Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Have Fun with that, Mike Maddux

The Rangers announced yesterday that they have signed Mike Maddux to be their pitching coach. Maddux, who never had much of a major league career, has made a name for himself with the Brewers over the past few seasons as the team's pitching coach. Maddux took retreads like Doug Davis, Chris Capuano, and Derrick Turnbow and turned them into useful parts for the upstart Brewers. There is no doubt that the guy is a talented pitching coach, whatever that means.

But can he do it in Texas? I'm not so sure. Sure the Rangers have tons of retreads and AAAA pitchers, but there is no way that Maddux can fix them all! I mean, is there anything that Maddux can do with Luis Mendoza and his 8.67 ERA? Or how about Scott Feldman and his 5.29 ERA? I don't think minor adjustments will fix some of these guys; they just flat out suck. And oh my, the Rangers team ERA was 5.97! Yikes.

So if GM Jon Daniels is serious about fixing the Rangers pitching problems, then he needs to upgrade the talent. It's obvious that some of these guys on the Ranger's staff are simply not fit to pitch in the big leagues (Kameron Loe!); at least not yet (Matt Harrison!). Until the Rangers acquire some pitching talent, the Rangers porous pitching will continue to make Rangers' games hard to watch. I'm not saying that Mike Maddux will not do a good job, but he is not a miracle worker.

Like Orel Hershiser and Mark Connor before him, I expect Maddux to struggle. The staff will struggle because the talent is not there, but on top of that, the Ballpark at Arlington (Ameriquest Field!!!!) is a hellhole for pitchers. Don't believe me? Just go ask Kevin Millwood, Chan Ho Park, Vincente Padilla, all of whom have seen their careers flounder while their ERAs skyrocket as Rangers. It's hard to pitch in a place that has literally murdered the careers of many pitchers.

I hope that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels will give Maddux the time and talent to develop quality pitchers in Texas. But somehow, I doubt that they will. Ryan will be too frustrated by the miserable pitching to watch his pitchers continue to flounder and at the same time, Daniels is on the hot seat, and needs results now. The Rangers pitching is an organizational problem from the top down. Maddux certainly has his work cut out for him, but the only way for the Rangers to compete is to find pitching talent-and that begins at the top. Eventually they will find out that Luis Mendoza's do not win pennants.

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