SLEEPER Akinori Otsuka is the closer without a job that you want.
BUST Eric Gagne is the closer with a job that you don't want.
HITTER TO WATCH: Freddy Guzman, OF Guzman is a fleet center fielder with a strong glove and a weak bat, and could get some playing time if Kenny Lofton gets hurt.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Eric Hurley, RHP
Hurley has two plus pitches already in his 91-94 mph fastball and a sharp slider, and pitched very well in the hitter-friendly Cal League last year.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED The trio of Texas prospects had a cool nickname: DVD, in honor of John Danks, Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond. But with nothing but failure to show for this decade, the Rangers need experience more than potential. So Danks was swapped for a more refined young pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, an understudy in the White Sox pen last year. "He's a Jack McDowell type," says one longtime AL talent evaluator. "I don't know if he's going to be a top-of-the-rotation guy, but he can be a good pitcher on a good staff." The Rangers already have an ace in Kevin Millwood and an innings-eater in Vicente Padilla, so they should be competitive with the other AL West teams. It's the rest of the league that'll give them trouble.
NEEDS FIXING In early March, Eric Gagné climbed a mound and threw all of his pitches, turning over his changeup, spinning a breaking ball, and in his elbow he felt something unusual: nothing. "I'm over the hump," says Gagné, who¹s been limited to 15 IPs the past two seasons. If Gagné is back, it would be a huge boost for the Rangers, who need all the bullpen depth they can muster.
Rangers fans are already tired of Kameron Loe, Bruce Chen and Jamey Wright; imagine how they'll feel in July. Enter 6-foot-4 Eric Hurley, a No. 5 starter with No. 1 stuff.
Everything's bigger in Texas (except for baseball's third-smallest ticket prices), including the Rangers' postseason demons. In 46 years, the franchise has never won a playoff series. In fact, it's only won one measly playoff game. And ballpark patrons are supposed to believe a new skipper (Ron Washington) who has no big league managing experience and spent most of his playing career with old AL West rival Minnesota is going to change that?
"The Rangers were just below a .500 ballclub last year. Their core offense got a few new additions that could help them tremendously. The addition of new coach Ron Washington should help players that slumped last year, a la Teixiera and Blalock."