The Texas Rangers have the lengthiest win streak in baseball, at four. But that’s a number that doesn’t really matter.
They’re now a half-game out of second place in the division, and on May 8th that doesn’t really make a difference, either.
Winning five straight on the road? A good number, but the sample size is meaningless and the point is simply that Texas managed to come back in Anaheim to avoid a sweep in that series, hammered the Astros in Houston a week later, and got things done last night in St. Petersburg. Not really mathematically significant.
Baseball math says Nick Martinez didn’t earn a win last night, but a foursome out of his pen went 4.1-1-1-1-0-7 and preserved the lead Martinez handed off, and that’s good baseball.
The three earned runs Martinez allowed breaks his personal streak of 11 straight starts of two earned runs or fewer (second longest such streak in franchise history). Disappointing mathematically, maybe, but that’s it.
Rays righthander Chris Archer came into last night’s series opener with a 1.64 ERA, fifth best in baseball and third in the AL.
The only two American Leaguers ahead of him were Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, whom the Rangers handed a no-decision to on Monday, and Martinez.
Martinez saw his ERA jump last night from 0.84 to 1.47.
But Archer’s soared from 1.64 to 2.59.
In his first five starts, Archer had issued six walks in 32.1 innings.
In last night’s, his seventh of the season, Texas worked four free passes in 3.1 Archer frames, two of which came in the second, both with the bases loaded. The Rangers forced Archer to throw 44 pitches in that four-run second inning, and seven of them came on full counts, and that may be too much math but it’s awesome.
A picture is worth a thousand math equations, and I hope you saw Neftali Feliz’s ninth. Seven sliders among his 12 pitches, and of those seven, five were strikes, three swinging. But forget the numbers: That’s the filthiest breaking ball I’ve ever seen Feliz sustain.
Texas extended one streak but broke another last night, as Texas 5, Tampa Bay 4 was the first game all year in which Martinez took the ball coming off a Rangers win.
The club is 5-0 when Martinez starts following a team loss.
And 1-0 when Martinez starts after a Rangers win.
But numbers aside, when Nick Martinez starts, Texas wins, and that’s a pretty great thing, especially when you’re talking about what amounts to the team’s eighth starter.
As for the math, the one number that has some big-picture significance this morning is 134.
That’s the number of Rangers baseball games remaining in the scheduled 162.
It doesn’t matter a whole lot that, today, there are as many teams behind Texas in the division as there are ahead (including one that’s inevitably going to start coming back to the pack), but it does make a difference that Derek and Martin and Mitch and Tanner and Ryan and Josh and Kyuji and maybe even Matt are going to be around for a bigger chunk of those 134 than they have been for the first 28.
Things are looking much better now than they did a week ago — small sample beware — but the better part of all this might be that the Rangers have avoided burying themselves at their most decimated, and if they can keep playing solid baseball as the roster starts to get reinforced, little by little, well, you don’t need to do the math to recognize that, just over a sixth into the season, it’s suddenly gotten a lot more interesting.
The back of the rotation (Ross Detwiler, Wandy Rodriguez, Colby Lewis) came up big in Houston.
The back of the roster (Kyle Blanks, Carlos Peguero) did, too.
And now the back of the AL West looks different, as the Rangers have left the Mariners in the cellar, and are percentage points short of Oakland in third, and a game and a half behind the second-place Angels.
It was a strange series, as the Rangers scored big and caught the ball and claimed a win streak, not to mention a sweep. A couple catchers found themselves in unfamiliar situations: Frisco’s Pat Cantwell spent a night bullpen-catching for Texas and Hank Conger played two innings in left field for Houston last night (his first pro appearance anywhere other than catcher in 10 years of minor and major league ball), and while Conger’s run a couple hundred feet southwest of that stupid hill in center field had as much consequence as the lions, tigers, bears, leopards, jackals, bobcats, lynx, kangaroo, and snakes that might have gotten loose last night in Tuttle, Oklahoma (thankfully), Cantwell helped get Keone Kela and Neftali Feliz loose and ready for perfect innings on Monday night to preserve a 1-1 tie and then a 2-1 lead, and that’s pretty cool.
