Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Morning Quick Hits: Playoff Preview!

The Rangers and Rays lock horns tonight in Tampa Bay. This is of course a fascinating series on multiple accounts such as: The most likely playoff opponent for the Rangers. If the Rangers can keep ahead of the AL Central Division leader, and the Yankees hold serve, the Rays will head to Arlington. This also gives us a chance to see how game one would look, with Cliff Lee on the bump. Exciting stuff. We also get baseball games starting at six, Texas Time, which is great for every one. Now onto the hits:

  • Joey Matschulat scrapes the surface on Cliff Lee's hidden value to the Rangers. While all the broadcasters and radio men have said that Cliff Lee has been influential on C.J. Wilson, Joey at least tries to get some real data to back that up. There's no question that C.J. is pitching much better since the trade and more research will have to be looked into to see if that's coincidence or if the Cliff Lee experience is really working out in more ways than one. While Wilson hasn't lost a start since July 11th, he has had some poor starts (three runs and seven hits in 5.2 innings on July 29th and six hits, four runs and four walks in three innings on August 4th). It's obvious to know the key for Wilson: More strikeouts, less walks. C.J.'s WHIP is still too high (1.24) and his overall K/BB ratio (116/70) is still a tad outlandish. But yesterday's start was C.J. at his best: four hits, one walk, eight strikeouts. I've been worried that C.J.'s high walk rate would doom him once his home rates returned to his career norm, but so far he's avoided a string of damaging starts and perhaps Wilson will keep his home runs down. If he turns the K/BB ratio around, we could be looking at a future Cy Young candidate.

  • Oh crap. Marc Colombo is hurt. This has been the one chink in the Cowboy's armor that just about every one was talking about. Seriously, I think my mom mentioned that the Cowboy's offensive line depth was weak at best. With Alex Barron hurt as well, the preseason lineup could be a bit of a mess. If Colombo misses the first game, Barron should be ready to go to start. The question will be whether Barron goes into right tackle or Doug Free goes back to right tackle. Doug Free should stay at left tackle however, because that's his new position. Going back to right tackle would just delay his maturation at the left tackle position. Having a replacement at right tackle for one game wouldn't be the end of the world. What would, would be Colombo missing more than one game of the regular season. 

  •  The Mavericks had three centers play in the USA-France scrimmage on Sunday, and has the report. The report doesn't reveal anything eye-opening or staggering, just more of what we already know - Tyson Chandler is in the best shape since his New Orleans campaign, Ian Mahinmi will be like D.J. Mbenga except with actual skills and Alexis Ajinca won't be around too long anyway, because who the hell needs four centers on their roster. This is good news, I guess, especially on Chandler, but it still doesn't give Mavs fan much comfort as Chandler is a spill on the floor away from returning to a walking boot, given his injury history.

  • Just an open question: Do the Rangers have the best three starters in the American League? I would say the entire Majors, but the Cardinals and Giants are tough to beat. Even so, Cliff Lee (10-5, 2.57 ERA, 137 K, 9 BB, 0.93 WHIP), Colby Lewis (9-9, 3.28 ERA, 150 K, 48 BB, 1.15 WHIP) and C.J. Wilson (11-5, 3.19 ERA, 116 K, 70 BB, 1.24 WHIP) have to rank somewhere as the top pitching trio in baseball. They also rival as the greatest rotation the Rangers have ever seen. And while Cliff Lee's Cy Young candidacy isn't in question, what about Colby Lewis? Sure, his K/BB ratio looks pedestrian compared to Lee's but whose wouldn't? While the voters have seemingly taken a step toward looking past wins (Zach Greinke's Cy Young last year was a huge step), I can't help but wonder how voters would look at Lewis if he supported his great numbers with a record of, say, 19-3? It's completely possibly. In those three projected losses, those are the only starts in which Lewis has given up more than three runs and taken a loss (he has four starts overall giving up more than three runs, but recorded a win in one of those). That 19-3 record is completely plausible. What's even more plausible is something like 14-4 or 13-5. Which would still give Lewis a great shot at 20 wins. Just something to think about.

  • Tim Tebow played a game as an NFL quarterback against NFL players and actually looked quite good. 8-for-13 with 105 yards and a bruising rushing touchdown to boot. Blerg. I only mention this because it is my worst fear. Not that I hate Tim Tebow (it's not his fault that every one bows at his persona, the media love him and he is ridiculously good looking), it's that I haven't been more adamant about a first round picking busting this hard since, well, ever. Luckily I have none of this in writing but my friends will tell me I thought Tebow would go down as the worst first round pick ever and never see a productive minute at quarterback. Damn, there go my NFL scouting dreams.


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