Things to Worry About Other Than Pitching - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Red Fever
Complete coverage of the Texas Rangers

Things to Worry About Other Than Pitching



    We've spent a lot of time worrying about the pitching staff during spring training.

    We've lost hair over Neftali Feliz's role, Brandon Webb's health, underwhelming relief performances, Tommy Hunter's Tommy Hunter-ness and what feels like a dozen other things having to do with the guys on the mound. That's been hell on our hairline and it hasn't been much better for our ulcers.

    Worrying about the staff makes a lot of sense. It's awfully difficult to win big in baseball without getting a strong performance from your pitchers.

    If you want to be a real pessimist about the team, however, there's no reason to stop at the rubber. There are plenty of other places to look for dark clouds gathering over Arlington from the dugout to the trainers room and back again.

    Injuries - This one might be kind of a cop-out because it is something to worry about for every team in the league, but it feels like a bigger problem for the Rangers than most other teams. That's because three of their most important offensive players -- Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler -- have all missed significant time with injuries in their careers.

    The team could go without any one of them for a stretch and not miss a beat, but if two of them went down at the same time it would be awfully troublesome. The Rangers have nice depth, but once that depth is pressed into action it becomes a less potent lineup and the level of reserve ability drops considerably.

    Regression - Hamilton is a spectacular baseball player capable of performing great feats all over the diamond. That doesn't mean that his 2010 season wasn't above his true performance level, though. His batting average on balls in play was an unsustainably high .390 and as it returns to a more normal level there will be a downturn in his overall production. The same possibility exists for Cruz and Adrian Beltre. Too much of a drop and you're looking at a team squandering its great advantage over the opposition.

    Ron Washington - There were plenty of times in the playoffs last season when Washington made some head-scratching decisions about player usage. Many of those had to do with bullpen management, but he wasn't great when it came to selecting the best catcher or maximizing every player on the bench's usefulness either. If the A's or another AL West team is nipping at their heels, the Rangers could be hampered by a manager who doesn't always rise to the occasion.