25th Man? Texas Rangers Final Roster Spot Up For Grabs

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IMarch 18, 2009

Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Frank Francisco, Kevin Millwood, and Vicente Padilla are just a few of the players that have spots on the 25-man roster already locked up.

Other names like Josh Rupe, Joaquin Arias, German Duran, Brandon Boggs, Brendan Donnelly, and Andruw Jones are players that are still competing for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Most experts will say that because of the closeness of Triple-A teams and the numerous player options, that it doesn’t matter if a player doesn’t start in the majors because they can be promoted within a week. 

However, I wouldn’t say that to the player making the opening day 25-man roster in the majors, it's still a pretty big deal to them.

Just like any other team, the Rangers are in a predicament where they seem to have around 23-24 of the positions locked up for Opening Day 2009. However the 25th and final spot is becoming somewhat of a debate on what the Rangers front office and coaching staff are going to do.

Option 1: Fifth outfielder

The team has already announced that Murphy will be starting in left, Hamilton will play in center, and Nelson Cruz will hold down right field.  Marlon Byrd, a huge Texas Rangers fan-favorite, is having another big spring, and has all but nailed down the fourth outfield position.

So the question is, does the organization use a fifth outfielder for the 25th man?  Brandon Boggs, Andruw Jones, and Frank Catalanotto are not only competing for the fifth outfielder spot, but for at-bats for the rest of spring training.

Option 2: Utility infielder

Going into the start of the 2009 season, the Rangers starting infield will consist of Chris Davis (1B,)  Ian Kinsler (2B,) Michael Young (3B,) and Elvis Andrus (SS.) Hank Blalock will be starting the season as the DH, but is taking part in some infield drills at third base this week. 

If Blalock can play 10-15 games this season at third, then the Rangers decision on which player to use as a utility infielder simplifies.

The players competing for the utility position and the positions they can play include Omar Vizquel (SS, 2B,) Joaquin Arias (2B, SS,) and German Duran (2B, SS, 3B.) 

The Rangers organization would like to use Vizquel as their utility infielder and have him continue to serve as a mentor for the 20-year-old phenom Andrus. 

But if Blalock is unable to play the field at all this season, then it is more likely that Duran would be the 25th man on the roster.

Option 3: Extra relief pitcher

For the first two weeks of the season, the Rangers will only need four starting pitchers, due to the days off that the team will have. Therefore it is possible that the team will carry an eight relief pitcher instead of an extra starting pitcher or hitter.

It is possible that the Rangers will use Scott Feldman out of the bullpen for the first two weeks of the season and then move him as the No. 5 starting pitching. If the team does this, than they will not use the extra relief pitcher.

If I’m in the front office, I hesitate to use Blalock as a back-up third baseman because of the numerous injury issues that have plagued him over the past couple of seasons. 

However, the good news about that is that if Blalock proves he can play at the most 10 games in the field, then having Vizquel as the utility infielder will help not only the fielding development of Andrus, but Kinsler as well. 

Also, I like this idea because I’m not worried about Young playing at least 152 games in the field. Last year he played in 155 games, his fewest ever in his career.