The Texas Rangers have had one of their most exciting and tumultuous offseasons in a long time, maybe their craziest one yet. Here are some things to watch out for in Spring Training leading up to the season.
1. How will Jurickson Profar's shoulder tendinitis affect him in preparing for his first season in a solidified position? I think Ron and JD will be conservative with this situation and let Profar slowly work it off and not rush him for Opening Day. I think the Rangers have a solid enough lineup to help pick up Profar's slack along in April if he needs it. Hopefully he'll heal faster than anticipated though.
2. Who will fill in for Holland's missing spot? ESPN currently has the Rangers' anticipated rotation as Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Nick Tepesch. Personally, I like all of those except Ogando, he's just an injury breakdown waiting to happen in the starting rotation, and with Nathan gone, we could use another valuable setup guy to replace whoever takes Nathan's closing role. I think we could try Tommy Hanson at that spot, he was wonderful for the Braves. I think a change of scenery after his bad season in Los Angeles will help. Putting Ogando in the rotation might work for a month, but he'll be gone the next month as always and it just isn't worth the missing bullpen role he could be filling much more efficiently. Hanson could end up being a steal of a sign when we look back in hindsight.
3. How will Ron Washington work with the Moreland/Fielder 1B/DH dynamic? I am in the camp that wishes Moreland could remain fielding first while Fielder focuses on dropping bombs for the Rangers. I just don't think Fielder will be happy only hitting and not fielding like he always has his whole career. Will Ron force him to adjust and see if he pouts or will he just not risk it and hope the Fielder at 1B and Moreland at DH combo works good enough to get a division title? We will have to wait and see.
4. Will JP Arencibia emerge as a legit option to start at catcher? The Rangers signed the swing-for-the-fences catcher in the offseason hoping to replace some of AJ's pop from last year at the position. JP finished with 4 more HR's than AJ did last year in only 4 more games. He could fill AJ's hit or miss for 134+ games role from last year. Soto also had some clutch moments in his few opportunities as well though last year. One will have to emerge in spring training if the Rangers are going to have the complete lineup they envisioned with this past offseason.
5. Who will solidify the closing job left by Joe Nathan's departure to Detroit? As of right now Neftali Feliz is who they are hoping can retake his old job from the glory days when he struck out A-Rod to take the Rangers to their first franchise World Series. If he can show the velocity he has shown all winter then he should run away with it. If control issues or some injury arises though, Soria or Scheppers are the other main candidates to snag it from him. The Rangers would be happy to keep Scheppers in his comfortable 8th inning role from last year where he was lockdown for the majority of the time. As of right now the bullpen I want for the Rangers is this; 6th: Soria 7th: Ogando 8th: Scheppers 9th: Feliz