May 2014

Kins & Gallo.

On June 12, 2004, Clinton shortstop Ian Kinsler doubled, homered, and walked in five trips against Peoria, raising his average above the .400 mark for the first time in a little over three weeks.  Following the game the 21-year-old was promoted to Frisco, a two-level jump.

That .402 average Kinsler posted in over 250 LumberKing plate appearances that spring will mark his media guide page forever (he would then hit exactly .300 for the RoughRiders that summer), and that’s pretty cool.

I’m not saying I thought about this after Joey Gallo hit home runs 19 and 20 last night against Carolina Mudcats victims D.J. Brown and Clayton Cook, but I sorta am, because 20 bombs is a pretty cool number — especially when it’s reached in May.

Gallo (.320/.457/.750) isn’t about to make any two-level jump, but he’s going to make a one-level, one-way trip pretty soon, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it came very close to the 10-year anniversary of Kinsler’s promotion, a 10-year span between one impact prospect arriving in our Frisco backyard and another.

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

Rise.

This is a wonderful day.  I’ve never seen this one before.

— Maya Angelou

Thank you for that, Joe Saunders and Luis Sardinas.

The last pitcher on a ludicrously stretched roster. The last position player, too, unless you want to count face-fractured 28-year-old rookie Daniel Robertson. Two players that, if not for these almost impossibly extraordinary and trying circumstances, should not be here right now.

Thank you.

 

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

— Maya Angelou

Let’s go, Nick Martinez.

Let’s win (another) damn series.

 

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.  Forgive everybody.

— Maya Angelou

I’m sorry that I implied yesterday that Jorge Alfaro might find himself playing baseball in Rhome, Texas this summer . . . since Frisco is actually 35 miles northeast of Arlington.

I’m sorry for Monday morning’s unnecessary, uncool “Mad Men” spoiler.

And I’m sorry, Bazooka Joe Saunders.

Today, I forgive.

Let’s go, Nick Martinez.

More stuff.

I’d have gotten myself ejected from the game after Mike DiMuro ruled Adrian Beltre didn’t attempt a tag and that Eduardo Nunez’s parabolic path to third base was acceptable, but then again I’d probably have already been tossed out of the game half an inning earlier when my team led the frame off with Alex Rios sliding into third and ended the inning with Rios standing in that same place, though I might have felt like being thrown out six hours before that when I found out my best player caught that nasty, contagious neck stiffness strain.

But that’s one of a thousand reasons I’m not the right man to manage the Texas Rangers, who are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race and, for a thousand reasons, probably shouldn’t be anywhere close to that.

Hey, last night in Myrtle Beach, Jorge Alfaro doubled and then Jorge Alfaro singled and then Jorge Alfaro singled and then Jorge Alfaro tripled with the bases loaded (with nobody out, and was stranded) and then Jorge Alfaro singled, and no, he’s not going to see Arlington this year (and probably not next), but if you were to suggest he could land 35 miles northwest of that sometime this summer, I won’t strain my neck pushing back on that idea, though I’m confident he’s not going to get to Frisco before his Pelicans teammates Joey Gallo or Chi-Chi Gonzalez — the post-draft Northwest League starts play in about two weeks, around which time you can expect a wave of minor league reassignments system-wide, which in this season of cover-your-eyes transaction reports will be full of baseball-y goodness for a change — but the Alfaro train keeps chugging along, at a different rate and a different path from Gallo’s, more parabolic than meteoric, and that’s OK, because not every prospect Rougned’s his way to the big leagues, not every Joakim Soria save opportunity gets converted, and sometimes, a leadoff triple gets stranded.

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

Loyalty.

“I’m a leader.  And a leader is loyal to his team.” 

— Bert Cooper (d. 7-20-69)

Not just leaders.

I could dump a whole bunch of numbers this morning, lots of shiny numbers coming out of a series convincingly won in Detroit in spite of reason, but I don’t want to.

I’m not thinking about numbers.

The players matter.  They matter a lot.

But not long ago, someone I know who embodies leadership on a level that would elicit a Bert Cooper “Bravo” said to me that while team is bigger than individual, you can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s those players who help make the team that you’d run through a wall for.

Maybe Texas is on its 37th and 38th and 39th players — in May — and is relying on them while a handful of others you’d count on your first couple hands watch from the dugout.  “Injuries only really devastate when they pile up,” writes FanGraphs columnist Jeff Sullivan in a Fox Sports piece, “but the top of the Rangers’ pile now is well out of view.”

Yeah, maybe so, but giving up isn’t part of a loyal sports fan’s playbook any more than a leader’s, and walking up to that wall and choosing a slump-shouldered U-turn isn’t, either.

Ultimately, it’s about team.

Don’t quit on this one.

On the off-chance that something really special ends up happening, that the last four days create some form of momentum or indicate some sort of life or have some amount of stamina or whatever you might believe in, it’s going to be a lot more special for you than for those who walked away.

Don’t quit on this team.

Stuff.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there are four Beltre’s who have ever played in the Major Leagues, and only four:

Adrian Beltre.

Esteban Beltre.

Engel Beltre.

Omar Beltre.

All four played for the Texas Rangers.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there are four Esteban’s who have ever played in the Major Leagues, and only four:

Esteban Loaiza.

Esteban German.

Esteban Beltre.

Esteban Yan.

All four played for the Texas Rangers.

Esteban Beltre and his Donruss-photoshopped baseball cap are a Texas Rangers wormhole.

esteban beltre

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

May 22, 2014: Jamey Newberg, 1-day disabled list.  Grade II strain, sports head.

Sports.

From the very top and the very bottom of the Rangers organization, both on Friday:

Don’t feel sorry for us.  We’ll be all right.  

We need to make adjustments.  And I think we’ll get it done.

— Jon Daniels

President, Baseball Operations & General Manager

There are two options:

A) Make progress & move forward.

or

B) Make excuses & get left behind.

I’m always choosing Plan A.

— Russell Wilson

Minor league second baseman, inactive

It’ll be all right, Yu.

Loss.

At at least one point during his eight seasons as Texas Rangers manager, Ron Washington somewhat confusingly said this:

“My players did not show character.  They revealed it.” 

I’m at a loss for the right words today, too.

Sports adversity is always right around the corner, if not staring your team in the face and sometimes kicking its tail, but it’s just sports, which is not to diminish what this is for Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, for whom I can’t imagine what today feels like, as they find themselves cruelly at the bottom of the pile-on, or maybe the top, or whatever.

I don’t know what to say this morning, or even some loose idea of what I’d like to say.

It’s character-reveal time, and in some sense — I’m not sure exactly how right now — I think it’s gonna be all right.

Of #pricechecks and #stinkbombs.

Colliding with yesterday’s report about how long it had been since Texas was a .500 club this late in a season, there’s this, that Tampa Bay is now seven games under .500 for the first time since they were “Devil Rays,” at the end of the 2007 season.

Which collides with a story by Jim Bowden’s ESPN column running down his top 10 trade candidates, and Jon Morosi’s Fox Sports story suggesting the Rays should consider trading David Price to replenish its flagging farm system (due in part to baseball’s worst draft record from 2008 through 2010), and Grantland’s Jonah Keri weighing in succinctly.

Which collides with this, from last night, courtesy of Nick Pants, the 20-year-old subject of which drew this postgame comment from his manager:

“He’s not scared.  He’s a baseball player.” 

With all due respect to Luis Sardinas, who will be a big league shortstop, he’s not part of what I’m about to say.

There are Three here.  You could stretch the imagination and bring third base or left or center field into the picture, but for various reasons it really would be a stretch.

There are Three, and it’s going to make me very sad if Rougned Odor is eventually the odd man out.  And I’m not talking about the active roster in June.

