Jason Botts makes it through waivers!!
GM Jon Daniels is a genius. Lou Rawls and Freda Payne are happy.
Next stop: OKC. Botts can use his major league experience and observations to further improve himself/refine his skills at OKC.
Give Botts and Cruz all of May and June in OKC. Bring them up on July 1, and - this is important: start them 5 out of 6 games through all of July, August, and Sept. This allows Botts and Cruz some breathing room, and some daily rhythm, which they were not allowed last season.
After Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley, I expect Botts and Cruz to one day be better than any of the other OF/1B players currently in Arlington: Catalanotto, Murphy, Boggs, Byrd, Shelton, or Broussard. I would like the chances of this 2009 line-up:
1. # Kinsler 2B
2. # Young SS
3. x Hamilton CF
4. ~ Milton Bradley DH
5. x Blalock 3B
6. # Cruz RF
7. ~ Botts 1B
8. x Murphy LF
9. ~ Saltalamacchia C
Laird (or Teagarden)
x Catalanotto(or Davis, after trade deadline)
That line-up would require signing Milton Bradley to a big money contract. I am okay with that. This is a young and dangerously volatile line-up, and is thus enjoyable to watch and to root for. It has 3 RH hitters, 3 LH hitters, 3 Switch hitters. I have tried, in the style of Johnny Oates and Buck Showalter, to intersperse the RH/LH hitters throughout the line-up (thus forcing opponents to burn through situational LH relief pitchers).
The 2008 Rangers have
- a true Lead-Off hitter: Kinsler
- a true #2: Young
- a true #3: Hamilton
- a player who will not freak out b/c he's hitting Clean-Up: Bradley
- and - once he is healthy - a true #5 hitter: Blalock.
The Texas Rangers maybe haven't had all those elements in place, ever. Excepting Kenny Lofton, they've gone since at least 1999 without having a true Lead-Off hitter. The development of Kinsler at Lead-Off, and the acquisition of the mentally tough Milton Bradley for the Clean-Up spot, will pay dividends this season, imo. Those are the toughest batting order slots to fill.
Milton Bradley is really a #2 or a #5 hitter. However, he is saavy enough and talented enough to do the job at clean up. If you had to hit Blalock at clean-up, Blalock would feel pressure to swing for the fences. It would ruin him.
Kinsler has been a little-noted revelation. Initially arriving as an aggressive pull hitter with surprising power, he is now a patient batter who hits to all fields with surprising power. He takes the lead-off role very seriously: he works his initial at bat so as to see many pitches(via patience, and via fighting off tough pitches by swatting semi-intentional foul balls). Kinsler, also, can steal bases even when the defense knows he wants to go. A good lead off hitter is critically important in Playoff and World Series games. Kinsler hits good pitching. He can do it.
Brandon Boggs might develop into a lead-off hitter. Speedy Julio Bourbon preps for 2010ish. The Rangers might have options at this important line-up spot. Good. Good. Good. The organization needs some young players to step up and be good in the lead off spot.