Heating Up In Texas

The Texas Rangers have long been known for their powerful lineup full of mashers which has always benefitted from the humid air in their Arlington, Texas home. Since the days of Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, and Rafael Palmeiro to today with the big bats of Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, and Michael Young, the Rangers have always had the offense. Pitching on the other hand is a completely different story.

While the Rangers have had their troubles in the pitching department, only part of it has to do with the way balls fly out of their home field. Until free agent Kevin Millwood joined the Rangers before last season from Philadelphia, the Rangers hadn’t had a true solid starter since the days of Nolan Ryan in the 90’s. This has been a glaring reason why the Rangers just haven’t been able to take control of a division that at times has been weak and ready for the taking.

This off season has seen the Rangers very much active trying to solidify both their starting rotation and their bullpen. In a trade with the Chicago White Sox, they were able to obtain a young right handed pitcher in Brandon McCarthy, they re-signed their 15 game winner from 2006 Vicente Padilla, and signed free agent closer Eric Gagne. They have also made considerable strides to sign free agent Mark Mulder to a contract but since the inital offer last month, Mulder and his agent Gregg Clifton have left the team hanging. With the Cleveland Indians also in the hunt along with his 2006 team, the St. Louis Cardinals (who have the ability to match any offers from other teams), the Rangers will probably have to end up over paying Mulder to get him to join their staff.

Over paying Mulder may not be the worst decision on their part considering what an over-inflated market value for a starting pitcher has become. The other pitchers that are available and have been looked at by the Rangers include John Thomson, Tomo Ohka, Bruce Chen, and Tony Armas Jr. All these players look to cash in this off season despite not being that impressive of a group. If the Rangers look to add a third 15-20 game winner to their rotation, they may have to sweeten the deal.Adding Mulder to the rotation will not only help solidify them as a solid contender for the AL West crown, but probably would make them the favorite.

I’m sure all the Texas fans are hoping for that to ensure they don’t have another long, hot summer with nothing to look forward to this fall.

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