If George King had it right in his New York Post story — published online last night and since pulled off the Web by the Post, presumably since the MLB announcement doesn’t happen until 1:00 our time this afternoon — then Ian Kinsler will have fallen short of overtaking Dustin Pedroia in the fan vote for the starting second baseman spot on the American League All-Star Team.
The same Pedroia with whom Kinsler jockeyed between the shortstop and second base spots as Arizona State teammates in 2002 before Kinsler transferred to Missouri for his junior year.
The same Pedroia who was Boston’s second-round pick a year after Kinsler was the Rangers’ 17th-round pick.
The same Pedroia whom Kinsler is out-hitting (.328 to .313, and 118 hits to 114)), out-slugging (.544 to .462), out-reaching (.387 to .357), out-OPS-ing (.932 to .819), out-producing (53 RBI to 39, 196 total bases to 168), outscoring (77 to 60), out-homering (14 to 9), out-doubling (28 to 25), out-tripling (4 to 1), outwalking (33 to 22), and outswiping (23 to 9). Kinsler’s 5.79 range factor is tops among AL second basemen. Pedroia’s 4.69 is next to last among those who have played at least 60 games at second.
Fans either keyed in on the strikeout totals (Kinsler has 48, Pedroia 32) or error totals (16 to 5 — but in 96 more chances), or voted for laundry. The gap narrowed considerably (Kinsler was 300,000 votes behind Pedroia four weeks ago, and just 166,000 back two weeks ago), but if King is right, Pedroia has held Kinsler off from the first-inning assignment.
For what it’s worth, ESPN asked 32 baseball analysts what the starting lineups should be for the July 15 All-Star Game, and four Rangers were among the starting nine for the American League: Kinsler (getting 28 of the 32 votes), Josh Hamilton (all 32), Michael Young (21), and Milton Bradley (25, as DH). Edinson Volquez (17 votes) and Ryan Ludwick (15) came out of the survey as starters for the National League.
Kinsler is the first Rangers leadoff hitter in a long time who looks every time like he, rather than the pitcher, is in control of the at-bat. In a season that has featured, at one time or another, Hamilton and Bradley earning recognition as perhaps the best player in the league, Kinsler — leading the league in batting average, total bases, and runs scored — now belongs in the discussion.
I wrote this during spring training:
“Yesterday I saw Kinsler take batting practice for the third or fourth time since getting out here, and it struck me that the kid who hit .400 in Clinton and slugged .500 as a minor leaguer nonetheless has to be one of Rudy Jaramillo’s proudest sculptures. Kinsler has come a long way from the dead pull hitter he was on the farm to a potential star who has learned to quiet those lightning-quick hands enough to create a legitimate spray chart. In batting practice, he’s showing an ability to hit the ball to right center with tremendous authority, and I think we’re about to see a player about whom we should be thinking not about 30-30 but about 30-30-.300, a leadoff hitter whose power may make him even more dangerous than Craig Biggio.”
He’s now on pace for a .328-26-42 season.
He’s better than Pedroia.
And he might be better than Biggio.
I also wrote this during spring training:
“[B]etween Kinsler’s ability to pile up doubles and get into scoring position with his feet if he merely singles or walks, and Hamilton’s and Michael Young’s ability to do all kinds of things with the bat behind him, it’s probably not a bad bet to expect a healthy Kinsler could threaten to score at least 115 times, which would give him one of the top 10 run-scoring seasons in franchise history.”
He’s going to have more than 115 before August is over. Kinsler’s 77 runs are the most ever by a Ranger before the All-Star Break, and his 141-run pace would blow away Alex Rodriguez’s franchise-record 133 runs scored in 2001.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had to leave last night’s game during a sixth-inning at-bat in which he tweaked his right groin while swinging. He’s day to day.
There was some in-game speculation (by media and fans) that Oklahoma catcher Taylor Teagarden might be on the verge of his big league debut since the only healthy catcher on the active roster is Max Ramirez, but I’d suggest that this might be a better spot under the circumstances for RedHawks soldier Kevin Richardson, a consummate professional who could get some well-deserved big league service (Adam Fox in 2007, Jeff Pickler in 2003) if not some playing time, and would allow Texas to reclaim the 40-man roster spot once Saltalamacchia is pronounced 100 percent (or Gerald Laird returns) by designating the 27-year-old Richardson for assignment. Just a thought.
Righthander Joaquin Benoit’s shoulder, which he acknowledges hasn’t been healthy all season, forced him to the disabled list. Righthander Eric Hurley’s left hamstring soreness already cost him yesterday’s start and puts his delayed Tuesday start against the Angels in jeopardy, though he thinks he’ll be ready to go, while righthander Vicente Padilla’s neck strain and bruised thumb make his Wednesday start against he Angels a bit more questionable. According to several local reports, Oklahoma lefthander Matt Harrison could be recalled to make his big league debut in Padilla’s slot if the veteran can’t go.
Righthander Doug Mathis, whose shoulder inflammation resulted in a disabled list assignment on June 20, is long-tossing. Lefthander A.J. Murray, on the disabled list since June 4 with a shoulder strain, isn’t throwing yet.
Righthander Brandon McCarthy threw 45 pitches off a mound in Surprise on Tuesday and then a 55-pitch session on Friday. He’ll pitch in a simulated game on Tuesday, and if there are no setbacks he could go out on a rehab assignment.
I mentioned on June 20 that Oakland had designated righthander Kiko Calero for assignment, and that I was interested. Texas has signed the 33-year-old and assigned him to Oklahoma.
