Results tagged ‘ Scott Feldman ’

Week 23 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: 87-59 (1st Place AL West) (+3)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .368/.478/.842  3 HR,  4 RBI,  4 Walks,  8 Runs Scored

Michael Young (Believe It Or Not!) .500/.583/.600  2 Doubles,  3 RBI,  4 Walks

Raspa Cold (Offense): Geovany Soto  .077/.188/.154 (But Walked Twice and had 3 RBI!)

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 9 K’s in 7 IP, 0.57 WHIP

Matt Harrison  2-0, 1.88 ERA,  1.05 WHIP,  11 K’s in 14.1 IP

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman  20.25 ERA, 3.38 WHIP,  6 ER in 2.2 IP

Coming home for a week against the Indiands and Mariners, the Rangers went a respectable 4-2, although Joe Nathan‘s first blown save since April kept them from being 5-1. That allowed the still hot A’s to pick up half a game on the week when they went 5-2 against the Angels and Orioles. Los Angeles is still officially in the race, but if Texas were to go .500 the rest of the way, the Angels would have to finish 15-0 just to tie for the Division title. The best the Angels can hope for now would be a Wild Card spot. There’s no doubt if the Rangers are to win the West a third straight time, they will have earned it. Only 16 games remain on the schedule: 3 against the Mariners, 6 against the Angels and 7 against the A’s. This week it’s Los Angeles and Seattle on the road for three games each. After the Rangers series, the Angels host the White Sox for 3 games. Meanwhile the A’s hit the road all week, facing the Tigers and the Yankees. The schedule this week favors the Rangers.

 

Deadline Day Pt. 2

As much attention as the July 31st trade deadline receives, today’s trade deadline is just as important. That’s because any player acquired after August 31st CAN’T be on a team’s playoff roster. In other words, if the Rangers are going to acquire proven major league help for their post-season push, today is the last day to do it.

The August 31st deadline is what the whole revocable waivers is all about. We’ve heard Roy Oswalt cleared revocable waivers, so Texas could trade him to anyone today if they so desired. Other players have probably been put on revocable waivers by the Rangers as well, and probably have cleared as well. If a player is put on revocable waivers and a claim is put in for that player, the team can either take the player back off the table (the revocable part) or work out a deal with the claiming team within something like 48 hours.

Julio Borbon

Julio Borbon: Trade Bait? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also entering into the equation at this time are players in the minors who have no options left after this season. They could become part of a trade package. Two of those for the Rangers are Julio Borbon and Brandon Snyder. I’ve been thinking all year Borbon was going to become part of a package but it hasn’t happened yet. He’s had three big league seasons under his belt and while he hasn’t fulfilled the promise he showed in his first year, 2009, he’s had a good season at AAA Round Rock, hitting over .300 with speed and some pop in his bat.

Snyder started the season with the Rangers but was sent down to make room for Mike Olt on the roster. Snyder made some good contributions to the Rangers earlier in the season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as part of  a package either.

That said, who would the Rangers want in return? Here are the possibilities:

1) A back-up catcher: Geovany Soto has done a decent job since coming over from the Cubs. His back-up, Luis Martinez has been your prototypical replacement player. The fact is, nobody knows how much longer Mike Napoli is going to be out. Because we don’t know, I’d want a better option to back up Soto. Maybe try to get Jerrod Saltalamacchia back from the Red Sox or see if the Blue Jays would allow JP Arencibia to be pried from their hands.

2) Utility Infielder: Rangers fans are not thrilled with the idea that Michael Young is currently the back-up shortstop to Elvis Andrus. Another Blue Jay and former Ranger Omar Vizquel would be a nice little pick-up to head down the stretch with.

3) Bullpen: I’m actually pretty OK with the bullpen as it’s constituted, but if there’s one slot that’s worrisome, it would be the role currently filled by Michael Kirkman. Kirkman’s had glimpses of being very good this year, but the consistency still isn’t there. I don’t know what southpaw might be available out there, but an acquisition here is a distinct possibility.

4) Starting Pitcher: This is very unlikely to happen and maybe it doesn’t really need to. Still, I do have some trepidation about Texas heading into the post-season with a starting four of Darvish, Harrison, Holland and Dempster. The thing is, I don’t think an August 31st deal is going to be able to land any kind of an upgrade here. At best, it might get you an innings-eater that will allow the Rangers to bypass Scott Feldman in the rotation in September, but not much beyond that.

