It took until seconds before the trade deadline for the first tweet to appear. Three minutes after MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden tweeted he was waiting on confirmation that Ryan Dempster had indeed been traded to the Yankees, the Rangers shut Bowden up by grabbing Dempster in exchange for two Class-A players: pitcher Kyle Hendricks and 3rd baseman Cristian Villanueva.
Dempster was supposed to start tonight for the Cubs. He will NOT be starting tonight for the Rangers. It’s Derek Holland‘s job to face Jered Weaver tonight. No word on whether Dempster will be thrown against the Angels Wednesday or Thursday or be held out until the Royals series starts on Friday.
It was the second trade with the Cubs in less than 24 hours. From what I understand, Geovany Soto had pretty much been a personal catcher for Dempster, so there will be a great sense of familiarity between the two of them when Dempster finally makes his first start. On the other hand, neither one of them are familiar enough with the American League batters, so maybe it would make more sense for Napoli to handle Dempster at first.
Villanueva was one of the Rangers’ better prospects, a third baseman with power potential. The problem is, the Rangers already have one of those with Adrian Beltre and another on the way with Mike Olt, as well as an 18-year-old rookie, Joey Gallo, playing in the Arizona League right now and threatening to break that league’s single season home run record. Villanueva, though good, was expendable.
I don’t know as much about Hendricks beyond the fact he isn’t rated as highly as Villanueva on the Prospects charts. I read that his stuff isn’t overpowering, but he has a good feel for the art of pitching, so there’s that.
Texas didn’t get the ace they were looking for, but they did get two established major leaguers at a cost of three minor leaguers who have talent but maybe not enough to bulldoze their way into the Rangers’ long-term plans. I wish them all well with the Cubs.
Now the real questions begin for Rangers fans. With the arrival of Dempster, who gets dropped from the starting rotation? Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland? Absolutely not,. So it comes down to a choice between Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has the career track record. Feldman has been the much better pitcher over the past three weeks. And if you drop Oswalt from the rotation, what does that say about the $5 million Texas invested into bringing him there. On the other hand, Feldman is making a pretty penny this year as well ($6.5 million).
I keep hearing Oswalt is steadfast in not wanting to be a bullpen piece. Feldman has been both a long reliever and a starter this season. In the end, I think Feldman deserves the starting position, but I think Oswalt is the one who keeps his spot, even though he’s been shelled hard, particularly last night against the Angels.
I’m sure that question will be answered within an hour of my posting this. Whoever loses their spot in the rotation, though, is going to be publicly upset.
Last minute addendum: Rangers just announced Neftali Feliz needs Tommy John surgery. No Feliz in 2012 or 2013. Good luck, Nefti!
For two weeks, Rangers fans have been expecting something BIG. For two weeks, the media has been expecting something BIG.
Of course, the Rangers front office doesn’t listen to the fans and the media, at least not in the trade speculation department. Nope, they go out and do what they do and think strictly about making the team better.
So in the midst of every Rangers fan saying, besides a top of the rotation pitcher, that Texas needs help on offense, Jon Daniels went out and got a new catcher who was hitting for a lower batting average than the one they designated for assignment. Needless to say, there was a bit of head-scratching going on there.
Following the Rangers 15-8 thumping at the hands of the Angels, Texas announced they had reached an agreement on a trade to bring Geovany Soto over from the Cubs in exchange for AA pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named later or cash. Meanwhile, the Rangers designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment, giving them ten days to trade him or release him.
At first glance it was a head-scratcher. Sure, Torrealba is batting in the low .220’s, but Soto is at .195 for the year. As much as the offense has scuffed and sputtered the month of July, where does it make sense to trade for a guy hitting under the Mendoza line?
Here’s the deal, though. Soto has more extra base power in his bat. Since there’s not that much difference between .195 and .220, you might as well get some pop out of the hits. The front office, though, wasn’t even thinking about the offensive numbers. What they saw was a catcher who’s better defensively than Torrealba, one who will throw out more runners trying to steal and one who will allow fewer passed balls.
