Can Wash Handle This?

Game one only accounts for .6% of the final tally. Almost everyone who has an inkling of baseball knowledge understands that Texas will finish 2013 with around 90 wins and Houston will probably lose 100 plus games for a third straight season. 

As game-one developed, the memories and parallels of the Houston Texans first game ever came into focus for me. 
The Texans were the NFL’s expansion franchise in 2002, they began their inaugural season at home against their alleged nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys. And with a America’s undivided attention, the Texans beat the sloppy Cowboys 19-10.

The Texans rode this wave of euphoria to another three wins, good for a 4-12 record. The Cowboys went on to complete another 5-11 season under Dave Campo (sidenote: the Cowboys finished 5-11 in 2000-2002.)

The Astros played their first American League game Sunday night. ESPN took advantage of the Astros’ move to the AL, giving them a stand-alone game versus their now assumed rival, the Texas Rangers. The Astros easily handled the former AL champs winning 8-2.

Losing to the Astros can make one’s mind wander.

What if the Rangers aren’t that great?
What if the A’s are better than the Rangers again?
What if Josh Hamilton has another MVP season- in an Angels uniform?
What if Michael Young wins a Gold Glove at 3B for the Phillies?
What if this Nolan saga drags on, akin to the way the months dragged on as we waited to see if Nolan would finally unseat Tom Hicks?

OK, you get it. There’s a smaller margin for error with this version of the Rangers. In more ways than I would like- the Rangers are similar to the Astros. 

Astros GM, Jeff Lunhow said during his in-game interview, that he didn’t want to block his young talent, and that he wanted to see them play, and get them reps at the big league level…. and so on and so on.

When he said that I thought about JD’s comment on Leonys Martin (0-3, with two strike-outs, only seeing 11 pitches), “If we don’t give him a look now, when will we?” JD could have easily brought in veterans to man CF, 1B and the fifth SP, but he didn’t. He wanted to give Martin, Mitch Moreland, and Martin Perez a chance at an extended big-league look.

That’s where the small-margin for error comes in, if these young players don’t produce then where do they turn? Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar headline an ever-deep farm system that can top any other team’s trade advances. Texas is well positioned to boost the roster come July, but a lot will happen in the next four months.

It was only one game, but it still sent a shock in a small uncomfortable way. In my opinion there is onepossible positive outcome of a mediocre Rangers season: Wash could be replaced (Mike Maddux, Steve Buechele?).

Yes, after one game I am calling for Wash to be fired. Granted I wanted this to happen prior to losing to the Astros so I don’t consider myself to be jumping to conclusions.

I still believe that AJ Pierzynski, Lance Berkman and Leonys Martin will produce more than the heralded triumvate from yesteryear- Mike Napoli, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton. And I still believe that the Rangers can win enough games to punch a ticket to October baseball.

But there’s a nagging feeling that this isn’t the old Rangers from 2010-2012. That there’s still a disconnect throughout the organization (see: the unresolved Nolan saga) that I’m unsure if this team is wired for another World Series run. There may still be some housekeeping left to do.

I always thought that Young’s leadership was completely overvalued, and I still do. But I feel that this version of the Rangers will need to develop a mentality and chemistry. You can go across the diamond, and there’s plenty of chemistry question marks:

  • Moreland: put up, or shut up time
  • Kinsler: lost his BFF, and the front office wanted to move him from 2B
  • Beltre: he’s sitting pretty, middle of fat contract- no worries here
  • Murphy: contract year, first time as regular, he could easily press and get anxious
  • Leonys: new guy, needs to validate contract
  • Gentry: played well last year, not given an everyday job
  • Cruz: at any moment he could get the 50 game suspension, also in a walk-year
  • Berkman: in a walk year, new guy, how much does he care?
  • Pierzynski: new guy, walk year, edgy personality that might not go over well in losing streaks

That’s one out of ten, of the starting offensive contingent that is not in adverse situation. Some of these may bubble up through out the course of the season, and I’m not sure Wash is prepared to handle it with his buffer being shipped off to Philadelphia.

This really isn’t a reaction to one game, but more of a survey of the road ahead. Obviously it would be grand if Wash forged a relationship and chemistry with the new guys. The off-the-field workings is actually the qualities that Wash is praised for. 2013 appears to be the year not only for Leonys, Moreland and other new guys to prove themselves but a year for Wash to earn his keep as well. 

Dan Allsup is a staff writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach him on Twitter @DanAllsup, or email him at
Dan Allsup

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