2009 Texas Rangers Baseball Preview
Last season, the Texas Rangers (79- 83) proved to be an object lesson in that old adage “pitching wins championships.” You see, the Rangers led the majors in just about every batting category, but their pitching was some of the worst. And although they finished second in the West, they were a distant second to the Angels, ending up 21 games out of first place.
The Rangers' number one starter, Vicente Padilla (14- 8 W/L, 4.74 ERA, .275 BAA) has a hard as nails slider and a 92- 96 mph smoking fastball. His curve and changeup are both effective but he can get off kilter and distracted with runners on base. Second starter Kevin Millwood (9- 10 W/L, 5.07 ERA, .312 BAA) is coming off an injury filled season that saw him sidelined by a groin pull numerous times. If he can get himself back on track and throw with finesse, he'll be effective. Scott Feldman (6- 8 W/L, 5.29 ERA, .280 BAA), who is a converted relief man, throws strikes, while lefty Matt Harrison (9- 3 W/L, 5.49 ERA, .300 BAA) offers an array of pitches but has control issues. Brandon McCarthy (1- 1 W/L, 4.09 ERA, .244 BAA), who is also coming back from health problems, brings control problems to the mound. The bullpen will feature Frank Francisco (3- 5 W/L, 3.13 ERA, .220 BAA) as the closer. He's marginal.
Josh Hamilton (.304 BA, 130 RBI, 32 HR), Nelson Cruz (.330 BA, 26 RBI, 7 HR) and Ian Kinsler (.319 BA, 71 RBI, 18 HR) are all solid run producers. Hamilton possesses excessive bat speed and Cruz is especially aggressive at the plate. Kinsler is a true clutch hitter who can get the ball to any field. Michael Young (.284 BA, 82 RBI, 12 HR) is an exceptional situation hitter with quick wrists and a smooth swing. Utility man Marlon Byrd (.282 BA, 53 RBI, 10 HR) is fine liner drive hitter. DH Frank Catalanotta (.274 BA, 21 RBI, 2 HR) is a good contact hitter who can knock the ball to the opposite field.
The Rangers were one of the worst fielding teams in the majors. The infield is questionable. Shortstop Young, although aging, is still a steady fielder. The corners and second are problematic. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a less-than-average backstop. The outfield is overall sound with Murphy in left, Hamilton in center and Cruz in right.
General Manager Jon Daniels has a bunch of talent down on the farm, which should be instrumental in making this team a true contender. Manager Ron Washington brings in four new coaches, including seasoned bench coach Jackie Moore. Getting this club to 86 wins or so will bode well for next year.
There are some positive things happening in Texas. Daniels and Washington have worked well together, but in order to keep their jobs they have to generate more victories. There's a young talented pitching staff and this club can definitely hit. Second place can be theirs again. First would be a major stretch.
For more info on Texas check out the MLB website for the Rangers Clubhouse.