Depth

**ORIGINAL POSTED DATE 9/15/12**

When the Rangers had three players go down in what seemed like two minutes in their game against Cleveland Wednesday night, I had an epiphany. I finally had a clear understanding of the depth that this franchise has. Not just depth at one or two positions, but quality depth across the board.

Adrian Beltre was the first casualty when he injured his left shoulder making a phenomenal diving stop He stayed in the game another three innings or so before Ron Washington forced him to sit the rest of the game as a precaution (Beltre returned to the DH role Wednesday). The greatness of this team’s depth is they simply plugged in rookie phenom Mike Olt, who is generally regarded as a plus defender at third base. Of course there was panic and some concern when a player of Beltre’ s caliber is injured, but I feel like this team could push on without him and not completely fall off the map. They would suffer in his absence indeed, but Mike Olt makes for a solid big league backup in this case. As fate intervened during Mike Olt’s next at bat, he went down with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the calf or ankle (plantar fasciitis). Most teams at this point are down to a single bullet in the chamber, but the flexibility of Ron Washington’s roster is one of its hidden strengths in my opinion. Ian Kinsler finished the game at third, but Michael Young would be a long-term solution if the time called for it. Michael Young is not who most Ranger fans want to see at third, but for a third string third baseman, he is about as good as baseball has to offer.  

The Rangers would go on to win that game, but then news came out that Josh Hamilton was hurt with an injured knee and would miss Thursday’s game as well. All of those things I said about replacing Beltre and trying to move on without him can be said about Hamilton. Rangers cannot replace his presence in this lineup, but having guys like Martin, Gentry, Cruz, and Murphy to fill in while he is gone are far from terrible options. Most teams fall off way worse than that when you start getting to fourth and fifth outfielders, but the Rangers have the ability to plug more guys in when the need is there. The versatility of players like Michael Young, Craig Gentry, Mike Napoli (when healthy), Jurickson Profar makes a manager’s job so much easier because they can be the plugs to keep this ship floating until the regular starters get back on the field.

The pitching staff is no stranger to this depth either as we have witnessed over the course of the summer. When arms are tired or injuries occur in the bullpen, there have been guys step up all summer and hold the fort until the team returns to full strength. Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Martin Perez, and even Michael Kirkman at times have made what was a solid bullpen on paper before the season started to a deep and outstanding bullpen here in September. Say what you want about Roy Oswalt and his role on this team (and I would have a hard time disputing any of it), but his value has been important. A lot of teams would love the luxury of having a veteran spot starter like Oswalt so they can avoid wasting service time on younger players, it just so happened that the bump hasn’t been kind to Roy this season. Scott Feldman served in that same role earlier in the season and held things together until the regulars could get back and right the ship.

Do the Rangers have what it takes to finally win the big one this year? Who knows, but what I do know is that the depth of this organization is mind-blowing at times compared to other MLB teams. Not a single team in this league has much quality beyond the 12th and 13th guys on the bench, but the Rangers have more than their fair share and have proved that they can win a lot of games with that depth in this injury riddled season of 2012.

 
Jeff Johnson is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Jeff.Johnson@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @Houstonhog.
Jeff Johnson

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