By Joey McGraw
The Texas Rangers sounds a little like “Who’s On First?” by Abbott and Costello
Costello: The guy on first.
Costello: The first baseman.
Costello: The guy playing…
Abbott: Who is on first!
Costello: I’m asking YOU who’s on first.
Abbott: That’s the man’s name.
Costello: That’s who’s name?
Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.
Abbott: That’s it.
Costello: That’s who?
The Rangers couldn’t get out of spring training fast enough. The injury bug was in full force causing some key players to go down as well as other key players getting injured right out of the gate. Let’s look at some of the players that have to fill some of those big shoes.
The first Ranger I have to start off with is 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, your American League Player of the Week. Raise your hand if you thought Adrian Beltre was going to play all 162 games, ok now put your hand down because lightning is about to strike you. I want to see Beltre back in the lineup just like everyone else but its early and the team does not want to force the issue to have him come back prematurely and risk further injury. Kouzmanoff is your typical journeyman’s journeyman who has had many stops in Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland, back to the minors, and now fell into the Ranger’s lap. Over the last seven games Kouzmanoff has led the AL with eight RBIs and 20 total bases and tying for the league lead in runs scored and doubles while batting a .345. He also has hit safely in his first ten games before going hitless on Sunday. Not bad for a guy who has been in the minors since 2011. Right now if he can stay on “Kouz-control” until Beltre gets back the team should feel pretty good.
Josh Wilson is the current second baseman. I recently read an article about manager Ron Washington’s thoughts about Wilson getting the starting nod over Donnie Murphy. “They are going to both get playing time, but he has been with me since February. He can catch the ball and he knows how to play.” This was not the most glaring endorsement that sells tickets. That being said he does play solid defense and offensively is a scratchy player. It appears this is like a typical player the Oakland A’s get every year who just gets the job done. Ron Washington is pulling out some of his old tricks with this move. Money Ball 2.0
Donnie Murphy was called up from Triple-A Iowa by the Chicago Cubs last August when the teams could expand their roster. In his first 121 at bats he hit 10 home runs and 20 RBI’s. To put that in perspective 121 at bats equals roughly 30 games, the Rangers have currently played just above 20 games. The team high in home runs currently sits at two, that’s right two. Projecting that number out to the 30th game and the team leader might be at 5, which is half of what Murphy did at the end of last year. I know this is a stretch but the Rangers are not exactly the Rangers of old . I say give Murphy a shot at second base for a week and see if they can’t catch lightning in a bottle.
If the replacements can help the team tread water until original starters come back then the second half looks very promising. As we have seen in the past Washington likes to play small ball and manufacture runs and these players are perfect for that.