You gotta feel for Jeff Banister.
First year on the job as a big-league manager for the Texas Rangers and he gets handed a roster worse than Lou Brown’s fictional Cleveland Indians owned by Rachel Phelps in the movie Major League.
OK, maybe it’s not that bad. But it certainly isn’t that good either. Heck, this team could use an aging Eddie Harris or young phenom fireballer Ricky Vaughn on the mound these days. And Adrian Beltre is certainly better than Roger Dorn (start hitting like it, will ya, big guy?).
The sad news is that we’re just nine games into the 2015 season and it already feels like it’s over. Ace Yu Darvish undergoes Tommy John surgery in Spring Training. Then Derek Holland goes down in the home opener on Friday. Forty percent of your starting rotation gone, at least through Memorial Day (if not longer). That hurts worse than Ryan Rua’s fractured heel (Ouch).
It seems the curse of Nolan Ryan is alive and well. Either that or there may be some truth to the myth that Globe Life Park was built on ancient Indian burial ground. I’m going with the former.
So where does Banister go from here? He goes forward, that’s where. Does the guy have a choice? Nope. Better just make the best of it and forge ahead.
Some good news from Tuesday. One – the sun came up again. Two – the Rangers had one of their best offensive outputs of the young season in an 8-2 win over the Angels.
Banister concedes nothing, even though he is going to battle with an injury-depleted roster that is also loaded with inexperience, especially on the pitchers mound. Instead, he has done something he didn’t want to do – mess with the lineup to try and shake things up. It worked last night. Texas banged out 11 hits, including five for extra bases. Rougned Odor was moved to the lead-off spot. Mitch Moreland was elevated to the No. 2 hitter. Shin-Soo Choo hit fifth. Robinson Chirinos batted ninth, but that didn’t stop him from achieving a career-high in RBIs with five, going 2-for-2 with a homer and a double. Even Elvis Andrus got into the mix, hitting his first home run in 482 at-bats – the longest active streak in the Majors.
The Rangers are now 4-5. They’ve scored 18 runs in two of those games with six home runs, both against rookie pitchers in their first starts. The other seven games? They’ve scored 17 runs with zero homers, being shutout twice. Banister stated the other day that he believes the offense will come around. He’s probably right.
Beltre is only hitting .171, a far cry from his averages over the last three seasons with the Rangers (.324, .315, .321). That will certainly get better (or Banister may have to make him do some calisthenics Beltre might find “unnecessary”).
The bottom line – it’s already a long season. Banister is meeting it head-on because he has to. Every manager is going to have his challenging moments; Banister is certainly getting some of his early and often.
Maybe it’s time to have Jobu make an appearance in the clubhouse for good luck. There’s only 153 games left to go.