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Texas Rangers
Team Page | Roster | Spring Training Schedule | Regular Season Schedule
On this page: Arrivals | Departures | Spring Cleaning | Team Breakdown | Prospects | Predictions


   Alex Rodriguez hit .356 with 28 homers and 81 RBIs away from Safeco Field last season. AP

By James Quintong, CNNSI.com

With an infusion of money coming in from a new TV contract, the Rangers were intent on spending to improve a team that plummeted from an American League West title in 1999 to a 71-91 effort in 2000.

At first, it looked like the road to improvement was to get really old. After acquiring some promising youngsters -- Gabe Kapler, Francisco Cordero, Justin Thompson -- in the Juan Gonzalez trade, they went on a completely different path. First off, they dealt for 38-year-old Randy Velarde. Next up were the signings of 40-year-old Andres Galarraga and Ken Caminiti, who will turn 38 in April. Some nice acquisitions, sure, but risky.

Then came the bombshell. The Rangers emerged as the winners in the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes, lapping the field by signing him to a 10-year, $252 million deal. Already one of baseball's most complete players, it is very possible his power numbers could increase playing in the much more hitter friendly Ballpark at Arlington.

 
Top Guns
Rangers 2000 team leaders
Avg.  Luis Alicea  .294 
HR  Rafael Palmeiro  39 
RBIs  Rafael Palmeiro  120 
SB  Royce Clayton  11 
Wins  Rick Helling  16 
ERA  Rick Helling  4.48 
Ks  Rick Helling  146 
Saves  John Wetteland  34 
 
Go Figure

34

Average age of Texas' potential Opening Day infield. This despite being anchored by the 25-year-old A-Rod.
 

The additions of A-Rod, Caminiti, Galarraga and Velarde should add veteran punch to the lineup that already includes Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro. Plus, the outfield looks promising if Rusty Greer, Gabe Kapler and Ruben Mateo can play a full season. If everyone can stay healthy, the Rangers look to have one of the better lineups in the league.

However, if Texas is to be in contention this year, it looks like they'll have to win a lot more 10-8 games. The Rangers threw plenty of money at the offense. Unfortunately, they did little to the pitching staff, which was the worst in the majors last season. Period. Even worse than the Rockies.

Among the major-league worsts for the Rangers staff: ERA (5.52), ratio (1.64), runs allowed (974), hits allowed (1,683) and batting average against (.294).

So how do you improve upon those numbers in the offseason? The Rangers opted to pick up middle reliever Mark Petkovsek, plus they acquired Aaron Myette, a top pitching prospect from the White Sox in the Royce Clayton trade. But, they lost closer John Wetteland, who is on the verge of retirement.

The rotation is decent at the top with Rick Helling and Kenny Rogers, who won a combined 29 games last season. After that, it's a major crap shoot. Myette could break into the rotation. Doug Davis and Ryan Glynn both spent considerable time in the rotation last year. Lefty Justin Thompson is attempting to come back after missing all of 2000 season with shoulder problems. Maybe one of them can push Darren Oliver out of the rotation.

Despite the questions with the staff, the Rangers are definitely drawing plenty of attention and lots of fans. The team sold a record number of tickets the first day they went on sale earlier this month. However, there's only so much A-Rod can do to make this team a pennant contender. I guess that begs the question -- if he's such an all-around player, can he also pitch?

Arrivals
Pos.  Player  From  Via 
RHP  Jeff Brantley  Phillies  Free Agency 
3B  Ken Caminiti  Astros  Free Agency 
1B/DH  Andres Galarraga  Braves  Free Agency 
RHP  Pat Mahomes  Mets  Free Agency 
RHP  Aaron Myette  White Sox  Trade 
SS  Alex Rodriguez  Mariners  Free Agency 
2B  Randy Velarde  A's  Trade 
RHP  Mark Petkovsek  Angels  Free Agency 

Departures
Pos.  Player  To  Via 
2B  Luis Alicea  Royals  Free Agency 
SS  Royce Clayton  White Sox  Trade 
OF  Mike Simms  TBA    
RHP  John Wetteland  TBA    
RHP  Matt Perisho  Tigers  Trade 

Spring Cleaning
 
Tim Crabtree
  • With John Wetteland allegedly retired -- or at least he can't sign with Texas until May -- the closer's job is very much up in the air. Tim Crabtree, who has five career saves, appears to have the role for now. But he could face some competition from veteran Jeff Brantley, youngster Francisco Cordero and former All-Star Jeff Zimmerman.

  • What do the Rangers do with Ricky Ledee? He was the Yankees starting left fielder at the start of 2000 before heading to Cleveland and later Texas. However, he doesn't appear to have a starting job with youngsters Ruben Mateo and Gabe Kapler, along with the vastly underrated Rusty Greer taking the starting jobs. Ledee did have 77 RBIs spread over three teams, but hit just a combined .236. Will he stay as a backup outfielder/DH or can the Rangers deal him to get some pitching?

