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Month: December 2007 (page 1 of 4)

Dallas Allows Washington Into the Playoffs

It was a less-than mediocre performance today from Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. Wade Phillips kept several starters on the inactive list this week, including Terrell Owens and Terrence Newman.

Romo had an off day in the rain, which is not surprising considering the lack of motivation. The only things the Cowboys had to play for today were records. Romo fell one pass short of a franchise record for the season. Jason Witten fell a few catches short of 100 for the year. Such is life.

Now let’s move on, shall we? Let’s take a deep breath, and just exhale all the tension right out of our shoulders… Good. That’s much better, now, isn’t it?

Now we can realize that this game didn’t matter and look forward to the playoffs. Dallas gets two weeks to rest its players before the first game as the best team in the NFC. I’m not making any promises about this team, as we’ve all seen some weaknesses which any opponent could potentially exploit. But they’re as solid a team as there is in the NFL short of the Patriots, and the Cowboys still have as good a shot at the champs as anyone else.

So let’s not overreact. Leave that to Randy Galloway and crew on Monday afternoon.

On the flip side, if you’re a Redskins fan, you should thank Wade Phillips for giving your team a chance to play in the playoffs. Had the Cowboys come out full force, it would have been over for Washington and Minnesota would be in the dance. So count your lucky stars, Redskins fan… those beautiful blue stars!

Dear Baseball Santa

Dear Baseball Santa: 

Okay, look – I know people normally drop their letters to you
before December 25th, but I have it on good authority that you spend
your post-Christmas decompression period in Arizona. This means
you’ll be close enough to Surprise to fulfill each of these wish list
items for me (Since you didn’t come through on my original wish for
my own
target=”_blank”>nuclear silo / bunker complex, you can consider
this a “make good,” Herr Jolly.).

As a Rangers’ fan, here’s my wish list:

Pitching. Like every beauty pageant contestant asking for
world peace with their one wish, Rangers fans wish for pitching. So,
there.

A muzzle for Tom Hicks. It seems like every time Tom Hicks has
talked to reporters in the last six years, he’s said something that
fans don’t want or need to hear. There’s a yearly mantra of “If
you people would come to more games, we would get a higher payroll.”
(We know how the economics of it work, Tom, but laying down that
gauntlet won’t make anyone happy.) There was the comment of how much
better Liverpool football fans were than North Texas hockey or
baseball fans. There was the disclosure of how much money he had
sitting on the table for Mark Teixeira to return as a Ranger, only to
be shunned. Really, Tom, we don’t want to know. (If we can’t get
Hicks a muzzle, can we at least get him a handler who stands over his
shoulder and whacks him in the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper when he’s preparing to
say something stupid? No? Okay, stick with the muzzle.)

Validation for John Daniels’ trade skills. I have defended
Daniels to everyone who questioned each big move he’s made. I
defended the Chris Young / Adrian Gonzales trade to San Diego, because
it brought us Akinori Otsuka. I defended the John Danks trade to
Chicago, because the scouts must have seen something in Brandon
McCarthy that made him look like he was Danks, one year sooner. Now,
I’m having to defend him again in sending Volquez to Cincinnati for
Josh Hamilton. Hamilton’s not a pitcher — he’s a centerfielder, and
time will tell just how good he is. (Don’t care about the battle back
from drug abuse, or about his size 19 feet. If he stays clean and
doesn’t step on my cat, I’m fine with him.)

Continued health and happiness for Michael Young. The whole
Rangers world revolves around Young these days — which is great.
Regardless of the accolades writers and coaches pile on him, I still
think Young is one of the most undervalued player in the major
leagues. You could start to hear the frustration in Young’s post-game
quotes last year, including this gem around the time of the Teixeira
trade:

“I’m not trying to guess what I think a rebuilding process
is — I know exactly what it is. I’ve been a part of
it.”

When Young is firing on all cylinders (which has been every single
year he’s been in a Rangers uniform), this team has a better-than-zero
chance of winning every game. Whatever it takes to make him happy,
this organization need to do it.

A resurgent Hank Blalock. When Ron Washington came on with the
Rangers, he said he was taking on Hank Blalock as a project. “Hank
Blalock is mine,” Washington said. “I’ve got Hank. I’m going to make
Hank better.” No one wants to see that prediction come to pass more
than me. Whatever is off in Hank’s game needs to get fixed. If Young
is the heart of this team, Blalock was once the soul. That needs to
come back.

Real, dominant starting pitching from the farm system. We’ve
heard from a lot of baseball writers the Rangers have one of the
strongest farm systems in baseball right now. Time to see a good
harvest. This does not mean power-hitting infielders, or
“role-playing” relievers. It means dominant, hungry starting pitchers
who want to come hard-charging out of the dugout and seven solid
innings. (This may sound like I’m doubling up from the first item on
the list. Sue me, big guy.)

A home post-season win. Okay, I know this may be the hardest
thing to get the elves to manufacture, but one of my fondest memories
as a Rangers fan was watching the Rangers beat the Yankees at Friday’s
Front Row in 1996. Remember how that one win carried baseball fandom
in this town for years? Imagine what it would do to see one here in
town. (I could ask for more wins, even advancing in the playoffs…
but I don’t want to seem greedy. It is, after all, Christmas.)

