Okay, I'm tired of season previews, talking about spring performances, and obsessing over the 5th starter race...
I'm ready for the season to begin...
Particularly if Joel Sherman is right...Sherman predicts that Ron Washington will win Manager of the Year with the Rangers adding 7-10 wins, and Ian Kinsler having a breakout year.
Yesterday's game was a pitching disaster, with Kevin Millwood, Ron Mahay, Eric Gagne, and Wes Littleton all getting slapped around, but Washington says he's not worried about his guys, and Millwood says he's ahead of where he was at this point last year.
Millwood and Gagne, I'm not all that worried about, but Littleton's inability to find the strike zone, I think, sealed his fate...until he gets his mechanics straightened out to where he can quit walking 2 guys per inning, he's going to be in Oklahoma.
Ron Washington loves him some Jack Benoit. If he needed a lefty retired in a late-game situation right now, Washington says that Benoit would be his guy, and he's apparently pitched himself into a setup role.
The knock on Benoit has always been that he can't handle pressure situations, so it will be interesting to see what happens when Washington puts him in during the 8th inning of a tie game with a runner on, but so far, Benoit has tapped into that potential that has led the Rangers to hang onto him all these years.
Also from Evan Grant in the same item is his take on why Jamey Wright is going to be the fifth starter:
The fifth starter will get four starts by May 1 (April 10, 21, 26 and May 1). Putting Loe in the bullpen gives the Rangers a more reliable long man, which may be a more valuable asset in the first month when starters pitch fewer innings and have more closely monitored pitch counts.
I understand the reasoning. I don't know that I agree with it -- I think Kam Loe should be the fifth starter -- but I understand the rationale behind the decision.
However, part of me wonders if keeping Wright around and stashing Loe in the pen would be such a priority if Brandon McCarthy and Robinson Tejeda had had better springs.
Jan Hubbard talks about the jobs still up in the air right now, with Matt Kata, Marlon Byrd, and Jason Botts all vying for a bench spot, and Chris Stewart, Miguel Ojeda, and Guillermo Quiroz competing for the backup catcher spot.
Quiroz and Stewart each have an option, so the Rangers could well opt to keep Ojeda and stash both of the other candidates in AAA, although Stewart has apparently really impressed Ron Washington this spring.
As for the last bench spot, I think it goes to Kata, mainly because JHJ seems to be ahead of Byrd in the backup-centerfielder pecking order. If JHJ is going to be your backup centerfielder, and you have 4 guys already in place for the corner outfield/DH mix, you need a backup infielder more than you need a 6th outfielder.
Grant also says Sammy Sosa's availability for the opener is in doubt.