Team Previews

Al West

April 01, 2001

Texas Rangers

Record: 71-91, 4th place, 20 1/2 back Runs scored: 848 (9th in AL) Runs allowed: 974 (14th in AL) Manager: Johnny Oates Home: The Ballpark in Arlington That was then: A division winner in 1998 and 1999, Texas began last June tied for first place before plummeting to the basement with the AL's worst ERA (5.52) and fielding percentage (.978), nearly leading Oates to resign. This is now: Every team that won at least 85 games last year finished in the top half of its league in ERA, but the Rangers ignored their pitching trouble during the off-season to turbo-charge an already potent offense with free agents Alex Rodriguez, Andres Galarraga, Randy Velarde and Ken Caminiti. It didn't work in the NFL last season for the St. Louis Rams. It won't work here. Upside: Gabe Kapler hit .344 in the second half after changing his stance. ... Caminiti (15 homers in 208 at-bats for the Astros) may thrive in a park built for lefties. ... The staff ERA this spring was an unlikely 3.60. Downside: Other than Rick Helling (whose September ERA was 8.38), the starting pitchers won just 34 of 127 starts. ... The average age of the infield, even with 25-year-old Rodriguez, is 34. Don't miss ... : ... April. The Rangers have the league's toughest schedule the first month, facing opponents with a .543 winning percentage. Don't be surprised ... : ... if the team MVP is I-Rod, not A-Rod. Before breaking his thumb in July, defensive whiz Ivan Rodriguez was on pace to raise his batting average for a fourth straight year and RBIs for a third straight year. Don't expect ... : ... the bullpen to be better than the crew that blew 27 save tries in 2000. Closer Tim Crabtree is 2-for-9 in career saves. Book it: "The Truth About Power Rangers"

Texas at a glance 2001 LINEUP CARD AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured) LF Rusty Greer ... .377 on-base avg. but few steals 2B Randy Velarde* ... Hits fell from 200 to 135 SS Alex Rodriguez* ... 2ND in AL in runs, 1st in salary 1B Rafael Palmeiro ... Not lower than 38 HRs since '94 C Ivan Rodriguez ... 27 HRs, 83 RBIs in just 363 at-bats DH Andres Galarraga* ... 20 of 28 HRs were in 1st half 3B Ken Caminiti* ... 15 HRs, 45 RBIs in 208 ABs CF Gabe Kapler-i ... Bo Porter or Chad Curtis in April RF Ruben Mateo ... Broken leg ended promising '00 2001 ROTATION, CLOSER AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured) RHP Rick Helling ... 16-13; led AL in pitches, starts LHP Kenny Rogers ... 3rd in AL in innings, hits allowed LHP Doug Davis ... 7-6, 5.38; had hot August stretch RHP Ryan Glynn ... 5-7, 5.58; lefties light him up LHP Darren Oliver ... 2-9, 7.42; why'd he get 21 starts? RHP Tim Crabtree ... Promoted after career-high ERA

Anaheim Angels

Record: 82-80, 3rd place, 9 1/2 back Runs scored: 864 (7th in AL) Runs allowed: 869 (9th in AL) Manager: Mike Scioscia Home: Edison International Field That was then: Energized by a club-record, 236-homer power surge, the Angels improved 12 games in the standings and remained within striking distance of the playoffs most of the season. This is now: The big haloed "A" in the parking lot at Edison was turned off last winter to help Californians conserve electricity, and the Angels' lineup lost some juice, too, when Mo Vaughn (36 homers) suffered a biceps tendon injury that will likely shelve him for the season. Upside: High-intensity Darin Erstad had 240 hits last season, the most since Wade Boggs in 1985, and has the potential to become a 30-homer, 30-steal batting champion. ... In losing Vaughn, the Angels also lost his league-high 181 strikeouts. ... The bullpen ERA of 3.93 was second best in the AL. Downside: The lineup without Vaughn is too right-handed. ... Troy Percival had a league-worst 10 blown saves. ... Payroll is down from $57 million to $43 million. Don't miss ... : ... the return of the "Rally Monkey," a scoreboard icon and plush, promotional doll that accomplished the impossible last season: keeping freeway-bound fans in the ballpark after the sixth inning. Don't be surprised ... : ... if 24-year-old third baseman Troy Glaus, who led the AL with 47 home runs and added 37 doubles, ends Cal Ripken's streak of 16 consecutive All-Star Game starts. Don't expect ... : ... a team dependent on Pat Rapp to contend. His nine victories for the Orioles last season were more than any Angels starter posted. Book it: "Angel Energy: How to Harness the Power of Angels"

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