While Torrealba was being praised earlier this season for improving his game-calling, he was proving woefully weak throwing out runners and was even tagged as too nonchalant in going for pitches in the dirt, resulting in passed balls.
It could be this is the only move the Rangers make before the deadline. It won’t be from lack of trying. If they fail to land that big pitcher they’ve reportedly been coveting, it’ll be because Jon Daniels is a victim of his own success. So much has been made of the deal Daniels made with the Braves years ago that resulted in Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz that every team is looking to make that kind of haul for their star players. Daniels, though, is unwilling to part with Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt or Martin Perez to get that TORP. I happen to agree with him. Much as I want Texas to get that Championship on the third try this year, it can’t be at a price that could weaken Texas in the long run.
After 3 PM Central Time today, the only deals that can be made involve putting players on revocable waivers. If another team claims them, you can either withdraw the waivers or make a deal. As much as it might have been sacrilege to say it over the past five years, I’m going to offer a bold thought that I could see happening after today. What if the Rangers made Michael Young available through the revocable waiver process? Young is having his worst career year ever and the saber crowd of Rangers fans has been yelling for his departure. If someone claims Young, they work out a deal that includes pitching. Meanwhile, the Rangers bring Olt and his power bat up from AA for the stretch.
Trading Young outright before the deadline today would probably rile the non-saber fan base too much. Make it a waiver deal, when most fans understand a lot of roster people are put on revocable waivers every year and it might make it more palatable to the base.
Hey, it may never happen, but it would be a bold move on the part of the front office. At the same time, I’m bracing myself for possibility that Geovany Soto is going to be the only “big” move this year.
With two outs in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the White Sox and runners on first and second, Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot that gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead in a game they would eventually lose 9-5. The Cruz missile was a significant moment in the weekend, although we did not know it at the time.
Since then, the Rangers have managed not a single hit with runners in scoring position. The official tally is now at 0-29 and counting. It’s a miracle that 1) the Rangers have scored 5 runs in that time; and 2) that they actually managed to win Sunday night’s game.
What has become a putrid offense in the month of July scored their last five runs on a solo home run, an error, and three groundouts. So many chance, almost all of them wasted. Friday night, Texas had the bases loaded and one out. Couldn’t convert. Twice on Saturday, they had a runner on third with one out and once a runner on third with nobody out. Couldn’t get a hit. Sunday, the Rangers loaded the bases in both the first and second innings and couldn’t get a runner home. They also had a runner on third with one out twice and a runner on third with two outs once. Two of those three times, they got a run home but not via a hit.
It’s that type of offensive ineptitude that allowed the White Sox to take two of three from the Rangers and win the season series, 6 games to 3. If not for the sparkling work of Scott Feldman on the mound Sunday, it’s conceivable the White Sox could have swept the Rangers for the second straight time. Feldman had what was perhaps the best game he’s ever had in a Rangers uniform, going eight innings on only 88 pitches, striking out five and walking no one in picking up his fifth straight victory after losing his first six decisions of the year. Better yet, the Angels lost two of three to the Rays, so they gained no ground on the Rangers. In fact, the Angels dropped to third after the A’s took two of three from Baltimore, so now it is Oakland in second place at 4 1/2 games behind.
Still, this Rangers fan is getting very pessimistic despite the fact my team still has the second best record in the American League. This month, the Rangers offense stands at a .242 batting average with 71 runs scored, worst in the AL by a whopping 21 runs! The vaunted offense has only hit 18 July home runs, less than anyone except the Mariners who have also hit 18. The only reason they’re even 9-12 this month is because the pitching staff is 5th in ERA for July and has thrown two shutouts.
Rehabbing Neftali Feliz was pulled from his Sunday start with Round Rock when his elbow started acting up again. He joins Colby Lewis on the list of Rangers pitchers who will not be available the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the Angels made the big move of the weekend, picking up Zack Greinke from the Brewers. He will provide a big boost to their starting pitching. The good news is he pitched Sunday against the Rays (and lost!), so Texas will not have to face him in this week’s big 4-game set at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At best, Texas will only see Greinke twice in the regular season.
