The Rangers win, Kevin Millwood goes 6 innings, and the Rangers are on FSSW today at 3:05. Life is good.
However, we have a new twist to what seemed to be a pretty set roster...Evan Grant reports that the Rangers are contemplating keeping Andruw Jones on the roster as the righthanded DH. According to Grant, the Rangers are concerned about the lineup being too left-handed, and that Chris Davis's early struggles will translate into a bad early-season slump. Keeping Jones as the righty DH, then, would let the Rangers have a righty bat in the lineup against lefties, with Jones and Blalock being in a platoon of sort, or Davis sitting against a lot of lefties, with Blalock moving to first base.
That's fine, I guess, if Jones hits...which he hasn't done for the past two years. But I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what the team is doing here. The team has been heavily left-handed since the offseason started, and while there were rumors of some interest in a couple of righty bats, it apparently wasn't deemed enough of a problem to actually get a righty who could hit into the organization.
Jones was brought in, meanwhile, with the idea that he could be a plus defensive centerfielder who would allow Josh Hamilton to move to right field. Instead, his defense in center has been viewed as a problem, he's struggled at the plate, and the perception has been that he's going to be unhappy if he gets limited playing time...and despite that, the team is considering keeping him on as a part-time DH?
If you are really worried about the team being too left-handed, just plug in Marlon Byrd at DH against some lefthanders (since the team seems committed to playing David Murphy everyday, rather than platooning him). Or get someone who can actually hit lefties, rather than Jones, who is coming off a couple of bad offensive seasons and hasn't exactly torn it up this spring.
Last season, a bad start by the team, Ben Broussard's struggles and a fear of being too lefthanded resulted in a bit of a panic move in dropping Jason Botts -- who they were supposedly committed to -- and bringing up Chris Shelton, who did nothing. This season, fear of a bad start and being too lefthanded and worries about Chris Davis's spring struggles suggests they may be going into panic mode again, bringing Jones -- who isn't likely to hit any better than Shelton did last year -- in as an ad hoc solution to try to fix a perceived problem.
What this also suggests, to me, is a lack of faith by at least some folks in the organization in Chris Davis. If you recall, we heard repeatedly after Davis came up last season (and played well) that it was only temporary, that Davis wasn't going to stay up and would get sent back to the minors. And even after Davis stayed up, he was relegated to the bottom third of the lineup -- starting only one game higher in the lineup than 7th -- with the excuse being that Davis hadn't proven himself and earned a spot higher in the lineup, while Joaquin Arias was hitting leadoff.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong...but I get the feeling this may be about making Chris Davis, who someone (Washington, Jaramillo, whomever) isn't quite sold on, a part-time player, at least early in the season. Particularly given that Washington's job is dependent on getting off to a decent start this year...
Richard Durrett offers his thoughts on Jones v. Cat for the last bench spot. T.R. Sullivan weighs in on the end of the bench fight -- saying the "rank and file" in the organization think Jones can turn it around, but that Tom Hicks refuses to release Frank Catalanotto and eat his contract -- along with his thoughts on Joaquin Arias.
Jeff Wilson talks about two new bullpen candidates -- Jason Jennings and Jimmy Gobble. Both seem likely to start the season at AAA, and Jennings seems more likely to end up in the AAA rotation anyway, but they both apparently will be considered for bullpen roles over the next couple of weeks.
Wilson also discusses the importance of starting pitching depth to the Rangers, who have had a hard time keeping the same 5 guys in their rotation the past several years.
Wilson and Sullivan both talk about the possibility of a Josh Hamitlon contract extension, which apparently is moving to the front burner over the next week or two.
Jim Reeves thinks the WBC shouldn't be played in March.