El Duque to attempt comeback with Rangers

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The Rangers, who have already gambled on Jason Jennings and Kris Benson with mixed results this year, announced the signing of Orlando Hernandez to a minor league contract on Thursday.

There hadn’t been much talk about Hernandez lately, but little brother
Livan said in February that El Duque intended to make a comeback as a
reliever during the season. Hernandez wasn’t ready to pitch at the
beginning of the season following surgery to remove a bunion on his
right toe. The foot problems prevented him from pitching for the Mets
last season as he finished up a two-year, $12 million contract. In
2007, he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 24 starts and three relief
appearances.

El Duque is listed as being 39 years old, but the assumption is that
he’s 43. It’s doubtful that he’d have any chance of holding up as a
starter for the Rangers, but we wouldn’t bet against him proving quite
useful out of the pen. He’s always been able to strike hitters out with
his vast array of pitches and arm angles. He might even be a legitimate
right-handed setup man for a team currently relying on Darren O’Day in
that role.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics