Well, we could talk about about the Mavs absolutely passionless loss tonight. But it's one game in a seven-game series. If it repeats in Game Two, then we have a story.
We could talk about the Rangers big win and the fact they face Cha Seung Baek, who helped bring their near-miraculous 2004 season to an end, tomorrow. But we'll recap the Ranger's last five games tomorrow.
The topic du jour is the Dallas Stars going to British Columbia for Game Seven against the Vancouver Canucks. They have fought back from a 3-1 deficit and now look to get Dave Tippett's and Marty Turco's first round monkey off their backs.
And what an incredible way to reach the elimination game. First, they snap their playoff overtime losing streak. Then, the Stars snap their home playoff game losing streak. I say they. But, for once, it has been Turco's doing with back-to-back shutouts. It also has a little to do with Coach Tippett finally remembering that Mike Ribeiro and Vladislav Nagy make for a formidable duo on the ice.
But it's Game Seven, Turco has three shutouts in the series and you have to think the pressure is off the goaltender. I mean, he's the only man on the team that has played at a high level. The pressure is now on the mates to do something. Doesn't mean Turco can take the night off. Just means we better lay off Turco whatever happens.
So, Mikie Mo and the boys. We're calling you out for Monday night. Make us proud.
Labels: Dallas Stars, Dave Tippett, Marty Turco, Mike Modano, Mike Ribeiro, Vladislav Nagy
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.STARTING ROTATION
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.BULLPEN
(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.LINEUP
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
Stars, Turco Dominate
Don't look now Stars fans, but Marty Turco posted his first postseason shutout. In Game One, he looked like the playoff Turco of old at times. Tonight, however he stood on his head to protect the early lead his mates handed him.
Now, the Stars have taken the all-important game on the road an retrun to Dallas for two against the Vancouver Canucks. Despite the split in British Columbia, Dallas has clearly skated better and the Stars scorers hasve gotten to young Roberto Luongo who is in his first NHL playoffs.
So will they go far in the playoffs? Hell if I know. But it ought to be a lot more fun to watch this time around.
Labels: Dallas Stars, Marty Turco
Kam "Loe" Was "W"right All Along
It's been a good day Ranger fans. Kevin Millwood gave us another strong performance. Kam Loe was rightfully moved into the starting rotation. Eric Gagne looked hella dominant in his first save opportunity. But we'll save that analysis for five days or so from now. Let's review the past few days:STARTING ROTATION
Millwood: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (W, 1-1)
Padilla: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (L, 0-2)
McCarthy: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (W, 1-1)
Wright: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (ND, 0-0)
Tejeda: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (W, 1-1)
(Composite Era: 6.41)
This turn started so promising. I feared the worst with Jamey Wright coming and tose fears rang true. Apparently, he has a sore arm and is headed to the 15-day DL. Hate to see a guy go down, even briefly, but it will serve to right a wrong. If Ron Washington has made one mistake in the early going of his first season, it was his failure to run with Kam Loe in the opening roptation from the beginning. At least, with Wright's sore arm, Loe steps into the five hole the next time it comes up: April 21.
The encouraging news was the recovery of Padilla and McCarthy from poor opening starts. The bad news was Tejeda's poor follow up to his mastery of the Red Sox. We are left to wonder if this triumvirate on who the season rests can pitch consistently. But you have to consider the promise both McCarthy and Tejeda have shown to rebound in poor outing's to stretch outings and help the bullpen. Just what Washington wants his starters to do.
Trade follow up: John Danks takes the mound a second time for the White Sox tomorrow. Jon Daniels has to be hoping this trade doesn't come back to bite him. McCarthy appears to have some goods, but he made the assumption Danks wasn't ready this year and he gave him up as well as Nick Masset (whose name was mistakenly omitted from the last post) who the Rangers believed might be a late inning reliever. Masset is also on the Sox major league roster.BULLPEN
Eric Gagne is for the next post. This bullpen looks ready to carry this team when needed. Joaquin Benoit is approached by the new manager with hope instead of doubt and his performance has benefitted. He's been near untouchable early and Washinton considers him one of the setup men. Bruce Chen has even been productive in long relief making it easier for the Rangers to move Kam Loe where he needs to be.LINEUP
The Rangers bats have started to come to life of late though they continue to struggle with men in scoring position and are hitting just .235 as a team. The offensive leader is sophomore second baseman Ian Kinsler who already has five home runs. Once Michael Young gets right, the Rangers may have the league's best offensive middle infield. The lineup as a whole could swing on if Sammy Sosa and Brad Wilkerson ever amount to anything. The early signs are poor as the pair have combined to hit below. 200 with just 5 BB and 6 RBI's while striking out 16 times in ten games. The question will soon become when it the right time to cut bait with these guys. He's toiling right now in AAA but the Jason Botts watch has officially begun.
On a positive note, the Rudy Jaramillo legend may be growing yet again. We've seen Gary Matthews, Jr., Mark DeRosa, and David Dellucci become serious major league jitters in recent years. Now Matt Kata and Jerry Hairston, Jr., may be emerging under Jaramillo's tutelage. We'll keep an eye on this.
Right now, you watch the team and hope for the best. You know they will have to click on all cylinders at some point if they want a shot at the playoffs in the AL West. The problem is, we've read this script before and it doesn't end well.
while wondering whatever happened to Rafael Septien
Kevin Durant finally makes the right choice
and enters the NBA. His studied waffling provided a few more days of bloviating
by the sports gurus, so I am glad he finally decided to go for the payout. He can always finish his degree later. As a Longhorn, it pains me to admit this, but what could he possibly gain by staying another year at Texas? A catastrophic, career-ending injury, or another ignominious March exit courtesy of Mr. Barnes?
Maybe he can settle into the comfy confines of Mark Cuban's
embrace. I doubt it, but a man can dream.
This is obviously the lesson I want to teach my baby boy. Go for the money, my son!
Now I must go change my future NFL star's diaper, while I ponder the eternal question: When will the Rangers will flame out this season?
Labels: Kevin Durant, Rafael Septien, Texas Rangers
This, Ranger Fans, Was Almost Really Bad
The Rangers are a bumbling, stumbling 1-3 after the first turn in the rotation. Unfortunately, many of the things I said in preseason seem to be true, with one or two surprises so far this season.Starters
Kevin Millwood: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Vicente Padilla: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Brandon McCarthy: 6 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Robinson Tejeda: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
(Composite ERA: 4.76)
I'm not going to judge starters on one outing. However, let's rid ourselves of any potential talk as it relates to these four guys. This is Millwood's third season in the AL. It's Padilla's second in the AL and both his and Millwood's second on the Rangers. It's McCarthy's second full season in the majors and Texas traded LEFTY John Danks believing McCarthy is ready now. Tejeda has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors. So no potential talk for these guys.
That being said, only Padilla was bad, which I don't expect Padilla to be bad on a regular basis. And all but Tejeda struggled in the first inning of their first start so we'll give a minor pass this time around. If you remove McCarthy's first inning, he and Tejeda combined to go twelve innings with only nine hits and one earned run. That's something to be excited about. And if Jamey Wright flames out, then the Kam Loe, the rightful fifth starter, will get his shot.
On a side note, Jon Daniels has now traded John Danks, Ricardo Rodriguez, and David Dellucci and received Vicente Padilla, Robinson Tejeda, and Brandon McCarthy in return. (Not to mention their backup catcher) I'd say that's an overall upgrade. It's that Chris Young (plus others) for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka trade that hurts the rotation right now. (But what would the Rangers do without Otsuka right now?)Bullpen
The relievers combined for three earned runs in ten innings. Perhaps our concerns about the bullpen depth being mythical were a little overstated. After all, this is a very good bullpen right now. And you have to like how Ron Washington was able to calm Joaquin Benoit in the eighth. Perhaps, he has the feel for the game Buck Showalter always thought he had. this has a chance to grow into a great bullpen if Eric Gagne comes back at full strength and Wes Littleton and Frank Francisco can right themselves at AAA.Lineup
Michael Young and Mark Teixiera will right themselves at the plate. They always do. Hank Blalock will be a question mark. Always is. Ian Kinsler continues to grow in a mighty way and Nelson Cruz has to adapt to the majors. I fully expect Sammy Sosa and Brad Wilkerson to continue to struggle. Fine by me. Means we're four games closer to Jason Botts getting the shot he earned a long time ago if you ask me. But I did not expect Frank Catalanotto to start the season with a four-game 0-fer. And his presence in left field allowed the Angels to score two uncontested runs in the opener on shallow singles. So that's a surprise as is the Rangers poor defensive effort in the early going. Those two things have to right themselves to stay afloat. As we saw, the Angels have too much pitching and offense to keep pace with so many holes.
So as the season shakes out, it is hard to imagine this team being playoff bound. Even if they're close, their minor league depth is so thin at this point they can't afford to trade what talent they have to add pieces at the deadline. So on we go, Ranger fans, continuing to look to the future with a team boasting the 21st ranked payroll in all of baseball. (11th in the AL)