Results tagged ‘ Mike Adams ’

What If Hamilton, Napoli Et Al Were Still Rangers?

I’ll start this out by saying what I’ve said in these pages many a time before: I’m NOT a major proponent of WAR. I understand the concept of it, I just don’t totally agree with it because of the subjectivity of the defensive metrics. I don’t “speak” sabermetrics, but a great sabermetric argument for the way I feel was published today, as a free article, on Baseball Prospectus.

A way I can use WAR, though, would be as a comparison tool that doesn’t involve delving into a lot of different stats. I thought it would be interesting to see, at the 1/4 point of the season, how the Texas Rangers might look, record-wise, had they decided to keep everyone from last year’s Rangers team, instead of adding the pieces they added. To do that, I examined the respective WAR of the departed Rangers to their counterparts from this year’s team.

For this study, I’m using essentially the Texas Rangers team that essentially comprised the Rangers following the July 31st trading deadline.

Here’s how the former Rangers are faring so far in 2013, based on bWAR (via Baseball Reference.com):

Rangers primary logo

Mike Adams (Philadelphia) 0.4

Ryan Dempster (Boston) 0.5

Scott Feldman (Chicago Cubs) 0.8

Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels) -0.6

Mark Lowe (Los Angeles Angels) -0.3

Mike Napoli (Boston) 1.0

Koji Uehara (Boston) 0.5

Michael Young (Philadelphia) 0.3

Roy Oswalt, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar have not logged any major league time yet in 2013.

Total: 2.9

Now let’s look at this year’s Texas Rangers counterparts:

Texas Rangers logo

Jeff Baker 0.7

Lance Berkman 0.6

Jason Frasor 0.0

Leury Garcia 0.1

Derek Lowe 0.0

Leonys Martin 0.7

Joe Ortiz 0.0

A.J. Pierzynski 0.6

Nick Tepesch 0.0

Total: 2.7

The two biggest things that jump out at me: Leonys Martin‘s defense (the subjective part) has led to a much higher WAR figure than I thought, while, of the former Rangers, Ryan Dempster and Scott Feldman have both far exceeded what I most Rangers fans would have expected of them. Overall, the former Rangers out-WAR the current Rangers, but only by .2. If you’d like to extrapolate that to an actual record, WAR suggests the Rangers would be just where they are, at 24-14 or maybe one game better at 25-13, had they just stood pat with last year’s team. Of course, they’d have that record for a significantly higher payroll than they currently have, which would be a discussion for another day.

Reconstruction

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.

The King Is Dead. Long Live The King!

A day later, that’s what it feels like. One reign is over, but now it’s time to pay honor to the new one that takes its place.

After a magnificent three-year run that no other stretch in over 40 years of fanhood even came close to, the end came as more of a thud than a gradual tapering off process. By failing to win more than four games of their last 14 or even one game of their last four, my Texas Rangers no longer have an ALDS playoff match-up to look forward to. No best of five showdown with the Yankees. No shot at finally achieving the ultimate prize that had eluded them in the previous two seasons.

An era has come to an end.

Make no mistake, this probably is the end of this cycle of Rangers vying for the ultimate prize. To be sure, they are far too talented to stumble to a losing record a year from now. There’s plenty of talent in place, more in the pipeline coming up and plenty of money to spend. But will the World Championship window be open a year from now? I tend to doubt it.

English: photo of Josh Hamilton playing.

Is the Josh Hamilton era over in Texas?. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a list of free agents to be from this year’s Rangers team: Ryan Dempster. Roy Oswalt. Mike Adams. Koji Uehara. Mark Lowe. Oh and two guys by the name of Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton.

Some speculate there is a very real chance the longest-serving Ranger, Michael Young, could be traded or released in the off-season. It’s even more likely Scott Feldman suffers the same fate.

Because of the ignominious way the season ended, there could be turnover on the management side as well. While I think Ron Washington‘s job is safe, it wouldn’t surprise me to see hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh take the fall for the Rangers late-season offensive woes. Baserunning/first base coach Gary Pettis could become a casualty, as the Texas running game became a shell of what it had been the past two seasons. Maybe even bench coach Jackie Moore could be asked to think about retirement so the front office can give Wash a bench coach who more statistically inclined to convince the skipper he’s about to make a foolish move.

