June 26 – Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Raindrops keep falling on my head.
So, I just did me some talkin’ to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleepin’ on the job.

— Burt Bacharach – Hal David

Floatingaway The raindrops just keep failing on my head, on my house, and apparently enough of them on Time-Warner’s cable that my Internet connection this evening has been, at best, intermittent.  Additionally, when I was finally able to log onto MLB.Blogs – I couldn’t upload the pictures for today’s entry. I’m hoping by the time you read this the gremlins at MLB Blogs are gone and there are pictures to break up my incessant rambling.  Brook Benton sang it best:"it must be rainin’ all over the world". That’s the reason for an exasperatingly short blog entry tonight.

Sunday morning I was driving up to Oklahoma City for the Redhawks doubleheader with Omaha (Royals) when I stopped alongside the I-35 service road near Sanger to pick up a stranger wandering the parking lot of Smokey’s Barbeque. He claimed to be the mysterious “Shroom” – well know among Ranger minor league aficionados for his excellent “Farm Probables” Calendar and nuggets of information posted in the Newberg Report minor league forums. http://my.calendars.net/farmprobs/

It was indeed Mr. Shroom, he supplied the picture in Random Thoughts of what we hope are the anchors of the Ranger starting rotation in 2009.  This was the first time he’d seen the Redhawks. I requested a game report in return for the ride, here’s what he wrote:

“Free Jason Botts”

Okay, I agree but let me throw in a few more comments:

— An early calculation of the OKC rotation would have Eric Hurley making his AAA debut in the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday.  But deus ex machina also known as the Rangers DL, intervened and late on Saturday we were informed that Brandon McCarthy would be starting the second game, still reason enough to journey north.

— The two OKC starting pitchers were the undisputable proof of my mantra for the rest of the Rangers 2007 season:  “Get rid of the old guys – give the young guys lots of playing time – they’ll either succeed or prove they don’t belong in the major leagues” 

— Game 1 – LHP Mark Redman was beyond awful. I don’t know why the Rangers are wasting any kind of roster spot at any level for him. The Royals are 13th in batting average out of 16 teams in the PCL yet Redman still managed to give up 12 hits and 8 earned runs to this very mediocre  lineup – Bmaconthemound including HR’s to the likes of Bill McCarthy (hitting .250 with 1 HR) and Jorge Padilla (in his 9th minor league season averaging less than 10 HR per season). 

— Game 2 – RHP Brandon McCarthy was excellent.  I’ve been pretty vocal with my criticism of Brandon this season, Sunday afternoon he shut me up.  63 pitches, 40 for strikes – 6 K’s – a couple of innings he got the first batter out on one pitch and there were K’s on high fastballs that just made the hitters look silly swinging away. 

— When they do finally pitch to Jason Botts – he will hit. Two doubles scorched down the left field line (who does think he is, Ian Kinsler?) in the second game and a solid single in the first game, wrapped around an intentional walk and pitches so far out the strike zone they were almost in another area code.

— Looks like Tug Hulett has cooled off enough to open the door for German Duran to move up AAA.

— OKC Manager Bobby Jones was tossed at the end of the first game for arguing with the home plate umpire – he was not alone – batters from both teams were complaining loudly and showing their displeasure (leaving their bats and balls at the plate after a few questionable calls).  For what’s it worth: there appeared to be a “moving” strike zone – kind of like an amoeba changing it’s shape every few minutes.

Random Thoughts Between Random Power Surges On My PC:

Possibly the best thing we saw Sunday afternoon: after Brandon McCarthy was Ehandbmac taken out he spent the rest of the game leaning on the railing in front of the Redhawks dugout with Eric Hurley.  Lest we forget, McCarthy is a little less than 2 years older than Hurley.  It appeared from the gestures that they were discussing pitching motions and probably – hopefully – other assorted pitching "talk". 

I liked Gil Lebreton’s Sunday column:  Yes, the Rangers are winning without Mark Teixeira in the lineup, it has nothing to do with Tex and every thing to do with the pitching: improved starting pitching and the bullpen.  As Eric Nadel noted during Tuesday night’s game – the Rangers were 25 – 1 in games where they led after the 7th inning. It would be nice to keep Tex, his offense will be hard to replace. But the bottom line is and always has been: it’s all about pitching, especially starting pitching.

At what point does Ron Washington and the powers that be realize that Frank Francisco 2007 is not and will never be the Frankie Francisco of 2004? 

Sammy Sosa: hitting .349 with runners in scoring position, hitting .359 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, hitting .364 with the bases loaded. Surely there is a contender (or even a pretender) team that needs an veteran bat, an RBI producer. He’s not a big commitment money wise – sell high JD even if it’s just for a couple of fringe prospects. Every time Sammy talks about another contract keep this name in mind: Phil Nevin.

Doing the numbers:  The Rangers have won 9 of their last 12 games – sounds good – but remember they are 13-10 for the month of June. The first portion of the schedule this month – not so good- their record was 4-7.  They are stillGene 13 games under .500, they are still in last place 8 games behind 3rd place Oakland (who’ve lost five in a row).  Just to get back to .500 at the end of the season they will have to go 49-36. That’s .576 baseball, which doesn’t sound all that daunting – unless you consider this:  they’ve had only 2 “winning streaks” this season:  3 games in May, and 4 games in June. All of the sudden .576 sounds a lot more difficult.  Most importantly, I hope the Rangers front office doesn’t start pressuring the baseball operations to hold onto veteran players just because a few W’s might put a few more fans in the seats in July and August. My response to that that kind of thinking is:  do you want to make the financial sacrifice for a few empty seats in 2007 in order to sell alot of playoff tickets in 2009? 

I’m singin’, and dancin’ in the rain – Marla Hooch

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