Texas could be busy today. Or Jon Daniels could just say this is the team we’re rolling with into the 2012 post-season. Neither outcome would surprise me in the least.

LAST DAY!!!

If you haven’t entered, today is the last day 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.

Week 20 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: 3-4

Overall: 75-52 (1st Place AL West) (+5.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .433/.433/1.100  3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBI (Should be AL Player of the Week)

Raspa Cold (Offense): Michael Young .231/.286/.308 0 RBI (but he became a new daddy Friday!)

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Matt Harrison  1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP (2nd week in a row Jalapeno Hot)

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman  0-2, 7.59 ERA, 1.78 WHIP (could he be replaced by Oswalt in rotation?)

It would have been nice to get more, but Texas added a half game of space between themselves and the second place A’s, while the disappointing Angels are now 9 1/2 games out, with the Rangers now having a Magic Number of 26 to eliminate them from the Division Title race. Texas ends their string of 20 games in 20 days (10-7 thus far) with three home games in a potential playoff preview with the Tampa Bay Rays. Following a day off Thursday, it’s on to Cleveland for three with the fast fading Tribe. Oakland is in Cleveland for four, followed by three home games against the now depleted Red Sox. The Angels have three at home against the Bosox followed by three in Seattle against the surging Mariners.  If the Angels and A’s are to gain ground, the next four days would be the time to do it.

The Rangers Blogger Diatribe

English: Michael Young

Michael Young (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael Young destroyed a good narrative today.

Young hit his first home run since May 7th and knocked in a season-high 5 runs in the Rangers 11-2 pasting of the Blue Jays. This came five days after I officially joined the ever-growing bandwagon calling on less playing time for Young.

This game actually didn’t do anything to dissuade me from saying Young should probably play less. On the other hand, I DON’T belong to the group that thinks he should never play again in a Rangers uniform, of which there is one, and a very vocal one at that. It has, though, finally given me the impetus to rant about some things that have been in my mind for the past five postless days.

At the outset, my invective is aimed at certain members of the SABR community. I’m sure there are many in said community who are very savvy and, dare I say, open-minded about what those who don’t prescribe to every number and statistic they come up with. There are some, however, who try to bury any debate in an avalanche of numbers and using it to advance their own biases. Michael Young is the perfect example of this.

Sunday’s performance against the Blue Jays aside, Young has not had a good year. As pointed out in my last post, his batting average is down, his power numbers are down, his walk rate is down. In all three cases, they are down considerably from what anyone could consider an average Michael Young year. Despite his being used as a “Super” Utility Infielder, Young has liabilities at any position he happens to be playing defensively. As a non-SABR guy who does his best to understand some of the new SABR stats, that is enough for me to think Young merits a little more time on the bench, at least until he starts to figure it out, if he can.

The day after my last post, then, imagine my surprise when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweeted this stat: Since the first of July, even from a SABR point of view, Michael Young has been outperforming Adrian Beltre. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Michael Young has outperformed Adrian Beltre offensively for the past 49 days. That’s seven weeks. That’s almost two months. That’s one-quarter of the season and one-third of the season played to date.

English: Third Baseman Adrián Beltré

Adrian Beltré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was shocking. So I went to baseball-reference.com to check it out. Sure enough. Not including Sunday’s breakout game for Young, here’s what we see from July 1st to the present: Young 14 RBI, Beltre 16. Young BA .260, Beltre .263. Then, getting into some of those SABR areas, Young’s WPA (Win Probability Added) -.312, Beltre -.535 and in RE24 (Base Out Runs Added) Young was at -6.46 and Beltre was at -8.23.

What do these stats say? They say for the past 40 games, Beltre has been just as bad a Michael Young. I hadn’t even noticed how much Beltre had been scuffling. He was still at .305 in BA for the season with 19 HR and 68 RBI entering play Sunday. Everyone sure noticed how badly Josh Hamilton slumped in June and July and some even called for Hamilton’s benching for a couple of days. People are just now noticing how Ian Kinsler has been in a slump for a few weeks (some even want to blame Wash for giving him a day off when he was in a hot streak). Beltre, though, has gotten a pass. So, armed with this knowledge, I pointed out this lengthy Beltre slump on a more SABR-oriented site and opined how it was more important for Beltre to improve offensively than Young because a no-hitting Beltre would be more disastrous to the Rangers in the post-season than a no-hitting Young.