It’s beginning to look doubtful the Rangers will pick up an impact starting pitcher by the trade deadline tomorrow. Latest rumors have Texas working on stretching out Alexi Ogando to be a starter again and looking at the relief market. The way the offense has been going lately, I still think it would behoove the Rangers to find a bat to help them in the stretch run. Josh Hamilton has been so bad of late that he was benched on Saturday after being booed by the home fans following another one of his gruesome at-bats Friday. Sunday he amazed one and all by not only not striking out, but taking some pitches and walking twice. He also was moved from third to fifth in the line-up.
No, things haven’t been looking so good in Rangers Land as of late. Still, I take comfort in this. Texas mostly stood pat to start the 2012 season. The Angels spent a small fortune to get Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Mike Trout came up and is having an MVP-like season. Now they’ve gone and gotten Greinke. Still, here it is July 29th and the Rangers are up 5 on the Angels. A year ago at this time, they were up only 2 on LA. Maybe it’s being done with smoke and mirrors, but my boys are still getting the job done. I’m not guaranteeing Texas will retain the AL West crown, particularly in light of the way they’ve been playing lately. But I can’t say I’m betting against them either.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball.
Rangers Record: 3-3
Overall: 59-41 (1st Place AL West) (+4.5)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): David Murphy .438/.471/.688
Ian Kinsler .316/.458/.368 4 Stolen Bases
Raspa Cold (Offense): Josh Hamilton .063/.190/.125 6 K’s in 16 AB’s
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Scott Feldman 2-0 0.60 ERA 0 BB 10 K in 15 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Alexi Ogando 7.36 ERA
Big 4-game series with the Angels starting tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, followed by a 3-game set at Kansas City. In addition, the trade deadline is Tuesday. Will Texas add to their pitching staff? Will a bat be added to what lately has been an anemic offense? Or will the Rangers settle for the hand they’ve been dealt? The next few days will be among the most interesting of the 2012 season. Following the game Thursday, Rangers lead over the Angels will be 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 games.
Which is bigger for the Rangers this weekend, the home series with the White Sox or the imminent trade deadline?
If you’re actually playing for the Rangers, the answer is, you worry about the White Sox and as for the trade deadline, que sera sera. It’s especially true this weekend, seeing as the Sox swept three from Texas at Chicago just a couple of weeks ago. This weekend represents not only payback time, but also the opportunity to send a message to a playoff contender that the road to the World Series still goes through Arlington.
Tonight’s pitching match-up is one I’d love to see: Yu Darvish vs. Chris Sale, both starters with 11 wins on the season. Sadly, viewing is not an option, as the Friday night games are only broadcast live in the Dallas Metroplex, from which I’m far removed. So I imagine I’ll be constantly checking my MLB app whilst the wife and I watch the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics. Still, the Darvish-Sale match-up is sure to set the tone for the entire weekend of Rangers baseball. Matt Harrison and Roy Oswalt will get the other two starts in the series.
Meanwhile, the trade deadline has gone into double-digit hours away now, with Texas being linked to: Zack Greinke, Josh Johnson, James Shields, Justin Upton, Shin Soo Choo, Cliff Lee and probably the ghost of Babe Ruth as well. Just a few days ago, I opined the Rangers would not be looking for a starting pitcher this year and upgrading the offense would be the priority. A day later, Colby Lewis was lost for the season, throwing everything in disarray. That makes every quality starting pitcher a target for Texas, with Greinke being the crown jewel in the wish column.
Last year the Rangers were relatively quiet at the deadline, with only two relief pitchers being acquired in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. Two years ago, Texas managed to get Bengie Molina and Cliff Lee before the deadline and still added Jorge Cantu, Cristian Guzman and Jeff Francoeur in waiver deals after the deadline. There’s not a pundit around who doesn’t think the Rangers are going to make a big deal before the Tuesday deadline. I think they will too, but I also know Jon Daniels could scotch a deal if he feels the asking price is too high.
In the meantime, it’s three with the White Sox this weekend and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the priority.