A month into the 2012 season, the narrative was “Pay Josh Hamilton whatever money he wants to keep him here”. On October 6th, the narrative has changed to “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Josh”. Hamilton received standing ovations in April. He and the nationwide TV audience heard audible boos following his last two meek at bats.

Something changed on this team in 2012. I don’t know whether there was clubhouse discord or whether the stomach virus that swept through the team in May had longer-lasting repercussions than anyone wants to admit. But something changed and by the time the season mercifully came to an end Friday night, it appeared the Rangers offense just flat-out didn’t have anything else to give.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have plenty to say about what went wrong, the Hamilton situation and what changes I think are in store. For now, I’ll just let it hurt for a day or two, posting my picks for BBA post-season honors, and cheering the AL West champion Oakland A’s in their ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.

The Rangers are dead. Long live the Rangers.

A Tale Of Two Pitchers

One is one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2012 and will barely get a whisper of consideration for the Cy Young Award. The other was a trade that didn’t go well for the Rangers a year ago. Both pitchers were nails in Sunday, allowing the Texas Rangers to get a little more breathing room against the hard-charging Oakland A’s.

PITCHER #1

 

Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matt Harrison was magnificent Sunday, picking up his 17th win and almost getting a complete game in beating the Seattle Mariners on his 27th birthday, 2-1. The only blemish for Harrison was a lead-off 8th inning home run by former Ranger Justin Smoak. Harrison’s only walk came in the 9th inning.

Harrison was the second big piece acquired on that fateful trade deadline day years ago, when young GM Jon Daniels acquired Harry along with Elvis Andrus from the Braves system for Mark Teixeira. He’s been a part of the Rangers every year, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Harrison turned a corner and became an effective starter. Harry said he read a book in the off-season that year that helped him change his mental approach on the mound. True or not, something worked. He won 14 games for the Rangers last year and has added 17 this year, with an outside shot at being a 20-game winner on the season.

This year, Harrison has arguably been the Rangers’ most consistent starter from beginning of the season to today. He’s not a strikeout pitcher at a little over 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. He gives up about a hit per inning. He also gets ground-outs. Lots of ground-outs. That leads to lots of double plays. With three more today, his total is now at 23 double plays induced in 2012.

All Matt Harrison does is give you innings and win. You’ll see his name near the top of the charts in all sorts of categories: Wins, WAR for pitchers, ERA, WL%, Innings Pitched, Complete Games, Shutouts, Home Runs Per 9 Innings (among the lowest rates), Adjusted ERA, Adjusted Pitching Runs, you get the idea.

Yet when the votes for the Cy Young Award get tabulated, Matt Harrison is almost guaranteed to finish no better than fifth to a group that includes the names Hernandez, Verlander, Weaver, Price and Sale. There’s an outside chance fellow Ranger Yu Darvish will get more votes than Harrison. It’s all a shame. One could make the case it’s harder for a pitcher like Harrison to reach the heights he has since he doesn’t have the raw stuff of those other pitchers mentioned, so he should be entitled to more votes. But it won’t happen.

In fact, here’s a new twist. It is also conceivable that Matt Harrison, the Rangers most consistent pitcher of 2012, will be no more than the #4 starter in post-season play. Yu Darvish has been pitching more and more like an ace his last five starts, so he could get the #1 nod. If the Rangers rotate between righthanders and lefthanders, Harrison would be either #2 or #4, and Derek Holland has started to look a little more like a solid #2 lately as well. The Rangers top winner a #4 playoff starter? It could happen.

PITCHER #2

The day before the July trade deadline a year ago, the Rangers were rumored to be hot and heavy in on Heath Bell, then of the Padres. A deal hadn’t been made yet, with speculation a trade could fall through. Just in case, Jon Daniels swung another deal, sending Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for righthander Koji Uehara.

