A week ago or so I was contacted by a guy who runs a blog back in my hometown of Philly, but he was doing a series on all the teams. Anyway, he has been running his own thoughts as well as including text by some other blog writer. He contacted me about writing about the Rangers, and his preview is now online. Here’s what I wrote for him:
â€¢ Letter Grade for Offseason Moves: I’m giving it an “I”. The reason for that is if you go down our roster transactions, the Rangers signed not a single player to a major league contract. Every single one of them was a minor league NRI type of deal. The only person brought in that will have a direct impact on the major league staff is the new pitching coach. Mike Maddux by all accounts so far has done a great job in getting the message across. How well that translates though is unknown. We’ve had something like seven different pitching coaches in the last eight years or so, so I’m hopeful this can work.
As for actual players? That’s the true “Incomplete”, given only a couple of them are likely to break camp (the most likely being Vizquel, Donnelly, Guardado, & Turnbow), and most of them never seen again, it’s really hard to go here. Technically Elvis Andrus is an NRI too, but he’s essentially been annointed the SS heir apparent, so I don’t know if that counts. I don’t think Andruw Jones will break, given the guys already here, I can’t see where he fits.
So “Incomplete” is my grade.
â€¢ Most Essential: I’m going with Brandon McCarthy. As with most teams, what’s essential is pitching. The Rangers won’t have any problems scoring runs, but what will determine our success is how our pitching does. Millwood and Padilla you know what you’re gonna get, and we’re sending out three “kids” (relatively speaking) behind them in the rotation. Of the guys they’re saying are going to be in the rotation, I think Brandon McCarthy needs to be what we sent John Danks to the White Sox for. Since he’s been here, he’s been “meh” (to be kind). It appears that he’s turned the corner, and might have figured it out based on what we’ve seen so far in camp.
So I think you need McCarthy to do well. That would be three decent (if not awesome) starting pitchers, and once you get to 3 of 5, you get that feeling that “maybe this can work”. 2 of 5 makes you feel like there’s too many holes, but get over that hump with the third, and you feel you can carry the rest. Or I do. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my feeling.
â€¢ Breakout Potential: Pitching wise, I’m gonna say Matt Harrison. At the back end of last season he looked pretty good. He’s one of the guys we got (stole) from Atlanta in the Mark Teixeira deal, and he came over as a good prospect. He’s had flashes of brilliance during his time here, but at the end of last season, you got this “feeling” that perhaps he might be a guy set to go something like 15 or 16 wins and 7 losses. Can’t quantify this with “facts”, it’s mostly a gut feeling. But then prediction kind of pieces like this are all gut feeling, aren’t they? :)
Offensive wise, I think it’s a tie between Chris Davis & Ian Kinsler. I think if Ian Kinsler hadn’t gotten hurt, he would have challenged Dustin Pedroia for the MVP (Hello Evan). Kinsler doesn’t get the coverage he deserves because he plays his home games in Arlington TX. But a full season of what he did in 2008 would take care of that. Chris Davis came up here mid last season and had 17 home runs and 55 RBI in just 80 games. A full season of that would qualify for a breakout season, I think. :)
â€¢ Prediction for 2009: 89-73, second place. Angels will still win, but not by as much as they have recently. Oakland’s moves are good, and Seattle still needs a few years to get going again, although former Ranger coach Don Wakamatsu should help in that regard.
Greg thinks the Rangers will end up in last place with a record of 79-83. I don’t agree with that at all. Granted, if you want to have a positive outlook on the Texas Rangers, you can’t be an outsider, as the team likely does look like crap to an outsider.
Makes me wonder what John Hart has to say tomorrow on the Rangers entry on MLB Network’s Rangers edition of “30 Teams in 30 Days”. He knows the team, so there better be some love. :)