The Rangers head 1100 miles east today for four with the Rays, while 1100 miles west Josh Hamilton will take BP against Matt Harrison, which not long ago would have been as weird a thing to imagine typing as a sentence including Kyle Blanks and Carlos Peguero and Kevin Kouzmanoff, or one including lynx, uncapitalized, or one in which I wonder, in all seriousness, why I haven’t had Colby Lewis higher on my list of favorite Rangers players ever, because that dude is a warrior-beast of the highest order.
By time we get to the Tal’s Hill of the baseball schedule, we could be asking what the returns of Derek Holland and Martin Perez and Mitch Moreland and Ryan Rua and Josh Hamilton and Tanner Scheppers and Kyuji Fujikawa and Nick Tepesch and maybe Matt Harrison will do to the back of the roster and the back of the staff, and there’s nothing bad about that.
By then Houston won’t have the league’s best record and maybe not the division’s (though Carlos Correa will arrive before most of the Rangers listed in the previous sentence), and as for the rest of the West, that’s four teams separated by just two games.
And one of them sitting in the middle is doing it with Wandy Rodriguez and his band of journeymen providing part of the impact.
Martin Perez’s last three full months on a big league mound: 11-4, 3.23 over 17 starts.
Derek Holland’s six starts to finish 2014: 1.46 ERA, five walks in 37 innings.
Matt Harrison’s last healthy season (2012): 18-11, 3.29, number eight in AL Cy Young vote.
Yu Darvish, every year.
None of them are around, but all of them should be back, sometime this year or early next, with the possible exception of Harrison if you’re not buying into all the really positive updates coming out of Surprise.
None of them have contributed to the current 13-game run in which Rangers starters have posted the third-best ERA in baseball (2.71), as noted by Jared Sandler (Rangers Radio Network/105.3 The Fan). Only once in that stretch has a Rangers starter permitted more than three earned runs: a four-run permission by Wandy Rodriguez a week ago today. All of that without Yu or Derek or Martin or Matty.
Never mind that over those 13 games, Rangers starters have combined to win just one game (last night’s Wandy gem). We’re talking about the team with the longest current win streak in the American League.
Elvis Andrus (.333/.455/.389 over his last 10 games, with eight walks and five strikeouts) is coming alive, and so is the pop in Shin-Soo Choo’s bat (.286/.304/.667 since coming back from a few days off). Adrian Beltre (.291/.350/.400 over his last 60 trips, hits in 12 of 14 games) is waking up, Prince Fielder (.350/.407/.485) has been a blast to watch all year, and Kyle Blanks (.391/.440/.826) is here.
But that pitching. Think about the idea of Yu and Derek and Martin and Matty returning, and being able to run Nick Martinez out there as your fifth, which assumes that Yovani Gallardo is just a one-year proposition (not necessarily a lock). Ross Detwiler in the pen, if he’s back. Colby Lewis in some role, perhaps.
Which is to say nothing of Chi Chi Gonzalez or Jake Thompson, and if you didn’t see Scott’s farm report yesterday, take a look. The Thompson bullet train is on track.
Or Luke Jackson or Alec Asher or Jerad Eickhoff or Andrew Faulkner or Chad Bell, and don’t write Anthony Ranaudo off yet.
Knock yourself out if you want to write Wandy off, and I’ll be the first to admit I’d like to see another few weeks before wondering whether the Scott Kazmir/Aaron Harang category might have a new candidate.
But he was dominant over eight last night, retiring the final 19 he faced against the best team in the American League, and that was fun.
Wandy’s last big league win was late in May 2013, at a point on the schedule when Darvish already had seven wins and was headed toward runner-up recognition in the Cy Young vote, when Holland was 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA, and when Perez was back from the minor leagues for a second look and about to establish in a big way that he belonged.
All of that seems so long ago, even if Harrison recuperating from back surgery doesn’t.
Imagine if those guys come back this year or next to join a pitching staff that, even in its decimated state, has been really pretty good, especially over the last couple weeks.
But that’s down the road a good ways. For now, I’m content to settle in tonight for Colby Lewis-Samuel Deduno, as the club with the longest win streak in the AL seeks to extend it, having won its first series of 2015 and looking for its first series sweep since taking care of the Astros late in September, when Darvish and Harrison and Perez and Scheppers and Ogando and Fielder and Choo and Moreland and Profar and a few others were on the Rangers’ 60-day disabled list, Blanks was on Oakland’s 60, and Wandy Rodriguez, a little more than seven months before last night’s absolute clinic on the mound, was unemployed.
