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23.10.07 0605
The 7 - Baseball - How the Rangers Have Fallen Apart
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kazhayashi81
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#1 Posted on 19.5.04 1215.07
Reposted on: 19.5.11 1215.10
(Note: This was a submission article I wrote for the Buenos Aires Herald. Feedback appreciated.)

The Texas Rangers had shocked the baseball world, getting off to the best start in Major League Baseball. After sweeping the perennially great Boston Red Sox in the first weekend of May, the Rangers were sitting on top of the world with a record of 16-10. Since that series, the Rangers have gone 6-6, lost two series to the perennial doormat Detroit Tigers, and are sitting 3 games behind the Anaheim Angels for first place in the AL West.

While playing much better than expected, the Rangers pitching has been an issue. Three members of the starting rotation, Chan Ho Park, R.A. Dickey, and Joaquin Benoit, have ERAs over 5.00. Between the staff, they have thrown one complete game, which puts much more pressure on the bullpen. Jeff Nelson, who was signed to be the teamís dependable set up reliever, had put up numbers worse than any point previous in his career, before going on the disabled list and having knee and elbow surgery. He is expected to miss twelve weeks. Colby Lewis, who was expected to step up as a starter this year, is going to undergo rotator cuff surgery, and will miss the rest of the year.

In the off season, general manager John Hart had decided to recruit veteran position players to compliment their young corps. Of the three veterans signed, David Dellucci, Brian Jordan, and Brad Fullmer, only Dellucci has performed above expectations. Dellucci has hit well over .300 for most of the year, and has shown some unexpected pop as well, being on pace for 20 home runs for the season. Fullmer has been an underwhelming presence in the clean up spot, averaging .248 and little run production. Jordan began the year on the disabled list and has played terribly since he returned, hitting well below the Mendoza line and showing absolutely none of the spark a past All Star should.

But things still can look up for the boys from Arlington. Michael Young has played as well as any player in the American League, second in the league in batting average, and leading in hits and total bases. Heís also leading the team in RBIs, hitting from the leadoff spot. Hank Blalock has played up to the All Star form he showed last year, hitting 10 home runs and consistently staying in the ballpark of a .300 batting average. Despite the concerns about the Rangers pitching staff, several players have played above average. Kenny Rogers has played very well, going 5-2, and throwing a shutout in the process. Ryan Drese has arguably pitched better, with a sub-3.00 ERA, but despite the great start, he only has 2 wins to show to his credit. Francisco Cordero has welcomed the closerís role, picking up 12 saves in as many opportunities, with a nice 2.63 ERA to show for it.

The Rangers have the skills to get out of this tailspin and continue to compete. Will they? Only time will tell.


(edited by kazhayashi81 on 19.5.04 1215)
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evilwaldo
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#2 Posted on 19.5.04 1240.42
Reposted on: 19.5.11 1241.23
For years the Rangers pitching has been an issue so it is no surprise that they are fading. If they make it to .500 then the season is a success.
redsoxnation
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#3 Posted on 19.5.04 2114.14
Reposted on: 19.5.11 2114.38
Nelson looked bad late last season, so his decline isn't unexpected.
In the Age of Pitch Count, the lack of complete games isn't that important, as few are thrown.
The pitching staff is only going to regress further, as the hot weather will turn the Ballpark In Arlington into a pinball arcade by July.
And the key to the Red Sox series: The Rangers pitched well. Or the Red Sox couldn't get a hit in the clutch to save their lives. Or both. But, they can have all the offensive pieces they want, without quality pitching they'll plummet further behind Anaheim, behind Oakland, and try to hold off Seattle for 3rd. And Rogers will be on the trade block on July 25th, much as he is every year at the end of July. Smartest move would be to move Soriano to a team rich in pitching talent that could use a bat (Angels, Dodgers). The Rangers aren't going to go to arbitration with Soriano and let him get $10 million, so they might as well start to stockpile arms.

(edited by redsoxnation on 19.5.04 2216)
Crimedog
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#4 Posted on 20.5.04 0312.18
Reposted on: 20.5.11 0314.18
    Originally posted by redsoxnation
    The Rangers aren't going to go to arbitration with Soriano and let him get $10 million, so they might as well start to stockpile arms.




Why not? I'd rather be paying Soriano $10 million than A-Rod $25 million. The Rangers are going to score a ton of runs, but their pitching is still shaky. At least this time around they can spend a little on pitching in the offseason while they bring their young arms along.
kazhayashi81
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#5 Posted on 20.5.04 1112.39
Reposted on: 20.5.11 1113.10
    Originally posted by Crimedog
      Originally posted by redsoxnation
      The Rangers aren't going to go to arbitration with Soriano and let him get $10 million, so they might as well start to stockpile arms.




    Why not? I'd rather be paying Soriano $10 million than A-Rod $25 million. The Rangers are going to score a ton of runs, but their pitching is still shaky. At least this time around they can spend a little on pitching in the offseason while they bring their young arms along.


I'm not opposed to them moving Soriano(and letting Young go back to second, natch), because although he's showed more patience at the plate, he's shown less power and speed. He's still fairly coveted, and so if it was a good deal, I'd agree with moving him. But then again, most of us Ranger fans still haven't warmed up to him. He's still got Yankee-stink. If they can pull themselves out of this funk they've been in, and compete through mid-July, I'd love to see them pick up Russ Ortiz, Ben Sheets, or even the Perfect Unit.
TheCow
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#6 Posted on 21.5.04 0728.53
Reposted on: 21.5.11 0729.01
I almost think it would be better to play for next year if you're the Rangers, even with this start. There's a glut of good, young hitting in their system right now, which they should be able to get rid of to get some nice pitching. With Soriano staying there (which is a possibility, at least), Young, Blalock, and Tex, there's a pretty nice, pretty strong-hitting infield. Of course, if moving, say, Soriano would bring in a good pitcher, do it in a heartbeat. I just don't think they can still contend this year; I figure their first year for contention is (go figure) the year after Chan Ho Park is shown the door.
wordlife
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#7 Posted on 21.5.04 0733.14
Reposted on: 21.5.11 0733.30
On top of this, Teixeria has REALLY sucked this year....I got this guy in my fantasy draft expecting .280-30 to 35 and 100rbis, if he can put together the type of season he is capable of from here on out, that would help immensely

They have some great young players (Nivar, Nix, Tex, Blalock, Young, Laird, Colby Lewis, Cordero, Soriano)...they are doing the same thing the Indians did in the 90s (who no suprise was a Hart team), lock all these young guys up to long term deals
estragand
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#8 Posted on 21.5.04 1115.51
Reposted on: 21.5.11 1120.00
Texeira was out for a few weeks in April, so that'll make ya' suck for a bit. If an unknown team gets out to a big start, more often than not, they fall back to earth within six weeks. Following the Pirates' April adventures in 2002 and 2003 is a good example. They were something like 12-6 at one point in 2002, and ended up losing 90 games or so. Sometimes you'll get a team like last year's Royals: unknown/unexpected guys have a respectable season and aren't eliminated until Sep 22 or so.
kazhayashi81
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#9 Posted on 21.5.04 2229.54
Reposted on: 21.5.11 2230.02
What a win! Perhaps the true problem is, not so much them falling apart, is that they play to the level of their competition. Which is why they have played their best against teams like the Angels, A's, and Red Sox, and struggled against the Tigers, Royals, and Devil Rays.

But Soriano STILL has Yankee stink. He will, until he goes 35/35 or gets traded :)
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