Sunday, April 1, 2007

Rangers outlook

Let me first say thank you to Rus for answering the charges laid before me regarding the Rangers this season. However, I was already preparing my own answer, even before the question was asked. And while I appreciate Rus's effort, he gave the wrong answer. I suppose it's the thought that counts.

As I said in a comment to Patrick and his case for the Braves, when you start dropping if's to argue your team's case, you've already lost. Rus even titled his post if, if, if.......—not good. Here is the correct answer to the question: What about the Rangers?

If #1: Pitching - Yes, it is better. No, it is not good enough. No ace. You've got three pretty good 2-3 type guys, although that hasn't really shown this spring. At the bottom of the rotation, who knows? The bullpen should be good. If Gagne holds up, and I think he will, Otsuka can be traded for a starter. Again, the staff is better, but it's not felt (read: pennant material).

If #2: Offense - Something we've always taken for granted in Texas. Comparatively speaking, this offense is rather anemic, especially considering their home park. If they had a top notch pitching staff they could get away with it. But they don't, so they won't. The defense should be good, but they'll pay for it at the plate.

If #3: Manager - Yes, Buck is gone, and any change has to be good, but I'm not buying in to Wash yet. I'm suspicious of all the hype, and worried there won't be any substance to back it up. I could be wrong, but I still wonder if Trey Hillman wouldn't have been a great hire here.

There may be fewer ifs, but the bottom line is that there are still plenty, certainly more than other teams have. I think the Rangers will finish third, although I wouldn't be surprised if they came in second. First is out of the question for at least another year. They are getting closer, but they aren't there yet.

However. . . if they do somehow take first out West, I think this team could make some noise in the playoffs. I assume that they will have traded for some pitching to get there, and once in the playoffs, the bottom of their rotation becomes irrelevant. I think they have three guys (plus the hypothetical trade acquisition) who can compete with most, and their defense becomes more important in tighter playoff games.

I think this team is built for playoff baseball, but I don't think they can weather the 162 game schedule to actually get there.

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