I�ve got to be honest�I�m drinking the Kool-Aid that Ron Washington is serving up. I think that last night�s spring training game that was broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest last night, was a very good example of what you are going to see from the Rangers this year.
No, I�m not talking about the score, or the home runs. I�m talking about the singles parade in the 1st inning, the starting pitching that will give up some runs but keep the game close, and the solid bullpen that will give up a rogue home run occasionally.
It was very good to see the single after single in the first inning. Ron Washington loves his players working the count, and you could see Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto fouling off pitches until they got an offering that they could slap into the gap for a base hit. Very, very promising stuff.
Jamey Wright wasn�t great last night. In fact, Wright looked a lot like guys we have run out in the back end of the rotation the last few years. More often than not, you can count on the innings pitched and the earned runs being about equal in an outing, as was the case last night. I think I could see the potential in Wright that the Rangers see, but I�m just not sure that his roster spot couldn�t be better utilized. Wright nibbles too much at the edges of the strike zone and I think that gets him into trouble. If he would trust his stuff, Jamey might be a little more effective�or maybe he wouldn�t�and I think that is the point.
Loe deserves the #5 starter role, but I agree with Jamey Newberg (in his 3-25 report) that Loe may have a bigger impact in the long man role than he would making three starts in April. Loe could impact as many as 10 or more games in April in long relief and there�s nothing that says that Loe couldn�t jump into the #5 slot in May, when he would see more starts. In fact, I would almost rather see Loe in the #4 spot with the way that Tejeda has struggled this spring.
In any event, I�m just not sure I wouldn�t rather see Bruce Chen, or even the newly acquired Ezequiel Astacio in the #5 spot. As I mentioned above, that #5 starter isn�t going to have much of an impact in April and I would also rather keep Chen, at least keeping him away from other teams, or be able to keep Astacio and see what he can do.
Other notes from the game last night:
I�m not so sure C.J. Wilson doesn�t need to go to AAA for the first month or so. He�s been awful (7.1 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 8 ER) this spring and has not had any resemblance of commanding his pitches. If optioning C.J. to AAA to work out of the closer�s role there allows you to put Chen into the long relief spot on the major league club, I think you have to at least consider it. Chen hasn�t been that much better than C.J. this spring, but if you look closer at the numbers, Chen�s 11 K�s seem to indicate that he is being effective on some level.
Benoit last night was just downright filthy-nasty. Good grief, where has this guy been for five years. Jon Daniels indicated on last night�s broadcast, that Benoit had been approached before by managers, players and coaching staff about working quicker on the mound, but that Ron Washington had �gotten the message across in a different way.� Yep, you have to bet that Wash told Benoit that he needed to produce and work quickly, or he was on his way out of here. Somehow, that message coming from Washington, seems like it would be an eye-opener. Very good to see Benoit step up and challenge hitters.
Best moment of the night: Seeing Tug �Tuglett� Hulett double off of the right field wall in the 8th inning. How that shot that was lifted to right wasn�t a home run, I don�t know.
Hearing Ron Washington talk about the upcoming season during the game, has gotten me to think that this team can compete for the AL West title. There are a lot of �what-if� players on this roster, but I have to admit, Wash has me drinking the Kool-Aid too.