With today's Rangers game being rained out, there's obviously not a whole lot of action on the field to discuss. There are, however, still a lot of things worth discussing, as we move closer and closer to the July 31st trade deadline.
Today's rain delay lasted an hour and 26 minutes before crew chief Gary Darling (does that name ring a bell?) called the game off. As I previously mentioned, the game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on September 11th, with Game 1 starting at 12:05 PM CST, and Game 2 at 6:05 PM CST. September 10th is an off day for the Rangers, so like I said, this may be a blessing in disguise.
Manager Ron Washington certainly thinks so, as the rainout gives him a valuable opportunity to rest the bullpen. According to Ron, neither Eric Gagne nor Aki Otsuka were going to be available on Wednesday after their heavy workload (and accompanying struggles) the last few days. Had the Rangers been in a save situation on Wednesday, Joaquin Benoit or Frankie Francisco apparently would have gotten the call. Yeah, that's something we're better off not even thinking about.
In the meantime, the entire rotation has been pushed back a day, with Kevin Millwood and Kenny Rogers still making the start on Thursday. Jamey Wright, Kameron Loe and Robinson Tejeda will pitch the first three games of the Boston series, with Monday's starter still undetermined. Texas is considering bringing back Brandon McCarthy for that start, rather than letting him make another rehab start on Friday night in Frisco.
Last night's game was a real thriller, with Texas pulling out the late dramatics once again. Starter Willie Eyre was passable, considering it was the first start of his major league career. Willie gave up three runs on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings, before getting hit on his pitching hand by a line drive and exiting the game in the 5th inning. Eyre left trailing 3-0, but the Rangers rallied in the 6th and 7th innings, scoring a combined six runs (including an huge three run homer by Brad Wilkerson which gave Texas the lead).
Unfortunately, Aki decided to have one of his rare bad nights, as his command on the mound completely escaped him. After giving up two hits and a walk to load the bases, Sean Casey hit a two run single to right-center field, and former Ranger great Craig Monroe hit a sac fly to tie it.
Once again, however, the little Rangers rallied. Detroit closer Todd Jones came on for the 9th inning in a 6-6 ballgame, and easily retired Jerry Hairston Jr. and Ian Kinsler. But Michael Young walked, Sammy Sosa singled, and the incredible Marlon Byrd hit a two run triple down the right field line to make it 8-6. "Byrdman's" now hitting a ridiculous .380/.419/.528 in 108 AB, and barring a trade, is probably well on his way to making the 2008 Texas roster.
Curiously enough, the 0-2 pitch that Sosa singled on was never supposed to happen, as Jones and catcher Mike Rabelo got their signs mixed up; Jones was supposed to step off the rubber and look Mike Young back to first base, rather than deliver the ball.
Ramon Vazquez followed with a two out RBI single, and suddenly the game was beginning to closely resemble Sunday's game against Houston, when the Rangers rallied to tie the game, only to lose it anyway. This time, however, it was the Rangers on the other end of things.
Eric Gagne came in for the bottom of the 9th, and threw yet another heart-attack inducing inning. After Brandon Inge hit a leadoff single, Gagne retired Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco, and then surrendered a two out walk to Gary Sheffield. AL MVP frontrunner Magglio Ordonez stepped to the plate as the tying run, and on a 3-2 pitch, Gagne managed to strike Ordonez out with a high 94 MPH fastball. Yeah, that's not going to do a whole lot for Gagne's trade value.
Evan Grant has another great newsletter out, with Grant believing that the Rangers and Dodgers will hook up for a Mark Teixeira deal in the next month. He cites the fact that Dodger scouts are constantly around the Ballpark these days, and that A.J. Preller and Don Welke, top assistants to GM Jon Daniels, have recently worked for the Dodgers, and have an intimate knowledge of their farm system.
Unfortunately, Michael Young isn't quite as excited about this idea, as he appeared on Dunham and Miller this morning on KTCK The Ticket 1310 AM. Young said that he was strongly against the idea of dealing Tex, Sosa or Gagne, and has already made it publicly known that he against rebuilding.
