By Matthew Postins
No team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area does slow death by its own hand quite like the Dallas Cowboys. But the Texas Rangers are gaining on them.
For the second straight year, the Rangers are slumping to the finish line. At least this time around the reasons are a bit easier to grasp. The offense has plenty of guys that score runs but not enough who drive them in. The Rangers, apparently, underestimated how the team would react to losing Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli in the same year. Losing Nelson Cruz for 50 games was an unhappy bonus.
The Rangers are in no position to turn Cruz away, should they make the playoffs. My hope was the Rangers would be good enough to tell Cruz to take a hike and make a point about Cruz taking the suspension over playing during an appeal. Not so much now. That will have to wait until the offseason.
Ron Washington shouldn’t lose his job over this. I know the temptation is to blame someone (and, frankly, Cruz is going to get plenty of that sent his way). But Washington has done a masterful job handling the tools he was given this season, especially the pitching staff, which has been so banged up this season it makes last season look like a breeze.
But, playoffs or not, there will be changes. The Rangers will be in the market for power. They don’t have the bats ready in the farm system, at least not among their Top 20 prospects. I doubt Cruz will be back. A.J. Pierzynski is a free agent. So is David Murphy. The Rangers might go after Pierzynski again. But there are some interesting names that could be out there after this season, including Travis Hafner, Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran and Jacob Ellsbury. Cano would be, well, quite a coup and an “all-in” move if there ever was one. By all accounts, he’s the anti-A-Rod. But no one thought A-Rod was A-Rod until he arrived in Texas, either.
Why not reassemble at least part of the old band? Also among the free agents for 2014 are Napoli, Young and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. It wouldn’t be the worst idea.
I was in Kansas City last weekend and I’ll say that it was one of the loudest stadiums I’ve been in. However, it wasn’t consistently loud. So I have to get to Seattle now so I can compare and contrast.
Given the number of Cowboys fans in Arrowhead last weekend, it would have served the team well if they had all recorded the crowd noise and brought those tape recordings to play during this Sunday’s game in St. Louis. It might be just as loud as your typical Cowboys game.
Jason Garrett calls DeMarco Murray a “great player who has demonstrated that his whole career.” So, let’s break this down. Jason Garrett just called a guy with 1,671 career rushing yards and 6 touchdowns entering Sunday’s game a great player? He’s had four 100-yard rushing games and none in more than a calendar year. Has the standard fallen? Sorry, Murray is merely a good player who hasn’t proven much more beyond the fact that he can’t stay healthy. People need to stop living off the fumes of that Rams game from two years ago. This year, to me, is a make-or-break year for Murray. If he doesn’t prove he can tote the load this year then the Cowboys need to start looking. I actually hope he does prove it, as it would make it easier for the Cowboys down the line. You’d rather see them spend a potential pick on an offensive lineman than a running back at this point.
Not sure what the logic is in, potentially, starting J.J. Wilcox over Will Allen. I think we all know Allen isn’t long for this team beyond 2013. But I wonder if the Cowboys are rushing Wilcox a bit. Remember – this is the guy who has really only played safety for about a year and a half between college and the pros. I don’t care how talented he is. Has he learned enough?
Congratulations to Jamie Benn. The Dallas Stars made Benn the team captain earlier this week, making him just the sixth team captain since the franchise moved to Dallas. No sport takes its captaincy more seriously than pro hockey. The last guy in the job, Brendan Morrow, lasted seven years. Let’s hope Benn has that kind of staying power.
The Dallas Mavericks have redesigned their Web site. At first glance I like it – bold, easy to read and great use of graphics. It is a pretty serious departure from what they had, though. It’ll take a little getting used to. But check out the player bio pages. It’s like looking at a media guide it’s so well-designed. Yes, I am a media guide geek.
Among the players invited to Mavericks training camp? Fab Melo. Because every team should have a player named Fab. Of course, Melo is No. 499 out of No. 500 in ESPN’s NBA player rankings. No. 500? Royce White. And he didn’t even play last year.
One last thing. Major college football season is underway. One of my side projects is College Football America, a publication that myself, Chuck Cox (who contributes here on The Front Row) and Kendall Webb (who will be helping us with some SEC football come September) have been working on all year. The College Football America 2013 Yearbook Encyclopedia is something that we believe is the first of its kind – a book that covers every single college football team in the US and Canada. That’s 919 teams, 919 schedules, 919 team capsules, and nearly 100 conference previews. It’s full color and it features dozens of photos, most of which we’ve taken ourselves. It’s a publication on a massive scale. Yes, it’s big – but if you have a Kindle, an iPad or even a laptop you don’t need to spend a lot to get a lot. It’s $5.99 at lulu.com. You can click here to purchase.