Diving into the depths: Texas Rangers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Texas Rangers
Rotation
1. Scott Feldman
2. Rich Harden
3. Colby Lewis
4. Tommy Hunter
5. Brandon McCarthy
6. Derek Holland
7. Matt Harrison
8. Neftali Feliz
9. Dustin Nippert
10. C.J. Wilson
11. Guillermo Moscoso
The additions of Harden and Lewis would seem to ensure that both Feliz and Wilson will remain in the bullpen for now. Holland might have a chance to crack the rotation, but McCarthy is the favorite and Harrison will be a factor if he shows up healthy after shoulder surgery.
Eric Hurley, another pitcher coming back from shoulder surgery, isn’t expected to be a factor during April or May.
Bullpen
1. Frank Francisco
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Neftali Feliz
4. Darren Oliver
5. Darren O’Day
6. Chris Ray
7. Dustin Nippert
8. Derek Holland
9. Doug Mathis
10. Warner Madrigal
11. Clay Rapada
12. Geoff Geary
13. Pedro Strop
14. Willie Eyre
15. Ben Snyder
16. Luis Mendoza
17. Michael Kirkman
The bullpen looks pretty strong with Wilson and Feliz in setup roles. O’Day was stellar last year, so there should be five spots spoken for. Ray, who was picked up for Kevin Millwood, will get every opportunity to secure one of the openings, while the other could go to more of a long man, possibly Nippert or Holland.


Catcher
1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2. Taylor Teagarden
3. Toby Hall
4. Max Ramirez
5. Kevin Richardson
First base
1. Chris Davis
2. Matt Brown
3. Justin Smoak
Second base
1. Ian Kinsler
2. Khalil Greene
3. Esteban German
4. Joaquin Arias
5. Ray Olmedo
Third base
1. Michael Young
2. Khalil Greene
3. Esteban German
4. Matt Brown
5. Chris Davis
Shortstop
1. Elvis Andrus
2. Khalil Greene
3. Joaquin Arias
4. Ray Olmedo
Given that they don’t seem to have a lot of faith in Teagarden, the Rangers might yet add a catcher to help protect them in case Salty’s shoulder problems limit him during the season. I can’t imagine that Hall will prove to be the answer.
Left field
1. Josh Hamilton
2. David Murphy
3. Craig Gentry
4. Brandon Boggs
Center field
1. Julio Borbon
2. David Murphy
3. Josh Hamilton
4. Craig Gentry
Right field
1. Nelson Cruz
2. David Murphy
3. Vladimir Guerrero
4. Brandon Boggs
Designated hitter
1. Vladimir Guerrero
2. Josh Hamilton
3. Max Ramirez
Borbon has already been penciled in as the leadoff man, and it appears that Kinsler will hit down in the lineup. I can see Borbon excelling as a fantasy outfielder, but I doubt he’ll have a great OBP in front of Young and Hamilton.
The Rangers could still add another bench bat to go along with Murphy, Greene and the backup catcher. As is, German could be considered the favorite for the last spot.

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.