Desert Not Burning Rangers This Spring

Nathan LawrenceContributor IMarch 11, 2009

Spring training is about halfway over, and the Rangers have had signs of glory. The Rangers spring has been very positive thus far. With just 25 days until opening day, the Rangers have some big decisions looming.

The rotation seemed set in stone; however, with the signing of Kris Benson, the Rangers now have six solid starters with just five spots available. Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla are locked into the one and two positions. Both have had signs of dominance this spring. Millwood started the spring not allowing a run in his first two spring starts. Padilla pitched a masterful one-hit performance over four innings.

The third spot in the rotation should go to left hander Matt Harrison. However, righty Scott Feldman has risen above him on the depth chart with solid performances in his last three appearences. Harrison is slotted in the fourth spot.

That leaves a show down between battered and often injured Brandon McCarthy and the crafty veteran Kris Benson. Both right-handed starters have a lot of promise. McCarthy could shut the door on this discussion, but his pitching hasn't been as dominant as the Rangers would like and Benson has been prying the door open and he has taken a couple steps toward Arlington.

McCarthy still has options left. He was acquired in the John Danks trade with the White Sox. Most Ranger fans will never forget that trade that general manager Jon Daniels made. McCarthy has done very little over the past two seasons and needs a strong and healthy 2009 to make amends for the trade.

Another problem the Rangers have is their surplus of outfielders. We know a couple of things about the outfield in 2009. We know Josh Hamlton will be there. He will be either in center or right depending on the progress of Nelson Cruz and Andruw Jones. We also know that David Murphy will be the starter in left.

Here's the problem. We have Jones, a former gold-glove-caliber outfielder, who struggled at first but has came around as of late. Cruz hasn't spent much time in Arizona because he was playing in the World Baseball Classic(Team Dominican Republic).

There is also Marlon Byrd. He had a strong 2007, but was injury plagued in 2008. He is trying to show Ron Washington that he should be on this 25 man roster come April 6.

Another player who barely doesn't have a spot on this team is Frank Catalanotto. He is the sixth outfielder on the depth chart and is owed too much money for a team to acquire him.

In the bullpen, the Rangers have Frank Francisco locked as the closer. Eddie Guardado is almost guaranteed to be the left handed setup reliever and Warner Madrigal has had a strong spring to be the right handed setup reliever. CJ Wilson will be in there as the other lefty reliever.

Derrick Turnbow and Brendon Donnelly are trying to crack the bullpen, as well as Josh Rupe, Willie Eyre, Guillermo Moscoso, Luis Mendoza, Dustin Nippert, and Thomas Diamond.

There is a lot of heat in the deserts of surprise, Arizona. Spring has sprung and the marathon we call the baseball season is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The Texas Rangers spring might just be half over, but the fun and the competition has just begun.