The last time I delved into the Texas Rangers’ pre-Texas history as the Washington Senators, I focused on Darold Knowles incredible 2-14 season of 1970. Today we’ll go back all the way to the first season of the Washington Senators, 1961.
To do that, we need to go back a few more months to 1960, when the first MLB expansion draft took place on December 14th. The California Angels and Washington Senators were the first expansion teams in MLB history and they took turns drafting players from the other AL teams’ 40-man rosters. With one of the last picks, the Senators at #54 nabbed Dick Donovan from the Chicago White Sox.
Donovan had been a starter for the first five of his six years in Chicago, winning as many as 16 games for the Chisox in 1957. Despite pitching for the White Sox in the 1959 World Series, by 1960 Donovan’s luck had run out. In April and May of ’60, Donovan made six starts, never going longer than 6 2/3 innings and only once having what is considered today as a quality start. Once he failed to make it out of the first. Another time he only made it through two innings. After seven starts in which he miraculously managed five no decisions and a 1-1 record, Donovan was banished to the bullpen. As a starter in ’59, Donovan was 1-1 with a 6.61 ERA. He was better as a reliever, going 5-0 with three saves and a 4.50 ERA. Still, these were numbers that showed Donovan was totally expendable.
With a chance to get his career back on track, Donovan drew the honor of being the first starting pitcher in the new Washington Senators’ history. While he lost the game, Donovan showed signs of things to come, throwing a 99-pitch complete game against his old team, allowing six hits and four runs, only two of which were earned. He followed that up six days later with eight strong innings against the Indians in another loss. By the end of April, Donovan was 0-4, but had a sparkling 2.67 ERA, a good indication of how offensively challenged the ’61 Senators were.
Donovan apparantly went on the disabled list following his last April start, as he didn’t appear again for three weeks and made only two appearances in the month, the first being his only relief stint of the year.
June was a sign that Donovan was doing a good job of resurrecting his career. He earned wins in each of his first three starts in June, including a 10-inning, 6-hit shutout of, guess who, his former team the White Sox. At month’s end, Donovan stood at 3-8 albeit with a still sparkling 3.09 ERA.
If June was a sign, July was the proof Dick Donovan was back. In four July starts, Donovan was 4-0 and gave up only three earned runs in 36 innings. All of his July starts were complete games, including his second shutout of the season, a 4-hitter against the Orioles. With a 7-8 record and an ERA now at 2.39, Donovan was the Senators first representative in the All-Star game. Two All-Star games were played in 1961. Donovan appeared in the first one, pitching two scoreless innings for the AL squad.
Donovan’s August began the same way July went. He won his fifth and sixth consecutive starts on his fifth and sixth consecutive complete games to move to 9-8 on the season for the expansion team. Following an August 29th start against the Indians, Donovan apparently went on the DL for a second time, as he didn’t appear in a game again until September 24th. He closed out the season with a complete game win over the Twins, who had been the old Senators just the year before, and a loss to fellow expansionists the California Angels.
At season’s end, Dick Donovan had brought his career back to relevance. He actually received MVP votes, finishing 17th in the balloting. He also accomplished what no pitcher for an expansion team has ever done since: he won the American League’s ERA crown, finishing with a 2.40 ERA. While the stat wasn’t even known then, Donovan also led the league in WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched) at 1.026.
Here’s something even more remarkable. Donovan pitched 168 2/3 innings for the Senators and only struck out 62 batters, an average of only 3.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Sadly, after re-establishing his career, Donovan would pitch for the Senators no more. During the off-season, Washington shipped him off to Cleveland in exchange for Jimmy Piersall. Donovan would be a 20-game winner for the Tribe in 1962, while Piersall would only contribute a .244 average and 4 home runs in 515 at bats.
If one were to deeply peruse what transpired in Arlington Tuesday night, one would presume the Rangers won the game against the Red Sox. One would be wrong.
The Bosox gave the Rangers opportunity after opportunity and the Texans refused to take each and every one of them. For five consecutive innings, the Rangers had runners in scoring position. Only once were they able to plate the run and even that was on a groundout. Texas was 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Rangers worked counts againmst Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who only threw 54% of his pitches for strikes, yet all they could manage was four hits and three walks against him.
