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Rangers lose 6-5 to Rays in series ender.




Well, sucks to lose, but we did take the series, so thats 2 series' in a row. Tejada was roughed up but he's young and is improving. I was impressed the last 2 nights how the boys don't quit when down. Now if we can start spreading the runs out over the innings instead of waiting on that 1 big inning we'll start looking like a contender. Laird has been amazing behing the plate throwing out base runners, i think he's over 50 % and he's throwing strikes to the second baseman.



i'll say it again, as nice as it is having pop at the end of the order, Kinsler should be batting second or third, preferably second. He's too good to take away an at bat per night.


Bullpen was good tonight, Loe struggled at first but calmed down and Benoit was great.



All in all, through 3 series I can see we are improving each night. My biggest concern right now is the big inning mentality we have, we need to score more often instead of clumping them together

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OK Here's the 2007 Rangers Trade Deadline deals.




Rangers and Braves:



Braves get : 1B Mark Teixeira and RP Ron Mayhay



Rangers get: C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Elvis Andrus, P Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones.





Rangers and Redsox:



Redsox get: RP Eric gagne


Rangers get: P Kason Gabbard, OF David Murphy, and OF Engel Beltre



Rangers and Indians:



Indians get: OF Kenny Lofton



Rangers get: C Max Ramirez

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Ah, with the new year comes new hope. As of 6-Jan, 2008. The Rangers have aquired PKazuo Fukumori, P Eddie Guardado, outfielders Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton (who they traded prized pitching prospect Edison Volquez to get), and first basemen Ben Broussard and Chris Shelton.



At a glance, the depth chart looks pretty promising. Lots of depth and interchangable players accross the board. Pitching is, as always, suspect, but it does have some potential. McCarthy and Gabbard have a lot of upside, actually Gabbard pitched very well when we got him. Millwood needs to be the guy he was his first year with us, same with Padilla, and Kam Loe needs to get over the hump and become a consistantly solid pitcher. This of course is assuming he gets another crack at starting, hje did good from the pen and I'd prefer he stayed there and Hurely steps up and becomes a guy we can fit in the 5th spot.



As of now, here's the depth chart.



C - Salty and Laird. Max Ramirez may also get in the mix. Good news is Salty will get the at bats, when he's not behind the plate, he'll be DHing and maybe playing first.


1B - Broussard, Shelton, Catalanatto. Nothing stellar, hopefully solid enough it isn't a glaring weekness.


2B - Kinsler, Vasquez. Kinsler is ready to become a super star, 20/20 guy last year and getting better.


SS - Young, Vasquez. Young isn't the best at anything he does at the position, but he's a good fielder, gets a lot of hits, should get the doubles numbers back up. Unquestioned leader of the team. Vasquez is really a valuble dude, backs up 3 positions and plays good enough that he shouldn't be a liability when he's in the lineup.


3B - Blalock, Vasquez. Blalock, when he played, looked to be back in his form from a few years ago. He was crushing the ball and I predict a 30 home run season from him.



Corner Outfield - Byrd, Bradley, Murphy, Catalanatto, Botts, Cruz. Byrd was pretty good last year, better fit in the corner than center. Bradley, if healthy, should hold the fort down well on the other side. murphy is an up and comer. Botts likely won't see much field time, more likely a DH. Cruz has a lot to improve on before he sees any time.


CF - Hamilton, Murphy, Byrd. Hamilton was good for the Reds when he was healthy, great potential, but injuries might be a problem. When he showed up in Arlington he showed up in long sleeves to cover his tats. I like that because it shows he's trying to put that life in his past (the drugs). I think he wants to impress and become a ball player real bad.





SP - Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, Gabbard, Loe? If Millwood and Padilla can get back into what they were 2 years ago, winning 15 a piece, we'll be good. I like Gabbard, but he had arm problems. McCarthy started to show he belonged last year at times. Loe should stay in the pen, but I dunno if Hurley or anyone else is ready yet to pitch i the migs. Trading Volquez really hurt.



