I made this as a response to a comment in this morning's post, but I think it is worth expanding on a little here...
I don't think it is unreasonable to believe that the Ranger rotation, even if they don't bring in Sheets, Buchholz, Bowden, or anyone else the rest of the way, will be better than it was last season.
Last year, the Ranger rotation had a 5.51 ERA in 869 1/3 innings.
If you take away Millwood and Padilla, who are returning and weren't great last year anyway, the Rangers starters last year had a 5.89 ERA.
Think about that...a 5.89 ERA from everyone other than two guys who were viewed as disappointing last season anyway.
If you roll out some combo of Scott Feldman, Eric Hurley, Matt Harrison, Guillermo Moscoso, and Brandon McCarthy (and I think the 3-4-5 slots in the rotation will be filled by some combo of that group), plus whomever in the minors shows he’s ready at some point, Feliz or Holland or whomever, is it unreasonable to expect less than a 5.89 ERA from that group?
With McCarthy, it is simply a matter of health…if he’s healthy, he’s not going to put up a 5.89 ERA. If he isn’t healthy, he won’t be out there.
With Feldman, I don’t know that he’s going to be a hell of a lot better than he was last year, but you wouldn’t think he’d be much worse.
Hurley, Harrison, Moscoso, whomever else…is expecting them to record, as a group, something better than 5.89 really that big a stretch?
The non-Millwood/Padilla starters threw 530 innings last year, and allowed 347 runs. You drop that to 300 runs allowed, instead of 347 runs allowed, and that’s a 5.09 ERA in the same number if innings.
Is it unreasonable to think that the group that is in place now can do that?
I’m not asking those guys to come in and post 3.75-4.25 ERAs. But they don't have to for you to see a significant (40-50 run) improvement in the rotation from last season.
I’m saying, these guys just have to go out there and not put up Mendoza/Jennings-esque nightmare lines.
And if Harrison, Hurley, et al cannot manage to, in aggregate, post significantly less than 6.00 ERA, I do think it speaks to problems at some level, because this group, while not chock-full of top of the rotation talent, should at least give you some of the much needed LAIEs or (JBLAIEs) for this rotation.
Which is why I said that, if the rotation isn't any better than last year, if the non-Millwood/Padilla contingent posts an ERA close to 6, that's an indictment of the organization, because the talent that is here right now is such that you shouldn't have that sort of trainwreck from this group.
One or two guys may flame out, but if you don't have anyone at least close to respectability in 2009, it speaks to some organizational problems in translating minor league pitching performance at the major league level.