Hope. 17 comments

Yesterday on mlb.com, Richard Justice had his list of five teams that will be better than you think.

The Rangers were on that list. Here’s what he said:

“Rangers starters have a 3.15 ERA this spring, and now they’ve added Tim Lincecum to the back of the bullpen. Starting and bullpen quality and depth are the only question marks about a team picked to finish no higher than fourth in the American League West. They’re constructing a rotation from a bunch of guys trying for career rebirths. All have been quality starters at points in their career. So far, Bartolo Colon, Matt Moore and Doug Fister have allowed two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. And Matt Bush—a key experiment to track this spring—looks capable of making the transition to starting.”

He may have a case of spring blindness. Facing Single- and Double-A hitters can do wonderful things to a guy’s stats.

But if they were all able to turn things around, it would make for a really fun season. For that to happen, though, they would need some pretty remarkable turnarounds from just about everyone.

Doug Fister’s 2017 ERA was 4.88. And he was the good one.

Bartolo Colon’s was 5.18.

Matt Moore’s was  5.52.

Guys with high ERAs coming to a team with low defensive metrics doesn’t exactly exude confidence, even if they had a two week stretch of pitching well against lower level prospects.

But unless Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn fall into their laps, the Rangers rotation is going to be MacGyvered with  duct tape and paper clips and wings and prayers.

So let’s hope.

Hope springs eternal in spring.

  • Nathan Whitten

    Your last sentence says it all, for (nearly) every team in MLB. That said, let’s recall a team that had absolutely no hope in the springs of 2013–2015. Yes, it was the reigning World Series champs. All three squads lost well over 100 games and their FO knew it was going to be that way. Now, ask yourself if you’d be willing to sit through 3 seasons of no hope of mediocrity and one more season of a decent baseball to get where they now reside. After the fact one might say they would, but if you had to actually endure such hopelessness, I’d wager that most would demur. I certainly would. The Rangers were in the same pitiful shape when a 28 year old GM was named, presumably just to save money. His teams never lost even 90 games and were playing in the WS in the 5th year on the job. That was far more fun than Astro fans had before getting to the top. One might counter the last statement by saying that these Astros were built to last, that they’ll have many more crowns to add to their collection. Well, maybe so. But the same things were said of the Rangers in 2010. How deep they were. How they would dominate for a lengthy period. It didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?
    The Astros are going to have to pay to keep that team together. Their FO has not been willing to pay the piper in the past. Also, seasons like the Rangers had in 2013 happen. So, I’m not conceding anything to Houston. Maybe they play like the Yanks of the past and maybe they don’t.
    The Rangers will be back and it won’t take 5 years. They won’t even come close to losing 100 games. Kevin refers to Justices’ comments about the Rangers doing what the name of their ST home says. As usual, you hit the nail on the head, but despite your realistic view, I don’t think you are dismissing the possibility of this team being pretty good. Great? No. But winning 90 is more likely than losing 90–I think. It will take some good fortune, but it can happen. Getting all these pitchers in camp and hoping that some of them can replicate past success is not out of the question. It’s a dang good way to tread water while we wait for the influx of money from TV deals, and a new ballpark that won’t ever be hot, hence enhancing the chances of landing top-level free agents. All the while, the farm system gets better and deeper.
    Hope does spring eternal this time of the year. So, let’s raise a toast to hope.

    • dearmidol

      I will raise that toast.

    • JacobMcCandles

      I would heavily disagree with most fans being willing to sit though that and winning a WS and not being terribly excited. As someone who loves the Rangers I would do it in a heart beat, heck we have done it for nearly 50 yrs with what 40 of those teams with no chance.

      • Nathan Whitten

        I don’t think Texas has ever lost 100 games. Certainly not 3 seasons straight. But, we have watched some crappy baseball and there never seemed to be a plan for getting to the top, I will grant you that. Not until Oates was the manager did they consistently have good teams. They just had to meet the Yanks every time. Roadblock.

        • elkaba

          Yes, there’s a big difference between losing in service to a planned, brighter future and losing for lack of any plan for success. I expect the first would be happily borne by any group of true fans. The second is hard to swallow ever.

        • dearmidol

          Interesting question, so I looked it up.

          This team began as the Washington Senators in 1961. They lost 100 games their first four seasons. The team moved to Texas in 1972. They lost 100 games their first two seasons in Arlington. No more 100 loss seasons since then, but close.

          They lost 98 in 1982, 99 in 1985, 95 in 2015 and 2014.

    • elkaba

      Baseball is more like poker, 7 card stud in particular, than most realize. Cards are dealt before the hand ever starts. That’s when winning hands are made. A novice player will see the chance to trade in some cards as proof than any hand is playable. While true enough in some circumstances, it’s a good formula for going broke and losing lots of hands.

