So with the news that Andruw Jones is going to accept the Rangers offer, the OF picture is obviously a little more curious. The Rangers now have Hamilton, Cruz, Byrd, Murphy, Jones, and Catalanotto in the mix to start the year and Boggs, Borbon, and Golson will be sitting at OKC waiting for their shot later this year or in 2010. Doing a little bit of math that means the Rangers could have 9 guys trying to find playing time in the OF somtime this year. We all have our preferences as to how we would like to see this play out. Here's my best guess:
Hamilton - Obviously the one guy there is no question about. If healthy he will start every day, the only question is where? Does he start in CF or move to a COF spot early in the year? Having guys like Byrd and Jones would not only allow him to move to RF/LF but also give him a day off against a tough LH pitcher. I still think he will start the year in CF. I would put him in RF and leave him there for a long time. Starting this year.
Cruz - He will probably be given one of the COF spots to start the year. He should be an everyday guy 'til he proves one way or another if he can produce in the bigs. He will have a short leash though. If not producing when starting for a couple months he could be gone. My guess is that he will start in RF if he does well he stays, if not then he will be gone with Hamilton moving to RF.
Byrd - The guy has earned a spot with his performance the last couple of years. The only problem is he doesn't really fit into the teams long-term plans. He can play all 3 OF spots pretty well and will probably platoon with Murphy as it stands right now. My guess though is that the Rangers are looking at moving him sometime soon.
Murphy - I'm not a big fan of David Murphy. I feel at best he should be a platoon player. I would also like it if the Rangers tried to move him in a deal for pitching. I don't think they are going to do that though. My guess is that he's the starting LFer against RH pitching.
Jones - This is a low risk move imo although many may not like it because he could take playing time away from guys that will be here past this year when it's likely he won't be. He's a huge ? right now. If he plays his way into the OF mix though he will have had to perform pretty well and I don't see that as a bad thing. My guess is that he takes the last spot on the roster at the expense of...
Catalanotto - Frank has been nothing but a class act since he basically stopped playing at all last year. He really is a guy without a spot or role on this team right now and I think he will eventually be cut loose. Hopefully he can catch on somewhere as a LH PH hitter off the bench, maybe with a NL team somewhere.
Boggs - I really like Brandon Boggs and think he could be a quality ML OFer. He should start everyday at OKC and depending on how well he does there he could force the Rangers hand into to dealing Byrd or Murphy. If Boggs can produce as well as either of them he is more valuable imo because he plays good defense and is under team control longer than Byrd. Also being a switch hitter he won't have the issues with LH pitching like Murphy does. He should be up in Sept., or sooner if there are injuries.
Borbon - He's coming fast. Hopefully he has a great year at OKC and will force his way into a Sept. call up, maybe sooner. When he does arrive he should be the starting CFer and will force Hamilton to a COF spot. I'm pretty excited about the idea of his defensive ability in CF.
Golson - Greg probably has the biggest uphill climb to make it into the OF mix this year. I think he will spend the entire season in OKC and if he performs well he very well could be a trade piece. If he struggles he could be in AAA for some time. I'm not really sold on him but a strong performance at OKC could obviously change my mind.
My guess is that to start the year the Rangers go with Byrd/Murphy in LF, Hamilton in CF, and Cruz in RF with Jones on the bench and spelling Hamilton from time to time and DHing against LH pitching. Discuss...