Pen - CJ Wilson, my man, better fucking be the closer, the gyro man with good heat and a rock and roll attitude, plus being a left in the ballpark, makes too much sence.











Even without Aki and Gagne, looks like its gonna be the strength of the team again.

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01/04/2008 10:00 AM ET



Around the Horn: Catchers


Rangers have options with talent, but haven't named a starter


By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com


Will Gerald Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia be catching for the Rangers?





The following is the first in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position by position. Each Wednesday until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Catchers.

ARLINGTON -- His name is Felix Perez. He is 19 and he is from Mexico. He is a catcher and the word is he is extremely talented with tremendous upside potential.


The Rangers signed him as an amateur free agent this offseason and he'll likely be the starter for their Arizona Rookie League team next summer. The massive stockpiling of catching prospects continues nonstop for the Rangers.


The Rangers aren't sure who their Opening Day catcher will be, but the annual mid-winter position-by-position examination of the organization shows that the talent and depth at the catching position is unusually high. It's the obvious place to start, both from what's happening at the Major League level and in the farm system.


"If you look at the industry and the quality of catching at all levels -- big league, Minor League, amateur -- it's all over the place," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "For us, it's a strength. Some people may look at it as a logjam or that we have decisions to make, but I look at it as you can't have enough of a good thing."


The biggest decision, though, is what's going to happen at the Major League level between Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And there are a number of ways of viewing it.


Daniels prefers to view it as both competition and depth. Unsettled or wide open could also be used and the word controversy might also come into play. But why rush into things before Spring Training actually gets here.


Overall, though, the best way to put it is that the situation is quite intriguing, mainly because of a decision made by the Rangers after last season. At some point the Rangers decided that Saltalamacchia will concentrate strictly on his work behind the plate and not alternate between catcher and first base as he did at the end of last season.


"There were a couple of things at play there," Daniels said. "One is his passion, that's what he wants to do. That's also where his value is greatest. He's a switch-hitting catcher who is capable of hitting 20 to 25 home runs. That kind of offensive production is more valuable behind the plate rather than first base. Not many teams have that. It could be a competitive advantage for us."


Laird has made it quite clear that he wants to be the No. 1 catcher, a job that he has had before but just quite hasn't been able to hold on to for a full season. A torn thumb ligament cost him the job in 2004 and he had to wait two more years before he could wrestle it away from Rod Barajas.


He hit .296 in a part-time role in 2006 and that was good enough to get the job back full time in 2007. But he dropped to .224 last season while struggling to satisfy manager Ron Washington's demands that he take charge of an injury-racked, performance-challenged pitching staff.


"He just needs to be more consistent than anything else," Daniels said. "Gerald has shown flashes of what he can do on a baseball field and one of the areas he has been consistent is his throwing. But there are other areas: consistent at-bats and working with the pitching staff. We want him to be a more well-rounded catcher. He's got the ability, but we just want to put it all together."


Laird's future suddenly became murky on July 31 when Saltalamacchia was one of five players who were acquired from the Braves for Mark Teixeira. Saltalamacchia was clearly one of the centerpieces of the trade, but Daniels said the Rangers have not made a decision as to who the starter will be on Opening Day.


"People have formed opinions but we want those guys to come in and compete," Daniels said. "That's the message that both Gerald and Jarrod got at the end of last year. There are still a number of ways to go, but they are two athletic players who can both impact the game on both sides -- offensively and defensively -- and they are both young. We don't have to make that decision this winter."






Saltalamacchia has a reputation for being an offensive threat, but still seems raw as a defensive catcher. He threw out just six of 43 attempted base stealers last season, including one of 17 while with the Rangers. Laird gunned down 39.8 percent of those trying to steal off him, the third highest in the Major Leagues.


Obviously there is much more to defense for a catcher than just throwing out base stealers and the Rangers want to see what they can do with Saltalamacchia at that position. Matt Walbeck, a former Major League catcher who was hired as third-base coach, was brought in specifically to work with both Laird and Saltalamacchia on their defense.


