Results tagged ‘ Colby Lewis ’
The Rangers looked horrible against the lowly Chicago Cubs last night. Former Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman made Texas batters look silly and only the woeful Cubs bullpen prevented the Rangers from being shut out for the game.
As terrible as the Rangers looked, I can forgive them this game. Originally, the Rangers were to have Monday off, so they scheduled one of their big charity benefits for Sunday evening after the afternoon game with the Red Sox. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, a game with the Cubs got rained out a couple of weeks ago and Monday was chosen as the make-up date. Late flight out of Texas, late arrival in Chicago, tired team overall. I get that.
Except for Nick Tepesch. The rookie pitcher wasn’t part of the benefit. Since he was the scheduled starter, he got a head start in going to the Windy City. He had a good night’s sleep. He took the hill and had his worst start of his young career. Tepesch gave up a 5-spot in the fourth inning, putting his team down 6-0 and the Rangers never recovered.
Rookie pitchers are going to take their lumps, even rookies like Tepesch, whose first three starts were outstanding. Now, though, he’s started getting knocked around his last couple of times out. Why is this important?
There’s a guy getting started on rehab right now in Arizona by the name of Colby Lewis. It may still be more than a month away, but Lewis will be returning soon. When he does, someone is going to have to go, and that someone will be either Tepesch or Justin Grimm. As much as you’d like to just write it off as one (or two) bad starts, if you’re a GM like Jon Daniels, you’re looking at every start a player makes. Add in that this a team with playoff aspirations and you’re faced with a real “win or go home” attitude. Tepesch needs to step it up in his next couple of starts or he’s got a date with AAA Round Rock in his future. His competition to continue in the Rangers’ rotation, Justin Grimm, now has a leg up, as he hasn’t gotten pummeled yet. If he continues to pitch well, there’s little Tepesch can do to change the decision.
There’s nothing that talk radio loves more than a good crisis. Sometimes they love it so much, they manufacture it.
I could be off base about this, but that’s the way I’m feeling about the reports out of the DFW area that Nolan Ryan may be ready to depart the Texas Rangers organization for good, possibly by the end of this month before the regular season begins.
Why the speculation? A few days ago, the Rangers announced they had promoted GM Jon Daniels to the combined post of GM and President of Baseball Operations. Meanwhile, Rick George was promoted to President of Business Operations. This leaves Ryan, who had been president of all operations as well as CEO, as “just” the CEO.
By the time Monday rolled around, Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said he had it on good authority from “many sources close to Nolan Ryan” that Nolan didn’t take his “demotion” well and was soon to leave the organization, possibly by month’s end.
Admittedly, the number of sources I have in the Texas Rangers organization numbers zero. My boss has a friend who knows Neftali Feliz, but that’s as few degrees of Kevin Bacon as I can get. Still, I can’t help feel Galloway is making much ado about nothing here. Nolan is 66 years old and was treated just a year or two ago for heart troubles. As Sigmund Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Why can’t this simply be a situation where Nolan wants to ease his way into a well-deserved retirement. Let the kids do the heavy lifting while still having some decision-making power and a share of the profits while remaining as the figurehead heart of the franchise.
I guess folks don’t feel it could be that simple because if it were, Nolan would have said something to that effect when the promotions for Daniels and George were announced. The head of the ownership group, Bob Simpson, told Galloway the promotions had nothing to do with trying to usher Nolan out the door and said he wanted Ryan to stay as long as he wanted to stay.
Maybe at the end of this month, I’ll have egg on my face when Ryan decides yes, he will leave the organization. If so, I’ll wish him well but I don’t think it will have any effect whatsoever on how the Rangers do business or work on constructing the team. JD’s already been doing that for a while now.
All this takes away from what is the more pressing news on the field. Rookie Martin Perez, already the frontrunner for the 5th starter in the rotation, was hit by a line drive on Sunday and broke the forearm of his pitching arm. He’ll be out a month before he can resume throwing and figure on another month before he’s ready for any kind of game action.
Immediately the speculation began that Texas has to go out and sign Kyle Lohse now. I still don’t see it happening. This is your #5 starter we’re talking about. Do the Rangers really want to give up a first round draft pick to sign a #5 starter whose main job is to keep the spot warm until Colby Lewis is ready to come back in May? Seems like a pretty steep price to pay.
