Results tagged ‘ Robbie Ross ’

The Friday/Saturday Sundry: 6/6/14

SO LONG AND WELCOME BACK

Another week, another Ranger lands on the disabled list. Alexi Ogando is the latest to join the walking wounded. Things have gotten so bad I’m fully expecting to hear that Luis Ortiz, the Rangers #1 pick in Thursday’s MLB

Alexi  Ogando, On The Shelf

Alexi Ogando, On The Shelf

Draft, will need to undergo Tommy John surgery the day after he signs with the club.

Still, the overall news of the week for the Rangers health is positive. Tanner Scheppers returned from the disabled list Thursday and got thrown right in the fire during the 8th inning of Texas’ 8-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Scheppers didn’t look particularly good, giving up a home run to Adam Jones, but he induced a double play to end the 8th with only the solo home run as damage. What was heartening to see was the bullpen line-up after Colby Lewis got pulled following five meh innings: Robbie Ross Jr., Scheppers and Joakim Soria. It was the first time this season the pen had a familiar ring to it. Ross Jr. pitched his best outing in weeks, throwing two shutout innings with no hits and picked up the win when Texas broke a 5-5 tie in the 7th.

Another piece of good news on the health front. Fifth outfielder Jim Adduci is likely to return from his DL stint this weekend against the Cleveland Indians. Adduci was off to a great start in 2014, going six for his first 13 with two doubles and three RBI when he broke his finger on the bag while sliding (or diving). While only the “fifth” outfielder, Adduci is definitely a step up from Daniel Robertson, who failed to tag up at third on a fly to right in Thursday’s game and cost the Rangers a run.

Word has it Neftali Feliz is close to returning to the bullpen as well so, believe it or not, the Rangers are actually getting healthier for a change.

 

 

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ANOTHER SERIES, ANOTHER FORMER RANGER RETURNS

Tuesday marked the return of Nelson Cruz to Arlington. Cruz hit a home run in Tuesday’s win over Texas but the Rangers held him in check the rest of the series. This weekend another favorite from the World Series teams returns. David Murphy was the fourth outfielder for most of his time in Texas but was the starter in left field in 2013. Now he’s back to being a 4th outfielder with the Indians and once again he’s thriving, hitting .280 with 5 home runs and 34 RBI. To put that in perspective, if Murph was still a Ranger, those numbers would lead the club in RBI and rank third in home runs.

 

CHOICE HEATING UP?

In the second inning of Thursday’s game against the Orioles, I tweeted that a Michael Choice hot streak would help the Rangers immensely. With Prince Fielder out for the season and Mitch Moreland stuck at two home runs, the Rangers have very little power outside of Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo. Choice is that potential power bat but he’s been hitting right around the Mendoza line all season long. As if he’d read my time line, Choice went deep for his fourth home run within minutes of that tweet and he added a double for good measure late in the game. Choice is not a great defensive player in the outfield so if he isn’t hitting he really isn’t doing much to help the club win. If Thursday’s game is any indication, Choice just might be getting the hang of this major league hitting thing. If so, the Rangers offense might start scoring runs more consistently.

 

Minor-League-BaseballDOWN ON THE FARM

This should probably wait a few days because there is likely a lot of movement in the Rangers minor league system coming over the next week or two. Still, I feel the need to point out the incredible season being put up by a couple of Rangers’ prospects. Joey Gallo is tearing up the High-A ranks with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Gallo is currently hitting .330 with 21 home runs and 50 RBI. Myrtle Beach is not a hitter’s park. In fact, the entire Myrtle beach roster hit only 64 home runs in the course of the entire season. Gallo is on a pace that would net him 2/3 of the entire 2013 team if he stayed with the Pelicans the whole season. That isn’t going to happen. Gallo may not even play in the Carolina League All-Star game. In just a matter of weeks if not days, expect Gallo at the AA level with the Frisco RoughRiders. The same could be said of Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez. Last year’s top draft pick is 5-2 with a 2.62 ERA in helping lead the Pelicans to a league best 40-18 record.

