I wasn’t there and so this is based only on a box score and a couple game recaps, and I don’t wish I’d been in Surprise yesterday rather than at our last Peanut basketball game of the season (a 31-27 barnburner that cost me my voice), but I know just enough about Royals 4, Rangers 2 that I’m hoping Tanner Scheppers and Pedro Strop will bottle some of that stuff up until I get therein 11 days.
The video on (new leadoff hitter) Ian Kinsler’s play up the middle was enough of a reminder that, among the many Rangers players who have a legitimate chance to improve his production in 2011 (more of whom exist than those who had what could be considered career years in 2010), the 28-year-old could help things out quite a bit if he can avoid the disabled list for the first time in his big league career.  He’s too important to this lineup and defense to miss another 40 days this year, which is what he’s averaged on the shelf. 
Chris Davis’s defense, this time at third base, makes me aggressively crave a breakthrough at the plate for the 24-year-old.  
In 2008, Davis went into the season judged by Baseball America to be the number 65 prospect in baseball and was number 74 on Kevin Goldstein’s equivalent Baseball Prospectus list, rankings that seemed light eight months later after he’d smacked big league pitching around that summer at a .285/.331/.549 rate, stacking up 17 home runs and 23 doubles in a mere 295 at-bats.
It serves as a reminder that prospect rankings may be persuasive but are never conclusive, not when BA had Franklin Morales at number 8 on that same 2008 list and Joey Votto at 44 (Goldstein: 13 and 21), not to mention Taylor Teagarden at 80 and Neftali Feliz at 93 (though Goldstein put Feliz at 30).
But that’s not to say we should close our eyes to the rankings, which I’d certainly pay more attention to than a home run served up by David Bush on February 27 (or one hit two innings later by Doug Deeds), and with that I share with you that BA and Goldstein each have three Rangers on their freshly unveiled Top 100/101 Prospects lists for 2011: lefthander Martin Perez (BA 24, KG 33), shortstop Jurickson Profar (BA 74, KG 78), and Scheppers (BA 84, KG 79).  
For what it’s worth, BA projects the big league arrivals for those three to be 2012, 2013, and 2011, respectively.  The Profar evaluation is particularly interesting, as he won’t turn 20 until after pitchers and catchers report that season.
Jim Callis identifies lefthander Robbie Erlin among six players who, for him, “didn’t make [BA’s] 2011 Top 100 [but] could rise the highest on our 2012 list.”
Goldstein will have a monster chat session today regarding his Top 101, and I’ll share any Rangers-related comments when I next write.
Despite some national media reports suggesting he could miss a month, Adrian Beltre and the Rangers are sticking to their estimation that his Grade 1 right calf strain won’t keep him out any more than 10-14 days, which signals a return to play sometime next week.  He continues to take batting practice and throw, and should start taking grounders in the next couple days.
Brandon Webb threw 28 pitches in a 10-minute bullpen session yesterday, his first work off a mound in 10 days, and if he reports no unusual soreness today, he could be back on a mound tomorrow and resume his effort to be ready in time for Opening Day.
We know Wilson is slated to get the ball that day, and now it looks like Matt Treanor will be the club’s Opening Day catcher, as the Rangers want to keep those two together in spite of the plan to have Yorvit Torrealba serve in 2011 as the club’s primary backstop.  
Rangers players will receive their American League Championship rings in a ceremony before Game Two against Boston (Saturday night, April 2).  Every player who appeared in a game for Texas in 2010 will receive a ring, even if they didn’t make the post-season roster.
Michael Young will start at first base today, something he has never done.  Even when he was Mateo’s age.
A Philadelphia Daily News article suggests that while the Phillies checked with Texas on Young last month because of Chase Utley’s knee issues, there’s not much of a chance that the two teams move those talks any further.
Check out Scott Lucas’s drill-down into the idea that Nelson Cruz isn’t ready to handle cleanup duties, which will go to Beltre.
The unusual arrangement that Texas has with 25-year-old Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz is similar to the one he had when signing with Tampa Bay in June.  Ruiz’s deal with the Rays was for the balance of 2010 with a four-year, $4 million club option that they declined in November.  The Rangers signed him to a one-year deal with a three-year option (at a lower figure) that they must act on when the season ends.
Cleveland signed righthander Chad Durbin.  Tampa Bay signed utility player Joe Inglett to a minor league deal.
The Mets named Jack Voigt their minor league outfield/baserunning coordinator.
Need a book?  Need a T-shirt?
Eric Nadel and Dave Barnett broadcast today’s Rangers-Royals game (2:05 CT) on ESPN 103.3 FM.  The sound of Eric’s voice, like the first spring training box scores and the BA and Goldstein Top 100/101’s, will be yet another signal that the real thing is gaining on us, and quickly.  Bring it on.

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