I’m beginning to see how hard it is to put together a team. So far, the other candidates for the #5 spot in camp have been underwhelming. In addition, #4 starter Alexi Ogando has gotten off to a rocky start this spring as well. It isn’t exactly filling the fan base with optimism about the back-end of the rotation. Still, Lohse is a steep price to pay for what could only be a month and a half long situation.
That, however, is not my call. I guess it’s not Nolan Ryan’s call anymore either. It’s all up to the Rangers’ new GM/President of Baseball Operations now.
- Is Nolan Ryan Leaving the Texas Rangers? (knue.com)
Ballplayers get at least three months off between end of season and start of spring training. I took three and a half weeks off between blog posts. Am I rested? I don’t know. Am I in shape for the 2013 season? Absolutely not!
I vegged out over the past three and a half weeks. I thought about posting some thoughts but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I spent more time playing with my Christmas presents than I did looking into the minutia of Texas Rangers baseball.
Most common statement I’ve heard from non-Rangers brethren since the off-season began and, more specifically, since Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels: “Bet it’s going to be hard to watch the Rangers this year. They’re going backwards.”
I agree it seems the Rangers have gone backwards going into 2013. Gone are Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Ryan Dempster. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be any help until the second half of the season at the earliest. Coming on board? Joakim Soria, who’s also disabled until after the All-Star break. Lance Berkman, who was limited by injury to less than 100 at bats in 2012. New bullpen pieces in Jason Frasor and Josh Lindblom. A new catcher in AJ Pierzynski. Not exactly a group that’s going to make you forget Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Adams and Uehara, right?
And yet, and yet. I am possibly looking forward to 2013 as much as I looked forward to 2010, when I began this corner of the webiverse chronicling a team that, for the first time in a decade, was possibly going to contend for a title. That team exceeded my expectations and made it to the World Series. And while I harbor no illusions of the 2013 squad being in the Fall Classic, I won’t totally discount the possibility either.
I am looking forward to seeing what the infusion of youth does for this team. Whether the names Leonys Martin, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will become as well-known to baseball fans as Josh Hamilton and Michael Young were for the past few years. I can’t wait to see if Yu Darvish builds on a successful rookie campaign to become a bona fide ace. Whether Derek Holland can put a pedestrian 2012 behind him and progress to be at the very least an above average #3 starter. I want to see if new hitting coach Dave Magadan transforms Texas from a team of sluggers to hitters who work counts and put pressure on the pitcher. Will the Rangers running game improve and will baserunning coach Gary Pettis be able to effectively do his job from the third base coaches box instead of his usual first base box? Will Berkman stay healthy enough to impact the team? Is Nelson Cruz going to rebound from a so-so 2012 both offensively and defensively to be the presence he was in 2010 and 2011? Can the new bullpen pieces quickly coalesce into a unit that consistently delivers a lead to Joe Nathan in the 9th?
Most important of all, how will Ron Washington handle the youth movement? Wash took a lot of flak last year for staying with his veterans, especially Michael Young, while Olt and Profar languished on the bench in September. And if he gets all the young guys to perform at a high level and the Rangers continue to compete for a division title, will he finally get some consideration for Manager of the Year?
OK, so Texas didn’t get Zack Greinke. Or Justin Upton. Or Hamilton. Or Napoli. Or James Shields, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Travis D’Arnaud and J.P. Arencibia, all of whom Jon Daniels kicked the tires on during the off-season. Nor does it appear that Kyle Lohse or Michael Bourn are Arlington bound. Yet I’m excited about the 2013 season.
Pierzynski and Berkman aren’t sexy signings, but the two of them have something the rest of the team doesn’t have- a World Series champion ring. I bet that counts for something, including what impact their work ethic might have on Olt, Profar and Martin.
For sure, this is a team with flaws. Just 20 days from Spring Training and there’s no clue who will be the utility infielder or fifth outfielder. It’s anyone’s guess who will be in the bullpen besides Nathan and Frasor. The fifth starter for the rotation has yet to be determined and none of the names in contention are likely to strike fear in the average major league line-up.
What gets me excited is this. If Wash can keep this team in contention through the All-Star break, the second half will see Feliz and Soria returning to the pen and Colby Lewis to the starting rotation. That would make for an intriguing stretch run.
Too bad it’s still 20 days from pitchers and catchers reporting and 66 days til Opening Day at Houston.
The more things stay the same, the more they change.
Two consecutive World Series appearances. Three consecutive playoff appearances. Unparalleled success. Brought about by constant change.