Topping off a miserable night, with the go-ahead run at third base in the eighth inning, former Ranger Vicente Padilla nailed Adrian Beltre with a fast ball to the helment that took Beltre out of the game. While no one has ventured forth an opinion that the pitch from the noted headhunter was anything other than a mistake, it added insult to injury when the Sox scored the winning run in the top of the 9th, handing the win to Padilla.
Yes, it was a miserable night all around, except for the performance of rookie pitcher Martin Perez. Called up for a spot start in place of Colby Lewis, who’s now out for the season with torn ligaments in his throwing arm, the lefty wasn’t dominating but, like Buchholz, was tough when he needed to be. Perez went six innings, allowing five hits, two walks and only a single run.
Just one night earlier, the Rangers broke a long spell of listless baseball with a 9-1 thumping of Boston that had them actually resembling the team that has captured the last two AL Championships. Last night they were back to their old ways.
The only good news to come out of the night was an Angels loss to the Royals, one which actuallt catapulted Oakland into second place in the West. But that only gives Texas one more team to worry about.
“I do not like this, Sam I Am…” Dr. Seuss
We Rangers fans have been spoiled the past two years. Two trips to the World Series, long winning streaks, explosive offense.
If you haven’t been watching my favorite team, all you know is they hold a 5-game lead over the Angels as we near the last two months of the season. This lead has been as little as two and a half games and as much as seven games over the second place team. Texas has not seen anything except first place for all but one day of the season and that was when the season was only a couple of games old. So all is good in Texas Rangers land, right?
That’s where we Rangers fans say, “No Sir!” and we’d be right. The way the month of July has gone, the Rangers can consider themselves very lucky to still have a five game lead in the AL West, because it seems to be accomplished through smoke and mirrors.
It looked like the old explosive offense was there when the Rangers erupted for five home runs in Saturday’s 9-2 pasting of the Angels. It was the baloney in the sandwich that was Friday and Sunday night’s losses, where the offense was as predictable as it has been all month. In other words, almost non-existent. It made one think Saturday wasn’t really a case of the Rangers offense being that good, it was more a case of Angels starter Ervin Santana being that bad.
Here’s what’s really bad. Josh Hamilton came to the plate in the 9th inning Sunday night with two runners on. A home run would tie the game up. Just what Rangers fans want, right? Wrong! Hamilton was the LAST person I wanted to see up in that situation and he did just what fans have come to expect: he struck out swinging.
Here’s what’s not happening offensively for the Rangers in 2012. Michael Young is having easily career-worst numbers, hitting just .271 with only 38 RBI and a .648 OPS, just 20 extra base hits from the Rangers #5 hitter. Ian Kinsler has hit just .229 since June 29th without a stolen base. Mike Napoli, his 2 home runs Saturday night notwithstanding, is at .233 for the year, with his hot weekend (5 hits vs. the Angels) bringing his average up to .203 since June 17th. Nelson Cruz has arguably been better, but is still hitting just .259 since June 24th. His Sunday home run was his first since June 23rd. And then there’s Josh Hamilton. The American League Player of the Month for both April and May has this stat line for the months of June and July: .201 BA, .686 OPS and 51 strikeouts in 149 at bats.
There is not a Rangers fan alive who isn’t concerned about Hamilton’s bat. The Dallas Morning News has said Hamilton has looked bored in the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington, who rarely says anything negative about his veterans, openly questioned Hamilton’s approach at the plate. Josh is swinging at virtually everything, no matter the location, and has struck out on balls so low and away even pitchers with a bat in their hand would lay off them.
Add to this the word that Monday night’s starter, Roy Oswalt, will miss his start due to back pain. This is the same Oswalt who hinted at retirement last year because of his back, and the same Oswalt who’s had all of five starts for the Rangers, with extended time off before his last start due to the All-Star break. He will be replaced tonight by Scott Feldman. But wait, folks there’s more!
