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by user Timothy Moreland
This pitching staff is supposed to finally be the one that can perform well enough to lead their powerhouse offense to playoff contention. Gone is Chan Ho Park and his $15 million of uselessness. No more Pedro Astacio or Ryan Drese. Alas, Texas brought in some genuine talent in Kevin Millwood, Adam Eaton, and Vicente Padilla. Sorry, but this staff still stinks. Outside of Millwood, there is nothing to like about this staff. Last year, Millwood had a 2.86 ERA, the second best mark of his career; however, moving to Texas will bring his ERA back up toward his career mark of 3.76. Still, that is good enough for a top of the rotation guy, assuming there is something resembling talent in the rest of the staff. Unfortunately, there really is not. Eaton, at 28, has never had a sub-4.00 year, and has pitched the last two years in the pitcher-friendliest ballpark. Imagine how high his ERA can go in Texas. Over the past three years, Eaton has become more hittable and his control hasn't improved. Even the most optimistic of projections could not have Eaton below a 4.00 ERA this year, which is not a good sign for your number two starter. There is something wrong with Padilla. In 2002, Padilla's first full year as a starter, he had an ERA of 3.28. The next few years his ERA went from 3.62 to 4.53 to 4.71 last year. Over that time, he has allowed more HRs and walks. I can't imagine his HR rate improving in Texas; although, Philadelphia is tough on pitchers as well. Watch out for the injury he had last year to remain a factor this year. The one good thing I can say about Kameron Loe is that he just might be the right type of pitcher to succeed in Texas. Last year, 60% of balls in play off of him were grounders. Also, he only let up 7 HRs in 92 IP. This helped to keep his ERA at an effective 3.42. On the not so bright side, he walked 31 while only striking out 45. If he can improve his control and get solid defense behind him, Loe could be a sleeper. Dominguez will be called upon to pitch many more innings than he ever has in his career. Add in the fact he is not in shape and Texas may be in trouble in their #5 spot. Francisco Cordero and Akinori Otsuka adequately anchor an otherwise weak bullpen. Otsuka struggled somewhat with control, which caused his ERA to jump from 1.75 to 3.59.
<stats> Player=Kevin Millwood Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Adam Eaton Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Vicente Padilla Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Kameron Loe Type=Pitching Years=2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Juan Dominguez Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Brad Wilkerson lost all of his power to RFK stadium and a shoulder injury last year. I guarantee he puts up a HR line closer to his 2004 season (32) then his 2005 campaign (11). Wilkerson's plays hard and is not shy about diving around in the outfield so hopefully he doesn't reinjure that shoulder. Offensively, it is hard to find a better SS than Mike Young(.331/.385/.513); unfortunately, he plays defense as well. At the most valuable defensive position, it is hard to find a worse player. How did Texas live with Young and Alfonso Soriano as their double play combo? Mark Teixeira is a superstar who still has the potential to hit 50 HRs, as someone predicts every year. That someone will not be me. I think he hits closer to 40 than 50 but that is no reason to complain. He slugged .575 last year and played Gold Glove-caliber defense at 1B. Which makes him the only valuable defensive player in the Rangers' infield, because Hank Blalock is another player whose value falls almost solely in what he does at the plate. Last year, however, his performance dropped. His OBP, which was at a respectable .355 in 2004, dropped to .318 and his SLG, which was at .500, dropped to .431. Blalock is only 25 and without a doubt his offense will recover. I predict a career year for Blalock. This lineup definitely contains one of the strongest front fours in the majors. Mench is a dropoff but still a rather productive player from the #5 spot. He has had a combined 51 HRs over the last two years and is only 28 years old. His OBP is somewhat low(.328 last year) but if he can slug .539 like he did in 2003, that should not matter. In the #6 spot, Texas will platoon David Dellucci and Gary Matthew Jr. Delluci can hit. Last year, he was given more at bats than ever and hit 29 HRs with a .367 OBP. When he is not in LF, Texas will still be able to keep his bat in the lineup at DH, which should curb some fatigue problems. Matthews Jr. is the type of guy who isn't good enough to start every day but is good enough to come off the bench frequently without hurting the team. At DH, Phil Nevin should recover fully from last year's injury, but that does not mean a new one won't crop up. If healthy, Nevin is still a good hitter but, at 35, I wouldn't count on a return to his past production; instead, his value will fall in between last year's disaster and his solid year in 2004. Ian Kinsler has a bright future but he did not impress me last year as a 23-year-old in AAA. Most likely, he will hit around average for a 2B, which should suffice on such a great offensive team. Rod Barajas was actually a valuable hitter last year with 21 HRs. He should get plenty of opportunity to shine and will provide double digit HR power out of the #9 spot. The one thing this lineup lacks is any SB threat but with all the power and solid OBP's, that is really not at all that important to worry about.
Projected Batting Order
<stats> Player=Brad Wilkerson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SS Mike Young
<stats> Player=Michael Young Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Mark Teixeira Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
3B Hank Blalock
<stats> Player=Hank Blalock Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
RF Kevin Mench
<stats> Player=Kevin Mench Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=David Dellucci Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
DH Phil Nevin
<stats> Player=Phil Nevin Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
2B Ian Kinsler
<stats> Player=Ian Kinsler Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Rod Barajas Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Projection: 78-84 3rd in AL West...They are the same team as last year. I think they will let up more runs than they score and, considering their offense, that is quite the feat.
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Tue 03/14/06, 2:59 pm EST