Calero has a lifetime ERA of 3.56, 255 strikeouts and just 86 unintentional walks in 242.2 innings, and an opponents’ line of .225/.301/.356. He’s had one bad season since reaching the big leagues in 2002, and that was last year before he was finally sidelined with a torn rotator cuff. He’s got the kind of arm and track record that, if he continued to prove he was healthy (he gave up three hits and struck out seven hitters in 4.2 innings before Oakland designated him for assignment two and a half weeks ago), would generate some trade deadline interest.
That’s not to suggest Texas might look to trade Calero, who I think could certainly help firm up the seventh inning here if he’s right. The point is that he could turn out to be the pitcher that we won’t have to trade a guy like Michael Schlact or Kea Kometani to go get.
Frisco righthander Thomas Diamond is slated for minor surgery to remove a bone spur in his ankle, a procedure that is expected to cost him just three weeks of playing time.
First baseman Chris Shelton, after clearing waivers, accepted his outright assignment to Oklahoma.
Ron Washington says the club has not considered moving Hank Blalock back to third base once he’s healthy, nor has it considered moving Chris Davis back to third.
Did you see the majestic foul ball Davis smoked to right last night? Orioles announcer Gary Thorne apparently said it’s furthest he’s ever seen hit at Camden Yards.
Hamilton is on pace for 153 RBI. Who was the last major league left-handed hitter to drive in at least 150 runs? Think about it for another few paragraphs.
Baseball America’s mid-season minor league All-Star team features Davis at first base and Max Ramirez (“You won’t find a bett
er offensive performance in the minors”) at designated hitter. Righthander Neftali Feliz, whose Frisco debut is tomorrow night, was an honorable mention rotation selection.
David Murphy finished ninth in BA’s first-half ranking of baseball’s rookies, fifth among AL players.
This is the best C.J. Wilson has looked since August. Jay Payton had absolutely no chance on the game’s final pitch after seeing 95 and 84 on those first two. He got sequenced in a bad, bad way.
Righthander Warner Madrigal’s second big league outing, following up on his first, forgettable one: flyout, groundout, flyout, flyout, flyout, groundout, strikeout swinging. Impressive.
Oklahoma outfielder Nelson Cruz (.349/.450/.701, 26 home runs, 51 walks, and 73 RBI in 78 games) is the RedHawks’ lone selection to the July 16 AAA All-Star Game.
Frisco center fielder Julio Borbon hit his first AA homer and first AA double yesterday, and they came off of Cardinals prospect Jess Todd, off of whom the Texas League is hitting .190 (after the Florida State League hit .184). The Kilgore native has a 1.68 ERA in his two 2008 stops.
Between Bakersfield and Frisco, Borbon (.303/.342/.398) has 39 stolen bases in 46 tries, and just 33 strikeouts in 314 at-bats.
Great note from Scott Lucas, updated: Frisco shortstop Elvis Andrus is hitting .341/.421/.427 in 21 games since returning from a broken finger on June 11. He was hitting .268/.322/316 though 45 games at the time of the late May injury.
Texas brought lefthander Derek Lee, age 33, back to the organization, and last night he breezed through six shutout innings for the RoughRiders, giving up two singles and no walks while fanning three. He’d been pitching in Mexico, first for Sultanes de Monterrey (8-3, 3.45) and then for Petroleros de Minatitlan (0-1, 3.72) before the Rangers brought him back for a fourth straight season in the system.
Another Lucas note: Frisco now boasts the Texas League’s youngest pitcher (Feliz) and its oldest (Lee).
Righthander Michael Main goes from the Arizona League to Clinton to replace Feliz in the LumberKings’ rotation.
First baseman Ian Gac (.342/.357/.474) and second baseman Renny Osuna (.444/.500/.500) have handled things just fine since their promotions to Bakersfield a couple weeks ago. Gac has gone hitless once in 10 games, Osuna once in nine games.
Clinton center fielder Engel Beltre (.281/.302/.402) has 16 hits in his last eight games. The power still hasn’t arrived for the 18-year-old, but more importantly he has to start doing a better job working pitchers. Between May 16 and June 29, Beltre drew one walk. He has as many triples (seven) as bases on balls this season.
Spokane outfielder Joey Butler, the Rangers’ 15th-round pick out of the University of New Orleans (Diamond’s alma mater), is hitting .453/.547/.660 in his first 53 at-bats, going hitless in just one of 15 games. The right-handed hitter leads the Northwest League in hitting and reaching base.
The last left-handed hitter to drive in 150 big league runs, as Hamilton is on pace to do?
Ted Williams. In 1949.
Hamilton will receive the 2008 ESPY Award for Best Comeback.
The Rangers have put together another charity cruise, which will sail on November 9. Among those on the five-night Norwegian Cruise Lines voyage, which will have stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel, will be Jim Sundberg, Mike Hargrove, Fergie Jenkins, Jeff Russell, and two current Rangers players. The first 25 to pay in full will receive an autographed Nolan Ryan baseball, and a portion of all fares will be donated charitably to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. You can go to texasrangers.com/cruise or call 1-877-488-7285 for more details or to book your trip.
In unrelated moves, the Yankees designated catcher Chris Stewart for assignment and re-signed first baseman Ben Broussard to a minor league contract. Baltimore designated righthander Ryan Bukvich for assignment.
The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League sold the contract of lefthander Eric Cyr to the Dodgers. The Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden Baseball League traded first baseman Jose Morban to the Edmonton Cracker Cats for a player to be named.
The start of this afternoon’s game is in a little jeopardy due to Baltimore rains, but I’m hoping they at least get things underway by 1:00 our time, because I’d prefer that Ian Kinsler not be around a TV when it’s announced that he’s been jobbed in the vote for the American League starting lineup for the All-Star Game.
Then again, it might propel him to go out and tack on another three extra-base hits and help lead Texas to its third straight series win, and fifth out of six.