How the Rangers can still rebound to win the World Series
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Down here, deep in the heart of Texas, the Rangers aren't dead yet. They ran into a tandem of "buzz saws'' (Rangers coach Clint Hurdle's words) in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner -- a pair of 20-something pitchers for the Giants who shut Texas down in Games 2 and 4 -- and (possibly worse for the Rangers) also continue to face the Giants' winning exacta of momentum and mojo.
Overcoming a 3-games-to-1 deficit may be a long shot but it's not impossible. "Why not?'' asked Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur about his team's chances of winning three straight games and the World Series. Well yes, teams have come back from 3-1 down before in the World Series. And yes, the Rangers have the incomparable Cliff Lee going for them Monday night in Game 5 -- and a lot more than that, too, as they try to pull off an improbable come-from-behind World Series victory. And they have quite a few going against them, as well. Here is a list of the things that will help them, and also those that will hinder them as they try to beat the odds and rally to win their first World Series.
• The Brewers appear to be targeting Bobby Valentine to rescue their clubhouse and aid their ticket sales, with Joey Cora, Bob Melvin and Ron Roenicke believed to be running 2, 3 and 4 at the moment. Both owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin are thought to be favoring Valentine, though the team has been doing its due diligence and looking for answers as to why he hasn't received more offers despite a stellar track record. The biggest issue will likely be the dollars, though, as Valentine made $2.65 million per year on a three year deal nearly a decade ago with the Mets. He won't come cheaply. Eric Wedge, who's well regarded but doesn't have nearly the resume that Valentine does, got what was said to be "close to '' $1.9 million a year with the Mariners a couple weeks ago. Valentine is said by friends to have been very impressed with the Brewers people when he met with them, but as of Sunday still hadn't heard whether he's getting the offer.
• It's hard to guess with new Mets GM Sandy Alderson about who he'll want to interview for the Mets' managing job. But former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, who's been offered the bench coach job in Baltimore and will take that job if he doesn't get a managing job, seems to fit the criteria of a smart, prepared guy with some experience. Before he managed in Seattle, where had one great year before seeming to lose the clubhouse early this season over a Ken Griffey Jr. divide, Wakamatsu coached in Oakland and Texas. He was also runner-up to Ron Washington for the managing job in Texas, but Rangers people eventually decided they "love Wash'' and also preferred a clean break from the Buck Showalter era. Former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told Bob Klapisch of the
• The Mets know they need a second baseman, a backup catcher and some late-inning relief help, and they'd also like to add another starter. The plan is for Olllie Perez to pitch in winter ball, and if the Mets can find a taker who'd be willing to pay a small chunk of Perez's $12 million salary, he could be dealt before spring training. Otherwise, they could bring him to spring training, and release him then if he's pitching like he did this year, when he posted an 0-5 record and a 6.80 ERA. The early word is that they'll probably keep Francisco Rodriguez, as they need a closer. It's unlikely they'll carry second baseman Luis Castillo into the season, and they'll probably look at free agency to fill that position, with Orlando Hudson a possibility again.
• New Dodgers manager Don Matttingly is a great man who works hard and is full of integrity, but some longtime baseball people question whether he needed more seasoning before getting a managerial job in the majors. He ran out of pitchers in an Arizona Fall League game this week, raising a red flag. You wonder if the Dodgers' reluctance to give Tim Wallach approval to interview in a place or two (at least Toronto) is related to their confidence in Wallach long-term, as well.
• Torii Hunter told Angels people he'd love for them to sign Carl Crawford. Hunter is said to believe the team needs to improve its table-setting abilities after losing Chone Figgins a year ago to free agency.
• Angels owner Arte Moreno is one of the best. But someone needs to explain why respected trainer Ned Bergert, who'd been there 30 years, was let go.
• Someone said Rangers president Nolan Ryan's first pitch for Game 3 was clocked at 68 mph. But Ryan, 63, told me he still believes that if he was given time to warm up, he could throw "somewhere in the 80s.'' I don't doubt it. Ryan once held the Guinness record for velocity at 100.9 mph, which he said was done with laser and is authentic. He said radar readings are inexact. The Reds' Aroldis Chapman is said to have hit 105 mph on radar, and Ryan's own Neftali Feliz has been over 100 mph himself.