They had the best record in the American League, second best in baseball.
Coming into their house was the team with the worst record in the American League, second worst in baseball.
If that wasn’t enough, the best team in the AL was giving the ball to its best starting pitcher, and maybe the best in baseball in the early going.
While the worst team in the AL was giving the ball to its worst starting pitcher, and one of the worst in baseball early on.
Houston was riding a 10-game win streak.
The last Texas win streak, depending I suppose on how you define “streak,” was September 24-25, 2014.
On those two nights eight months ago, the Rangers beat Houston starter Scott Feldman and then walked off against Oakland reliever Luke Gregerson.
On Monday afternoon, all the talk in baseball was about Houston’s crazy-dominant roll, carried by big power and a revamped bullpen that helped the club to an 18-0 record in games in which they had a lead at any time.
Unless you caught Anthony Andro’s tweet that Texas was 60-102 over its last 162 games.
Which included its 13-3 finish in September.
The Astros hadn’t lost a game started by Dallas Keuchel, the reigning AL Pitcher of the Month, since Ron Washington was the Rangers’ manager.
The Rangers hadn’t won a game started by Ross Detwiler.
Detwiler needed 26 pitches to get through the first inning.
Keuchel struck out the side in the second.
And the third.
But after Detwiler’s shaky first, or actually after his second walk in that first frame, he retired 19 of 23 hitters digging in with 10-game-win-streak swagger, and the Rangers’ 7-8-9 hitters, Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields Jr. (coming back from 0-2 to draw Keuchel’s first walk of the game — in the eighth — and just DeShields’s second walk of the season: both off of Keuchel) and Jake Smolinski, digging in with a collective .169/.269/.275 slash, came through big late, which is to say nothing of Kyle Blanks’s crucial and fantastic six-slider at-bat in the top of the ninth, in which he spoiled one of them on 0-1 and two more on 0-2, and Adrian Beltre ran well, and Neftali Feliz, asked to complete the bullpen’s shockingly light six-out assignment, lived low in the zone with a slider that’s getting better and better and touched 96 on the game’s final pitch, and now it’s Tuesday and Houston has an “L1” in the streak column, while the Rangers look to claim an actual win streak for the first time this year, almost as close to Draft Day as it is to Opening Day.
Lunch at Mamacita’s is going to taste real good today.
Texas sends ex-Astro Wandy Rodriguez up against the ex-Ranger Feldman tonight, and maybe the Rangers will get another chance to win late and maybe it will be Gregerson they touch up to do it, and hey, the last time Rodriguez and Feldman teed it up, Texas won, 9-3, and four months later was in a World Series.
Couldn’t predict ball back then, but last night’s outcome probably felt even more unlikely than the June 2010 Rangers winning a pennant.
So . . . . Let’s go.
November 28, 2014: Oakland trades third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto for third baseman Brett Lawrie, pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin, and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto.
As a Rangers fan, that deal made me very, very happy.
But it didn’t stop there, because to make room for the extra two players on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated two players for assignment: former Rangers reliever Josh Lindblom and longtime favorite of mine Kyle Blanks.
And it didn’t stop there, either, because on December 15, the Rangers signed Blanks to a non-roster deal.
And though he homered Friday night against his former A’s teammates, his big Rangers breakout came tonight, again against the club who dumped him in conjunction with what was already a stupid trade, as he went RBI double/single/homer/two-run single/strikeout in an 8-7, walkoff win that doesn’t happen without him and that felt as desperately needed as an early May win can possibly be.
In the grand scheme, this was Shin-Soo Choo’s night, and big credit too to Rougned Odor (and to Robinson Chirinos for narrowly eluding Odor’s deflected shot), but man, I love Kyle Blanks.
And I love that he did this to the team that gave up on him a few months ago.
Small victories, I guess.
Now, for the first time this season:
Win the damn series.
This is the perfect fit for you, even though you may not be the perfect fit for them. This is the one place that might — might — work for you in baseball, and this is happening only because they were open to it. They had plenty of reason not to be.
