Taking Too Much Stock
In 2010 the Texas Rangers finished spring training with a record of 10-19. They went to the World Series. In 2011 they went 13-16 and went back to the World Series. Last spring they went 12-17 and returned to the playoffs. Now as I write this they have a spring training record of 0-4-1. The overreaction from fans has begun. Let me assure you that the Rangers will be fine.
Spring training is when the veterans (who didn’t play winter ball) shake off the rust. It’s when rookies and non-roster invitees try to get a spot on the team. It’s also when lower level prospects get a chance to show their talents to management. The one thing it’s not about, is who finishes with the best record. Last year the Padres and Blue Jays finished with the best records in their respective spring leagues. Neither team made the playoffs. In 2011 it was the Giants and Twins. They also missed the playoffs.
What you need to as a fan, is step away from the final score and focus more on the box score. Pay closer attention to how offensive players like Kinsler, Moreland, Martin and Pierzynski are doing and don’t freak out over how hitters like Apodaca, Allen and Cunningham are struggling at the plate. The same can be said for the pitching staff to a point. We all know that Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando are going to be the first four starters (though not necessarily in that order). That leaves the fifth spot up for grabs and it appears so far that Martin Perez may claim it but it’s still early. There’s also the question of how the bullpen will look once the season begins up until Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria return. Sure, Cody Buckel is in camp but he’s at least two years away from being major league-ready. Jake Brigham also needs more work in the minors. So don’t worry when you see them struggling. It’s all about chances and looks. Instead pay more attention to Josh Lindblom, Cory Burns, Neal Cotts, Michael Kirkman, Yoshi Tateyama and Jason Frasor. Those are the guys battling for reliever positions.
As spring moves on players will be sent back to the minors or cut completely. The veterans and rising stars will get more and more playing time. And the Rangers will win a few games. Until then just look at the games for what they are: mass tryouts. If I still haven’t convinced you that preseason records aren’t important then allow me this one last comparison. In 1989 the Dallas Cowboys finished the preseason with a 3-1 record. They went 1-15 in the regular season. In 1992 they finished the preseason with an 0-4 record. They went on to win the Super Bowl.
Maybe it won’t be that bad if the Rangers finish the spring winless after all. Okay, I’m kidding. Even I couldn’t handle that.