We’re a week away from Opening Day, and I’m so full of a lack of enthusiasm that it’s depressing. I saw part of one game on tv, and couldn’t be bothered watching any more than a half inning. I think this is the first time in years that I’ve actually gone into the season thinking that it’s going to be a year of losing. Oh sure, we always lose, but we always start the year with the “if this happens, and this happens, and this happens, then we can win it all”. Those this’s usually are something along the lines of the Rangers trading scrubs for superstars (instead of the other way round), getting off to a great start (say 20 or 30 wins in a row) and freaking the rest of the league out, and probably something along the lines of a strike in April, when we’ve pulled away to a two game lead (hey, it happened once – the strike while the Rangers were leading, I mean, not the two game lead).
This year, I just feel beat down. Despite the pitching being the calamity it has always been, they did nothing about it. Nothing. This is a huge indictment of the team, but Tom Hicks is busy trying to stay afloat in English soccer, Jon Daniels is busy with his eighth grade algebra homework, and Nolan Ryan is busy wondering what he walked into. Meanwhile, Ron Washington is sucking down the delusional pills (“I think we can, I think we can”), and good old Mark Connor is doing what he does best – preparing his pitchers for their months on the DL.
Seriously, three fifths of the expected rotation has injury question marks (Millwood, Padilla and McCarthy), one fifth has talent question marks (Gabbard, who may have already peaked in his career) and the last fifth hasn’t thrown a good game in 20 years (Jennings). Never mind that they sucked last year, and somehow were going to magically find the fountain of youth this year. Not going to do it when you have a pitching coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Unfit, unprepared, get ready to tank April, just like last year. How many times do we repeat this until he is fired?
But never fear, the Rangers went out and signed John Patterson, in their quest to win the “most days on the DL” contest, or maybe the “most broken down guys who you just hope can pan out enough that they might be worth a trade for some third level prospect” prize. I mean, what are they going to do with Patterson? Yet another guy whose best year was a long time ago (2005 in his case), who has been so injured that even the Nationals let him go. Was there really a big demand for his services that the Rangers had to offer him something before someone else snapped him up, and he carried them to a World Series? How many innings will he get in the minors before we release him? How many of those innings could have been thrown by someone who is an actual prospect and can use the experience? How long, how long must we sing this song?
Meanwhile, on the hitting side, Josh Hamilton has used up his entire season’s worth of good luck, unfortunately he has done it in Arizona, the part of Arizona that doesn’t count, that is. I’d love him to succeed here, but come on, the hype machine has been in overdrive, hasn’t it? Milton Bradley hasn’t had much press yet though, that’s what happens when you give someone a chance even though they’re injured and likely to miss at least part of the year.
The only good news appears to be that Jason Botts is going to get a chance. He beat out the mighty Kevin Mench, which certainly surprises me – surely Mench has the “proven big league” experience that should have gotten him the nod?
Newy Scruggs on NBC5 tonight said that the Cubs are the lovable losers, does that make the Rangers the hateable losers? No, Newy, the hated team is the Yankees, and we hate them not just for their winning but their arrogance. The Rangers are the ignored losers.
If you’re counting, the Rangers are 14-10 this spring. But if you are counting, you should know that spring stats are meaningless. There is little if any correlation between spring and the regular season. After all, the Devil Rays are 16-5, and we all know they’ll be battling Baltimore for last place. But if you want to count spring stats, the Rangers have the fifth best AL record this spring, too bad that Anaheim and Oakland are second and third. The Rangers had winning spring records from 2000-03 and again last year. Didn’t do too much for them in the final count, did it?
Still, it’s spring. Hope springs eternal, and all that. The spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the pitchers is?