SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 08: Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning of an interleague game at AT&T Park on June 8, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Since the Rangers failed to land really any of their off-season targets, there are several questions facing the team heading into spring training and the 2013 season.
Today's Question: What will the Rangers' center fielders give them in production?
With Michael Bourn now officially off the market after signing with Cleveland on Monday, the writing is officially on the wall: the center field duty for the Texas Rangers will fall to two men as Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin are set to platoon in center, replacing Josh Hamilton, who played both in center and left field last year before inking with the rival Los Angeles Angels.
Bourn would have offered more stolen bases than Gentry or Martin, but his lack of pop and rather average batting average and on-base percentage didn't seem to make it worth going after the former Astro and Brave.
Gentry saw the most playing time of his career last season, racking up 240 at-bats and finishing with a career-high .304 batting average and 26 RBIs. He stole 13 bases, but was thrown out seven times after going a perfect 18-for-18 in 2011.
For stretches last season, Gentry looked like an all-star before eventually getting pushed out of playing time by an even hotter David Murphy, who became a full-time left fielder allowing the Rangers to put Hamilton in center. In June, for instance, while the rest of the lineup was ice cold, Gentry hit .455 in 12 starts and 51 plate appearances with a .520 on-base percentage.
So yeah, Gentry has proven he can play when given the opportunity. Martin, on the other hand, hasn't done that yet, but the promise is most definitely there.
Martin hit just .174 in limited time in 2012, managing just eight hits in 52 plate appearances with 12 strikeouts. In 13 starts (12 in center, one in left), Martin didn't commit a single error but there has been talk that he needs more work on his defense and his offensive game is further along than his defensive game.
We'll know soon when he and Gentry are both getting semi-regular playing time — Martin playing with a right-handed pitcher on the mound, and Gentry seeing time against lefties.