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Monday, September 13, 2010
Who's on your postseason roster?

By Richard Durrett

It's Sept. 13 and there are 19 regular season games left in 2010. That means there's a little more than 3 weeks before the playoffs begin. So assuming Texas takes care of business, who do you want to see on the postseason roster? Let's take a look at the options:

* The Rangers have to figure out which 25 players make the postseason roster for the best-of-5 series in the ALDS. How many pitchers do they take and how many position players? That's tough to say. If Frank Francisco is not healthy, they may opt to get an extra arm in the bullpen. If he's not, maybe they use that spot for the bench.

* The series projects to be one that doesn't include an off day between Games 1 and 2, meaning it would likely go at NYY or Tampa Bay on Wednesday and Thursday, in Arlington Saturday and Sunday and then back on the road for a possible Game 5 on Tuesday. That means you need four starters for the series (I can't see going on three days' rest). So that puts Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter in those spots.

* That means the club could go with seven or eight relievers. Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver are locks. If Frank Francisco isn't ready, I'd be tempted to go with eight in the bullpen. That could include some from this group: Alexi Ogando, Michael Kirkman, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Clay Rapada and Dustin Nippert. At this point, I'm assuming that Rich Harden, Scott Feldman and Pedro Strop will not make the roster.

* Of that group above, I'd take Ogando, Harrison (so there's some length) and Kirkman (situational lefty and a guy that can get multiple hitters). And I would also put Rapada on my postseason roster if it started today. That delivery is not fun for left-handed hitters and he would be a nice option to have against tough lefties late in games. So in an eight-man pen, that leaves one spot to decide. It's one that would probably have some length, so do you go with Holland (and put five lefties in the pen) or Nippert? How they do in the next few weeks could decide that.

* What about the bench? The Rangers will go with a backup catcher, an additional outfielder (David Murphy or Julio Borbon, whichever you slot as the fourth OF) and Andres Blanco. Manager Ron Washington has basically already said Blanco makes postseason roster and why wouldn't he? He can play a variety of infield positions and is really swinging the bat well.

* So if you go with eight relievers and four starters, that leaves one more spot to decide between Esteban German, Jorge Cantu, Chris Davis and Jeff Francoeur. If you go seven relievers, you can take two of those guys. Let's go through each player:

German: He gives you speed on the bases and can impact a game late with the ability to steal a base and pinch run late and help produce a run.

Cantu: The right-hander hitter hasn't done much with the bat since he's been here, but he can play first base. It's tough to go into a postseason with only the rookie Mitch Moreland at first base with no backup for him, isn't it?

Francoeur: He gives you playoff experience and a right-handed bat off the bench. He's also a solid defender. If you play the Yankees with those two left-handed starters, it would be nice to have that bat.

Davis: We saw on Saturday how Ron Washington intends to use Davis, putting him in for Mitch Moreland in the eighth inning for defensive purposes. That glove and power bat potential off the bench might be useful.

Which one of those two would you take? It would be nice to have German's speed late in games because of what it can do for you. But German can't play first. He started one game at first base in Kansas City in 2006 and played two innings at first in one game with the Rangers last season. That doesn't seem like a long enough resume to feel comfortable with him stepping in if needed there.

So that leaves Cantu or Davis. If the Rangers face the Yankees and left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, they'd like to have that right-handed bat of Cantu's as an option. But so far, Cantu isn't hitting the ball well enough to justify the selection. If his hitting doesn't improve, I think the Rangers would be better off taking Davis and using that glove late in games.

The key probably comes in the bullpen. If the Rangers take seven relievers, they have more options off the bench than they would if they go with eight. Would you leave German off the roster. Is that worth it for one more pitcher? These are the kinds of tough calls that face the Rangers in these last few weeks of the season.

Who would you put on your postseason roster and why?