Admittedly, I pay very little attention to spring training every year. It’s an intellectual challenge for me to get serious or worked up about 25 or 30 games that don’t count. This spring, in particular, I’ve paid even less attention, because I’ve been busy working and going to school, so that’s convenient. I just haven’t had that holy shit it’s almost baseball season moment yet, so the reality of a new year hasn’t hit me. When it does, I’ll know, because I’ll be full steam ahead until the end of September.
What I’ve missed, or, rather, what I’ve been neglecting to write over the last couple of weeks, is the Texas Rangers could be in a rough position over this next month. Its starting 2nd baseman, Jurickson Profar, will be on the shelf for the next 10-12 weeks; Geovany Soto, the team’s starting backstop, is projected to be out for the same length; Yu Darvish will miss his Opening Day start against Cliff Lee with a stiff neck; Matt Harrison won’t be ready to start the year; Colby Lewis won’t be on the 25-man roster out of the gates;
Basically, that all sucks.
Tanner Scheppers will be part of an Opening Day rotation featuring Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders and rookie Nick Martinez. Yikes. Just three months ago, it appeared as if Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Perez, and Lewis would provide Texas with one of the better starting fives in all of baseball. Now, that thought seems almost inconceivable.
At 2nd base, it looks like either Donnie Murphy or Adam Rosales will fill in for Profar, which, over a few months will probably cost the Rangers about one Platonic Win. Whomever inevitably makes the team doesn’t really matter, because they are both essentially the same player with the same utility-player profile: They provide less value than Jurickson on offense and on defense, but at worst they probably aren’t below-replacement-level bad. So, that’s something, I guess.
Still, it’s irresponsible to deviate too far from the idea that if Texas can’t remain afloat in April, and if for some dumb reason a team like the Angels or Athletics goes on a run, the Rangers could find themselves buried in the AL West standings and spend the remainder of the season trying to close the gap.
Sure, the doomsday part of me thinks players like Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Jurickson Profar are pivotal to the success of this year’s club. There’s concern about the health of Adrian Beltre’s veteran legs, and the jury is still out on whether Prince Fielder is in actual decline, or whether Shin-Soo Choo can be the impact player Jon Daniels signed him to be.
Baseball season will always be baseball season… a fresh start. It’s kind of like the new year all over again. Even with all the injuries, I still have high hopes for the Rangers in 2014, but it’s not like I’m going to enjoy the thrill of a new American League West chase any less if they don’t meet my stupid expectations. It’s still baseball, and it’s still the Rangers.
So let’s go get it.