Boy, was that a mistake. I was hit with everything from “Yes, but Michael Young has done this all year” to “Yes, but Adrian Beltre is a defensively superior player” to “Yes, but these are Adrian’s stats and these are Michael Young’s for the season and they don’t compare”. All three of those statements are 100% true. What they DIDN’T do, however, is address the specifics of my point- that for the last one-third of the season, Adrian Beltre offensively HAS compared to Michael Young and if it continues, it will be a BIG problem for the Texas Rangers and their World Series aspirations. I don’t care how many stellar defensive plays Beltre makes in the post-season. If he hits .190 or less in a post-season series, it will be awfully difficult for the Rangers to win it.

But that doesn’t fit the narrative of the SABR Rangers fan. Argue otherwise and most will counter with “You’re looking at a small sample size”. I’ve seen one who, when confronted with an argument using his own advanced stats against him, will slyly change his tune to say “Yes, but the stat that REALLY tells the biggest story is this one”. Over the past two years, that has changed from WAR to wOBA (weighted On Base Average) to wRC (Weighted Runs Created).

I don’t mind getting into a debate with someone. I think it’s even possible for a SABR-ist and a non-SABR-ist to debate and make each other understood. What I detest, though, are the many who use their SABR stats to talk down to other people like they’re dim bulbs. You know what? We’re not. And sometimes, we make good points about what’s going on without having to refer to spreadsheets to make our point. So yeah, Michael Young has sucked most of the year and Beltre hasn’t. Baseball though, is like life, with a lot of people saying “What have you done for me lately?” and lately, Adrian Beltre has not been very good offensively. The problem is, we’re now a little over a month away from the playoffs so Beltre is running out of time to get it together, as are Michael Young and Ian Kinsler.

And another thing. Sometimes you guys throw out your numbers and don’t even realize how you could make your point easier for everyone to understand. For instance, something I now hate hearing is the talk about pitchers having “good luck” and “bad luck” with BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). I’ve seen perfectly good Rangers fans refer to Roy Oswalt having a lot of bad luck with BABIP and how it’s going to eventually regress to the mean. They point out it’s because his xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching)  shows good numbers so it’s going to happen. Here’s where I trust my eyes better. Oswalt has had a bad BABIP because hitters have tattooed his pitches, and his xFIP is low because, even though he’s been getting hit from one side to the next, he hasn’t given up a lot of gopher balls. I’m sorry, but everything I’ve read about BABIP is just a fancy way of saying either a pitcher is getting shelled or he isn’t. Regressing to the mean merely means a guy who’s been bad a few straight games is bound to have a couple of good ones soon.

Today I saw the argument that Oswalt has actually been the better pitcher than Scott Feldman to this point of the season. In this case, of course, the xFIP and SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) stats are the MOST important ones to use, according to the person making the argument. Except all that really indicates is that Oswalt has a better fly ball to home run ratio than Feldman in xFIP, and Oswalt has a better strikeout percentage than Feldman, an important component of SIERA. Well, of course. Feldman is a ground ball pitcher, so batters managing to get it in the air have probably tagged the ball,  so a higher percentage would be home runs. And Feldman isn’t a strikeout pitcher. He never was. So why not just be a fan and say you prefer a fly ball, high strikeout pitcher like Oswalt than a one like Feldman? Why the need to prove one is better when, in fact, both have been mediocre to below average in 2012? Heck, according to xFIP,  Oswalt (3.44) has been better than Matt Harrison (4.26) this season. Does anyone really want to make that argument?

If you’ve been with me this far, let me throw one more thing out there. There are a substantial number of SABR Rangers fans who love to throw out what all these numbers “mean” to chastise virtually everything manager Ron Washington does. Wash admittedly makes curious moves from time to time, but most of these fans take their arguments to extremes. Since the numbers say the use of the sacrifice bunt lowers the expectancy for a big run inning, the sacrifice bunt should NEVER be used except in certain situations. They will use these same types of arguments to take Wash to task for pitching moves, non-pitching moves, intentional walks and where certain players bat in the line-up, among others. To you, I say this in all sincerity: While I often agree with you, you can’t say that Wash going against the grain of “the book” is necessarily the WRONG decision.

