The Texas Rangers had more trouble with injuries than any other team in Major League Baseball last season, but at least they got to enjoy ace right-hander Yu Darvish for most of the year. 

Alas, the odds of that happening again have since been downgraded to zero percent. As Rangers Executive VP of Communications John Blake announced Friday, Darvish will undergo Tommy John surgery next week:

Like that, there goes Darvish’s 2015 season. And for the Rangers, that’s quite the blow.

The 28-year-old followed up a Cy Young-worthy season in 2013 by posting a 3.06 ERA across 144.1 innings in 2014, striking out over 11 batters per nine innings along the way. FanGraphs WAR placed him among the American League’s top 10 pitchers, and ESPN Stats & Info notes that Darvish’s pitching saved the Rangers’ starting rotation from oblivion:

With Darvish out of the picture, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections have the Rangers marked down for only 78 wins. That won’t cut it in any division but is an especially grim ticket in an AL West that features potential heavyweights in Seattle, Anaheim and Oakland.

So, the Rangers have two options: They can either adjust, or they can accept their fate.

The Rangers could potentially solve their Darvish problem by getting creative.

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News says they could get all mad science-y with their starting rotation. They won’t try a six-man rotation, but they could devise a system that involves “constantly manipulating the rotation to maximize rest” for the starters who typically perform better with more rest.

Or, the Rangers could go for broke on the trade market. That’s the suggestion of Jon Heyman of, who says they must trade for Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels to save their season.

Or, the Rangers could read the writing on the wall a different way and break up the band. If they go that route,’s David Schoenfield argues that a trade of veteran third baseman (and all-time tough guy) Adrian Beltre could fetch quite the haul and also clear the way for top prospect Joey Gallo.

Decisions, decisions. One way or another, the Rangers have some important ones to make now.


Elsewhere Around MLB

Yoan Moncada Is Finally a Member of the Red Sox

We’d known for a couple weeks the Red Sox were going to pay a whopping $31.5 million signing bonus to Cuban super-prospect Yoan Moncada. All we needed was confirmation.

It finally came on Friday. The Red Sox officially announced Moncada’s signing, which will actually be costing them $63 million due to MLB’s bonus pool rules. That’s a record-sized investment for an amateur prospect, and it’s not close.

But as you’d expect, the Red Sox believe that Moncada is worth every penny.

“We believe he’s certainly one of the few most talented 19-year-olds in the world,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, via’s Ian Browne. “He’s got a really unique combination of skills: a great athlete, speed, switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate, defensive skills, the athletic ability to play multiple positions if he had to, a natural second baseman.”

Ask the prospect hounds, and you won’t get any disagreement about Moncada’s upside. He now appears as baseball’s No. 9 overall prospect on, and Ben Badler of Baseball America also has Moncada pegged as a top-10 prospect:

Loud though the hype may be, Moncada isn’t ready for The Show just yet. He’ll likely need a year or two in the minor leagues first.

While he’s getting ready, maybe Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be looking over his shoulder. According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the organization’s plan for the moment is to have Moncada stay at second base.

That puts him on a collision course with Pedroia. And because Boston is committed to him through 2021, the question is which one of them will change positions first.

“Getting ahead of ourselves,” you say? What on earth does that mean?


Meanwhile, Mookie Betts Continues to Pound on the Door

While Yoan Moncada may be the future later, Mookie Betts continues to look like the future now for the Red Sox.

Betts played in his fifth game of the spring Friday night against the New York Yankees and turned in his third multihit performance in his last four. One was an infield hit that showed off his speed, and the other was a ringing double to left field that showed off his power.

Oh, and Betts also started the game off with a dandy of a catch in center field:

It’s all par for the course for Betts this spring. He’s now hitting at a .444 clip and has looked good in center field.

This is all coming on the heels of an impressive breakthrough in 2014, as Betts slashed .291/.368/.444 with five homers and seven steals in 52 major league games. That performance alone had Boston fans pushing for the 22-year-old to be penciled in atop Boston’s lineup and in the outfield.

And now, one scout thinks the Red Sox would be nuts to avoid doing so.

“Not have him as your center fielder and leadoff hitter? Are you kidding me?” the scout told Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. “This guy could be an All-Star. This guy could be an All-Star this year. He could have been Rookie of the Year last year if he’d had more at-bats. He could be their best player.”

