StrategyMarch 23, 2009

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Texas Rangers

By Michael Marinakis

Welcome to our final edition of the “30 Teams in 30 Days” series. Today we’ll be covering the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have been an offensively-minded team for as long as I can remember and playing in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington should continue that trend in the foreseeable future. If Texas ever manages to put together a decent pitching rotation, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the AL West. Don’t expect it this year however, as even that monstrous offense won’t be able to keep up with the number of runs their staff will allow.

For a closer look at the Texas Rangers and the rest of the AL West, be sure to check out the The Can of Corn AL West Preview Podcast.

Offensive Starters

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia.253.352.364273260198 
1B Chris Davis.285.331.5495117551295 
2B Ian Kinsler.319.375.517102187126518 
SS Elvis Andrus.295.350.3678246554482in AA
3B Michael Young.284.339.402102128210645 
LF David Murphy.275.321.4656415747415 
CF Josh Hamilton.304.371.53098321309624 
RF Nelson Cruz.330.421.609197263115 
DH Hank Blalock.287.338.5083712381258 

Unsettled: Shortstop. The Rangers have made their intentions known of bringing up prospect Andrus to start the year at shortstop. Incumbent shortstop Young did not take the move to third base well at first, though it seems this problem has been cleared up for now. Andrus was decent as a 20-year-old in Double-A ball last year, posting a .295/.350/.367 line. He didn’t hit for much power but showed very good speed, stealing 54 bases in only 482 at-bats. He has been known for his defense in the past, showing huge range and an accurate arm. However, he did commit 32 errors (an admittedly poor indicator) in only 118 games last year and may need some work with the glove to make sure he can handle all the balls he gets to. Should Andrus play himself out of the job, the Rangers have a couple of options, including moving Young back to short or playing veteran defensive whiz Omar Vizquel.

Target: Nelson Cruz. Texas has plenty of hitters that any fantasy owner would love to have on their team; however, it’s one of the later guys that you might want to keep an eye on. While it’s hard to call Cruz a sleeper anymore with the attention that he’s getting, he’s still being drafted in the 14th round (162 overall). Cruz broke out in a huge way last year, putting up absolutely monstrous numbers in Triple-A (.342/.429/.695 with 37 HR and 24 SB in 393 AB) and didn’t stop his torrid run even after a promotion to the majors. Cruz has shown he has the skills to succeed in the minors but was unable to put it together in the majors until the end of last year. If he has finally made the jump from minor-league to major-league player, he could be a force this year and provide solid power and speed while hitting cleanup in a potent Rangers offense.

The Rotation

Kevin Millwood (R)9-105.071.5912549168.2
Vincente Padilla (R)14-84.741.4612765171
Matt Harrison (L)9-35.491.57423183.2
Scott Feldman (R)6-85.291.437456151.1
Brandon McCarthy (R)1-14.091.2710822

Unsettled: Scott Feldman and Brandon McCarthy. Right now the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are a bit of a toss up with four guys in the mix for the two spots. According to the team’s website, Feldman and McCarthy have a leg up over Dustin Nippert and Jason Jennings. Super-prospect Neftali Feliz is unlikely to break with the team, but there is nobody stopping him from taking a spot in the rotation once he is ready.

Target: Neftali Feliz. Not a single one of these guys is worth a roster spot in all but the deepest leagues. Millwood could be used as a spot starter against weaker opponents but should be avoided for the most part. In keeper and dynasty leagues, try to snag Feliz, who looks to be an ace in the making. It’s going to be tough for any young guy to come up and pitch in that ballpark, but Feliz has the ability to be a top notch major league pitcher.

The 8th and 9th Innings

Frank Francisco (R)53.131.15832663.1
C.J. Wilson (L)246.021.64412746.1

Chasing Saves: Going into the season, the guy to target for saves in the Texas bullpen is Francisco, who posted ridiculous strikeout numbers last year while maintaining solid control. If he can stay healthy and build off last year, he could be a solid contributor to any fantasy team. I wouldn’t expect numbers as good as last year, but even with some regression he should have plenty of value as a second or third closer. Should Francisco falter, expect Wilson to take over, though that is a situation I’d want to stay away from at this point.

Final Thoughts

The Rangers are a great team to build your offense from, with studs like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler going in the late first round. There are plenty of middle round guys who should provide solid if not spectacular numbers in Chris Davis, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz. The pitching situation, however, is quite the opposite. You’ll want to shy away from the entire rotation, though Frank Francisco is a decent later game option for saves.

Yesterday we previewed the Seattle Mariners. This concludes our “30 Teams in 30 Days” series. We hope you enjoyed reading and check back in the future for more fantasy advice from our cafe writers, including columns each and every day during the season!

Michael Marinakis is a 23-year-old fantasy addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe all day where he posts as GiantsFan14 and looks forward to Lincecum's upcoming 300 strikeout season.
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