T.R. Sullivan has a story up this morning -- yesterday morning, actually, but who's counting -- with 10 questions facing the Rangers in 2013, including the standard-fare issues of the starting rotation and the Profar/Andrus/Kinsler conundrum, and this particularly interesting bit on the center field situation:
4. What stands between Leonys Martin and being the everyday center fielder?
Martin needs the confidence of his manager and the commitment of a front office that's not going to be lured into a lucrative contract for free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn. Skipper Ron Washington likes Martin's talent, but also sees him as being raw and unpolished, especially on the defensive end. Outfield coach Gary Pettis has put in long hours working with Martin on his game. Now the Rangers have to decide if they are going to let Martin loose, platoon him with Craig Gentry or find an expensive "sure thing" on the free-agent market.
We've heard the reports of disagreement arising between the front office and the manager's office as the 2012 season went on, with Washington refusing to acquiesce to the front office's wishes on matters of lineup construction (specifically, Michael Young, whom some in the front office wanted on the bench by August), and that relates closely to the speculation this winter on the front office/manager dynamic, with some believing that last season's poor finish gives the front office good reason to pull in the reins on the coaching staff and take on a larger role in dictating how the players on the roster should be used.
I don't know the extent to which the front office and Washington see (or don't see) eye to eye on Martin, but the Rangers don't seem particularly hot on Michael Bourn and, per Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections, might very well have a 2.5-3 WAR platoon setup in Martin/Gentry, which certainly isn't lost on the decision-makers up top. If Washington views Martin as "raw and unpolished," though, and doesn't feel he can trust him, and, for those reasons, is reluctant to play him as often as the front office might prefer ... well, this is something I've been stuck on for several months now, and it will be interesting to see where it ends up going, as the handling of the center field situation could have significant ramifications for the 2013 season and beyond.