Hey, man, yeah, you probably need a hug, but you’re not the only one. Your baseball career became a baseball career here, after it had been nothing but a tragedy, and you ushered your way out badly, both on the field and off, and you can bet one of those is less easily forgiven.
This is your last shot. The organization that has shown you the most professional and human support is embracing you again, but you understand the accountability is a multi-faceted thing.
Step up, and apologize. Apologize when the microphones are turned on for the first time, but before that apologize when the clubhouse doors are closed. Make it right.
The Angels couldn’t wait to get rid of you.
Let me rephrase.
The Angels’ owner, who couldn’t wait to exact sweet revenge on the Rangers (Napoli, Beltre) and who didn’t listen to the baseball people he’d hired to make baseball decisions and instead promised you a massively backloaded eighth of a billion dollars with eyes wide open to all the obvious risks given your history, couldn’t wait to get rid of you.
The Angels’ owner will have paid you $42 million to play, and $68 million for you to leave.
Think about that, Josh.
Over this year and the next two, Texas will reportedly pay you less than $7 million, which is about eight cents on the dollar that the Angels, pawning the ring that they put on it, will pay you to play for a division rival.
You have a thousand reasons to be motivated by this gift. That ought to be one of them.
The Union doesn’t have a history of blessing deals in which a player gives up guaranteed money (or in this case, essentially, waives the windfall that coming to a state without income tax would have triggered), here, in exchange for an opt-out that will never be exercised. The Union is apparently blessing this deal. That ought to tell you something.
The Angels could have simply released you, but to them it was worth saving $15 million or so of the $125 million deal to send him to Texas — the one place where the decision could turn into a public relations disaster for their owner — and get nothing in return but that 12 percent write-off. (Not even something like AAA first baseman Trever Adams, a Creighton product whom Angels Assistant GM Scott Servais would probably have liked to bring aboard.)
“Unless the Angels are absolutely convinced Josh Hamilton cannot be an effective hitter,” writes Buster Olney (ESPN), “this deal makes very little sense for them.”
And yet they embraced it, and jumped at this chance to make you a Ranger again.
Your Los Angeles teammates, from Mike Trout to Albert Pujols to C.J. Wilson to David Freese, have all said in the last week or so that they believed in you and believed you were ready to come back and contribute, and would be disappointed to see their club turn you loose.
Your manager was less supportive and less optimistic, at least publicly, and we all know what management thinks.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times: “My reaction to [the] Angels paying Josh Hamilton to play for [the] Rangers is [the] same as Halos team [president John Carpino’s reaction] to MLB’s exoneration of Josh: It defies logic. . . . I did not see the harm in sending Josh Hamilton to AAA for 20 games just to see what he had to offer. [The] Angels think differently.”
Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register: “Arte Moreno was the only one who wanted to bring Josh Hamilton to the Angels. Now he’s the only one who wants to get rid of him. Fitting, isn’t it?
“Chances are, Texas will benefit from Moreno’s arrogance. It must be more difficult for the rational, conscientious fan to cheer for this team now than it was in the winter.”
Moura was referring to the rational, conscientious Angels fan, of course, but there’s going to be a faction of Rangers fans who will be less supportive of this move than you might think. It’s a minority, if you go by the media polls (and for what it’s worth, my email inbox is running about the same ratio of yea to nay), but it’s there. You have something to prove to this fan base, who embraced you more than any fans in baseball ever have, given the way you vocally turned on them when you left for Disneyland.
You’re going to need to address that, today or whenever your very first chance to do that comes.
And here’s the thing: We can talk all day about the ways the Angels have demonstrated how badly they wanted to toss you out, and how much risk they’ve voluntarily swallowed, paying what amounts to around $110 million for two years of playing baseball in their uniform — the flip side is how little risk Texas is taking on. It will be very easy for the Rangers to move on from this experiment, for any reason.
This isn’t a publicity stunt. (Just as Manny Ramirez wasn’t.)
But it’s not a slam dunk for you, either. (Just as it wasn’t for Manny Ramirez.)
Just as it’s on you to make things right with your teammates here, and your fans, it’s on you to rehab your way onto the roster, and play your way into the lineup. You have to produce, or the Rangers will let you go, too, far more painlessly, and at that point baseball is probably a permanently closed chapter for you.