  • Can their veteran pickups stay healthy? Caminiti missed most of the 2000 season with a wrist injury. Galaragga was hampered with injuries at the end of last season and Velarde began last season on the disabled list. The bench appears thin, although Frank Catalanatto put up decent stats in limited action. Plus, last year's incumbent third baseman Mike Lamb is still around.

  • Team Breakdown
    Projected Lineup  Projected Rotation 
    LF  Rusty Greer  RHP  Rick Helling 
    Ivan Rodriguez  LHP  Kenny Rogers 
    SS  Alex Rodriguez  LHP  Darren Oliver 
    1B  Rafael Palmeiro  LHP  Doug Davis 
    DH  Andres Galarraga  RHPs  Ryan Glynn/Aaron Myette 
    3B  Ken Caminiti  Bullpen  
    CF  Gabe Kapler  RHP  Tim Crabtree (closer) 
    RF  Ruben Mateo  RHP  Jeff Zimmerman 
    2B  Randy Velarde  RHP  Mark Petkovsek 
    Key Reserves   RHP  Francisco Cordero 
    OF  Chad Curtis  RHP  Jeff Brantley 
    OF  Ricky Ledee  RHP  Pat Mahomes 
    INF  Scott Sheldon  LHP  Chris Haney 
    INF  Frank Catalanatto  LHP  Mike Venafro 

    Prospects to Watch
  • LHP Joaquin Benoit -- The same scout (Omar Minaya, now with the Mets) who originally found Sammy Sosa for the Rangers found this pitcher in the Dominican Republic. Originally a very skinny 6-foot-4, he's bulked up and developed into a quality pitcher, limiting hitters in Double-A ball to just a .237 average. However, he's been injury prone, never totaling more than 105 innings in one season.

  • RHP Aaron Myette -- A promising pitching prospect for the White Sox, he got caught in the numbers crunch of all the top arms in the organization and ended up getting dealt to Texas in the Royce Clayton trade. He's got a nice sinking fastball plus a quality curveball and slider. His control was a bit suspect, but he could be a contender for a spot in the starting rotation this year.

  • 1B Carlos Pena -- Texas' first-round pick out of Northeastern in '98 hasn't disappointed so far, having hit 46 homers in his first two full seasons of minor league ball while increasing his average and cutting down on strikeouts. Plus he has good defensive range and can steal a base. Andres Galarraga's signing probably keeps Pena in the minors for another year. However, the Big Cat is signed for just one year, so Pena could be a full-time starter come 2002.

  • 2B Jason Romano -- Another product of Tampa's Hillsborough High (Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden's alma mater), the 21-year-old is a great gap hitter with plenty of speed. He's among the organization's leaders in doubles and stolen bases. The defense still needs a lot of help, especially after he was moved from third to second. He'll probably spend the year at Triple-A with Pena, with the possibility of taking over for Randy Velarde in a year or two if his defense gets better.

  • 2B Mike Young -- He came over from Toronto last season in the Esteban Loaiza trade and showed decent prowess at the plate, hitting .319 with Texas' Class AA team. He's got very good speed with 25 stolen bases in the minors last year, although he still needs to be a better baserunner. Improving his batting eye can only help him become a better leadoff hitter, which is what Texas sees his future as. The signing of Alex Rodriguez pushes him back from shortstop to second. Now, he'll have major competition from Romano.

  • Best-Case Scenario
    Alex Rodriguez flourishes in a much more hitter-friendly Ballpark and even makes a run at becoming baseball's first 50-50 player. Combine that with the resurgence of Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Caminiti and Andres Galarraga, Texas takes aim at the major-league record for most home runs in a season.

    John Wetteland decides against retirement and returns to the Rangers in May. Working off the same fountain of youth formula that rejuvenates Caminiti, Galarraga and Randy Velarde, Wetteland saves 40 games.

    Rick Helling and Kenny Rogers become dual 20-game winners despite each having ERAs over 5. The two finish 1-2 in the American League in run support.

    Worst-Case Scenario
    Tensions get high in the clubhouse as A-Rod and I-Rod continually feud over who's the best Rod in Texas. Rod Carew, Rod Stewart and "Price Is Right" announcer Rod Roddy are called in to defuse the situation.

    After stumbling out of the blocks again, A-Rod promises to refund the ticket price and concession costs of every fan at the Ballpark after a 16-13 loss to Oakland.

    To solve their pitching woes, the Rangers have A-Rod start a game. He pitches eight shutout innings but then suffers the same elbow injury as Jose Canseco, putting him on the shelf for two years.

    Bottom Line
    Alex Rodriguez definitely gives the Rangers a lot of cachet and one of the strongest lineups in the majors, if everyone can stay healthy. Their offense will help them improve upon their 71wins from last season. However, with the pitching the way it is, the improvement will be negligible. How often can a team win 11-8 slugfests?



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