This is one of a series of posts in which we throw feces at each team’s ineffectual attempts to improve and daub them with rosewater in those areas where they have managed to do so.
What is there to say about the Rangers this year? They’re clearly going to come in last—again—in an already weak division. (A division that only has four teams. Lame!) I can barely muster up the spleen required to rip them. So much for “in-your-face baseball commentary.” But let’s give it a shot anyway—after all, this may be the one post UmpBump writes about the Rangers all year. (At least until Milton Bradley acts up again.) To add interest to this fairly lackluster team, I will rely on an old writerly device: the exclamation point!
So I looked at the projected lineup of the Texas Rangers (below) one thing really stands out: only two players played 130 games or more last season, and only four topped 100 games! And when I looked at their starting rotation, I noticed that no pitcher on the list has an ERA of under 4.50!
Texas is fielding quite a motley crew this season. Michael Young, arguably the only shortstop worse defensively than Derek Jeter! Josh Hamilton, who recovered from his crack addiction by finding Jesus! Milton Bradley, last seen causing himself a season-ending injury by trying to attack an umpire! Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who married his high school teacher!
Nonetheless, if I can set aside the ennui these Rangers induce in me, I have to admit there are some pretty interesting players on this team. Hamilton, for instance. In a recent article discussing Hamilton and Bradley, Jerry Crasnick writes:
At Rangers camp in Surprise, [Arizona,] they’re getting a crash course in what the fuss was all about. Hamilton hits high, majestic drives over the fence in batting practice, and his teammates strain for superlatives.
“We haven’t had any shortage of offensive monsters since I’ve been here,” says Michael Young, ticking off the names of Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee and Juan Gonzalez, among others. “But I think they might all take a backseat to this guy in batting practice. When you’re hitting balls to the opposite field off the top of the clubhouse, it’s just silly.”
His fellow Rangers attest that the ball even sounds different as it comes off Hamilton’s bat.
“I’ve never seen anyone as gifted as him,” Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler says. “He was born to play this game.”
Well, at least he should be fun to watch! And of course, Saltalamacchia will be getting his first full season in the bigs. That will be nice. And the aforementioned Milton is sure to entertain—for better or for worse!
Acquisitions: Milton Bradley LF, Kazuo Fukumori RP, Eddie Guardado RP, Jason Jennings SP, Chris Shelton 1B, Ben Broussard 1B, Josh Hamilton CF
Losses: Brad Wilkerson RF, Edinson Volquez SP, Freddy Guzman CF, Armando Galarraga SP, Sammy Sosa DH, Jerry Hairston Jr. CF
Projected Lineup, Rotation, and Closer:
SS Michael Young .315 AVG, .366 OBP, 9 HR, 156 games
3B Hank Blalock .293 AVG, .358 OBP, 10 HR, 58 games
CF Josh Hamilton, .292 AVG, .368 OBP, 19 HR, 90 games
LF Marlon Byrd .307 AVG, .355 OBP, 10 HR, 109 games
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .251 AVG, .290 OBP, 7 HR, in 46 games
RF Milton Bradley, .306 BA, .402 OBP, 2 HR, 61 games
1B Ben Broussard, .275 AVG, .330 OBP, 7 HR, 99 games
2B Ian Kinsler .263 AVG, .355 OBP, 20 HR, 130 games
DH Frank Catalanotto .260 AVG, .337 OBP, 11 HR, 103 games
SP1 Kevin Millwood, 172.2 IP, 5.16 ERA
SP2 Vicente Padilla, 120.1 IP, 5.76 ERA
SP3 Jason Jennings, 99 IP, 6.45 ERA
SP4 Brandon McCarthy, 101.2 IP, 4.87 ERA
SP5 Kason Gabbard, 81.3 IP, 4.65 ERA
CL C.J. Wilson, 3.03 ERA, 1.22 WHIP (Though it could be Eddie Guardado by the time spring training is over.)
The best that can be said for the Rangers is that they seemed to finally admit, last season, that they weren’t going to win any time soon. They moved Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne for prospects, and their farm system now looks better than most. 2008 is a throwaway year for the Rangers, but check back in 2010—if they haven’t done anything stupid, they could be contending by then! You never know! And as Nick so wisely said, “It’s not like they are the Pirates!”