Monday afternoon, with just over 48 hours to go before the conventional trade deadline, we got word from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that Texas checked in recently with Atlanta about the availability of catcher Brian McCann.
Even though the Rangers have been in a tailspin and even though McCann is a core piece of a team headed toward the playoffs and even though Texas will be able to go get McCann three months from now without having to offer up the frontline prospects it would surely take to get so much as an attentive conversation going.
Hours after that, the left-handed-hitting catcher that McCann would possibly replace instantly and the backup catcher with the Yu Darvish/Matt Garza rapport that McCann would possibly replace instantly both honey-badger Ernesto Frieri ninth-inning, two-strike 94 with blasts of pure hang time pull, suitably fair and very gone, and suddenly a team whose wins of any kind have seemed improbable lately walked off with one in the most improbable of fashions.
Texas had won only three games in July that Joe Nathan didn’t save, but certainly none like that one, none that had him warming to enter the ballgame when the ballgame suddenly ended.
And upstairs, a General Manager who’s reportedly been gauging interest in his stud closer sees a sea of red hopping dugout rails and swarming toward the plate and dancing around like Joe Nathan’s eight- and six-year-olds (well, all but Lance Berkman: check out the dugout video or Kelly Gavin’s photos) and feels what’s left of 36,000-plus shaking the joint like they’re all of 86,000-plus, and you have to wonder whether it changed his thinking on whether he can trade a core piece like that, now, even if it’s dealing from the club’s greatest strength to address a glaring weakness.
Surely one game isn’t going to dictate the front office’s trade deadline direction.
Dictate, no. But influence? Maybe?
And now there’s just one game before teams have to put their trade deadline pencils down.
Tonight: Derek Holland, C.J.Wilson, and lots of subtext.
More, probably, than Matt Garza and Jered Weaver, who may or may not have teed it up as California preps or as Fresno State and Long Beach State horses before turning pro as first-round picks drafted a year apart (but signing two weeks apart).
I watched Garza’s postgame interview late last night. I’m glad I did. What a beast.
I love watching Matt Garza talk about team almost as much as I love watching Matt Garza pitch baseballs.
Even if it turns out he’s here for less time than Cliff Lee was, I can’t promise that the only two Rangers player T-shirts I have ever owned (Lee and Adrian Beltre) won’t be joined by a Garza 22.
Maybe the Braves would be open to the idea of trading Brian McCann now since Evan Gattis and Christian Bethancourt and McCann’s imminent free agency market probably mean just a 2014 first-round pick otherwise — well, a 2014 first-round pick and McCann in October 2013 — but c’mon. Can’t really happen, right?
Maybe the Rangers really are thinking about trying to overwhelm Atlanta for McCann, even though they could simply wait until the off-season when it would cost them a draft pick and not the three blue-chip prospects it would surely take to add him now to an offense that is more than one Brian McCann bat short of real health. They’d get to keep the draft pick, after all, if they went out and got him now and re-signed him this winter.
And maybe the Rangers really are thinking about trading Joe Nathan today or tomorrow before 3:00 — hey, maybe for a blue-chip prospect they could then flip to Atlanta now, or Tampa Bay or Miami in the off-season — on the theory that he’s going to opt for free agency this winter himself and, given the club’s depth in the bullpen and needs elsewhere (and Nathan’s age), probably end up somewhere else
Whatever happens in the next 30 hours could make Joakim Soria or Tanner Scheppers or Neal Cotts a ninth-inning guy. Or could cost A.J. Pierzynski or Geovany Soto, hours after their biggest moments as Rangers.
Or we could take Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan at their word, and not expect Texas to do anything nearly as significant as trading for Matt Garza.
Even if the momentary jolt of a ballgame that ends with a party at the plate threatens to knock reason out of the park and change the way you think about things.