The Rangers have a lot of questions entering 2010. Can Josh Hamilton stay healthy? Will Julio Borbon transition smoothly to the majors? Will Neftali Feliz thrive as a starter? Can Vlad Geurero rediscover some of his power? Can Chris Davis hit his weight? Has Khalil Greene overcome anxiety problems? Will the Rangers hitters struggle now that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has left for Chicago? And so on.
But Texas has a lot going for it, too. This is a team that finished 12 games over .500 last season, in second place. Moreover, the first-place Angels are unlikely to repeat last season’s success. The Rangers’ time is now.
What does Texas need to get over the hump? Better pitching, but what else is new? Feliz looks primed to be the organization’s first decent home-grown arm in ages, but it’s unclear if he’ll start the year in the rotation. Harden misses a ton of bats when healthy, but he’s hardly ever healthy. Feldman won 17 games in 2009, but everyone projects he’ll regress. Brandon McCarthy? Yeah, he’s got potential — Bill James projects he’ll pitch 163 innings and win 9 games, 2 more than last season. Then there’s Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison, two young arms that seem destined for mediocrity.
The Rangers have good defense and decent offense that figures to improve if Hamilton stays on the field and Davis lives up to the hype. Texas just needs good production from it’s bench and decent contributions from Feliz and Harden and they could find themselves playing meaningful baseball in October.