On the AA level, looking to get promoted soon is Luke Jackson. The righthander checks in at 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA and could find himself in AAA Round Rock soon. On the hitting side, if Gallo gets promoted as expected to play third base in Frisco, the current third baseman, Ryan Rua, already has a case for promotion to Round Rock as well. Rua is hitting a robust .313 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. Round Rock would certainly welcome Rua and Jackson. The Express are easily the worst team in the Rangers minor league system record-wise, posting a 26-34 mark despite having a roster full of talent with major league experience. Maybe they’re mostly utility player/back of the rotation major league experienced but still, they’ve been to the Show and fans expected more from them.

Of all the players mentioned here, I think Jackson has a shot at being in Arlington before the end of the season. He may just be a September call-up, but he should get a shot before season’s end. Don’t look for Gallo in a major league uniform until the end of next season at the earliest.

Is It Time To Shake Things Up?

Here we are, a week into the baseball season’s second month. Statistics start meaning a little bit more than the first three weeks where a hot or cold streak looks great or horrific on paper but signify nothing more than a hot or cold streak. So far, the Rangers have done about as well as could be expected considering all the injuries they’re up against. Now, however, we’re starting to get more of a feel for this year’s team and, quite frankly, it doesn’t look so good. The offense has been spotty, the pitching is growing more suspect by the day and defense seems a dirty word so the Rangers avoid playing it well at all costs.

There are still a number of Rangers who will be arriving in the coming months to help: Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto. That’s fine for June and July. The problem is, Texas still has a slew of games to play in May and June before the first reinforcement arrives and this team needs help NOW.

Jurickson

Jurickson Profar: Out Until June

Case in point: When Profar went down with an injury in his throwing arm, the Rangers went with a second base platoon of Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy. This looked like another one of Jon Daniels’ genius moves, getting two utility guys on the cheap and having them perform way above expectations. On April 17, the Wilson-Murphy combo was hitting .267 with 4 doubles, 7 RBI, 6 walks, a sacrifice and two sac flies. Since that time, they’ve hit a combined .197 and, while they have one more RBI at 8, they also have 23 strikeouts and just three walks in 71 at bats. In other words, they’re showing us who they’ve always been- spare pieces expected to shoulder more of a load than usual. The Rangers have at least a month left before Profar returns and I’m not even convinced it won’t be even longer period. Wilson and Murphy displaced Adam Rosales and Brent Lillibridge from the roster. Rosales in particular is doing a decent job at AAA Round Rock. He’s now up to .283 on the season with 7 doubles and 5 homers. Rosales has some pop in his bat and can play second, third and first. At this point, he might offer more to the Rangers than they’re getting from Murphy so why not give him a shot?

There aren’t any real solutions in the catching department. Soto is out for at least another month, the catchers at Round Rock aren’t anything to write home about and Jorge Alfaro is probably two years away from the big club. Texas is just going to have to lump it with Robinson Chirinos and J.P. Arencibia, unless JD decides to trade for a proven catcher.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff still needs sorting out. While the starting staff is starting to settle down, at least until Holland returns in June or July, it will probably remain inconsistent for a while. Matt Harrison came back from the DL and had one good and one bad start. That will likely continue for the next 4-6 starts as he works his way back. Same thing applies with Colby Lewis. Despite almost two years between big league appearances, he’s performed well overall, but not well enough to guarantee any more than six innings in any start. After an incredibly hot start, Martin Perez has looked awful his last two starts. Robbie Ross has had three consecutive bad outings as well. Veteran Joe Saunders is now on a rehab assignment but you won’t find many Rangers fans waiting for him to return.

It's time to bring Nick Tepesch up.

It’s time to bring Nick Tepesch up.

One solution is Nick Tepesch. The righthander had a terrible spring and got sent back to the minors midway through Spring Training despite contributing four wins in 17 starts for Texas in 2013. At Round Rock, Tepesch has pitched like the ace of a AAA staff, going 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA, 41 strikeouts and only 9 walks in 38 innings of work. Tepesch has nothing left to prove at AAA and, if anything, is more likely to give the Rangers 7 innings every time out than Robbie Ross will. Ross earned his rotation spot with a strong spring but, like any walk of life, hasn’t proved it lately. Ross has been a valuable bullpen commodity. It’s time he returned there.

