This ain't Dubya's Texas Rangers, but the biggest names they added in the offseason are guys whose better days are a lot closer to 1998 when Bush cashed out than they are to today. Case in point: Eric Gagne, Kenny Lofton, and the aforementioned Sammy Sosa. OK, Gagne's stretching that a bit, but you have to go all the way back to 2004 to find the dominant, uninjured Gagne. It's a good thing they've got Akinori Otsuka ready to take over the closer's role if Gagne goes down. Kenny Lofton's nearly on the wrong side of 40. So is Sammy Sosa, who is also most definitely on the wrong side of that pesky performance-enhancing drugs rule. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Texas Rangers!
Of course, the Rangers also have Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, and Hank Blalock, all of whom had significant drops in production last year. They better hope those guys bounce back and have better years this year (let's all take note if Michael Young balloons to 250 pounds of veiny muscle), because it's going to be the same old story for the Rangers otherwise: not enough hitting to make up for crappy pitching. They're on the Yankees plan, except with a lineup that's roughly half as good.
The rotation is craptacular, headed by Kevin Millwood and headhunter Vicente Padilla (fuck you, Vicente Padilla!). Brandon McCarthy goes from fighting for a fifth spot in the White Sox rotation to securely holding down the third spot on the Rangers. That should tell you something. With last year's beanball hijinks and the apparent bad blood between McCarthy and the Sox, the couple series between these two teams should at least be interesting. Cubs fans seem to like the idea of Kenny Williams stealing B-Mac's woman. Whatever. As if Kenny couldn't do better than that.
My money's on Ozzie getting tossed in any game Padilla starts. I also look for AJ Pierzynski to play some mind games with Brandon McCarthy when he's at the plate, TNA wrestling style. Or maybe they'll just take a cue from Donald Trump and set up a friendly wager that the loser of the battle (AJ if he strikes out, B-Mac if he gives up an extra base hit) will shave his head. Can't wait. Or maybe I can.
So since I'm taking a big crap on the Rangers season and picking them to finish last, behind even the Mariners, what do they have going for them? Two words: Ron Washington. This man is apparently some sort of baseball Jesus (at least compared to Buck Showalter), who's got ex-Athletics from Jermaine Dye to Barry Zito (well, that didn't pan out... but whatever) wanting to play for him. Of course, all that talk is just talk--but I think we do know that Ron Washington is a good, if somewhat goofy lookin' guy. Rangers fans better hope he's some sort of magician, though, if they want to see the plus side of 81 wins this year.