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Thursday
Jul312014

The Rangers Stand Pat

Well, that was unexpected.

In recent days, weeks even, many of us -- myself included -- had expected that by the trade deadline, Alex Rios and Neal Cotts would be dealt to a contending team that, hopefully, would overpay in the mold of either talent or draft picks. Cotts, for sure, seemed to be destined to head out of Texas to some contending team.

In the end, however, it seems that teams didn't like Alex Rios enough to put together anything significant. As for Cotts, I get the feeling that his performance this season -- which hasn't been poor, mind you, just not anywhere close to his 2013 season -- was partly to blame.

As it turns out, the Rangers only ended up moving Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria, with the latter providing an influx of young talent from which the Rangers can attempt to cultivate some wins from in the coming seasons.

No, this year's trade deadline wasn't flashy. If you like flashy, you're probably disappointed right now in comparison to the last few seasons. Such is the life of a non-contender, and for now, it appears that the organization was more than happy to stand pat and see how things transpire moving forward. There's always the August 31 non-waiver deadline, which is how the Rangers acquired Alex Rios last season.

So, I guess you never really know, but I'd venture to guess that the roster as currently constructed is fairly close to the way things will look heading into the offseason. The only potential move that would have significantly helped Texas beyond this season would have been Cliff Lee, but in case you haven't seen yet, he exited his start on Thursday with an elbow injury.

Sure, I think a lot of us would have loved for the Rangers to flip some expiring contracts for more young talent, but in the grand scheme of things, this season has been derailed mainly by injuries. We can argue back and forth all day long about whether or not the Rangers would have been legitimate contenders with the full roster, but there's no way anyone can really tell me that things wouldn't be much more competitive with significantly better luck.

Given that the organization is only just now experiencing real signs of failure after a period of unprecedented success, I'm content trusting that Jon Daniels and the rest of the front office have a plan, and will continue along that path, even if the end result isn't a World Series appearance by next season. Sure, that's the goal, but isn't it better to have a consistently competitive team that has multiple chances to win a championship as opposed to building the roster one season at a time? There may be organizations out there that disagree, but on the whole, building a consistent contender is the name of the game, and even after an uneventful deadline, I'm OK with where things stand concerning the future of the Texas Rangers.

Wednesday
Jul302014

The Rangers are 43-65

The Rangers have finally won a series, in front of a packed house no less.

  • Early on, it looked like Colby Lewis was going to get run from the game pretty quickly, as the Yankees went up 1-0 in the top of the 1st, with Colby throwing 29 pitches. Brett Gardner once again struck, homering in the first at-bat of the game.
  • After loading the bases in the 1st inning, Colby ended up settling in nicely. He pitched 7.0 innings on 106 pitches, giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. All in all, not a bad performance, even if it was against a Yankees squad that isn't up to par with ball clubs of the past.
  • The Rangers had a lot of opportunities to score in this one, and didn't really convert like you'd hope, but in the end, 3 runs was enough to get the job done.
  • Neftali Feliz earned himself another save, and while the velocity still wasn't really there like you'd hope, he threw a few pitches that looked to be more deceptive than the velocity might seem. I don't know if it was just me hoping for it, or if he actually looked to have some extra movement and deception on his fastball, but he still managed to get through a scoreless 9th inning, and I guess, from a results standpoint, that's what you want to see.
  • The next 15-18 hours should be pretty interesting, as we'll see all kinds of trade rumors and deals that go down at the wire. I still expect the Rangers to make at least one more move, but at this point, I'm just not sure what it will be. It's the first time in a few years that I've absolutely had no idea as to what the front office could be looking to do, perhaps due to the fact that it's the first year in awhile that the Rangers aren't contenders. Either way, it should be interesting to see everything unfold through tomorrow afternoon.
Tuesday
Jul292014

This Is Why We Love The Texas Rangers

Trailing 12-11 in the bottom of the 9th, with two outs and a full count -- right before Adrian Beltre flew out to end the game -- the Hall-of-Fame voice of our favorite team, Eric Nadel, said: "You can't say the Rangers don't fight until the final out."

The Rangers are 42-65.

J.P. Arencibia continued his torrid power pace since being recalled from Triple-A, going 4-5 with 2 HRs, 2 2Bs and a career-high seven RBI. On the season he's still hitting a putrid .183/.223/.404, but with 5 HRs and 16 RBI since returning from his minor league hiatus, at least he's doing something

Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios each went 3-5, and combined to see 59 pitches in 12 plate appearances. For two players not known for their plate discipline, that's pretty cool. This is likely Rios's final showcase as a Ranger, so it's nice to see him exit on a high note. 

