Mar 272013
 

Weekly preview of each of the Rangers’ American League West rivals for the 2013 season – from the bottom up.

  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Houston Astros

Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?The Oakland Athletics won the American League West last year in dramatic fashion, snatching the division title away from the Rangers on the final day of the season.  If you are reading this, I’m betting that you haven’t forgotten.

With a hodge-podge of contributing veterans, break-out players, timely performances and a Cuban who is slugging his way towards stardom, the A’s won the division when the consensus going into 2012 was that they would finish a distant third to the Rangers and Angels.

So, who would dare pick them to finish third again?  Who would challenge Moneyball?  Who would give the A’s their bulletin board material in 2013?  Me…and Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com…and others for that matter…but most importantly ME.

Bottom line (oddly near the top of the article), I’m not a believer.  The Rangers helped the A’s to the West title last year more than any other team in baseball could have.  The A’s don’t have what it takes to win the AL West without another collapse from the Rangers and Angels.  

The Bats & Gloves

This is still a lineup made up of guys (with the exception of a few) that are relative no-names.  No offense to those guys, but these just aren’t names that the average baseball fans is familiar with.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t good…

Projected Line-up

  1. Coco Crisp, CF
  2. Jed Lowrie, SS
  3. Josh Reddick, RF
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  5. Brandon Moss, 1B
  6. Seth Smith, DH
  7. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  8. John Jaso, C
  9. Scott Sizemore or Eric Sogard, 2B

There are some projections out there that have Jaso batting higher in the order and even 2nd, but Lowrie is leading candidate.  Former Diamondback outfielder Chris Young will also probably get plenty of ABs as the fourth outfielder on the team.

Three bats that peak my interest:

  • Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?Brandon Moss…solid player who far exceeded expectations in 2012 – or – late blooming journeyman who just needed a chance to prove he is a middle of the order talent?  The 29 year-old Moss, with his fourth team in Oakland, broke out like no other in 2013, and while I’m inclined to call it a “one-hit wonder”, I’m not quite ready to completely dismiss Moss.  In 265 crucial at-bats last year, he hit 21 bombs with a .954 OPS.  Projected over a full season, he would have been a 40+ HR, 100+ RBI MVP candidate.  The only other season in his career in which he had as many plate appearances was in 2009 when he hit 7 dingers with a .236 batting average with 120 more at-bats than what he had last year.  So, will the real Brandon Moss please stand up?  Like I said, I’m intrigued.
  • John Jaso was once trusted to lead off by the great Joe Maddon (he with the sweet black-rimmed specks).  Jaso flies under the radar (just like the A’s like ‘em), but is an extremely productive player when you take into account he is a catcher (thin position).  Last year with the Mariners, he hit 10 HRs with 50 RBIs over just 294 at-bats, while putting together an impressive slash – .276/.394/.456.  While it’s quite possible that Jaso too played above his head a bit in 2012, this dude can hit and he is a perfect fit for this line-up.  Derek Norris will still get time behind the plate, but Jaso’s bat will find away in to the line-up more often than not.
  • Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?Yoenis Cespedes scares me and he should scare you too.  As stated earlier, this team is made up of a bunch of second-chancers and no names with the exception of a few….and Cespedes is part of the few.  Wanna dark horse for 2013 AL MVP?  Look no further.  Cespedes put together an impressive rookie campaign in 2012 with a .292/.365/.505 slash, but when you look at the splits, you see that he really figured it out in the second half of the season with an OPS of 119 points higher than the first half.  He doesn’t care if the pitcher is a rightie or a leftie, and get’s even better when runners are in scoring position (.345/.430/.540 slash with RISP).

Defensively…well, you’ve probably seen Moneyball…so you know how Billy Beane does it.  Outfielders are good, infielders are average…again, breaking down defense is boring.  Not dismissing it’s importance, but c’mon…

The Arms

The A’s have an impressive stable of young starters who, while none of which are Ace material, combine to make a strong rotation – that’s synergy…maybe.

Projected Rotation

  1. Brett Anderson, LHP
  2. Jarrod Parker, RHP
  3. Tommy Milone, LHP
  4. A.J. Griffin, RHP
  5. Bartolo Colon, RHP

Dan Straily will be the 5th starter for at least the first time through the rotation, but it’s really Colon’s spot to lose.

  • 2nd in the American League in team ERA at 3.48
  • 2nd in the American League in team WHIP at 1.239
  • Last in American League with just 1 Complete Game – they rely on their pen.
  • In the bottom 3 of the AL in strikeouts while in the bottom 5 in the AL in walks – they don’t blow you away, but they also don’t give free passes.

They will definitely miss Brandon McCarthy, but Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker make up a pretty salty 1-2 punch at the top of the order.  Parker has the potential to be something special for the A’s long-term at the tender age of 24 and under the team’s control through 2017.

