Saturday, June 15, 2013

Email Bag For Father's Day Weekend

I have been asked to show a little more diversity on occasion when rolling out email bags.  It seems, according to some, I respond to too many Cowboys-based emails, and far too few of any other sort of variety.  So, as proof that I give into demands made of me on a regular basis, here are several emails - with none of them being Cowboys-based.  Instead, we will make sure that we will touch all other Metroplex professional teams (within reason).

Here we go:

Bob- I consider myself a big Rangers fan who is starting to wonder if this team has just coming back to earth from the great start and playing more like a team that lost a number of key parts last winter without adding much.  Is this a little closer to the Rangers that conventional wisdom thought back in February? - Shawn

Great question to get us started.  I have to admit that I was one of those who really was bearish on the Rangers ability to play pennant-caliber baseball after saying goodbye to a large portion of their spine in Mike Young, Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton, and a number of pieces in the bullpen all in the same winter.  Then, their acquisitions seemed a bit on the hopeful side trying to squeeze a bit more out of the careers of Lance Berkman and AJ Pierzynski and beyond that, pretty much just trusting those around them to step up and do more.  Not to mention, the looming discomfort of knowing Nelson Cruz could disappear for 2 months if this Biogenesis thing ever got serious which still threatens.

But, they got out of the gate with fantastic momentum and finished April 17-8, quieting any discussion of falling off and having a year with some regrouping necessary.  Guys were stepping up, and the future was bright with a rotation that looked formidable and of course, the exciting news of Profar being around the next corner.

Then, injuries have hit.  I would argue injuries have hit hard, with Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Martin Perez all going down with arm issues.  This has transitioned us to now, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch have been starting for so many turns in the rotation that it doesn't even seem that they aren't regulars anymore.  But, Grimm, in particular seems that the major leagues are catching up with him quickly.  It appears clear that they need rotation help soon, and while it could come in the form of getting guys back - including Colby Lewis - we should also understand that deals might need to happen soon to address that.

Meanwhile, it has been a month without Ian Kinsler and now 10 days without Mitch Moreland where the wheels have really come off the offense.  After another solid month in May (17-11), the beat up Rangers have just not been the same team in June, having now lost their first 3 series of the month to Boston, Toronto, and Cleveland.  Off to a 4-8 start as of the morning of June 15 means they will have to skate hard to keep from having their first losing month of the campaign.

So, is it all a manner of health and sample sizes that are routine downslides in a 162-game season?  Or, is part of this that the squad lost quite a bit of veteran pieces over the winter that need to be replenished in addition to returning to health?  Clearly, you will trust the judgement of the management team and allow them to make their decisions based on their track record of having a proper feel for the situation.  Oakland does have a 2 game lead, but there appears to be no other team in the race in the AL West who can get back in this.

I expect movement soon, in an effort to fix the rotation issues, but beyond that, I think any sort of panic is likely not trusting these guys - once Kinsler is back - to be able to start producing runs on a more regular basis than you are seeing.  It just looks pretty disjointed at the moment.

Hey Bob, give me your Stars summer wish list? David

I am happy to answer this, but I am sure I will disappoint with my answers.  If I read some supposed insider or expert on a topic like this one, I want answers with specifics.  But, I have almost none for you.  The free agent list - at the 2 primary positions of need for the Stars, center and defensemen - is so shallow and picked over that you are not going to want to do much there.  In fact, on some level of twisted comedy, you might be amused to know that 2 of the top 5 centers available, are most likely Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro.  How crazy is that?  The 2 guys that you considered not be the answer for you at center are now the 2 pretty girls that everyone will be bidding on in July against the entire league?  That is just not going to solve anything here.

Meanwhile, the other spot of need is that big, physical, and versatile defensemen that can add some Duncan Keith/Zdeno Chara type fear to the group.  Again, that defensemen is not on the free agent market this year - or pretty much ever.

