Lost in all of the hot stove rumblings from the winter meetings yesterday was some moves that Rangers manager Ron Washington mentioned in his “state of the team” press conference. In his presser, Washington said that Julio Borbon will play centerfield and bat leadoff, allowing Josh Hamilton to move to left field. However, these plans could change if Marlon Byrd resigns with the team.
After being called up in early August, Borbon hit .312/.376/.414, stealing 19 bases in 23 tries. He also hit 4 homers in 179 plate appearances. You, the fan, project Borbon to hit .297/.355/.392 next year, with 33 steals in 116 games. I am a bit more optimistic when it comes to Borbon’s average, which I believe could stay above .300, but a .297 average is still acceptable if he steals 30+ bases. While Borbon is a great player, things have to go a certain way this offseason for him to keep his current value. It will probably take more than Byrd signing with the team to drop Borbon out of the lineup, because Byrd could play left field and allow Hamilton to play DH. However, if the Rangers resign Byrd and pickup a DH, Borbon’s playing time would hit a significant snag. I don’t see the Rangers signing Byrd at all, let along Byrd and a DH, so Borbon is safe in my book.
Also mentioned was the Rangers plan to bat shortstop Elvis Andrus ninth in the order, allowing he and Borbon to hit back-to-back. Many owners, such as myself, have been hoping that Andrus would be moved up in the order, allowing him score more runs and get more at-bats for extra stolen base chances.
Andrus hit .267/.329/.373 with 33 steals in 541 plate appearances. Fans are projecting a .277 average with 42 steals next year, numbers bound to make any owner happy. We know Andrus is going to play, but more at-bats throughout the year would have been nice to have, even if it doesn’t necessarily hurt his value.