The Bullpen

Given the stat above of only one complete game last year, the A’s are a team that leverages their bullpen regularly….exactly 161 times in 2012.  Grant Balfour will be the closer once again.  The bullpen, like the rest of this team, underwhelms you by name but gets the job done.

The Manager

Bob Melvin is a healthy 6’4″, 205 pounds and has a career managerial record of 634 – 628, so….there’s that.

The Bottom Line

Look, the Athletics are a dangerous team, as proven by last year’s dominance down the stretch, but…I don’t think they are better than the Rangers or the Angels…on paper…which is why they play the games.

Could the A’s surprise us all again?  Of course, but this team is not a playoff team without help, in the form of a collapse, from the Rangers and/or Angels unless both wild card teams happen to come from the American League West (which was the prediction from ESPN The Magazine).

  • Best Case: 94-68, same as last year.  While the Astros will help them out in the win column, I see more consistent and improved play from the Rangers and Angels stopping the Athletics from improving upon last year’s mark.
  • Worst Case: 82-80, this team is better than .500, barring any major injuries.

Down to the top 2 now…stay tuned.


Side note – we are less than two weeks away from the 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip.  We still have tickets available.  If you want to go and your want your shirt to be ready for the Field Trip,  you need to order your tickets tomorrow.  Looking forward to it!

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Oct 032012
 
RangersAs

Here we are at game 162…

How the West was won...At no point this season, did I think it would come to this.  Even yesterday, I felt confident that Matt Harrison would get it done.  I felt confident that the bats would come to life just enough to claim victory in game 161 and wrap up the AL West title.

But that’s not the way it worked out…and here we are.

A small part of me is excited.  While I would have loved for the Rangers to have locked up the division a month ago, there is something to be said for this Game 7-like finality.

The more realistic and pessimistic side of me wants to puke.  The Rangers look like a deflated, uninterested, scared team and a meager shell of what we saw early in the season.  This side  of me is not confident that we can secure the division with a win today.  This side of me is not confident we can beat Baltimore in a one game Wild Card to get to the ALDS.  This is not my favorite side of me…

Let’s take a quick look at how the West was won….

AL West Division as of April 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 17 6 .739 124 68 .750
SEA 11 13 .458 6.5 94 103 .458
OAK 11 13 .458 6.5 73 92 .396
LAA 8 15 .348 9.0 80 94 .427
Feeling good at this point.  The Angels were the bigger concern coming into the season, and Rangers fans were just as enthused about their poor start as they were the Rangers strong start.

AL West Division as of May 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 31 20 .608 291 212 .641
LAA 26 26 .500 5.5 199 191 .519
SEA 23 30 .434 9.0 218 216 .504
OAK 22 29 .431 9.0 164 202 .406
That’s more like it.  Angels surged in late-April/May with the arrival of Mike Trout and the bottom feeders took their rightful spots – 9 games out close to 1/3 of the way through the season.

AL West Division as of June 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 50 29 .633 426 324 .623
LAA 43 35 .551 6.5 337 297 .558
OAK 37 42 .468 13.0 297 301 .494
SEA 34 46 .425 16.5 315 344 .460
The Rangers continued to hold a nice lead in the division at 6.5 games over the Angels.  Oakland and Seattle continued to slide as expected.  It clearly looked like a two horse race as we approached the All-Star break.

AL West Division as of July 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 59 43 .578 507 434 .571
LAA 57 47 .548 3.0 475 416 .560
OAK 56 47 .544 3.5 414 384 .534
SEA 49 57 .462 12.0 423 422 .501
What the hell happened here?  Rangers (9-14 in July) gave up some ground to the Angels (14-12 in July) and Oakland got HOT, posting a record of 19-5 during the month of July.  All of the sudden, there looked to be a third horse in the race.  While there July performance couldn’t be ignored, it was seen as a bit flukey and I think many questioned if they could sustain the pace through the end of the regular season.

AL West Division as of August 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 78 53 .595 675 562 .583
OAK 74 57 .565 4.0 560 486 .564
LAA 70 62 .530 8.5 631 588 .532
SEA 64 69 .481 15.0 518 528 .491
The Angels faded during August and Oakland kept pace with the Rangers.  With a month to go, there was still a small fear of a Angels surge and most felt like Oakland was for real at this point.
Wild card for Oakland?  Sure.
AL West title for Oakland?  Seemed like a stretch.

AL West Division as of September 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 93 66 .585 799 688 .568
OAK 91 68 .572 2.0 694 605 .562
LAA 88 71 .553 5.0 758 677 .552
SEA 73 86 .459 20.0 597 642 .467
This is where we stood Monday morning.  Headed to Oakland in complete control of the division and our post-season placement…and our DESTINY if you dig the emotional cheese.