Speaking of exits, Neal Cotts allowed two runs via a homer to Mark Teixeira, who unironically was moved by the Rangers at the trade deadline back in 2007. Neal hasn't been as effective from a run-prevention perspective in 2014 (3.52 ERA) as he was last year (1.11 ERA), but as a lefty who we expected literally nothing from when Texas acquired him, he's been a success story in Arlington. I will miss watching him pitch. 

There was a point in the game when the Rangers led 4-1, but after a seven-run 7th from the Yankees, Texas was playing catch-up the rest of the way. The lead ballooned to 10-4 before Arencibia's grand slam in the bottom half of the 7th, and 12-8 after Teixeira's homer in the 8th. In the bottom of the 9th, the Rangers rallied against one of baseball's best relief pitchers -- David Robertson -- before ultimately falling short on the last pitch. 

We're a longtime removed from this team being competitive in 2014, and a loss is a loss is a loss. Wins don't mean anything at this point. In fact, I actively hope this team loses significantly more games than they win between now and the end of the regular season.

But for one night, tonight, the Rangers exemplified -- contrary to the opinion of some fans -- that they do still fight. They haven't given up. Shame on me for throwing in the towel far too long ago, but the reason we love the Rangers is because they give us moments like tonight. In the past they've given us reason to love baseball, and tonight they showed us that even in a lost season, they haven't given up on any of us. 

Monday
Jul282014

The Rangers are 42-64

The Rangers have won the first game of a series again. Of course, that means they'll lose the rest of the games, if recent history is any indicator. On a more serious note, some thoughts:

  • I'm glad Yu Darvish is, at least for now, on the Rangers. It wasn't his best outing, but his mediocre is better than 95% of baseball's best, so it was nice to see him get the victory.
  • It wasn't a particularly thrilling game offensively, but by the time it was over, you looked up and saw that the Rangers put 4 runs on the board and came away a bit surprised. Choo and Beltre had the only extra-base hits, both doubles, with only Beltre's resulting in an RBI. 
  • I had a really cool Yu Darvish GIF planned from his reaction as he walked off of the mound after the 7th inning. My computer had other ideas, so it didn't happen.
  • They do it all over again tomorrow night, as Nick Martinez faces of against former Ranger Brandon McCarthy.
Monday
Jul282014

Another Derek Holland Setback?

In a piece of news that shouldn't be all that surprising in the context of this 2014 season, it appears that Derek Holland may have suffered some sort of setback in his progress toward heading out on a rehab assignment in order to try to pitch for the Rangers this season.

Saturday, while I was at the ballpark, I saw Calvin Watkins and and noticeably more muscular Holland chatting on the field about 90 minutes before first pitch. Shortly after, Watkins -- as well as many other beat writers -- tweeted out that Holland would be starting a rehab assignment by pitching 2 innings for AA Frisco on Wednesday.

The idea was for Holland to take fielding drills on Sunday, and either the same day, or on Monday, throw a bullpen session for the Texas staff. Assuming all went well, he would be sent for the assignment as planned on Wednesday.

That brings us to the present time, in which late Sunday evening, Gerry Fraley offered up some harrowing news on the results of Holland's fielding session earlier in the day. Among the things said, the one that caught my eye most was this:

Washington said Holland, recovering from offseason microfracture surgery on the left knee, was not smooth in his fielding work, and the organization needed to discuss his status before proceeding.

Now, there could of course be a conversation had in which the Rangers determine that the fielding will come with extra reps, and that Holland is simply rusty. This could amount to absolutely nothing. With that said, if the organization indeed decides that he's not ready to go out on a rehab assignment, it would almost certainly be a death blow to the chances of seeing Holland pitch for the Rangers this season.

Sure, this season isn't turning around, and with or without Derek Holland, that's a fact. Yet, there's a part of me that almost feels that Holland needs a few starts with the big club this season for his own peace of mind going into the offseason and heading into 2015 on a much stronger note than this 2014 campaign.

I've reached out to Gerry on Twitter to ask for some sort of clarification on the discussion Ron Washington speaks of, so if I hear anything, I'll be sure to post an update here. Until then, I'll be holding my breath that a guy the Rangers really need healthy and confident next season hasn't just experienced any sort of physical setback with his knee.