"Jarrod just needs experience," Daniels said. "Our guys feel he can catch. Matt Walbeck is going to work with both guys. If at some point we need to move Jarrod we can, but it's easier to move a guy to first base rather than move him back to catcher. But right now we're trying to put our guys in their best position and our guys feel Jarrod can catch."


Actually, the Rangers best defensive catcher could be Chris Stewart, who was Laird's backup for most of last season and could be again if the decision is made that Saltalamacchia needs more work in Triple-A Oklahoma. Otherwise, Stewart will be at Triple-A in a farm system that is loaded with catching prospects.


The Rangers could be in a position where they have a legitimate catching prospect at all four full-season Minor League teams. It may not happen right away but they could have Taylor Teagarden at Triple-A Oklahoma, Max Ramirez (acquired from the Indians for Kenny Lofton at the end of July) at Double-A Frisco, Manuel Pina will be at Class A Bakersfield and Santana will be at Class A Clinton.


"Catching certainly is the strength of our organization," Daniels said. "We'll just let it play out. In Taylor, we've got a true catcher in every sense of the word. He's leader and he's been a winner at the amateur level [at the University of Texas] and his bat has come around more than we thought it might.


"Max takes a lot of pride in his catching, but he's more of an offensive type of guy who can really hit. Pina is more of an athletic, catch-and-throw type of guy who has become better working at pitchers and Cristian has as much upside as anybody. He's just had some injuries but he has huge raw ability."


Maybe Perez will be better than any of them.


T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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Around the Horn: Corner infielders


Blalock, newly-acquired Broussard give Rangers power


By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com





The following is the second in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position by position. Each Wednesday until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Corner infielders.


ARLINGTON -- Beaumont is over 300 miles away from Arlington, but that didn't keep the Broussard family from going to see the Rangers play.


"I'm from Beaumont and my dad would take me to the old ballpark," Ben Broussard said. "It would be 120 degrees and I'd be standing in the parking lot, waiting to get Nolan Ryan's autograph. We'd go see the Astros too, but I was a big Rangers fan."


Broussard never got to play at Arlington Stadium, but he did finally get to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Aug. 1, 2003 as the Cleveland Indians first baseman. He hit a two-run home run off right-hander John Thomson. The next night, he hit another home run off Joaquin Benoit.


"It was really special," Broussard said. "I remember hitting my first home run in Texas in front of my family and friends. I always felt that if I ever got a shot at playing in Texas how great it would be."


He is finally getting that chance. The Rangers acquired him from the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 12 for Minor League infielder Tug Hulett in order to be their starting first baseman. Acquiring a first baseman was one of three priorities the Rangers had for the offseason.


Broussard is a left-handed hitter and could possibly share time in a platoon with Chris Shelton. But, for the most part, he is expected to be their guy at a position that has been remarkably stable for 36 years.


Broussard follows an impressive line that includes Mark Teixeira, Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark, Pete O'Brien, Pat Putnam, Mike Hargrove, Jim Spencer and Frank Howard. For those who need an ancient history lesson, Spencer was the first Ranger to ever appear in an All-Star Game and Hargrove remains the club's only Rookie of the Year winner.


Now comes Broussard, who the Rangers expect to team up with third baseman Hank Blalock to prove the badly needed power and run production from the corner infield spots. Both had forgettable seasons in 2007.


Blalock had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery on May 21 to have a rib remove from his right shoulder and missed over three months of the season. He was activated on Sept. 1 but was limited to designated hitter duty. The Rangers expect him to be ready to play the field in Spring Training.


Broussard's problem wasn't physical. It was due to his being relegated to a backup role.


He was the Cleveland Indians starting first baseman in 2003-06 before being traded to the Seattle Mariners on July 26, 2006. The Mariners were 31/2 games out of first place, but didn't need a first baseman. They had Richie Sexson.


They needed a left-handed hitting designated hitter. Broussard had been hitting .321 for the Indians, but slumped to .238 with the Mariners as he struggled to come to grips with the DH role. When the off-season rolled around, the Mariners signed Jose Vidro to be their designated hitter.


