Posted on: October 4, 2011 6:04 pm
Here's the thing about the Texas Rangers as the champagne sprayed Tuesday in Tampa Bay: Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the Rangers early stars this October, were elsewhere when Texas made its first foray to a World Series last October.
And as the Rangers move on and prepare to meet either the Detroit Tigers or the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series, those two are just the latest examples of Texas' power both on the field and off.
Lots of people assumed the Rangers were done last winter when they couldn't retain Cliff Lee. But general manager Jon Daniels and his staff were creative enough to fill in the cracks of a very good core and the Rangers so far haven't missed a beat.
I don't know whether C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and the rest will provide enough pitching to slip past the Yankees or the Tigers and push the Rangers to their second consecutive World Series.
But I do know that under club president Nolan Ryan, Daniels and beyond, the Rangers never for a moment spent one time feeling sorry for themselves losing to San Francisco last fall. They never for a moment wasted time looking in the rear view mirror.
"The reality is, there are a lot of teams that have gotten there once," Daniels told me in March as the Rangers limbered up in Arizona. "That doesn't take anything away from it, but that's not our goal.
"First of all, we want to win it. And second of all, we don't want to be a one-hit wonder. And we need to prove that."
As the Rangers climb the charts again in 2011, they look far more long-term than one-hit wonder.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:40 am
Maybe if they run into the Phillies in this year's World Series the guy will return to haunt them. But on a wild Friday when the Rangers became the third team in one night to clinch a division title, a budding dynasty continued to grow without Cliff Lee.
Yes, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando helped prove there should be no doubting the Rangers' rotation. Adding Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre to a core featuring Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler was plenty.
And in the end, after beating Seattle 5-3 and then watching the Angels lose to Oakland 3-1, the Rangers proved it once and for all.
AL West champions for a second consecutive year, and that's not the autumn wind blowing in. It's a changing of the guard.
Where once the road to the AL West title led through Anaheim, that trail is now as dusty and abandoned as some of the old California gold mining spots. Where the Angels won five of six AL West titles between 2004 and 2009, the Rangers now have gone back-to-back for the first time since 1998-1999. Clmbing the charts with a bullet, and looking to finish with a better record than AL Central champ Detroit so they can open the playoffs at home on Friday.
Apparently, losing Lee didn't gut them as badly as just about everyone but the Rangers themselves thought it would. More impressively, Texas, 14-6 so far in September, is playing as well this month as it has all season.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 5:54 pm
It might all hinge on Game 3, a game manager Ron Washington called "must-win" as the Rangers worked out Friday afternoon preparing for it.
"You certainly don't want to go down 3-0," Washington said.
Asked Friday whether he's thought of using Lee on three days' rest, Washington responded, "The only thing I'm thinking about is Colby tomorrow. I can't answer that."
That open-ended answer will send hordes of people into a raging debate, of course.
But don't expect Lee to go in Game 4.
If he does, it will rank as the biggest shocker of this series.
The Rangers had a chance to use Lee on short rest in the Division Series against Tampa Bay in Game 4. But leading the series two games to one at that point, Washington opted against the idea. The Rangers lost, then went back to Florida to beat Tampa Bay in Game 5.
Last October, the Phillies didn't ask Lee to go on short rest in the World Series, either. Lee has never pitched on short rest.
The key here is this: Whether or not the Rangers would consider moving Lee up to start Game 4, they still need to win Game 5.
Meantime, Washington answered another pitching question that completely has taken on a life of its own in the aftermath of Texas' horrendous bullpen Game 2 meltdown:
Why did closer Neftali Feliz remain sitting on the bench as the meltdown progressed in the eighth inning? Especially with a fresh arm, as he has yet to pitch in the World Series?
Washington reiterated a day later that he did not even consider the option.
"No, I didn't, because if I would have went to Feliz right there, he would have had to do something he's never done before," Washington said. "And I wasn't going to challenge him like that.
"Nope, we had other guys down there that I have a lot of confidence in getting us out of that inning. It just didn’t happen."