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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Texas Rangers Baseball

Texas Rangers Season Summary

            The most disappointing part of the season was losing a bet to an esteemed colleague. I was convinced they could win eighty games. As we know, that didn’t happen. They fell two games short. Since I’m a Green Packers fan, I was shamed into wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey this last Sunday. The bright side, I told my buddy I would do my best to ensure the Cowboys lost to the New Orleans Saints. I hope it works next Sunday against the Packers. It will take at least a month to rid my skin of the blue and white filth.
            Okay, let’s get back to the Rangers and what went right.
            When Woodward announced the starting pitching staff in April and Mike Minor was going to be the number one this year, I didn’t hold out a lot of excitement. Mike was the 5th starter in 2018 and let’s just say he wasn’t the most likely to be a number one. The signing of Lynn was nice but he was a bit shaky. Smyly hadn’t thrown in two years after having Tommy John surgery. Sampson and Juardo were unknowns at best. Not a very rosy picture as you can see.
            Minor and Lynn became stalwarts and respectable starters. Smly was released and Sampson went back to the pen. Juardo was hot and cold.
            Then the Rangers bring up Burke and Allard. They exceeded all expectations. They proved they could handle the pressure of the Bigs and competed each time they took the mound. Going into next year, Minor, Lynn, Allard and Burke have earned their spots on the rooster. Juardo, not so much
            The bullpen, as with most of the teams, is questionable at best. Let’s list the caravan: LeClerc, Clase, Montero, Kelly, Volquez, Ferrell, Martin, Springs, Mendez and Guerrilla. Any of those names strike fear in you? I didn’t think so. Kelly and Volquez might retire after this season if their options are picked up leaving eight in the pen. LeClerc has two more years on his contract. How exciting.
            Clase and Montero showed some promise but their delivery will keep them on the DL. They have horrible follow through form and are erratic to say the least. I don’t care that they can throw 100mph. If you don’t have consistent control bad things happen like the ball going over the fence which happened one too many times.
            Martin, Spring, Mendez and Guerilla need more seasoning in the minors. LeClerc could turn into a respectable closer but not until he can keep his head straight and his delivery consistent. Good coaching can clean him up. But who’s going to do it since they fired the entire coaching staff in Nashville? That’s another story.
            And yes, there is a wildcard in the mix; I haven’t forgotten about, Palumbo. Due to his injuries and the blister, we didn’t get to see much of him but what we did see was very encouraging. He will be in the starting pitching rotation come April.
            Overall, the five starters, Minor, Lynn, Burke, Allard and Palumbo can be very respectable next year.
            We need two solid relievers in the pen. Get that done and the staff will be on the right track.
            Let’s look at the position players. Chris Woodward is in an enviable position. He has a wealth of quality players to handle the infield.
            Catcher: Kiner-Falefa, Mathis, Trevino and Federovich. Four is a bit much for any team. Falefa and Trevino need to be the anchors. Federovich, back to the minor and Mathis can stay or be traded. I wasn’t impressed with his defense or his .167 batting average. Falefa has platooned in the position over the last two years. Trevino has shown he can handle the job.
            1st. This is a no brainer. Joey Gallo and Ronald Guzman have this sown up. For the love of God, do not put Santana over there. He has no clue how to play it.
            2Nd Odor is a wild card. We all know about his horrid slump at the plate this year and defensively, he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in the past. He has three more years on his contract. A trade should not be overlooked with him. He’s only 25 and has a lot of value. I just don’t see him reaching his potential with the Rangers. Santana or Solak are more than capable of handling the position.
            3rd Cabrerra was signed to a one-year deal but was hurt most of the season. He has potential but I don’t see him coming back. FLASH- I didn’t realize until last night, he had been dealt to the Nationalas. Solak, Kiner-Falefa or even Pence or Forsythe can handle the bag. It’s hard to say if the aforementioned will be resigned for 2020. If not, Falefa/Solak can fill the void
            SS Elvis Andrus. This is a tough one. He has two more years on his contract. His batting over the last two years hasn’t set the world on fire and his glove hasn’t been as electric as it used to be. He’s 31 with at least five more years of production in him. However, at what cost will his new contract come at? He won’t be an elite short stop and unless his bat comes alive, a new contract won’t be on the horizon. Pence/Forsythe/Falefa/Santana and Solak have played there but not with great consistency. And Pence and Forsythe aren’t for the long term so we have to look at Santana or Solak in the future unless there is a top draft pick we haven’t seen yet.
            Even though there are a lot of options and unknowns, with the current talent pool, the infield will be solid.
            Outfield is a whole nother situation. The Rangers are stacked! Choo, Calhoun, Heineman, DeShields, Gallo, Mazara and Santana. All of these men have proved they belong on the rooster. Their fielding is excellent and for the most part, their bats continue to bark at opposing pitchers. The future is very, very bright in this category.
            The Rangers will be a contender next year barring injuries, but then we say that every year about our teams. Will they win the Al West? Not unless the Astros go back to the National League and the A’s have a complete meltdown. I do believe they will be in the thick of it with Woodward at the helm He knows how to motivate these guys and get them to play their best baseball.
            Chris showed us this year he can handle adversity and look it straight in the face with a smile. He did a fantastic job with what he had to work with. The Rangers were in the hunt until that four-game disaster against Houston after the All-Star Break. If they could have split the series they would have stayed 4.5 behind the Stros, instead they went 8.5 down. When Houston swept them, they spent the rest of the season playing catch-up as the bats went cold. The pitchers kept them in the majority of the games but with no support, it’s difficult to win.
            I see 2020 as an exciting year. As I stated, they won’t knock off the top teams, but they will be in an excellent position to compete and grow. 2021 will be their year.
            The last item that needs to be addressed are the clowns in the broadcast booth. If you’ve had the mis-pleasure of watching them on TV you know what I’m talking about. C.J.Nitkowski, Dave Raymond and Tom Grieve need to be sent back to the minors or traded. They add nothing to the game. They are constantly talking about what they have done or some other irrelevant topic that seldom enhances the game. In fact, they add nothing to the game other than being overpaid.
            I was watching the Cubs/Cardinals final series this year and the Cardinal announcers were great. They didn’t babble. They didn’t talk about what food the sweet old ladies brought them or what the weather was like. They weren’t challenged adding one plus one or two plus two. They didn’t reminisce about games or people they met over the years and then bombard us with the recollections of times since passed. They did the unbelievable and called the game. They didn’t get hung up on launch vectors or velocity off the bat. They called the game and what was even more exciting, there was dead time during the broadcast so the viewers could hear the sounds of the game. That, is what the Rangers need, not a trio of bobble heads!