Today marks a somewhat special occasion -- at least in my mind -- as we're now exactly three weeks away from Opening Day and Yu Darvish vs. Cliff Lee.
While the rotation and bullpen are still very much in a state of flux, the projected lineup has been mostly set since before Spring Training. Most likely, we'll see some version of the following:
- LF Shin-Soo Choo
- SS Elvis Andrus
- 3B Adrian Beltre
- 1B Prince Fielder
- RF Alex Rios
- DH Mitch Moreland
- C Geovany Soto
- 2B Jurickson Profar
- CF Leonys Martin
While things are always subject to change, that's likely pretty close to what we'll see on March 31. If there is one spot, however, that remains unclear, it's the DH position. While Mitch Moreland has consistently been, well, inconsistent, we're almost assuredly not going to see him suddenly begin flourishing against left-handed pitching.
So far in Spring Training, Michael Choice has been making a case to be on the 25-man roster, having an OPS of .862. While the sample size of 24 at-bats is indeed small, it's nonetheless encouraging that Choice is showcasing the talent the Rangers thought they were getting in trading Craig Gentry to Oakland.
It's been speculated that Engel Beltre and Choice are basically competing for one spot, as Beltre is out of minor league options. That may very well be the case. Knowing that, I also wouldn't be surprised if -- provided Choice continues producing leading into the regular season -- the Rangers found a way to keep both players on the roster.
Beltre has long been regarded as the best defensive outfielder in the Rangers organization, which is an enticing thought when considering how well Leonys Martin performed at time in center field in 2013. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Michael Choice has spent time in center field this Spring. My guess? Should Martin struggle against left-handed pitching for any kind of significant stretch, he could be looking at a platoon situation with Choice. I'm not sure this scenario would be ideal for Martin's development considering he's a player the front office has been very high on, but knowing Ron Washington, it wouldn'y exactly surprise me.
Three weeks is a lot of time for things to change, but Michael Choice is definitely making his case. He'll force the organization to make some sort of tough decision, and it may mean that the best interests for the Rangers looking forward is for him to start the season in the minors since he has options left. Regardless, he may make that decision a bit tougher as we inch closer to Opening Day.