AL West Division as of Today

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 93 68 .578 803 695 .566
OAK 93 68 .578 701 609 .564
LAA 89 72 .553 4.0 767 687 .550
SEA 74 87 .460 19.0 607 651 .468
Two games with Oakland.  Two losses.  Game 162 today at 2:30pm to determine:
  • The American League West Division Title
  • Post-season placement – Wild Card or #1/#2 seed (depending on Yanks outcome)
  • Another chapter in the Rangers History Book.

Will this team be looked back on as the team that came through when their backs were against the wall – or – will this be the team that cued up changes.  Changes in personnel, changes in approach and changes in how the team is perceived by the rest of the MLB community.

How the West was won...

Hey Dempster – need ya to be great today brother!

I want to be the guy that believes the Rangers can wrap this up today and play like I know they are capable of in the post-season.  I also want to be independently wealthy without actually working, but…

Love you all.  See you on the other side.

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Sep 132012
 
DutchMcAlli

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

This is not Derek Holland. But that is a fine mustache, young lady.

No one likes to beat a dead horse. However, the Texas Rangers have had no problems in whipping-up on the nearly-lifeless Cleveland Indians.

After out-scoring the Tribe 11-6 in the first two games of this three-game set, the Rangers are going for the sweep tonight, and will turn to certified Cleveland-killer Derek Holland to get the job done.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Cleveland Indians (59-84)

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

Shin-Soo was 2-for-4 against the Rangers last night, but is riding the pine this evening.


SS Brent Lillibridge
2B Jason Kipnis
DH Carlos Santana
CF Michael Brantley
LF Vinny Rottino
1B Matt LaPorta
RF Thomas Neal
C Lou Marson
3B Jack Hannahan

VS

LHP Derek Holland (10-6, 4.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9)

Derek Holland has won three of his last four decisions, and certainly pitched well enough to earn the victory in his last start, in Tampa Bay.

To find the victims in Holland’s most recent win, you need look no further than the opposing team’s dugout. Holland, an Ohio native, picked up his tenth win on the year by pitching seven stellar innings against tonight’s foe, the Cleveland Indians, on September 2. All told, the Dutch Oven struck out five, walked just two and scattered five hits.

For Holland to succeed in notching his eleventh victory on the year, it will be crucial for him to have success against Carlos Santana (.385/.467/.923, 2 HRs) as well as Brent Lillibridge (.429/.556/.857, HR), both of whom have hit him well.

Texas Rangers (85-57)

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

After hitting his 32nd homer of the year last night, Beltre was pulled due to a shoulder issue. He has been cleared to DH this evening, so it’s all good.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
DH Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
3B Michael Young
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
CF Leonys Martin

VS

RHP Zach McAllister (5-7, 4.31 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9)

McAllister, a 6’6″ right-hander from Chillicothe, Illinois, is most likely not very excited about getting the start tonight against the Texas Rangers.

A mere 11 days ago, McAllister was “greeted” by a Texas Rangers’ offense that pounded-out four home runs and recorded seven earned runs over his five innings of work. Remember Jurickson Profar’s first big league homer? Yep, that was off of McAllister. Josh Hamilton found him to his liking too, as he took the righty deep as well.

Sure, Hamilton and Profar are getting the day off today, but it’s not like they were the only Rangers to shellack McAllister. In fact, the only Ranger starting tonight who hasn’t record at least one hit off of him is Mitch Moreland, and, hey, there’s no time like the present, Mitchy!

McAllister is currently riding a five-game losing streak.

So close, yet Profar away

• Rangers’ rookie—and number one prospect—Jurickson Profar was originally slated to start at second base and bat in the nine-hole. However, an MRI of Adrian Beltre’s left shoulder showed no structural damage, and Washington decided to give him the start at designated hitter. Thus, Profar was the odd-man out.

Texas Rangers’ injury news

• Adrian Beltre left yesterday’s game in the fifth inning with a sore left wing, but, as noted earlier, his MRI was negative and he was a late edition to tonight’s starting lineup.

• Josh Hamilton had an injection in his left knee after last night’s game. His injury is not considered serious, but he is getting the night off and is listed as day to day.

• Rangers’ rookie, Mike Olt, was called on to replace Adrian Beltre at third base last night. Olt would leave the game as well as he re-aggravated a plantar fasciitis issue while beating out an infield single. Olt will be sidelined 10-14 days and is set to see a podiatrist in the near future.

• Everyone’s favorite extra-toothy Texas Ranger, Robbie Ross, is scheduled to throw another bullpen tomorrow. He has been sidelined with left forearm tightness, so any throwing not met with subsequent pain is great news for the young lefty.

• Rangers’ reluctant bullpen-specialist, Roy Oswalt, is scheduled to attempt to throw today. He lasted just two innings in his last spot-start and noted that it felt like “something bit his elbow.” No word on if he cast an embittered gaze to all parties involved upon discussing said injury; but, yeah, I’m pretty sure he did.

All Quiet on the A.L. West front?

