This was the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup last year:
1. Kinsler, 2B
2. Andrus, SS
3. Berkman, DH
4. Beltre, 3B
5. Murphy, LF
6. Cruz, RF
7. Pierzynski, C
8. Moreland, 1B
9. Martin, CF
Corrected: Choo 7, Andrus 6, Fielder 3, Beltre 5, Rios 9, Moreland dh, Arencibia 2, Martin 8, Wilson 4, Scheppers 1.
— John Blake (@RangerBlake) March 31, 2014
The Rangers are only a shell of what they were expected to look like three months ago, but there’s a fair amount of lineup depth, and the bullpen is capable of supplementing the workload of the rotation until Colby Lewis, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison return. The one soft spot in the lineup comes at second base, where Josh Wilson (or Donnie Murphy, for that matter) will presumably put his time in while Jurickson Profar is on the shelf.
Speaking of second basemen, it was smart of Jon Daniels to keep Rougned Odor — the organization’s top prospect — in the minor leagues, rather than forcing a big league job on him just because. In 2014 there’s a strong public yearning for the next great young player every year. It’s like college basketball, in a way: Every year there has to be one or two freshman who are projected to be the next LeBron James… this year it was Andrew Wiggens and Jabari Parker.
Anyway, I presume it’s due to the success of Mike Trout, and to a lesser extent players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and Jose Fernandez. I’m not saying Rougned Odor is on the same level — because he isn’t — but it did show some restraint from the front office not to go with the more exciting prospect, instead of rolling with Josh Wilson or Donnie Murphy.
Since Profar is expected to miss three months, and assuming Wilson and Murphy are no better than replacement-level, the deft money is on Odor getting a call-up sometime around the end of May. In that case, the Rangers could keep his arbitration clock back and thus retain control of him for the six years beyond 2014. If he was a regular to start this season, he would have been a free agent after 2019 instead of 2020.
I know this sounds like some really petty shit, but every player’s first three years they only make the league minimum, so it’s crucial for franchises to extract as much surplus value out of those deals as they can.
Getting too deep here. It’s Opening Day. A brand new season.