Now comes word that there’s a possibility they will also be without Michael Young. Strong rumors have Young going to the Phillies in exchange for a relief pitcher and a prospect provided he waives his 10-5 no trade rights to allow the move.
To Young fans, he has long been known as the Face of the Texas Rangers franchise. To his detractors, he is derisively nicknamed, alternately, “Face” and “Leadership”.
Young had a 2012 not to remember, sinking to new lows in batting average, losing much of his extra base power. The SABR folks will tell you he had one of the worst WAR’s in the last 22 years. On the other hand, to a man his teammates talk about the value of Young’s leadership in the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington says Young basically runs the clubhouse for the team.
From a pure statistics standpoint, losing Young might not hurt the club substantially. The question is, will that team cohesiveness remain the same if and when he’s gone?
I’m ambivalent about the possibility of Young leaving. I get that his best years are behind him and that he’s a defensive liability, while at the same time suspecting 2012 was the same kind of anomaly Derek Jeter had a couple years ago before coming back with a vengeance.
I also am not one to discount the idea of leadership in a clubhouse. A team, like a business, is composed of lots of disparate elements. Management provides the vision and department heads implement it. Beyond that, we all know work organizations that just seem to run smoother because of a worker bee who sets a tone that others just seem to follow. I’m willing to bet Michael Young is one of those people.
At this writing, there’s no guarantee Josh Hamilton will return to the Rangers. The odds are against Mike Adams returning as well. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be able to help until the back half of 2013 at best. If none of the Rangers free agents return AND Young is traded, the question becomes: Do the Rangers have the offensive horses to win WITHOUT Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, even if they manage to score Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks?
The past two seasons, Texas has succeeded largely because the parts they lost from the previous year were mostly complementary pieces, replaced by better alternatives (Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Napoli, Adams, Uehara). In 2013, there are going to be key pieces replaced and only time will tell if those pieces are better, worse or about the same as those they replaced.
Diehard fan I might be, but I don’t think Greinke and Upton would be enough to offset the loss of Hamilton, Young and Napoli. Two of the three, maybe. But not all three.
The rebuilding of the Texas Rangers is about to begin. How much rebuilding will happen is anyone’s guess at this point.
The first salvo occurred Tuesday, when the Rangers decided not to pick up the options of Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama. Really no big surprises there. Tateyama, who pitched pretty effectively for Texas in 2011 (2-0, 4.50 ERA in 39 games) was a disaster in 2012 (1-0, 9.00 ERA in 14 games). Feldman, expected to fill the long relief/spot starter role, became a fulltime starting service after Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz were lost for the year with injuries and Roy Oswalt failed to do well as a starter. The biggest surprise of Feldman’s season is that his 6-11 record and 5.09 ERA was good enough to earn a 0.0 WAR. In other words, 6-11, 5.09 must be considered a replacement level starter. Wow.
The only potential minus here is if Feldman just needed longer to get over microfracture knee surgery in 2011 and posts a great 2013 for someone else. For all the good Jon Daniels has done as GM, this past season saw at least five Rangers cast-offs who performed credible jobs for their new teams: Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day for Baltimore, Cody Eppely and Clay Rapada for the Yankees. Constructing a pitching staff is so often a crap shoot, with many relievers having an awesome year, following up with two terrible seasons, then suddenly finding lightning again. Many teams’ fortunes rise and fall on these variables. If those castaways had been able to put together those seasons for the Rangers, it might have been a post-season difference maker.
So we know Feldman and Tateyama won’t return, unless they re-up with Texas at a major discount. The next step is the free agent process.
Josh Hamilton will get the league standard $13.3 million dollar offer to stay in Texas for another year. He will turn it down and if he signs elsewhere, Texas gets a supplemental draft pick. More unknown is whether the Rangers will make the same offer to catcher Mike Napoli. Because he had a down year, Naps could accept a $13.3 million offer for another year, hoping to turn it around in 2013 and get even bigger bucks and a multi-year deal a year from now. If no offer is received, then we’ll know Texas has committed to totally overhauling the catching.
The Blue Jays are stockpiling catchers, having picked up Yorvit Torrealba after Texas let him go and, just last week, inking Bobby Wilson after his release by the Angels. Since they already had two well-regarded home-grown catchers, it’s a good bet the Blue Jays will deal some of their catching in the off-season. The Rangers have expressed interest in both J.P. Arencibia and Travis D’Arnaud.
