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One thing Matt
Treanor couldn’t have known when he agreed not to exercise his out clause on
March 30, and one thing he evidently didn’t know:

 

1.      That he’d be this club’s frontline catcher
less than a month later.

 

2.      That the Rangers don’t hit Mark Buehrle.

 

Treanor was going to start Tuesday night whether the Rangers
had shuffled their catcher corps or not, but hours after the announcement had
been made that Texas had not only optioned Taylor Teagarden but also activated and
optioned Jarrod Saltalamacchia, recalling Max Ramirez to serve as the backup
catcher, Treanor responded by contributing the first extra-base hits by a
Rangers catcher all season.  His home run
and double off Buehrle (11-3, 2.93 against the Rangers coming into Tuesday, the
most dominant numbers he has against any opponent he’s faced more than a few times)
accounted for the first three Texas runs, staking C.J. Wilson to a lead that he
and Dustin Nippert and Frankie Francisco would make stand up. 

 

The Teagarden move wasn’t surprising, given his colossal struggles
making contact and his occasional defensive lapses, but the Saltalamacchia move
was an eye-opener, maybe first and foremost for Saltalamacchia himself.  Among the things Jon Daniels said about the
move was that Texas didn’t want Saltalamacchia worrying about when the club was
going to activate him from his rehab assignment.  The option requires at least a 10-day stay on
the farm (barring an injury to someone else at the big league level), during which
the Rangers expect Saltalamacchia to focus on playing every day, not on when he’d
get the plane ticket.

 

Meanwhile, Teagarden goes from having an opportunity to play
every day in Texas, in Saltalamacchia’s absence, to backing him up in Oklahoma
City.  Evidently, if Saltalamacchia’s
option lasts more than 10 days, the club would consider moving Teagarden to
Frisco so both could play most days.

 

Nelson Cruz’s deactivation resulted in a recall for outfielder
Craig Gentry as well, and he had a couple nice at-bats against Buehrle, but it
also meant Ryan Garko was going to get a start on Tuesday, despite coming into
the game 0 for 11 as a Ranger.  Garko’s
.480 average in 25 career at-bats against Buehrle was second best in baseball
among hitters with at least 20 at-bats against the veteran lefty, and his .552 on-base
percentage was tops.  Garko hit a key
single in the sixth, his first hit for the club, moving Vladimir Guerrero to
third and setting up a Justin Smoak sac fly that extended a 3-2 lead to
4-2. 

 

So Oklahoma City now runs a club out there that might
feature, on a given night, Saltalamacchia and Teagarden at catcher and DH,
Chris Davis at first base, and Derek Holland on the mound, all on option and
none on temporary rehab assignment cameos – and the season is just over three
weeks old.  It’s a concrete indication,
if we didn’t believe what the front office was telling us over the winter and
in camp, that the organization has placed on itself an expectation of winning in
2010.  The meritocracy extends to the early
changes at the top of the lineup and the back of the bullpen, and should put veterans
like Matt Harrison and Rich Harden and Garko on notice that jobs secured before
Opening Day aren’t tenured.

 

The RedHawks host New Orleans tomorrow night after taking
the day off today.  Holland (2-1, 0.67,
21/3 K/BB in 27 innings, four quality starts out of four) gets the start, but
the off-day skews the pitching schedule that he and Harden (0-1, 4.58, 20/18
K/BB in 17.2 innings, slated to face Chicago tonight) were on together.  Holland and Harrison are a couple days apart
now, and if Holland deals again Thursday and Harrison struggles in Seattle on
Saturday, would it be a shock to see Holland not pitching to Saltalamacchia or
Teagarden in Omaha next Tuesday, but instead held back to make Harrison’s next
start in Texas against Omaha’s parent club, the Royals, a week from tomorrow?

