Thursday, January 31, 2013
Concerns for Texas
By Jason A. Churchill
The Texas Rangers lost Josh Hamilton to free agency and it's possible they lose Nelson Cruz to suspension if the evidence suggested by the Miami New Times is ample and factual. We're looking down the road a bit here, because the process is likely to take some time, and there's certainly a chance the players' mentioned in the reports are not suspended. But if Cruz is, the Rangers could be in a little trouble when it comes to their lineup and outfield alignment, at least for the duration of a suspension, and the club has to plan for life after Cruz, anyway, since he's a free agent after 2013.
As of now, the club appears set for an outfield rotation including Cruz, Craig Gentry or Leonys Martin, and David Murphy. Without Cruz, Gentry and Martin could be pushed into regular service, rather than one serving as the extra outfielder or being sent back to Triple-A.
T.R. Sullivan reports Wednesday that the club has not renewed their interest in free agent Michael Bourn, and ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett opines that the Rangers could revisit the idea, but only if the price comes down. Durrett also addresses the other in-house options should the club need to scramble a bit to cover themselves, including the idea of Mike Olt and Mitch Moreland being used in the outfield, as well as Ian Kinsler. If Kinsler is moved to left field, prospect Jurickson Profar likely handles second base.
Moreland has 44 games played in right field, though scouts I've asked tend to agree with Durrett that Olt is better equipped to play the outfield regularly than is Moreland.
The free agent market is virtually empty after Bourn, sans a few veterans in their mid-to-late 30s such as Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu and Bill Hall. Grady Sizemore could be an interesting idea, however, especially if the club is comfortable using Moreland or Olt at least on a part-time basis.