Ominous Signs for Rangers
So many times I've been the optimist entering the Rangers regular season. Not this time, baby! This team may be laying a foundation for the future but my expectations are relatively low this year. Consider:
Your number one and two starters are really number two and three starters who have once again had mediocre spring performances. Last year, it led to a slow start that gave the Rangers a hill to climb by the end of April. Your number five starter is a journeyman who makes everyone think he's got the stuff until the games get real. Brandon McCarthy has upside but his spring was horrendous. Just think. 5.2 innings, 3 runs, and two homers is considered a great start. Robinson Tejeda shows the most immediate promise but is still learning so will be a little up and down. As for Kam Loe. He got robbed. Can he perform the way he did this spring for a full season? We won't know until someone falters.
This was supposed to be the Rangers' strength. Frank Francisco hasn't returned to form after Tommy John surgery. Rick Bauer was waived. Wes Littleton, the 2006 prodigy, has faltered. Eric Gagne starts the year on the DL. There's your bullpen depth. That means the Rangers are relying on Scott "Sidearm Sucker Punch" Feldman, a retooled Joaquin Benoit, and Akinori Otsuka, while looking to fill the rest of their bullpen holes.
Can be good. But Nelson Cruz is playing his first full season in the majors. Hank Blalock has cratered at the plate this spring under the pressure of being Ron Washington's pet project. Brad Wilkerson has a new shoulder and the same ugly swing. Sammy Sosa's had a good spring but it mirrors Phil Nevin's 2006 spring a little too closely. But that's okay. In my book, Jason Botts has earned the shot at the majors the Rangers still refuse to give him.
John Danks was traded. You never trade a top lefty prospect. They're too rare. Thomas Diamond had Tommy John surgery. Who the hell is teaching mechanics in the Rangers minor leagues. Edinson Volquez's confidence is toast. So scrap the DVD plans and let Eric Hurley and A. J. Murray take their time. You may need one or both these guys this year.
So there you have it. This team is ugly. The cellar may be calling soon. Nonetheless, I'll be here each trip through the rotation to update you Powerhousers on the Rangers. Sorry for the layoff, but sometime life calls.