Speaking of the bullpen, it has quickly turned from one of the Rangers strong suits to a mess of stinking you know what. Alexi Ogando has gotten overworked and gave up six hits and a walk in just a third of an inning of work in Colorado last night. Ogando has done nothing to sway me from my earlier stated opinion that by seasons end, he will be a non-factor on the Rangers. Also worrisome is Neal Cotts, who thus far (1-2, 5.68 ERA, 3 Blown Saves) has not come close to being the pitcher he was in 2013 (8-3, 1.11 ERA). Because Perez, Lewis, Harrison and Ross haven’t been able to go deep into games, the bullpen is pitching too many innings. If Texas were to bring up Tepesch and send Ross back to relief, it will help settle down a combustible situation. Opening Day starter Tanner Scheppers will return soon as well and should go back to being the 8th inning guy.

It’s only two players, but adding Rosales for Murphy, then adding Tepesch while moving Ross to relief and placing Ogando on the DL for whatever reason they can come up with, could help this team navigate through a tough month of May in better shape than they’re in now.

The Friday/Saturday Sundry: 5/2/14

AL West Standings 5-2-14

WTF (Why The Face?)?

It’s amazing how, in the span of four days, an entire month of pretty good feeling is eviscerated. Such is the case of the 2014 Texas Rangers. After taking the last two games of a three game set with the Chicago White Sox, the Rangers went to Oakland and promptly swept a three game road series with the 2-time defending AL West champions. A 5-game winning streak with a line-up occupied heavily by names such as Wilson, Murphy, Kouzmanoff, Choice and Chirinos and a pitching staff held together with rubber bands and Elmer’s Glue was accomplishing the impossible. Then Kyle Seager followed by a home rematch with the A’s happened. Now the Rangers are reeling, losers of four in a row for the first time this season. Adding insult to injury, not only did Oakland return  the favor of a road sweep, they did it in such convincing fashion to make even the hardiest of Rangers fans openly weep in the streets. The A’s played another game of “Who’s Your Daddy?” with Yu Darvish, they not only ended Martin Perez‘ streak of scoreless innings at 26 2/3, they demolished the young southpaw. Then they closed out the old-fashioned butt-whipping with a 12-1 pasting of Robbie Ross with a relatively no-name journeyman pitcher by the name of Jesse Chavez, who was originally drafted by the Rangers.

Now it’s on to Anaheim and the first meeting of the season with the suddenly resurgent Angels. LA is pounding the ball. Albert Pujols is looking like the Albert Pujols of old, Mike Trout is looking like the Mike Trout of always and Howie Kendrick is also hitting a ton. Adopting Murphy’s Law, this of course means the Angels will probably get production this weekend from the likes of David Freese and JB Shuck. The Rangers are “lucky” they don’t have to face CJ Wilson or Jered Weaver this weekend: lucky being in quotes because Texas actually has fared pretty well against them. On the other hand, the Angels are lucky they don’t have to face Martin Perez. They’re further lucky because the first two pitchers they do face, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis, are both coming off injuries that kept them off a mound for a year (Harrison) and a year and a half (Lewis). Texas has the talent to win this series. After the meltdown they had against the A’s, though, have they sufficiently recovered mentally to do the job?

Elvis Andrus: $15 million manWhat’s Wrong With Elvis?

It’s easy to lay blame for the Rangers offensive misfortune at the feet of Prince Fielder. The big guy finished April right about .200 with less than 10 RBI and just two home runs, both solo shots. Still, the big question in Rangers land is what’s going on with Elvis? The Rangers shortstop has never been a power hitter so that isn’t an issue. What he always has been is a slick-fielding shortstop who makes contact at the plate and is especially dangerous with runners in scoring position. The Elvis we’re seeing now is in a 3-35 slump and has already committed seven errors in only 28 games after committing only 14 errors in all of 2013. Fourteen of his last 20 at bats have resulted in groundouts. Shin-Soo Choo is doing a great job at the top of the line-up getting on base. Elvis isn’t moving him along. Thus far, Elvis isn’t sacrifice bunting as much as he did with Ian Kinsler ahead of him in the batting order. Maybe not bunting is affecting his mentality at the plate a bit. Without Andrus moving Choo along, Fielder and Adrian Beltre have less chances to knock him in. And, with two journeymen occupying second base for another month and Fielder not a great defensive presence at first base, the pitching staff needs Elvis to at his best defensively. This is a situation that needs straightening out fast!

