Outside of Darvish-mania, there hasn’t really been much intrigue from Surprise this Spring. This is good news.
The Rangers entered 2010 with pretty low expectations nationally.
“This division is most likely a two-horse race between the Angels and Mariners, with the Rangers looming. Seattle has one of the better teams they have had in recent memory, with perhaps the best 1-2 punch in the league in Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee.”
Routine national media neglect be damned, Rangers fans were optimistic. Fans were excited that Texas finally had a “true ace” in Rich Harden, and glad the team rewarded Scott Feldman’s 2009 performance with a “club friendly” three year deal. And of course, Chris Davis and Julio Borbon were expected to build on their strong rookie campaigns. More importantly, the Rangers had abundant Major League talent, baseball’s top farm system, and were coming off of a season in which they missed the playoffs despite have the American League’s fourth best record.
A few weeks into spring training, news broke that Ron Washington had tested positive for cocaine. Fans and columnists debated whether the front office should be criticized or applauded for the way the situation was handled.
Last year, many columnists picked the A’s to win the division, not necessarily because of huge expectations in Oakland, but rather a continued pessimism about the Rangers despite their World Series appearance in 2010. To the uninformed, the big question surrounding the Rangers was whether they could handle Cliff Lee’s departure earlier in the offseason. We know now that the Texas rotation finished third in the league in E.R.A, but at the time, many analysts wondered whether it would even be sufficient. The Rangers definitely had something to prove.
Headlines off of the field were dominated by Michael Young’s trade demands and the axing of popular CEO Chuck Greenberg.
Things are different this time around. The Rangers are no longer overlooked by the media. Fantasy team owning Rangers fans can no longer take comfort in selecting their favorite players late in their drafts. Nearly everyone seems to think that Texas is a lock for at least a playoff berth. So what are the big questions this Spring?
In other words, let’s get this show on the road.
Spring Training 2012 has been uneventful by Rangers standards, and this is a good thing. If for some reason you need a reminder as to why you should be ecstatic, tune in to a Mets or Cubs broadcast for a depressing reminder of Spring without hope.
Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner’s analysis: “Pitching will be important this year. Well, it’s important every year, but…(silence)”.
While calling yesterday’s Rangers vs. Cubs game, Bob Brenly stressed that the Cubs are building for the future, not just now – essentially conceding that this season will be a disaster in Chicagoland.
Rangers camp offers no meaningful positional battles. There is no single prospect fans can root for to save the day. The Rangers need no rescue. They don’t need any more attention. They just need the season to start, and they need to win. And I’m just fine with that.