It has been awhile, but my “good friend” and owner of the Texas Rangers, Mr. Ray Davis, wanted to know a while back when I was going to write something nice about his toy, I mean, his team.
My question to him was what was I supposed to write that was positive about a team that was 20 games under .500.
“Was it only that many?” Davis said.
Here you go, sir: Win, and we will love. Lose, and we will sports-hate. Rationality seldom receives an invite to this party.
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The one-year pass extended to the group for last season’s disaster has expired, and it’s on the GM to clean it up, and fix it. The clock on Jon Daniels now runneth, and he will ultimately prove to be the Rangers’ savior, or painted as a seamhead MacBeth.
Upon my arrival to the desert, with the hordes of senior citizens and spring breakers, pessimism took its daily 2-by-4 to my face when the team announced ace pitcher Yu Darvish had an MRI on his right triceps. The team won’t know (won’t announce?) the results until Saturday morning, but this sort of news is not exactly good for morale.
Worry when pitchers start using words such as “tightness,” “soreness,” “uncomfortable,” and “MRI.” Be skeptical when they say, “It’s nothing.”
The Yu news is just so Rangers.
Whatever good vibes this team generated in that entertaining run from 2009 to 2013 were replaced last season by the feelings of dread and disappointment this franchise painfully cultivated from 1972 to 2008. One does not require the memory of a retired Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant to remember just how bad this team was.
One does not have to believe in The Curse of Nolan Ryan, but everybody should be in agreement that the GM, who is signed through 2018, has been handed to this fanbase as the man with the answers.
If the Rangers throw another dog at us, even the most loyal JD backers will have a hard time defending him. By now, it’s not how he got the job or obtained the power, it’s entirely about the results.
Do not feel sorry for JD that he was not able to spend much money in the off-season. He had so little to spend because he blew most of it in the previous years.
The ownership tandem of Davis and Bob Simpson may have been dumb to give JD limitless baseball authority, but they are not cheap. The Rangers’ estimated 2015 payroll is about $135 million, which will likely have them in baseball’s top 10.
That should be enough. This is about how that cash is being spent. JD blew most of his allowance because he was sure this team was close, despite the holes. Everybody should be skeptical.
Learning that Yu has an ouchy is another reminder how tenuous this thing is. JD and the Rangers are relying on a bunch of veterans to not only regain their health but also their status as top players with the sort of numbers they projected for a good season.
Some of the things that happened to the Rangers and JD last season were so freakishly beyond their control they could not have done much about them. Derek Holland’s dog. Enough injuries at first base to fill Harris Methodist Hospital. Manager Ron Washington’s bizarre exit.
Those excuses, however legit, only covered the reality that the team had major holes. Those excuses are gone now, but the holes are not.
JD had better pray that the massive contracts he either awarded, or acquired, in Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus do not sink his efforts to build this team back into a winner. This team has major concerns in right field, catcher, the bullpen, two starting pitching spots, and it’s iffy at closer.
Nothing so far here in Surprise changes those realities, and the last thing this team can afford is any sort of injury to its celebrity right-handed ace from Japan.
This train feels so tenuous. Considering the history of this organization, those good vibes and sensations we all enjoyed from 2009-13 feel like they almost were not even real (except, of course, for the pain of Game 6).
JD, time’s up. Clean it and fix it, or cement your reputation as baseball’s MacBeth.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog