Ranger Stranger Danger
New names like Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo create quite a buzz in Texas, as the promising season quickly approaches. But just when fans were feeling the excitement of the 2014 season, the fortunes of the Texas Rangers started eroding away like a mudslide. That twist of fate may have many calling them the “Strangers” again. Back in the early days of the Rangers, the “strangers” moniker was given to them for bad play and to distance themselves from the ugliness…much like the “Aints” fans in New Orleans for all those years of bad football in the crescent city. This “strangers” alias is in direct relation with star players going down to injury at a critical time in Spring Training, forcing the team to start some unknown commodities around the diamond.
Let’s look at the evidence.
Ranger – Derek Holland (knee injury) – Losing Holland until mid-June is a tough one, and the team has to shuffle that rotation to hold down the fort until the Dutch Oven returns. Plus both Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison are desperately trying to get healthy and return to the rotation. However, that leaves some problems in that pitching staff that must be solved.
Stranger – Starter #4 and/or Starter#5 – Not necessarily no-names being considered for these slots, but not your usual plug-n-play options. Names like Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch, Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers, etc. are known for their bullpen business and are not trusted commodities to take the hill to start a game. In fact, Feliz was sent to the minors after losing the closing job to Joakim Soria. It could be to get him prepared to be a starter, under the current circumstances.
Ranger- Jurickson Profar (shoulder) – Trading away Ian Kinsler to pave the way for Profar was the grand plan, but now with the injury, he will be out up to 3 months with not many quality options in sight.
Stranger- Adam Rosales – A serviceable utility man, Rosales will be called into a much greater role with Profar out of commission. Other strangers who could see action at 2nd base are Josh Wilson and Rougned Odor. Odor is a hot prospect that the Rangers may not want to throw into the fire quite yet. 2nd base could be an adventure for Texas trying to mix decent defense with enough offense to help the cause.
Ranger- Giovanni Soto (torn meniscus) – The Rangers lose their starting catcher, and not to mention Yu Darvish’s personal backstop. Which is worse to lose? The solid innings man behind the plate or the battery-mate to your ace? Either way, it spells trouble for Texas with a capital T.
Stranger- JP Arencibia – The offseason signing of JP Arencibia was a necessity, but now becomes an emergency. Arencibia, who has some power, has trouble keeping his batting average above his weight and has a disappointing 25% affective rate at throwing out base stealers. Those numbers don’t bode well for a man now wearing the #7 on his back, once adorned by Rangers’ catching legend, Pudge Rodriguez. Fans will most certainly notice the difference. Robinson Chirinos will also get his shot behind the plate, as well as the just signed Chris Snyder, who was released by the Nationals and scooped up by Texas to add to the mix.
Ranger- Yu Darvish (stiff neck) – Not as dire as the other issues, but his stiff neck is keeping him out of his Opening Day start. The Rangers have to hope that his neck loosens and he can find comfort in whichever catcher they match him up with, so they don’t lose their ace and cause even more headaches in Ranger Land.
Stranger – Player to Be Named Later – There may be another deal or two to be made by John Daniels to solidify this once touted rotation. He will definitely be on the lookout for quality pitching at an affordable price to fill their needs until their M*A*S*H unit heals. This last week of Spring Training will surely leave a trail of cut players scrambling for work for him to choose from.
Hang in there, Rangers fans. Hopefully you won’t have to rifle through your game program to figure out who those guys are. As long as the rest of the division doesn’t get off to a smokin’ hot start and leave the Rangers in the dust, things should settle down and it will be June before you know it and welcoming your stars back to Arlington where they belong. All in time to heat up the pennant chase, like you expected all along. But keep that rabbit’s foot handy.