England and America should scrap cricket and baseball and come up with a new game that they both can play. Like baseball, for example.
— Robert Benchley
If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.
— Dave Barry
The above quotes have little to do with this post. I just liked them and wanted to share them.
The last few days feel like that time in each college semester, usually just after Thanksgiving or Spring Break, when you realize there’s a paper due that you knew about months ago and haven’t started yet.
What I mean is that all of the sudden everyone is hastily putting together their predictions for the coming season. The most amusing thing about this wave of analysis and speculation is how varied everyone’s predictions are.
That’s the nature of predicting, I suppose, but most of the time everything you think you know is completely irrelevant anyway.
Unlike in football, baseball’s trade deadline is late enough that the real season begins just before the All-Star Game. Every team, no matter how good or how lousy, will always win about 54 games and lose about 54 games. It’s those other 54 that matter.
The fact is, there are too many things we don’t know to claim that we know what we claim we know. For instance, the prevailing theory about the AL West last season was that the Angels had dominated the division for almost a decade and that they would continue to do so in perpetuity.
In fact, the only MLB Network analyst that picked the Rangers to come out on top was Mitch Williams.
(A lot of people took the Seattle Mariners and we all saw how that turned out.)
Injuries, slumps, and mid-season trades are all conspiring to make you wrong. There are teams* that we know will be terrible. Beyond that there are no guarantees. The game won’t allow guarantees.
*Pirates, Indians, Mets, et cetera
There isn’t a whole lot of point in this tangent I find myself mired in. I’m not attacking anyone, because to say that these analysts are wasting our time with pre-season rankings isn’t fair. If guys like Rosenthal didn’t write out their picks then people would probably e-mail them to ask for their opinion anyway.
Still, for me to go division by division to rank every team would be a pointless exercise. They say that a broken watch is right twice a day and that’s about how I look at it.
…but, I’ll still share my thoughts about how the Rangers might fair through September.
Coming out of Surprise, there are questions with this team. Biggest of all is the bullpen situation and the backup catcher.
The team got rid of Treanor so they could put an extra arm in the ‘pen. That arm belongs to Mason Tobin**.
**For those unawares, Tobin was a Rule 5 guy who had Tommy John Surgery and has never pitched above Class A, which should be interesting.
With Treanor out of the picture, Napoli is the backup catcher. Like I said last night, I just don’t know about that.
Still, the team as a whole is better today than it was this time last year. For my money, they are a better team than Oakland and the Angels, but guys like Kinsler and Cruz will have to stay healthy [or healthier] to give them a fighting chance. This won’t be a cakewalk like it was in 2010.
Beyond that, nothing is certain. On paper, they are one of the elite teams in the AL. The offense is there and the pitching staff isn’t in nearly so dire of straits as some people seem to believe.
But a contender is never finished. Injury will have to be avoided and some mid-season acquisitions will need to be made before anything is certain.
If I had to guess, I would say that we will see the Texas Rangers playing October baseball again. But, once they get into the playoffs, nothing is guaranteed. The game won’t allow guarantees.
Before I wrap this up, some housecleaning.
In writing about baseball, you’re bound to make a few bold predictions from time to time. For the sake of transparency, I want to point out a few places where there was a sizable gap between what I thought was going to happen and what actually happened.
In my 2nd post, I said that there was no room for Adrian Beltre, that the club would keep Guerrero around for a year or two more, and that MY was going to be the Opening Day 3B. This turned out to be a little cause and effect, as Beltre signing led to other ripples affecting Vlad and Young.
In an early breakdown of the MY situation, I predicted that his time in Texas was probably over. Turns out I was way off, as he is still on the team and even had a conversation with Jon Daniels a few days ago. It seems that, for now, everything is quiet.
Also in my 2nd post, I said that trading for Zack Greinke would be a mistake. Turns out I was right, which I just wanted to brag about for a moment.
One more update tomorrow for sure. Beyond that, who can say?