The Japanese import had been nails in the Birds bullpen all year, compiling a 1-1 record with 13 holds and a 1.72 ERA in 43 appearances. Opponents were hitting just .152 off Uehara and his strikeout to walk ratio was an astounding 62-8. When the Rangers added the Padres’ Mike Adams a day later, Rangers fans were salivating over a 7th, 8th and 9th inning featuring Uehara, Adams and Neftali Feliz.

Uehara, though, would be a bust for the Rangers. While some of his peripherals still were decent, he gave up 5 home runs in just 18 innings of work, helping explain his 4.00 ERA in a Texas uniform. The playoffs were even worse. In two appearances over the ALDS and ALCS, Uehara surrendered three home runs and five runs in just an inning and a third of work. The Rangers didn’t even use Uehara in the World Series.

His confidence shattered, Uehara spoke openly of preferring Baltimore to Texas and it appeared the Rangers’ front office tried hard to make a trade back to the Orioles a reality. It never came to fruition.

Instead, Uehara started 2012 in a Rangers uniform once again. The difference was, instead of being a trusted late-inning reliever, the man with the long sideburns was now brought into games for mop-up work: either big wins or big losses. That’s the way Ron Washington operates: Show me you can fill this role, then I’ll give you a better role to see if you can handle that.

Koji filled that role and was actually doing quite well in it. By June 2nd, his ERA was down to 1.33 over 19 appearances, but he was only credited with three holds over that time. Following a bad outing June 9th against the Giants, Uehara was placed on the DL, where he spent the next two and a half months with a strained rib cage.

When activated August 26th, Uehara was back in the mop-up role again. Now Wash started seeing something he hadn’t seen for awhile. Uehara, a righthander who had always handled lefthanded hitters well, started getting leftys out with regularity again. Last week, Koji was given another chance. With set-up man Mike Adams on the shelf with tightness in his back, Uehara was given the 8th inning again. Appearing in 4 consecutive games, Uehara allowed just one hit in 3 innings with 4 strikeouts, all with low pitch counts.

Sunday, with runners or the corners and two outs in the 9th inning of a 2-1 game, it was Uehara brought in to try to nail down the save, not overworked closer Joe Nathan or the usual second-best option Alexi Ogando. No, it was Koji Uehara, who proceeded to strike out the only batter he needed to face on four pitches to nail down his first save since 2010.

Koji Uehara gave up 11 home runs in the regular season a year ago and three in the playoffs. He’s only given up four in 2012. His strikeout to walk ratio is now 30-3, the Batting Average Against .184. Four weeks ago, the names being discussed for the post-season bullpen featured names like Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers. Today the name Koji Uehara is prominent, which is what the Rangers were expecting when they traded for him a year ago.

Yu Da Man!

Ask your favorite Rangers blogger… well, ask the one you’re reading now… his impressions of Yu Darvish‘s rookie season and I’d have to say a bit of a disappointment. He has a winning record, but honestly, I expected more. In the pre-season, I was so stoked, I actually predicted a Darvish no-hitter in 2012. It hasn’t happened and I’m willing to bet it won’t happen. Most nights, Darvish has lost his no-hitter in the first inning. Tuesday night against the Rays, he lost it with the first batter. On the first pitch he threw.

By night’s end, though, it was Yu Darvish pitching one of his finest games in a Rangers uniform. For only the second time this season, Darvish threw goose eggs all night, seven innings strong. For the 8th time, he struck out ten or more batters. Coming into the game 3rd in the AL in the negative Walks category, Darvish walked only one Ray all night. He worked out of a couple of big-time jams in the early innings, but came on strong in the end, retiring 9 of the last 10 he faced. Darvish is a pitcher who gets better as he goes. A fellow blogger pointed out tonight that Darvish has a lower ERA in Innings 4-6 than he does in Innings 1-3. And he has a lower ERA after the 6th than in innings 4-6. Pretty darn impressive.

Texas only scored one run, but it was all they needed. Ian Kinsler led off the 4th with a home run over the left field fence and it held up, the Rangers first 1-0 win since June 13th against the Diamondbacks. It was also the first time the Rangers had won consecutive one-run games since they put together a string of three in a row in the last two games before and the first game after the All-Star break.

