It's that time of year. Every ballclub is going through a series of moves to finalize their 25-man roster in preparation to start the season. The Rangers are no different.
As John posted in his previous blog, the Rangers have put closer Eric Gagne on the DL with the intention of bringing him back to the big league club on April 13th, which will be a game against Seattle. T.R. Sullivan reports that Gagne is not hurt and that the club just wants to give him more time to get ready for the season. Good news that the Rangers are being cautious with Gagne, but I think this also gives the Rangers a little bit of extra time to find out what to do with their roster. Let me explain.
There were several other moves yesterday that might impact the major league club. The first move is that Francisco Cruceta has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Oklahoma. Additionally, Joaquin Arias and John Rheinecker have both been placed on the 15-day disabled list as well, with Jason Botts and Ramon Vazquez being sent to AAA. These move may allow the Rangers to keep Bruce Chen for a few weeks and since Jamey Wright will take the #5 starter spot with Otsuka reassuming the closer's role and Kameron Loe sliding into a set-up role. It's also possible that the Rangers may be able to keep Ezequiel Astacio, who has been awful in a couple of outings, for enough time where they might be able to slip him past waivers to AAA, since clubs should be done finalizing their rosters in the next few days. Journeyman Mike Wood might figure into this picture as well, as he has had several strong outings this spring.
It looks like Mata Kata will win the final bench spot on the club over Marlon Byrd and Miguel Ojeda seems to have locked up the backup catcher role. According to Jamey Newberg, the Rangers must finalize their Opening Day roster by 11 p.m. tomorrow.
Recent performances from Brandon McCarthy, Akinori Otsuka and Nelson Cruz are encouraging, but there is one thing about this team that is worrying me quite a bit. This team still doesn't know how to walk. One of the staples of Ron Washington theory is to work the count and be patient. During this spring, the potential starters and backups for this team, excluding pitchers, have amassed 592 at bats with only 53 walks compared with 93 K's. Amazingly, Hank Blalock has lead the Rangers in walks during the Cactus League season with 9 which is a very good sign considering he has struck out only 8 times. But then again, spring training numbers don't mean anything, do they? This team has got to learn how to work the count and take a walk if they want to get to the post-season.
The Rangers' season opener is at 9:05pm central on Monday, where they will face off against the Angels at Orange County Los Angels of Anaheim Stadium Exhibition Field with that Mountain-thingy in the outfield. Why does LAAoA have a mountain in center field? Always wondered that. The Colorado Rockies can have mountains, shouldn't LAAoA have some semblance of their own culture in the OF? Maybe a faux-Hollywood sign out there. Sorry for the rambling.
Texas will wrap up the spring with a couple of games against Doug Melvin's Brewers with the game in Frisco tonight and the final game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night. It sounds good to say that. I can't wait for Baseball Time in Arlington.