So here we go. Final road trip of the season kicks off tonight. When the Rangers come back home after these ten games they may well be the American League West champs.
It's been a fun season to follow this year. Much of the reason that Texas is in position to play in the post-season is due to the management team and the decisions they have made. Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels, and Ron Washington deserve a lot of applause for their efforts. Especially Daniels. Jon has received a lot of static in years past and now some folks appear to owe him a bit of an apology.
T.R. Sullivan wrote a column earlier today taking a look at what he considered to be the most critical decisions leading to this year's success. I agreed with his list, even if I disagreed with some of the decisions when they were made. Here is T.R.'s list and my thoughts at the time they were made:
1. Signing Vladimir Guerrero. Gotta say I had mixed emotions on this one. I was excited to see a hugely successful power bat come on board. On the other had I was worried about Vladdy's health and concerned that he was only supposed to play DH. Guerrero has fulfilled the hopes and negated the concerns.
2. Signing Colby Lewis. Gotta admit that I was puzzled by this one. Colby hadn't worked out previously for Texas and I doubted that he would this time. Besides, as part of the signing the Rangers promised him a spot in the rotation. That seemed like sheer folly to me. Colby's been a hard luck player but he's also been an inning eater with an ERA under 4.00. That's nice. His defense and his comments about the fans are another story.
3. C.J. Wilson to the rotation. This was sheer madness in my mind. Wilson was shaky as a closer, as a starter he appeared to be poised to be an ulcer factory. Wrong. Nolan was right, C.J. has been a huge part of the reason the Rangers are where they are. Awesome year for one of the most fan friendly hurlers in the game.
4. Elvis Andrus to the leadoff spot. Concurred with Washington wholeheartedly on this. In fact I thought he should have put Elvis in the one spot to start with. Julio Borbon just needs some seasoning I think.
5. Naftali Feliz to closer. No brainer. Frank Francisco just didn't have it for some reason. Timely move on Ron Washington's part.
6. Keeping David Murphy engaged. To be honest I wasn't really aware of this decision until the past month or so when Murph exploded. I knew he was playing consistently but thought it was from necessity rather than choice. Nice move by Washington to keep Murph hot.
7. Acquiring Andres Blanco. Brought on by necessity. I figured that Blanco was better than nothing. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Andres has played great though and did an awesome job filling in for Ian Kinsler while he was on the Disabled List.
8. Handling Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Wasn't sure why they were leaving Salty in Triple A but I was ok with him going to Boston. Too many injuries. Too much whining about playing time.
9. Trading for Bengie Molina. I thought this was unnecessary with Teagarden and Ramirez in the pipeline. I also liked how Matt Treanor was playing. It panned out well though when Treanor got hurt. Also makes things a lot more comfortable going into the post-season with a backstop who has been there before.
10. Acquiring Cliff Lee. Loved the move at the time. Thought Lee would be a huge hammer at the front of the rotation. While he hasn't won like I thought he would, the mental impact has been big. That and we know Cliff can win in the playoffs. Really nice.
So, now that you've seen the list and my thoughts it's your turn. What did you think at the time Ryan, Daniels, and Washington made these moves? Have you changed your mind since?