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2006 Team Preview: Texas Rangers
by Karl Wright
March 31, 2006

2005 Record: 80-82 (3rd Place AL West Division)

2005 Runs Scored: 865

2005 Runs Allowed: 858

Pythagorean 2005 Record: 82-80




2005 Record: 79-83 (3rd Place, AL West)

As impressive as Texas has been on offense over the past two seasons, they’ve been that bad in the defensive side of the inning. The Rangers hope to reverse that trend this year as they’ve added defense and pitching while maintaining much of their highly-touted offensive punch. Unfortunately, they’ve retained the same scouting department from the last two years. This is a front office that has a penchant for missing the mark by miles.

It seems, though, that their “monkeys-throwing-darts” strategy may be paying off. Of course, that’s the beauty of this strategy – its always entertaining to watch. Especially if the home runs keep coming.

Catcher

2005 Starter: Rod Barajas

Projected 2006 Starters: Rod Barajas


Another in a long line of names to benefit from the strength of their surrounding lineup, Barajas has enjoyed the two best years of his career at the plate with the Rangers. In his first year with the franchise in 2004, he cashed in on his increased playing time by posting 15 HR, 12 more than his previous season high, albeit in 160 less at bats. Last year, he increased his career high in HR, when he jacked 26 with a .254 BA. No in-his-prime Ivan Rodriguez, but no chump, either.

First Base

 
Mark the rock 
2005 Starters: Mark Texeira

Projected 2006 Starter: Mark Texeira

This guy has been a big gun from the beginning. He’s as dependable a bat as there is in the league today. Entering his fourth year with the club, he’s already belted 107 HR, with a .541 SLG. There are absolutely no deficiencies for the club at this position. Did I mention his Gold Glove last year?



Second Base

2005 Starter: Alphonso Soriano

Projected 2006 Starters: Ian Kinsler, Mark DeRosa          


The rookie Kinsler won the starting job that was last occupied by OF Soriano. While these are enormous shoes to fill offensively, they are midget booties defensively speaking. If Kinsler is able to be anything more than an average fielder, he’ll be an upgrade. Even though the Rangers have been spoiled by the offensive output of Soriano the last couple of years, they are likely not to be disappointed with Kinsler’s performance. Of course, should something happen, there’s always Mark DeRosa.

Third Base

2005 Starter: Hank Blalock

Projected 2006 Starter: Hank Blalock

Although his numbers did slip a bit last season, they were still solid. He hit .263 with 25 HR and 92 RBI (down from .276, 32 HR, 110 RBI in 2004). The Rangers are banking on him having a resurgence, but will also have some flexibility there with Phil Nevin on board.

Shortstop

2005 Starter: Mike Young

Projected 2006 Starter: Mike Young


If you’re searching for holes in this offensive lineup, you won’t find it here. Young has hit at least .306 in the last three seasons and is coming off another impressive year where he hit .331, with 24 HR and 91 RBI. This is yet another position that is as solid as a rock for the Rangers and is of no concern, barring injury, to them whatsoever.

Utilityman/DH

2005 Starter: David Delluci

 

Projected 2006 Starter: Phil Nevin

 

It would be hard to call this an absolute upgrade, but when factoring in other elements (like flexibility to play CI, giving Showalter the ability to rest a couple of his better hitters), this is a pretty solid guy to have in at DH. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the AL.

Outfield

2005 Starters: Richard Hidalgo, Kevin Mench, Gary Matthews, Jr.

Projected 2006 Starters:  Kevin Mench, Brad Wilkerson, David Dellucci


Having Little Sarge (Gary Matthews, Jr.) as your 4th outfielder is a sign that you have a pretty good corps out there. Expect Kevin Mench’s numbers to rise with the addition of Brad Wilkerson, whose production should increase as well now that he’s actually surrounded by some hitters. Dellucci should be able to hold his own as the full-time LF.

 

Pitching

2005 Front Three Starters: Chan Ho Park, Pedro Astacio, Kenny Rogers

Projected 2006 Front Three: Kevin Millwood, Adam Eaton, Vincente Padilla


 
Looks like Texas'll be Eaton a $3M+ Salary 
This would be quite the impressive upgrade if it weren’t for the fact that Eaton is going to be missing the first 3 months of the season with a tendon injury in his pitching hand. Even with that setback, though Millwood and Padilla are substantial upgrades and should be good for another 10 victories this year, at least.


Other 2005 Starters: Chris Young, Ryan Drese, Ricardo Rodriguez, R.A. Dickey

Other Possible 2006 Starters: Kameron Loe, Edinson Volquez, R.A. Dickey


Honestly, there probably isn’t much of an upgrade here at all, but the franchise is trying to shake the bottom of the rotation up again in an attempt to find a guy who can throw consistently. There was considerable hope that Juan Domiguez would man up and parlay his talent into success as the fifth starter this year, but that hope was put to rest as he was traded to Oakland Friday night. Eaton’s injury has prompted the front office to make adjustments, so look for the 3, 4, and 5 spots in the rotation to be a day-to-day situation.


2005 Top Relievers: Francisco Cordero, Brian Shouse, Doug Brocail, Kameron Loe

Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Akinori Otsuka, Joaquin Benoit, Brian Shouse, Francisco Cordero


Looks like the same old, same old here and that is not a good thing if you’re the Rangers. In all fairness, though Otsuka does provide a boost to the bullpen. The Rangers really would have done well to have spent more to improve this bullpen, as it will probably be a factor in them not making the playoffs.


Final Word:


Expect to see a repeat of the last two seasons for the Rangers, despite their efforts to shore up their pitching deficiencies. The injury to Adam Eaton could potentially be devastating, especially if he isn’t able to perform well quickly following his return. They did virtually nothing to stock their bullpen and will pay dearly for that mistake. Their upgrades at SP will be nullified if the bullpen can’t hold the leads. The Rangers are heading in the right direction, but it will only get them in contention for the wildcard and not in possession of it. They’ll finish second in the AL West behind the Angels.    

 





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