Since I doubt club management wants to completely infuriate the "Face of the Franchise," I suspect a compromise will be made, with Texas holding on to at least one of the above players. I just get the vibe that the Rangers are not going to trade or release Sammy, so he may be the one. I'm not sure what to make of Gagne's trade value after his hiccups lately, and Jon Daniels isn't going to move Teixeira unless there's a huge bounty involved, so I suppose there's the possibility that Texas keeps all three.
But with the Rangers still 16 games out of first place and 13 games out of the wild card, wouldn't Daniels be considered a huge failure if he didn't trade any of the three? Needless to say, it's going to be very interesting to see how this all shakes out. I certainly hope things don't deteriorate to the point where it's Young vs. Daniels/Hicks standing off against one another.
T.R. Sullivan also touches on some trade possibilities at his blog, and he doesn't seem quite as confident as Grant that the Rangers will deal Teixeira, saying that Texas might have to take quality position player prospects back rather than pitching prospects. Sullivan also says that the Rangers will want two good prospects back for Gagne, since he'll likely net two draft picks on his own as a Type A free agent this coming offseason, and that Sosa's drawing no trade interest at the moment.
Speaking of draft picks, Sullivan says that the Rangers are still not close to signing first round pick Blake Beaven, but that only 10 out of 30 first round picks have signed so far anyway. Catcher Devin Mesoraco was drafted 15th overall by the Cincinnati Reds, signing for $1.4 million, and third baseman Kevin Ahrens was drafted 16th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, signing for $1.44 million. Right-hander Michael Main, who made his pro debut for the rookie level AZL Rangers on Wednesday as a DH, signed for $1,237,500.
Infielder Shea Hillenbrand has been designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, after complaining to the L.A. Times that he wasn't getting enough playing time. Here's a quote from the story:
"I feel like I'm being pushed aside, put on a back-burner, and I don't like that at all," Hillenbrand, 31, said. "If I'm not going to play here, give me enough respect to trade me or get rid of me. I think I deserve that."
If manager Mike Scioscia "doesn't think I can help this team, there are teams out there I can help," Hillenbrand continued. "I'm a quality player in the prime of my career. To go from playing every day to not playing at all, it's very disheartening."
Now, I don't really like going on huge rants, but I'll make an exception in this case. First of all, Shea, there's a very good reason you've been pushed aside: you're hitting an anemic .254/.275/.325 on the year with 3 HR in 197 AB. Your EQA is .212, which is absolutely awful considering you've played mostly at DH, traditionally a major offensive position.
And you're the very definition of a clubhouse cancer, as you got yourself run out of Toronto and Boston for complaining about not getting enough playing time with both clubs. You called Red Sox GM Theo Epstein a six-letter word that begins with "F," and got in a fistfight with your manager in Toronto, John Gibbons, after writing that the "ship was sinking" on the clubhouse bulletin board.
Seriously, "quality player in the prime of my career?" Just who the hell do you think you are, Shea? You should be thankful that Angels GM Bill Stoneman was stupid enough to give you $6.5 million guaranteed this year, not whining about getting too few at-bats. And that argument is weak in itself, considering that you're still 6th on the team in at-bats. You're an absolute joke, Shea, and I hope you're relegated to the minors for the rest of your career. You don't deserve to be in the majors.
C.J. Wilson has his second video out, called "The Dinner Bell," which you can view here. It includes cameo appearances from pitching coach Mark Connor, most of the pitching staff, Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve. I personally think it's better produced and much funnier than "Rangers 911," and I'd highly recommend giving it a watch.
The Rangers and Tigers will face off on Thursday afternoon for the last time until September. Hopefully, the rain stays away from Detroit - and for that matter, Texas too.
This weather is ridiculous.
Thursday, June 28th Game Preview
Texas Rangers (32-45) at Detroit Tigers (45-31)
Kevin Millwood (4-6, 7.31 ERA) vs. Kenny Rogers (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
12:05 PM CST in Detroit, Michigan (Comerica Park)
TV: KDFW/Ch. 4 | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM