The Texas Rangers open their 2014 campaign next Monday at Spheroid Vitality Park in Arlington against
heated rivals middling acquaintances, the Phillies. Former Rangers playoff hero Cliff Lee will take the mound for Philadelphia, but Texas will not be able to counter with staff ace Yu Darvish. Today we learn that a stiff neck will keep him out of the game and could force him to start the season on the disabled list.
It’s just the latest in a slew of injures the team has suffered. Catcher Geovany Soto is out 10-12 weeks. Jurickson Profar, the young infielder whose talent prompted the Rangers to trade Ian Kinsler to Detroit, is likewise out up to three months. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has had elbow trouble. Optimistically, starter Matt Harrison can join the rotation in mid-April, but Derek Holland may not be available until July after tripping over his dog during the offseason.
Grant Brisbee over at SB Nation decided to determine which of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams have lost the most value from their Opening Day rosters due to injuries, and the Rangers ran away with it. I know some of you cringe when asked to look at a bar graph in relation to sports, but look at this one.
Texas has injuries to players who project to contribute more than 18 wins worth of production as compared to any-old run-of-the-mill easily acquirable player (a stat known as WAR). No one else is really close to that level of pain.
Let’s hope all the Rangers heal up real nice real quickly, and that new players Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo clean up at the plate. Otherwise it could be a long first half in Arlington.
As Brisbee puts it:
The Rangers shouldn’t feel as if their season is over, far from it. But they’ve earned the right to tug on their collar and make exaggerated, vaudevillian noises of concern. They’ve earned it …
If the Rangers feel uncomfortable, that’s why. Because the good feelin’ of spring was ripped away from them before they arrived at Surprise, and they haven’t found it since.
If you’re looking for optimism, Rangers fans, remember this mantra: Better now than September. The Rangers feel like a pack of Wily E. Coyotes right now, with ACME elbows and hamstrings exploding everywhere, but there’s a lot of season left.