We are now eighteen games into the 2012 season and the Texas Rangers stand atop the AL West standings with a 14-4 record. Texas has it all. They have a strong starting pitching, a formidable bullpen and the best offense in the game. Still, though, they are lacking in a couple of spots such as outfield bench help and first base.
Now I will admit that I became a fan of Mitch Moreland after his play in the 2010 World Series and I had high hopes for him last season. He had a good start in 2011 but was hampered the rest of the way but what was described as being a persistent wrist injury. So in the past offseason he had surgery and I thought that he would recover and give fans the consistency at first base that Chris Davis (now with the Baltimore Orioles) was unable to provide. Eighteen games into the 2012 season and it's evident that Moreland has yet to find the timing in his swing.
The recent offseason found many fans clamoring for Texas to sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder but the money that it would take made those options pipe dreams as the Rangers were clearly intent on signing Yu Darvish. Even I was against signing either of the two high profile first basemen as I knew that the contracts they demanded would involve more years than what they were worth. And looking at the performance of Pujols thus far I love the fact that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels didn't even make any sort of an offer.
Now most of the biased media will try to make excuses for Pujols and say that he's having trouble adjusting to American League pitchers but it obviously runs deeper than that. How else can you explain the numbers that Fielder has put up at this point? Pujols joined a team with high expectations and were deemed to be the World Series champions this season while Fielder simply joined an already great team in Detroit that won the AL Central division title last season. The Tigers (10-7) are currently in a three-way tie for first place while the Angels (6-11) sit in the basement of the AL West.
But enough about them.
Texas has problems at first which need to be addressed. I still have faith in Moreland though it is fading fast. If he hasn't figured it out by mid-May then Texas should be forced to make a decision. They do have several options which I will discuss.
Napoli is better suited as the team's catcher. He calls better games and can frame pitches better than Yorvit Torrealba. While Nap is good for occasional starts at first he is and should be the everyday catcher with Torrealba simply as a backup.
His defense is not what it used to be and he is best served as the team's designated hitter and giving guys in the infield time off as needed. He is not the answer.
Snyder currently has a higher batting average (.333) and on-base percentage (.385) than Moreland (.139/.225) but he also has just plate appearances over the past three seasons. He's still "green" when it comes to facing pitching in the major leagues.
Nelson currently plays for the Rangers triple-a affiliate in Round Rock. He is a career minor leaguer (twelve seasons) who has just seen 28 at-bats in the majors between 2008-09. He's currently hitting .254 with a .316 OBP in the minors this year. If anything I see him as an emergency option in case of injury.
Olt is currently hitting .266 with five home runs and a .919 OPS for double-a Frisco. Olt is actually a third baseman but the Rangers have had him play some games at first. Olt may be hitting the ball well but he is not major-league ready just yet though he may provide Texas some help at first via a trade.
So unless Moreland straightens out then I see two viable options: Either make a trade or give Snyder more playing time. And when you think about it, Snyder can't do any worse.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a contributing writer for shutdowninning.com and the founding writer at clawandantlernation.com as well as a member of SABR. You can follow him on Twitter where he waxes poetic about all things baseball @SDIJamesHolland.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mitch Moreland
- Texas Rangers
- Albert Pujols
- Prince Fielder