Evan Grant has a blog post up this morning touching on the pitching v. fielding argument, and saying that the Rangers need to improve the pitching -- and in particular, start giving up fewer walks -- before they worry about the fielding.
While I don't disagree with the first part of the premise -- that the pitching needs to improve, and walk fewer people -- I don't think that you can say that we need to wait until the pitching gets better before we try to address the fielding problems, and in particular, the bad defense at shortstop. Michael Young's defense...well, I was going to say that it is the elephant in the room, but it really isn't, since a lot of people are talking about it, including Young himself, who was pretty vocal on the issue at the end of the year.
But that's really at the center of a lot of these discussions, particularly because whether or not you view Young's defense as a problem impacts the availability of Elvis Andrus, whether or not you try to move Chris Davis to third base permanently, and whether the organization should be looking for a third baseman of the future. If you view Young's defense as acceptable and shortstop as his position for the life of his contract extension (which runs through 2013), then Andrus is superfluous and has no place in the organization, and the Rangers have a gaping hole at third base they need to try to fill somehow.
But in any case, the bad team defense probably cost the Rangers 6-7 wins last year (at least, THT has the Rangers at 67 runs below average defensively), which is pretty substantial.
One of the other things that I keep seeing floated to try to fix the Ranger defense is to move Ian Kinsler to left field, something that I think would be a terrible idea. Kinsler is still young, was good defensively in 2007, and his problems this year were due almost entirely to errors. He has the skills and ability to be a good defensive second baseman...he just has to execute better. To throw in the towel now, give up and put him in left field seems like forfeiting a whole lot of value, particularly given that there's not much reason to believe he'll be a real good defensive left fielder.
If the Rangers really feel they can't live with Kinsler's defense at second base, they'll get more value out of him by trying to use him, now, to get a top of the rotation pitcher -- including him with, say, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Hurley or Harrison, and one of the low-A arms for Jake Peavy.
I don't want to see Kinsler dealt, personally, but I think that's a better use of what he offers than sticking him in left field.
Meanwhile, the "You're the G.M. -- Rangers edition" discussion over at Minor League Ball got 169 comments. Check it out...