I was at Texas Rangers' spring training out in Surprise, Arizona the day they signed journeyman catcher Matt Treanor. Honestly, it registered a .5 on my 1-10 scale.
The Rangers had their catchers of the future in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Behind them, they had Max Ramirez. Surely Treanor was just a camp body, an afterthought veteran insurance policy just in case.
What do ya know, "just in case" happened. Salty got hurt, then forgot how to throw. Teagarden flamed out, harmless at the plate against Major League pitching. Ramirez proved he wasn't ready for the Bigs, either. A position not long ago considered an embarrassment of riches was suddenly a crippling hole in the lineup.
Tuesday night in Miami the catcher delivered his biggest hit of the season, a two-out, 9th-inning triple that scored two runs and propelled the Rangers to an unlikely 3-2 win over the Florida Marlins.
Treanor is hitting .224. But it's scary to think where Texas would be without him.
Considering that Chris Davis flunked out, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler have spent considerable time on the disabled list, Rich Harden's ERA is 5.68 and targeted leadoff man Julio Borbon was in such a bad funk that he was demoted to No. 9 and almost the minors, the Rangers are pulling off a minor miracle.
On a team that's 36-28, there have been plenty of positive surprises. My Top 5:
5. Ron Washington - Has he mismanaged some games, perhaps turned a win or two into loss? Yep. But I figured his pre-season cocaine admission would be a bigger distraction. Opposing stadiums/fans must have short memories, because it isn't an issue. Wash promised to put the mistake behind him, and I'll be damned if he hasn't done it.
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4. C.J. Wilson - The volatile reliever has channeled his energy and harnessed his stuff, making him one of the best starters in the American League. I had my doubts, you?
3. Vladimir Guerrero - I know he's a former MVP, but considering his wobbly knees and declining production even the Rangers didn't expect this kind of season. He leads the team in average and RBI and has injected the clubhouse with youthful enthusiasm.
2. Neftali Feliz - Remember, the Rangers tried him as a starter in spring training. Now he's headed toward the All-Star Game as an elite closer with 16 saves.
1. Colby Lewis - After a long vacation in Japan, he leads the team with six wins and is the first Rangers pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1991 to have four 10-strikeout games.