      In baseball, teams are built in winter and early spring, not at the trade deadline. You’re dealt your team in the springtime, and you play all through the summer for your chance at the big pot at the end. In poker, you may be the best player at the table or the worst. Either way, you can only win provided you started out with decent cards and Lady Luck takes your side. In baseball, depending on how well your winter/spring plan plays out, you can improve your chances at the deadline by making a smart move or two, but you can’t wait until then to get parts you needed from the start.

      The point is winter and spring are for setting yourself up for success. Sure, no matter how well you’re set up, it’s still going to take a ton of chemistry, serendipity and good old fashioned luck to get the pot of gold at the end. It’s still better to be lucky than good, but in poker, some starting hands are better than others. Betting on 2, 7 off suit is never as wise as betting on a pair of aces or even higher suited connectors like a 10 and jack of hearts. And nobody worth a whit at 7 card poker bets on bad cards hoping the chance to trade those cards later in the hand will make them winners. It’s always about starting out with a decent hand and improving it.

      Translation for baseball: The wisest GM’s try to load their teams with as many decent players as they can, even when they can’t afford aces. Bad cards and baseball teams full of holes and question marks don’t win. Is it possible this year’s Rangers miraculously turns into a decent even competitive team? Sure. Anything is possible when luck is involved. But JD seems to start every season with too many questionable players and too many obvious gaps on the team. It appears to me he hopes for the best, relies too much on luck and thinks the trade deadline can supply any missing pieces we start out with. I think a better GM would likely start the season with solid, viable options at every position and think of the trade deadline as a way to overcome bad luck, injuries and unforeseen circumstances.

      So as I’ve stated before, while I want to see this and every Rangers team be a winner, I remain cautiously pessimistic about our chances this year.

      • Gregor_S

        Totally agree. I would just add, as a way of slightly countering the pessimism, that at least if everything miraculously does break right for this year’s Rangers they’d have a shot. That would mean Perez, Moore, Fister, and Minor or Bush would have career years, Lincecum would bounce back, and the BP and Odor would also recover from last year. In other words, the Rangers aren’t Detroit or Pittsburgh, which have no hope whatsoever. They do have a potentially decent offense. On the other hand, their defensive holes at 2B, RF, and (depending on who plays there) LF seem beyond repair, and that would probably sink them even if everything else goes well, though they might have a chance at the WC.

        • elkaba

          Insoluble issue with defense? Check.
          Five starters, or five out of six, who ALL have to have career years or at least bounce back from “worst years ever?” Check.
          A bucket full of question marks in the pen and no obvious closer? Check.
          Frustrated veterans Beltre and Hamels to start the season? Check.
          You kind of helped make my point here… too many “if’s” to overcome with nothing but July 31st moves as cavalry to come charging in to help you. Could be a long, long summer. 🙂

  • JacobMcCandles

    Rumor of bringing in Greg Holland, very talented,expensive closer. This would not be following what appeared to be first JD plan in yrs. And despite R Justice spring fever, most likely we will be toast before the 9th gets here.

    But Spring always brings hope….and if there were about 6 things that fell into place we “could” go an ride. But this yr will begin and end with the rotation.

  • TD30
    • FlappingGums

      Thank you, TD! 🙂

  • Gregor_S

    Looks like Mike Minor had the best Rangers’ pitching performance of the spring so far: 4 IP 0 runs I hit 0 BB 2 K. So for the time being he has leapfrogged Bush, Colon, et al. It would be nice if he came through since he has a 2-year deal unlike Moore and Fister. They keep saying he’s fine with being in the BP if he doesn’t start but I think the greater need is in the rotation. Not that the BP need isn’t enormous as well, but I think that’s a Banny/Brocail problem as much as a talent problem.

    • dearmidol

      Minor could very well win a starting job. But he pitched just 77 innings last season. They can’t stretch him out dramatically more.

      • Gregor_S

        Well he pitched 4 innings today. If he continues to pitch well he’ll probably be up to 5 by the end of ST. That makes him a starter under Banny’s definition. And it would take him 15 starts to get to 77 innings — probably more since he’d probably have a few where he gets knocked out early. So he could be a starter by current Ranger standards without even being stretched out at all.

        I prefer the Cole Hamels standard of 200 innings but I’m old school, as Cole apparently is.

        • dearmidol

          Yeah, that’s a good point.

      • JacobMcCandles

        Yep…..I suspect next to Hamels, Minor has the best stuff…but can he take the rigors. Prob not going to have to go with him. I mean Colon beats out Minor!!!…….and yet still its way to early…