With a few hours left to kill before we can actually watch the Rangers start the 2011 season, it feels like a good time to go over the lineup that Jon Lester and the Red Sox will face on Friday afternoon.
The big question marks were about who would be at first and in center field against a tough lefty. Mike Napoli will be the first baseman and Julio Borbon will get the first shot in center, although it will take some time before we know if this is the regular alignment.
The Napoli choice is a bit interesting. With Matt Treanor gone, he is the only other catcher on the roster and playing him and Yorvit Torrealba at the same time runs the risk of leaving your team without a catcher during a game. Ron Washington can't do much about that thanks to an eighth reliever in the bullpen and you'd hope the roster construction starts to make a little more sense soon.
The rest of the lineup looks pretty much like you probably imagined it would look. Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre are the top four. Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba and Borbon bring up the rear. The only really interesting thing is that Michael Young will hit in front of Nelson Cruz in the fifth spot.
That makes no sense. Cruz is a much better hitter than Young and, therefore, should be in a position that gives him more trips to the plate over the course of a season. What's more, Napoli is in the lineup solely to crush lefties and he's also behind Young.
There's no bulging vein in the forehead over this decision because, all things considered, the lineup of hitters is less important than their overall quality. That's why we're not screaming about Andrus batting second before he's proven he's a better hitter.
That said, it is still bothersome because it gets to the heart of something that seems to be a serious issue inside the Rangers braintrust. Their valuation of Young, all the way back to the contract extension, has been seriously out of whack to the actual player that goes on the field with the number 10 on his back. They ask for too much for him in trades, are unwilling to admit that no one else would ever pay him $16 million to play for them and, now, put him in a higher value spot than the second best hitter on the entire team.
There will be bigger things to worry about this season, but it's a little something to tide you over until the first pitch.