Rangers have a chance to succeed by overcoming uncertainties

If the Texas Rangers keep playing like they have in their past three Spring Training games throughout the 2010 season, they actually could have a division pennant in their sights. However, the key word in that sentence is “if.”

If the pitching staff can eat innings and give the offense a chance to take over ballgames, the Rangers will be successful. But the rotation has had a makeover this offseason, taking a chance on some young guns and bringing in veteran Rich Harden to lead the group of very green arms.

The Rangers have to have another near 20-win season from Opening Day starter Scott Feldman to support unsure totals from a group of inexperienced pitchers, especially Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson, who will make his first appearance outside the relief corps. Harden will have to find the control he lost during Spring Training and stay in the game for more than five innings to support the bullpen.

The next “if” facing the Rangers in 2010 is if the team can stay healthy. Already the team has faced injuries to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and second baseman Ian Kinsler, who might be looking at starting the season on the disabled list. The team has to be worried about injury prone players like Josh Hamilton, who has battled nagging injuries all last season and throughout the spring. For the Rangers to make a run to the playoffs, Hamilton needs to put up numbers like he did in 2008.

Yes, Texas brought in another huge bat with Vladimir Guerrero, but he is known for swinging at anything that leaves the pitchers hand, and he won’t put up the numbers everyone is expecting. It’s one thing to be successful in Arlington off Rangers’ pitching of the past as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, it’s another thing to be successful against good opposing pitching.

Finally, the Rangers can sit on the top of the American League West if they can get production out of key young players like Chris Davis, Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon. Anything less than the numbers they put up last season would put major holes in the Ranger’s lineup and initiate many killed scoring opportunities.

The other “if” surrounding the Rangers will come true if these ifs are not resolved. If the Rangers perform any less than outstanding to begin the season, Ron Washington’s days as a major league manager will be done. Washington should already be on a short leash with the organization after his admitted cocaine use last year. A few seasons ago his job was on the line, but he was given a second chance then. Now after this third chance, anything but a march to the playoffs will be unacceptable and Washington will be out of a job.

If the Rangers can manage all this uncertainty, than this could be a season to remember in Arlington.

Travis L. Brown is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Dallas.