Here’s why. First is the element of surprise. If you always go by “the book”, you’ll never catch the opposition by surprise. Certain plays like bunts have a higher percentage of success when the other team isn’t expecting them. Second, regardless of what “the book” says, if the strategy worked, it becomes the right decision. Which leads to the last argument: All numbers used in the game of baseball have been accruing from the time they started keeping statistics and continue to accrue. That means the decisions Wash makes today have an effect on the overall numbers, minute as that difference might be. So if the success rate of “A” is 40% and, throughout his time with the Rangers, Wash’s teams are successful at “A” at a 50% clip, then not only has Wash made the right decision for his team, he has also done his part to improve the success rate of “A” from 40% in “the book” to maybe 40.2%. Maybe, just maybe, if enough other teams were to incorporate the Rangers’ manager’s strategies the same way, it could cause a rise in the success rate of “A” to the point that this decision is now the accepted norm by “the book”.

That said, I haven’t the time to actually delve so deep into Ron Washington’s history as the Rangers skipper to know if he is, indeed, more successful at some of these moves than the norm of history. It sounds like an interesting project for someone to take on, though.

There will always be fans who dislike the manager of their team, for whatever reasons. Using all kinds of numbers to try to prove he’s a dunce is disingenuous. I’d rather you come right out and say “I don’t like Wash. Period. Doesn’t matter what he does, I just don’t like the man.” Let it go at that. You’re not really proving anything with all your numbers except your natural bias.

For those who have followed me from beginning to end of this post, I thank you. You may have had better uses you could have made with your time than reading this, but the fact you have done so humbles me.

Feldmania And That Olt Time Religion

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.

Scott Feldman

Scott Feldman (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

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.

 

Dempster Diving

It took until seconds before the trade deadline for the first tweet to appear. Three minutes after MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden tweeted he was waiting on confirmation that Ryan Dempster had indeed been traded to the Yankees, the Rangers shut Bowden up by grabbing Dempster in exchange for two Class-A players: pitcher Kyle Hendricks and 3rd baseman Cristian Villanueva.

Dempster was supposed to start tonight for the Cubs. He will NOT be starting tonight for the Rangers. It’s Derek Holland‘s job to face Jered Weaver tonight. No word on whether Dempster will be thrown against the Angels Wednesday or Thursday or be held out until the Royals series starts on Friday.

It was the second trade with the Cubs in less than 24 hours. From what I understand, Geovany Soto had pretty much been a personal catcher for Dempster, so there will be a great sense of familiarity between the two of them when Dempster finally makes his first start. On the other hand, neither one of them are familiar enough with the American League batters, so maybe it would make more sense for Napoli to handle Dempster at first.

Villanueva was one of the Rangers’ better prospects, a third baseman with power potential. The problem is, the Rangers already have one of those with Adrian Beltre and another on the way with Mike Olt, as well as an 18-year-old rookie, Joey Gallo, playing in the Arizona League right now and threatening to break that league’s single season home run record. Villanueva, though good, was expendable. 

I don’t know as much about Hendricks beyond the fact he isn’t rated as highly as Villanueva on the Prospects charts. I read that his stuff isn’t overpowering, but he has a good feel for the art of pitching, so there’s that.

Texas didn’t get the ace they were looking for, but they did get two established major leaguers at a cost of three minor leaguers who have talent but maybe not enough to bulldoze their way into the Rangers’ long-term plans. I wish them all well with the Cubs.

Now the real questions begin for Rangers fans. With the arrival of Dempster, who gets dropped from the starting rotation? Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland? Absolutely not,. So it comes down to a choice between Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has the career track record. Feldman has been the much better pitcher over the past three weeks. And if you drop Oswalt from the rotation, what does that say about the $5 million Texas invested into bringing him there. On the other hand, Feldman is making a pretty penny this year as well ($6.5 million).

I keep hearing Oswalt is steadfast in not wanting to be a bullpen piece. Feldman has been both a long reliever and a starter this season. In the end, I think Feldman deserves the starting position, but I think Oswalt is the one who keeps his spot, even though he’s been shelled hard, particularly last night against the Angels.

