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2008 Texas Rangers Preview

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2008 Texas Rangers Preview

Rangers shortstop Michael young has hit .306 or better for five consecutive seasons.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Spring training site

Surprise, Ariz.

2007 record

75-87, fourth in AL West, 19 games behind Angels

New faces

OF Milton Bradley (free agent, Padres); 1B Ben Broussard (trade, Mariners); OF Jason Ellison (gree agent, Reds); LHP Eddie Guardado (free agent, Reds); RHP Kazuo Fukumori (free agent, Japan); OF Josh Hamilton (trade, Reds); RHP Jason Jennings (free agent, Astros)

Biggest offseason acquisition

Hamilton, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1999 who struggled with drug abuse early in his career, reclaimed his career with a great comeback season in Cincinnati, and started red-hot in spring training for the Rangers. He hit 19 homers in 90 games for the Reds in 2007, and Cincinnati gave up on him for righty Edinson Volquez and another marginal prospect.

Gone but not forgotten

First baseman Brad Wilkerson is gone to the Mariners after hitting .222 in 2006 and .232 in 2007, so it's unlikely he'll be missed. In his place is Broussard, who should hit for a higher average and just as much power.

Spring training battles

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the key to the Eric Gagne deal last summer, and he'll get the first chance to play catcher, with Gerald Laird in the mix as well. And C.J. Wilson, who became the closer after that trade, is being challenged by a few others in camp.

Projected lineup

  • DH Frank Catalanotto
  • 2B Ian Kinsler
  • SS Michael Young
  • RF Milton Bradley
  • CF Josh Hamilton
  • LF Marlon Byrd
  • 3B Hank Blalock
  • 1B Ben Broussard
  • C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Projected starting rotation

  • RHP Kevin Millwood
  • RHP Vincente Padilla
  • RHP Jason Jennings
  • LHP Kason Gabbard
  • RHP Luis Mendoza

Projected bullpen

  • C.J. Wilson (closer)
  • RHP Joaquin Benoit
  • RHP Kazuo Fukumori
  • LHP Eddie Guardado
  • RHP Frank Francisco
  • RHP Wes Littleton
  • RHP Kameron Loe

Biggest strength

They have some potentially good young hitters in Hamilton and Saltalamacchia, and offensively in the infield it doesn't get much better up the middle with Young and Kinsler.

Glaring weakness

The bullpen is especially unsettled and young, and the rotation is a typical Texas Rangers rotation. It looks like a group of No. 4 and 5 starters, and a few of them have some major injury history (Millwood, Jennings, etc.). That won't be enough to get it done in a division with strong competition from the Angels and Mariners, but it should be enough to get out of last place thanks to the rebuilding A's.

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