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Rangers Defensive Core: A puzzle worth solving during the final month of the season

Photo: Alex Plinck/Dallas Sports Fanatic

Rangers Defensive Core: A puzzle worth solving during the final month of the season

We all like to sit inside on a rainy day and do puzzles. Well since it was a wet week in Dallas, it’s only fitting we do a puzzle known as the Rangers defensive alignment.

The trade deadline came and went this week. Critics buried the Rangers’ lack of moves, but the club enters September with an identity of letting out young talent. It started with the call ups of Eli White and Anderson Tejeda. Eli gets his first look at the majors while Tejeda comes back after a brief stint earlier this season. Texas loves Eli White, especially his defense, which creates a formidable outfield core. A core including White, Leody Taveras, and Joey Gallo. “[Eli has] turned himself into basically an elite outfielder, and then [Leody] Taveras and Joey [Gallo], it’s hard to imagine a better outfield,” Rangers skipper Chris Woodward said earlier this week.

That’s all great, but it leaves some question marks of over and under depth. Rougned Odor currently resides on the injured list, Elvis Andrus returned from the IL, and the club traded Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos. The Chirinos trade opens the gates for Jose Trevino to lead the Rangers pitching staff. Plus, Trevino will get consistent at-bats in September, which solved the three-person catching crew. Frazier’s departure creates room for Ronald Guzman to get live at-bats in the majors and directs Derek Dietrich to first base mostly. Odor’s IL stint gives Nick Solak time at second base, though Chris Woodward told me that he’s not ruling out either one spot. “I think, he probably, in my opinion, [Solak] grades out as a better left-fielder than a second baseman, but I don’t mind him at both,” Woody told me on Thursday. Isiah Kiner-Falefa rests his terrific defense at third and Joey Gallo stays in right field.

Next is Scott Heineman. Heineman got a lot of work while Willie Calhoun and Shin-Soo Choo were both out. Now that Choo is back in the lineup, Heineman sees less playing time (though enough to cause a game-winning balk on Monday). Last season, Heineman played in four games at the major league level at first base and logged eighty innings at first in the minors. The Rangers’ two primary first baseman are left-handed bats (Guzman and Dietrich), so the thought is Heineman playing at first. “If there’s ever a chance where they want a righty in the lineup and they want to put other guys in the outfield then I would slot into first base. I feel comfortable,” Heineman told me Tuesday.

Now it doesn’t mean Scott is a first base-only player now. However, considering the Rangers want to give Eli his at-bats and Taveras plenty as well, Heineman’s best shot likely is at playing every day is first base against lefties. “I don’t want to disregard Heineman, I think a lot of him and I think the organization values him as well,” Chris Woodward told me Wednesday. “With Eli up here and him, it’s going to be tough to get those guys the at-bats they want. Playing Heineman at first base is a way to do that, especially against lefties.”

Finally, with Choo being back, there’s a good chance that the outfield core is healthy, so Choo will DH. “I don’t want to say [Choo is] going to DH every day, but there’s a good chance that if those guys are available, then they probably would be in the outfield,” Woody said to me. Choo also is the Rangers representative for the 2020 Roberto Clemente award.

Yes, the club sits ten games under .500 in a season that only has sixty games. Nevertheless, it’s a perfect time to let the young guys develop for next season and beyond. The Rangers have great pieces around them, but the problem all season has been consistency. It’s a difficult act to keep going, and the Rangers haven’t had a chance to ride the momentum. The question to look for now is who will be the guy who steps up or Tony Beasley and Scott Heineman’s case, who the “G” will be?

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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