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Friday morning things

The big story today in both papers is about Ian Kinsler and the leadoff slot. Evan Grant says the Rangers are thinking about making him the leadoff hitter every day, with Ron Washington thinking there are some advantages:

"I think it's an advantage if a guy knows pretty much every single day where he's going to be," Washington said. "If it happens that we have something we can stick with regularly this year, we'll stick with it."

Jeff Wilson says Kinsler wants to hit leadoff.

You know, if I had a Strat or Sim team, I'd probably have Cat hit first and Kinsler 7th or 8th against RHPs, and have Kinsler hit leadoff and have whomever DHs or is in left against LHPs hit 7th or 8th. And a few years ago, I probably would have said Washington needs to do that, and would have been critical of him hitting Kinsler leadoff all the time, given how much better Cat is against RHPs than Kinsler.

However...recent studies indicate that exact lineup order isn't a huge deal. You want your best hitters at the top of the order, of course, but whether someone is hitting 1 or 2, that sort of thing, isn't going to make an enormous impact on your runs scored.

And this brings to mind something Rany Jazayerli talked about recently, in reference to Alfonso Soriano:

[Soriano] was then traded to the Rangers, who saw a player with tremendous power but limited ability to reach base, and did what all of us would do--they moved him to the middle of the lineup. (I'm willing to bet that those of you who employ Soriano on a Scoresheet or Strat-o-Matic team, or in another simulation fantasy game, never bat him in the leadoff spot.) Soriano batted in the heart of the Rangers lineup for two years, and then he was traded to Washington, where he returned to batting leadoff, a role he kept after signing with the Cubs last year.

Soriano's skill set plays better in the middle of the lineup than at the top of the lineup. However, if you look at his splits, Soriano has a much higher OPS in the leadoff spot (892) than in any other spot in the lineup. He has a 762 OPS and an 825 OPS in the 3dr and 5th spots, respectively.

Now, I'm certainly willing to acknowledge that this may be a sample size issue, or something else. However, given how much Soriano has talked about how he considers himself a leadoff hitter, I wouldn't be surprised if he feels more comfortable and confident in the leadoff spot. And I do think hitting is enough mental that that can make a difference.

Ian Kinsler is going to be with the Rangers for a long time, and the Rangers certainly envision him as a top of the order hitter. While the Rangers might, in a vacuum, get some benefit from splitting the leadoff slot between Cat and Kinsler, I have to wonder if that benefit wouldn't be, in whole or in part, offset by guys having more stability in their roles in the lineup.

Anyway...Jean-Jacques Taylor writes about Josh Hamilton, and has some unusual comments:

Why in the world did Cincinnati trade him for a box of Cocoa Puffs?

* * *

You may be one of those people who think Edinson Volquez will become a solid member of Cincinnati's rotation after going 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA in 17 career starts with the Rangers. By the way, batters hit .329 against him over three seasons with Texas.

I think the trade is a solid one for the Rangers, but I also think JJ-T is undervaluing Edinson Volquez.

I've been ignoring JFE lately, but she has an article up today talking about players being happy about Teixeira being gone that is worth, at least, a look...this jumped out at me:

If you walk into this Rangers clubhouse, though, it is surprising how many players are not lamenting Tex's departure.

Oh, they like him well enough.

They will tell you how good of a guy Tex is and how good of a player.

What had started to wear a few guys down was the constant whining about the team that Tom Hicks was fielding because, technically, he was ripping all of them.

The problem with brutal honesty is that, oftentimes, those you are "just being honest about" tend to be a little touchy.

It is easy to see why the pitching staff apparently became a little annoyed by Tex detailing its deficiencies daily.

Just because he had a point didn't mean a few of his teammates were not wishing he'd shut it.

It is not exactly breaking news that this is supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Rangers. What you want in a clubhouse is the feeling that everybody is thinking, "We're going to shock the world, baby," a hard vibe to get when one of your best players is complaining that the team, the GM, the owner and everything in between stinks.

That seems to be missing this spring.

The S-T has some notes that include Brandon McCarthy feeling good about the progress he's making with his elbow, and LSB fave Wes Littleton giving his top 5 musicians...