Monday, February 4, 2008

Item #4: And Now...The Rest of The Starting Rotation

It's time to play catch up. So, here are some abbreviated run downs on Jason Jennings, Kason Gabbard, Vicente Padilla, and Kevin Millwood.

Jason Jennings
6'2" 235 lbs
Born: 07/17/1978
Opening Day Age: 29

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 19 (18 starts)
Innings Pitched: 99
Record: 2-9
ERA: 6.45
Strikeouts: 71

2008 Prognosis:
Jennings is coming off an injury plagued he should fit in perfectly with the rest of the Rangers' starting rotation. Prior to his disastrous campaign in 2007, Jennings posted a sub-4 ERA in a hitter friendly park while playing for the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers are hoping he can channel his 2006 self for the 2008 Texas Rangers. When healthy, Jennings is capable of being a 200 inning workhorse. He is a Texas native with a chance to make good on a one year deal with a home state team. Jennings will likely slot in as the Rangers third starter behind Millwood and Padilla. Call me a blind optimist, but I really think Jennings is capable of being a serviceable pitcher in 2008. I would not be surprised to see him post a season similar to what John Thomson did for the Rangers in 2003. Thomson, who was 29 at the time, threw 217 innings for the Rangers and won 13 games. He didn't light the world on fire, but he ate up innings and showed up for every start. With some luck, Jennings will stay healthy and if he does that he has a good shot to replicate Thomson's 2003 campaign.

Kason Gabbard
6'3" 205 lbs
Born: 04/08/1982
Opening Day Age: 26

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 15 (15 starts)
Innings Pitched: 81.1
Record: 6-1
ERA: 4.65
Strikeouts: 55

2008 Prognosis:
Gabbard came over from the Boston Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade. His season numbers were basically split between Boston and Texas. His numbers for the Rangers were not as good as they had been in Boston and he was shut down at the end of the year. One problem Gabbard had was his control as he walked 23 batters in Texas compared to 18 for Boston. He also threw 5 wild pitches after throwing none in Boston. Gabbard experienced stiffness in his arm at the end of the 2007 season, and that may have been a reason for the loss of control. There is no doubt Gabbard has a shot to be successful for the Rangers as LHPs fare better in Arlington. He invokes Kenny Rogers comparisons as a soft tossing lefty who can work the corners. If Gabbard can justify those comparisons, then the Rangers would be thrilled. This season will be very important for Gabbard as the Rangers try and assess who will be a part of their future and who is expendable. Kason will likely start the season as the Rangers number 5 starter meaning he will have plenty of time to work his arm into shape. The Rangers would love some continuity in their rotation and Gabbard has the potential to be a part of that. It is unlikely the Rangers will allow Gabbard to be overworked in 2008 as he has never had a professional season with more than 133 innings pitched. Kason will have to have a productive Spring Training as Luis Mendoza, Josh Rupe, and AJ Murray will be nipping at his heels.

Vicente Padilla
6'2" 220 lbs
Born: 09/27/1977
Opening Day Age: 30

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 23 (23 starts)
Innings Pitched: 120.1
Record: 6-10
ERA: 5.76
Strikeouts: 71

2008 Prognosis:
I am officially sick of watching Padilla pitch. He slows the game and puts his teammates at risk by constantly plunking the opposition. He seems unwilling to make any changes in his game and he gets paid handsomely to do all of this. This is an unfair analysis on my part because of my feelings about Padilla. My bias is oozing through the computer screen because I gave away tickets on 2 separate occasions because Padilla was slated to start. The guy pitched well in 2006. He was rewarded with a fat paycheck. It was more than he was worth, but it was the going rate for the season he had put up. I see countless articles stating that the Rangers need 15 victories out of Padilla and 200 innings. I say the only thing they need is 7-9 1st half victories (unlikely), a 1st half ERA around 4 (unlikely), a team in contention to lose a starter, and a phone call from a desperate GM. Hopefully I am wrong and Padilla comes into his own and becomes a solid #2 for the Rangers. Maybe he will get it through his thick skull and begin to earn his money. Maybe I am being unfair, and overly critical. Well, if I am then I offer my deepest apologies to Padilla. I am not wishing anything bad on Padilla or hoping he fails, I am simply begging him to quit hitting people, move a little quicker, and justify the contract he got. That's not too much to ask is it?

Kevin Millwood
6'4" 230 lbs
Born: 12/24/1974
Opening Day Age: 33

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 31 (31 starts)
Innings Pitched: 172.2
Record: 10-14
ERA: 5.16
Strikeouts: 123

2008 Prognosis:
My bold prediction; Kevin Millwood will be a professional and an example for the young pitchers regardless of his numbers. It seems even more unfair to follow my Padilla analysis with my Millwood analysis. Kevin Millwood is a guy I have the utmost respect for and view as a penultimate professional. It doesn't hurt that he puts out that "just one of the guys" vibe no matter what he's doing. He is a community servant and not a bad pitcher to boot. But, to be fair, he did not earn every penny of his money in 2007 either. Millwood was a big part of the disappointing showing by Rangers' pitchers in 2007 and at times looked old and out of shape. He seemed to be laboring all season long and just didn't look the part of a team's #1 starter. My budding optimism leads me to believe that this season could be a big one for Millwood. I just can't see the guy struggling the way he did in 2007 or even the way he did in 2006. I will be looking for the 2005 version of Millwood that earned him a $65 million deal with the Texas Rangers. More than anything I will be looking for Millwood to stay healthy. He has stated he has worked all offseason to get his body into shape and I believe the man. He has a chance to be a real mentor to guys like Gabbard and McCarthy to start the season. Not to mention the affect he could have on the AAA guys like Mendoza, Murray, Rupe, Hurley, and Harrison if and when they are called up. So you heard it hear first...Kevin Millwood, 2008 All Star and 18 game winner.

Now that I have completed the analysis of the Starting Rotation I fully expect Jason Jennings to get hurt in Spring Training and pitch 40 innings for the Rangers, Kason Gabbard to throw 215 innings, Vicente Padilla to win 20 games and be voted "Good Guy of the Year", Brandon McCarthy to be in the bullpen by mid season, and Kevin Millwood to go 4-21 and continually get into fights in the dugout. That is, after all, the way this whole prediction thing works out.

all photos courtesy of