“Out in the shiny night, the rain was softly falling
The tracks that ran down the boulevard had all been washed away
Out of the silver light, the past came softly calling
And I remember the times we spent inside the Sad Café…”
— Glenn Frey/Don Henley
Spring Training starts out with such promise, you get a little excited when you hear words like re-building, youth and references to "plans" like the Rockies. But as a Ranger fan for almost 29 years I should have known those words would ring hollow. The more I read the past few days, the less enthusiasm I have for the upcoming major league season. It’s not just the injuries – it’s the mindset.
As I write today’s blog I can’t stop thinking about an old song by the Eagles. Which means this week instead of a list, we’ll just fill in between the lyrics to that tune I keep hearing: "The Sad Café" :
"Oh, expecting to fly,
We would meet on that beautiful shore in the
Sweet by and by…"
Have to mention the the Rangers Minor League Season Preview on MiLB.com written by Kevin T. Czerwinski (whose name is more difficult to spell and pronounce than Eleanor Czajka’s)
One of the fun things with these spring previews has been “just one more thing” on ATM: He Said – She Said – MLB’s excellent minor league blog. They profile one player who didn’t make the list on MiLB. The really interesting tid-bit about the Rangers “just one more thing” is that 2007 draftee RHP Ben Henry turned down an appointment to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis to play for the Rangers, read all about it right here.
Mike Hindman is heading to Surprise this weekend, he’ll be updating his Rangers Farm Report blog while he is in Arizona – it is required reading at Hooch World Headquarters.
"Some of their dreams came true,
Some just passed away
And some of them stayed behind
Inside the Sad Café …"
Last week’s name those prospects were the “Fab 4” from the 2001 Charlotte Rangers. Tthey are from left to right: RHP Nick Regilio, LHP Chris Russ, Pitching Coach Fred Dabney, RHP Greg Runser and RHP Ryan Dittfurth.
Nick Regilio (2nd Round – 1999 Draft) is the only one of the four who pitched in the majors – 37 innings during the 2004 and 2005 seasons for Texas. Chris Russ (3rd Round – 2000 Draft) made it to High A Stockton – but his career was plagued with arm problems – he played two more seasons of independent baseball and last I heard was a rising real estate mogul in Arizona. Greg Runser (5th Round – 2000 Draft) did make it as far as AA Tulsa in 2002 – and has been playing independent league baseball, last seen: 2007 in the Canadian American League sporting a 10.20 ERA. Ryan Dittfurth (5th Round – 1998 Draft) also made it to AA Tulsa, and did pitch a few innings at AA Frisco in 2003. Ryan was also a victim of arm problems, but has continued to play independent league baseball. Last year with Sussex of the Canadian American League pitching 140 innings with a 3.73 ERA. Fred Dabney followed Doug Melvin to the Brewers organization and is now the pitching coach for the High A Brevard County Manatees.
The final “Name That Former Rangers” prospect for this off-season will appear in two weeks.
"The clouds rolled in and hid that shore
Now that glory train, it don’t stop here no more…"
I keep reading speculation about what JD will do at the trading deadline this coming July. Just my opinion, but I think everyone needs to tap the brakes on their expectations. 2007 was the perfect storm – he had a bona fide star player with a year and half left before free agency (Mark Teixeira) as well as a player who was more likely riding a wave of his past accomplishments than his actual performance (Eric Gagne).
If anyone thinks Jon Daniels will get anything more than fringe B or C type prospects for the likes of Ben Broussard, Kevin Mench, Eddie Guardado or even Milton Bradley (if he’s healthy and behaving himself) I think they are sorely mistaken. The number and more importantly type of prospects the Rangers received last season were based on the type players they were giving up. Or to put it simpler terms – if the Rangers want more of the same kind of players they got last July they’ll have to trade Josh Hamilton and/or Michael Young (and Jennifer Engle of the Startlegram seems to think Young will ask for a trade).
Speaking of Michael Young, I kind of wonder what would have happened to the face of the Rangers franchise if Ron Washington and JD were making the decisions after the 2001 season when Young hit .249 for 300+ AB’s. Would he still be a Ranger –especially if they used the same standard they are judging Jason Botts (hitting .242 in 244 major league AB’s). My fervent hope is that Ron Washington and Jon Daniels flinch hard every time they read a boxscore or the stat sheet for the team where Jason lands.
"Maybe the time has drawn the faces I recall
But things in this life [and on this team] change very slowly,
If they ever change at all …"
Ponson, Mench, Broussard, Guardado, and I’ll put Bradley in there too – same story year nine…
"There’s no use in asking why,
It just turned out that way…"
It’s the Rangers – they’ll never change – what was I thinking?
Next week I’m heading for the backfields of Surprise Stadium to admire the White Tank mountains, meet up with friends old and new and indulge in some minor league spring training. The next blog will be the week of March 24th.
"So meet me at midnight baby, inside the Sad Café "
–- Marla Hooch