Interesting questioning after this weekend in which the Rangers swept Toronto. It was their first sweep of the season. And the last five days have seen quality pitching that deserved my attention after my declaration of frustration last week.
Mike Wood 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (ND, 0-0)
Robinson Tejeda 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 6 K (L, 3-2)
Brandon McCarthy 6 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, K (W, 2-4)
Vicente Padilla 7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 3 K (W, 1-4)
Kameron Loe 6.2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 6 K (ND, 1-2)
Cumulative ERA: 2.23
Five Starters. Five better than quality starts. That deserves recognition. Now, it's not exactly the 1990's Braves or Yankees, so we take what we can get with this team. And, the way this season started, you must take notice when Padilla and McCarthy post victories. But don't get too excited about Wood. He had a good spring and answered that by performing in the Rangers Oklahoma City rotation. Nonetheless, he is an journeyman and the chances of him being the next Chris Carpenter are slim. And it was good to see Loe respond on Sunday, but expect some ups and downs and consider the verdict out as he is still approaching thirty starts in his career.
The bullpen hasn't been quite as sharp as it was in April, but they've been solid. One closer (Eric Gagne) goes on the disabled list and the next (Akinori Otsuka) steps in. It would just be nice to see Otsuka get the Yankees out at least once. Now, Wes Littleton and and Frankie Francisco are back so the bullpen should get even better.
It appears Michael Young and Mark Teixiera are back from the April dead and Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson have actually shown some life so the offense may be, at least, more productive. And Matt Kata has emerged as the newest Rudy Jaramillo disciple while Jerry Hairston, Jr., continues to demonstrate what he learned last season adding some depth. But this lineup still has holes so don't expect them to carry the team.
We have seen some positive things this weekend, but I'd temper any excitement for this season. The Rangers need to commit to the three youngsters in the rotation and take their lumps while hoping Kevin Millwood and Padilla pitch like the veterans they are. In the meantime, I'd trade Sammy Sosa when the deal is right. Either he continues to hit the long ball and a contender gives you prospects, or his continued struggles against offspeed pitches are finally fully exposed and you get what you can, ala Phil Nevin for Hairston, Jr.
Then, you hope Eric Hurley continues to make a move toward being a major league starter, and you don't trade you're top left handed prospect for anyone. (Do you hear me Jon Daniels?) You also hope Equiziel Astacio continues to pitch well as a starter in AAA. Finally, you rework your outfield in the offseason, even if it means you go from 20th to top 10 in payroll. (And, Tom Hicks, don't feed us that business about still paying A-Rod) And you prepare to make a run at next year, unless this team proves me wrong and makes a run at the playoffs this year.
With that, I stand by my previous blog. This team must prove much more to earn regular coverage, but we'll track our hometown team and jump in when the time is right.
Labels: Texas Rangers