In the fourth installment of this series, I’m going to take a look at the projected starters, back ups, and likely substitutes for late in the games for the 2009 Texas Rangers outfield.
Opening Day 2009 will likely see the same Rangers’ outfielder starters as most of 2008, Josh Hamilton (pictured above - left), David Murphy (pictured above - right), and Nelson Cruz.
Marlon Byrd will also probably be the fourth outfielder for the team, but after those four players the list of names became a little less familiar.
Josh Hamilton - 27 - L/L
1999 Number 1 overall draft pick, his comeback from an addiction to drugs, return from three years away from professional baseball, or 2008 Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium.
With this young man, you can take your pick of what you want to talk about in his career and his life.
Coming into this season, the Rangers are looking for him to once again be the Opening Day starting centerfielder, but look for him to see significant time in right field and at DH. This will happen to keep him both rested and healthier.
Also just for the fun of it, here is Josh Hamilton’s numbers from last year, keep in mind that he said he believes that he has a lot of room for improvements. Just keep that in mind:
.304 Batting AVG., .530 Slugging PCT., 190 Hits, 35 Doubles, 5 Triples, 32 Home Runs, 331 Total Bases, 130 RBI, and 9 Stolen Bases…and remember, he said he can improve.
Nelson Cruz - 28 - R/R
'With the starting job in right field guaranteed Cruz is spending the bulk of Spring Training representing his home country Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Acquired in a trade involving Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix in July of 2006, Cruz has slowly but surely progressed through the Rangers system.
In his three years with the Rangers organization, he has yet to play more that 96 games in a season, and only 31 last year due to lack of production and injuries.
However, when healthy, Cruz has shown that he both possesses the fielding and hitting powers to be an everyday starter in the Majors.
David Murphy - 27 - L/L
Along with LHP Kason Gabbard, he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox for then closer Eric Gagne.
In 108 games, Murphy batted .275, slugging .465, 28 doubles, 15 home runs, and 74 RBI in his first full season in the Majors.
A sports hernia injury late last season ended Murphy’s year too soon, but coming back strong he has earned the starting job in left field.
Murphy proved last season to be an extremely reliable bat for the team and did so while hitting in the bottom part of the lineup in most games.
Look for more of the same from Murphy again this season.
Marlon Byrd - 31 - R/R
Aside from Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, Marlon might be the most beloved, fan favorite player on the team.
Always showing 100 percent, never complaining about his play time, doing what it takes to benefit the team, making the most of his opportunities, and having your own “Angels in the Outfield” type angel wings wave all make him a vital part of this team.
Again this season, Byrd will more than likely be the team's No. 4 outfielder, playing almost everyday and starting when any of the three names mentioned above need a day off.
In his two seasons with Texas, Marlon is batting .302, has 45 doubles, 12 triples, 20 home runs, 123 RBI, and scored 130 runs.
Brandon Boggs - 25 - S/R
Brought up last season when the Ranger outfielders were experiencing multiple injuries. Showed plenty of promise in the field and at the plate, but still needs to work on hitting adjustments and consistency.
Boggs is competing for a probable fifth outfielding position. With his versatility of being able to play all three outfield positions and if he has a solid Spring Training he could make the Major League roster.
More likely Boggs will start the 2009 season in Triple-A Oklahoma City to play everyday and continue to work on his hitting and fielding. But if he does, it should be a short stay before being promoted to the Majors.
Andruw Jones - 31 - R/R
After being cut by the Dodgers earlier this year, Jones signed a minor league contract with Texas.
He is attempting to make the Major League roster as the team' No. 4 or 5 outfielder, but can be released in May if he does not make the roster by then.
Andruw’s injury and hitting issues the last two seasons are the reason why he could only garner a minor league contract, but his track record could prove this move to be smarter for the Rangers than a similar deal given to Sammy Sosa two years ago.
Jones has been batting a mere .205 over the last two seasons with a combined 29 home runs and 108 RBI. But the two seasons prior to that with the Atlanta Braves he was hitting .263 with 92 home runs and 257 RBI.
Which Jones will the Rangers see is yet to be seen in Spring Training?
Frank Catalanotto - 34 - L/R
As I stated when I talked about Cat, if he can make the Major League roster than he will likely see more time as a late-inning pinch-hitter who can then play either first base or left field.
It is likely that Cat will get some starts as a back up at both first base and left field.
Look for Cat to make the Major League roster as a back up and pinch-hitter and it is possible that he will be traded to another team looking for another left-handed bat in attempts to make a playoff run.
Greg Golson - 23 - R/R
Acquired via trade from the Philadelphia Phillies in the off-season has seen only a total of six Major League at-bats.
Golson comes to Texas in a trade that sent former first round draft pick John Mayberry Jr. to the Phillies, both players were in need of a change of uniforms.
He will likely be starting the season off in the Minors, but look for him to make his Major League appearance either if they are any injuries or in the second half of the season.
Julio Borbon - 22 - L/L
Drafted by the Rangers a couple of years ago, this young man has quickly risen through the ranks of the Minors and is competing to be the centerfielder of the future.
It has been quite some time since the Rangers had a typical, young centerfielder, the development of Borbon could be the answer.
Same as Golson he will start the season off in the Minors, but look for him to make his Major League debut likely when the rosters expand in September.
Both Borbon and Golson are likely to compete for the starting centerfield role for the 2010 season, as the club is hoping to move Josh Hamilton over to right field in the future for health reasons.