State of the Union: Dallas Area Teams
Since Tuesday evening marked the annual State of the Union address by the President of the United States, we figured it was as good a time as any to take a closer look at our four area sports franchises and give our own assessments of where they are on the sports landscape.
I hate to start this review of our local teams with such a downer, but how can the Cowboys not lead off? It’s not my fault that they’ve hit rock bottom and have started to dig.
OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but it might as well be. The Cowboys are honestly their own worst enemy; well, really it’s just one guy.
This week, Jerry Jones announced that Monte Kiffin was now “asst. head coach/defense” and Rod Marinelli has been promoted to defensive coordinator. And Scott Linehan has been hired to be the team’s play-caller, giving the Cowboys three straight years with a different coach calling the offensive plays. Really? More dysfunction?
Think the draft will be any better? Not according to the team’s track record, especially over the last few years.
This all adds up to one thing: another 8-8 season and no playoffs. It is this team’s M.O. and unfortunately where it will stay until Jerry finally figures out he needs a real general manager.
Rangers: Reloaded and Ready for a Solid 2014
Early returns on the “Ryan-less era” Rangers are quite good, and they haven’t played a game yet. Maybe that’s why; they’re undefeated. But they had some real victories in the off-season.
GM Jon Daniels had three primary objectives to fulfill for the 2014 season: 1) get rid of the logjam at the center of the infield, 2) find a power bat to play first base, and 3) add a corner outfielder who can hit and get on base for the top part of the batting order.
Check, check and check.
Oh, and adding a left-handed power bat would be nice too.
Check-plus (with a smiley face).
Trading Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder took care of two (or more) birds with one stone, clearing the way for Jurickson Profar to play second base fulltime while adding an impact left-handed bat for first base. The signing of Shin-Soo Choo took care of the remaining priority, giving the Rangers a quality lead-off man who can get on base and produce runs.
With a solid pitching staff (the off-the-field injury of Derek Holland not withstanding), Daniels has the Rangers on the right path, especially for 2014. Expect another season contending for the AL West and a playoff berth.
Mavericks: Playoff Push
Rick Carlisle is doing what good coaches do – putting his team in the best position to succeed. The Mavericks have had two consecutive summers of missing on their top free agent targets, but made the best of their situation this past July in signing Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. Carlisle has made it work, to no one’s surprise.
Ellis has been Robin to Dirk’s Batman, and Calderon has given the team a point guard again. The main negative of the season has been a bad habit of blowing large leads.
The Mavericks currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot with a record of 26-20, just 3½ games out of fifth. But Dallas is also just 2 games ahead of ninth and 2½ gams ahead of 10th .
This one will go down to the wire. Expect the Mavs to make the playoffs with Dirk and Ellis leading the way. Holding on to those leads will help too.
Stars: Keep the Faith
The Stars might be on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot, but this team is clearly headed in the right direction.
GM Jim Nill’s trade to acquire Tyler Seguin is already paying off (23 goals – T-12th in the NHL), and expect the 21-year-old center (he turns 22 later this week) to be the star of this team for years to come. Jamie Benn is the other young building block, providing leadership and mental toughness.
This team is beginning to turn the corner, though it looks doubtful that the Stars will make the playoffs in a very strong Western Conference. Take solace though; this will probably be the last year of the playoff drought. Expect the Stars to take a big step forward next season as its young core matures and develops.
Nill’s biggest job moving forward – build up a solid corps of defensemen. There are several young ones in the system, and this spring’s trade deadline might be another great opportunity to add some more quality talent.