Monday, April 06, 2009
Hello Opening Day: The 2009 Rangers will surprise you!
For whatever it's worth, the Rangers were 21-13 in the exhibition season.
The good news is that 21-13 is .617 ball!
Or, 100 wins!
The bad news is that it's a spring training record. Most exhibition games are decided by players who won't be playing on opening day.
Nevertheless, I can remember prior springs when the Rangers struggled to play .500 ball.
So I'll take a winning record, in exhibition or real baseball!
Winning is always better than losing!
Last season, the Rangers' killed their season with a 7-19 start. They fought back and were 6 games over .500 in early August. They just collapsed after that! It was pathetic to watch!
What's different this year?
Like everything, it starts with pitching.
Kevin Milwood is healthy after a painful season. If healthy, Milwood should give you 200-innings plus and 25 quality starts. We remember Milwood in 2006 when he was healthy and won 16 games.
Vicente Padilla won 14 games last season but got hurt at the end. If healthy, he is good for 15 wins and lots of innings.
Can we count on Milwood and Padilla in 2009? I think so because they are healthy.
The other starters are Brandon McCarthy, who is always hurt, and Matt Harrison, another player who came in the Texeira deal.
McCarthy has a lot of talent. Can he stay healthy?
Harrison looks like a major league left handed pitcher.
Chris Benson will be the 5th starter. He is coming back from injuries. It's hard to tell how it will play out. He was very good before he got hurt.
The closer will be Frankie Francisco. He is good. He took over for CJ Wilson, who has a lot of talent but needs a little more maturity.
Overall, it should be a better pitching staff than 2008. Of course, it doesn't take much to improve on the 2008 staff!
What about the daily lineup?
Ian Kinsler will lead off. He was an All Star last year and had a legitimate shot at the batting title until he got hurt in August.
Michael Young is playing 3b this year. Young is 32 and should have a couple of more good seasons with the bat.
Josh Hamilton was the baseball story of 2008. Can he repeat? He should. He may not blow up the HR Derby again but should have another productive season.
Hank Blalock is finally healthy and should split between 1b, 3b and DH. Blalock was a great hitter a couple of years ago.
Chris Davis is an awesome young hitter who looks like a young Mark Texeira. He will play 1b and put up some nice numbers.
David Murphy was headed for a Rookie if the Year award in 2008 until he suffered a season ending injury. He still drove in over 70 runs as a rookie! He plays hard and looks like a young Rusty Greer.
Jarrod Saltalamachia came over in the Texeira deal. He will be given a shot at catching now that Laird was traded to Detroit. I'm not sure if he can catch everyday but he can hit. Time will tell if he can handle a pitching staff. Again, he can hit!
Nelson Cruz is probably going to get a shot at RF. He hit a ton at AAA last year. Let's see if he can hit major league pitching. If he can't hit then watch for Andruw Jones to get a lot of at-bats.
Elvis Andrus is another one of those players who came over in the Texeira deal. He is 20 years old and will start at shortstop. I have never seen him play but the scouts love him.
What's my prediction? 85 wins and a decent September. The Rangers will fight the Angels and phase out in late September.
Can they win the division or wild card? No, not in 2009 but this is a young team and there are some awesome young pitchers coming up.
What about Manager Ron Washington? I like him. He is very positive and seems to get along well with the team.
P.S. What about this awesome throw from Josh Hamilton? He was so much fun to watch last season!
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