Posted by Devin Pike, filed under Texas Rangers. Date: December 25, 2007, 6:26 am | No Comments »

First, here’s the short version:

* The Rangers didn’t sign Torii Hunter.
* They non-tendered Akinori Otsuka, who still doesn’t know where he’s playing.
* The word around the campfire is that Jon Daniels is building for 2009.

With those points in mind, I’m reminded of the off-season the Rangers
had leading up to the 2004 season. I’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s
look at who the Rangers did pick up, and quit focusing on the
negative:

Kazuo Fukumori
Looks to step into the eighth-inning role Otsuka formerly occupied.
Last year, for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Kaz was 4-2 with 17
saves and a 4.75 ERA in 34 games. His season was cut short when he
had surgery to take out elbow bone chips. JD says the surgery was
minor, and he’s made a full recovery.

One thing I like about Ron Washington is his reluctance to slot anyone
in a role until after he sees ‘em in Spring Training action. Kaz has
repeatedly said he wants the ball in the ninth inning, but that role
goes to Zen warrior C.J. Wilson until further notice.

Milton Bradley
It’s never a good sign when writers use the term “ill-mannered” about
anyone, especially baseball players.

Bradley’s had issues with anger management in the past, so it
shouldn’t have surprised anyone when he got into a pissing match with
an umpire at the end of the 2007 season. Padres Manager Bud Black
spun Bradley to the ground to keep him from going after Mike Winters,
and tore his Bradley’s ACL in the process.

When he’s healthy (and not being benched or suspended), Bradley’s got
serviceable numbers — .273/.358/.439 in eight years of big-league
work. He’s had a great rapport with Ron Washington, and that goes a
long way with “troubled” players. More importantly (at least to me),
Bradley’s got a lot of competitive fire — something a lot of people
think is missing from the Rangers clubhouse.

Bradley insists he’ll be available to play on Opening Day. We don’t
know if that will be as a DH or in center field.

Edgardo Alfonzo
It’s a minor league contract. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

Alfonzo’s 36 years old, and spent last year with the indie league Long
Island Ducks. He’s been in the bigs for twelve years, and was an
All-Star with the New York Mets in 2000. Last year he hit .266 with
56 RBIs in 105 games. For his career, he’s .284/.357/.425.

If you see him at the big league level for an extended period of time,
it’s not because the Rangers have thrown in the towel.

Finale
So, there’s the Rangers’ off-season (so far). Not a lot to get you to
run to the Ballpark’s ticket office in February… and that’s fine.
If you don’t want to think this team will do anything to distinguish
itself from the rest of the American League, fine.

But every time I look at this roster, I think back to the build-up for
the 2004 season. Our ace was Kenny Rogers; we had an unproven
infield; we had just traded Alex Rodriguez to the Evil Empire.
Everyone thought there was good reason to look forward to 2005, but
‘04 was a “rebuilding” year. Instead, they went 89-73, and might have
made more noise had Frankie Francisco not launched a folding chair
into Jennifer Bueno’s schnozz.

You never know what will happen from year to year (unless you’re a
Devil Rays fan)… but I’m at least intrigued by the Rangers in 2008.

Bill Parcells Avoids the Falcons, Turns to Miami

What can the Falcons expect from the Big Tuna? As everyone on ESPN Radio has already said, it’s obvious that Bill Parcells would want control over the franchise when he moves from ESPN analyst to NFL team exec. You already know that Parcells will pick the next coach for his team as well as controlling who is taken in the draft each year. Strangely enough, though, after all the hoopla given to this deal this morning, Bill Parcells will NOT be joining the Atlanta Falcons.

Parcells will apparently be joining the Miami Dolphins. Parcells told ESPN tonight that although a contract has not been signed yet, he expects to be the official vice president of football operations at Miami by Thursday. Whether it really happens or not remains to be seen. But there couldn’t be another football team more in need of a major overhaul than Miami.

I heard someone on ESPN Radio today give credit to Jerry Jones for some of the picks and off season acquisitions made by the Cowboys during Parcells’ tenure here. He cited Terrence Newman as an example of someone the Cows picked up despite Bill, and not because of him. Then, 0f course, there’s Terrell Owens. Big Bill was obviously not thrilled by that decision.

So we don’t know how much credit to really give Bill for building the team that Wade Phillips has turned into the second best team in the NFL. We can HOPE, however, that Bill will have enough power to turn the Dolphins franchise around. They’re the worst franchise in the NFL, and they’re being bested by disapointments like Atlanta, San Francisco, New York (Jets), and St. Louis.

Atlanta isn’t fun to watch anymore. Miami is so bad they earn our pity. Both teams desperately need a quarterback, obviously, and a running back at the very least. It’s going to be a three year rebuild for Miami… maybe five. Regardless, I hope Parcells can get this team back on track. As for Atlanta, we can only hope that someone of Mike Singletary’s caliber will be chosen as the next head coach so that they have a chance at one day being a team worth watching again.

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