Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’
Just 11 days from Opening Day and the Rangers line-up is starting to shape up. The first domino to fall occurred Tuesday when Mike Olt was sent back to the minor league camp. Olt was given a chance to win a job as Mitch Moreland‘s back-up at first base and Nelson Cruz‘ back-up in right field but he just didn’t run with it. Olt struggled at the plate throughout the spring and led the club with 12 strikeouts when he was sent down.
I always figured Olt as a long-shot to make the club out the gate. As the second or third best prospect in the Rangers system, it didn’t make sense to me that he would be a back-up. Olt’s struggles, combined with the way Jeff Baker has been locked in at the plate pretty much sealed his fate.
While he hasn’t been sent down yet, the fact #1 prospect Jurickson Profar decided to join the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic after the first round was a pretty good sign he won’t be with the Rangers on Opening Day either. Rangers brass has already said Profar won’t be in Arlington unless he could be assured of 350 or so at bats and that appears unlikely.
With the top three prospects all gone (Martin Perez is out with an injury) from consideration, it’s time to look at who is likely to get the few open positions available. Here are the players who have had outstanding springs and will probably be Rangers on March 31st when they play the Astros in Houston:
As mentioned earlier, Baker has just been outstanding with the bat all spring long. In 49 at bats, Baker is hitting .449 with a home run and 7 RBI. Best of all, Baker knows his role is as a back-up. Players who know and accept their role prepare the way they’re supposed to and shouldn’t cause problems in the clubhouse.
In the first part of the spring, anytime someone mentioned Solarte as a possible candidate for the utility infield position, those more in the know would say it wasn’t going to happen because Solarte doesn’t play shortstop. Lo and behold, in the past two weeks, Ron Washington has given Solarte four or five games at shortstop. Whether this results in a roster position remains to be seen, but Solarte, who played in AAA Round Rock in 2012, has some pop in his bat and could be a consideration.
Most folks figured Martin would be on the big league level this year. The question was would it be as part of a platoon with Craig Gentry or would he win the job outright. The competition has been on and neither player is giving an inch. As of this writing, Martin is hitting .350 with 4 extra base hits, 5 walks and 2 steals. Gentry is at .286 but with a surprising 2 HR’s and has 5 steals without being caught. Other teams have been calling about obtaining Gentry, so Martin could still be the guy fulltime but if Gentry stays, center field could be a fun position to watch on the Rangers this year.
Kirkman is anothe rplayer who figured to make the club as he is out of options. What was unexpected was how impressive he would be this spring. The southpaws in camp have been excellent and none more than Kirkman, who has now pitched 9 scoreless innings this spring, allowing only three hits with 0 walks and 8 strikeouts. With the injury to Martin Perez, Kirkman has even put himself into the mix for the #5 starter position.
I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of his signing but now I look at Lowe the same way as I see Jeff Baker. Lowe has been signed specifically for the thankless job of being the Rangers’ long reliever and spot starter. This is the pitcher who is used the least but expected to give multiple innings whenever he appears in the game. Over the past few years, that role has been filled by Dustin Nippert, Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt. It’s a tough role but one Lowe is willing to take on and, unlike Feldman and Oswalt last year, is unlikely to grouse about the way he’s being used. Since signing, Lowe has twirled five scoreless innings this spring.
Last year, Robbie Ross opened eyes when he just threw strike after strike and earned his way onto the Rangers despite pitching only in Class A the year before. This year, the same can be said of Joe Ortiz. While he played at the AA and AAA level last year, the diminutive 5-7 Ortiz was said to not have much of a chance of getting to the majors strictly because of his lack of stature. All Ortiz has done is what Ross did last year- throw strikes and make batters swing. The lefty has now thrown 9 scoreless innings, striking out 9 and allowing a meager .167 batting average, putting him well into the bullpen mix.
Another lefty, this major league veteran last pitched in the bigs in 2010. Robertson has a career ERA in the 5′s but has been nothing short of outstanding in trying to come back from injuries. Robertson has 10 innings of 3-hit no-run ball so far.
Another minor leaguer to watch out for is Nick Tepesch, who was a combined 11-6 for Hi-A Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco in 2012. Tepesch has opened some eyes in Rangers camp and is still in the mix for the #5 starter job, though I doubt he’ll get it. He could get consideration for an early call-up in case of injury, though.
11 days to Opening Night Easter Sunday.
Most Spring Training exhibition games are worth listening to the first four or five innings. The starters are in for a few innings, the pitchers you expect to be on the team are getting their innings in.
By the fifth inning or so, only the diehards tend to stick around, as the line-ups become more of the minor leaguers who have no chance of making the team this year. Some of them you’ve never heard of, even though you tend to glance at minor league box scores on a regular basis. So I’m sorry Johan Yan, I’m not paying much attention to you right now. Same goes for you, Juan Apodaca. I admit I didn’t even know you were a part of the Rangers organization when you came to the plate yesterday.
Today’s exhibition game with the White Sox is a little different, though. There are only two Rangers regulars in the starting offensive line-up today- Nelson Cruz and Geovany Soto. Despite that, this game has my interest and I wish I could be at the game in person to watch.
Why? Because the starting line-up has all four of the players who have a real shot at making the Opening Day roster. Mike Olt at third base, Leonys Martin in center field, Jurickson Profar at shortstop and Leury Garcia at second base. Of the four, Martin is the best bet at sticking and most expect him to platoon with Craig Gentry in centerfield in 2013. Garcia is the second best bet, whose versatility make him a strong possibility for a utility role. Profar and Olt are the two best offensive prospects overall, but unless a trade or an injury occurs (or Nelson Cruz is suspended), it’s becoming unlikely there’ll be enough at bats available to justify putting them on the major league roster. Instead, they will more than likely start 2013 in Round Rock.
Still, having all four in the starting line-up today is exciting. All but Martin have reputations as good defensive players. All but Olt have speed on the basepaths. They’re all scouted to be decent to above average bats.
The best I’ll be able to do today is listen, and my work schedule may not even allow me to do that. If you happen to be able to see this game or listen to it, please do. The first few innings could be a taste of the future of the Texas Rangers franchise.
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.
Nothing becomes official, of course, until after the World Series concludes. I know the score, though.
The day after a new World Series Champion is crowned, free agency begins. Everyone knows Josh Hamilton will become a free agent. Rangers GM Jon Daniels has already announced Texas will “allow” Josh to shop for the best deal instead of Texas trying to make him a preemptive offer to stay in Arlington.
Josh’s agent has further allowed that after Hamilton has done his shopping, they’ll give the Rangers a chance to top the best offer.
But come on. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. The odds are 99% in favor of Josh Hamilton wearing someone else’s uniform in the 2013 season.
Like CJ Wilson before him, it’s a pretty sure bet the Rangers brain trust already knows the top dollar and contract length they’re willing to give him. More than likely the scenario will be this: The annual dollars won’t be the issue, the length of the contract will be.
Texas would love to have Hamilton back, but I doubt they’re willing to offer him more than four years, unless the fifth year and beyond are for lower dollars with heavy performance incentives. Texas could very well be willing to pay Josh $90 to $100 million over the next four years. But someone else is going to offer five or six years at $110-$125 million. Guess which one he’ll take.
Nope, the Rangers are already preparing for life without Josh. They started the other day by hiring Dave Magadan away from the Red Sox as the new hitting coach. Magadan is very much a Ron Washington philosophy type: do what the game asks you to do. Magadan’s Red Sox teams were known to be patient and took a lot of pitches, something the Rangers stopped doing in 2012, especially Josh Hamilton. He also has a reputation for getting the best out of young batters coming up. This lends credence to the possibility of Jurickson Profar and/or Mike Olt being on the roster for Opening Day 2013 and pretty much a certainty that Leonys Martin will be on that roster too.
While he wasn’t the only one for whom this was said, Hamilton has never been one to worry too much about instruction. He doesn’t watch much video, he loves swinging at the first pitch. He likes being the guy with the big bat, so much that he’d rather swing for the fences all the time than settle for a solid single even when the game situation calls for the base hit.