It seemed likely that Broussard would be traded, and at one point it looked like he was going to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Armando Benitez. But that was before the Mariners found out he could play the outfield as well as first base. Instead of being trade bait, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove decided he liked Broussard as a role player off the bench.


Broussard publicly embraced the role, but found out it was more difficult than expected.




"I love Mike, but he'll be the first to tell you that he likes playing the same guys every night," Broussard said. "For a bench player, he's a hard guy to play for. I love him, but I know he runs his starters out there every day.


"When I got out there, it would be against a No. 1 starter. Or if I pinch-hit, it would be against the closer. I was getting in there in tough situations, but I had to gut it up and do my job. It was hard to do and it was totally different. I'll never look at playing every day the same again. It was really frustrating."


He did not complain publicly, but spoke often about his situation with Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi. The Mariners admitted that Broussard was an everyday player but still needed him, especially with Sexson struggling through the worst season of his career.


Broussard ended up playing in 99 games and hitting .275 in 240 at-bats. But, his .404 slugging percentage was his lowest since his rookie season and 54 points below his career average. He also knew going into the offseason that his time with the Mariners was probably up, either through a trade or being non-tendered in December.


"It was like going through the Draft all over again," Broussard said. "You knew you were going somewhere, you just didn't know where."


The Rangers wanted him. They were exploring every possible option including free agents Tony Clark and Sean Casey. But general manager Jon Daniels was privately saying that Broussard was his first choice of all that might be available.


The feeling was mutual and Broussard was ecstatic when the Mariners told him that he had been traded to the Rangers. His family now lives in Georgetown, just north of Austin.


"The Mariners trading me to Texas was one of the classiest things I've ever seen in baseball," Broussard said. "They could have traded me somewhere else. They could have traded me to a National League team, where I would have been a bench player, a role player or a pinch-hitter.


"But they traded me to Texas, even though it was within the division, we play 19 times a year and I'll be out there trying to do everything I can to beat them. It was a classy move on their part."


The Rangers need it to be a shrewd move on their part and Broussard, who turned 31 in September, needs to re-establish himself as an everyday player. He can be a free agent after the season and would obviously love to remain with the Rangers.


"I don't want to be labeled as a bench player," Broussard said. "This year is a big year for me but every year is big. Baseball is so competitive and there are so many talented guys out there, there is always somebody out there trying to take your job. I just want to be healthy, play hard and do my job. I just want to come into Spring Training in the best possible shape and be ready when the season starts."


T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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01/16/2008 10:00 AM ET



Around the Horn: Middle infielders


Young, Kinsler remain staples as team changes around them


By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com






The following is the third in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position by position. Each Wednesday until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Middle infielders.

ARLINGTON -- If Michael Young's numbers were slightly down in 2007, it didn't seem to matter to the Elias Sports Bureau.


Elias still had Young ranked No. 1 among American League third basemen, shortstops and second basemen when they came out with their annual ratings in October.


The ratings -- which group second basemen, third basemen and shortstops together -- take into account both offense and defense over the past two seasons and are primarily used to determine compensation for free agents. Young is not a free agent, but was still ranked No. 1 in his class over guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada and Robinson Cano.


Ian Kinsler didn't do too badly either. Young's double-play partner was ranked 17th, pretty good considering it covered his first two years in the Major Leagues and came despite missing time in both seasons because of injuries.


On a team that has undergone major changes in the past two years, the one constant has been their shortstop and second baseman and the Rangers go into 2007 believing they are one of the best combinations in the game.


"We've had a great deal of turnover the last couple of years," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We have a clear direction of where we are going and it's partially defined by wanting players who have the makeup, character and work ethic of these two guys. Mike is a steady professional and Ian is just coming into his own right now and developing into a leader on the team capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways. You feel good that the leadership on the team is led by these two guys."