• Sadly, no, no it is not. The Oakland Athletics continue their quest to become the most-unlikely—according to most pre-season rankings, at least—team to make a playoff splash. They are currently just three games behind the Texas Rangers, which is astounding considering the Rangers own the American League’s best record.

• For the A’s, it’s almost as if shedding the weight of Bartolo Colon—both literally and figuratively—has propelled their ascent all the more. Every time I check the standings, there they are, that much closer to an improbable Wild Card playoff berth.

• The only good thing about the A’s winning, is that three of their last four wins have come at the expense of the Angels.

• The Rangers currently hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the A’s and an 8-game lead over the increasingly lowly LA Angels of A-holedom (if that’s not a word, it should be.)

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Sep 062012
 
greatthursday copy

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Adrian Beltre continues his offensive assault, as he swatted home run number 29 last night.

If you are a resident of the greater DFW Metroplex, undoubtedly, today you had a pretty solid day. That’s just the way it is in the DF-dub when both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys win on the same night.

The Cowboys, as you may recall, defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants a night ago, much like the Rangers nipped the 1985 World Series Champion KC Royals.

It’s the kind of day that your coffee costs $4.14, and the dude at Starbucks waves you on as you plummet into your pockets unsuccessfully searching for the 14 cents.

A mockingbird might just land on your shoulder, and that good-looking person you’ve been oggling at the office actually laughs with you rather than at you.

On a day like today, your skinny pants actually make you feel skinny.

All told, it’s a red-letter, 22-font, all CAPS kind of Thursday.

How could this day get any better? Well, that’s easy, friends. A win tonight for the Texas Rangers would not only get Scooter back on track, but would also claim the season series against the increasingly pesky KC Royals.

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals (61-75)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Butler went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored an an RBI in last night’s game.


CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Tony Abreu

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9)

How many pitchers can you recall have had two six-game losing streaks in the same season? Yeah, I’m stumped too. Well, a loss tonight and Scooter Feldman will hold that ignominious distinction. It’s hard to believe that sandwiched in between his two aforementioned skids, he had a six-game winning streak, too.

Truth be told, over his current five-game skid, Feldman truly hasn’t been that bad; he’s just fallen prey to one really bad inning in each of those losses. Feldman is definitely the type of pitcher that keeps you on your toes, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Ironically, during Scooter’s six-game winning streak, it was these same KC Royals that he defeated 4-2 on August 4. The 6’6″ Hawaiian-born righty has not recorded a win since…so, beating the Royals tonight would just make a strange kind of cosmic sense, right?

Right.

Texas Rangers (81-55)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Michael Young hit his sixth home run of the season, and his second of the series in last night’s 7-6 Rangers win.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
DH Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry

VS

RHP Luke Hochevar (7-13, 5.34 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9)

Hochevar, a former number on pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, has occasionally shown flashes of greatness over his career. For example, on June 25 of this year, Hochevar pitched a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays while collecting eight strikeouts and surrendering just seven hits.

Then, of course, you have the 2 1/3 inning outing against the Yankees on May 6 where Hochevar was undressed to the tune of seven earned runs on seven hits. He didn’t strike out anyone and surrendered two long balls.

The 6’5″, 220-pound Denver, Colorado, native’s career arc is somewhere in between those two vastly different starts. In other words, Hochevar is a solid back-of-the-rotation type of starter.

The Texas Rangers have produced the triple-slash line of: .247/.309/.447 against Hochevar. Michael Young, who is batting second tonight and starting at shortstop, is the only Ranger (aside from catcher Geovany Soto) to have hit a home run off of Hochevar.

News around the A.L. West

• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace, Jered Weaver, has been scratched from his next start due to right biceps tendinitis. Although this might not have any long-term implications, it’s never a good thing for your ace to be dealing with any kind of injury issue.

• The Oakland Athletics, currently five games behind Texas, travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners tomorrow, while the Los Angeles Angels welcome the Detroit Tigers to the “Big A.” The Angels are 2 1/2 games behind the A’s and 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 022012
 
Texas Rangers v Cleveland Indians

Feldman Falters in the First, Rangers Cant Recover as Tribe triumphs 4 3Scott Feldman is beginning to develop a pattern.

No, I’m not just talking about his current five-game losing streak. Feldman is having—quite consistently over his last six starts—one bad inning.

Every start.

Last month against the Detroit Tigers, it was the four-spot he surrendered in the sixth inning that was his ultimate undoing. In his next start, against the Yankees, it was a three-run third. The Orioles jumped on him for four in the fifth during his next go-around…then the Twinkies dropped a deuce on Feldy in the fifth inning (once again.) And, last night, the Tribe gave Texas a Scooter-scalping for four earned runs in the first inning.

If you’re keeping score at home, he need only surrender a big second-inning to close out the first six frames, dart-style.

Last night’s 4-3 loss had the makings of an extremely short outing for Feldman, as Oswalt was beginning to get loose in the bullpen with just one out in the first inning.

Feldman recovered nicely, and stellar relief from Alexi Ogando and even gasp! Koji Uehara, kept the Indians to only four runs, total. Unfortunately, Adrian Beltre can’t do it all himself and the first-frame four-spot proved insurmountable.

Here in a few hours the Rangers will turn to Derek Holland to try and take their fourth-straight series, so hey, pound a few coldies and go get ‘em tomorrow…

Oakland Athletics Watch

• I don’t know about you, but I still find myself scoreboard watching—without even looking at Oakland’s box scores. I just don’t consider them a threat. But I think that it’s high time to start giving them more than a cursory glance.

They are currently a measly three games out of first place with a 75-57 record. Think about that for a moment. The Texas Rangers are having their best season in the franchise’s history…and the stupid Oakland A’s are only three games behind them.

With their current record, the A’s would be in sole possession of first place in the A.L. Central as well as the N.L. West…it’s definitely time to circle our calendars for September 24—September 27, when the A’s arrive for a four game series in Arlington that might just have some playoff implications…

Up Next:

LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 4.90 ERA) is currently riding a modest two-game winning streak. For HollandO, a native of Newark Ohio, there is truly no place like home. The 25-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA against the Tribe over his career.

For the Indians, it’ll be RHP Zach McAllister (5-5, 3.82). Like the Indians, McAllister has struggled over the last couple of months. He’ll be vying for just his third win since July.

The first pitch is scheduled for 12:05 (CST).

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Sep 012012
 
JuricksonProfarcopy_display_image

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Dempster was one cool customer last night, as he held the Tribe to just two hits over his six innings of work.

Fresh off of a 5-3 win at Cleveland’s Progressive Field last night, it’s hard to believe that the Texas Rangers lost two-of-three to these same Indians back in May—while outscored 19-13.

The two-run advantage really isn’t indicative of the dominant effort that the Rangers put forth a night ago, it’s just a sign of how bad Koji Uehara continues to be…even with the rosters expanding to 40 today, you have to wonder why Uehara continues to occupy one of those spots.

That being said here’s a look at some Rangers of note as well as some roster information as the light at the end of the regular season tunnel begins to burn ever brighter…

Ryan Dempster Continues to Cruise

• I wish I could claim to have never felt the pangs of panic concerning Ryan Dempster. But, like most of us, the second time Demples was shellacked for eight runs, I was wiping the sweat from my brow while clenching my fist in anticipation of smashing the proverbial panic button.

However, all anxiety surrounding the right-hander has been subdued by his recent excellence. Over his last three starts, Dempster has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and has notched 20 strikeouts and only seven walks. In short, Dempster has looked like the ace the Rangers have so desperately sought since Cliff Lee’s departure via free agency.

Trade Deadline Comes to a Close as Rosters Expand

• Even after news came of the Mariners’ King Felix being claimed on waivers, it became apparent that he most likely will be staying put in Seattle.

• However, the Texas Rangers did announce that the much-anticipated debut of Jurickson Profar will occur today. Highly regarded pitching prospect Miguel De Los Santos was designated for assignment and it looks like Tanner Scheppers as well as Brandon Snyder will be returning to the big league club for the September stretch run.

• It is uncertain how much playing time the aforementioned Profar will command in the final weeks of the season, but he will be a true utility infielder expected to backup shortstop Elvis Andrus and possibly Ian Kinsler at second base.

Koji Uehara…yeah, you know

• As I’m sure most of you are well aware, I’m not a Koji Uehara fan. It’s nothing personal, he seems like a nice dude and I admire his enthusiasm. But, the guy is just an awful pitcher. Occasionally people point to his statistics to quiet my rage, but with Koji, you have to consider the situations he’s used in. He rarely pitches in a close game that the Rangers are winning and if you’ve ever wondered why, just look at his outing against Minnesota last week and last night’s thunder-shot home run off the bat of the excruitiatingly-average Casey Kotchman…and there you have it.

Personally, I’d leave Koji off of my roster even if it expanded to a 60-man…I just don’t see why he’s ever allowed to pitch.

Adrian Beltre—not of this Earth

• Beltre, last week’s A.L. Player of the Week, is continuing to sizzle at the dish. Last night he was 4-for-5, raising his batting average five points to .316 on the season. Over his last 10 games, Beltre has hit .475 with six home runs and 14 RBI. It appears that the sure-handed third baseman is getting hot at the best possible time…

A.L. West Continues to Sizzle

• As great as the Rangers have played over the last several weeks, it’s hard to believe that they have been the A.L. West’s third hottest team over their last ten games.

• The second-place Oakland Athletics have won nine-of-ten and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak; the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have started to show signs of life, winning seven-of-ten while feeling the flow of a four-game winning streak.

