Stuff.

Saturday morning, 68-degree scattershot . . . .

This is not a kneejerk reaction after last night’s 10th and 11th innings: If rosters had to be set today, I’d take Tanner Scheppers with me to the ALDS ahead of Mark Lowe.

Lowe’s season numbers look fine, but since returning from the disabled list a month ago, he’s pitched eight times and allowed three earned runs (4.05 ERA) on eight hits (half for extra bases) and four walks in 6.2 innings, fanning only two.  The slash line in that stretch is an ugly .296/.387/.519.

Maybe he’ll get his command back and recapture his pre-injury form (22 hits and eight walks in 31.1 innings, 25 strikeouts, .198/.248/.324), and if that happens in the next three weeks, I’m open to changing my mind.

But in the meantime, here’s Scheppers (whose season line isn’t as good looking as Lowe’s) over the last two months: two earned runs (1.04 ERA) on 20 hits (four for extra bases) and three unintentional walks in 17.1 innings, with 16 strikeouts.  (He also faced six AAA hitters last week during his brief option, retiring all of them, four on strikes.)  He’s been as hittable as Lowe but not as prone to the free pass or extra-base hit (.294/.347/.382).

For now, Scheppers is on my playoff staff.

On a tangentially related point, Koji Uehara looked really good last night.  Because of his playoff collapse last October it may be difficult to remember Good Koji – opponents hit .191/.203/.471 off him (13 hits, one walk, 23 strikeouts in 18 innings) in his two regular-season months here after the trade – but he’s a key piece if he’s right.

Love what the Angels have done with 2011 third-rounder Nick Maronde, the University of Florida lefthander.  Drafted and developed as a starter, he’d never made a pro relief appearance until two weeks ago, when he came out of the AA Arkansas bullpen twice for a clear purpose: To prepare to get his arm to Anaheim, just to see what it looked like in short doses.  Probably a Scott Servais-driven move.

Maronde came up on September 1 and has faced four big league hitters: Seattle’s Carlos Peguero and Oakland’s Coco Crisp, Seth Smith, and Josh Reddick.

Strikeout.  Strikeout.  Strikeout.  Strikeout.

Remember Merkin Valdez a year ago?  Brought up in September just to see?

He wasn’t on the 40-man roster, and neither was Maronde until a week ago.

Wilmer Font is already on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.

He’s come back this year from October 2010 Tommy John surgery.  The tenet on those cases is generally 12 months before a return to the mound, but more like 18 months before command comes back.

Font sat out the 2011 season, rehabbing.  His command was shaky early this season, unsurprisingly.  Over the season’s first two months, though he’d punched out a blistering 49 Carolina League hitters in 36.2 innings and limited them to a .227 batting average, he’d issued 22 walks (5.4 per nine innings) and his ERA sat at 5.65.

Since then, a 3.09 Myrtle Beach ERA, 60 strikeouts in 46.2 innings, a .174 opponents’ average, and just 15 walks (2.9 per nine innings).

That included a transition from starter to reliever late in July: 6.1 innings, zero runs on zero hits and one walk, a stupid 13 strikeouts.

Then a promotion to the Frisco bullpen: five runs (3.00 ERA) on nine hits (.170 opponents’ average) and seven walks in 15 regular season innings, an absurd 29 strikeouts and a regular high-90s reading that reportedly touched triple digits a time or two.  He pitched twice in the RoughRiders’ playoff-opening sweep over Corpus Christi, fanning two and walking one in 1.2 innings of relief.

He still hasn’t pitched on consecutive days, but that’s understandable given the circumstances.

It might be worth asking yourself why the role change for Font was set in motion a month and a half ago.

And again, he’s already on the 40-man roster.  The second of his three options has already been used.

We can talk about Roman Mendez another time.  Similar role change in 2012, similar Class A to Class AA promotion, gaudy results in his own right, already rostered.

For now, I’m very interested in Font.

He’s no Merkin Valdez.

And he may be no Nick Maronde.

But would it be worth getting him around Joe Nathan, a recent Tommy John graduate himself, and into a couple lopsided ballgames in the process, just to see?  Maybe once the Texas League championship series is over in a week or so?

Maybe Font is next year’s Tanner Scheppers.  And with two options exhausted, Texas will need to find out what he is in 2013.

