Jan Hubbard has a write-up on Joaquin Arias today, suggesting that, had Mike Young not agreed to move to shortstop two springs ago, Arias could have been the Rangers starting shortstop this year.
I think that's way, way premature...even if you buy into Arias's potential, he's clearly not major league ready right now. That said, if Arias does develop into an elite defensive shortstop, as some believe he will, there might be something to the argument that the Rangers would be better off with him there and moving Young.
One of the things that is sometimes neglected in evaluating how a team is put together is the way the individual parts compliment each other. For example, when Whitey Herzog was in St. Louis, he had a big stadium with fast turf. Groundball pitchers are at a disadvantage with turf, so he tended to seek more flyball pitchers, and generally would combine them with at least a couple of fleet outfielders who could track down more of the fly balls his pitchers would give up.
With the Rangers, their home park has led them to focus on obtaining groundball pitchers. Taking that a step further, though, getting groundballs isn't going go help much if you've got an infield lacking in range that can't get to those balls. While the team's focus, defensively, has seemed to be on getting outfielders that can cover lots of space, particularly in centerfield, I think if the Rangers are going to build around a groundball-oriented staff, getting strong defensive players -- particularly up the middle -- is going to be a lot more important than getting quality defensive outfielders.
So while I'm not endorsing the notion that Joaquin Arias should be starting at shortstop now, or anytime soon, I do think that, long-term, the Rangers may be better off with a stronger defensive middle infield, even if that means shifting Mike Young, eventually, to third base (where I think he'd be better suited) and letting Hank Blalock go.
Richard Durrett has a piece on Kam Loe and the sales pitch he made to get into the rotation last year. Loe had seemingly carved out a niche for himself in the pen, where the organization believed he'd be less vulnerable to teams picking up on his unusual delivery the second time around, and less likely to have to face many lefties.
But he lobbied Mark Connor to try to get him a chance in the rotation, and apparently was persuasive enough that he got an opportunity, which he took full advantage of.
Kat O'Brien talks about Kevin Millwood's deliberate spring procedure, which the Rangers are accepting, rather than pressing him to pitch earlier. Mark Connor says that Millwood usually gets about eight innings in "A" games in the spring, less than the normal pitcher, but it is Millwood's normal routine, so the team isn't going to press him. And Millwood's career April ERA of 4.00 isn't that far off from his regular numbers, so it seems to work fine for him. Again, after the CHP running program fiasco, I think the Rangers are going to be real leery about doing anything dramatic to change the workout programs of any new veteran pitchers.