Monday, September 27, 2010
If, And or But Revisited
-- Psalms 30:5
I almost did not watch Friday night’s game; I was in no mood to listen to either set of Rangers announcers. But I made myself watch the game with the sound turned down. I’m glad I did – it made me smile and gave me a soft landing at the end of a terrible day.
Saturday, I went over to Baseball Mom’s to watch the game, she was sure they were going to win, stepadad Neil and I weren’t so sure. When Jorge Cantu hit his home run in the 8th I think our whoops of joy were heard all the way in the Rangers dugout in Oakland, okay maybe not. But they probably woke up anyone in the vicinity who was sleeping (Hi Rob!). We ordered our own celebratory pizza, and enjoyed the clubhouse goofiness.
Back on April 1st I wrote a blog entry titled “If, And, But” detailing my thoughts about what would make the Rangers 2010 season successful… or not.
Let’s take a look at what I said (highlighted in red italics) to see just how much crow I will have to eat this week:
If Josh Hamilton stays healthy – which he did for most the season. During September the Rangers proved they could win without him (albeit it was a struggle)
If Rich Harden stays healthy – the problem really wasn’t health – I’m not sure what it is was – but in spite of Harden’s struggles the pitching staff was very good
If the Rangers (who are truly notorious for their lack of patience) can contain themselves and allow Julio Borbon to experience the slumps, hot streaks, errors and brilliant plays during his first full season in the big leagues: The Rangers did (show some patience) and then they didn’t (there were long stretches later in the season when they didn’t). By the way has anyone noticed Borbon’s BA is up in the .270’s ?
If Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Neftali Feliz, and Derek Holland take a step up, not back, in their development
Here’s the scorecard:
Elvis - took a small step back (both offensively and a bit defensively)
Matt - was hurt, lost his spot in the rotation, and I don’t have much confidence in him – so it’s a big step back
Tommy - took a huge step forward - and ought to be the 4th starter in the playoff rotation (starting Cliff Lee on short rest is ridiculous)
Chris – don’t care what the stat heads, or front office thinks – he wasn’t given a full season opportunity to work through his struggles.
Neftali – set the record for saves by a rookie close – ‘nuff said
Derek – I’m not going to say he took a step back, I think he was a bit over-hyped in the first place. He’s going to be a nice, average, major league starter – not a star – I actually think he made some progress this season.
If Colby Lewis’s turnaround in Japan translates to success in MLB: I’d say this one worked out very nicely.
If CJ Wilson can successfully transition from reliever to starter: only CJ, Mike Maddux and Nolan Ryan believed in CJ at the beginning of the spring training, now the rest of us have joined them (except for the DMN).
If Ian Kinsler can stay healthy… he has only played in more than 130 games once (2009) in three full major league seasons – it's starting to become a concern: it’s still a concern, but Andres Blanco did a pretty good job filling in for him.
If Vlad Guerrero isn’t finished (as some suspect) and still has a little something left to terrorize pitchers: Well he did in the first half of the season, he definitely dropped off quite a bit after the All-Star break and oh that baserunning - (makes me a little wary of picking up his option for next season).
If Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia can -- a) stay healthy then -- b) one of them (don’t care which) assert themselves, take the catching position to at least major league average – including offensively: What a disaster this position turned out to be (and still is). By the way - what happened to all that catching "depth" the Rangers were touting just a couple of years ago?
If 40 year old LHP Darren Oliver can handle the workload “left” behind with CJ Wilson moving to the rotation: Well he did it - with a late season assist from Michael Kirkman and Clay Rapada
And…Keep in mind the fact that all bullpens are a year-to-year proposition…This year’s bullpen starts out losing CJ Wilson, with (arguably) their most productive reliever from 2009 - Darren O’Day - hurting, most importantly closer Frank Francisco a huge question mark. Frankie’s 2009 was shaky in my estimation and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Neftali Feliz closing games by the All-Star Break. : Darren O’Day was fine, Frankie was not, and Neftali started closing way before the All-Star Break.
But … I do trust the fact the Rangers do have some depth in the minors at most positions in case of injuries and terrible slumps or (God forbid) outright failures: Other than catcher, this was true.
But … I do think the AL West could be the closest division race in all of MLB, with the Angels, Seattle and Texas all finishing within one or two games between them: Wow, nothing like I expected. Who would have thought the Angels would fade so fast? I bought into the notion the Seattle pitching staff would carry them and the offense would scratch out just enough to win (see the 2010 SF Giants) that was a myth. I didn’t even mention the A’s - if they get any kind of offense this off season they will be a dangerous team next season.
But …The Rangers are a young team that will be fun to watch and in spite of it all my experience with them and my misgivings I remain a loyal, sometimes hopeful, fan: They were, I did and I still am.
I really do hope I am wrong. (I picked the Rangers to finish “a close third” in the division)
I was wrong, and I am really, really glad about that -- Marla Hooch