Other Rangers getting ready to test the free agent waters include Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, Mark Lowe, Roy Oswalt and Ryan Dempster. Of that group, Oswalt is most certainly gone. Since Adams’ year ended prematurely to injury, the hope is he’ll be willing to sign again with Texas, as he might not now command the dollars he could have. I’d love to see them resign Uehara as well. Down the stretch, he was one of Texas’ most effective pitchers. Texas will allow Lowe to leave and I doubt there’s much interest in getting Dempster to come back, though that could depend on other factors.
If Texas lets both Hamilton and Napoli walk, we could be seeing a pretty big revamping of the offense. There’s a lot of power that would need replacing. That’s why, with Hamilton likely to go elsewhere, I think Texas will do what they can to at least keep Napoli.
I expect Texas to go hard after Zack Greinke in the free agent market, while the Angels will go all out to try to keep his services. If Greinke doesn’t materialize, Texas could pursue a trade with Tampa Bay for David Price.
Another reason to re-sign Napoli: to keep him for a first base platoon with Mitch Moreland. Moreland can hit the ball a long way and is an adequate defender, but at best is a streaky hitter with hot spells that don’t last long enough to off-set the cold snaps. And that’s just against right handed pitchers. Against lefties, Moreland is cold and colder.
There are several directions the Rangers could go this off-season. What’s definite is they’ll make more moves between now and Spring Training than they did the past two years combined. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.
GOLD GLOVE AWARDS: For the second straight year, Adrian Beltre nabbed the AL Gold Glove Award for his defensive play at third base. The other two Rangers up for Gold Gloves, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus, didn’t receive the honor. Beltre was an easy choice. That’s easy to say, but judging by the actual award winners, it’s hard to back up. On the one hand, sometimes they give the award to people just because they committed so few errors, despite not having the range of other players at the position. Case in point: JJ Hardy of the Orioles. While I love Elvis, the winner probably should have been Brendan Ryan of the Mariners, who had range and only nine errors. On the other hand, some players win because of past reputation alone. Case in point: Adam Jones of the Orioles, who’s won the award before but had six errors in the field this year, a high number for an outfielder. In other words, there’s no set criteria for winning Gold Gloves. That’s why I’m happy Beltre won. With no set criteria, there was no guarantee he would.
Sure, it’s easy to say the Texas Rangers are in the playoffs as a Wild Card, so the term “collapse” doesn’t really apply. The playoffs don’t matter in this case. All the playoffs do is make the Rangers 4-9 finish and ceding the AL West title to Oakland seem not as bad as the collapse of the Red Sox a year ago.
Honestly, it’s worse than the Red Sox. My last post mentioned the A’s were 13 games behind Texas on June 30th. This makes the Rangers downfall the third largest lead ever given up to a team in baseball history.
On the other hand, one has to hand it to the Oakland A’s. I had them picked as my worst team in the AL at season’s start. Think about this. For the early part of the season, their best starting pitcher was Bartolo Colon. He got suspended for PED use. As soon as he was suspended, here was Brett Anderson coming back. He pitched brilliantly before an oblique strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. Brandon McCarthy, the overall ace of the staff, was literally knocked out of the season by a line drive to the head. This was a good starting pitching staff that was getting decimated and every time, someone else just came in and took someone’s place and pitched just as well. Contrast this to Texas, who lost Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to injury for the season. As replacements, the Rangers tried Roy Oswalt. Then Scott Feldman. They acquired Ryan Dempster. Rookies Martin Perez and Justin Grimm were given brief shots. None of them panned out the way the Rangers hoped. Every one of the A’s did work out. Kudos to Oakland and their coaching staff.
Oakland’s offense outperformed the vaunted Rangers offense throughout the second half of the season. Look at the overall offensive stats and almost everything indicates the Rangers had the superior offensive team. Here’s where statistics can lie to you, though. Texas led the American League in most innings scoring five runs or more. They’d also follow-up these monster games with spans where the offense would flat-out disappear for three and four game stretches. It was a testament to the most consistent starters, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, that the Rangers avoided long losing streaks during these offensive swoons (their longest streak was 5).
Once the Rangers season is officially over, which could very well be Friday night, this space will list the “whys” in order of importance. For now, a hearty congratulations to the Oakland A’s for their accomplishment, for it wasn’t entirely a collapse to end the Rangers regular season. The A’s didn’t back in because of the Rangers. They drove straight in by their own right. They earned the title.