This isn’t to hate on Josh because he’s been the spotlight guy that’s led Texas to two World Series appearances. He’s put up MVP numbers in the past and still may in the future. If and when he goes, I won’t tear up or throw away my Josh Hamilton jerseys. Whoever signs Josh, though, know this: When his decline starts (and who knows, it may have started this year), I don’t think it will be pretty. Josh has succeeded because of his pure athleticism. He plays the game all out, which is good. On the other hand, because he trusts his athleticism, he’s also slow to make adjustments. When the inevitable decline comes, it could be a much steeper drop than most players have. But that likely will be someone else’s problem, not the Rangers.
Managers are the fans’ favorite punching bag. When the team’s going bad, they blame the manager. Even when the team’s going good, as the Texas Rangers have been for the past three years, the manager takes the brunt of the blame for any perceived shortcomings.
So how about this? I want to give Wash a lot of credit this morning for the way he was thinking ahead during last night’s win over the Cleveland Indians.
For Rangers fans, the win was nice but it came at a price. Adrian Beltre left the game early with a shoulder injury. He’s scheduled to get an MRI today. His replacement, rookie Mike Olt, hit a single in his second plate appearance, but hobbled so badly to first base because of the Plantar Fascitis he is suffering, he had to be pulled.
With expanded rosters in September, it would have been easy for Wash to either put Brandon Snyder in at third, since he was the utility corner man for the first half of the season, or put Michael Young there and do without the DH the rest of the game. Since it was already the 8th inning, that wouldn’t have posed any significant hardship on Texas.
Instead, Wash went a completely different route. He moved Ian Kinsler over to third base and inserted rookie Jurickson Profar in at second. Judging by the tweets I read, this move had fans collectively scratching their heads. Kinsler had never played any position other than second base in his entire major league career. After the game, Kins said he hadn’t played third since he was in the minors in 2005.
Many didn’t understand the move, but I don’t think a lot of Rangers fans think Ron Washington has the ability to think ahead.
Wash certainly wanted to win last night’s game, but that wasn’t what was most important to him. He has the post-season to think about. And if there’s any possibility he will have to do without Adrian Beltre in the post-season, he has to figure out how he will do that. He’d love to go with Olt, but his balky foot may not allow that. Brandon Snyder is strictly utility. He can’t replace Beltre for more than a couple of games. That leaves Young as the back-up, which is probably what will happen, but Young is also a defensive liability.
So Wash put Kinsler in at third. He didn’t have to field anything in his brief time there, but if he had, Wash would have gotten a good look at it. If he liked what he saw, then Kinsler could be the late inning defensive replacement for Young while Profar takes over at second. That’s a much stronger team than one which features Snyder.
We’ll find out more about Beltre today. Hopefully, he won’t be out for very long. But if he is, Wash already has a potential plan in mind.
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.
One third of the Texas Rangers line-up Thursday night were newbies. The overall results were positive, though not all the individual ones.
In pounding the Angels into submission 15-9, Rangers fans got a chance to see all three of the newest Rangers in one game: catcher Geovany Soto, acquired in a trade with the Cunbs; Ryan Dempster, acquired in a separate trade with the Cubs; and Mike Olt, rookie first baseman recalled from AA Frisco.
The results were positive for the offensive players, a disaster for the pitcher.
Olt lashed a solid single to left in his first major league at bat against Angels starter CJ Wilson. He scored the second of the Rangers five second inning runs. Coming to bat again just one inning later, Olt lashed another bullet on the left side, but it was snared on an excellent defensive play.
Olt struck out in his only other plate appearance of the night.
Soto was in the middle of all the action. It might be debated how good a game he called in his first look at the American League Angels, but he was a solid contributor at the plate. Soto’s lead-off single in the second spurred the 5-run rally against Wilson. In the 8th, Soto’s double plated two runs and helped seal the win for the Rangers.
Dempster’s Rangers debut was a living nightmare. Pitching in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in the middle of the summer is a daunting chore. When the jet stream is blowing out, there’s no telling what can happen. Dempster found out early, when Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to right in the first. It didn’t even look like it was hit hard. In most parks on most nights, it was a simple fly out to right. With the jet stream, it became two runs for the Angels. Dempster would give up a second homer on the night, as well as four doubles, three of which came close to going over the fence as well. By the time Dempster’s night ended, the Angels had scored eight of their nine runs on the night. Dempster seemed to alternate between cutters that induced weak grounders and meatballs that pounded to the deepest part of the park. In the end, he was lucky to escape with a no decision on the night.