Should that process start this month?

If it does, and if he explodes on the division like Maronde has, maybe he even enters the picture for October.

Huge longshot, but perhaps worth a trial?

Jonathan Mayo has updated his top 20 Rangers prospects for MLB.com:

1. Jurickson Profar (number 1 in baseball)

2. Mike Olt (17)

3. Martin Perez (50)

4. Cody Buckel (96)

5. Jorge Alfaro

6. Wilmer Font

7. Luis Sardinas

8. Jairo Beras

9. Rougned Odor

10. Joey Gallo

11. Justin Grimm

12. Nomar Mazara

13. Luke Jackson

14. Roman Mendez

15. Lewis Brinson

16. Ronald Guzman

17. Neil Ramirez

18. Barret Loux

19. Nick Tepesch

20. Leury Garcia

Bet Profar gets a start tonight or tomorrow on the Tampa Bay turf.

According to at least one local report, Texas (which paid Profar $1.55 million to sign in 2009) gave his brother Juremi $150,000 to sign this summer.  According to another local report, the Red Sox and Cubs were among the teams also in on Juremi, who projects at third base but without the upside his brother had from the start.

The Angels owe Mike Scioscia about $30 million over the next six years.  Boston was rumored this week to be potentially interested in finding a way to pry him or Toronto skipper John Farrell free from their current contracts.

Would Los Angeles GM Jerry Dipoto recommend to owner Arte Moreno that they consider trading Scioscia to the Red Sox, with Dipoto bringing in his own manager in the process?

Seattle got outfielder Randy Winn from Tampa Bay for manager Lou Piniella and minor league infielder Antonio Perez in 2002.  The White Sox got two fringy players (shortstop Osvaldo Martínez and righthander Jhan Marinez) from the Marlins for manager Ozzie Guillen and minor league righthander Ricardo Andres a year ago (after rumors that Chicago was chasing outfielder Logan Morrison instead).

Scioscia would be worth a lot more than either of them.

And without knowing how much authority Dipoto cedes to Scioscia on player personnel decisions, if any, and with the way the Angels’ season has gone, I wonder what’s going on in Dipoto’s head right now.  Maybe Tony LaRussa would be open to coming back and manage Albert Pujols again (and Mike Trout), but I bet Dipoto has his own short list of younger manager candidates in mind.

In any event, Dipoto probably doesn’t have the muscle to fire Scioscia and may not even want to, but this could be a way to make the Angels more of his own team.

Oakland hammered Felix Hernandez to the tune of six runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings last night.

Seriously?

Kevin Millar said on MLB Network this week that he’s never had a better teammate than Ryan Dempster.

I’ll be in studio on the Ticket this afternoon for a good part of the 4:00 hour.  Not sure if we’ll be taking phone calls.

And none of this matters more than what’s going on with Brandon McCarthy right now.

Forget what you think about the trade – and it now appears the Rangers were sort of right about him, even if they were wrong about the timing – this is very scary stuff, and it sucks.  Prayers and thoughts or whatever you reach for are probably in order.

2 Comments

Jamey – isnt it a possibility that since Font is in his first year back from TJ, they wanted to limit his innings and thus had him switch to a bullpen roll after starting for much of the season? I don’t understand why we would want to take good starting prospects like Font, who seems to have the frame and body to endure starting and pitching multiple innings, and convert them to relievers very early in their development stages. I know Jason Parks and others think Roman Mendez is probably a reliever in the long haul, but shouldn’t he be given every chance to continue starting as long as he continues showing progression and a development of three or more pitches? I know Feliz was brought up as a reliever, and Robbie Ross was this year, but both of them had more experience pitching in the upper minor levels than either Font or Mendez, with Feliz starting for a year in AAA and Ross in high A/AA for a year. It makes sense to supplement the roster with relief candidates from the minors, but i think in this case, it would hurt the development of both players. The Rangers do not have any top caliber starting pitching prospects at this point, unless you count Buckel as that (which I dont, as his ceiling is more of a #3 or #4), and would benefit from being able to develop more starting pitching, not only to join the Rangers rotation in the future, but also to use as trade chips when necessary.

I bet LAA still sees Maronde as a starter, too. Was talking more about immediate possibilities.

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