Looking ahead.

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Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis, in a crystal ball
feature foretelling the 2013 season, writes this:

 

The Rangers should be
in complete control in the AL West.  With
Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Tanner Scheppers and 2010 first-rounders Jesse
Hahn [Virginia Tech] and Brandon Workman [University of Texas] in the rotation,
plus Neftali Feliz closing games, they’ll finally have enough pitching.  Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus will run wild at
the top of the lineup and Justin Smoak will drive them in, so Texas won’t have
any problems scoring runs either.

 

The Callis article
reflects a commonly accepted premise among those who write about such things
nationally, a belief that the Rangers, with the ripening of its top-ranked farm
system, is about to settle into a run of contention.  The one thing I think Callis misses (other than
the easy “finally have enough pitching” comment that continues to get thrown
around by some) is that, by 2013, if not 2011, a two-sentence note detailing the
strength of the Rangers club is going to include a couple very big names in uniform
elsewhere right now. 

 

The Rangers Baseball
Express ownership group will be in place at some point, hopefully soon, and the
Texas payroll will start to look a lot different.  No doubt, much of the increase will come
internally, as young players reach arbitration status and arbitration guys
reach free agency (imagine where C.J. Wilson’s contract is headed – the Rangers
are likely to try extending him into his 2012 free agency season soon, but if
he’s even willing to do that, an extension beyond 2012 is probably not in the
cards), but I’d be surprised if the Greenberg-Ryan group didn’t take a Step Five
approach
with Jon Daniels and Thad Levine and add a couple impact players between
now and then.

 

Hahn and Workman
would be great, but Zack Greinke and Grady Sizemore?  Better. 
Much better.

 

But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves.  It’s a testament to the strange tendency of
the Ron Washington Rangers – and the 2010 mediocrity of the AL West – that three
weeks of ugly have given way, a month into the season, to a run of good
baseball and a perch atop the division, as Texas gets set to face second-place Oakland
for six of the next 10 (bisected by a four-game set at home against Kansas City
that will feature a Friday matchup between Wilson and Greinke – with the
basketball season over, the postgame fireworks show shouldn’t be the sole reason
that one ought to approach a sellout). 

 

There will be talk the next few days about Washington managing
against the Athletics, an organization that went to the playoffs five times in
his 11 seasons on the coaching staff, but what I’m more interested in is Rich
Harden pitching in Oakland tonight.  In
49 career appearances (47 starts) in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Harden is
18-9 with a 2.98 ERA, with 285 strikeouts (8.8 per nine innings) and 107 unintentional
walks (3.3 per nine) in 293 innings, and a glittering .216/.293/.329 opponents’
slash line.

 

All that work came in the green and gold.  Tonight will be Harden’s first time to step
on that mound in the bottom of the inning.

 

In Colby Lewis’s Friday night gem, he threw a first-pitch
strikes to 74 percent of the Mariners he faced. 
According to ESPN, seven of his 10 strikeouts came on his slider, which he
had complete command of all night, and Seattle was hitless in 12 at-bats when
putting his fastball into play – dropping the league to a .169 average against his
fastball.  Breaking command is such a
good thing.

 

Scott Lucas’s daily farm reports are bringing you lots of encouraging
news on Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia lately, but you really ought to
be paying close attention to what Bakersfield outfielder Engel Beltre and
Hickory outfielder Miguel Velazquez are doing.

 

Taylor Teagarden caught for the RedHawks Saturday and DH’d
yesterday.  He struck out four times in
seven hitless at-bats, drawing one walk.

 

From Vladimir Guerrero, according to Franklin Mirabal of Impacto
Deportivo
: “In Anaheim they treated me well, but in Texas I’ve found
a lot of friendships, a lot of Latin players, and that [make] me happy here.  Right now, I don’t think about retiring.”

 

Hank Blalock is hitting .343/.408/.433 for AAA Durham.  He’s not showing much power but he’s getting on
base, a tradeoff I’m sure we would have been happy with the last few years
here.  He’s hoping to force a look in
Tampa Bay that way Joaquin Benoit (one scoreless inning as a Ray since his 17-strikeout,
three-walk effort in 9.2 Durham innings) did.

 

You should read this tremendous
interview of Eric Nadel
(who got an opportunity to call some of the
nationally televised Rangers-Mariners game on Saturday) by Baseball Prospectus’s
David Laurila.

 

Seattle released outfielder Eric Byrnes, a move I’m glad
didn’t come three days earlier.

 

Dodgers righthander Vicente Padilla is on the disabled list
with irritation of the radial nerve in his right forearm and should miss all of
May.  His ERA in four starts is
7.06. 

 

Kansas City got righthander Luis Mendoza through waivers and
outrighted him to AAA.

 

The Angels claimed infielder Kevin Frandsen off waivers from
Boston and optioned him to AAA.

 

The Kalamazoo Kings of the independent Frontier League signed
righthander Bobby Wilkins.  The Yuma
Scorpions of the independent Golden Baseball League signed outfielder Cody
Nowlin.

 

Nowlin was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 1998, nestled between
first-rounder Carlos Pena and third-rounder Barry Zito, who went on to star elsewhere.  The next stop for both Pena and Zito was
Oakland, which was the first stop for Rich Harden, and I would be grateful if
he, like the other two, dished out a little disappointment to his former
organization that he’s now getting it done somewhere else.

 

 

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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

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