Yet another 70 win season

Ron Washington supposedly made Vicente Padilla apologize to the Rangers for his performance on Sunday, where he hit the second batter and was ejected, putting the bullpen in a bind.  Now, Ron had also said he didn’t think Padilla hit Swisher intentionally, so why would he make him apologize?  What did Padilla think of that?  Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall while he was talking to the rest of the team?  Think any of them cared?  Doesn’t this all sound just a little high-school?  Or maybe kindergarten, where the teacher tells one kid to apologize to another?  Ron was supposedly going to be a player’s manager when he came aboard, a reputation which took a knock after the Tex brouhaha, and I think takes another knock here.

I’m pretty sure Buck Showalter’s streak, of teams winning the World Series the year after he leaves, is going to end.  You know, given that the Rangers are 18 games out of the wildcard, with 10 to play.  Oh yeah, they’re also not going to reach .500.  But they will have yet another season of mediocrity, a 70-something win season.  This will be nine seasons of winning 70-something, with the exceptions of 80 last year and 89 in 2004, which in retrospect was not so much a Great Leap Forward, but more of a One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.  Someone ought to tell them there’s no percentage in doing this every year, that they’ve got to bust out of the cycle.  Being a little below average every year is doom for a team.  You don’t go low enough for good draft picks (although that’s not as important as in football), and you don’t go high enough to contend.  A team with a record like this is just scaring away the good free agents.

Speaking of, Torii Hunter spoke out today, saying he’d like to join the Rangers next year.  Okay, that’s a stretch, but here’s the two quotes you need to know:  “Whatever moves they’re making, if they’re good, then I’m going to do it because they really do have a better chance than anybody [of signing me].”  That sounds good, doesn’t it?  But the second is “I still want to win, though, that’s what matters to me.”  Yeah.  Torii, much as I’d love to throw 75 million over five years at a 30-something in great risk of falling apart, the Rangers are better off without you, and you are better off without us.  The Rangers are not going to win anytime soon, and we have much better uses for 15 million a year, specifically pitching.  If we’re going to go for a veteran center fielder, it ought to be someone like Kenny Lofton this year, or potentially Mike Cameron next year, who we can bring in and trade in July for some prospects.  We need to be bringing young outfielders through, we have Borbon now in the minors with his clock ticking, he’d need to be up before a Torii contract was over, but better yet we have David Murphy right now.  He definitely needs more playing time, and a lot of it in center.  It’s a small sample size of course, but I’d have Murphy in center and Marlon Byrd floating next year.  Sorry Torii.  Better luck with a better team, but please don’t use us to try and drive up your price.

Speaking of dumb moves, Ron Washington says he wants Sosa back next year.  Apparently he’s been great in the clubhouse (which is worth exactly zero wins), and of course he is Mr Clutch when it comes to RBIs.  On my to-do list is a look at just how well he’s done with RBIs, compared to opportunity.  Yes, they keep harping on about how he’s leading the team, but for a couple of months he was the only person with any opportunities, because no-one was getting on base back in April and May.  I don’t want to bias my study before I do it though, but suffice to say every at-bat he has next year will be one lost to someone who would help the team in the future (can I hear a Jason Botts?).  No-one points out he’s also leading the team in strikeouts, and is sixth in runs scored.  And of the regulars, he’s one of the few with an OPS+ below 100 (he is at 98).  Depending on how you define regular, Laird, Vazquez, Cruz, and Hairston are the guys below him in OPS+ with more than 150 at-bats.  You want to build a team of those guys?  Will any of them be in Arlington next year?  Ron said that Sosa is still a fan favorite, I would love to know who that fan is.  There was total indifference around here when he hit his 600th homer.  And I don’t just mean me, I mean me, everyone I talked to about it, everyone at the ballpark who was barely watching, everyone watching on tv, and all the media here.  Remember Raffy’s 500th?  A hundred times the local interest.

And while I’m mentioning Botts, Jamey Newberg has been pointing out how he struggles for a month at every stop, and Jamey is very right about that.  Botts in August:  .593 OPS.  In September:  .924.   That doesn’t guarantee he’d have done it all year long, but it would have been worth trying him all year instead of Sosa’s .776.  Sosa’s best month?  September he’s at .952, but that’s only 21 at-bats.  Next best was his .855 from April, and it’s all downhill from there.

The Michael Young watch goes along, and it goes pretty well.  If I’m counting correctly, he needs 10 hits in 10 games.  Our next 7 games are at home, with a little luck he can do it there.  It was a great feeling to see him clinch the batting title at home a couple of years ago, so maybe we can repeat that in the next week.  Although his three errors yesterday may indicate he’s thinking more about the 200 hits, it’s just an aberration.  Kind of like Kinsler dropping the ball the other day to lose the game, he had worked well on his defense, and was doing much better than earlier in the year, so it’s annoying, but not something to worry about.  Just remind him what he needs to do, which is concentrate.  We could all do with some of that.

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