Read the first screen or two of this from 2008, if you’d like, to get a sense of where I’m going with this.  Pay particular attention to the first half of the eighth paragraph.

I’m not thinking more about two months from now than I am about last night, which was all kinds of awesome, but those thoughts are starting to collide a bit, and I think the landscape for the bigger-picture analysis is starting to change a little bit, perhaps on both sides.

There are Three.

For now.

OdorRougned0757

Pitcher perfect.

I have this nagging, unwelcome, unpleasant feeling about baseball right now, and I can’t swear it would be any different if my periodontist hadn’t thrown cut fastballs at my mouth for two hours on Thursday.

This crummy feeling is stupid, and I’m going to write some words down now, to try and pull myself out of it.

There’s not really a good reason to be sad about Yu Darvish’s latest near-miss.

I think I was in a multi-day funk when Al Oliver and Buddy Bell went a combined 0 for 3 in the 1980 All-Star Game, too.

It’s about wins.

It’s all about wins.

It’s not about All-Star games or batting averages or Rookie of the Year results or no-hitters.

Just wins.

And Texas 8, Boston 0 was a spectacular win.  A thorough taking down of the reigning World Champs, a May baseball beating of the highest order, with lots of offense, and three hours of majestic, special, breathtaking artistry painted on a canvas that stretched across the 60 feet and six inches between one slab of rubber and the other.

It was, what, one of the ten greatest Texas Ranger pitching performances I’ve seen?

Five?

How can I be upset about it?  What sense does it make to feel even a little sad?

Yeah, maybe Alex Rios cost Yu Darvish a bit of baseball history.  And an extra nine pitches.  And another matchup with David Ortiz in the ninth that probably wouldn’t have happened if Rios had properly called Rougned Odor off the ball in the seventh.

But that’s baseball, and baseball is about wins, and we got one of those and that’s the best you can do.

At least as far as the bottom line is concerned.

To that point, on some levels baseball is about number one pitchers, and we got one of those and that’s the best you can do, and I think back to that December 7, 2011 afternoon at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, where Jon Daniels and Thad Levine and A.J. Preller and Don Welke and Josh Boyd spent three hours making a case, in front of Ray Davis and other members of Rangers ownership, for an unprecedented posting bid on the young Nippon Ham righthander.  And then drove to Fort Worth the same day, to repeat the pitch to Bob Simpson.

Thank goodness for all that went into that, and came out of it.

I care less about whether there’s thought and discussion today that lead the official scorer to tear up the existing E-9 ruling than whether there’s thought and discussion underway that lead an organization and its ace to tear up his existing contract and replace it with a lengthier one, rewarding both sides.

Sure, I wish Darvish went 27 up, 27 down last night.  Of course I do.  But not as much as I wish Wash had put Endy in for defense 926 days ago, in the penultimate game the Texas Rangers played before Yu Darvish arrived.  And if you give me the choice: last night’s result and wins in the next eight straight against Boston, Houston, and Toronto, or a perfect game and wins in only five of the next eight, I’ll take the win streak.

There were 293 one-on-one confrontations in last night’s game, and Texas won most of them, enough to give them the nod as far as the one ultimate outcome goes.  That’s what matters.

There are lots of fascinating notes to come out of the game, from the Rangers’ league-leading shutout total, to Darvish’s league-leading volume of recent bids for perfection, to his transcendent strikeout totals, to the reassuring results in his starts following a 120-plus-pitch effort.  Plus FanGraphs writer David Golebiewski pointing out that Darvish’s “Game Score” (under the Bill James definition) of 92 last night was actually higher than the average for all recorded no-hitters in big league history.

But that’s more numbers.  More content for the record books and the pregame clips.

Texas won the ballgame, handily, thanks in very large part to one of the greatest performances ever turned in by one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.

It was pretty much a perfect game, even if not according to the rulebook definition.

Yu Darvish

animal

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