Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
Overall – 63 points (29th MLB, 13th AL)
Starting Rotation – 20 points (30th MLB, 14th AL)
Line-Up – 30 points (23rd MLB, 11th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 13 points (T-23rd MLB, T-13th AL)
Offseason Additions – Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, Kazuo Fukumori, Jason Jennings
Offseason Subtractions – Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Brad Wilkerson
Biggest Strength– Can I pass?
There isn’t anything to get really excited about with the Rangers. They have a pretty good farm system, but lack elite “can’t miss” prospects. They have a couple good young hitters who could blossom in Josh Hamilton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Their bullpen should also be pretty solid. But I can’t really envision a whole lot of Rangers fans excited about this year or the future.
Biggest Weakness– Starting Rotation
The Rangers have the worst rotation in the Majors. Their #1 starter, Kevin Millwood, had a 5.16 ERA last season. Their #2, Vicente Padilla, had a 5.76 ERA. #3 starter Jason Jennings had a 6.45 ERA for Astros. Maybe the Phillies can convince them to take Adam Eaton back, he would fit right in as their #4.
Key Player in ’08– Brandon McCarthy
There was a time when Brandon McCarthy was an untouchable prospect in the White Sox system. Apparently, they changed their mind about him last year when they traded him to the Rangers for fellow pitching prospect Jon Danks. McCarthy wasn’t as bad as the other starters last year (4.87 ERA), but wasn’t terribly good either. The Rangers need someone, ANYONE, to be a solid pitching option for them every 5th day. McCarthy is only 24, and perhaps this is this year he can show why he was once one of the best prospects in baseball.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Josh Hamilton
Hamilton was the #1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1999. He was called “The Natural” because of how perfect his swing was. He could hit for average and power, steal bases and play excellent defense. However, drug problems derailed his career, and in 2002 he was suspended from baseball. From 2002-2005, he was in and out of rehab 8 times and tried to commit suicide on 3 separate occasions. However, he finally got clean in 2005 and started his comeback, which came to fruition in 2007 when he joined the Reds and hit .292 with 19 HR and 47 RBI in just 90 games. He was traded to the Rangers in the off-season and will have his first chance at a full MLB season in 2008. As an extremely gifted left-handed hitter in the Ballpark at Arlington, it could be a big one.
Outlook/Prediction– 4th Place, AL West. The Rangers have not been able to put together a decent starting rotation for years. It has been 10 years since they’ve even had two pitchers pitch over 200 innings with a sub 4.50 ERA (Rick Helling and Aaron Sele). This year’s crop is so bad that it’s going to take a whole lot of comeback years for the Rangers to avoid the basement.