Scattershooting while wondering how I’m going to come to terms with reports that Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria each had walkoff hits last night, one hour and 250 miles apart, bucking my nagging suspicion that they were the same dude . . . .
Interesting reaction to the hypothetical trade scenario I threw out there late Friday night (Pedro Strop and Leury Garcia for Luke Gregerson). Got about 80 responses, split almost down the middle, with plenty weighing in at the extremes (“Yes, in a heartbeat” . . . “No way I’d subtract a current reliever, especially one with Strop’s upside”).
Regardless of what your temperature is regarding this team right now, realize that Texas has the American League’s third-best record at 16-11. The Rangers were 11-12 in the opening month last year, half a game out of first in the AL West and in third place before going on a run that ended in the World Series. Meanwhile, San Francisco is 13-13 right now, 4.5 games back in its division.
But I get it. The angst is less over any particular loss or series, and more about the bullpen and a couple starters and the center field issue. Things have gone on long enough that I guess we pretty much need to accept that Nelson Cruz is the new (and improved) Dean Palmer, good for a massive streak or two each season on both ends of the spectrum, and that many of Ian Kinsler’s outs are going to travel with much more height than length, and that going into a season we’ll never be able to mark Josh Hamilton down for 150 games. But other areas aren’t so plainly ordained.
Colby Lewis, for instance, pushed the needle back in the opposite direction yesterday, contrary to what Matt Harrison did last time out. The young lefthander has the chance to turn things back around himself this afternoon, faced on the mound by Gio Gonzalez, who has thrived against Texas in his career, not that Adrian Beltre (7 for 13 off Gonzalez lifetime, with two home runs, seven RBI, and no strikeouts) cares.
For that matter, expect to see Julio Borbon in the lineup, even though Gonzalez is left-handed. Borbon is 4 for 7 off him.
Buster Olney (ESPN) points out that yesterday’s 11-2 Texas win was the first game all year in which Oakland or its opponent scored in double digits.
Neftali Feliz threw 28 pitches off the bullpen mound in Oakland yesterday and will throw again tomorrow. He’s eligible for activation in time for Friday’s series opener in Arlington against the Yankees. What isn’t yet clear is whether the Rangers will have him throw a minor inning somewhere before then.
Tommy Hunter threw 42 pitches over three innings of an extended spring training game yesterday. Five strikeouts, no walks, no pain. A rehab assignment could be imminent.
Brandon Webb’s numbers looked fine in his own three-inning extended spring stint (43 pitches, three strikeouts, no walks, two hits, two unearned runs), but for the second straight outing he reportedly sat 78-81 mph, a troublesome range.
The Rangers signed journeyman right-handed reliever Justin Miller to fortify the AAA Round Rock bullpen, giving them a right-handed reliever named Justin Miller at each of the top two levels in the system.
The Texas League suspended Frisco outfielder Engel Beltre for 15 games for his role in an altercation between San Antonio Missions fans and RoughRiders players at the end of Tuesday afternoon’s game between the two clubs. Beltre reportedly threw a trash can into the stands during the altercation.
San Antonio’s promotion that day? If you look at the Missions website, you’ll notice that it was “Cricket $2 Tuesday” – $2 tickets, $2 parking, and $2 beer. For an 11:00 a.m. game.
But that’s no excuse. Beltre deserved the suspension. He has to be better than that. A lot better.
Beltre is serving the suspension in Surprise, where Hunter and Webb are getting their work in, and where converted third baseman Matt West has now been clocked at 99 mph off the mound. This is a story.
Guess whose offense has the fewest strikeouts in Major League Baseball.
Texas, and it’s not particularly close. The Rangers have fanned only 139 times (only four teams in baseball have played more games than the Rangers, and 13 teams have played fewer). The next-smallest total is 155 (Minnesota), and the league average is 188, with eight clubs in the 200’s.
The Rangers have the third-highest OPS (.806) in baseball.
