Hello, everyone. Let's get to some questions. You can ask anything you like. I can't promise to know all the answers, but I'll certainly try to give you what information and opinion I can.
Richard, I've always wondered this: Why haven't the Rangers went down the road that the Rockies did by trying to get groundball pithcers?
Anthony, it's a fine question. And one that doesn't have many great answers. I do think part of it was continuity. The club had Doug Melvin and his staff in place with certainly theories on pitching. Then it moved to John Hart, Grady Fuson and their thoughts. And now Jon Daniels. Sometimes the organization went by a philosophy of "pitch to contact," and other times it was not stressed. Beyond all of that, the club may have drafted pitchers with certain pedigrees and didn't pan out. Also, the free agent pitchers willing to come here may not have really been ground ball pitchers. But I do think they are stressing it now and the club's improved defense has helped make the pitching staff better. The bottom line is getting outs. The Rangers did a better job of it in 2009. I think it should be just as good, if not better, in 2010.
What should we realistically expect from Colby Lewis this year?
I wonder that too, Ben. In fairness, I think all of us who have memories of Lewis struggling in Arlington and not really meeting expectations of a first-round pick need to put that aside of see what he has now. All the reports are that he's a completely different pitcher. Obviously, pitching in Japan is different than the majors over here. But command is command. And if Lewis has found the strike zone consistently -- and his really impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio in two seasons in Japan indicates he has -- he should be fine. I don't know why he can't be a solid, middle of the rotation guy that can win 12-14 games or so.
Come trade deadline do you think the Stars will be buyers or sellers this year? Obviously this depends on where they are in the standings, so I'm implying where you think they'll be as a question as well.
It's not quite as simple as that. I do think the Stars will likely be fighting for a playoff spot, but I still can't think they make it. I hate to say that, but it requires them to play .600-plus hockey and going on some streaks and so far they haven't shown they can do that. They are well under the cap, but that really doesn't matter, either. They have a certain budget and that will limit what Joe Nieuwendyk can do. Also, if they trade someone, say Marty Turco for instance, another team is going to want to part with someone that has some notable salary too. So Nieuwendyk has to see what kind of value he can get for certain players and if it's worth doing. But they certainly need help on defense and if the right defenseman is out there, they have to look at it.
Shut up Richard
Thanks, Tommy. I do love that movie.
What's the word on the workout Maddux saw of Ben Sheets?
The word, from various reports, is that Sheets looked fine. He topped out at 91 mph during the "fastball phase" of the workout and threw some curve balls. The point of it was to show that he should be ready to participate fully in spring training. Apparently a handful of teams were there, including the Rangers.
Rich, Can the Rangers take a shot at Sheets with the whole owenership situation in the air and let him know they'll finalize the deal when all the lines are signed by Greenberg and Hicks? By the way, Evan misses you at the DMN!!!!!
I think the Rangers are pretty much spent for the offseason now in terms of budget. And new ownership likely won't be in place until right before Opening Day or so. They could help with some money at the trade deadline, but not really until then. It might depend on what kind of deal Sheets gets. If it's a lot of incentives and includes more money on the back end of a two-year deal, maybe they can get creative. But I think it's a long shot at this point.
Is it time for the Cowboys to look at getting rid of Jason Garrett? I've seen nothing but bad decisions and play calling out of him in tight situations
I don't think so. I, too, have questioned the playcalling at times this season. But I think Garrett improved in that area over 2009 and there's no reason to think he won't continue to do so in 2010. Coaches progress and learn just like players. Clearly he is a bright guy who understands an offense. That doesn't mean there haven't been puzzling calls. But I don't think there's any reason to get rid of him at this point.
IsBen Sheets coming to the Rangers this year?
As I said earlier, I doubt it. But remember that he did work out in Arlington last season, is close to Mike Maddux and had a two-year deal in place before 2009 until he failed a physical. Still, I've got to think there are teams that can pay him more than the Rangers have in the budget right now.
Another Cowboys question about our coaching staff. I love Dave Campo and his loyalty over the years to the Cowboys, but it just seemed that time after time again it was his secondary getting burned, even as recent as Sunday against Minnesota. Do you think he's gone?
I don't think he's gone. I can't think Wade Phillips will make that many changes on the staff. I'm not sure it's fair to blame some blown coverages and Gerald Sensabaugh not looking back at the ball on a deep pass play on Campo. So, no, I don't think he's gone.
What is the mood in Dallas like after their fans proclaming they were so great and unbeatable then getting stomped by Minny?
The mood, Chat, is one of disappointment. Fans thought this team had the talent to get to a Super Bowl. And they did. Minnesota has a great defense and Brett Favre is doing enough with the offense. That should be a great NFC Championship Game. But Cowboys fans aren't happy. The pieces are in place, though, for this team to be contenders for the next few years. The question is whether they can take the next step and get back to the Super Bowl now that they've finally ended the playoff-win drought.
What's your overall outlet for the AL West in 2010?
Good question, Kirk. The AL West has gotten stronger from top to bottom during the offseason. Seattle and Texas have been particularly aggressive and both teams look better on paper than in 2010. The Angels are still the defending champs, but the perception is they may be getting passed by the others during this offseason. We'll see. They did agree to terms with Joel Pineiro. Should be fun to watch this division this year.
How do you feel about the SMU football team this fall? Will they continue to improve?
An SMU fan from Clemson? Nice. I think SMU is really on the upswing. June Jones got that team going ahead of schedule. Even he admits that. They not only got to the first bowl game since the Death Penalty, but they won it handily over a good Nevada team. The program's confidence should be high. They should use this as a springboard for next season, where I think 8 or 9 wins is not out of the question. It's a young team that should get better, especially with Kyle Padron at quarterback.
Thanks, everyone. I'll see you next week.