye.  

I doubt she gave you the stink eye.  That's just how her face looks.
Let's talk about 28-year old Mitchell Austin Moreland for a moment, shall we?  This will be Moreland's fifth MLB season and every year I think "man I like Mitch, this will be his year".  And every year...I am incorrect. The truth is, I like Moreland, he's been a semi-solid player and he has really learned to play a nice first base. BUT(!), do these look like DH numbers to you?:

His highest BA and HR totals in a year are .275 and 23.  DH?  Meh.

I actually kind of like the 23 home runs.  He has some pop.  Not exactly DH pop, but pop nonetheless.  And we do have some home run power in Prince Fielder, who in our park could hit 40-45+ home runs, Adrian Beltre who will most likely hit over 30 home runs again this year (as he's done in all of his Rangers years), and Alex Rios who should also get us 20 or so.  And lest we forget that Shin Soo Choo could hit in the neighborhood of 20 home runs as well.  So the Rangers aren't exactly powerless.  But surely you understand the concern after the abysmal offensive showing of 2013.

So that begs the question:  Do we need another bat?

At this point I think it would be nice, but more of a reassurance than a necessity.  Who knows? Mitchell may surprise us.  And by us, I mean me.  It will also be nice to have Mitch around to spell Prince at first in the dog days of July and August.  And a Fresh Prince...

His license plate said 'Fresh' and he had dice in the mirror...

Fielder can surely wreak havoc.

So what do you think Rangers fans?  Are we ready for Opening Day 2014?

27 days left!  We can do this right?  We'll make's been so long already...what's another 27 days.

Happy Spring Training everybody!

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