Tanner Scheppers has now been on the seven-day AAA disabled list (his second stint of the season) for two weeks. Not sure how soon he’s expected to return to the mound, having been limited thus far by lower back weakness to one outing (back on April 16).
Mark Lowe so far with Round Rock: three runs (3.68 ERA) on six hits (.214 opponents’ average) and four walks in 7.1 innings, nine strikeouts, 3.33 groundout-to-flyout rate, two inherited runners both stranded. With a guy like that, actual scouting is critical, but to the extent that the numbers matter, they aren’t terrible. Lowe says he’d recognized an issue with the manner in which he’d been coming set with his front shoulder, and is now working off that adjustment.
I haven’t seen anything definitive on when Michael Young’s 10-5 rights kick in (10 years of big league service, the last five with the same team, triggering full trade veto rights as long as he’s with that team), but the two most popular guesses have been May 7 and May 8, which are next weekend.
The Rangers will have a Dominican Summer League entry despite ending their five-year association with former big league reliever Solomon Torres and leaving the new San Pedro de Macoris academy they’d been in since it opened in 2006. Texas will work out of Boca Chica for now while exploring a more permanent arrangement going forward, while the Brewers will move into the Torres facility.
Have I mentioned that Oakland moved Rich Harden to its 60-day disabled list?
Revisiting something we talked about three weeks ago:
Vernon Wells ($20.25 million of the Angels’ money per year for the next four years): .174/.216/.248, one home run, five walks and 22 strikeouts in 109 at-bats.
Mike Napoli ($5.8 million this year): .267/.431/.733, six home runs, 13 walks and eight strikeouts in 45 at-bats.
Adrian Beltre ($16 million over the next five or six years): .269/.306/.529, seven home runs, four walks and 10 strikeouts in 104 at-bats.
Question: If Napoli keeps producing like this, do you go to arbitration with him this winter?
A factor in that: I still think there’s a decent chance Texas trades Young this winter, which because of his 10-5 rights would basically mean he requested a deal to another team.
Among players who qualify, Jose Bautista leads baseball in home run frequency this season, going deep once every 9.1 at-bats.
Napoli sits at one homer every 7.5 at-bats.
Vladimir Guerrero hasn’t walked this season. In 104 plate appearances.
Myrtle Beach lefthander Robbie Erlin is number three on this week’s installment of Baseball America’s Hot Sheet, on the heels of his scoreless seven-inning, 10-strikeout effort (two singles, no walks) on Monday.
The Rangers apparently signed undrafted second baseman Humberto Miranda to a minor league deal. The BA note says Miranda played at Longwood, but I think he was at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, earning first-team All-Conference honors from the Red River Athletic Conference in 2010. Looks like he was coaching with the Knights this spring before signing with the Rangers.
Houston designated infielder Joe Inglett for assignment.
Zack Greinke makes his Milwaukee debut on Wednesday. Keep an eye on the Brewers’ record (currently 13-13, 2.5 games back in the NL Central and 3.5 back in the Wild Card standings).
Kevin Millwood has opted out of his minor league deal with the Yankees.
Boston hired Bill Haselman to serve as its assistant minor league catching instructor.
The Fort Worth Cats of the independent Northern League signed third baseman Travis Metcalf and catcher Johnathon Moore, son of Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore and the club’s 45th-round pick last June. He hit .364 in limited duties with the Arizona League squad last summer.
From earlier this week, this is my favorite independent league agate type in a long time:
Florence Freedom: Signed C Jonathan Cisneros and SS Chris Curley.
River City Rascals: Signed C Jonathan Cisneros and SS Chris Curley.
TCU draft-eligible sophomore lefthander Matt Purke, recently shut down with shoulder soreness, was diagnosed with bursitis and cleared to return to the mound.
San Francisco minor league first baseman Joe Koshansky, who was on the Rangers’ 40-man roster for five days in 2009, went 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts in an 18-inning AA game last night.
Says Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein: “I have no idea what kind of hat that is.”