 

Could Francisco be closing games again by time Kansas City
comes to town, after his clean ninth last night?  Doubtful, at least not as the first option.  Neftali Feliz had the night off, having
pitched each of the previous two days, and Ron Washington said after the game
that the closer’s job is still his.  We’ve
already seen this month that that job, like Chris Davis’s and Saltalamacchia’s
and Teagarden’s and Julio Borbon’s leadoff assignment, is subject to change if
the organization thinks there’s an option more likely to help the club win
games now.  But Feliz isn’t in danger of
ceding the job after Monday’s poor effort (his first back-to-back day
assignment), despite Francisco’s good work last night. 

 

Francisco in his last seven appearances: seven innings, one
run on three singles and two walks (.130/.200/.130), three strikeouts.  He’s finding a good groove, and right now that’s
good news as far as the eighth inning is concerned.

 

The rest of the bullpen (Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, Chris
Ray, Nippert, Doug Mathis) is pitching reasonably effectively to very well,
which should stave off Holland-esque promotion watches on young relievers like Tanner
Scheppers, Alexi Ogando, and Omar Beltre, not to mention Pedro Strop. 

 

But if a decision were made to move Harrison to the bullpen after
his next start, it would make sense to get a reliever up here until Holland’s
start, possibly a lefthander like Clay Rapada or Zach Phillips.

 

For what it’s worth, John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus writes
that the Rangers are considering moving Harden into long relief to get him straightened
out, which is a possibility that will draw more local speculation if he
struggles tonight in his faceoff against Jake Peavy, who like Harden has yet to
log a 2010 victory.  Perrotto’s BP cohort
Will Carroll weighs in to say he doesn’t think Harden is hurt, but does wonder
aloud if he’d thrive in a bullpen role at this point in his career the way it
worked out for Kerry Wood.

 

Wilson’s fourth straight quality start to kick off the
season was the first such Rangers streak since 1993, when Kevin Brown (six
straight) and Charlie Leibrandt (four) pulled off the feat.

 

I said it two weeks ago and I’m even more convinced now:
Wilson is our ace.  And a Kenny Rogers
career isn’t out of the question.

 

The great Joe Posnanski points out that Royals righthander
Zack Greinke has a 2.11 ERA in his 46 starts since August 16, 2008 – and that
Kansas City’s record in those games is 22-24. 

 

Greinke makes $7.25 million this year and has a limited
no-trade clause.  He makes $13.5 million
in 2011, and again in 2012, without any no-trade protection.  The Royals can and will be in last place with
or without him.  Wouldn’t it make sense
for them to do with the 26-year-old what every reporter in the country is
writing San Diego will need to do with Adrian Gonzalez – move him to get three
or four pieces to build with like Texas did with Mark Teixeira?

 

Or like Florida did in 2007 with Miguel Cabrera, as we
discussed in Monday night’s report?

 

Colorado optioned 27-year-old catcher Chris Iannetta yesterday,
a fascinating move for a guy who came into his own offensively under Clint
Hurdle and parlayed it into a multi-year contract this past winter.  He was hitting just .133/.235/.333 out of the
gate this season.

 

TCU freshman lefthander Matt Purke: 7-0, 3.81 in 10 starts
and a relief appearance, with 69 strikeouts and 13 walks in 56.2 innings. 

 

Kansas City designated righthander Luis Mendoza for assignment,
after he’d surrendered 10 runs on 10 hits and three walks in four relief innings.

 

Boston recalled lefthander Fabio Castro for one game, and
Baltimore purchased the contract of righthander Alfredo Simon.  Oakland optioned righthander Edwar Ramirez to
AAA.

 

Two middle infielders tied in rumors to Texas over the last couple
months made the transaction wires yesterday: St. Louis signed Aaron Miles to a
minor league deal, and Boston designated Kevin Frandsen for assignment.   

 

The Rangers released outfielder Eric Fry and left-handed reliever
Ryan Falcon.

 

The Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier
League signed infielder Donnie Ecker.

 

I’m going to be very interested to see when and how often
Ron Washington entrusts a start behind the plate to Max Ramirez, but for now the
microscope is instead on Rich Harden, who might be pitching tonight to stall
yet another major change for this club.

 

 

===========================================================

 

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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

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