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As it stands now...the 2006 Rangers...

DH -- David Dellucci
RF -- Brad Wilkerson
SS -- Mike Young
1B -- Mark Teixeira
3B -- Hank Blalock
LF -- Kevin Mench
CF -- Laynce Nix
C -- Rod Barajas
2B -- D'Angelo Jimenez


Kevin Millwood
Adam Eaton
Vicente Padilla
Juan Dominguez
Kam Loe


Gary Matthews Jr.
Phil Nevin
Mark DeRosa
Gerald Laird


Francisco Cordero
Akinori Otsuka
John Wasdin
Jon Leicester
Joaquin Benoit
Fabio Castro
Brian Shouse

That's how I'd guess the team will break camp, barring injuries. And I'm starting to swing over to the p.o.v. that the Rangers are best served with Jimenez as the starting 2B and Kinsler at AAA to start the season, despite my constant bitching the last six months or so about how Kinsler should be the starting 2B in 2006.

GMJ could be the starting CF, which would bump Nix to AAA and necessitate adding a 4th outfielder, having someone like Adrian Brown stick with the team. And Botts could stick in place of Nevin, in which case I'd guess that GMJ and Dellucci would probably split time in one of the corner outfield slots, with Botts DHing regularly.

But really, it looks like the 2006 Rangers are pretty much in place.

This is a really interesting team...and at the risk of sounding like Dick Vitale or Hubie Brown doing NBA draft coverage, what really makes it intriguing is the team's upside, particularly in the rotation.

Millwood was the 2nd best starter in the A.L. last season. Padilla was a legit #2 starter before injuries slowed him the last two years. Eaton and Dominguez both have the stuff to be top-of-the-rotation starters.

Which doesn't mean, of course, that all those guys are going to hit, or that any of them will, for that matter. But what Daniels has done here is assemble a rotation that has huge breakout potential, that could do like the 2005 ChiSox and provide quality from top to bottom. And yes, at the same time, these guys have huge flameout potential, as well...but looking at this rotation, you can legitimately say that, if things break right, the Rangers could have a team that could do damage in the playoffs in 2006.

I still think the Rangers are a bat short right now...even if Hank shows that 2005 was an aberration, and gets back on track, either DH or CF will need to be upgraded. DH could be upgraded internally, if Jason Botts hits like he did at Oklahoma last season. And if Laynce Nix's problems hitting were really, as some have suggested, the result of his shoulder problems (which have now been repaired), CF could solve itself.

I'm going to analyze the team in more detail when we get closer in, to get a better handle on what I think the over/under for wins should be. But right now, I'm feeling pretty encouraged about things, and think that the Rangers should at least be able to contend in the A.L. West in 2006.