Mike Adams pitched the 8th and wasn’t as effective as Monday night, but he did strike out Evan Longoria with the tying run at 2nd and Mitch Moreland made a great stab on a hot shot down the first base line to get the last out of the inning and preserve the shutout. Joe Nathan was even nastier in the 9th than he was Monday night, getting all three Rays to strike out to end the game. The Rangers now have the edge in the season series, three games to two and have clinched the series win with the 1-0 victory. Better still, they kept the A’s from gaining any ground despite facing the weaker Indians while Texas squares off against the Rays.

This season has been a grind. The Rangers as a team, despite their record, have played very inconsistently all year. It’s been tough on me as a fan, seeing this team resemble some of the losing teams of yore even in victory. Adrian Beltre went through a major 40-game slump. Josh Hamilton was off, way off, for the entirety of June and July. Yet here we are, nearing the end of August, and the Rangers have the AL’s best record, Hamilton still leads all of baseball in RBI’s and the team is coming off two 1-run wins against a potential playoff opponent. Crunch time is getting closer. It’s about to get fun again.

ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT!!!

If you haven’t entered, there’s only 4 days left to submit your entry for a chance to win the 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan‘s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.

To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31/12. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4/12. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today! Only 1 entry per e-mail address please.

1st Day of School: Rangers 6, Rays 5

It was the second smallest crowd of the year at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Less than 30,000 on hand to see the opener of the possible playoff preview between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

They say it was because Monday was the first day of school in the DFW area. That’s why the crowd was so small. Probably so, but come on, folks. They usually don’t give homework on the first day of school! Let the kids come to the ballpark. Check the pitching match-up: David Price vs. Derek Holland!

Funny thing was, in the end it was a pitcher’s duel… between the two bullpens. Neither starter was particularly effective, though Holland was credited with a quality start, thanks to two of the five runs he gave up being unearned.

Tampa jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first when sure-handed Elvis Andrus had two brain farts. The first was ruled an error. The second kept Elvis from finishing off a double play. Thanks to those two bonehead plays, Evan Longoria got to bat in the first and hit a 3-2 pitch off the left field foul pole for a 2-run home run.

In the bottom of the first, David Price would retire the side in order. On five pitches. FIVE FREAKING PITCHES!!! Little did anyone know that was actually the Rangers game plan for the night. It ended up working to perfection.

Apparently the scouting staff determined that Price’s best pitches are his first pitches of an at bat, so Texas swung early often. In the second, it resulted in back to back solo shots by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Another run would be tacked on to make it a 3-2 Rangers lead after two.

Tampa would tie it in the top of the third on a triple and a sac fly, but the Rangers would score two of their own in the bottom of the third on an Adrian Beltre double.  The Rays would tie it up in the top of the 5th on a single-triple-single combination. Texas would come through in the bottom of the inning again, this time on a Beltre single, chasing Price. The reigning AL PLayer of the Week ended up with 4 RBI on a HR, double and single. It was the third time in a week Beltre has gone to the plate in the late innings needing just one hit for the cycle. One time he succeeded. The two times he needed a triple to complete it, he didn’t do it (to be fair, Kyle Farnsworth intenionally unintentionally walked Beltre in the 7th to rob him of the cycle chance).

Price ended up going just 4+ innings, yet 77% of his pitches were strikes. Most of the strikes just weren’t missing Rangers bats. All six runs were charged to Price.

Both teams’ bullpens have reputations for being lights out and that was certainly on display Monday night. Neither bullpen gave up a hit. The Rays had four innings of hitless relief, the Rangers 3. The Rays bullpen did allow a couple baserunners, one on the Beltre walk, the other two on errors.

If Texas was playing like it was a playoff game, it was evident with the bullpen. The 7th, 8th and 9th innings were handled by Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan. Nathan never looked nastier in picking up his 26th save. In fact, all three Rangers relievers were nasty and all three ended with an identical picthing line: 1 IP, 0 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Walks, 2 Strikeouts.

If Monday night was any indication, the rest of this series is going to be intense.

ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT!!!

If you haven’t entered, there’s only 4 days left to submit your entry for a chance to win tyhe 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from  A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan’s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.