Robbie Ross Injured

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences

Fan favorite and outstanding lefty reliever, Robbie Ross, is headed to the DL with tightness in his left forearm.

• Word came down late last night that left-handed reliever-extraordinnaire Robbie Ross will be placed on the disabled list due to left-forearm stiffness. The diagnosis is particularly disparaging as tightness in the forearm is often a precursor to elbow ligament damage—see Lewis, Colby.

Up Next:

RHP Scott Feldman (6-10, 4.95 ERA) will look to tap into some of his six-game winning streak magic in hopes of staving off his current four-game skid. Scooter will oppose the Indians’ Jeanmar Gomez (4-7, 5.11 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 (CST).

Ryan Dempster Tosses Two Hitter, Robbie Ross to DL as Jurickson Profar Era Commences
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It’s Profar time, and I’m stoked!

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Jul 252012
 
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Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

“You mean I’m going to be traded to a team with postseason aspirations?! Hells yeah I’m cool with that!”

Cole Hamels will not be coming to Arlington after all. Evidently he wants to languish in last place with Philadelphia. And per various reports, he has about 144 million reasons why.

Here’s a look at some pitchers that are on the Rangers’ radar. You can call them “trade possibilities” or, better yet, potential agents serving the noble cause also know as the “Scott Feldman to Playoff Rotation Protection Program.” SFiPRPP if you’re so inclined.

Clifton Phifer Lee

Yeah, hard to believe a dude from Benton, Arkansas has the middle name of “Phifer,” huh? Yeah, not really. Kind of shocking that it’s not his first name.

”Phifer! Gramma is out of pseudoephedrine for her crystal meth. Here’s some cash, now you hitch on down to Allsup’s and gather her up some, y’hear? Get me a pack of Pall Malls too, hon.”

Look, I don’t think Cliff Lee is going anywhere. I’m also convinced that his Arkansas kin aren’t meth manufacturers—it’s not like he’s from Missouri.

Seriously, Lee’s exorbitant contract makes him far less movable than Michael Young, even back when The Face could still hit.

Phifer’s owed $75 million over the next three seasons (not counting this one), plus a vesting option of $27.5 million in 2016 (insert ear-rattling whistle here.)

Lee will be 34-years-old next month. At his current age of 33, he’s giving up home runs to pitchers. Also, he hasn’t won a postseason game since he beat the Yankees in the 2010 American League Championship Series…

You still want him over here?

Yeah, me too.

Since the Rangers probably won’t snatch the far-fetched Lee, with whom do they have left to choose?

Zack Greinke—The “Section 8”
What do you think, R. Lee Ermey?

Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

“Greinke’s a section 8! Plus there’s no damn ‘k’ in ‘Zachary,’ so what gives with the ‘Zack’ thing?!”


I’m sure we’ve all seen Full Metal Jacket. Rather than a fully loaded M14 rifle (as well as a crippling case of insanity), Greinke comes equipped with a 98 MPH fastball, wipeout slider and a slight Social Anxiety Disorder.

As a baseball fan, I love Zack Greinke—even if his full name is “Zachary” which has nary a “k” in it. But as a Rangers fan, I’m a little iffy on selling the farm to get him to Arlington.

He’s a strange cat. Last night, he pitched brilliantly, went dong-city on Cliff Lee and did it all on 11 days of rest. Evidently, he needed to “recharge his batteries.” Hmmph.

Greinke’s downside is that he hasn’t had the playoff experience of Cole Hamels. And he certainly hasn’t seen the postseason success of the 2008 World Series MVP.

Plus, why can someone with such an unbelievable arsenal not dominate no matter the domicile?

Greinke’s home/road splits over his career are perplexing. Home: 51-28, 3.42 ERA, 4.12 SO/BB ratio. Road: 34-48, 4.18 ERA, 3.05 SO/BB ratio. Hmmm.

And in the playoffs, Greinke’s been hit hard. It’s a small sample size, but in his three career postseason starts (all of which came last season…the Royals don’t play in October, silly), he’s gone 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA.

Regardless, I’d love to see Greinke in a Rangers uniform. He’s already turned down a nine-figure deal from Milwaukee, so you know he’s up for a change. Now it’s just up to JD to pull the trigger.

Josh Johnson—Mr. Glass

Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

They call him…”Mr. Glass.” Okay, just me. But still.


Josh Johnson is a stud, and possesses every skill you (or anybody else) would want from a TORP.

Upper-90s fastball, with an excellent slider. He grew up just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so you know he understands how awesome Texas is.

Plus, at 6’ 7” and 250 pounds, Johnson is a dude you want on your side when the shit goes down—be it down the stretch, in the playoffs, or in the parking lot of the local Whataburger.

So what’s the downside? Well, he’s often-injured. He’s already had Tommy John surgery—who hasn’t, right?—and various shoulder issues forced him to be shutdown in 2010, and to miss most of 2011.

