Monday, March 10, 2008
30 Teams in 30 Days: Texas Rangers
A look back: Texas had a rough start to their year, dropping a three-game set to Los Angeheim. The Rangers never recovered, and never managed to get even one game above .500 during the 2007 season. With a lousy pitching staff in a good hitter’s park, expect more of the same for the Rangers in 2008.
Positives on the field: In truth, there aren’t many. The Rangers do have some decent hitters, led by Michael Young and Hank Blalock. But with Mark Teixiera in Atlanta now, the Rangers’ lineup is nothing special overall. What kind of American League team has Frank Catalnotto as their designated hitter? Don’t get me wrong, I love Cat, he’s a good average hitter. But when your DH hits ninth, it’s not good.
The pitching is okay, not good. Kevin Millwood is Texas’s “ace”, Vincente Padilla is decent but not stellar. The Rangers’ bullpen has some good pieces with C.J. Wilson possibly serving as the closer, and Eddie Guardado waiting in the wings if he falters.
Negatives on the field: Ugh. Texas has little to like in either its lineup or its rotation. The Rangers never have any pitching, partially because Texas places value on hitting and partially because Rangers Ballpark is a hitter’s paradise. As usually happens, the result is many defeats. It’s a poor combination.
The batting order really falls off after Milton Bradley, with Marlon Byrd, Ben Broussard and Jarrod Saltamacchia ahead of Catalanotto. These guys won’t scare anyone with their hitters, and they won’t improve their standings from a year ago.
Outlook: The Rangers play in a two-tiered division. Unfortunately, the Rangers are in the bottom tier and are the worse team of the two in that tier. That makes things rather difficult for Texas. Luckily for Dallas-Fort Worth residents, because of the Mavericks’ and Stars’ success, they only have to pretend to care in July, when the NBA and NHL seasons are over and the Cowboys are still a month from camp.
Projected finish: 4th in AL West. Season opener is March 31 at Safeco Field against Seattle. Rangers home opener is April 8 against Baltimore at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Spring base: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz. The team shares the complex with the Kansas City Royals, but has its own field. The Rangers play games in both Phoenix and Tucson areas.
(Editor’s note: Seriously, I feel sorry for the good people of Surprise. They have two baseball teams in the spring, but they’re the Royals and Rangers. Does that still count as spring training?)
Fan of the team?: Check out Lone Star Ball, a Rangers fan community.
Come back tomorrow: The road trip reaches the West Coast and visits the home of Moneyball, the Bay Area and the Oakland Athletics.
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