Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

MLB Preview: Those Texas Rangers

Growing up, I always saw the Texas Rangers as the sort of goofy and beefy friend that didn't really hurt anyone, would always look moderately good enough to get some attention but never good enough to actually get a girlfriend. Wow, that analogy turned out pretty lame. Anyways, leave it at the simple fact that I had little to no strong feelings about the group from Arlington.

Then A-Rod left. And joined Texas. And it was on.

Ever since that moment, Texas has been among my least favorite teams, even with the new influx of young talent, including Teixeira, Blalock, and Young (who I really do enjoy watching). That might change again once A-Rod's contract expires, but during the meantime, just say "No" for Texas.

That said, Texas does have a shot at the AL West this year (like every team not from Seattle), with an improved lineup (that's scary) and a perhaps much improved starting rotation (who still will suffer from having to pitch in that bandbox). Let's look at this sucker position by position....

(2005 stats)
C: Rod Barajas - .254 BA, .306 OBP, 53 R, 21 HR, 60 RBI
This guy is a stone-cold Mariners killer, but, in the end, he really doesn't get on base enough to become a real offensive talent. He seems to work well behind the backstop, however, and is always good for an onslaught against a Meche or Piniero.

1B: Mark Teixeira - .301 BA, .379 OBP, 112 R, 43 HR, 144 RBI
Teixeira became an absolute beast last season, going on several home-run tears and propelling one fantasy team (not mine) towards our league's championship. Look at those numbers, man! Expect those numbers to continue, as the Rangers have an absolute masher in the middle of that lineup.

2B: Ian Kinsler (from Arizona State!)
As per the rules at the beginning of our preview, I relinquish any knowledge about how good or bad a rookie will be. Read elsewhere for that. I will say that he has HUGE ears, reminiscent of the Crushed Dad's back in high school.

SS: Michael Young - .331 BA, .385 OBP, 114 R, 24 HR, 91 RBI
This guy has one of the smoothest swings I have ever seen, and he never seems to waste an AB. Again, this guy kills Mariner's pitching, but at least he seems to kill every team's pitchers. I really wish this guy was a Mariner. I mean, I know it will probably never happen, but he's the type of player you enjoy cheering on.

3B: Hank Blalock - .263 BA, .318 OBP, 80 R, 25 HR, 92 RBI
Now, this fellow seems to have gone on a down-swing the last few years, ever since he hit the game-winning home-run off Eric Gagne in the All-Star game. Blalock seemed originally to have the most talent of the three (just from a fan's perspective, I'm sure he didn't from a stat-heads perspective), but it has certainly become clear at this point that both Young and Teixeira are heads above Blalock. With that said, he is still an above-average 3rd baseman who has the potential for a bit of a rebound in 2006.

LF: Kevin Mench - .264 BA, .328 OBP, 71 R, 25 HR, 73 RBI
Yet ANOTHER Mariner killer, who goes by the name Shrek, which immediately makes me like him. See, this is hard. I actually like most of these guys, but I can't bring myself to like the Rangers. Dang it!

CF: Brad Wilkerson - .248 BA, .351 OBP, 76 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI
Wow, for a down season, having an OBP over .350 is pretty doggone good. Imagine this hitter going from perhaps the hardest place to hit in RFK to the 2nd best place to hit in Arlington! This guy is going to make this lineup even better, and should actually produce more runs even without Soriano (who is OVERRATED).

LF: David Delucci/Laynce Nix
Finally, two more Mariner killers, including Nix, who, specifically, is a Meche killer. Delucci is now trade bait, while Nix might get the starting nod in center and Wilkerson will slide over to LF. I hope you can realize how tremendous this lineup is. They are mostly young, hungry, with tremendous power and the opportunity to get on the bases early and often.

Now, as for that starting rotation:
1. Kevin Millwood
2. Adam Eaton
3. Vincente Padilla
4. Kameron Loe
5. R.A. Dickey

Millwood had a great free-agent year, but found that the money led him to Arlington, where good pitchers not named Kenny Rogers go to die. Speaking of Kenny Rogers, that will actually be a big blow for the Rangers, as he had an absolutely incredible season last year. Adam Eaton is a downgrade from Chris Young (yes, I'm serious), and Vincente Padilla is a mystery wrapped in a enigma. He has All-Star talent merged with Bartolo Colon attitude. Fantastic. Loe might turn out to be the most consistent starter, while the fact that Dickey procured the #5 slot has not a few Rangers fans scratching their heads. Overall, is this rotation improved? Probably. Is it on par with, say, the A's or the Angels? Um, no. Definitely not. Once again, this is a team that will go as far as their starting rotation can carry them, and that probably is not the postseason.

Bullpen:
Closer: Francisco Cordero (very nice)
Wasdin and Benoit are two nice guys, but the bullpen, by and large, isn't the best in the west. It's the worst in the west. Now, if the Rangers make it to the 9th, Cordero is very capable of earning 40 saves, but it is appropriate to assume that Texas will be in for, once again, a plethora of exciting, back-and-forth games.

Crushed Outlook: 2006 should look remarkably similar to 2004, with the Rangers staying in contention well into September, finally wilting in the pennant race. However, I would not be surprised to see them finish second in the AL West, easing ahead of the Anaheim Angels, who seem to be due for a fall.

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:13 PM  0 comments

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