Thursday, February 13, 2014
Spring question: How to handle DH?
By Richard Durrett
Note: This is part of a series analyzing the questions facing the Texas Rangers as spring training gets set to begin.
Mitch Moreland could bat DH and Ron Washington could also use the spot to get others a half-day off.
Today's question: How does manager Ron Washington handle the DH?
Most of the answer to this question is fairly obvious: Mitch Moreland was the team's first baseman last year, is still on the roster and is no longer the primary first baseman. He needs a place to play and designated hitter makes the most sense.
Moreland did provide some power in 2013, banging out a career-high 23 home runs and 60 RBIs. Having some of that power in the lineup could help. But Moreland hit just .232 last year, dropping off after starting the year strongly in April and May. Hamstring issues didn't help. Moreland himself wondered earlier this offseason if he'd still be a Ranger when spring training began.
But unless the club signs someone off the free-agent market, and that doesn't appear likely (though Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are still out there), it could be a rotating spot.
Moreland could bat there against right-handed pitchers and some select lefties and then manager Ron Washington could utilize the spot to get some of his regulars a half-day off.
The bigger question is how many games the Rangers want Prince Fielder starting at first base. Moreland is the better defensive first baseman, so in certain matchups and situations, they could keep Fielder's bat in the lineup and also get Moreland's defense. But one plus to having the ability to mix and match at DH is that Adrian Beltre could hit there and get off his feet a bit. So could Elvis Andrus, if needed. Should Washington want to get some action for his outfield bench, he could use that position to do it.
While on paper, this may not look like a strong option, it does give the manager some flexibility. That's not a bad thing.