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The smell of fresh cut grass. The crack of the bat. Optimism that 2010 is finally the year. Baseball is back and the Texas Rangers enter this season with something that hasn’t been associated with the organization in recent years - expectations. After an 87- win, second-place finish last season, the Rangers are a popular pick to take that next step and take command of the American League West Division. New ownership and a manager with a few surprising drug admissions lead the headlines, but the talk surrounding this team is about the Rangers’ youth - especially the pitching, who will look to lead Texas to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1998-99 - and possibly the postseason.


Coming off their first winning season in five years, President Nolan Ryan and General Manager Jon Daniels had a fairly quiet offseason and stayed away from the temptation of trading prospects for big names, sticking to their belief that started a few years ago by building a talent-rich farm system and developing players from within the organization. Last year, Baseball America recognized the Rangers’ organization with the distinction of having top farm system in all of baseball, an accolade that creates promise of potential, but also promotes patience for the fans, which isn’t always an easy sell. If anything, this offseason was a sign that some of those prospects are ready for the big stage in Arlington. The Rangers let several of their free agents find other employment and traded ace Kevin Millwood for a bullpen pitcher and player to be named. In all fairness, with the ownership situation unsettled for most of the winter, there wasn’t a lot of money to be spent on big contracts or expensive players, but another reason for the lack of player movement is the influx of youthful talent waiting at the minor league level.

The Rangers did sign a few familiar names (and former AL West foes): OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero and RHP Rich Harden. Guerrero, who has always found success at the Ballpark in Arlington with a .394 batting average and 14 home runs over his career, was signed to a one-year, prove yourself contract with a mutual option for 2011. He was limited to 100 games last season with the Angels due to various injuries, but his résumé as an offensive All-Star will add a lot to the Texas lineup. The Rangers were able to unload Millwood’s large contract, replacing him with new ace Harden, who definitely has the talent, but his lack of durability keeps him from being mentioned among baseball’s elite.

Although not yet finalized, the sale of the Rangers ballclub is on the near horizon as Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh sports attorney, and Nolan Ryan lead a group purchasing the organization from the Hicks Sports Group, which has owned the Texas franchise since 1998. Final approval is standing in the way of making this sale official, but this could come sometime in April. While many fans will be happy to see owner Tom Hicks out, the biggest

impact from the potential sale is the fact that Ryan stays with the team as a minority owner and the final decision maker of all baseball operations as Team President. Ryan, who is widely considered the main reason for the Rangers’ improved pitching statistics the past few seasons, made a bold prediction in March, telling reporters he felt the Rangers would win 92 games and the AL West. “I just feel like that’s a number that his ballclub should be able to reach,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to sit here before we play a spring game and predict, but I feel like we have the depth and talent and we’re capable of doing that. Anything can happen. The division could be balanced and you beat up on each other and you might win the division with 87 wins.”

The Rangers have only won 92+ games twice in their history, the last time in 1999 when they won 95 games and the AL West title (the first time was in 1977 with 94 wins), only to lose to the Yankees in three games in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The Anaheim Angels have had a chokehold on the West Division the past decade, the Seattle Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84
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