I’m sure that question will be answered within an hour of my posting this. Whoever loses their spot in the rotation, though, is going to be publicly upset.

Last minute addendum: Rangers just announced Neftali Feliz needs Tommy John surgery. No Feliz in 2012 or 2013. Good luck, Nefti!

WTF?

With two outs in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the White Sox and runners on first and second, Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot that gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead in a game they would eventually lose 9-5. The Cruz missile was a significant moment in the weekend, although we did not know it at the time.

Since then, the Rangers have managed not a single hit with runners in scoring position. The official tally is now at 0-29 and counting. It’s a miracle that 1) the Rangers have scored 5 runs in that time; and 2) that they actually managed to win Sunday night’s game.

What has become a putrid offense in the month of July scored their last five runs on a solo home run, an error, and three groundouts. So many chance, almost all of them wasted. Friday night, Texas had the bases loaded and one out. Couldn’t convert. Twice on Saturday, they had a runner on third with one out and once a runner on third with nobody out. Couldn’t get a hit. Sunday, the Rangers loaded the bases in both the first and second innings and couldn’t get a runner home. They also had a runner on third with one out twice and a runner on third with two outs once. Two of those three times, they got a run home but not via a hit.

It’s that type of offensive ineptitude that allowed the White Sox to take two of three from the Rangers and win the season series, 6 games to 3. If not for the sparkling work of Scott Feldman on the mound Sunday, it’s conceivable the White Sox could have swept the Rangers for the second straight time. Feldman had what was perhaps the best game he’s ever had in a Rangers uniform, going eight innings on only 88 pitches, striking out five and walking no one in picking up his fifth straight victory after losing his first six decisions of the year. Better yet, the Angels lost two of three to the Rays, so they gained no ground on the Rangers. In fact, the Angels dropped to third after the A’s took two of three from Baltimore, so now it is Oakland in second place at 4 1/2 games behind.

Still, this Rangers fan is getting very pessimistic despite the fact my team still has the second best record in the American League. This month, the Rangers offense stands at a .242 batting average with 71 runs scored, worst in the AL by a whopping 21 runs! The vaunted offense has only hit 18 July home runs, less than anyone except the Mariners who have also hit 18.  The only reason they’re even 9-12 this month is because the pitching staff is 5th in ERA for July and has thrown two shutouts.

Rehabbing Neftali Feliz was pulled from his Sunday start with Round Rock when his elbow started acting up again. He joins Colby Lewis on the list of Rangers pitchers who will not be available the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the Angels made the big move of the weekend, picking up Zack Greinke from the Brewers. He will provide a big boost to their starting pitching. The good news is he pitched Sunday against the Rays (and lost!), so Texas will not have to face him in this week’s big 4-game set at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At best, Texas will only see Greinke twice in the regular season.

It’s beginning to look doubtful the Rangers will pick up an impact starting pitcher by the trade deadline tomorrow. Latest rumors have Texas working on stretching out Alexi Ogando to be a starter again and looking at the relief market. The way the offense has been going lately, I still think it would behoove the Rangers to find a bat to help them in the stretch run. Josh Hamilton has been so bad of late that he was benched on Saturday after being booed by the home fans following another one of his gruesome at-bats Friday.  Sunday he amazed one and all by not only not striking out, but taking some pitches and walking twice. He also was moved from third to fifth in the line-up.

No, things haven’t been looking so good in Rangers Land as of late. Still, I take comfort in this. Texas mostly stood pat to start the 2012 season. The Angels spent a small fortune to get Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Mike Trout came up and is having an MVP-like season. Now they’ve gone and gotten Greinke. Still, here it is July 29th and the Rangers are up 5 on the Angels. A year ago at this time, they were up only 2 on LA. Maybe it’s being done with smoke and mirrors, but my boys are still getting the job done. I’m not guaranteeing Texas will retain the AL West crown, particularly in light of the way they’ve been playing lately. But I can’t say I’m betting against them either.

 

Weeks 15/16 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball.

