The Rangers could have crumbled after learning that manager Ron Washington was in danger of getting fired. Instead, they've won five straight series, and their offseason acquisitions of outfielders Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley look like winners.
As the team continues its development program, one of its next major decisions is the future position of shortstop Michael Young. Most scouts agree that Young no longer has the range to play short. But the Rangers aren't about to rush Class AA shortstop Elvis Andrus, whom they acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade.
Once Andrus is ready, the Rangers can move Young to third and either shift Hank Blalock to first or trade him. Another option would be to move Young to second base and Ian Kinsler to left field.
The situation is delicate — Young is a team player, but likely will want to remain at short. The Rangers were afraid to move Alfonso Soriano from second base to the outfield in 2005. Young, whose five-year, $80 million contract extension begins next season, will need to be handled firmly, but with respect.
The shift might not take place until next season; Andrus does not turn 20 until Aug. 26, and he is batting only .271/.329/.307 at Class AA. Still, one scout who has seen Andrus often does not necessarily believe that the needs to be brought along slowly.
"Nothing will intimidate him," the scout says. "He has a great amount of confidence. He would approach it the same way at the big-league level as he would at Double A or Triple A.
"Of course, you'll see better arms and better stuff in the big leagues. But he has always had good strike-zone command and good pitch recognition. It will serve him well, probably even better at the major-league level. The strike zone is tighter. And the pitchers, to some degree, are more predictable than they are at Double A."
Moving Kinsler to left and Young to second base would be a bad idea, I think. My guess is that Blalock gets dealt, either in July or this offseason, and Young moves to third base for 2009.