To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today!

Overthinking The Trade Deadline

As pointed out many a time in these pages, the advantage of having a playoff-caliber team is that your team is linked to virtually every big name being bandied about in the weeks leading up to the July 31st trade “deadline“. I put deadline in quotes because, of course, many a deal occurs after July 31st. They just become more complicated as they involve putting players on waivers and hoping the wrong team doesn’t put in a claim so you can then make the trade you’ve already agreed to with another team. If someone else puts in a claim, you have to withdraw the player from waivers and that team is officially stuck with him for the remainder of the season.

So, thanks to back to back appearances in the World Series, the Rangers are now rumored to be in the hunt for everyone. Cole Hamels? You bet. Zach Greinke? Of course! Matt Garza? You’d better believe it. Then the writers are quick to point out that Rangers scouts have appeared at a game with a Phillies minor league team and offer it as proof Texas is in on the Hamels sweepstakes. Problem is, Rangers scouts are also being seen at Brewers minor league affiliate games. And Cubs minor league affiliate games. And those games are also being attended by scouts from probably half the teams in the majors on any given night. Scouts are always at games. That’s their job.

The question really is, what do the Rangers need? Honestly, I don’t think it’s pitching. They already have arguably the deepest bullpen in the majors and, while most still aren’t household names as yet, the starting staff is one of the best so far in the AL. It is also six deep right now, with Neftali Feliz rehabbing at AAA Round Rock and being stretched out once again as a starter. Even some Rangers fans are saying, “BUT WE NEED A TOP OF THE ROTATION TALENT!” Sure, it would be nice to get a Hamels or Greinke or even Cliff Lee, whose name is suddenly being bandied about as well. I just don’t see Texas giving up some of the best the farm has to offer to pick up free-agents-to-be Hamels or Greinke. Garza’s considered a #2 at best and Texas already has at least three #2′s right now in Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis (or you could substitute Yu Darvish for Holland).

No, I don’t think Texas makes a deal for a pitcher. So what about the offensive side? There’s certainly more to argue about there. Mike Napoli has been as bad this year as he was good a year ago. Michael Young has suddenly become just a singles hitter with a career low walk rate as well. And Nelson Cruz has been healthy all year and still has only 11 home runs to show for it. Even Josh Hamilton has been in a massive slump for the past month plus. On Tuesday, the Rangers finally scored more than four runs for the first time in 11 games. This once potent offense has been scuffling for awhile now and could use a jolt.

The problem here is, who are you going to get rid of and who are you going to get? Speculation in the Lone Star State all year has been that David Murphy could find himself on another team by the trade deadline. Murphy, though, is a part-time player, a valuable 4th outfielder. If the Rangers go after offense, it should be to get a fulltime player. So who are you going to bench to make room for that player? Is it Cruz who, when he does get into a hot streak, can carry the team on his back for two weeks? Is it Young, the longtime face of the franchise (and for the record, I am very tired of hearing that term)? Do you find a first baseman and tell Mitch Moreland his services are no longer required when he comes off the DL?

This is likely to be the toughest year to try to gauge what Texas will do at the trade deadline. It was easy in 2010. Texas needed a catcher, they got Bengie Molina. They needed starting pitching. They got Cliff Lee. And they got extra bench help with Jeff Francouer. Last year was pretty obvious as well. The big need was in the bullpen. They went out and got Mike Adams. This year, a move likely entails saying goodbye to an established starter, be it pitcher or position player.

Now for the over-thinking part alluded to in the headline. Someone MLB Radio this morning, I think it was Todd Hollandsworth, said the Rangers really didn’t need to make any moves at the deadline this year. They have starting pitching depth, relief pitching depth and positional depth. I agree with that in theory. And yet, I think we’re going to see the Rangers make a deal of some sort. The easy reason is this: Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams and Colby Lewis are all free agents at season’s end. Texas may make a deal for a player with at least a couple of years of control just to help negate the possible departure of one of those players.