Rotation Questions

You would think the rotation is pretty well settled now. There’s no moving Yu Darvish and Martin Perez out of the mix, Matt Harrison’s first start off the DL showed signs of his being the Matt Harrison of old and Colby Lewis, while not pitching more than five innings in his first few starts, certainly has what it takes to be the Rangers’ #5. Up until Wednesday, Robbie Ross looked like he was a rotation lock as well. The A’s torched Ross for eight runs , six earned, on eleven hits in just 3 1/3 innings. In his last start against Seattle, he gave up just two runs in six innings but also hit three batters. Meanwhile, Nick Tepesch has performed brilliantly for AAA Round Rock. Tepesch is now 5-1 for the Express with a 1.59 ERA, a .207 Batting Average Against and a 13-inning scoreless streak. Derek Holland will be ready to go in about a month and the Rangers bullpen is short a lefthander. It would make some sense for Ross to return to the pen and the Rangers to bring Tepesch up from Round Rock to take Ross’ place in the rotation. When Holland returns, if Lewis is still only able to give Texas five innings every time out, Tepesch could replace Lewis, who would then become the Rangers long reliever. I don’t think this is going to happen before Ross’ next start, but I bet it’s something the front office is considering.

Down On The Farm

The Texas minor league guys are doing a pretty decent job thus far. AAA Round Rock sits at 15-12, tied for first in the Pacific Coast League’s Southern Division. Despite an excellent 17-10 overall mark, the AA Frisco RoughRiders sit a half game behind the Midland Rockhounds in the South Division of the Texas League. In High A, Joey Gallo‘s ten home runs gives him a tie for the overall minor league lead and his Myrtle Beach Pelicans are a game up on Salem in the South Division of the Carolina League at 16-9. Finally, the Hickory Crawdads of the Class A South Atlantic League are the only Rangers affiliate sitting below .500. The Crawdads are 12-13 and in 4th place in the Sally League’s Northern Division, 7 games behind my original hometown team, the Hagerstown Suns.

 

Opening Day: Who Are These Guys?

BaseballEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News passed along this interesting tidbit yesterday.

When the Texas Rangers take on the Philadelphia Phillies today in the season opener for both teams, the Rangers Opening Day 25-man roster includes 17 players who were NOT on the Rangers Opening Day roster just one year ago today. The only holdovers? Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Jason Frasor, Alexi Ogando, Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin and Adrian Beltre.

Part of the turnover is due to the current length of the Rangers disabled list. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Geovany Soto were all on the 2013 roster when the Rangers played the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball. Still, that’s a better than 50% turnover of the roster in just one year’s time.

Gone from last year’s squad are Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, AJ Pierczynski, Joe Nathan, Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Jeff Baker.

Of the Rangers 2010 squad that appeared in the World Series for the first time, only Andrus, Moreland and Ogando are on the Opening Day roster in 2014.

From the 2011 World Series team, you can add Adrian Beltre to the list.

Even accounting for the players currently disabled and expected back this year (Harrison, Holland and Colby Lewis), the 2014 Rangers bear only the vaguest resemblance to the team that came within an eyelash of being the 2011 World Champions. Still, this is a team that has playoff aspirations. If the injury bug that him them in Spring Training gets fixed and remains fixed, maybe they can do it. We just don’t know. To borrow a cliché, that’s why they play the games.

#1 of 162 begins today. Time to find out what these 25 guys, including the 17 newcomers, have got.

RBiA Sunset

Who Are These Guys? -or- Can You Identify That Strange Odor?

Adam Rosales and Josh Wilson your Opening Day middle infield? Doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of the AL West, does it?

Jurickson

Jurickson Profar

That’s a possibility for the Rangers come Opening Day against the Phillies on March 31st. We know for a fact Jurickson Profar won’t man second base for the first game, or the second, probably not for the first 81 games. Profar got diagnosed with a torn muscle in his shoulder and will miss 10-12 weeks.

Meanwhile his middle infield partner, Elvis Andrus, is still experiencing soreness on  his throwing arm. He is currently DH-ing and isn’t supposed to throw until this weekend’s final exhibition games in San Antonio, cutting the margin extremely close for the opener.

The Opening Day starter, Yu Darvish, got scratched from his last start because of a sore neck. He insisted it wasn’t an issue but the word out of Rangers camp Sunday made it sound like it hasn’t cleared up as much as he’d like.

Who will start Opening Day? For sure not Profar. Maybe not Andrus. Maybe not Mitch Moreland, still getting over and oblique strain. Maybe not Darvish. Maybe not Shin-Soo Choo, who still has left elbow soreness. Maybe not Geovany Soto, who got pulled in the first inning of Sunday’s exhibition when his leg locked up.

Question-Mark-34Let’s make matters even worse, shall we? The Rangers announced Friday Tanner Scheppers had earned a spot in the rotation and Joakim Soria will be the closer, making it a four-way battle for the last two rotation spots between Tommy Hanson, Joe Saunders, Colby Lewis and Robbie Ross. So what happens? Hanson starts on Saturday and gives up 7 runs in 5.2 innings. Advantage Saunders, right? Wrong! Saunders started Sunday and couldn’t even make it through two innings, giving up 9 runs in an inning and a third. Ross has pitched well enough to earn a rotation slot. I’ve always loved Colby Lewis but this is a guy coming off a hip replacement whose last two starts have come in minor league games. That makes the starting rotation Proven Commodity with a sore neck (Darvish), Second Year Starter who may or may not have a sophomore slump (Martin Perez), Former Reliever (Scheppers), Former Reliever (Ross) and Hip Replacement Guy (Lewis). One of them will get replaced in a few weeks by Missed All But Two Starts Last Year Guy (Matt Harrison). So there’s no concern about the starting rotation, right?

You sense a trend here? Opening Day for the first time in five seasons is filling me with dread. The optimism just isn’t there now. The Rangers have a lot of depth in the minor league system but there’s not much there now at the big league level. That’s why we have a possible starting middle infield of Adam Rosales and Josh Wilson.

Rougned Odor

Rougned Odor

A national beat writer wrote last night the Rangers wouldn’t miss a beat at second base if they start rookie Rougned Odor while Profar is on the mend. Odor is one of the Rangers top prospects, a player Rangers minor league analyst Scott Lucas says just has “that look” about him. Maybe so but he also has only 134 at bats at the Double A level. Is he ready for that big a leap? And if he succeeds, what then? Now there’s another logjam in the middle infield with three quality players for two positions.

I’m not totally against the idea of Odor playing at the big league level. He may already offer more than Rosales or Brent Lillibridge over the next three months. Or he could flame out spectacularly, which is why someone like Rosales or Lillibridge could be the stopgap measure. We know they won’t add much, but as veterans, their output is more of a known commodity. Also to be considered is if Odor hits the big stage, that accelerates his free agency timetable by at least a year. Is the front office willing to risk that year right now?

Only a week to go before Opening Day and there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 26

Rangers primary logo

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

Rangers Record: 7-0

Overall: 91-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .391/.462/.435, 1 Double, 3 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases

Alex Rios .346/.357/.654  3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 8 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .200/.333/.200

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Texas Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Joe Nathan/Robbie Ross/Tanner Scheppers/Joakim Soria/Jason Frasor):  22 Games, 5-0 with 3 Saves, 20.2 Innings Pitched, 10 Hits, 1 Run, 7 Walks, 27 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  3 Runs, 8 Hits Allowed in 5.1 Innings Pitched

The Texas Rangers have not qualified for the post-season, but thanks to an incredible last week of the season, they are guaranteed a 163rd game.

Say what you will about Texas getting to stay home the entire last week of the season to face the only two teams they dominated all season, they still needed every one of the seven straight wins they put together on the week to qualify for even this 163rd game. The Monday night match-up with the Tampa Bay Rays is not officially a play-off game, it’s actually a regular season game, with all stats counting towards the regular season total. Win tonight and THEN the Rangers can say they’ve made the post-season for the 4th year in a row.

Even with a 7-0 week, the Rangers weren’t the hottest team in the American League. That honor went to the Wild Card bound Cleveland Indians, who will take on the winner of tonight’s Texas-Tampa Bay game on Wednesday while riding a 9 game winning streak. The Indians dominated their week against the two lowest-ranked teams in the AL Central and Minnesota in particular seemed to just roll over against the hot Tribe. By the way, I want to meet the guy who could have said with certainty four months ago that the Indians would make the playoffs sporting a rotation that included Ubaldo Jiminez and Scott Kazmir.

Thanks to the Rays dropping two of their three games with the Blue Jays, the Rangers get to play the Rays tonight with rookie Martin Perez getting the start against David Price. The game will see the return of Nelson Cruz, who has now finished serving his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. Cruz will likely be the DH against the Rays. If Texas loses tonight, Cruz will be back for one game and then possibly no longer be a Ranger, as he heads into free agency after the season.

Seven days ago, I didn’t think I’d have anything more to write about in terms of play on the field after today’s wrap-up of the week. I am happy to say I will have more to write, at least for another day.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 22

Rangers primary logo

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

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 79-57  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .421/.450/.474  1 Double, 4 RBI

Ian Kinsler .360/.385/.400  1 Double, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .174/.240/.348  (But he did have a home run)

Leonys Martin  .174/.208/.304  (But he did have a home run and 5 RBI)

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

7/9 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor/Tanner Scheppers/Neftali Feliz): 16 Games, 16 IP, 11 Hits, 0 Runs, 3 Walks, 19 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Travis Blackley  5.23 ERA  6 Earned Runs in 10.1 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. Again.
Once again the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2, but this time they lost a game and a half in the standings. Texas followed up a great road sweep of the Mariners only to come home and lay an egg in front of the home crowd against the lowly Minnesota Twins. Meanwhile, the second place A’s proved they’re up to the task of repeating as AL West champions by taking three out of four from the Detroit Tigers ON THE ROAD, then came home and swept the Wild Card-contending Tampa Bay Rays. Ron Washington is always quick to say his team can’t worry about what other teams are doing. If they take care of their own business, everything will be OK. Against the Twins, Texas didn’t take care of their own business.

Rangers Hall of Famer Jim Sundberg tweeted over the weekend that, with big series coming up, it’s natural for contending teams to look ahead a bit. I hope that’s the case because the Rangers and A’s are head to head the next three days and Texas needs to bring its A game (or A’s game, as it were). I stated last week it was important for Texas to go into September with a 4 game or more lead because the schedule this month favors the A’s. With a one game lead today instead of four you can officially label me as skeptical about my team winning the West in 2013. This week, it’s six games on the West Coast: three at Oakland followed by three games at Los Angeles. Oakland is at home all week against the Rangers and the Astros. Texas needs to take two of three against Oakland and, dare I say it, sweep the Angels. Anything less and this time next week I’ll probably be talking about the second place Rangers. I hate to talk about the second place Rangers.

On the positive side, welcome back Neftali Feliz! The man whose image is indelibly frozen in my brain when he struck A-Rod out looking to end the 2010 ALCS and send the Rangers to their first World Series returned to Texas Sunday after the long recovery from Tommy John surgery. Feliz threw two scoreless innings against the Twins. His velocity isn’t where it was a couple of years ago but he mixed his pitches well. I’ll pit the Rangers bullpen against just about any team in baseball. The offense is another question altogether,

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 21

Rangers primary logo

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

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 75-55  (1st Place AL West) (+2.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .350/.480/.750    2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 4 RBI, 5 Walks

Ian Kinsler .364/.400/.500  1 Home Run, 6 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .188/.350/.313

Leonys Martin  .222/.391/.222

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

5/7 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor): 11 Games, 11.2 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Matt Garza  5.93 ERA  9 Earned Runs (10 Total) in 13.2 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. 
You might think that strange considering the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2 and went from a half game up in the standings to two and a half up on the second place Oakland A’s, but it was indeed a wasted week. Why? Because Texas should have a three and a half game lead entering play today. The Rangers pushed the lead to 3 1/2 after Friday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, then couldn’t win either Saturday or Sunday with Yu Darvish and Matt Garza on the mound. The A’s went 1-1 in that span against Baltimore. It was a prime opportunity for Texas to add some space and they blew it. The offense could only score four runs over the last two games of the week and Garza turned in another lackluster performance to boot.

