ARRIVALS: RHP Yoshinori Tateyama (free agent from Japan), C Yorvit Torrealba (free agent from Padres), LHP Arthur Rhodes (free agent from Reds), RHP Brandon Webb (free agent from Diamondbacks), 3B Adrian Beltre (free agent from Red Sox), C/1B Mike Napoli (trade with Blue Jays), RHP Dave Bush (minor league free agent from Brewers).
DEPARTURES: LHP Cliff Lee (free agent, signed with Phillies), RF Jeff Francoeur (free agent, signed with Royals), RHP Rich Harden (free agent, signed with A's), C Max Ramirez (claimed off waivers by Red Sox), RHP Doug Mathis (free agent, signed minor league deal with Indians), RHP Guillermo Moscoso (traded to A's), INF Jorge Cantu (free agent, signed with Padres), RHP Frank Francisco (traded to Blue Jays), LHP Clay Rapada (free agent, signed minor league deal with Orioles), DH Vladimir Guerrero (free agent, signed with Orioles, pending physical).
1. LHP C.J. Wilson
2. RHP Colby Lewis
3. RHP Brandon Webb
4. RHP Tommy Hunter
5. LHP Michael Kirkman
Unable to hold on to Cliff Lee and unable to acquire Zack Greinke, the Rangers enter the season with no true No. 1 starter. Webb, if healthy after two years of arm problems, could eventually ascend to that role.
But this is a rotation built on depth, not necessarily on star power. If Webb is healthy, there should be hot competition for the final spot in the rotation among Kirkman, LHP Derek Holland, RHP Eric Hurley and RHP David Bush. RHPs Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando, important pieces in the bullpen, will also be given chances to extend their innings and could end up as contenders for the rotation. That's how Wilson worked his way into the rotation last year.
RHP Neftali Feliz (closer)
RHP Alexi Ogando
RHP Darren O'Day
RHP Mark Lowe
LHP Darren Oliver
LHP Arthur Rhodes
LHP Derek Holland
In all likelihood, Feliz ends up back at closer. He did set a rookie saves record with 40 in 2010, and his repertoire (overpowering fastball, inconsistent secondary stuff) seems much more suited for bullpen work than the rotation. If he moves to the rotation, though, Ogando could slide into the closer's role.
The bullpen figures to be balanced and with lots of different looks. Ogando and Lowe give the Rangers power arms in setup roles. Those power arms make O'Day and his sidearm delivery that much more deceptive.
The Rangers signed Rhodes not just to give the 40-year-old Oliver a contemporary in the bullpen, but to take some of the burden off him. The Rangers should also be able to turn to the loser of the Michael Kirkman-Derek Holland rotation battle for middle-inning work.
1. CF Julio Borbon
2. DH Michael Young
3. LF Josh Hamilton
4. 3B Adrian Beltre
5. RF Nelson Cruz
6. 2B Ian Kinsler
7. 1B Mitch Moreland
8. C Yorvit Torrealba
9. SS Elvis Andrus
The lineup and a bench that includes OF David Murphy and C-1B Mike Napoli gives the Rangers more versatility and flexibility than perhaps ever before -- that is, if the Michael Young situation can be resolved without a trade.
If Young stays, he gives the Rangers lots of options for rotating the DH position around the infield, perhaps allowing the injury-prone Kinsler to stay healthier, helping Andrus stay fresher and giving the rookie Moreland breaks against left-handed pitching. If he is traded, the Rangers will either have to scramble to find a DH or split it between Murphy (vs. right-handers) and Napoli (vs. lefties).
In some fashion, Borbon and Andrus will likely hit back to back, though it could be with Andrus first and Borbon ninth. The idea would be to give the Rangers lots of chances to use their speed on the bases. Borbon and Andrus, however, must be more judicious baserunners if their speed is to be a real weapon.
The middle of the lineup remains chock full of power. Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz and Kinsler each have had at least one 30-homer season. Cruz and Hamilton are capable of leading the AL in home runs.
TOP ROOKIES: RHP Tanner Scheppers impressed everybody in camp in 2010 and positioned himself for a midseason call-up before fatigue from his first real professional season caught up to him in the second half. He could loom large this spring as an option for a late inning power arm in the bullpen -- if either Neftali Feliz or Alexi Ogando proves he belongs in the rotation. OF Engel Beltre is only 21 but might have the most prodigious talent in the system. With a strong spring, he might be able to make himself an option in case Josh Hamilton or Nelson Cruz, both of whom have checkered injury histories, goes down during the regular season. He could also start to put pressure on Julio Borbon as the team's long-term answer in center field.
--3B Adrian Beltre (mild calf strain) was hurt just before spring training. He probably won't appear in a Cactus League game before mid-March, but he is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
--RHP Scott Feldman (microfracture knee surgery) underwent the procedure in November and is not expected to throw off a mound until the end of March.
--RHP Brandon Webb (right shoulder) is being brought along slowly this spring as he tries to return after missing virtually all of the last two seasons. He probably won't pitch in the majors before late April, if then.
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