2 TEXAS RANGERS

March 26, 2012

ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Rangers

This team is better than it was last year. They've always lacked that dominant No. 1 starter. With Yu Darvish, they got a real ace. Most guys that big and physical are throwers. He's a pitcher with an assortment of pitches. The only thing you wonder about is what he's got upstairs.... The circus around Darvish has taken the attention away from their young pitchers, and it's a good thing. They have one of the top three systems in baseball, with pitching as their strength, and Martin Perez is the closest to arriving. He's in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a good changeup and slider, and lots of confidence. He's going to be a difference maker this year.... Neftali Feliz's move to the rotation is the most intriguing story this spring. He was so good in the closer role. The reason they put him in the bullpen was that he couldn't command secondary stuff. He's still struggling with that. I'd bet he ends up back in the bullpen.... Derek Holland still has some work to do. His consistency is still lacking—he'll get out of sync, and it'll take him awhile to get back. Don't put him in that top tier just yet.... The biggest thing for them is whether everyone stays healthy. Josh Hamilton is the key, and he was already nicked up this spring [jammed right heel].... Nelson Cruz has had chronic hamstring problems, and you have to think that will be a problem for him all year.... By not going after Prince Fielder, the Rangers showed a ton of confidence and patience with Mitch Moreland at first base. You wonder when they'll start looking at other options.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER RON WASHINGTON

6th season with Rangers

[originallink:10882166:1009531]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
RH YU DARVISH (R)* 18 6 1.44 0.83
RH COLBY LEWIS 14 10 4.40 1.21
LH DEREK HOLLAND 16 5 3.95 1.35
RH NEFTALI FELIZ 2 3 2.74 1.16
LH MATT HARRISON 14 9 3.39 1.28
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH JOE NATHAN 2 14 4.84 1.16
RH ALEXI OGANDO 13 0 3.51 1.14

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE *JAPAN LEAGUE STATS

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$116 million

THE NUMBER

19

Shutouts by the Rangers in 2011, tops in the AL and the most in franchise history. Derek Holland (four), Alexi Ogando (one) and Colby Lewis (one) all return to the rotation; they'll be joined by a newcomer who knows a bit about throwing blanks. Yu Darvish had six shutouts in 28 starts last year for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

MODEST PROPOSAL

After letting Darren Oliver and Mike Gonzalez walk as free agents, the Rangers entered spring training with just one lefthanded reliever on their 40-man roster: Michael Kirkman. The 25-year-old is really a starter who's been used out of the pen—a long man, and not a candidate for a tactical role. Texas brought veterans Joe Beimel, Neal Cotts and Mitch Stetter to camp in their search for a southpaw, but those choices might be forcing the matter. Texas has a deep bullpen from the right side—Joe Nathan, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara are slotted for late-inning roles, and because the team has six starters, 2011 breakout arm Alexi Ogando (a reliever in 2010 and a starter last year) may eventually find himself back in the pen as well. With so much depth, Texas would be better off not shoehorning a lefty into the pen and just going with the best pitchers it can find. The AL West has relatively few lefthanded power bats that demand a one-batter reliever. Plus, Ron Washington isn't a strong tactical manager, so taking away an option to make choices late in the game could help the team.

PHOTOOTTO GREULE JR/GETTY IMAGES (HAMILTON) PHOTOBRAD MANGIN (NATHAN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)