This is going to cost Ryan Rua at-bats when he returns — which could be as soon as the organization feels you’re ready yourself — and maybe Jake Smolinski and Carlos Peguero, but down the road it’s not going to cost Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. And even if you’re moderately productive, if the Rangers think they’re better off not having you in the clubhouse and the weight room when Mazara and Gallo arrive, well, you probably have an opportunity now to make sure that’s not a factor.
Which is not to say you were ever a bad teammate. This is more about being an example to young baseball players. About 100 percent, every single day.
The Rangers wouldn’t do this if they didn’t think you have the chance to prove something to the Angels and to baseball and to Nomar Mazara.
Clint Hurdle was huge for you when he was hitting coach here in 2010, maybe more so mentally than mechanically. Jeff Banister isn’t Clint Hurdle, but you’re going to see some similarities.
You’ll be around Adrian and Elvis and Colby and Derek and Mitch and Matty again, but there are a whole lot of new players on this team to prove yourself to.
You’ll be around Michael again, too, and you can bet this doesn’t happen if Michael didn’t throw his strong support behind the idea.
You’re going to be around Roy Silver again, and I guess Shayne Kelley or some other accountability partner, and that’s because the Rangers, as always, will do everything they can to support you and pave your path to productivity.
But the greatest duty of accountability is yours.
You were a big part of the greatest Rangers teams ever, but this is not the same team anymore, and you’re not the same player. Everyone accepts that. When this team is healthy again, there will be 15 guys more important to its chances to return to contention than you are. At least.
Right now, Nick Martinez is 100 times more important to this thing than Josh Hamilton.
So much of what the national media is focused on right now is the Angels’ conduct, rather than the Rangers’ decision to take this chance. And that makes sense. This story is more about loss, and subtraction, than it is about anything that anyone has gained.
But you have the chance to change that.
Olney wrote: “[I]t may be that this deal gone awry became so personal for the Angels’ ownership that Arte Moreno just wants Hamilton out of his sight. Which would be somewhat ridiculous, because Hamilton’s history of addiction was hardly a secret. The real possibility that this would take a turn for the worse was always in play. Other teams evaluated Hamilton as a potential target when he was a free agent and ran in the other direction, based on what they heard about his issues. The fact the Angels bid far more for Hamilton than any other team was their mistake.”
And you can compound that, which would be such a beautiful, schadenfreudy baseball thing.
Are you motivated?
Are you thinking about humility today, and how you will communicate it to the fans you once shared so much with before rejecting them?
I’m on record with my support of the idea of bringing you back to Texas, especially given the incredibly minimal risk the club is taking. But it’s not absent of risk, because playing time is finite. At-bats and defensive innings given to one player are taken away from another.
Pudge and Juan and Sunny and Boo all came back toward the ends of their careers, but this isn’t the same. You have a lot to prove here, and if at any point it’s not working out, Texas will move on. That’s not what anybody wants, but it’s always going to be an option.
The day in December 2012 when you decided to leave Texas and go somewhere that lots of people thought could be close to the worst choice possible, I wrote something short and finished it by saying: “He’s just another Los Angeles Angel now.”
If the news rumored to be teed up today comes to fruition, then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re just another Texas Ranger now.
And that’s OK.
This is probably your final shot to contribute to a big league baseball team, and if that’s going to happen then this is the right team.
Make it happen. And first, make it right.
— A Rangers fan
Reports are flying that the Angels and Rangers are working out the final details of a trade that would send Josh Hamilton back to Texas.
Piecing together information from the local and national media, the early indications that the Rangers would be on the hook for $15 million of the remaining $83 million on Hamilton’s contract could be inaccurate — Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports), for one, suggests Hamilton “will relinquish some money” himself and the Rangers, who will send no players to Los Angeles, will “take on LESS than $15 million” as part of this “complex” and “volatile” deal. According to Bob Nightengale (USA Today), the Angels “would still be on the hook for about $68 million, even if Hamilton surrenders some of his payday.”
On the two big gray-area issues there:
Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe) shares this morning that he’s learned that the Players’ Union “would allow [a] salary reduction in [the] Hamilton case if [it] benefits [the] player. Different than [the] A-Rod/Boston case.”
And a source tells Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) that “the Rangers’ cash outlay amounts to a token amount.”
