Written By, Clifford, Santa Monica
I would bet against it based on their depleted pitching staff and the fact that Michael Young , Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli in particular just aren’t producing the way they have in bygone years. But in the long run Ron Washington and the brain trust simply have to make up their minds whether they’re going to give a couple of their younger players an extended chance to prove themselves into (or out of) their future plans—THAT, and arrive at a consensus about players like Josh Hamilton, the afore-mentioned Nellie Cruz and aging Mike Young. Some of the youngsters they have to decide on next year are Mitch Moreland, Mike Olt and, I’d say, Ian Kinsler although, at age 31 next season, Ian isn’t that young anymore…
Power hitters like Mike Olt need regular playing time in order to keep their mechanics straight. I guess that’s true for any hitter but even more so for those players who hit the ball over the fence. In order for Mike to play all of the time, though, Ron Washington would have to do something that he’s never been inclined to do previously–namely make a bold move that involves trading or benching one of his favorites and allowing a young player enough extended playing time to develop FULLY. Case in point is Mitch Moreland. Ron won’t start him against left handed pitchers–even though he’s hit home runs against some tough port-siders this season (his game winning 7th inning homerun against the Royals Jose Mijares earlier this month comes to mind–and then he hit another one a few starts later against a different lefty). What I’m getting at is, MOST left handed hitters have trouble hitting left handed pitchers. The question a coach has to ask is, does his player give the team enough in other areas from game to game in the way of power and defense and overall batting average to justify having him in the lineup on a regular basis. If RW really doesn’t think Moreland is an everyday player they should have kept Chris Davis–and then traded Mitch earlier this year for a good starting pitcher which they sorely need.
I have similar thoughts about Nelson Cruz. His aggregate production is pretty good–just north of 80 RBI, but he tends to get his RBI’s in bunches–14 of them in just 2 games this season, for instance, and 19 of them in just 3. Washington will say that he keeps Cruz in the lineup because he can carry the Rangers for a week at a time. But while that’s true, Nelson also disappears in clutch situations for WEEKS at a time, and to me he’s innately talented enough to do so much more. But all of a sudden Cruz is no longer that young either. And I’d say many of the same things about Ian Kinsler–who gets picked off more than anyone in baseball and makes more careless errors than any second baseman in the league. He also has a bad habit of upper-cutting pitches up around his neck which has earned him the nick name Peter Popup in my book. But it doesn’t seem to matter because Ron Washington is in love with him. Consequently Jurickson Profar– (who’s more talented than Ian) will continue to sit on the bench. And that’s fine if Ron doesn’t think he’s ready. But if that’s the case the Rangers, in my opinion, should have kept Profar at Round Rock so he could continue to improve by getting consistent reps.
Next year should be interesting, but an early exit from post season play this year will likely trigger some uncomfortable decisions on Nolan Ryan’s part about the composition of next year’s roster…
Filed under: MLB