Stock Watch

With the completion of Sunday afternoon's affair against the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers find themselves roughly three weeks through the spring. It's time to take another look at who's got the best chance to be on the roster on Opening Day and who'll have to wait.

As you read back in February, the rangers have the luxury of having a plethora of talent across the boards to deal with and attempt to fit into a roster spot on this club by opening day on April 3rd. It's time to take an updated look at how the stock of some of these possibles have fared so far in the cactus-filled deserts of Arizona, beginning with the outfielders and infielders.

Sammy Sosa

At this point, Sosa is more or less a lock to make the ball club. He's batting over .470, has collected at least one hit in every "A" game the Rangers have played this spring (including one of the longest homeruns ever to have been hit in at the Rangers spring training facility in Surprise), and doesn't really show any signs of letting up thus far. He's one of a few guys to have "out clauses" in their contracts which state that if they're not added on the roster by at least March 15th (or this coming Thursday) then they're free to go, but at this point I don't see that happening for Sosa or the Rangers. Barring something extremely bad happening, at this point you can expect him to be batting fifth on opening day and playing designated hitter for the Texas Rangers.
Stock Watch: Rising

Marlon Byrd

With the five outfield/designated hitter spots likely already occupied by Sosa, Frank Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz, Kenny Lofton, and Brad Wilkerson, Marlon Byrd already has a tough fight ahead of him to win a roster spot on this ball club. He has been getting a serious look during the spring and is fourth on the team with 20 at-bats during exhibition ball. Although he hasn't recorded a stolen base yet, his speed definitely fits in with the Ron Washington gameplan and would instantly become one of the fastest men on the team, perfect for late-inning situations that call for a speedy base runner. Should he make it, one of his main duties would be to give Lofton a breather now and then against left-handed pitching and so he's been used mainly against southpaws during recent spring games. However, with the Rangers taking a look at how Nelson Cruz performs in centerfield it could put Byrd out of a job and instead award a spot on the club to Jason Botts.
Stock Watch: Rising

Victor Diaz

Unfortunately for Diaz, the signing of Sammy Sosa basically all but ended what chances he had at making the club out of spring training. But don't forget the fact that he's only 25 years old and was on tap to become one of those scary-good types of power hitters before falling off the face of the earth while with the Mets in 2005. He's crushed two homeruns already this spring and the Rangers believe he still has all the right kinds lethal potential with his bat. Should Sammy Sosa end up not working out and this team has to part ways, Diaz could be seriously considered for a call-up this year.
Stock Watch: Rising

Jason Botts

With an average over .350 and some very big hits, one of which was a triple for the usually slow-footed slugger, Botts has made it known this spring that he's not taking the abundance of Sammy Sosa news and publicity and going quietly into the night. With his bat, he's making it clearly evident that he wants the decision of Botts or Sosa to be one of the hardest ones this team has had to make. But as mentioned above, with Cruz trying centerfield out it could mean another possible opening on the club for Botts, who has been working his craft in left field when he isn't playing designated hitter. The way he plays in the field will likely end up being the biggest determinant as to whether or not he makes the 25-man roster.
Stock Watch: Rising

Jerry Hairston Jr.

He's been a solid contributor for the Rangers so far this spring, and is locked in a dogfight with the likes of Matt Kata and Desi Relaford to win one of the utility man jobs on the team. He's stolen a couple of bases, is 5 for 12 on the spring, and has shown he still has the capability of being the "Johnny On The Spot" type of player he was for the Rangers last season. If these HGH rumors don't sprout legs and walk all over him, he'd surely be a nice fit to the bench once again. Hairston is another guy with an out clause in his contract that states he can walk if he's not on the team by a certain date, but at this point it would probably be in the best interest of the Rangers to keep him around and see if he can keep up his current level of play right through the end of spring training.
Stock Watch: Rising

Freddy Guzman

In a game against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, Guzman misplayed a couple of blasts hit deep to center and instead they fell for a double and triple and led to runs. Both catches probably would have been tough for even the hardiest of vets to track down, but Guzman needed those in order to help out his chances of winning a job in an otherwise jam-packed outfield situation. He's shown hustle on the base paths and has a stolen base in limited spring action, but there's just too much other talent for him to get through in order to win a spot.
Stock Watch: Falling

Joaquin Arias

The Rangers had hoped to give Arias a ton of work in centerfield but have been limited in their attempts to do so by a continually sore throwing shoulder. Instead, Arias has played some infield and DH when h is shoulder permits him to do so. None of this is helping his stock much and the chances of him beginning the season in Triple-A become greater and greater with every opportunity of playing the outfield he misses due to his shoulder.
Stock Watch: Falling

Matt Kata

In many eyes, Kata has skyrocketed to the front of the pack among guys to win the role of utility man extraordinaire with his bat and some sparking defense play in the field. He'll have to fight off the likes of Desi Relaford and Hairston to win a job, but if he keeps up his sparky level of play that he's displayed on the field so far there's no reason why he can't do it.
Stock Watch: Rising

Desi Relaford

Another guy who can play the outfield or just about anywhere in the infield. In 11 at-bats this spring he's right up there in the mix with the rest of the guys going for one of the final roster spots on the ball club.
Stock Watch: Steady

Ramon Vasquez

Vasquez made a costly error in a game against the Mariners last week, throwing a sure-fire double play into leftfield that allowed two runs to score. He's been doing about as good as every other guy in the running for a bench job to have at least 10 at-bats so far this spring (with the exception of Jerry Hairston who is batting over .400) but will certainly have to shore up his defense and not have something like that happen again for him to remain in the running.
Stock Watch: Falling

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