Colby Lewis, who just came off the disabled list on Tuesday, pitched one game and has now returned to the DL with tendonitis in his pitching forearm. He’ll be replaced by rookie Martin Perez.
The Rangers have the second best record in the American League. By the stats, they are the league’s best hitting offense at .277. But it’s only 11th best in the AL for the month of July with no real signs of improvement on the horizon.
If there is a positive to take out of all this, I can’t understand why more people can’t give Rangers manager Ron Washington more credit. I know he doesn’t have a good reputation as an in-game manager, but think about this. In 2010, he brought his team to its first World Series despite five combined DL trips for Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, along with Hamilton missing a month at the end of the season. In 2011, Cruz had two more DL stints, Hamilton missed a month in April and May and Adrian Beltre missed a month in August and September. And here in 2o12, the Rangers have had significant time missed by Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Koji Uehara, Mark Lowe, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland, Beltre has had a gimpy hamstring most of the season, and the offense, as spelled out in great length here, has sputtered for the better part of two months now. Over the past three seasons, Texas has had significant missed time from key members of the team. Yet here Texas is once again, with the second best record in the AL. This team plays hard, no matter how many pieces are missing, and the manager deserves credit for that.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the week and a half since the All-Star Break.
Rangers Record: 4-4
Overall: 56-38 (1st Place AL West) (+5)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Elvis Andrus .323/.371/.484 5 Runs Scored
Adrian Beltre 7 RBI in 8 Games
Raspa Cold (Offense): Josh Hamilton .156/.176/.250 14 K’s in 32 AB’s
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Roy Oswalt 1-0, 1.42 ERA 0.47 WHIP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Alexi Ogando 9.00 ERA .357 BAA 2.33 WHIP
Crucial week ahead as the trade deadline approaches. Rangers return home to face the Red Sox and White Sox. Angels are at home all week as well, facing the Royals and the Rays. The hot A’s are on the road at Toronto and Baltimore. The Royals have given the Angels fits the past two years. If they can do it again, there’ a chance at keeping the lead at 5. If not, they could pick up another game on the Rangers heading into next week’s 4-game showdown in Arlington.
You’ve all heard about “Moneyball.” Most of you have seen the movie. Many of you have also read the original book the movie was based on. I can say with all sincerity that as far as the Rangers are concerned, “Moneyball” is working once again for the Oakland A’s and Billy Beane.
For the few who aren’t aware of the premise behind “Moneyball,” it is that Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane was one of the earliest GM’s to take advantage of advanced metrics in building his baseball team. Operating under a small-market budget, Beane’s A’s were perennial contenders but couldn’t afford to keep all of their home-grown stars. How, then, to remain competitive?
In Beane’s case it meant looking for undervalued commodities. Back then, Beane looked for players with great on-base percentages. In other years it could be other stats that are being undervalued, like FIP for pitchers or Runs Created for batters.
I can now say with certainty what Billy Beane’s coup for 2012 was. Thus far, the A’s have managed a very decent 6-6 record against the Rangers. Overall, the A’s are a surprising four games over .500. Most of it can be directly attributed to Beane’s picking the most undervalued asset of all, one nobody but Beane could have thought of. The undervalued asset? Guys named Brandon.
In 2012, the A’s have carried five players named Brandon on their roster. Brandon Inge. Brandon Moss. Brandon Hicks. Brandon McCarthy. Brandon Allen. Except for Allen, all the Brandons have been instrumental in Oakland wins over Texas. Brandon McCarthy has one win against the Rangers and pitched well in a no decision as well. Brandon Inge has two home runs and 7 RBI against the Rangers for the A’s. Brandon Moss has only four hits against the Rangers in six games, but two of them are solo home runs, one of them the icing on the cake of a 3-1 win over Yu Darvish. Lastly, Brandon Hicks’ first major league home run came on Wednesday. It was a walk-off shot to give the A’s a 4-3 win over Texas.
Remember this, saberists. It’s not always statistics that show you undervalued players. Sometimes it’s all in a name. Billy Beane, you are one smart dude.