Because disregarding an entire off-season full of insightful observations and vesting all faith in a three-game sample is the new inefficiency in baseball analysis:
● There's really no way to sugarcoat a collective .168/.248/.316 offensive showing, nor is there really any way to prevent the ensuing hand-wringing -- early-season problems of any sort are magnified even if the act of doing so doesn't fit within the parameters of good sense, largely because, well, hey, the off-season and spring training are over, and what else is there to talk about? That being said, so long as one recognizes the fallacy of descending into full-fledged panic over what amounts to a three-game slump, I don't think there's any harm in pointing out two items of mild interest/concern ... one of which should bother you more greatly than the other.
Through three games, the Rangers are the second-worst team in baseball in terms of hitting runs above average against change-ups, at a whopping minus-2.7 runs -- perhaps not even worth mentioning, but reflective of our perception that Texas is getting killed by this particular pitch so far. More troubling, however, is Josh Hamilton's appearance at the plate. I don't know if it's that he appears to be so late on so many pitches (a function of diminished bat speed?), or if it's that his followthrough looks -- for the lack of a better descriptor -- lackadaisical, or if it's simply that he's not getting good wood on anything right now, but he's clearly not right, and if this is what the Rangers have to look forward to from their putative No. 3 hitter, then that's an enormous problem going forward.
● From the "How Not To Ingratiate Yourself With Your Boss" department comes Jarrod Saltalamacchia's latest DL-necessitating setback, a bout of upper-back stiffness akin to that which sidelined him during spring training, something which has manager Ron Washington miffed due to Saltalamacchia's non-disclosure of the injury to the ballclub: "He needs to mature. He has put us in a bad situation. What if he had walked last night and we tied the game? Was he going to tell me then that he couldn't catch? I don't care how badly he wants to play, you can't just think about yourself. [...] I'm not disappointed in him for being hurt; that happens. I'm disappointed in how he has handled it."
When recently deposed sinkerballer Luis Mendoza pulled a similiar stunt in April 2008 (that is, only notifying the Rangers of his shoulder pain after an abortive start in Detroit), he was evidently reprimanded, placed on the 15-day disabled list and only reclaimed a spot on the active roster -- and, later, in the starting rotation -- after injuries necessitated his promotion. If you believe that the Rangers will uphold that precedent in this situation, Saltalamacchia might well find himself on the opposite end of a 60-40 or 70-30 playing time split with Taylor Teagarden if/when he recaptures his health, a proposition about as sketchy as his subpar offensive projections.
● Yes, Frank Francisco was an unmitigated disaster on Thursday afternoon, with errant command and below-average fastball velocity (90-93 mph) conspiring to ruin what should have been a rubber-game win, and the sheer atrocity of his performance likely merits a little attention being trained on him as far as it being a possible indicator of injury, but hasn't he at least earned enough leash to obviate talk of him being supplanted by Neftali Feliz after one poor outing (which, I might add, was preceded by a very good Opening Day appearance)? The timing and circumstances of his meltdown sucked, but this isn't the appropriate time to throw him under the bus.