Is This Who The Rangers Are?
An ugly go round for the Rangers as poor pitching killed momentum the Rangers built against the Red Sox and Devil Rays. The Rangers are fortunate their AL West rivals have been unable to create any space at a time when the Rangers aren't really clicking in any phase of the game.
Millwood: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (2-1)
Padilla: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K (0-3)
McCarthy: 2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 ER (1-2)
Tejeda: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K (2-1)
(Composite ERA 5.14)
First, let's consider how the rotation has been pieced together. Millwood was signed to be the number starter at a good market value. Padilla was acquired for out of the majors Ricardo Rodriguez. Tejeda was acquired for utilityman David Dellucci. All those are good acquisitions. Millwood is looking close to a number one starter and is having his best April in years leaving us with hopes he can be the pitcher he was two years ago in Cleveland. Tejeda has had one bad inning. Otherwise, he is 3-0 and we quit talking about Dellucci. You can even argue resigning Padilla was a bargain considering the crazed offseason even if he hasn't yet earned his keep this season.
That brings us to Brandon McCarthy who was acquired along with a minor league outfielder for top pitching prospect John Danks and prospect reliever Nick Masset. Considering Jon Daniels underestimating Danks' readiness to go pro, the spotlight shines bright on McCarthy at this time. So far, he is wilting in the heat. The most frightening thing is how he proved his scouting report true in his last start surrendering three dingers. Daniels is hoping...praying that McCarthy can recover so he doesn't post his second Tom Grieve-esque trade in two years.
(Composite ERA: 6.23)
This time around the bullpen has struggled. You can blame the bulk of the badness on Bruce Chen, C. J. Wilson, and Kam Loe. Loe prepares for a starting role in place of Jamey Wright, but only after struggling to post a 5.40 ERA in long relief. Bruce Chen stays on simply because Wright went down. Wilson is overrated as a big league pitcher.
It's hard to blame the others, with Scott Feldman, Akinori Otsuka, Joaquin Benoit, and Ron Mahay stifling hitters. And Mike Wood, Wes Littleton, and Frank Francisco are really putting it together in the minors.
Oh, and don't forget the Texas debut of Eric Gagne. He was throwing at around 94 mph rather than 100 mph, but his stuff was killer, at least for one game. If he stays healthy, late leads may rarely be in doubt.
One man is due credit here: Ian Kinsler. The sophomore second baseman is in the early running with Alex Rodriguez for AL MVP. Yeah, yeah. It's way early. But Kinsler's .359 BA, 7 HR, and 13 RBI are off the charts good.
Meanwhile, everyone else is struggling. Five regulars have at least 9 K's in the season's first 13 games. The team that led the majors in spring training BA is sporting a .234 average in the early part of the real season.
You assume Michael Young and Mark Teixiera will emerge, but how long will it be? Are Spring at-bats missed due to injury to blame. You think Kenny Lofton, Frank Catalanotto, and Hank Blalock will be better? But Lofton is 41 years old. Cat may not be adjusting to his new team. And Blalock has been anything but reliable since the All Star game in 2004.
Brad Wilkerson and Sammy Sosa have shown flashes in the last couple of days but they showed those at times in their last miserable seasons. They've shown just enough at this time, however, to keep Jason Botts in the minors.
Nelson Cruz and Gerald Laird are young hitters learning the art of major league hitting, so they have a bit of a leash. Cruz just has to stop striking out and Laird has to quit swinging at the first pitch all the time.
And the team as a whole has to play better defensively than the error per game they've committed. Ron Washington challenges his pitchers to put the ball in the play and let the defense work for them. If the pitchers can't trust their teammates, they'll try to overcompensate and it will be one helluva long season.
Yet, as bad they've played, the rest of the division has managed to stay even with this team. So, while we brace for the worst, having been conditioned by 35 years of Ranger baseball, we can still hope for the best, even if that's the historical Rangers' pinnacle of a playoff birth and first round defeat by the Yankees. I mean, is it too much to ask that the Rangers be as good as the Dallas Stars?
Labels: Texas Rangers