Texas taking a whole new approach
The season seemed ready to implode on first-year manager Ron Washington in the first half, with hints of player dissatisfaction as the Rangers fell 19 games under .500 in mid-June. But after a soul-searching team meeting in Orlando in mid-May, the team began to jell.
GM: Jon Daniels
Manager: Ron Washington
'07 record: 75-87, 4th AL West
'07 payroll: $68.8M, 21st MLB
Runs scored: 816, 5th AL
Runs allowed: 844, 12th AL
OPS: .754, 8th AL
ERA: 4.75, 11th AL
Fielding percentage: .980, T-13th AL
Primary needs1. The Rangers absolutely must improve their starting pitching. They ranked last in the American League in ERA (5.49) and quality starts (55) and 13th in walks (398), while becoming (along with Washington and Florida) the first team in history to finish an entire season without a complete game. 2. With top outfield prospects Julio Borbon and Engel Beltre still several years away from the majors, the Rangers will look to acquire an impact center fielder, either through free agency or a trade. They will likely target Torii Hunter or possibly Aaron Rowand. 3. The Rangers must decide what to do about first base in the post-Teixeira era. Last season, after Teixeira was traded to Atlanta in July, they used Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Brad Wilkerson at first, but with Saltalamacchia slated to spend most of his time behind the plate, and Wilkerson eligible for free agency, they will likely need to explore free agency or the trade market for a first baseman. Frank Catalanotto is an in-house option.
Free agentsOF Brad Wilkerson, OF Sammy Sosa, RHP Jamey Wright, INF Jerry Hairston Besides taking a look at center fielders like Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand and possibly Mike Cameron, the Rangers can't be ruled out as a landing spot for Barry Bonds. They took a chance on Sammy Sosa, after all, and got a nice comeback year (21 homers, 92 RBIs in 114 games). Sosa could return as DH, or Jason Botts could get the job full time. The Rangers might go after an arm to stabilize their rotation, though GM Jon Daniels seems inclined to stick with the young pitchers who struggled last year, hoping for growth. And don't be too surprised if Eric Gagne, a flop in Boston after the Red Sox sent three prospects to Texas for the reliever, winds up back in the Rangers' bullpen. There has been inevitable speculation of an Alex Rodriguez return to Texas, but despite owner Tom Hicks' adoration of A-Rod, it's an extreme long shot.