My Top 5 Worries About the Texas Rangers at Spring Training
I know that stats are usually meaningless during baseball's spring training. But trends and feels aren't.
The San Francisco Giants won the Cactus League in 2010 with an 23-12 record, but their opponent in the World Series - your Texas Rangers - went a last-place 10-19. Pitchers are usually ahead of hitters, but in the thin air of Arizona, balls fly out of parks. It's all so confusing.
But in just watching games, scrimmages and practices like I did the last week, you can pick up some trends. And spot some potential problems.
5. Michael Young - He's hitting and playing first base and saying all the right things, but you just get the sense that the captain isn't happy and that his bags are packed and waiting to be traded. Not good mojo for a clubhouse leader.
4. Nolan Ryan - With Chuck Greenberg banished, he now answers to ... nobody. I know he's Big Tex and all that, but without checks and balances Ryan is suddenly running a dictatorship.
3. Darren O'Day - It's not just that the set-up reliever has allowed eight hits and five earned runs in seven innings, it's that his submarine fastball was staying up in the strike zone instead of dipping around batters' ankles. Seemed like every hitter had at least one good swing against O'Day.
2. Julio Borbon - It's not that he's hitting .380 with a team-leading five stolen bases, it's that he's looked lost at times in center field. I saw him twice lose balls in the sun, misjudge a catchable liner that sailed over his head and twice throw to the wrong base. Not good when your outfield anchor has five errors in only 35 spring chances.
1. Nelson Cruz - In 45 spring at-bats he has seven hits, 10 strikeouts and 0 homers. Looks to me like he's opened his stance even more from last year and is again having trouble with pitches on the outside third of the plate. Yesterday manager Ron Washington dropped him to sixth in the lineup behind Young.
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