Evan Grant says Andruw Jones is willing to stick around as a part-time player for the Rangers.
Which is bad news, I think, for Marlon Byrd and Chris Davis. And potentially Nelson Cruz.
Though the club will not add Jones to its 40-man roster today, he is expected to let a second deadline for his addition pass. The Rangers will spend the next week trying to move DH-OF Frank Catalanotto in order to add Jones as a DH against left-handed pitching and as an extra outfielder. The Rangers still owe Catalanotto $6 million in salary and buyout options, but are willing to “eat” much of that salary in order to find a trade partner for Catalanotto. If the Rangers can’t trade him, they could release him and eat the full salary.If the Rangers ultimately add Jones to the lineup, it could have an impact on several other players as well. DH Hank Blalock would relinquish the DH spot against left-handed pitching, but would likely get some of the lost time back at first base. That would have an impact on 1B Chris Davis, who might lose some at-bats against left-handers. Also, OF Marlon Byrd, a right-handed hitter like Jones, gets bypassed for an expanded role. He will be the team’s fourth outfielder, substituting for all three outfielders. He’s likely to get the bulk of his playing time replacing OF David Murphy against left-handers. The Rangers need to find a better mix against lefties than last year. They were 21-31 against them, which was the second-worst winning percentage in the AL.
Not coincidentally, the next item is a note about Jon Daniels seeking out Chris Davis to re-assure him about him being in the Rangers' plans, after Davis "said he felt there was some concern about his spring performance."
Davis is no dummy. I'm sure he's read about how the Rangers are trying to keep Jones around, in part, because of their concern about Davis's slow spring.
And I'm sure he can read the writing on the wall...if Jones is going to DH against lefties, then someone is going to have to sit against lefties. And given Ron Washington's history, who do you think is more likely to sit -- Hank Blalock, or Chris Davis? Particularly given how Davis was used last season, and the fact that Washington is going to be under a lot of pressure to get off to a good start...I am guessing he's going to feel a lot more comfortable going with the vets early on.
And of course, Jones is Rudy Jaramillo's new project, and guys that Rudy thinks he can fix get a longer rope (see, e.g., Sideshow Sammy and Phil Nevin).
So I expect that, if Jones makes the team, he'll end up playing about half the time. Davis will probably sit against most lefties and a few righties, and Marlon Byrd -- who has been a hell of a lot more productive than Jones the past couple of years -- will apparently be relegated to a platoon role with David Murphy.
Although, since the Rangers seem committed to rolling with Murphy as a starter, we could well see Jones and Byrd squeezing plate appearances from Nelson Cruz, who I don't think has ever been one of Rudy's favorites anyway.
So...we now have 7 guys who are going to be splitting time at five positions. We know Josh Hamilton will be playing every day. And other than that...who knows? Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis should be starting 145+ games this season, but I suspect that won't happen. And Marlon Byrd, based on his performance the last couple of years, should be at least a semi-regular, but it looks like he's being bumped as well.
I just don't understand all this.
One of the most maddening things about this team the last half-decade, it seems, is its incessant dragging in of once-good righthanded power hitters who are washed up, in the hopes that Rudy can squeeze something out of them so they'll provide the righty middle-of-the-order bat that the team needs. Richard Hidalgo, Brian Jordan, Greg Colbrunn, Sideshow Sammy, Phil Nevin, and now Andruw Jones...
It is tiresome.