Every game counts in this stretch because the strength of schedule favors Oakland in the September stretch drive. Now is the time Texas has to go into overdrive because the A’s are certainly going to make another push soon. The Rangers have to take advantage against the Mariners this week while the A’s have to contend with the Detroit Tigers on the road. It won’t be easy for the Rangers, as they have to face both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the three game set, not to mention Rangers killer Kyle Seager, who has 11 doubles and four home runs against Texas this season. It doesn’t matter how difficult the chore, they have to take two of three at Seattle this week and follow it up by taking at least two of three at home against the Twins while the A’s host Tampa Bay. The lead is two and a half games now. It needs to increase to four or five games by Sunday. If it’s less than four, there’s still a very good chance the A’s will once again win the AL West. If it’s four games or more, the odds tip over to the Texas side of the ledger.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 19

Rangers primary logo

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

Rangers Record: 6-0

Overall: 68-50  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .435/.536/.739    1 Double, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 Walks

Alex Rios  .571/.625/1.000   1 Double, 1 Triple, 2 RBI, 3 Runs Scored in 2 Games

Joey Butler   .500/.600/1.000   2 Doubles, 2 Runs, 1 Walk in 5 Plate Appearances

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Ian Kinsler .200/.276/.280

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Martin Perez   2-0, 1 Complete Game, 1.76 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 15 K in 15.1 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Only Robbie Ross and Matt Garza had ERA’s over 4.50 for the week, but both get a pass as Garza won his game, striking out 8 while walking only 1 and Ross only pitched 2/3 of an inning for the week. No Frios por la semana (for the week).

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. On Monday, the axe fell on Nelson Cruz, the Rangers’ top run producer for 2013. Instead of bowing their heads and feeling sorry for themselves, the Rangers went right ahead like they didn’t miss him at all. How does a season long 7-game winning streak hit you? Without Cruz, but admittedly with the benefit of playing the AL West’s bottom two teams, the Rangers swept the week at 6-0 and went from 2 1/2 games behind the Oakland A’s to a game on top in the AL West.

Regular readers of this blog know Texas just shifted its focus against the Angels to a speed game and ran at will on the LA pitching and catching staff. The Astros were a little different animal. Houston just isn’t a very good team and even when their starting pitchers did their job, the bullpen ensured the Rangers would come out on top.

I put two players in the Jalapeno Caliente column this week even with limited at bats. Alex Rios came over in a trade from the Chicago White Sox and immediately paid dividends. In his first game Saturday, Rios walked his first time up, then singled and hustled into second on a throw to third in his second plate appearance. In the 8th, with Texas trailing 4-3, Rios tied the game with a triple, then came home on a grounder, knocking the ball out of Jason Castro‘s glove at the plate to score what proved to be the winning run. For Sunday’s encore, Rios scored the Rangers first run following a single in the 5th, added an RBI double in the 6th to make it 2-0 and scored in the Rangers’ 4-run 9th. For someone who came to Texas with a reputation for not hustling, Rios sure didn’t look like the guy the scouts were talking about. Maybe it’s playing on a club with playoff aspirations for a change. Rios tweeted after Sunday’s game he’s never encountered a team with as much energy as the Rangers. It appears to be catching.

The other honorable mention went to Joey Butler. At the advanced baseball age of 27, Butler finally made it to the big leagues for the first time, being recalled following Cruz’ suspension. He was to be the right-handed hitting complement to lefties David Murphy and Leonys Martin in right field. That platoon lasted all of five days when Texas acquired Rios. Butler only got to start one game for Texas before being sent down to AAA Round Rock, but he made the most of it, mashing two doubles and scoring twice off Houston’s Eric Bedard. I hope Butler gets to come back up as a September call-up. Everyone loves to cheer for those types of underdogs.

Another week facing sub-.500 teams, a streak that won’t end until Labor Day. This week, it’s one game with the Astros Monday to close out the 4-game set. Tuesday, an 8-game homestand begins with two against the Milwaukee Brewers followed by three against the AL West foe the Rangers have had the hardest time with in 2013, the Seattle Mariners (8-5). If Texas wins the first three games this week, be prepared for a different looking Jon Daniels. The Rangers GM, along with Dallas radio personalities Ben & Skin, have promised to shave their heads to look like Ron Washington for charity if Texas wins 10 in a row. Here they are side by side. Just imagine what Daniels will look like:

Ron-Washington Hair

Jon Daniels

Interesting Moves

Plenty of moves made by the Texas Rangers today, most of them of the unexpected variety.