I’m all for a Josh Johnson pick up. Even though he has a checkered injury past, if he could just stay 100% this season—that might be all the Rangers need for the ultimate postseason prize…

Other possibilities…

Matt Garza: The Rangers have been interested in Garza for a number of years. He’s an enchanting option, since, like Johnson, he has another year of control.

James Shields: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are supposedly hot and heavy over Mr. Shields. The Rangers should acquire him and them dump him in Oakland…just so the A’s will win enough games to keep the Angels from making the playoffs.

Mwahahahahahahaha!

The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t exactly out of the A.L. East race, and with Joe Maddon at the helm, I’m not sure you can ever dismiss them…the Rays might not want to move Shields anywhere.

And that’s cool with me, as long as those dang Angels don’t snag him (or anything other than missed opportunities.)

The non-move move

It’s definitely not the sexiest of moves. The “non-move,” that is. But there is word that the Rangers are willing to slide Ogando back into the rotation. Not only would this create a viable playoff rotation, it would also keep our fantastic farm system and its bevy of prospects intact.

Texas could then focus on picking up some far less expensive bullpen pieces, and making a postseason go with their rotation “as is.”

Forecast

In true Ron Washington fashion, my “gut” tells me that the Rangers are going to acquire a pitcher sometime between now and next Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline.

Wow, I’m really going out on a limb, eh?

I tend to agree with Joey Matches in that the Mike Olt for Josh Johnson trade speculation is long on mutual benefits…it could definitely happen.

After all of the rampant rumors and spine-tingling speculations, it’d be hard to “settle” for a non-move. It’d be a letdown similar to car shopping with crappy credit—look at all the cool stuff we’re not getting!

But an even tougher sell than remaining static would be a playoff rotation with a name like “Scott Feldman” in it.

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Jul 212012
 
Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels

Scott attempts to trade Jasen to an Oakland Athletics blog and podcast, which leads to discussion about the trade deadline and what we think the Rangers should do.

  • What are the top 2 needs for the current Rangers squad?
  • Who are some of the trade targets?
  • Who would the Rangers have to give up in return?  Profar?  Olt?  Perez?

Podcast Episode 16   Rangers Trade Deadline Talk (Part 1)Unfortunately, the Philly pictured here has not been put on the trading block.

We’ll have part 2 of the Trade Deadline podcast up next Saturday, as the rumors continue to heat up through the week leading up to the deadline at 4pm on July 31st.

Be sure to check out our Trade Target Profiles on Justin Upton and Cole Hamels…we’ll have more of these coming through the deadline as well.

Stay tuned for details on a game watching party at Mixed Up Burgers!

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Jul 182012
 
Roy

Coming into last night’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics had been on a roll. Their offense had finally started to support one of the league’s most underrated—and unheard of—pitching staffs.

But then along came Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt’s previous four starts had ranged from decent to terrible. Last night was easily his best start as a Texas Ranger. Oswalt’s dominant effort quieted the A’s offense, with Adrian Beltre and Craig Gentry combining to solve the riddle of the Athletics’ Colon.

Um, Bartolo that is. On a side note, the Athletics should have that checked at least once a year or so. It’s better safe than sorry when you’re talking about something as important as your Colon.

My thoughts from last night’s 6-1

That a boy, Roy

That was a nice start from Mr. Os. 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, with six strikeouts and zero walks. A few more starts like that and Neftali Feliz will most certainly end up in the bullpen.

Mike Adams, indigestion inducer

When Adams is on the hill, I tend to pop Rolaids like C.C. Sabathia does Oreos—by the sleeve.

Adams had Jemile Weeks down 0-2, with one out…then plunks him. Next thing you know the bases are loaded and Rangers killer Yoenis Cespedes is up. Somehow Adams got out of the inning unscathed.

But c’mon, this guy wants to close? I’m fine with that, as long as it’s for a different team.

Adrian Beltre

Beltre’s fourth inning solo shot represented the point in time when I first realized the Rangers were about to defeat the rotund right-hander, Colon.

All kidding aside, it was nice to see the Rangers have some success against Bartolo Colon. Remember that the last time Texas took on Colon in Oakland, he shut them down and did it in about two hours…no easy task.

Gentry not so Gentlemanly while in Oakland

Craig Gentry is now batting .550 (11-for-20) with 5 RBI off of Oakland Athletics’ pitching this season.

That’s downright uncivilized, good sir (or madam).

This is the equivalent of obliging a fellow gent’s request to a duel, only to shove a grenade down his pants and run like hell—all the way to the victim’s quarters so as to bed his recently widowed wife.

Or something like that…whatever, keep up the good work, Gentry.

