Results tagged ‘ Yoshinori Tateyama ’

Reconstruction

The rebuilding of the Texas Rangers is about to begin. How much rebuilding will happen is anyone’s guess at this point.

The first salvo occurred Tuesday, when the Rangers decided not to pick up the options of Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama. Really no big surprises there. Tateyama, who pitched pretty effectively for Texas in 2011 (2-0, 4.50 ERA in 39 games) was a disaster in 2012 (1-0, 9.00 ERA in 14 games). Feldman, expected to fill the long relief/spot starter role, became a fulltime starting service after Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz were lost for the year with injuries and Roy Oswalt failed to do well as a starter. The biggest surprise of Feldman’s season is that his 6-11 record and 5.09 ERA was good enough to earn a 0.0 WAR. In other words, 6-11, 5.09 must be considered a replacement level starter. Wow.

The only potential minus here is if Feldman just needed longer to get over microfracture knee surgery in 2011 and posts a great 2013 for someone else. For all the good Jon Daniels has done as GM, this past season saw at least five Rangers cast-offs who performed credible jobs for their new teams: Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day for Baltimore, Cody Eppely and Clay Rapada for the Yankees. Constructing a pitching staff is so often a crap shoot, with many relievers having an awesome year, following up with two terrible seasons, then suddenly finding lightning again. Many teams’ fortunes rise and fall on these variables. If those castaways had been able to put together those seasons for the Rangers, it might have been a post-season difference maker.

So we know Feldman and Tateyama won’t return, unless they re-up with Texas at a major discount. The next step is the free agent process.

Josh Hamilton will get the league standard $13.3 million dollar offer to stay in Texas for another year. He will turn it down and if he signs elsewhere, Texas gets a supplemental draft pick. More unknown is whether the Rangers will make the same offer to catcher Mike Napoli. Because he had a down year, Naps could accept a $13.3 million offer for another year, hoping to turn it around in 2013 and get even bigger bucks and a multi-year deal a year from now. If no offer is received, then we’ll know Texas has committed to totally overhauling the catching.

The Blue Jays are stockpiling catchers, having picked up Yorvit Torrealba after Texas let him go and, just last week, inking Bobby Wilson after his release by the Angels. Since they already had two well-regarded home-grown catchers, it’s a good bet the Blue Jays will deal some of their catching in the off-season. The Rangers have expressed interest in both J.P. Arencibia and Travis D’Arnaud.

Other Rangers getting ready to test the free agent waters include Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, Mark Lowe, Roy Oswalt and Ryan Dempster. Of that group, Oswalt is most certainly gone. Since Adams’ year ended prematurely to injury, the hope is he’ll be willing to sign again with Texas, as he might not now command the dollars he could have. I’d love to see them resign Uehara as well. Down the stretch, he was one of Texas’ most effective pitchers. Texas will allow Lowe to leave and I doubt there’s much interest in getting Dempster to come back, though that could depend on other factors.

If Texas lets both Hamilton and Napoli walk, we could be seeing a pretty big revamping of the offense. There’s a lot of power that would need replacing. That’s why, with Hamilton likely to go elsewhere, I think Texas will do what they can to at least keep Napoli.

I expect Texas to go hard after Zack Greinke in the free agent market, while the Angels will go all out to try to keep his services. If Greinke doesn’t materialize, Texas could pursue a trade with Tampa Bay for David Price.

Another reason to re-sign Napoli: to keep him for a first base platoon with Mitch Moreland. Moreland can hit the ball a long way and is an adequate defender, but at best is a streaky hitter with hot spells that don’t last long enough to off-set the cold snaps. And that’s just against right handed pitchers. Against lefties, Moreland is cold and colder.

