"Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true."
-- Jiminy Cricket
With a little more than two weeks until Opening Day and less than five days until my trip to Surprise I've started thinking, wishing and dreaming about the season ahead which means it's time for: Marla’s Wish List For The 2009 Ranger Season.
1. A healthy and productive Brandon McCarthy. Keeping my fingers crossed since he’s been relatively healthy and pitching well this spring. Keeping all available digits crossed that he becomes a solid – maybe even better than that – part of the rotation this season. Nothing would please me more than to have to apologize to Jon Daniels for all the snide remarks about I’ve written about McCarthy
2. The Vincente Padilla we saw in 2006 (15 wins, ERA under 5) It’s the “walk” year of his contract, and let’s remember that he was pretty good the last time he was in this position with the Rangers.
3. A surprise in the 5th spot in the rotation. I’d like to see someone seize the opportunity and stop the revolving door at the back end of the rotation. My original pick for that spot was Jason Jennings – but it appears he’s headed to the bullpen as the “swing man” . Maybe Kris Benson? Might be Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland or Tommy Hunter – but let’s hope that doesn’t happen until after the All-Star break – as much as I like all three of them – I firmly believe that they need at least half a season in the minors to continue to refine their talent.
4. Nelson Cruz to prove me wrong.
5. A long term Josh Hamilton contract. Be realistic Mr. Hicks and JD – a player with this much talent and charisma is rare. I mean think about it – after everything he’s done to himself – look at what a terrific player he still has become. While there will always be questions in back of everyone’s mind about the potential for a relapse, he’s proven the last three years that he’s not a Roy Tarpley type personality. Lock him up – you already let one team icon walk away (Pudge) – learn from your mistakes and don’t do it again.
6. Another visit to Texas from our idol and friend Lisa Winston.
7. The Bill James prediction for Chris Davis to come true: .302 average, 39 HR, 115 RBI I know many of my minor league pals have switched their allegiance to Justin Smoak. But I’m not going to do that. Granted, Smoak probably has a few more tools than Davis – and use the word probably because Smoak has a grand total of 23 official AB’s in the organization. Let’s see what he does over a long minor league season first – the plaudits for Smoak remind me of this old Eagles song. Anyway – back to Davis. I’m letting my feelings rather than baseball sense rule: Davis is a personal favorite. He grew up a Ranger fan between that and Davis’s magnetic personality as well as his considerable talent – I can’t think of a better example of player who is destined to be a franchise-type-hometown- favorite...or at least this blogger’s favorite.
8. Going to Frisco and meeting up with my friends the Schillers and the Hindmans.
9. A breakout year from 3B John Whittleman. I know third base on the major league team will be occupied for a while – but Whittleman is young enough (22) that he still has time to develop and follow Michael into that position.
10. More trips to Oklahoma City to see Thomas Diamond pitch (and lower gas prices so I can afford a few more trips this season). By the way, I’ll amend this wish and hope that Thomas pitches his way into the major league bullpen. I’ve always been the one that thinks Thomas could be the next John Wetteland (although I know he and the player development types would prefer him to be a starter).
11. A full season of Ian Kinsler putting up the kind of numbers and improved defense he showed in 2008.
12. More Frisco Wishes: Kasey Kiker showing up all the pundits who whine about his size by having a very successful season in Frisco...Omar Poveda putting himself back on the prospect watch list with a good season in Frisco too...A mid-season call up for Blake Beavan to Frisco.
13. Meaningful games in September. I don’t think the Rangers can win the division. The Angels are still good, but not quite a scary as last season. Oakland’s offense and bullpen are better tha last season – they will go as far as their starting pitching will carry them and I’m not dazzled by their current projected rotation. Seattle is improved – the question remains by how much – who knows if last season was just an outlier..or maybe not. The AL West is going to be a close race and I hope that this September is as exciting for us Ranger fans as it was in 2004.
14. Another trip to the Alki Tavern
Thanks to the incomparable Henry Chadwick for the suggestion for today's musing.
Wishing upon a star and packing my bags for Surprise -- Marla Hooch
P.S. Click on this link to see the excellent photo gallery from Spring Training courtesy of the always entertaining Scott Lucas