A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE RANGERS
It was such a tragedy for Yu Darvish to go down.... Yovani Gallardo is not the No. 1--type starter he was in Milwaukee. He's lost a little velocity, but he's going to be more than serviceable.... I don't think this staff is set right now. You're looking at a bunch of no-name guys possibly getting opportunities. They signed Joe Beimel—what does that tell you? ... Neftali Feliz is still not free and easy like he was. He had 40 saves, they tried to make him a starter, and he hasn't been the same since. It appears he's somewhat slinging the ball and not finishing out front, like he's still a little apprehensive.... They have the chance to have the most productive infield in baseball. There's nothing Adrian Beltre can't do, nothing that he hasn't done as a third baseman.... Rougned Odor is legit. A little big man. It wouldn't surprise me if he hit 25 home runs this year.... Prince Fielder is in tremendous shape. I saw him beat out a ball against the shift for an infield hit. Timing is not there yet—fastballs I've seen him punish in the past, he's just a little off now. But he's healthy.... I wouldn't write in stone that it's going to be either Ryan Rua or Jake Smolinski in leftfield all season because Michael Choice could have something to say about it. He's always been a big, strong lower-body kid. They squared him up. He's got tremendous bat speed and power.... For them to even be considered contenders, everything's basically going to have to go perfect—and it's already started out bad.
The expansion of bullpens to include seven and sometimes eight men is one of the most odious trends in 21st-century baseball, necessitated by the decline of first the long reliever and later the high-leverage two-inning reliever. The Rangers, however, may have no choice but to start the year with eight men in the bullpen. With Yu Darvish out for the year and Derek Holland working through shoulder soreness, the team's Opening Day rotation is composed of mid-rotation, six-inning starters. To fit eight men into the bullpen, the Rangers should eschew a traditional backup infielder. Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are all everyday players, and outfielder Ryan Rua has extensive minor league experience at second and third base, some at first and a little at shortstop. It's a suboptimal solution, but it may be the best way for new manager Jeff Banister to ensure that he has the arms to cover nine innings, or more, a day until Holland returns.
LEAGUE RANK 13
MANAGER JEFF BANISTER 1ST SEASON WITH RANGERS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
ALEX GALLARDO/AP (FIELDER)