They've had, at various times, Nolan Ryan, Kevin Brown, Charlie Hough, Kenny Rogers, Bobby Witt, John Burkett, John Wetteland, Rick Helling and Aaron Sele and others.But never enough at one time to succeed in their quest of the Holy Grail that is the World Series. They and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are the only American League teams without a Cy Young Award winner in their history and the Rangers' 5.26 ERA since 2000 is second-highest in the Majors. "Without a doubt. I think everybody realizes the key to winning is our pitching staff," Millwood said. "The bottom line is if we go out and pitch the way we're capable and give out guys a chance to win the game, we're going to win a whole lot of ballgames." General manager Jon Daniels admitted the offseason acquisitions were "high-risk, high-reward."
Padilla has been a 14-game winner twice with the Philadelphia Phillies, but not since 2003. Eaton has won 11 games in each of the last two years but has yet to put together a complete season that represents the kind of talent he possesses, last year largely because of his injury. Both can be free agents after the season.The Rangers likely will try to sign at least one after the season, but if nothing else, those two help buy time until a group of impressive young pitchers can finish their development. That list includes Edinson Volquez, Thomas Diamond, John Danks, Josh Rupe and others. But they represent the future. The Rangers want to win now and they would certainly hold off the arrival of any young stud if they could get Roger Clemens to agree to pitch one more season and do it as a Ranger. That would certainly reinforce owner Tom Hicks' claim -- made before the Eaton injury -- that this was "the best rotation we've had since I bought the team." Right now, though, the Rangers feel they are good enough with a rotation led by Millwood, a bullpen headed up by Francisco Cordero and an lineup built around All-Star infielders Blalock, Teixeira and AL batting champion Young. "We think we have a lot of talented guys in our clubhouse," Young said. "Now it's a matter of getting the breaks and staying healthy. "We're in the best division in baseball. The whole league has gotten more competitive and that makes the Wild Card tougher. Our goal is to win the division. We have the pieces to do it. It's a matter of people doing their job and playing to win."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.