Texas will host the Baltimore Orioles Friday night for the right to play a 5-game set with the New York Yankees. The Rangers will be the favorite Friday, playing at home with Yu Darvish on the mound. But if anything has been proven over the last two weeks of the regular season, it’s that favorites don’t always come out on top, much as you might want them to.
- The Rangers lose the AL West to the Athletics – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Darvish to start Rangers’ playoff opener (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
One could find so many nasty things to say about the Texas Rangers, Ron Washington, Elvis Andrus and countless others associated with Sunday’s giveaway loss to the Kansas City Royals. The Rangers, though, took two of three from the Royals and gained a game on both the Angels and the A’s in the process, so Sunday’s game notwithstanding, it seems appropriate to say nice things about the team that once again has the best record in the American League.
Just six weeks ago, Rangers fandom, this writer included, was ready to jettison Scott Feldman to the Mars mission scheduled to land tonight. On June 4th, Feldman stood at 0-4 on the season. After finishing his fourth start as Neftali Feliz‘ replacement in the rotation, Scooter had an ERA of 7.01. While the ERA would improve over the next two starts, he still stood at 0-6, 6.50 on June 14th, a mere six weeks ago. What has transpired since then has been nothing short of amazing.
Over the next three starts, Feldman won two games and got one no decision. They weren’t lights out starts, but they did lower his ERA from 6.50 down to 6.11 on July 4th. At this point, it appeared Feldman would be returning to his original role of long relief, as Colby Lewis was coming off the DL and Roy Oswalt was now on board. Feldman expressed his displeasure at being pulled in one direction and then another, once again earning him little favor from the fans. He picked up his third win with two innings of relief in an extra inning win over the Twins. When Lewis’ season ended, Feldman was back in the rotation. Since then, he has been the Rangers steadiest starting pitcher. Over his past three starts, he’s allowed only three runs over 22.2 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.52. The three wins he’s earned in that span has brought him all the way back to 6-6 after an 0-6 start.
Feldman isn’t going to strike out a lot of people. He pitches to contact and when his cutter and sinker are working, the contact is usually poor. It was that talent that led him to a staff-leading 17 wins in 2009 and earned him the Opening Day spot for the 2010 season.
2010 wasn’t kind to Feldman. He struggled early and never got back on track. His season ended early and he underwent microfracture surgery on his knee, one of the first in baseball to undergo the procedure. He got a ring for being a member of the 2010 World series team, but he really didn’t contribute a lot: a 7-11 record with a 5.48 ERA. This didn’t gain him many friends in the fan base, considering he had signed a contract worth $8 million a year following his 17-win campaign.
He continued to alienate folks in 2011. He started the season in the minors, working his way back in shape from the surgery. At one point, disabled list rules called for the Rangers to call him back up unless Feldman agreed to continue his minor league rehab. Scooter refused. The Rangers were forced to bring him back up. He was used sparingly by the Rangers the rest of the year. In fact, he was with the club for almost two weeks before he was even called on to make a game appearance. By season’s end, he had appeared in just 11 games including two spot starts to give Alexi Ogando a rest. Feldman did pitch himself into at least decent graces again with the coaching staff and appeared in nine post-season games for Texas, including five games in the 2011 World Series.
Feldman began 2012 as the team’s long reliever. He made one spot start in April in which he lasted only 3.1 innings. Fans were willing to forgive him at first for a couple shaky starts. When he gave up eight runs in less than two innings of work against the A’s June 4th, that’s when the “Dump Feldman” griping came in earnest. Scooter persevered. Now he’s the Rangers most consistent starter. Good job Scott.
Meanwhile, the Mike Olt era began on Thursday when the heralded rookie was recalled from AA Frisco. Olt has now appeared in three games. On the negative side, Olt committed the game-ending error Sunday against the Royals. Everything else on his ledger has been positive. A noted power hitter, Olt has yet to get an extra base hit. He has, however, done exactly what Ron Washington preaches: he does what the game asks him to do. That’s why, after three games, Olt has just two singles in seven at bats. He also has three walks. He also has two sacrifice flies. He also has 3 RBI in three games, hitting in the 8 and 9 hole. He’s shown patience at the plate. He shortens up his swing once the count gets to two strikes. He’s made a lot of fans in just a short period of time. If he keeps it up for another couple of weeks, Olt might never see a minor league game again, unless it’s on a rehab assignment.
I still worry about this team’s post-season chances in 2012. Scott Feldman and Mike Olt are not a part of those worries.
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.
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.
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.