Young overcame a slow start in 2007 to finish with a .315 batting average and 201 hits. It marked the fifth straight year that he has hit over .300 with more than 200 hits. He also led the Rangers with 94 RBIs. He is tied with Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer for the most consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits by a middle infielder.


Kinsler, despite missing almost the entire month of July with a stress fracture in his left foot, hit .263 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs while leading the Rangers with 96 runs scored. He also stole 23 bases, becoming the seventh player in Rangers history to finish with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.


He was 23-for-25 in stolen bases, a 92 percent success rate that was the second highest in the American League and the third highest in club history.


Defensively they were part of the good and the bad for the Rangers in 2007. Young and Kinsler helped the Rangers lead the league with 179 double plays, but the club also had the most errors with 124. In the middle, Rangers second basemen and shortstops combined for 37 errors, tied for the third most at those two positions.


Young had 19 errors, but was still fourth among American League shortstops in fielding and fifth in range factor among the 11 players with enough game to qualify to be listed in the league leaders. Kinsler led American League second basemen with 17 errors, but had just three in his last 63 games.


Ramon Vazquez returns as the Rangers utility infielder after hitting .230 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 104 games and 300 at-bats in 2007. The numbers don't stand out, but he played a crucial role for the Rangers last year while they dealt with injuries to Kinsler and third baseman Hank Blalock.


The real intrigue is not what the Rangers have in the middle infield at the Major League level, but what they have coming up behind them.





The intrigue starts with shortstop Joaquin Arias, the Rangers defensive prodigy who missed almost the entire 2007 season with a shoulder injury. He is still rehabilitating the injury at the Rangers camp in the Dominican Republic and may not be at full strength at the start of Spring Training. Once a top prospect, Arias, 23, will have to re-establish that ranking while playing at Triple-A Oklahoma.


"It's a big year for him," Daniels said. "He's got to prove himself. Physically he is as talented as anybody, but he has to stay on the field and prove himself."


Elvus Andrus threatens to pass him. Andrus is another shortstop prodigy that the Rangers acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade on July 31. Andrus is only 19, but still hit .257 with 78 runs scored and 40 stolen bases at Class A in 2007. Scouts who have seen him play said he is ready to play defensively at the Major League level.


That's not going to happen for a while. Andrus is expected to play at Double-A Frisco while Young is signed through at least 2013. The Rangers aren't in any rush right now to predict what might happen at shortstop in the future.


"We've got a shortstop who is coming off four straight All-Star Games and is as steady and as productive as they come," Daniels said. "As Michael continues to maintain his production and Elvus continues to develop, we'll talk about it. But right now Michael is clearly our shortstop."


The Rangers face a similar situation at second base where German Duran is getting closer to being Major League-ready.


The 23-year-old right-handed-hitting infielder batted .300 with 22 home runs and 84 RBIs and 81 runs scored at Double-A Frisco. He is not ready to displace Kinsler at second, but he could be ready to push for a job with the Rangers as a utility man. The Rangers used him at both third base and left field during the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League and he could see some time at first base during the Spring.


"He's very much capable of playing every day at this level," Daniels said. "Second base is probably the easiest position for him to perform at. My sense is -- knowing German and the player he is -- he'll be the kind of guy that [manager Ron Washington] will want to get in there every chance he can. He wants to help the team anyway he can."


Many things can happen in the next year or two but -- one way or another -- the Rangers should be strong in the middle infield both now and for some time to come.


T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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Notes: Rangers, Jennings agree to deal


Right-hander was 2002 Rookie of the Year with Rockies



By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com







ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have finally completed an agreement with pitcher Jason Jennings on a one-year contract. A press conference is planned for Thursday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Jennings was 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA in 19 games for the Houston Astros in 2007 while missing a total of about three months with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. His best year was with the Colorado Rockies in 2002, when he was 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA and was the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year.


Jennings is a native of Dallas who pitched at Baylor University before being the Rockies' first pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He currently lives north of Dallas in Frisco and underwent a physical with the Rangers on Monday.


Jennings joins a starting rotation that also includes Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy and Kason Gabbard, filling a spot that was created when the Rangers traded pitcher Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton.


