Texas Ten: What about first base?
Today's question: What does the club do about first base?
Ever since Mark Teixeira's departure in the critical July 2007 trade deadline deal that brought back Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz (among others), the Rangers haven't had a consistent, power bat at first base. They've certainly tried. Chris Davis showed some potential but didn't stick (he had a great 2012 in Baltimore). Justin Smoak was shipped to Seattle as the centerpiece in the Cliff Lee deal. And others have tried to nail down the spot but haven't done so with much success.
Right now the position belongs to Mitch Moreland. Is he a long-term solution? Well, perhaps we still don't know. In many ways, Moreland took a step forward this season. He continued to improve defensively at first, a position that he gets more and more comfortable playing at this level. He has a solid glove and earned the trust of manager Ron Washington, who would insert him late in games that he wasn't starting for defensive purposes.
Jim Cowsert/US PresswireMitch Moreland made some strides in 2012, but is he the long-term answer for the Rangers at first base?
Moreland has shown flashes of potential but hasn't put together an entire season yet. It's worth noting that he's only had two full seasons. The left-handed hitter has not fared well against left-handed pitching, either. He hit .239 against southpaws in 2012 as opposed to .281 versus right-handers.
The club's lack of a true regular at first base has caused some platooning. Washington has used Michael Young and Mike Napoli at first base against certain lefties, putting Moreland on the bench. Mike Olt, one of the club's top prospects, is learning first base. With his natural position at third and Adrian Beltre firmly entrenched in that position as one of the best in the game, Olt's playing time needs to come elsewhere. He played some at first in 2012 but could certainly get some more time there in 2013.
Texas could try to split up time again, though the Rangers could also add some free agents into the mix. Nick Swisher's name was talked about at the trade deadline as someone who could take at-bats at that spot. He's a switch-hitter and could play first base against lefties and even get some time in the outfield. A few of you have tweeted me asking if Ian Kinsler could play first, meaning Jurickson Profar could play second. You never know. There are a few free agents out there, but some of the top ones are left-handed hitters. Lance Berkman is interesting, if he doesn't retire. But there just aren't the big names out there that we've seen in the past (like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols).
Perhaps this is another area where the club could look at trades. But they would only do it with the idea that they could significantly updgrade that spot. No matter what happens, this is a big year for Moreland. He didn't stay healthy all of 2012 or have any kind of breakout year, but he did show some progress. Can he take another step forward in 2013?
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss a hypothetical Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee trade, how he would handle Profar's playing time with the Rangers and more.
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
- There are no games scheduled for today.