A lot of interesting things out there today...
Evan Grant writes about the Rangers' optimism in regards to Frankie Francisco, who they are hoping will team with Wes Littleton to give the Rangers a strong 7th inning tandem. If Francisco and Gagne are back to where they were pre-injury, the Rangers bullpen looks like it could well be the best in baseball.
T.R. Sullivan has an article on Robinson Tejeda, who will be the starter in the Rangers home opener, barring a complete meltdown by him or an injury to one of the first three guys in the rotation.
Sullivan indicates that the key for Tejeda late in the season was overpowering hitters...he was throwing in the 93-97 mph range, which allowed him to work up in the zone and get away with it. When Tejeda's fastball is in the lower 90s, he doesn't have the margin for error, and gets pounded.
I'm intrigued by Tejeda...his peripherals are troubling, but the guy has a 3.90 ERA in 159 1/3 major league innings, and everyone seems to love his arm. If the Rangers can get 30 starts from him with an ERA in the high-4s -- something that I don't think is unrealistic to expect -- then I think the rotation should be pretty solid.
Sullivan also has some notes up, with contract discussions with Ian Kinsler being the main story. Like Hank Blalock and Michael Young before him, the Rangers are talking to Kinsler about doing a multi-year deal to buy out some arbitration years.
The appeal of a deal like that to someone like Kinsler -- whose signing bonus out of college, I'm guessing, was somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 -- is that it gets him his first really big payday, and ensures that, whatever happens with his career, he's set for life. The club, meanwhile, gets cost certainty and doesn't have to worry about arbitration. We'll see if something gets done this spring...
There's also an update on Brad Wilkerson's shoulder:
"I feel 100 percent now," Wilkerson said. "I could use a little more strength, that's the only thing. All the pain is gone, that's the main thing."
Sullivan also has a blog entry up, that includes some of the quotes from Kevin Mench throwing a fit about the possibility of being platooned. Methinks Mench will not be a Brewer come Opening Day...
Grant also looks at the Rangers lineup possibilities...he talks up having the best clutch hitter in the A.L. hitting third all season, although I don't think clutch hitting is a "skill" that translates from year to year, so I wouldn't want to see a lineup structured around who is thought to be the best clutch hitter. Lofton and the Cat are apparently going to be in the top 2 slots against righthanders, but Washington says that Ian Kinsler could hit leadoff when Lofton is sitting.
Bleah on Sosa.