This scout probably doesn’t need to worry. Betts’ status was up in the air when Red Sox skipper John Farrell declared Shane Victorino his starter in right field, leaving Betts to battle Cuban import Rusney Castillo over center field. But with Castillo sidelined with an oblique injury, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, Betts has the inside track.

And no, he doesn’t look interested in giving it up.


Behold the Return of the “Springer Dinger”

Houston Astros right fielder George Springer entered Friday’s contest against the Washington Nationals with a goose egg in the “HR” column this spring.

Now, there’s a crooked number in that column. The 25-year-old slugger went deep twice Friday afternoon, both times to right field. The Astros celebrated with a GIF and the appropriate hashtag:

After the game, new Astros skipper A.J. Hinch sounded equal parts relieved and excited.

“Oh man, was that great to see or what?” Hinch told Bill Ladson of “He’s been working real hard trying to get his timing right. You can’t hold those two [homers]. It was good swings, good barrel contact like we like. Not many people can do what he did.”

No, indeed. In fact, according to FanGraphs, the only right-handed hitters who hit for more power to right field in 2014 were Troy Tulowitzki, J.D. Martinez and Drew Stubbs.

That Springer still has that power is welcome news for the Astros.’s Jayson Stark reports that their plan for 2015 is to balance out a strikeout-happy lineup with lots of power. Because Springer hit 20 home runs in only 78 games last year, a true superstar breakout could go a long way toward making that happen.

And if it does? Let’s cede the floor to Evan Gattis, who asked, “Who cares about the strikeouts if you win the World Series?”

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with aiming high.


So, Maybe the Mets Don’t Have a Shortstop Problem After All?

Most everyone wants the New York Mets to pull off a trade for Colorado Rockies shortstop/generally awesome person Troy Tulowitzki.

But seriously, who needs Tulowitzki when you have Wilmer Flores?

Even in jest, it is a thing that can be said after the day Flores had on Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves. He collected three hits, including his first home run of the spring.

Flores didn’t just do work with his bat on Friday. Though no video evidence exists, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tells the tale of a nifty double play:

In all, not a bad day for the 23-year-old Flores. And that’s been the story of his spring so far, as he’s hitting a cool (read: “scalding”) .455 in seven games.

Of course, we know it’s a bad idea to forecast success off of spring training statistics. Especially when it comes to a player who entered the spring as a .240/.275/.356 career hitter at the major league level.

But one guy who sounds awfully smart right now is Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. Amid clambering for the Mets to acquire an established bat to play shortstop, Alderson told Mike Vorkunov of last November that it wasn’t “unreasonable” to expect Flores to be an above-average offensive shortstop in 2015.

If Flores does indeed handle that task while playing at least acceptable defense, what’s generally viewed as the Mets’ biggest weakness would actually become a strength. 

Good for them. Bad for the Tulowitzki trade rumors industry.


Injuries Continue to Slow the Nationals’ Hype Train

When the Nationals signed Max Scherzer, they went from already being a World Series favorite to the World Series favorite.

What they’re being reminded of now, however, is that the injury bug doesn’t play favorites. 

The Nationals got hit with several pieces of bad injury news on Friday. Right-handed closer Drew Storen needed surgery on his non-throwing hand (per Ladson), star third baseman Anthony Rendon has a left knee sprain (per Jamal Collier of and steady-as-they-come center fielder Denard Span was ruled out until at least May (via Ladson).

The good news is that Storen and Rendon are both only expected to miss a couple of days. The less-good news is that Washington’s list of injury concerns is growing longer and more star-studded by the day, as James Wagner of The Washington Post noted:

This isn’t lost on the Nationals. As Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post writes, the unofficial motto in the clubhouse these days is “it is what it is.”

Unless you ask shortstop Ian Desmond, who offered a more optimistic outlook.

“It’s a good thing we have good pitching,” said Desmond. “That’s pretty much all I got. We have to figure out a way to score some runs, and they have to do a good job to not allow a lot of runs. At some point, they’re going to go through their little woes and we’re going to pick them up.”

The Nationals do indeed still have good pitching. Scherzer is fine, as are Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. As long as that unit remains intact, the Nationals should be able to avoid being derailed by their injuries.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that, according to’s Buster Olney, the Nationals have the easiest early-season schedule in the National League.

The Nationals should remain vigilant, though. If they’re lucky, the injury bug will leave them alone and they’ll be able to go about their business. But the injury bug plays by its own rules, and it certainly knows how to derail a title run.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted/linked.

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on