There are several directions the Rangers could go this off-season. What’s definite is they’ll make more moves between now and Spring Training than they did the past two years combined. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

GOLD GLOVE AWARDS: For the second straight year, Adrian Beltre nabbed the AL Gold Glove Award for his defensive play at third base. The other two Rangers up for Gold Gloves, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus, didn’t receive the honor. Beltre was an easy choice. That’s easy to say, but judging by the actual award winners, it’s hard to back up. On the one hand, sometimes they give the award to people just because they committed so few errors, despite not having the range of other players at the position. Case in point: JJ Hardy of the Orioles. While I love Elvis, the winner probably should have been Brendan Ryan of the Mariners, who had range and only nine errors. On the other hand, some players win because of past reputation alone. Case in point: Adam Jones of the Orioles, who’s won the award before but had six errors in the field this year, a high number for an outfielder. In other words, there’s no set criteria for winning Gold Gloves. That’s why I’m happy Beltre won. With no set criteria, there was no guarantee he would.

The Incredibly Shrinking Pitching Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 9 In Review

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

Rangers Record: 2-4

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

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

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

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

                                                               Ian Kinsler .200/.276/.360

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

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

                                                                Yoshinori Tateyama 8 Runs, 6 ER in .2 IP

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

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

The perfect storm had finally arrived. There were no new shows on network TV to watch. The Spurs had played the night before. Nothing to keep me from watching my beloved Rangers. Just 45 minutes before game time, the phone rings. It’s the wife.

“Honey, I think I’m going to stay at the office for a little while and get a few things done.”

Jackpot.

“What’s on TV tonight?” She meant among the shows we watch together.

“Nothing,” I respond.

The voice on the other end of the phone brightened. “Then maybe you can bring me some dinner and keep me company while I get my work done!”

And just like that, a night of watching Texas Rangers baseball went down the tubes. Little did I know the misery that phone call saved me. It was bad enough to monitor my cell phone, listening to the audio feed, and hear the beat down the Mariners put on Derek Holland in the second inning. It was with beyond disgust that I finally disregarded said cell phone while the M’s were in the midst of their second consecutive 8-run inning. In the end, I couldn’t help but wonder what the outcome for me would have been had I stayed at home and watched the game on the TV.

My wife could have come home to find her husband dead on the sofa, two Boston Terriers licking his lifeless carcass, having suffered a heart attack over what he had just witnessed. Or even worse, a 50 inch TV with a broken screen.

So I thank you, my dear. You saved my life by getting some work done at the office.

There’s nothing one can take out of a beat down like that. The only thing I know for sure is there is an excellent likelihood Yoshinori Tateyama has thrown his last pitch in a Texas Rangers uniform. You can’t even qualify for the position of long relief when you only can last 2/3 of an inning in that role while giving up eight runs.

A game like last night puts the Roy Oswalt signing in a new perspective. Oswalt is slated to replace Neftali Feliz’ place in the rotation, currently being occupied by Scott Feldman, who I’m sure has now silidified his chance of returning to the long relief role when Oswalt arrives. But what do the Rangers do if Holland continues to regress from his breakout 2011? Dutch’s ERA went up a full run after last night’s 1.2 inning, 8-run performance. He’s gotten ripped in at least three of his starts thus far in 2012 and looked visibly shaken by the time he was removed from the game (or so it was described in the audio feed). In that context, the addition of Oswalt becomes more critical for this team.

I’m not here to make jokes about how this is what happens when Dutch shaves his infamous ‘stache, as he did yesterday morning. I’m not even going to compare the final score to a Cowboys-Seahawks game. I’m just going to move on, thank the Yankees for finally beating the Angels last night, enjoy the day off before Friday’s series opener in LA, and thank my wife again for saving my life last night. Or at least the TV’s life.

The Boys Are Back

You’d think this was more than just the third sweep of the season, but it was. In fact, Sunday’s 12-6 win over the Jays was the Rangers first sweep since taking both games of a two-game set at Boston all the way back on April 18th. And that followed the only other sweep of the season at Minnesota. So this was the first home sweep of the season and it comes at an apropos time, as the Angels are looking at this writing like they’re about to run their own winning streak to six games.

Much as the sweep was sweet, it was the slumpbreakers who made it particularly sweet. A couple of names that haven’t been heard of a lot lately made their presence felt on Sunday. Mike Napoli in particular had been in a horrible slump. He’s been in my “Raspa Cold” column the past two weeks and was well on his way to a third consecutive showing in the weekly Hall of Shame until he finally came through today. Naps had been oh for his last ten with seven strikeouts when he finagled a walk off of Kyle Drabek his first time up. In the third, he finally broke the hitless streak with a single off Drabek. And Naps’ homerless streak, over a month in length, ended in the 8th when he connected off Jesse Chavez.

