Monday, February 12, 2007

Ahhhh, Spring Training: A Rangers Preview

Pitchers and Catchers report in 4 days and spring has officially arrived. So as a preview I am going to look at the key Ranger questions as they approach spring training in Suprise, Arizona. By the way, if you can make a Spring Training trip, I would strongly encourage it. You will never be closer to the action than at Spring Training, autographs are everywhere and you can get lots of baseballs. Or maybe that last part is just me.

1. The biggest question that has faced the Rangers since, say 1990, when Charlie Hough, Nolan Ryan, Bobby Witt, and Kevin Brown anchored the rotation and Jeff Russell and Kenny Rogers manned the bullpen, is who in world is gonna pitch for the team? But for the first time in years, the 3-5 spots in the rotation aren't completely up for grabs, hoping for someone to step up from among the spares like R.A. Dickey, Richardo Rodriguez, John Wasdin, Nick Beirbrodt, Mickey Callaway, or Tony Mounce, and fill out the rotation and not completely kill the team. Slots one through three should be held solidly by Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, and newly aquired Brandon McCarthy. In the four slot, hopefully, Robinson Tejeda will be the second half pitcher (4-2, 2.32, 25K, 15BB, 54.1IP, 9G) instead of the first half pitcher (1-3, 9.78, 15K, 17BB, 19.1BB, 5G). If that's not the case, then this whole thing is probably shot to hell, because the weak spot is the fifth slot where Josh Rupe, John Koronka, Jon Rheinecker, Kameron Loe, or someone I've never heard of will arm wrestle for it. Of course, throw injuries in there, and you just never can tell. At least, Jon Daniels won't have to scamble to fill out the rotation like last year.

2. Who is playing the outfield? Gone from last years outfield are Gary Matthews, Jr., Carlos Lee, Mark DeRosa taking with them 42HR, 188RBI. Replacing GMJ will be replaced by Kenny Lofton (who makes me cry when I think that the Astros traded him for Eddie freakin' Taubensee!!!!) Lofton will be an improvement defensively over GMJ, who made great plays, but wasn't as great as his highlights, but offensive it'll be a downgrade. In fact, each positon will probably be a downgrade offensively. Right and left field will be covered by free agent signee Frank Cattalanatto, the hopefully healthy Brad Wilkerson, and my favorite, former Nashville Sound, Nelson Cruz. I don't really want to talk about Sammy Sosa. Hopefully, he just sucks throughout all of spring training and gets cut. I'm a little worried about how the whole media craziness around Sosa will affect the whole camp. Offensively, the infield (Teixeira, Young, Blalock, Laird, and Kinsler) will have to pick up the slack.

3. The third question is how are things going to be different under Ron Washington than Buck Showalter? I can only expect that things will be %10000000 better in clubhouse. I've read a number of things stating that the players hated playing for Showalter who seemed more interested in playing politics and screwing with players' heads than actually managing the game. So the players will be happier, but who cares if they don't win? I do think it's important to put players in a position where they can succeed is important. Hopefully, Washington can do that.

We are still over a month and half away from opening day and alot can change.

1 comment:

Chris said...

It's spring--everyone is a championship contender. Sosa is going to be an MVP candidate again, anchoring the outfield. The infield is full of gold glovers. The bullpen is going to be the league's best. Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, Tejeda and Loe are going to combine for over eighty wins. And Wash, your 2007 MOY, will lead the team to the World Series!
Just watch it with the 'getting baseballs' comment.