"Hopefully we'll have an announcement tomorrow," general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday.


Botts to play first base: The Rangers are going to take a look at Jason Botts at first base in Spring Training with the possibility of using him in a platoon with Ben Broussard. Manager Ron Washington spoke with Botts about the possibility on Tuesday.


The Rangers are looking for a platoon partner for Broussard after designating Chris Shelton for assignment earlier this week. Botts is a switch-hitter, while Broussard bats left-handed.


"We had a decision to make with Chris, and we elected to designate him," Daniels said. "Jason is our own guy. The biggest advantage Shelton had was he had more experience in at first base. Jason has the ability but in the past we wanted him to focus on one position, and we asked him to work in the outfield because we had Mark Teixeira here. Jason made pretty good strides out there, and if he can make the same strides at first base, he has a chance to help us."


Botts last played first base regularly in 2004, when he played in 127 games there at Double-A Frisco. He has only played in the outfield at the Major League level. He is currently hitting .326 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs in 64 games and 242 at-bats for Yaquis de Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.



Byrd signs: The Rangers have reached an agreement with outfielder Marlon Byrd on a one-year contract worth $1.8 million. The deal avoids a potential arbitration hearing.


Catcher Gerald Laird, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, is the only Rangers player left who is eligible for arbitration. The Rangers haven't had an actual arbitration hearing with a player since 2000.


"We'd like to get something done, but every negotiation has its own pace," Daniels said.


Ian Kinsler is not eligible for arbitration, but the Rangers have discussed a multiyear deal with his representatives this winter. Right now they haven't been able to reach an agreement.


"It's something we may revisit later," Daniels said. "Right now, we have been tied up with some other stuff. Between now and the beginning of the season we may revisit it, but there's nothing going on right now."


Briefly: The Rangers have been talking trade with other teams about Shelton, but Daniels admitted there haven't been any bites. ... Pitchers A.J. Murray, Eric Hurley, Doug Mathis and Luis Mendoza are being invited to an informal pitchers' mini-camp next week in Arlington.


T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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01/23/2008 10:00 AM ET


Around the Horn: Outfielders


Byrd, Hamilton and Bradley get the starting nod for Texas


By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com




The following is the fourth in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position by position. Each week until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Outfielders.


ARLINGTON -- When Rangers general manager Jon Daniels decided to trade pitcher Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton, he was basically conceding what has become increasingly obvious as this decade has passed.


The Rangers outfield, a major strength during the division championship years of the 1990s, has been a major source for concern since the club's last division title in 1999. While the Rangers have had five different infielders appear in an All-Star Game in the past eight years, they have had six different Opening Day left fielders, six different right fielders and seven different center fielders over the same stretch of time.


From 1990-99, Rangers outfielders combined to have a .792 OPS, the fourth highest for a group in the American League. Since the beginning of the 2000 season, though, Rangers outfielders have combined for a .763 OPS, the third lowest in the American League.


In the previous decade, the Rangers had ten 20-home run seasons from an outfielder, seven 100-run seasons and nine 100-RBI seasons. Since then, they have had an outfielder hit over 20 home runs just twice and score 100 runs just once. They have not had an outfielder drive in over 80 runs since 1999.


"Mostly it's been the production of our infielders," Daniels said. "The big offensive clubs of the '90s had production from top to bottom in the lineup. We haven't had that level in some time and the biggest difference is we haven't had the outfield production. We've had some guys have an occasional good year, like Gary Matthews Jr., but we haven't had many and not more than one spot at a time."


So the Rangers get ready to start over again. Marlon Byrd, who played all three outfield spots for the Rangers after being called up on May 26, starts out in left. Hamilton was acquired to play center and Milton Bradley, who is coming off knee surgery, was signed as a free agent to play right. David Murphy could fill the crucial role of fourth outfielder.


"I expect significant improvement over last year," Daniels said. "The thing that I like is we have four guys out there who can all play center field. That bodes well for our defense and could go a long way to supporting our pitching staff. If Milton's knee is good to go -- and we've only had positive reports so far -- then it has a chance to be a pretty solid outfield."