Rangers Record: 3-3

Overall: 59-41 (1st Place AL West) (+4.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): David Murphy .438/.471/.688

Ian Kinsler .316/.458/.368   4 Stolen Bases

Raspa Cold (Offense): Josh Hamilton .063/.190/.125   6 K’s in 16 AB’s

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Scott Feldman 2-0 0.60 ERA 0 BB 10 K in 15 IP

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Alexi Ogando 7.36 ERA

Big 4-game series with the Angels starting tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, followed by a 3-game set at Kansas City. In addition, the trade deadline is Tuesday. Will Texas add to their pitching staff? Will a bat be added to what lately has been an anemic offense? Or will the Rangers settle for the hand they’ve been dealt? The next few days will be among the most interesting of the 2012 season. Following the game Thursday, Rangers lead over the Angels will be 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 games.

The Curious Case of Neftali Feliz

As the second half of the season gears up, the Rangers pitching staff is starting to get back to normal. Derek Holland has already returned from the disabled list. Colby Lewis will return for the Oakland series. In the relief corps, Alexi Ogando, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe are all beginning rehab assignments with Round Rock this weekend. Also on the mend and preparing for a return is Neftali Feliz.

Neftali Feliz

Feliz was the first of the Rangers pitchers to go on the DL, when he was shut down with shoulder soreness in May. With the signing of Roy Oswalt, it was assumed and accepted that the Feliz as a starter experiment was over, with Nefti returning to the pen once he was healthy again. Curious thing, though. When Rangers’ beat writer TR Sullivan reported Feliz was getting ready to begin his rehab stint, he mentioned the Rangers plan was to build him back up as a starter.

This raises all kinds of speculation. Once Lewis returns, the Rangers will have a starting staff of Lewis, Holland, Oswalt, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish. To what end is this plan to stretch Feliz as a starter? Insurance in case a starter goes down? If so, then Texas has either been singularly unimpressed with Oswalt so far or have a real fear he is not healthy. Either way, that would put a big $5 million investment in jeopardy. Harrison and Darvish have shown no signs of injury and have easily been the Rangers best starters in 2012. Holland just returned from the DL and signed a contract extension in the off-season. Lewis has a degenerative hip condition, but if his health was such an issue, he wouldn’t be activated on Tuesday.

So why stretch Feliz out as a starter when he could easily be put back in the bullpen? My only conclusion is he’s being prepared for a possible trade deadline deal. Not necessarily a deal that would involve Feliz leaving Texas, although that is a possibility. No, it could be a current Rangers starter is being considered as a trade chip. Get rid of one of the current starters in exchange for needed offense, then bring Feliz up to replace him in the rotation. Or stretch Feliz as a starter, then deal spot starter/long reliever Scott Feldman for offense and plug Feliz into Feldman’s role.

If it’s strictly as insurance in case another starter goes down, that would mean Feliz is going to stay down at AAA Round Rock for the foreseeable future. I can’t see the Rangers keeping a proven talent like Feliz down on the farm strictly as an insurance policy. Had it been the start of the season when Feliz was just making the transition to starter, I could have seen that, but not when the pennant race is now heating up.

Feliz rehabbing as a starter? This has to be a sign of something to come.

Another One Bites The Dust

Last year, the Rangers made it through the entire season using only seven starting pitchers: CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and two starts each by Dave Bush and Scott Feldman.

This year looks like a Who’s Who. With today’s news that Colby Lewis is going on the 15-day DL with tendinitis, fully 60% of the starting five at season’s start are now on the shelf. Holland should be back right around the All-Star Break. No word on when Neftali Feliz is coming back yet. Feliz is on the 60-Day DL. His first replacement, Alexi Ogando, lasted three innings in his only start before going on the DL himself with a groin strain.

Texas lived the high life when it came to pitchers’ health last year. When you include the relief staff, the current Rangers pitching staff with Lewis gone is 42% comprised of players who weren’t with the Rangers at the start of the season: Roy Oswalt, Michael Kirkman, Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm and now rookie Martin Perez, one of the Rangers’ top prospects.

When you think about it, the Rangers’ 14-9 record in the month of June is pretty darn good, considering the state of flux in the pitching staff. Scott Feldman moves back in the starting rotation on Thursday in place of Lewis. After using Kirkman and Lowe for eight innings last night against the Tigers and Feldman no longer available for long relief, the pressure is on Yu Darvish tonight and Oswalt tomorrow to give Texas some quality innings.

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