In an interview with ESPNDallas.com, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan predicted the Rangers to win 90-95 games in the upcoming season. Considering we are still months away from Opening Day, that comment is a little outrageous.
The Rangers were terrific last year, going 90-72 in the regular season before losing to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Even that team was barely able to hit the 90-win mark and their division may have been the weakest in all of baseball.
This season looks to be a lot more competitive in the American League West as the Oakland Athletics appear to be have one of the top pitching staffs in all of baseball and the Los Angeles Angels will have one of the league's best offenses, assuming there are few to no injuries.
The Seattle Mariners will probably not be too much better than last year but they do have perhaps the best pitcher in the American League, Felix Hernandez.
When Nolan Ryan made the prediction, he had just finished a Q&A session with Rangers fans and he probably just wanted to raise fan morale.
The Rangers didn't have a very good off season, losing Cliff Lee and replacing him with the injury prone Brandon Webb. The biggest acquisition was obviously Adrian Beltre but the loss of Lee will most likely
\out-do the impact of Beltre's bat.
The World Series runner up will still have Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz but there is no guarantee that they will both have banner seasons again.
C.J. Wilson will lead the pitching staff, but the Rangers' pitching as a whole is not nearly as strong as the Athletics' staff and bullpen.
The Rangers' schedule doesn't appear to be too challenging, although they do play a three-game series at Philadelphia during inter-league play.
They finish the season with nine of 12 games on the road, but there is no telling what the standings of the AL West will be in late September.
Ryan predicted the Rangers would win 92 games last season and they came very close to accomplishing that feat, so maybe his predicting skills are better than most.
After all, he knows the Rangers better than just about anybody. However, all signs point to the AL West being very close this year, and a runaway champion seems unlikely.