Welcome back, Aleix Ogando and Mike Napoli

Napoli hadn’t been gone long, but his run-producig stroke had been witnessed on more than a few DFW-area milk cartons. Last night, his RBI single plated Gentry for the first run of the game, and here’s hoping it’s a sign that Napoli is finally turning the page on his very unproductive 2012 story.

It’s always a pleasure to see the “Stickman from the Dominican.” Alexi Ogando hadn’t appeared in a game since straining his right groin last month in San Francisco. Ogando pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief, ratcheting his fastball all the way up to 97 MPH. His addition makes the Rangers bullpen that much stronger.

Up Next

RHP Colby Lewis (6-6, 3.51 ERA) will make his first start since June 23 today at 2:35 (CT). Lewis had been sidelined with right forearm tendonitis. For the Athletics, Australian-born left-hander Travis Blackley (2-2, 3.20 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season.

Go Rangers!

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Jul 172012
 
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Nothing really happened in Rangerville yesterday. It was an off day—viewed as a necessary evil to the die-hard fans like you and I. Other than ensuring proper rest for our favorite team as they ready for a stretch run in the 100-plus degree heat, off days don’t do much in the way of news.

Let’s see…

So, Jason Kidd was arrested for DWI. He’s pleading not guilty, and the word is that he was under the influence of a drug used as a sleep aid.

Sure, Kidd. I know the medication—it goes by the street name of vodka.

What else?

Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels

Mike Trout. One great hitter, and one ugly chick.


Ah yes, the Los Angels of Anaheim continue to lose. That’s always a plus. Trumbo can hit 74 bombs and Trout can bat .400 for all I care—as long as: a. The Angels keep losing, and b. Albert Pujols continues his path towards the worst year of his career.

But back to the stuff that really matters, let’s take a look at some Texas Rangers news and notes.

Rangers Rumor Mill

It’s no secret that most contending teams are hot on the tail of the Brewers’ Zach Greinke and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels.

Both are outstanding pitchers that are capable of elevating a solid team to a World Series-caliber club.

With Hamels, you’d get a lefty with a WS ring and plenty of postseason experience. It’s largely being speculated however that Hamels would be a Cliff Lee-like pickup as he would be out the door as soon as the postseason comes to a close.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather have right-hander Zach Greinke. Sure, he has anxiety issues, and no, he doesn’t have the postseason experience of the aforementioned Hamels, but I feel the Rangers have more of a shot at extending him for a few years into the future.

One knock on picking up either is that the new collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow for compensatory draft picks should either acquisition decide to jump ship…in other words, the Rangers would be out a ton of prospects for a rent-a-pitcher.

However, the lack of compensation picks might lessen the sheer amount of prospects necessary to obtain said pitcher…either way, why not pursue a pitcher like a Matt Garza, who would come with an extra “bonus year” of team control?

Roy Oswalt

When the Rangers signed Roy Oswalt several weeks ago, they realized that they weren’t getting an ace. What they wanted was a solid middle-of-the-rotation innings eater.

Oswalt looked much better in his no-decision against Minnesota during his last start. He only surrendered five hits—so noted due to the fact that he was averaging over 11 hits in his previous three starts.

The success of Oswalt over his next few starts—as we roar towards the door of the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline—will factor in to whether or not the Rangers make the move for Greinke, Hamels, or Garza.

Texas clearly has all the pieces in place to make either of those trades happen.

Josh Hamilton, former tobacco user

Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels

Seriously. Someone get this dude some snuff pronto.


Yeah, as far as I can tell, Hambone is still snuff free. Good for him. Sadly, he’s also been largely impact-free since he decided to ban the can.

It’s great—fantastic even—that he’s saying nope to the cope. And with his burgeoning family no one would doubt his modus operandi to ditch the lip candy.

However…

Can’t you wait until the offseason? No matter how talented the batter, being productive in the box takes maximum concentration. If you’re jonsing for a lip log, dude, you’re not locked in. Hamilton’s recent struggles at the plate soundly backup the “nic-fit” theory.

Injury Updates
Rangers Head Back to Cali—Looking for Road Trip Revenge over Athletics, Angels
As of today, the Texas Rangers should activate Alexi Ogando, and Koji Uehara.

Talk about a boost to the bullpen.

Rather than a B12 to the buttocks, the additions of Ogando and Uehara are more like a Pulp Fiction-esque adrenalin blast right through the ‘ole bullpen breastplate.

Also, Colby Lewis is slated to start against Oakland on Wednesday.

Up Next

Tomorrow night the Rangers start a two-game series with A.L. West foes, the Oakland Athletics. The first pitch is scheduled for 9:05 (CT), so make sure you have your energy drink of choice at the ready…

On the bump for Oakland will be RHP Bartolo Colon (6-7, 3.80 ERA) against Rangers’ right-hander Roy Oswalt (2-1, 6.26 ERA).

Should be an interesting matchup—and one that reads as a “who’s who” of turn-of-the-century aces…

Go Rangers!

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