Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Spring training preview: Bench
By Richard Durrett
Note: Spring training will arrive before you know it. To get you ready, we'll take a look at every position between now and February, when pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz.
Backup catcher J.P. Arencibia could provide some pop off the bench for the Rangers.
Today's position: Bench
Perhaps Rangers fans understand more than most just how important a bench is to a contending team. It's easy for some to dismiss the bench as an afterthought. But the Rangers saw firsthand in 2010 and 2011 that a bench can make the difference in winning a championship.
SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW
Richard Durrett looks at how the Rangers stack up, position by position, going into spring training.
Obviously, manager Ron Washington's bench includes a backup catcher. That's J.P. Arencibia, who gives Washington someone with power that he can use in the right situation. Arencibia is working on getting his average up, but if there's a time late in a game where Washington needs some punch, Arencibia could be an option.
Adam Rosales is the club's current utility man and somebody who can play a bunch of different positions. Last year with Oakland and Texas, Rosales played first base, second base, third base, shortstop and left field. He gives Washington the ability to make a late move and know that he's got somebody who can play a variety of different spots. That's extremely valuable.
Mitch Moreland also deserves a mention in this category. He could end up being the primary DH, but he's also the backup first baseman. It will be interesting to see how Washington handles Moreland, especially in games where he doesn't DH. He's such a good defender who could come in late to help the Rangers protect leads. He also has power, and that could come in handy if he's not in the lineup as a starter.
The final few outfield spots will be something to keep an eye on this spring. Michael Choice comes in as a highly-touted prospect, but he could benefit more from playing every day in the minors. Engel Beltre is an odds-on favorite to claim one of the outfield spots because the organization believes he has a bright future and he's out of options. Don't count out Jim Adduci, either. And we'll see some other candidates attempt to crack the bench as well.
OUTLOOK: Washington has some flexibility on the bench and some power. Beltre gives the skipper some speed, too. If it lacks anything, it's someone who is a known and confident pinch-hitter with a track record. But perhaps that person is still out there and someone the club looks to acquire before Opening Day. Or maybe some of the internal candidates really show that they're made of in spring and make the decision for the coaching staff.