Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week 1: It Could Be Worse

If you are expecting a rant, or hand-wringing, or over-analysis, or statements of disappointment about specific players then I suggest you check out a couple of other well known blogs – because you are not going to find that here.

The most I’ll say about this first week of baseball is that I am very happy the season has started and I’m so glad I’m not an Astros fan.

Six games is exactly 4% of the season, I’ll start: worrying, rejoicing, analyzing and pontificating when the season is well into the double digits (percentage wise – that is).

First Frisco Game Report of the 2010 Season - Springfield vs. Frisco April 8: Had to be in Frisco last Thursday night to see our pal Blake Beavan pitch the Frisco home opener. He was excellent – throwing 68 pitches, gave up 2 hits, struck out three. The early part of the game he was giving up a quite a few fly balls (one of the 2 hits he gave up was a HR), but as the evening progressed he did get those pitches down and if the blue notebook is right threw about the same number of ground balls as fly balls by the time Frisco Manager Steve “Boo” Buchele took him out of the game. I’m guessing if Blake was pitching this game in June that he’d probably have stayed out for at least 1 or 2 more innings. Beavan was relieved by LHP Ben Snyder who was really good his first inning, not quite as good in next giving up a walk and hit which brought “Boo” to the mound with replacement pitching LHP Zach Phillips who didn’t allow the runs to score, and finished the game without incident. Click here for pictures from the game.

As for the Frisco offense, well, they are going to have to win quite a few low scoring pitchers duels this season.

A Rangers Game Report: Mrs. Schmenge and I took Baseball Mom to Friday night’s Mariners/Rangers games. In between discussions of Geoff Peterson (Craig Ferguson fans will understand) why we do or don’t miss Old Arlington Stadium (Mrs. Schmenge does - I can’t explain) and discussing Ichiro’s age (I said he ran pretty well for a guy who is 103 years old) we saw an excellent pitching performance by Colby Lewis, some spectacular fielding by Franklin Gutierrez (c’mon you’ve got to admit he’s pretty darn good) and enjoyed the Big Bad Vlad and Nelson Show.

Of course, my favorite moment of the game, as you probably already know was when the Rangers showed Baseball Mom’s name and wished her a Happy Birthday Shortly after he name was on the CF screen, a very nice young lady delivered a Birthday Gift Bag for Baseball Mom that included a Ranger Red Batting helmet (which I’m sure she’ll wear next time we work at a Newberg Event – so everyone can see it) a Ranger Night Light (it’ll help her cats find the litter box) a 2010 Magnet Schedule (which is going to magically disappear from her refrigerator and wind up on her oldest daughter fridge sometime soon) a nice greeting card and a 2009 Rangers Yearbook - we weren’t sure what it was but the pictures of Rudy Jarmillo and Kris Benson on the first couple of pages gave it away. But seriously, we had a good time, and thanks again to Chuck Morgan for making the day pretty special – and yes click here for pictures from Friday night‘s game.

Finally: I lied – I do have one short piece of hand-wringing, over analysis: Let me start out by saying: I told you so. If you read my blog from last Saturday I said I thought Neftali Feliz would be closing games by the All-Star break – I was right about one thing – he is going to be closing games – but much, much earlier in the season.

I came to my conclusion about Frank Francisco during the last part of 2009. Just watching him pitch after the All –Star break made me nervous and the stats he put up don’t lie. From April-July 2009 he pitched 28 innings, gave up 18 hits, 7 earned runs that translated to an 2.25 ERA and 0.92 WHIP (Walks/Hits per IP) – pretty good for a closer. But, from August through the end of the season in 20 1/3 IP he gave up 22 hits and 14 earned runs. That’s more hits than IP – which is a very, very bad thing for a reliever – it resulted in a 6.19 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. If you add Frank’s IP’s from this season to the numbers since August 2009 – it’s even uglier: 22 1/3 IP – 30 Hits, 20 ER which is an 8.06 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. This is not an isolated “beginning of the season slump” that will work itself out (like some other things on this Ranger team) – this is a trend that continues from last season.

Yes, it’s early – I even said that in the first part of this entry. However, the Rangers have a big challenge with their first road trip playing in Boston and New York. If they are serious about contending then they need to play well against both of these (most certainly) playoff quality teams. Having their closer on the mound "working out his problems" is to say the least - a terrible idea, I'm glad they aren't going to do that.

Will Neftali fare any better than Frankie – that remains to be seen, but really, could it be any worse?

Heading to Frisco for the Martin Perez pitching experience on Monday – Marla Hooch