Texas Rangers

Not Sure I Get the Texas Rangers' Latest Trade ... For Another Catcher

A week after Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan said he's happy with the team and that his roster is set for spring training, his franchise made a trade yesterday. One I don't quite grasp.

The Rangers sent reliever Frankie Francisco to the Toronto Blue Jays for veteran catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli.

If you've listened long enough to general manager Jon Daniels you've heard him covet the 29-year-old Napoli, who has pop in his bat (26 homers in 140 games last year) and experience behind the plate (though he's not a great defensive catcher by any means). And I know that the Rangers have Alexi Ogando as a set-up guy and that Francisco was frustrating at times in Texas, including blowing a couple of saves early last year.

But the trade means more moves, some of which don't make a lot of sense.

*I know Napoli started more games at first base than catcher last year for the Angels. But does that make him a platoon first baseman with Mitch Moreland?

*If he's also a platoon catcher, what do we make of the Rangers' earlier off-season acquisition of Yorvit Torrealba? We thought he was brought here to be the starter, right? And what of Matt Treanor, C.J. Wilson's personal catcher? Don't tell me the Rangers can keep three catchers on their roster.

*The biggest question surrounds Michael Young, whose role seems to get diminished with each passing transaction. With Napoli and Moreland, no way Young gets any time at first base. And with Napoli's bat, any at-bats he gets at DH would seemingly take time away from Young.

*Last but not least, I guess the Neftali Feliz stretch-him-out-in-spring-training-to-see-if-he-can-be-a-starter experiment is over before it started. Without Frankie, who would close if Feliz moves out of the bullpen?

Napoli is a good baseball player and a good hitter against left-handed pitching. I'm just not sure where he fits in. And, come to think of it, isn't that the same thing I said last summer about Jorge Cantu?

Trading a proven set-up guy in the bullpen for a bench player with no defined role just doesn't quite feel right. Does it?

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt