Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Rangers Down The Rabbit Hole

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything....”

-- from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”

During a conversation with a baseball friend the other day – the only way I found to describe the Rangers and what I thought of their season so far was the image from Alice in Wonderland - as if this team was falling into the rabbit-hole, careening downward with no idea “what in the world was going to happen next”.

Alice has quite a few things to say about this week’s blog, so let us commence:

“Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. `I do,' Alice hastily replied; `at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know.' ”

The thing that I do know is minor league baseball.

Two short game reports this week: Saturday April 26thCorpus Christi (Houston) @ Frisco: a warm and tasty dinner at Buca di Beppo followed by a chilly evening of AA baseball in Frisco with Mrs. Schmenge and Baseball Mom. Being truthful: it wasn’t a terribly exciting game – Trey Hodges held the Hooks to just four hits – except that two them were home runs. The highlights of the evening were Ben Harrison’s game winning HR, the fact that none of us knew that Brian Gordon had been added to the Frisco roster and the scout who accidentally flipped a sunflower seed into Baseball Mom’s Dr. Pepper – he must have been a former pitcher because that was a long way and it was also placed accurately. Frisco won on Harrison’s HR 3-2.

Sunday April 27thCorpus Christi @ Frisco: No, I didn’t go to OKC as originally planned – a cold morning rain (and lots of dark green all the way long I-35 north on the radar map) convinced me to stay home (it turned out to be a nice day in OKC – oh well). So instead I headed up to Frisco again – this time to see another start by Michael Schlact – but more importantly I wound up sitting with my favorite AA fans: Erin and Mia Hindman (as well as their dad Mike). We were joined later in the game by Scott Lucas. That old saying about “lies, damned lies and statistics” applied to Schlact’s outing – he breezed through the first four innings getting 6 outs on ground balls. In the fifth did give up five runs – but only one really hard hit ball (a double by Richard Paz) the rest were dinks, and ground balls “with eyes”. Michael came out in the 6th got two more outs on ground balls and was finished for the day. If he can figure out how to avoid the big inning -- Michael’s ground ball outs will move him up the ladder to the Ballpark quickly. We dubbed Frisco relief pitcher Alfred Gonzalez as Franklyn German’s “mini-me”.

Offensively – John Mayberry, in what would turn out to be his last weekend in Frisco – hit a towering HR to left field, Elvis Andrus turned a bobbled ball by the Hooks right fielder into a triple, while Steve Murphy continued to put the ball in play with two doubles. But the Riders couldn’t catch up to the Hooks and lost 6-4.

There are pictures from all the Frisco games I attended in the photo gallery.

Quality and quantity:
Clinton: RHP Blake Beavan’s professional debut: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 ER
Bakersfield: LHP Kasey Kiker’s 2nd start: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 ER
OKC: LHP A.J. Murray last full start before being called up: 6 IP, 7H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 ER
Major League: Do you believe in miracles? RHP Vincente Padilla 9 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 ER

This item fit in with the theme of this week’s blog (since “Alice in Wonderland has often been described as “literary nonsense”):

Premiered at Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival – “The Zen of Bobby V” -- here is the description: “Making its debut at this year's Tribecca Film Festival is a documentary directed by 3 NYU students — Andrew Jenks, Andrew Muscato, and Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew — following baseball guru-turned-Japanese rockstar Bobby Valentine "through a season of baseball in Japan”

[Insert your own witty comments here.]


"Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.' "

11-18, more losses than any other team in baseball, yet 4 wins on this homestand – a turning point or an outlier? Can this team survive with three of the supposed mainstays of the starting rotation already on the DL, with one corner IF injured, the other corner a revolving door of dreadful performances and a surprisingly unreliable bullpen.

“The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. `Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.' ”

This franchise has too often reacted instead of acted, changed direction so often it resembles a mad dog chasing its own tail. I thought that starting last season there was a “plan” – even if born of economic inertia on the owner’s part – to build a core of young players from within that was emboldened by the example of the success of Colorado Rockies last season. But…as always ownership appears to be wavering – rebuilding pains are too tough on the pocket book and even worse in newspapers and from the electronic windbags who thrive on the misfortunes at TBiA. I suspect that in his normal panic stricken mode, we’ll see Tom Hicks reacting like the Queen of Hearts.

"`I could tell you my adventures--beginning from this morning,' said Alice a little timidly: `but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.''

Other bloggers and pundits who actually get paid for their ramblings will tell you that they have the answers which include: firing the manager, firing the GM, trading the “face of the franchise” or as the Queen of Hearts said to Alice: “`Sentence first--verdict afterwards.”

I don’t have an answer, as a fan I am as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
What is going to be and had been decided in the offices on Ballpark Way and the houses in Highland Park and Alvin can only be described as "curiouser and curiouser.”

I will say this: while I’m not a fan of the manager, I do think he deserves the opportunity to continue to manage for at least this season. As opined by Toby’s best friend – “the plan” has only been in place since mid-July of 2007- hardly enough time to be fully operational and produce results. Whether it’s a good plan or not – the architect of the plan deserves more time to continue to implement it. As much respect as I have for the team president – he too is a novice at major league baseball operations and shouldn’t rush to hasty judgments based on a very short experience (something like just 38 AB’s).

I’ve been through this 29 other baseball seasons as a Ranger fan. Today I can only defer to the wisdom of the Chesire Cat:

" 'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Chesire Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
`--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat."

-- Marla Hooch

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jon Daniels And Ron Washington: Rearranging The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

Chris Shelton – does anyone really think this is the answer to the worst team in the American League’s problems?

We’re all just waiting for the inevitable: a new manager, a new GM and another new 5 year plan.

As I said on the Monday Morning Manager – the problems with this team are much bigger than just a bad hire at manager.

Jason Botts may not realize it right now – but he just got a “get out of jail free” card – while the rest of us are weighted down by the ball and chain known as the Texas Rangers.

Still trying to figure out how Ben Broussard, Frank Catalanotto, Sidney Ponson and Chris Shelton are part of the "plan" for building for the future (while wondering why John Danks, Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez aren't) --- Marla Hooch