Also making a power appearance after a long absence was Ian Kinsler. Kins had a longer homerless streak than Napoli, going back 28 games to April 24th. That ended with a third inning blast off Drabek that made it a 9-1 Rangers lead.

Michael Young and Elvis Andrus both appear to be coming out of slumps as well. Andrus had two hits and two RBI Sunday , while Young went three for four and made a nifty inning ending double play at second base, where he filled in today while Kinsler served as DH.

What started as a crappy week, going 1-2 against the Mariners in Seattle, has ended up a pretty decent week, with the R’s going 4-2 and gaining ground on everyone in the West except the Angels.

The result? The Rangers hammered the Jays on a day where Josh Hamilton went 0-4. As much as Hamilton is one of the main cogs that make this team run, when the other parts are doing what they’re capable of, Josh doesn’t have to feel he needs to win every game by himself.

Not that there aren’t concerns. Yu Darvish had his second consecutive mediocre outing. So far, watching Darvish is an exercise in wanting lofty expectations to be reality immediately. If you haven’t seen Darvish pitch yet, here’s what you’ll find: Pitches with so much movement, you wonder how anyone can hit him. You’ll also see command issues that seem to come and go from start to start. And you’ll see a pitcher who takes his time on the mound. Don’t expect a short game when Darvish is on the mound. He’s hitting a rough patch right now, but again, just watching him game to game, you can tell he has the potential to be scary good, but he’s not there yet, even though he now sports a 7-2 record.

The bullpen also has been less than stellar lately. Alexi Ogando in particular has hit a little bit of a rough patch and Yoshi Tateyama, called up to replace Neftali Feliz when Feliz went on the DL last week, has not given much reason to stay in the Rangers plans long-term.

Still, a sweep is a sweep and all is happy in this little corner of Rangers World. For now. But I reserve the right to get irritated with my boys at a moment’s notice.

No Feliz, No Happy

It took almost two months of the season, but the Rangers finally had to make a roster move yesterday, placing Neftali Feliz on the 15-day DL with elbow discomfort.

Neftali Feliz, 5th Starter

Although it’s just the 15-day DL, Feliz is expected to be out until the All-Star break in July. He won’t even be allowed to throw for about six weeks, followed by the usual rehab assignment, so we won’t be seeing the former Rangers closer for a while.

Funny how things change so quickly in two days time. Just a couple of days ago, Ranger fandom scoffed when it was learned the front office brass had observed a Roy Oswalt workout session. Now the possibility of an Oswalt signing becomes something much more in the forefront.

In the near term, Scott Feldman will take Feliz’ spot in the rotation. If Feldman has success, the odds go down of an Oswalt signing. Just three years ago, Feldman was a 17-game winner for Texas and was the Opening Day starter in Texas’ first World Series run in 2010. It isn’t a stretch to say Feldman could be a solid solution to the Rangers #5 starter situation. In the meantime, Robbie Ross and recently recalled Yoshinori Tateyama will probably fill the middle relief role vacated by Feldman.

Now the problem becomes what happens if another starting pitcher goes down. Alexi Ogando, who was used as a starter last season, would be an option, but I think Texas prefers him in his 7th inning role right now. As for the farm, there really aren’t any options there. The top prospects, Neil Ramirez and Martin Perez, have not pitched well. Michael Kirkman, who has seen action with the Rangers on and off the past two seasons, also has not pitched well and is being treated for skin cancer as well.

All of a sudden Roy Oswalt is looking more attractive as an option.

Beginning The Season Ramp-Up

Spring Training Tidbits:

1) Looks like Koji Uehara will remain a Ranger. GM Jon Daniels says talks have stalled on a Uehara trade package.

2) The Rangers acquired lefthander Kelvin De La Cruz from the Cleveland Indians and he became the 40th member of the Rangers’ 40-man roster. De La Cruz hasn’t pitched above AA, but held lefthanded hitters there to a .143 average in 2011. That makes him a candidate to be the Rangers’ LOOGY in 2012.

The Rangers' Japanese Mafia

3) Some unknown guy by the name of Darvish made his first appearance in Surprise, Arizona, tossing a bullpen session and joining fellow Japanese Mafia members Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama for a clubhouse picture. Reports are this Darvish fellow could make the big league roster out of Spring Training.

4) I’ve decided Jim Memelo on MLB Radio is a Rangers hater. Over the past two weeks, Memelo has called the Yu Darvish signing one of his “Most Questionable Moves” of the off-season. This morning, he ripped into Derek Holland for saying in an interview he didn’t think the Rangers were getting enough respect. Memelo said the Rangers didn’t do anything to make themselves better while other teams in the AL did. Well Jim, if you meant they didn’t plop down $200 million plus on Prince Fielder to replace Mitch Moreland at first, you’re certainly right there. Beyond that, it seems to me when you have a starting rotation listed by many publications as one of the top five in baseball, a bullpen expected to be one of the top three and an offense that’s the consensus number 1 in the game, you’re already sitting in a pretty good position.

5) For the first time, I purchased the Baseball Prospectus Pre-Season Guide with their PECOTA rankings of expected performance. Interesting read, but I was a bit puzzled. They stated at the outset they weren’t posting a ranking on Yu Darvish because, as of press time, the Rangers hadn’t signed him yet. I get that. But then, in their PECOTA ratings, they rank Neftali Feliz strictly as a reliever. This despite the fact the Rangers stated shortly after the World Series and long before going to print he was going to become a starting pitcher and there’d be no going back. Hard to believe that little nugget slipped by the bright minds at BP.

The Kids Are Alright

Five days later…

As a fan, the sting of losing Game 7 is gone. Sure, it’s disappointing. I told a Cardinals fan I know that Game 6 made me feel like Charlie Brown, with Lucy pulling the football back at the last second. Twice. I still can’t quite find the desire to turn on a lot of Sports Talk radio, for fear of hearing pundits lay into my Rangers for the way they let this one get away, but I still have a wife who loves me (most of the time), children and grandchildren who love me (most of the time) and two dogs that love me all of the time (as long as I walk them and feed them), so life is good.

The off-season has begun and with it, the makeover of the Texas Rangers to put them in the best position possible to make yet another assault on a World Series Championship. Honestly, this may be as boring an off-season for Rangers fans as there will be.

Here’s the big drama: Will CJ Wilson be back and will the Rangers succeed in signing Japanese phenom pitcher Yu Darvish? Other than that, anything else that would happen to this Rangers team will qualify as a surprise.

Wilson is the only free agent of note for Texas. According to an ESPN.com report, CJ says there’s a “great chance” he’ll return to the Texas fold in 2012. Other reports have said the Rangers plan to cut ties with the lefty and proceed heavily towards getting Darvish in the fold. In this case, I’ll trust CJ’s actual words for now. Who knows, maybe both Wilson and Darvish will be part of the 2012 rotation. The Rangers are also said to be one of the favorites to get Darvish, a 25-year-old who compiled a 1.44 ERA in the Orient this past season.

I read something interesting today concerning Darvish and Japanese pitchers in general. Over in Japan, apparently, they still stick with a 4-man rotation instead of the stateside five. Darvish is said to have as many as ten different pitches at his disposal. The interesting point made was comparing Darvish to Daisuke Matsusaka. The article (in Baseball Prospectus) said when the Red Sox got Daisuke, they made him whittle his repertoire down to five pitches. It went on to speculate the combination of this and giving him four days rest between starts instead of the three he was used to could help explain Matsusaka’s underwhelming Red Sox career. If so, it will be interesting to see if the Rangers treat Darvish differently than the Red Sox did Daisuke (assuming the Rangers get Darvish, of course).

Texas exercised the option in Colby Lewis’ contract, as well as reliever Yoshi Tateyama. The latter signing could mean the end of the road in Texas for Darren O’Day, who is a sidearming righty like Tateyama (albeit with much more zip on the ball).

