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Fernando Tatis has the biggest ears in major league baseball history (you could look it up). The only thing bigger than his lobes is his potential. This season Tatis, 23, will start at third for Texas, and hopes are high. The Rangers know his glove is steady, but this franchise has always counted on a heavy-hitting third baseman, such as Larry Parrish, Steve Buchele or Dean Palmer. So for Texas to make the playoffs, Tatis must hit 20 homers in a lineup that, other than Juan Gonzalez and Rusty Greer, has little pop. If he does that, Dumbo will be flying high once again.
What They Needed: A steady shortstop. More starting pitching. A reserve catcher. Bullpen depth.
What They Got: Kevin Elster returns after a year in Pittsburgh to play short. Aaron Sele will enter the rotation after an injury-plagued stint in Boston. Roberto Kelly will play for his 806th team, and Luis Alicea is a stopgap at second. Bill Haselman will back up Pudge.
What it All Means: The key is Seleeveryone says he's got monster stuff, it's just a matter of throwing it consistently. On the other hand, if he has another 5.38 ERA kind of year, the Texas staff is toast. Elster is a big offensive upgrade from Benji Gil, but he's 33 and injury-prone. The Rangers probably don't have enough to win the AL West, but they could make a run at the wild-card slot.
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