So, you have money, you have resources, and you have a front office that wants to "wow" the public with rebuilding a franchise that refuses to fade without a battle.  What are the plans?  The plans are to make sure there are no big mistakes made.  Slow build.  Tons of picks.  Stock that system even more full with 18-year olds who might be the next Jamie Benn or Brenden Dillon.  Can't have enough of either of them, so keep growing your own.  That requires patience and a fan-base with a stomach for it.

But, I don't expect that this will be the entire plan.  I really think that this year, the Stars will be on the prowl to find those buy-out guys and even take on someone else's contract burden.  The trouble is, given how little we know how Jim Nill values characteristics and types of hockey, I have no idea what the apple of his eye will be until he gives us hints.  And so far, the Sergei Gonchar hint is not helping me see his vision, yet.  Except, that the redundancy on his blue-line seems to indicate that a team that needs a competent defensemen can consider Trevor Daley or Stephane Robidas as part of a deal that might net the Stars a center that they covet.  Bottom line, lots of moving parts.

I expect an active summer, but I can't shine much light on specific targets.  Let's just hope that the target wasn't born before 1980 if we can help it.

Sports Sturm- Look, I know you realize FC Dallas is the top team in MLS right now.  I know you did a bunch of their games on TV this year.  I know you love soccer.  I know you go to their matches.  What exactly would it take for you to actually write or talk about them once in a while?  Kevin

I take the blame for this.  He is right.  I don't miss many of their matches (despite their having one of the more frustrating tv deals in sports history right now) and they are playing fantastic.  No team in the entire league has more points than FC Dallas and you can't say that it is early anymore.  Bottom line, as we reach the halfway point of the season, is that they are good and they are being ignored.

For the media that doesn't follow the sport, that is to be expected.  But, I can do better.  I am really hopeful they can keep up what they have done so far, and I think a big part is to find another player in the back 4 to fortify a thin defense.  They have quality 1-4, but one injury gives me pause that the hot summer might show that they will start conceding crucial goals against.  If there has been one particular item of concern, it is closing down games late in the match.  Figuring out how to park the bus in front of the goal and not concede is going to test their mettle down the stretch.  Offensively, FCD has plenty of goal scoring with Blas Perez, Kenny Cooper, and a host of speed to get on the end of David Ferreira's genius and now the left foot of Michel.

I think they have finally hit on a quality team that was put together in the offseason under the radar when they lost Brek Shea, but gained 3-4 players with his funds.  I think they are good, now we just need to figure out how good.  Long ways to go, but a fantastic start.

Bob, please tell me Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are coming to the Mavericks.  Please!  I beg of you!  Make it happen!  Theon Greyjoy

I don't think that is really you, Theon.  But, if it is, nobody deserves good news right now more than you do.

Anyway, I think Chris Paul coming here is the absolute maximum score for any activity this summer by Mark Cuban and friends.  This team lacks a star of the proper age, a point guard of proper quality, and hope for the post-Dirk era.  Chris and Cliff Paul would provide all of that in the form of one spectacular player.  But, is it realistic?

Of course, it barely is.  The Mavericks are staying ready and if it is true that D12 and CP3 want to play together, then there are a number of things that make that financially difficult to do it with Dirk still on his monster deal.  They would have to take less and the Mavs would have to make a number of creative maneuvers to pull it off - all while there are other places that might be better equipped to do it.

But, Cuban seems determined.  I don't know if that is his big splash, but he knows that he cannot have another Chris Kaman/Elton Brand/Darren Collison summer.

All is quiet on the Mavericks front, but we are down to about 2 weeks before operation powder is put into action.  I hate to get my hopes up, but this one is all about getting Dirk a good team before it is too late.  One final run for the big German might depend on how Cuban can work his magic in the next month.

And, I am told that he has put Shark Tank on notice about is schedule this time.

Good.  Very good.

1 comment:

mlbbchbill said...