There will be some arbitration battles coming up. Obviously, Mike Napoli is going to garner a huge payday whether it goes to an arbitrator or not. There could be speculation the Rangers will cut ties with Yorvit Torrealba thanks to Napoli’s strong season. Torrealba is only going to be making a little over $3 million in 2012, so I have a feeling they’ll keep him.

Other than that, this team is pretty set. Most players are under contract already. There could be some second tier players released, like Endy Chavez, Matt Treanor and Andres Blanco, but those won’t change the makeup of this team very much.

Speculation has been raised about the rangers going after Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols to fill the one weak spot on the field, first base. I just don’t think Texas is going to get involved in those high dollars, preferring to use them on pitchers like Wilson and Darvish.

There are other items I could throw out there, but all in all, this shouldn’t be as dramatic an off-season as last year was.

 

Doug Fister, Assassin

Quite frankly, I didn’t realize that Doug Fister had something against Adrian Beltre.

It sure looked that way in Game 3 of the ALCS. Beltre, known as Belt Three for his three home run performance against the Rays in the clinching game of the ALDS, this time belted three again- this time they were all against his body, leaving the All-Star 3rd baseman battered and bruised by the end of the game.

In his first at bat, Beltre fouled off one Fister pitch into his left shin. One at bat later came a shot off the left leg again, this time right above the knee. At this point he was obviously in pain, but he still took his position at third. In his final at bat of the night, this time against Jose Valverde, Beltre managed to hit yet another foul ball, this time glancing off the back of his right foot. A day earlier, his sharp grounder to first would have been beaten out for an infield hit. Instead he hobbled to the bag, easily beaten by Miguel Cabrera for the game’s penultimate out.

At one point during the game, a 1-1 tie at the time, I tweeted that the Rangers had six hits, the Tigers three, but Doug Fister was looking like the better pitcher. Words that turned out being prophetic. Once the Tigers went up 2-1, it just felt like the Rangers had to pray to tie things up and let the bullpens take over because otherwise Fister wasn’t showing any signs of letting them do a thing off him offensively.

Texas was the first to score, but it only illustrates how special a no-hitter is for a pitcher. Ian Kinsler hit a sharp single on the first pitch of the game. For the first six innings it turned out to be the hardest hit the Rangers would have. Two more hits followed by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton. Andrus’ was an infield chopper in just the right place and Hamilton’s was a soft line drive that barely eluded a leaping Jhonny Peralta’s glove to plate Kinsler.

They weren’t terribly good hits because Fister was masterful in getting his pitches in on the Rangers hitters, sawing them off and inducing weak grounders and pops. Fister was brutal against Beltre as described earlier.

Back in July, with the trade deadline approaching, I opined on another website that maybe the Rangers’ first trade deadline deal would be for Fister. It never materialized but it turned out to be the best deal the Tigers made. Fister was 3-12 for the offensively inept Seattle Mariners, but his overall stat line was much better than his record indicated. Once he got to Detroit, he became an 8-1 pitcher down the stretch. And he’s under Detroit’s control for at least the next three years. Great pick-up for them.

The best that can be said for Texas is they didn’t have to use most of their main bullpen pieces. Koji Uehara relieved Lewis, gave up another home run and pretty much ensured he won’t be trusted with a World Series roster spot if the club gets that far. Uehara has been awful since coming over from Baltimore and I foresee an off-season trade in his future. Darren Oliver was solid again and Yoshinori Tateyama got his first post-season taste. But Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz weren’t needed, giving them valuable rest for today’s day game. The Tigers, on the other hand, used both Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde for a second straight game, putting their availability in jeopardy for today’s Game 4.

Fister shut the Rangers down. More power to him. My feeling is Rick Porcello can’t duplicate the feat today.

For the Rangers, Matt Harrison needs to do what no Rangers starter has been able to do thus far this series- pitch six innings. The Tigers are as beat up right now as Beltre was last night, with Victor Martinez now joining the walking wounded for the Motor City crew. Harry needs to take advantage of it.

Hello Mr. Wilson!

Who knew it would take over 40 years to make me want to act like Dennis The Menace and just drop by CJ Wilson‘s house to bug him. But I do. I want to march over to his house right now and repeat “Please re-sign with the Rangers” over and over and over and over and over and over until he has no recourse but to re-sign, if only to get me off his back and off of his property.

