Kruk Predicts A Big 2009 For Rangers, Jones

Baseball Tonight's John Kruk has the Rangers winning the West in 2009.

Well, it's spring time again, and that means it's time to make bold and, in some cases, downright irresponsible predictions about the upcoming season of baseball.

The “Baseball Tonight” panel threw their hats in the ring recently, with the portly former Phillie John Kruk giving Rangers fans reason to smile: Kruk's bold prediction for 2009 was that the Rangers would take the AL West and that Andruw Jones would be the comeback player of the year. You can always tell it's baseball season when ESPN has something good to say about a Dallas-based franchise.

But petty grudges aside, Kruk's words are encouraging. While I can't really endorse his call, it's good that someone has noticed the Rangers' positive, albeit gradual, turn as a franchise. Most of the 2009 projections I’ve heard have the Rangers dropping 85-90 games and, call me a hopeless, chauvinistic homer, but I can't believe the Rangers will be quite that bad. They have power, as they always do, but as they proved last year, these Rangers can manufacture runs as well; this is a relatively new idea in Arlington, one that seemingly came with Ron Washington.
They play defense well and pitch, well, okay. They should at least be better than last season, when they were dead last or close to it in just about every statistical category; Nolan Ryan and Mike Maddux will see to it personally.

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Word from Surprise has the other half of Kruk’s bold prediction, Andruw Jones, looking slimmed down and strong.

But even with all the positives, 2009 will not see the Rangers win the West. A second-place finish and a wild card spot, I can believe; but those pesky Angels are still pretty loaded, even in the absence of K-Rod and Mark Texeira. Namely, their fourth (fourth!) starter, All-Star Joe Saunders, won three more games (17) than the Rangers team-leader in wins last year, Vicente Padilla (14). The Rangers’ bats will certainly get to these pedigreed Angels starters every once in a while, but in the end, good pitching wins out over good hitting, and the Rangers do not (yet) have the arms to match up to the Halos.
Oh, but it’s early. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The importance of Kruk’s statement is not in its accuracy within the realm of this coming season.
Rather, Kruk is a valid figure with respect to franchises emerging from mediocrity to baseball’s Promised Land: In 1992, his Phillies dropped 92 games and finished dead-last in the unremarkable National League East. In 1993, the same group held on to first place for 162 games, won the East and the NL Championship before falling to the Blue Jays in the World Series.
The former all-star must see something building in these young Rangers. If you look hard enough in 2009, I’ll bet you can see it too.
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