Texas Rangers Last Year: 79-83 2nd in AL West This Year: 3rd in AL West
The Rangers have had a parade of sluggers and hitters come through Arlington. Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmerio, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixiera. This year team is no different with sluggers Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock. The problem with Texas is always the same problem that has caused them to last make the playoffs in 1999 and to have never won a playoff series. Pitching, Pitching Pitching. This team has never been able to develop pitching. This is a Texas team that will need to win a lot of 10-8 games.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections 2B Ian Kinsler .309 20 HR 69 RBI 25 SB 3B Michael Young .287 10 HR 77 RBI CF Josh Hamilton .311 36 HR 137 RBI 1B Chris Davis .287 34 HR 105 RBI DH Hank Blalock .281 24 HR 82 RBI RF Nelson Cruz .275 24 HR 79 RBI LF David Murphy .283 14 HR 72 RBI C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .263 13 HR 43 RBI SS Elvis Andrus .243 3 HR 28 RBI 23 SB
Rotation RHP Kevin Millwood 8-13 5.14 ERA 120 K RHP Vicente Padilla 14-10 4.94 ERA 125 K RHP Scott Feldman 8-10 5.23 ERA 87 K LHP Matt Harrison 9-10 5.13 ERA 84 K RHP Brandon McCarthy 7-9 4.77 ERA 77 K
CP RHP Frank Francisco 3.78 ERA 27 SV 84 K
Best Case Scenario: Young uber-prospects Andrus, Saltalamacchia, Davis and Cruz produce making the Rangers the best lineup in the MLB. Hamilton puts up an entire year and wins the MVP. Millwood and Padilla give quality starts and McCarthy stays healthy and produces. The rotation gives them a chance to win every game and the lineup capitalizes. This team competes with the Angels to win the AL West.
Worst Case Scenario: Blalock can't stay healthy. Cruz, Davis and Saltalamacchia stike out almost every at-bat. Millwood and Padilla struggle to keep their ERA under 6.00. McCarthy only makes 5-10 starts. Andrus is not ready yet and spends the season in AAA. Hamilton doesn't get much support behind him and sees a lot of walks. This team finshes in 3rd well below .500.
Player Most Important to Success: Brandon McCarthy. Brandon was a big-time prospect for the White Sox before being traded to the Rangers for John Danks. Since coming to the Rangers he has struggled to stay healthy making only 4 starts last year with a strained tendon in his middle finger. In 2007 he was bothered by blisters and a stress fracture in his shoulder blade. When healthy he has great stuff and an ERA around 4.30. This team needs a third decent starter. Millwood and Padilla aren't world beaters but they can give a quality start. The Rangers need a third pitcher who can do so and if McCarthy can stay healthy he can be that guy.
Outlook: The Rangers have a very strong lineup. If the young ones produce this can be the best lineup in the league. Hamilton is a major contender for the AL MVP. If this team had some semblance of a pitching staff they would be the AL West favorites, but they don't so they aren't. Texas is a hitter's park but the best Texas pitchers are those that go elsewhere. Danks and Volquez both flourished after fleeing Texas. The team has some pitchers in the pipeline but the question is how they will perform once they land in Arlington. Until this team finds an ace or two they will just be a fun team to watch that will be around the .500 mark.