Here’s a harder reason, but one just as likely. Texas could make a deal simply to make sure one of their competitors doesn’t. Maybe Matt Garza (or Ryan Dempster) aren’t really needed by the Rangers. But they could certainly be used by the Tigers or the Yankees. Maybe Texas gets one of them simply to keep them from going to New York or Detroit. Justin Upton’s name has come up as a trade possibility. Texas could go get him to make sure Detroit, Chicago or Tampa don’t. Texas knows as well as anyone that standing pat while other teams get stronger makes the Rangers a weaker team than they are now, even though they haven’t changed at all.

Will Texas make a deal? I have to think so. I also have to think a deal this year will result in at least one current starting player, either on the mound or in the field, no longer calling Texas home. And it will probably be a name that surprises a lot of people.

The Incredibly Shrinking Pitching Staff

The Rangers had it so good in 2011. Not one starting pitcher missed substantial time due to injury. The only spot starts made were to address minor problems like blisters or to give a couple of pitchers who had gone a lot of innings a start or two rest before the stretch run.

What the Rangers are experiencing in 2012 is a totally different story. Going into the season the starting five were considered to be better than most, but not on a par with the Rays and the Angels starting five. The bullpen, however, was already being touted as baseball’s best.

What a difference just a couple of weeks can make. The Rangers pitching staff is at least temporarily a shell of what it was at season’s start. First Neftali Feliz was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder stiffness. Then it was Derek Holland, who hit the DL after losing close to 15 pounds due to a stomach virus. Holland’s rotation replacement, Alexi Ogando, strained his groin after pitching just three innings in his first spot start and has now joined the walking wounded. Topping things off, Scott Feldman, who replaced Feliz in the rotation, has been almost totally ineffective and is now 0-6 after last night’s 11-3 pasting by the Diamondbacks.

Roy Oswalt was signed to fill the gap, but he still isn’t ready to go, needing at least one and possibly two more minor league starts before he can help the big club. In the meantime, Texas is bringing up Justin Grimm from AA Frisco to make a spot start Saturday night against the Astros. Grimm has pitched well in AA, allowing just 14 walks in 13 starts, going 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA.  Still, Arlington is a big step up from Frisco and Texas has to be ready to use the bullpen if Grimm struggles. To make room, Texas if placing Koji Uehara on the DL. To make room on the 40-man roster, Feliz is being moved to the 60-Day DL.

The vaunted bullpen has been tarnished by the injuries to the starting staff. While set-up man Mike Adams and closer Joe Nathan are still in place, the Rangers have had to swap out Ogando, Feliz and Holland for Yoshinori Tateyama (11.88 ERA), Tanner Scheppers (9.82 ERA in 3 appearances) and Michael Kirkman (1 scoreless inning but a 5.25 ERA at AAA Round Rock).

Holland will probably come off the DL on the first day possible, about a week from now. That could be about the time Oswalt arrives as well. In the meantime, the makeshift staff needs to suck it up and the offense needs to start producing to make up for what’s missing.

Week 9 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 2-4

Overall:30-18 (1st Place AL West) (+4.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Elvis Andrus .368/.455/.526,  3 2B, 3 Walks

                                             Mike Napoli .353/.522/.588, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 5 Walks

Raspa Cold (Offense): Mitch Moreland .067/.125/.067, 5 K’s in 15 AB’s                                                     

                                                               Ian Kinsler .200/.276/.360

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Joe Nathan 0.00 ERA, 1 Save, 3 K’s in 3 IP, 0.67 WHIP

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Derek Holland 0-1, 8 ER in 1.2 IP

                                                                Yoshinori Tateyama 8 Runs, 6 ER in .2 IP

                                                                Mike Adams 6 Runs, 4 ER in 1.2 IP over 3 Games

Week 8 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall:30-18 (1st Place AL West) (+6.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .385/.370/.654  2 HR, 7 RBI

                                             Mitch Moreland .421/.476/.842 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Raspa Cold (Offense): Elvis Andrus .167/.286/.333

                                                           Mike Napoli .182/.308/.455 7 Strikeouts in 11 AB

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Mike Adams 3 IP, 0 Hits, 5 Strikeouts

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-1 7.00 ERA .306 BAA 2.22 WHIP 9 Walks in 9 Innings

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