Mr. Wilson took the mound Sunday after the Rangers had seen their AL West lead shrink to a mere game and a half over the second place Angels and proceeded to pitch eight innings of shutout baseball in leading Texas to an 8-1 win and a 2-1 series win over the Oakland A’s. A money performance from a money pitcher, and one who is now working on a 17 inning scoreless streak. Meanwhile, the Angels blew a chance to sweep the Yankees, with a dropped fly ball leading to two Yankees runs which put the lead back to 2 1/2 games, now with only 15 games to go.

To take a little bit of the luster off the Rangers win yesterday and the 11 strikeout performance, the A’s did rest a lot of their regulars in the game, so CJ wasn’t exactly facing an optimal line-up. On the other hand, how many times have you seen your own team rest certain regulars when facing another team’s bona fide ace? For much of the season, the Rangers have been known as having a good starting pitching staff but one without a true ace. It’s becoming more and more apparent that Wilson is turning into an ace right before our eyes, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Even more heartening than Wilson’s Sunday performance was the one turned in by Adrian Beltre. The third baseman has hit for average since returning from the disabled list, but the power hasn’t been there. Ron Washington has been batting Beltre 5th in the order, saying he’s looking for signs he’s ready to return to the clean-up spot.  One big humongous sign was shown yesterday. Beltre had a double with authority in his first at bat. His third at bat cleared the left field fence, but not by much, for his first post-DL home run. His 4th at bat was a no doubter, easily clearing the fence onto the green in center field for his second dinger of the day. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance Beltre is back in the 4-hole come Tuesday night.

Beltre’s bat is sorely needed because, quite frankly, Josh Hamilton has only been an average hitter over the past month plus. It certainly wasn’t expected for Hambone to match last year’s MVP performance numbers in 2011, but something just doesn’t look quite right with Josh. While much has been made about how poorly Hamilton has done in day games, overall he just hasn’t hit the ball with much authority. Since the beginning of August, he’s been respectable, with 7 doubles, a triple, 6 Homers and 24 RBI, but his batting average has been a pedestrian .274. To add a little perspective, in the same span, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler all have more RBI’s than Hamilton, David Murphy has only one less. Napoli and Kinsler have both hit more home runs and Kinsler has more doubles as well. And all the aforementioned except for Kinsler have hit for a higher average as well.

Certainly it’s a good problem to have, as it shows what a consistent threat the Rangers offensive line-up is, even without Nelson Cruz. Still, a nice Hamilton hot streak would be more than welcome right around now. I’m beginning to wonder if the broken bone in his upper arm that he suffered in April has caused a slight adjustment to his swing that’s affected his average and power. Anything’s possible.

Hamilton’s problem isn’t nearly as worrisome as former high school teammates and now Rangers teammates Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama. Uehara hasn’t been very good since coming over from the Orioles and Tateyama has been even worse over the past two weeks.

When Uehara was traded to the Rangers, he sported a 1.72 ERA, a .152 opponents batting average and he had given up 4 home runs in 47 innings of work. Since arriving in the Lone Star State, Koji’s given up 5 home runs in just 13 innings of work, with a .226 opponents BA and a 5.27 ERA.

But that’s nothing compared to Tateyama. On August 23rd Yoshi’s ERA had reached its lowest point of the season at 2.37. Since that time, he’s pitched 4 innings, given up 11 hits and twelve runs, all earned, for a 27.00 ERA. Adding insult to injury, the last two batters he’s faced have both hit grand slams off him. Saturday’s grand slam broke open a 3-3 game and helped the A’s break a 10-game losing streak against Texas.

With only 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season, Wash doesn’t have a lot of time left to figure out who will fill what bullpen roles come playoff time (assuming the Rangers get there). The recent performances of the two Japanese imports, as well as Mark Lowe and Mike Gonzalez, aren’t making the skipper’s decision any easier.

Off day today so the R’s can root for the A’s against the Angels tonight, then Cleveland comes to town Tuesday.

In closing, I’d just like Mr. Wilson to know this: Please resign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers, please re-sign with the Rangers…..

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