The first day of the International Signing Period was today and the Rangers were far busier than even the most aggressive fans would have thought. The rules have changed under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as it applies to Latin American players. In the past, teams could spend as much as they liked on as many international players as they’d like (usually from Latin America), as long as they were eligible. Texas has been among the freest of spenders on Latin American talent. It has netted them Jurickson Profar, baseball’s #1 prospect and current utility player; Martin Perez, now in the starting rotation; Alexi Ogando, a starting pitcher now on the DL; and a whole slew of players working their way through the minor league system.

This year, the rules have changed. Teams are given a cap on how much they can spend on Latin American players and the cap varies depending on the parent club’s fortunes in the standings. The Houston Astros can spend the most, the Rangers are among the teams who can spend the least. It’s also complicated. Teams can acquire more money to spend via trades. At least one club already has done that this year. If clubs go over their cap, they not only have to play a luxury tax, they’re penalized the following year.

Count the Rangers as a team in the penalty box. Today they’ve already signed SS Yeyson Yrizarry (Baseball America’s #7 International prospect), RHP Marcos Diplan (BA’s #6), OF Jose Almonte (MLB.com’s #13) and SS Michael DeLeon (BA’s #26 prospect) for a combined total of over $5 million. Texas didn’t make any deals to acquire more cap money. Their cap budget was $1.94 million, so they’re already at least $3 million over the cap. Texas will have to pay an extra luxury tax of  100% (another $3 million) PLUS in next year’s signing period, the most they’ll be allowed to sign a prospect for will be $250,000. If an International Player Draft comes to pass, Texas would pay the luxury tax PLUS lose their first round pick in the 2014 and 2015 drafts. Texas has apparently decided to go all in this year and look elsewhere next year, probably to Japan or on a Cuban defector, neither of which is a part of the International pool of players.

As if this wasn’t interesting enough, the big league club made a move today that is very curious, designating RHP Kyle McClellan for assignment and recalling RHP Josh Lindblom from AAA Round Rock. McClellan was certainly a candidate to be DFA’d. After a decent start, allowing one run over 4 innings in his first three appearances, McClellan gave up runs in each of his next four outings, 7 in all in only 5.1 innings. Not a surprise there at all. What’s curious is the timing. Curiosity #1: Texas is playing Seattle and Houston this week, two teams on the lower end of the league. It’s pretty safe to assume Rangers starters will be able to go longer over the next six games, thus taxing the bullpen less. In other words, McClellan probably would only be needed once at best this week. Curiosity #2: Why was Lindblom brought up to replace him? He’s been a starter all year, including 4 starts for the Rangers. Why convert him to the bullpen now, especially when it’s doubtful he’ll be needed much this week? Curiosity #3: Rumor has it Joakim Soria is about ready to be activated by the

Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rangers, perhaps in time for the Astros series this weekend. The former Royals closer will go in back to back outings for Frisco Wednesday and Thursday. As long as those outings go well, and Soria has already tossed 5 scoreless innings in rehab thus far, he’ll be deemed ready to go. That would have been the time to DFA McClellan. Lastly is Curiosity #4: When Soria is activated, who will be the player to go? Lindblom? Why bring him up just for four days? Ross Wolf? He hasn’t done anything to deserve a demotion. Those are the only possibilities in the bullpen. Possibly Nick Tepesch or Justin Grimm could go down to Round Rock, with Lindblom moving into their starting role, but that’s pretty much a lateral move that doesn’t improve the ballclub much, if at all.

The only thing that makes much sense is we’re about to see an unexpected disabled list move on the pitching staff, maybe Tanner Scheppers, who insists he’s healthy yet had horrible command on Sunday. Or we’re about to see the first mid-season trade go down, one that changes the face of the pitching staff. Maybe Robbie Ross or Neal Cotts will find themselves part of a trade package.

Things will start shaking out the day Soria joins the Rangers. We’ll see how the dominos fall.

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