There’s obviously much that’s unknown at this point, but the part that appears to be rock solid is that Josh Hamilton is about to be a Texas Ranger, again — and with each media report, the picture gets a little clearer on the nature of the risk Texas is taking on, and that risk level now appears to be lower than first believed.
I’ll have a lot more to say about Hamilton’s seemingly imminent return to Texas when we know more.
I’m not really a pack rat, but I do tend to hang onto remnants of my insanities. Stuff I’ve written. A fractured aluminum Easton 33” from high school. The sports pages the day after the Herschel Trade.
A couple Ziplocs full of tickets and badges and other wrinkled and worn residue of the months I spent chasing baseball games in October 2010 and October 2011.
I made lots of reckless decisions those two months, attributable to 35 years of perpetually dashed sports-hopes, and it was the best demonstration of serial irresponsibility ever.
A little more than three months ago, a few days after Carlos Peguero signed and the Blue Jays claimed Matt West, and a few days before the Rangers traded for Yovani Gallardo and then Carlos Corporan, I pulled those Ziplocs off a shelf, printed up some photos from those same two October’s, and took the pile to a frame shop, with a rough idea at best of what I had in mind.
This week, on Monday, a day after the season’s most demoralizing loss and a day before perhaps its most satisfying win, I went to pick up the finished product.
Mixed in among a bunch of perforated cardboard on flimsy stock, printed in three-color separation and marked not by date but by game number and trapped under the glass, planted on a muted green and surrounded by rustic brown, were photos that marked the time in more familiar ways.
There’s Cliff jumping into Bengie’s arms, and there’s Neftali jumping into Bengie’s arms.
Neftali, back when you knew what was going to happen whenever he got the ball, and you couldn’t wait.
There’s Rally Minka and the Pancake House, and Nellie with his hands over his head, and there’s A.J. Burnett with his over his, too, and that was awesome.
There’s the Vlad Pyramid, as the Yankees’ most productive player — not then, but now — took his shuffling walk of shame toward the visitors’ dugout, almost two hours after a six-year-old caught the one big league foul ball he’s caught to this day, in what may have been the greatest win in franchise history.
Nestled among stadium shots and family pics and lanyards and pins and hotel keys, there’s Michael and Mike and a tumbling Miguel, and there’s Adrian, so soaked from his St. Pete beer shower that I think my own clothes reeked of the stuff for days.
There’s Elvis making maybe the greatest important defensive play I’ve ever seen, and Wash with his hands on Derek’s shoulders, minutes before probably the greatest important pitching performance in Texas Rangers history.
Yeah, there’s Wash. And Josh.
And a daughter who was about as old then as her brother is now, which makes those Octobers seem like an eternity ago, considering she’s in high school now.
Actually, it seems like forever since those two fall months for lots of reasons.
Thirty-eight players appeared for Texas in the 2010 and 2011 post-seasons. Only seven are still with the club, not counting the two in the front office. Maybe an eighth is on the verge of coming back.
Nine are retired, and two others are out of work but presumably don’t want to be.
Three are in AAA, three are in Boston, two each are Orioles and Phillies and Angels, one plays in Korea and another is in Mexico.
Those two majestic playoff runs were followed by two more years of 162+, though they ended at 163, and after that was a season that miraculously stopped short of 100 losses, not counting the one involving the last manager you’d ever think had any quit in him walking away from his team with games still on the schedule.
October 2010 and October 2011 seem like a long time ago.
But they’re now on my wall, and I’m in that room, and it doesn’t feel as out of reach. #sappy
There’s Adrian and Derek and I’m not done believing Elvis or Neftali — both still on the growth side of 27 — can refind it. (Hey, the Yankees slugger that Nef froze in Game 6 is back carrying fantasy teams across the land.) Prince is here now, Leonys and Nick and Shawn are showing signs of a new level, we’ve got Roogie and Keone, and Martin — and maybe even Matty — could be making starts earlier on the schedule, along with Derek, than Cliff did five years ago.
And speaking of five years ago, the Rangers were 5-9 and three games back at this point in the 2010 season — a game worse than they are today. They started that 2010 season with a rotation, in order, of Scott Feldman and Rich Harden and converted reliever C.J. Wilson and Asian import Colby Lewis and unproven 24-year-old Matt Harrison, at the time inferior by any measure to the 2015 Mariners rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and Taijuan Walker, and, yeah, the Rangers’ top four starters are all hurt right now, but outside of King Felix, those other four Seattle starters, in 11 times out, have zero wins and as many quality starts (three) as Nick Martinez has in his three times to the mound.
