Rangers manager Ron Washington already has a lineup and batting order in mind for the regular season and he shared it with reporters today:
LF Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus
1B Prince Fielder
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Alex Rios
DH Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
2B Jurickson Profar
CF Leonys Martin
No big surprises, although Washington continuing to prefer the relatively weak-hitting Andrus in the No. 2 spot remains a questionable choice. Andrus has good speed and decent on-base skills, but he’s definitely not one of the Rangers’ best hitters. Depending on how Profar fares in his first full season it wouldn’t be surprising to see him supplant Andrus near the top of the lineup at some point.
In anticipation of sweating much less in Detroit than he did in Arlington, Texas, new Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler showed up to camp this week with an already-trim physique …
Kinsler was traded to the Tigers in late November for first baseman Prince Fielder and cash.
The 31-year-old second baseman hit .277/.344/.413 last season with 13 homers and 15 steals.
The Rangers and DH Mitch Moreland have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.65 million deal for the 2014 season, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds that Moreland can get an additional $25,000 each for reaching 470 and 525 plate appearances. Moreland was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career. He is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.
With the acquisition of Prince Fielder in a trade with the Tigers back in November, Moreland has been pushed from first base into the DH role. He finished the 2013 season with 23 home runs and a .736 OPS in 518 trips to the plate.
ESPN’s Richard Durrett suggests manager Ron Washington could use the DH spot to get Fielder or third baseman Adrian Beltre off their feet from time to time, so Moreland may get the odd start at first base during the season.
As with Prince Fielder, I’m inclined to wait for something more than mere weight loss to declare a Best Shape of His Life. It requires the weight loss along with some declaration — implied or explicit — that superior performance is soon to follow. Or a suggestion that the shape is unprecedented or something. Sure, if it’s dramatic weight loss — as we’re seeing with Pablo Sandoval — I’m inclined to slap a BSOHL on him. But otherwise a fat guy losing a little weight is not, in and of itself, BSOHL material.
But we should at least pay attention. As we are with Joba Chamberlain. Who, in addition to now being able to sport a beard, has lost some poundage. From the Detroit News:
Joba Chamberlain has lost weight (15 pounds) to get in better shape, and seems to have kind of personality fans are going to like.
By the way, to lose the weight, the right-handed reliever become a fish eater after having fish “maybe three times in my life” before his new nutrition program began.
“I’m from Nebraska,” he said. “We don’t have fish in Nebraska.”
Or maybe he just hasn’t looked very hard. And how he avoided good seafood while living in New York and taking multiple road trips to Boston, Baltimore and Tampa each year is beyond me. But let’s not scrutinize this any more than we need to.
It’s premature to call this a Best Shape of His Life report — we need a bit more — but be it known that Prince Fielder is officially on BSOHL watch:
He has dropped weight. He has dumped the dreadlocks in favor of a high-and-tight haircut. He will move into the featured No. 3 spot in the Rangers’ order.
“He’s going to get the MVP,” Adrian Beltre said Friday night during the club’s awards gathering at the Gaylord Texan. “It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there.”
That report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning news. A photo of his high-and-tight haircut is there too. It’s shorter than it was even for his introduction as a Ranger a couple of months ago. It’s hard to tell whether he’s really dropped a lot of weight given the angle of the shot and the fact that he’s wearing a suit. Everyone looks good in a well-made suit.
The more interesting thing about the article is that it spends most of its time talking about the concept of lineup protection. The protection he was said to give Ryan Braun and then Miguel Cabrera as he hit cleanup for most of his career. And how, now, he’s going to hit third and how that is going to do him wonders.
I find this all fairly questionable and, ultimately, unverifiable. Most studies of the concept either debunk or diminish the concept of lineup protection. Braun and Cabrera are great hitters so they’d hit anyway and the evidence that they hit better because of Fielder’s presence skews heavily anecdotal/assertive. People say he provided protection, ergo he does.
And, sure, maybe Fielder will have an MVP-season in Texas this year. If he does I’m sure a lot of people will attribute it to him moving up to the three-slot. I’m also sure those who do will diminish the impact of moving to a ballpark that is far better tailored to his swing than Comerica Park was.
Oh well. Offseason talk.