Thursday, March 23

Texas Rangers: Pitchers Apply Within

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Starting Pitching:

What does it mean when your top two starters are transplants from other teams? Well, if your previous ace was knocked down to the three hole, then that either means you've got a loaded rotation or you had an incredibly weak one last year. In Texas' case, it means the latter. Kevin Millwood was brought over from the Indians, and while he had a surprisingly good season back in 2005, there are question marks as to his performance level in what amounts to the AL's version of Coors Field. As an ace on a league-wide level, he's a little weak - although certainly above the lowest tier of aces. The second starter is Adam Eaton, who came over from the Padres in the Chris Young deal. Eaton struggled somewhat last year, although he produced some fairly decent PETCO-aided numbers. However, going from PETCO to Ameriquest Field is going to do him no favors whatsoever, and look for his numbers to be below your typical #2 starter.

The rest of this staff is pretty much end-of-rotation fodder. Padilla actually came over from the Phillies last year (making that the top 3 pitchers are all transfers); oops. In a better ballpark, he'd be okay as a 3, but he's going to hurt here. Kameron Loe and Juan Dominguez are both young guys with at least fair futures; Loe probably won't progress past a 3-spot in any rotation, though.

This rotation can go either way, since so much of it is transplanted. It's probably a safe bet to assume it's going to err on the side of underperforming.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Kevin Millwood
2nd: Adam Eaton
3rd: Vincente Padilla
4th: Kameron Loe
5th: Juan Dominguez

Closer / Bullpen:

Francisco Cordero is on the second level of closers; he's not the Rivera, Gagne, Lidge type that pretty much signify game over whenever they enter (unless it's the NLCS, but I digress), but he'll put up good numbers - and remember, an 8-7 save is the same stat-wise as a 3-2 save. The 8-7 save might be more likely with these guys.

As for the rest of the bullpen, Akinori Otsuka is the guy you've heard of (from the Padre killer bullpen last year), but he shockingly (at least to me) wasn't as good as I thought - decent ERA, but a WHIP of 1.42 indictates that he got a little lucky at times to me. A high K rate helps to alleviate that, though. The other best guy in the 'pen is the mop-up kid, Joaquin Benoit. There's not a lot to be proud of here.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Francisco Cordero
8th: Akinori Otsuka
7th: John Wasdin
Sit. Right: R.A. Dickey
Sit. Lefty: Erasmo Ramirez
Mop-up: Joaquin Benoit


Best offensive infield in baseball, and it's not even closer. When you consider that second base might be their weakest offensive position simply because rookie Ian Kinsler looks to get the lion's share of at-bats, but he still has 10/15 potential as a rookie, then you're pretty much set. Nobody here is terribly fast, but between Mark Teixeira at first, Hank Blalock at third, and Michael Young at short, they'll put up at least 90 HR, and I wouldn't be surprised if they topped 100 as a group. Tons of power, good average, pretty much the works. Blalock might be the weakest offensive link, and he's still better than what 60% of teams are putting out at third, if not 75%.

As for the DH, this is probably the most umimpressive spot on the offensive roster. Phil Nevin will get the lion's share of the at-bats (further enhancing the Padres Transplants moniker these guys have been riding the last few years). Whoohoo.

Projected Infield:
C: Rod Barajas
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Ian Kinsler
SS: Michael Young
3B: Hank Blalock
DH: Phil Nevin

More information:
Mark Teixeira
Ian Kinsler
Michael Young
Hank Blalock


This was the "weak point" of the offense last year. That being said, the offensive production was no worse than average last year (even if their average suffered, har har), and they landed a massive upgrade in center as Brad Wilkerson came over in the Soriano deal. Wilky is a little bit hurt to open the season, but when healthy, he's a great power/speed combination that will get on base consistently. Kevin Mench is a classic power hitter with decent-but-not-great power in right, and David Dellucci is another power/speed threat with not quite the same upside as Wilkerson.

Projected Outfield:
RF: Kevin Mench
CF: Brad Wilkerson
LF: David Dellucci

More information:
Brad Wilkerson

Extra Stuff:

Here's the problem with the Rangers - and good on them that they addressed it this offseason, but it's still there - they lack quality pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen. This rotation will be a step up from previous years, but not as much as you'd think. Eaton won't be anything to call home about whatsoever, but again, I talked about that up there.

Bottom line, if they were in a division where everyone else had subpar pitching, their offense is so clearly well above everyone else that they'd win their fair share - maybe more - of ugly 8-7 games. However, it's going to be strength vs. strength all season for these guys, and as baseball is really a game of failure, well, the outlook doesn't look great.