Monday, April 06, 2009

A day full of hope

April again, and a new baseball season is upon us. There are differences between April 2009 and Aprils of the recent past. I think there's reason to hope for a reasonably entertaining and satisfying season.

I can say this on April 5. Will I be saying the same thing on June 5?

So, what is different? Some minor stuff, and one critical, critical element. Allow me to elaborate.

I like this infield. A lot. The addition of ultra-prospect Elvis Andrus at SS, accompanied by Mike Young's move to 3B, and what should be a settled arrangement at 1B, solidifies things defensively. None of these guys are Tinker, Evers, or Chance, but, if the hype is to be believed, Andrus has a chance to star in his own poem and the whole bunch ought to improve over last year's butcher shop. The law of averages nearly ensures steadier fielding after last year's anti-clinic, right?

Offensively, the infield should be set for a pretty good, if not spectacular year. Young, Kinsler, Davis, and Saltalamacchia ought to produce some hits.

The outfield is OK, I think. I don't know that Andruw Jones has much left, but Rudy seems to think he's got plenty. I am still not sure if Rudy Jaramillio is Batting Cage Jesus or the most overrated dude to ever apply pine tar - if he's so great, how come this team hasn't hit with men in scoring position since the Clinton Administration? Either way, he seems to get some respect around the league, and if he says take a look at Jones, we probably ought to wait until at least early May before we run him out of town.

The biggest change, the biggest difference between today and the last 5 or 6 Opening Days is the state of the pitching staff. No, Walter Johnson and Cy Young have not returned from beyond the grave to don Ranger blue and red. We can look forward to mostly the same guys who have spared us to death over recent campaigns. However, for a change, we did not see a catastrophic injury in spring training. Shockingly, the Rangers start the season with the entire staff on the active roster.

This is a near-miracle. I mean, really. Not Parting of the Red Sea (how timely, yeah?), but pretty amazing.

Does this mean Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, et al are going to throw strikes? No, that remains to be seen. But the fact they're available at the start of the season is beyond encouraging.

All in all, despite the 50-degree chill in the air (and the freeze warning for tonight - alas for my newly-planted snapdragons!), I would like to be fighting traffic on Collins today in an effort to catch me some Opening Day festivities!

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