2008 Texas Rangers Baseball Preview
What’s the key to first place? Rotation, rotation, rotation. With that in mind, don’t expect to see the Rangers (75- 87) in first or second-place at the end of the 2008 season.
The pitching staff is one of the weakest in the AL. RHP Kevin Milwood (10- 14, 5.16 ERA, 123 SO) gave up too many hits and runs last season. He’ll be effective if her can keep his pitches low. Lefty Kason Gabbard (6- 1, 4.65 ERA, 55 SO) has the lowest ERA of all Ranger hurlers and that’s not saying much. Vicente Padilla (6- 10, 5.76 ERA, 71 SO) can use his fastball to challenge hitters more rather than nibbling at the plate, while Brandon McCarthy (5- 10, 4.87 ERA, 59 SO) offers a fine array of pitches and has a lot of potential. Left-handed closer C.J. Wilson (2- 1, 3.03 ERA, 12 SV, 63 SO, 208 BAA) can be effective but needs to be more commanding.
Finishing 11th in OB% and 10th in batting meant that it was tough for this team to generate runs. Two good hitters have been added —CF Josh Hamilton (.292 BA, 19 HR, 47 RBI) and RF Milton Bradley (.306 BA, 13 HR, 37 RBI). If both can stay healthy and Bradley can control his temper, they will make a difference. LF Marlon Byrd (.307 BA, 10 HR, 70 RBI) is a powerful line drive hitter. SS Michael Young (.315 BA, 9 HR, 94 RBI) possesses good bat speed and the ability to place the ball.
Although the club was first in turning double plays, they tied for 13th in fielding percentage. Bradley and Hamilton are big improvements in the outfield. Second base is worrisome, whole third could be a plus if Hank Blalock can stay healthy. The backstop spot is a concern.
The Rangers will be in a race for last-place with the equally deficient A’s. Last season rookie manager Ron Washington struggled to communicate with his club. But despite his difficulties, Washington worked to improve and did. By the end of the season, he was much more effective. Although GM Jon Daniels earned kudos for his work last season, he’s got a long way to go to get the Rangers to the next level.
For more info on Texas check out the MLB website for the Rangers Clubhouse.