Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

We're friends right?  This is a blog about baseball cards, right?  I need you to bear with me and read through to the end even though this isn't necessarily a post about baseball cards.  Especially since most of you aren't Rangers fans.

I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and I just had to sit down, do the research and write about it.

The Texas Rangers are driving me crazy, but a little background first.

I started cheering for the Rangers when I was 8 years old.  That's 1978.  I cheered patiently, and not so patiently, for 32 years before they finally made it to the 2010 World Series.  They lost, but I was riding high on the World Series experience and while I was sad, I was just happy they finally made it.

Lo and behold, they made it back in 2011.  Unlike the previous year, I wasn't satisfied just to see them in the Series.  I was devastated when they lost.  Especially when you consider how close they were to winning in Game 6.  2012 was disappointing with the failure in the play-in game and in 2013, they faltered badly late in the season and allowed Oakland to take the West.

Fast forward to 2014.    Injuries have devastated the pitching staff.  Losing Derek Holland before Spring Training was a killer. Questions about Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison returning from injury were there, but Harrison slept on a mattress that was too soft(?) in ST and missed the beginning of the season.  Now Martin Perez is injured and last night Harrison had to leave the game in the second inning with a stiff back.  On Wednesday, the Rangers will start Nick Tepesch, their 9th different starting pitcher in 41 games.

The Rangers are experiencing one of the most Jekyll and Hyde seasons ever for a pitching staff.  The Rangers pitching staff has 9 shutouts this year, with Martin Perez throwing two complete game shutouts.  In the other 31 games, the team ERA is 5.75!  That's a 5 in front of that number.  How does a team throw 9 shutouts in 40 games and post a near 6 ERA in the other 31?  It's mind-boggling.

I'm just thankful for the shutouts.  The Rangers offense is terrible.  Two of the Rangers shutouts were 1-0 wins.  Two others were 3-0 wins.  In 40 games this season, the Rangers have scored 3 or few runs 21 times, with 9 games of 1 or fewer runs.  That's not going to cut it in the American League.

In 2013, the Rangers hit 176 home runs (6th in A.L.) and scored 730 runs (7th in A.L.).  The pace in 2014 is nowhere near those numbers.  This season the Rangers have hit 25 home runs (on pace for just over 100 for the season) and have scored 163 runs (on pace for about 580).  Those are huge drop offs for a team.  I keep hearing the bats will come to life, but I think 25% of the season is a pretty good sample size.  At this point the two big bats in the lineup are supposed to be Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder.  Beltre gets a bit of a pass, but he's only got 3 homers and 12 RBIs through 40 games.  Fielder is a different story.  He hasn't missed a game and is on pace for 12 homers and 56 RBIs for the season.  That is an EPIC FAIL for the kind of money he is getting, regardless of the fact that Detroit is picking up some of the contract.

Having watched a number of games this year, I think Fielder has lost considerable bat speed.  He just doesn't get around on the ball like he used to and my lord he hits into that funky shift a lot.  I think the Rangers got hoodwinked on the Fielder-Kinsler trade.  Kinsler is a head case sometimes, but I'm afraid Fielder is going to be the financial albatross around the Rangers' necks the same way Alex Rodriguez was for so many years.  I'll be the first one to stand up and eat crow if Fielder comes around and starts mashing balls out to right field the way he should be doing.  As a matter of fact, I'm praying that I have to eat that crow. Nothing would make me happier.

Now come on Rangers, don't get embarrassed by Houston again tonight.  (And don't look up, but you're in 4th place in the West for goodness sake!)


  1. There's still a lot of baseball left to be played. I'd love to be able to support you buddy, but I've got my own problems with the A's losing Parker and Griffin. And let's not even talk about Jim Johnson pitching at home. I'm sure it's going to be a nice lil' showdown in the AL West the last couple of weeks in the season. Hopefully the Rangers and the A's will be in the thick of it.

  2. It is hard seeing Fielder struggle so much. I hope he can figure it out, but his stats were beginning to trend the wrong way in Detroit. He still gets on base at a decent clip but like you said, the bat speed just isn't there. Maybe something mechanically can be done to his swing. At least with these big tv contracts it is not as hard to get out from bad contracts if it came to that.

    The Pirates are not playing well either. Starting pitching and defense have been terrible. At least our division has only one team playing well right now.

    1. The things Matt and you are seeing are exactly the reason why Milwaukee wasn't too disappointed that Fielder didn't re-sign with them. It's that old Bill James saw about how players with "old player" skills age more quickly than those with "young player" skills.

      That said, Fielder would still be an upgrade on Ly-ark Over-nolds. God, those two are terrible at first.

    2. Fangraphs had an in depth look at Fielder before he was traded and pretty much came to the same conclusion as Bill James. Big guys that hit homeruns tend to age very quick. Votto looks like the only first baseman who received a super contract that might age well since his value isn't all caught up in homeruns.

  3. Substitute a few names and years and you could be describing the Tampa Bay Rays... What I am saying is that I feel yer pain Brian!

  4. shutouts aren't a good barometer on your pitching. They are just as much about the other team's offence as they are your pitching. Were the other teams in a slump? were they weaker clubs?
    Unless you're pinpointing a 9 inning lights out almost no hitter from someone, chances are it's just baseball. And not good pitching. So your 5.75 ERA is a bit closer to the truth.

    and if you want to talk pitching, Atlanta lost 4 pitchers in spring training to Tommy john, and had to wait until two weeks ago to get another two pitchers back from Tommy John last year.
    And they still have the best pitching in baseball. Or at least they did a week ago when I last looked.
    Their offence however, is another story. Yeeesh.

    Hang in there pal.

  5. We're only a fourth of the way into the season. Many "stars" are not producing at the levels we're used to seeing them... There's still plenty of time.

    Wasn't it just last year everyone was clamoring for Don Mattingly's job in LA? And then they turned it all around and made him look like a genius? Crazy things happen in baseball. So crazy that Prince may make you eat crow!

  6. Today was the darkest Ranger fandom day since game 6. This had to be rock bottom for the year. Had to be, because I can't take much more bad news.