Meanwhile, Roy Oswalt tossed two solid innings in his new role as long reliever in picking up the win. Josh Hamilton had his first 4-RBI game in over a month, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler took Wilson deep, and the Rangers ended the night with the same lead they began the series with.
All in all, it was a pretty satisfying conclusion considering the Angels appeared to have seized momentum in the AL West race following two convincing wins Monday and Tuesday.
Olt probably won’t get the start at Kansas City tonight against righthander Jeremy Guthrie and Soto likely gives way to Mike Napoli behind the plate tonight, but it certainly looks like the Rangers bench has become more potent with their arrival.
- MLB: Texas 15, Los Angeles Angels 9 (upi.com)
- Dempster Diving (40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com)
- Treading Water Is Great When You’re On Top Of The Water (40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com)
Rangers averaged nine runs per game, the Angels ten.
Angels took the first two, Texas the last two.
Texas scored 81 runs on all of July. In just two games in August, they’re already 32% of the way to 81.
Ryan Dempster, bad start.
Geovany Soto and Mike Olt, good starts.
Five game lead at series beginning, five game lead at series end.
I can live with that.
Mike Olt, whose name had constantly been brought up in trade deadline discussions, will join the Rangers tonight for the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels. With AA Frisco, Olt was hitting .288 with 28 homers and 82 RBI. Olt was a first round supplemental pick in the 2010 draft and moved rapidly through the Rangers farm system. His power in the Arizona Fall League last year earned him the promotion to Frisco this year. While strikeout prone, Olt has a good eye at the plate, drawing 60 walks in 95 games this year.
Olt will be replacing Brandon Snyder, who was optioned to AAA Round Rock. This is a case where Snyder didn’t do anything wrong, hitting .281 with 3 homers and 9 RBI as a part-time player. No, Snyder didn’t do anything wrong. Olt has just done a lot of things right and Snyder was the odd man out.
The implications of the move are huge. Olt was drafted as a third baseman and is said to be an outstanding defensive third baseman. The Rangers, however, have the game’s best defensive third baseman already in Adrian Beltre and will have him for the next four years. So there isn’t room for Olt at third. He has played some first base, so here’s where it gets tricky.
Mitch Moreland is the Rangers first baseman, at least against right-handed pitchers. Moreland just returned from the DL and has hits in each of his first three games back. Moreland isn’t going anywhere. So Olt is blocked at third and you can’t imagine he’s being called up simply to be used like Snyder, meaning rarely. No, Olt is being brought up to get some at bats. Those at bats can only be coming two ways: as a platoon first baseman or as a designated hitter. So guess who the Rangers are currently using in that role? None other than the oft-described “Face of the Franchise”, Michael Young.
Young is having what is easily his worst year as a fulltime player. His batting average is hovering around .270. He has only three extra base hits since the All-Star break and no home runs since late May. Largely in the 5 spot of the batting order, Young has only managed 40 RBI. His walk rate has also declined drastically. Even when he hits the ball, he’s had a lot of weak ground balls over the past couple of months.
I don’t see any other way Olt is going to get at bats other than by getting them at the expense of Michael Young. Olt will probably see his first action tonight against CJ Wilson, either as the DH or the first baseman. Young will most likely play tonight as well at whatever position Olt doesn’t play. But what happens after tonight?
I think Olt becomes the platoon first baseman or DH when a left-hander starts. Against righthanders, Young will take a seat on the bench occasionally while Olt plays third and Adrian Beltre gets a DH day. He might DH when Young gives Ian Kinsler a day off to play second. But what happens when Geovany Soto gets the start at catcher? Young could ride pine then as well, so the Rangers can use the power bat of Mike Napoli at DH while Olt plays first.
The Next Generation of Texas Rangers is here. Today it’s Mike Olt. Next season, he will probably be joined by Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez. With last night’s move, even with another year left on his contract, there is no other way to view this than the Rangers have started preparing for a life without Michael Young.
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.