(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 22nd of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Tuesday, the Atlanta Braves.)
It wasn’t too long ago when the Texas Rangers used to beat up on the Houston Astros, but not at the moment or in the foreseeable future.
The worm has certainly turned with the Rangers falling 17 wins below their 95 in 2016 and the Astros now defending World Series champs. In fact, the two in-state rivals open the season with a four-game set in Arlington. Good luck Texas, you’ll need it.
Things are so desperate that 44-year-old Bartolo Colon may actually find a place in the starting rotation. All precincts are reporting the wide one is having a great spring. Speaking of projects, the Rangers brought in Tim Lincecum who is trying to resurrect his once shining career as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
The Rangers are projected to win 76.5 games this season, a bit less than last year’s 78. They could very well win less than that.
Adrian Beltre keeps on keeping on at third base, while shortstop and second with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor has power. Odor hit 30 homers but batted just 204. At first base Vegas native Joey Gallo slammed 41 homers, but struck out 196 times. Right fielder Nomar Mazara drove in 101 runs.
Cole Hamels will pitch Opening Day against Justin Verlander, but how long the Rangers expensive lefty stays healthy is anyone’s guess. He went 11-6 last year, but at age 34 his career is at a crossroads in terms of value and production. This is certainly an important season for him.
Jeff Banister starts his fourth season as the Texas manager. In 2015, his first season, Banister guided the Rangers to 88 wins and was named AL Manager of the Year. Now he may be fighting to keep his job, though the decline is not his fault.
The Rangers became old and need to dump big salaries. Yu Darvish figured to be the ace for years. Not the case. Texas nearly became world champs twice and the Astros were at the very bottom of the American League. Now the roles have reversed quite a bit. Texas is only projected to finish ahead of Oakland in the division, while the Astros are the clear-cut favorites and strong candidates to repeat as world champs.
Where have you gone Joey Hamilton?
Encore: Not that spring training matters a heck of a lot, but the Rangers are dead last in the Grapefruit League at 7-15. Just sayin’.
2017 record: 78-84
2016 record: 95-67
2015 record: 88-74
World Series win odds: 60-1
Odds to win AL West: 25-1, 4th
2018 season win total: 76.5