Yu will be back in a year, and maybe a couple of Chi Chi and Joey and Nomar and Jorge and Jake and Luke beat him here, and let’s give it some more time but Nick might just be doing some ceiling renovation right now.
I’m not sure if it’s those 18 square feet of sports-memory have me overdosing on the Kool Aid right now, or all the awesome that Texas 7, Arizona 1 provided while the basketball team looked like one on the brink of a complete retool, but I’m in a good baseball place right now, grateful forever for 2010 and 2011 and eager to plan, if only in my head for now, what the third frame will eventually look like.
Rangers pitchers faced 37 Mariners hitters yesterday with a lead.
They threw a first-pitch strike 15 times.
Rangers pitchers threw 169 pitches yesterday with a lead.
They threw 93 strikes (55 percent).
Eleven were swinging.
Tanner Scheppers, Keone Kela, and Neftali Feliz:
Five outs. Six walks.
Since lunchtime yesterday, you guys nearly tripled the size of the Julie McGraw Rehabilitation Fund, which has now advanced into $20,000 territory.
Peter Gammons has taken interest in the story as well, sharing yesterday’s report with his national audience on the Gammons Daily website.
Gary has asked if I would pass this message along to the Newberg Report family:
I don’t know how to say thank you to all of the people that have already responded to your special message. If you don’t mind, please let our new friends know that our family is completely overwhelmed with their caring and giving actions. We are all crying and thanking God for these gifts from kind-hearted people who have no idea who we are. They are very special.
My sincerest thanks to you and all your loyal readers/friends.
I’m really proud to be part of this community of phenomenally good people. This baseball town.
Speaking of which . . . .
Tim Cowlishaw (Dallas Morning News) thinks Texas should consider trading for Josh Hamilton. Consider relieving the Los Angeles Angels of the sorely overpriced asset they have vocally and coldly abandoned and can’t wait to dispose of. Consider paying something like $10 million to Hamilton annually even though a shoulder injury and an unclear substance abuse situation make the timing (if not the concept) of his return questionable. Consider adding another injury issue to a roster full of those, and having no real idea what he’s got left as a ballplayer.
I’m on record: I’m open to the idea.
(August 2013 tweet: “I’d be tempted [to take Hamilton back if the Angels paid half of the contract].”)
(October 2014 tweet and Facebook post: “How much money would you ask LAA to subsidize on Hamilton’s 3/83 to take him back [assuming something like (Jake) Smolinski + (Jon) Edwards in return]?”)
I really wouldn’t want to trade Shin-Soo Choo for him (something Cowlishaw and others have trial-ballooned), and I don’t really see why Los Angeles would want to do that, either.
And $10 million a year might be a little steep for Texas to take on for such an unpredictable commodity — but somewhere there’s a number that makes the risk and its obvious upside worth assuming, and that makes it palatable for the Angels to play ball, since otherwise it sounds like they might be moving towards a straight release and 100 percent financial obligation.
As for the return, Smolinski and Edwards are more central to the plan here today than they were in October, but something like that? I can be persuaded.
But we’re getting way ahead of things here. This seems like an enormous longshot.
Fascinating to think about, though.
In the meantime, Keone Kela is going to take the mound in Seattle, probably tonight but maybe tomorrow. He didn’t come into pro ball with the fanfare of the first-rounder Hamilton or the second-rounder Smolinski, but his path to the big leagues has been far more linear than it was for either of the outfielders or the outfielder-turned-pitcher Edwards, and right now he’s on a short list that includes Prince Fielder, Nick Martinez, and Shawn Tolleson, a list of the Rangers players who have surged out of the gate a week and a half into the young season.
When Kela strides to the Safeco Field mound this weekend, his family will probably be in the stands. Hundreds of thousands more will be watching on TV, including Julie and Gary McGraw — the first two members of the Rangers family to believe in Kela — 200 miles away in Gaston, Oregon, plus a whole lot of their new friends back here in Texas, watching the same thing, even if through different lenses.