Nelson Cruz and Jason Botts also remain in the picture. Frank Catalanotto can play left, but is more likely to be used at designated hitter.


Hamilton offers the best chance of giving the Rangers close to the offensive production they received in the 1990s from Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer and Ruben Sierra.


A former No. 1 overall First-Year Player Draft pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Hamilton, 26, had a once-promising career thrown off course by well-documented personal problems with substance abuse. But, after being acquired by the Cincinnati Reds, he was able to overcome his difficult history and hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 90 games and 298 at-bats as a rookie in 2007.



The numbers could have been better, but he missed time by going on the disabled list in May with gastroenteritis and again in July with a sprained right wrist. He still finished the season with a .922 OPS. The Rangers haven't had an outfielder with an OPS that high since Gonzalez in 1999.


"Josh has the ability, and now he's done it to a degree at the big league level," Daniels said. "One impetus of that deal was getting a talented outfielder who is youthful, productive and can be here for some time. Hopefully Josh can do that for us."


The Rangers have tried hard to fix their outfield problems through the Draft. They have taken an outfielder in the first or second round in four of the last five years: Vince Sinisi (second, 2003), K.C. Herren (second, 2004), John Mayberry Jr. (first, 2005) and Julio Borbon (supplemental first, 2007).


Only Borbon is on the 40-man roster, but that was simply a way to get him signed last summer. He is still at least a few years away.


Mayberry remains a prospect but hasn't progressed as quickly as the Rangers had hoped. While 13 of 30 first-round picks from the 2005 Draft have played in the Majors, Mayberry split time between Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco in 2007, hitting a combined .235 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs in 489 at-bats with 48 walks and 126 strikeouts.


"When we took John in '05, it was with the knowledge that he would have to make adjustments," Daniels said. "He made some, but he's still working on others. Right-handed power hitters are hard to find. This is a big year for him. He's going to have the opportunity to be challenged and we'll see how he responds."


The Rangers' best outfield prospect may be Chris Davis, who played 36 games out there in 2006 for Class A Spokane after being taken in the fifth round of the Draft. The Rangers moved him to third base last season and he hit a combined .297 with 36 home runs and 118 RBIs between Bakersfield and Frisco. But he has a plus throwing arm and could be moved to right field at some point.


"He has done it before," Daniels said. "I think his arm is a profile-type arm that plays out in right field, but we're not going there yet. If he can continue to hit the way he did all last year, we'll find a way to get that bat in the lineup."


Another guy to watch is center fielder Brandon Boggs, a fourth-round pick in the 2004 Draft who overcame some early injuries and put himself in the picture by hitting .262 with a .380 on-base percentage, 86 runs scored, 30 doubles, 23 home runs, 72 RBIs and 84 walks between Bakersfield and Frisco last season. He is on the 40-man roster and will be in big league camp.


"He's a switch-hitter who can do a lot of little things," Daniels said. "He certainly has a chance. He's a guy we're going to continue to challenge and see how he handles it."


Then there is Engel Beltre, the 18-year-old left-handed-hitting outfielder who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade on July 31. He has had just one season in professional baseball in the United States and hit .243 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 65 games and 247 at-bats last year. But he is already showing up in top prospect lists because of his enormous talent.


It's the kind of talent the Rangers used to produce in the outfield. But it has been a while.


T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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VG, do you get to see many Ranger games where you live? Just curious, because it would drive me nuts to be a sports fan and not be able to watch my team.

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VG, do you get to see many Ranger games where you live? Just curious, because it would drive me nuts to be a sports fan and not be able to watch my team.

The last 2 years I've ordered MLB.TV so I got to watch all the games on the Computer. The year before those 2 I ordered Extra Innings through the cable company. I'm gonna order the Extra Innings again this year if its available.

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Wow Ron Washington was pissed And I dont blame him one bit that Ump must of said something that made him come back to him and the Ump was quick to toss him after that.

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