A few quick thoughts after a two and four homestand.
A walk never felt so good. Kudos to Rivera for understanding the situation and not trying to be a hero. It just goes to show how a little patience can pay off big time (hello, Vladdy?)
Santana to the bullpen until he finds himself, Palmer stays in the rotation. Palmer looked great his last start (thanks for nothing, Fuentes.) Moving the ball on both sides of the plate, changing speeds, working it.
Escobar in the rotation, but at the ready to take over the closer role. Fuentes is okay, but Escobar is lights out. He'd put that bullpen back in order in a hurry. Problem is, with Santana looking like 2007, they need Escobar back in the rotation, too.
Keep Kendrick as far away from Vladdy in the line-up as possible. Kendrick gets in his own head faster than a psychiatrist. He's his own worst enemy. There's no question the guy has natural talent. But sports is a game of results, not potential. You deliver or you don't. Howie needs to get it together, and soon. But if he sees Vladdy swinging at everything, Howie tends to do it as well. Be aggressive on YOUR pitch, not the PITCHER'S.
The Vladdy question. Love him. Who doesn't? But as I've stated before, when he plays like this, the team is better off without him. Vladdy has come back from his injury as if he wants to get all those missed at bats back in a second. He's playing like he's on brain lock. He not only swings at pitches off the plate, he swings at pitches in front of it. If I'm a pitcher right now and I see Vladdy coming up, I act like home plate's not even there. When Vladdy shows even the least amount of patience, he kills it. But right now, it looks like he's made up his mind to swing before the pitcher's even in his windup. Sure, he's got four hits since he's back. But three singles and a bloop are not what the team needs from their clean-up hitter. Especially in a line-up that's filled with singles hitters.
Why we like Mike. When the bullpen was crashing and burning on a regular basis recently (still is, but not quite as much), I thought to myself, the only cure for this is to let the starters go longer. Get past some of the weak spots in the pen. I was sure it's wouldn't happen, though. Mike loves the hook. Loves the strategy. Loves making moves. Lo and behold, he starts leaving starters in. Complete games happen as if we've rolled back the clock. I got to hand it to Mike. The man knows how to change. And not all managers do.
A last word on Nolan Ryan. Even though I want the Texas Rangers to tank, even though it kind of bugs me that Ryan's running a division foe, I love the fact that he's pushing his pitchers to do what pitchers used to do - finish games. Pitch out of trouble, go deep in games, stop complaining and just pitch. I hope the mentality rubs off on all teams.
I hope the mentality rubs off on all sports.