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Nolan Ryan Sets the Bar Nice and High



    The Rangers can't say they weren't warned about Nolan Ryan's expectations for the season.

    The team president and public voice of ownership made his thoughts about the team's chances this season very clear on the eve of Opening Day. Ryan wants to be spending October in baseball stadiums, not on golf courses.

    "I try to be realistic and I really believed that last year we were capable of winning our division," Ryan said. "I think that we're positioned better this year than last year at this time so my expectations are to win it."

    The Rangers also can't say that their boses have unreasonable thoughts about the way the season should play out.

    We've spent a lot of time in these parts pointing out the various flaws and holes on the Rangers roster because it makes for more interesting discussion than simply raving about their strengths. Those strengths are quite evident and quite plentiful.

    The Rangers have added Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to a lineup that was already one of the best in all of baseball. If Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz can stay healthy for a full season, they will put up eye-popping numbers that could have them in MVP discussions. They'll have to beat out Josh Hamilton, of course, and, well, you get the picture.

    All of the discussions about the weakness of the rotation has obscured the fact that Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson were damn good last season. They may not be Felix Hernandez or Jered Weaver, but they aren't Chan Ho Park or Ryan Drese either. And let's not forget about Neftali Feliz.

    That's a lot more talent than anyone else in the AL West can bring to the table. Joe Posnanski, the esteemed Sports Illustrated writer whose work can't be missed by any serious baseball fan, has two Rangers -- Hamilton and Beltre -- among the top 32 in baseball. Hernandez is the only other AL West player on the list and you can bet a lot more Rangers would pop up than any other team if you extended the list to 100.  

    Simply put, this team should win the division. We won't go down all the different roads of how no one ever truly knows how 162 games will play out. That goes without saying. All we're saying is that on March 31st before one pitch has been thrown, the Rangers should be the AL West champions again this season.