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In spite of a really
frustrating sixth and seventh last night on the mound, the line score shows
only a one for Tampa Bay in each of those two innings, and another night of big
production out of the maligned bottom third (seven hits, including a home run, 2
for 2 with runners in scoring position, one walk, one strikeout, and Max
Ramirez with the club’s highest pitches per at-bat number for the night) helped
push Texas to a solid win against a very good team, getting this series and
homestand off to a good start.


I’ve seen most of
Josh Hamilton’s at-bats this year, and I can’t believe this is true:


His slash line of
.300/.348/.529 is remarkably close to his line of .304/.371/.530 in his
storybook 2008 season, a year in which he finished seventh in the MVP vote.


And not terribly inferior
to Vladimir Guerrero’s .333/.364/.557.


It sure doesn’t seem
like it.


Somehow, even though Texas piled up 13 hits and two walks
and two hit batsmen, Tampa Bay needed only 116 pitches to complete eight
innings.  (The Rangers threw 178 pitches
over nine.) 


Ian Kinsler saw nine pitches in four plate appearances.


Someone asked me during Wednesday night’s in-game chat
session who my favorite Rangers player was growing up.  If I were a kid right now, there’s no
question who it would be, and even as a 41-year-old, I think I might be accepting
that Elvis Andrus is, over all these years, my favorite Rangers player
ever.  And he’s going to get better.


The Rangers will likely option reliever Pedro Strop to
Oklahoma City before today’s game, clearing a roster spot for righthander Tommy
Hunter to make today’s start.


Texas activated righthander Warner Madrigal from the 60-day
disabled list and optioned him to Oklahoma City.  The club’s 40-man roster is once again full.


The Rangers also activated righthander Brandon McCarthy from
the disabled list (stress fracture, shoulder) and will work him out of the
RedHawks bullpen as well. 


The Rangers traded AAA reliever Jailen Peguero to Houston
for future considerations to thin the RedHawks bullpen herd.


Frisco lefthander Martin Perez was placed on the disabled
list with a cracked fingernail.


Cleveland designated righthander Jamey Wright for assignment,
and the Mets did the same with Gary Matthews Jr., whose departure from Texas three
and a half years ago for the five-year, $50 million Angels contract he’s still
living off of awarded the Rangers two compensatory draft picks that they turned
into Blake Beavan and Julio Borbon.


As far as this year’s draft is concerned, here’s a couple more
updated projections on what Texas will do Monday night with its picks at number
15 and number 22:


Callis, Baseball America (June 4)
Asher Wojchiechowski (RHP, The Citadel) and Bryce Brentz (OF, Middle Tennessee
State) (
mocks: June 3 [fellow BA experts John Manuel and Conor Glassey]: Stetson Allie
(RHP, St. Edward [Oh.] HS) and Nick Castellanos (3B, Archbishop McCarthy [Fla.]
HS); May 28: Brentz and Justin O’Conner (C, Cowan [In.] HS); May 14: Brentz and
Ball State second baseman Kolbrin Vitek


Law, ESPN (June 4)
: Delino DeShields Jr. (CF, Woodward Academy [Ga.] HS)
and Brandon Workman (RHP, University of Texas) (
previous mocks: May 31: Kellin
Deglan (C, Langley (British Columbia) HS) and Kaleb Cowart (3B/RHP, Cook County
[Ga.] HS); May 24: Workman and Deglan


Here’s the thing.  Several
super-respectable writers who do their homework have, in the last two or three weeks,
pegged (alphabetically) Allie, Brentz, Castellanos, Cowart, Deglan, DeShields, University
of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal, O’Conner, Vitek, Florida high school
righthander Karsten Whitson, Wojchiechowski, and Workman as their projected
picks in the Rangers’ two first-round slots.  


The reason the projections are all over the place is twofold:
(1) the Rangers are historically discreet about their draft intentions; and (2)
the first half of the first round seems to be unusually hard to peg this year,
throwing mocks into disarray.  The
Rangers certainly have the 12 players mentioned above whiteboarded in order in their
1000 Ballpark Way war room, but when everything past the top overall pick is still
unclear days before the draft, it’s fairly crazy to expect writers to have a
good bead on what will happen at 15 and 22.


Not all of those 12 players will be around when Texas picks
at number 15, but some will, and the Rangers will be prepared to take whichever
one is highest on their board.  Four
years ago, they knew Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t be around when their pick at
number 12 came up, but there were several other pitchers they knew would still be
on the board.


I wrote this hours before that 2006 draft:


Baseball America‘s Jim Callis predicts this morning that
[Tim] Lincecum, the small fireballer who many project as a dominating closer
but who some insist will be able to start in the big leagues, will be the Texas
pick.  MLB’s Jonathan Mayo speculates
that it will be [Kyle] Drabek, who is the most talented pitcher in the draft by
most accounts — and yet every story about him this spring hasn’t gotten to
paragraph two without mention of his makeup issues.  CNN/SI’s Bryan Smith thinks the Rangers will
end up with [Max] Scherzer, whose stock has dropped, possibly because of
shoulder concerns.


Lincecum went 10th.  Scherzer went 11th.  Drabek was still on the board (and would be until
the 18th pick) when Texas chose Kasey Kiker at 12.


You can bet that Texas would be thrilled to end up with any
number of the names that include Allie, Brentz, Castellanos, Cowart, Deglan, DeShields,
Grandal (who now appears to be locked in at number four to Kansas City), O’Conner,
Vitek, Whitson, Wojchiechowski, and Workman, and that the club probably has
other names ranked higher who will be available at 12.  The baseball draft is more difficult to
project than the NFL or NBA versions, both because of a much larger pool and because
drafted players don’t go straight to the big leagues and thus are typically drafted
less on perceived need than in football or basketball, and so it’s not unusual for
mock drafts from expert observers to differ greatly from one another, and for
any one writer’s projections to change routinely leading up to Draft Day.


Jim Callis’s legendary
2005 mock draft
was dead on for the first 18 picks before Texas chose John
Mayberry Jr. (rather than Callis’s pick, ASU outfielder Travis Buck) at number 19.  Callis didn’t have Mayberry going in his
first 48 picks (covering the first round and supplemental first).  Callis is very good.


When you see a guy like Callis changing his Rangers
projection the way he has the past few weeks – Brentz and Vitek on May 14,
Brentz and O’Conner on May 28, and Wojchiechowski and Brentz yesterday – you know
there are lots of moving targets in this draft, at least outside the war rooms,
that probably aren’t done shifting around. 


But in the meantime, there’s Hunter-James Shields today and Rich
Harden-Matt Garza tomorrow, two afternoon games pitting teams trying to protect
one- and two-game division leads against each other.  That’s the bigger story, and the draft, as it
should be, will just have to wait.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



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