Relatively quiet day in Arlington, with Texas opening up a three game set against Detroit tomorrow night. The Tigers lead the AL wild card race by 2.5 games over the Mariners, and are 12.5 games ahead of the Rangers. At this point, I'll be happy if we can just win one game.
The biggest story of the moment is John Rheinecker being pulled from today's start for Oklahoma City as a precautionary move, in case Vicente Padilla is unable to go tomorrow night. Padilla has silently developed arm irritation, and while Jon Daniels thinks he'll be fine, Rheinecker is being kept on notice anyway.
Although John has thrown 11 scoreless innings for the Redhawks since returning from the disabled list, Texas shouldn't be looking at giving him a rotation spot anytime soon; he seems to be a classic AAAA-type player. As for Padilla, I'm beginning to wonder if he's really healthy.
Jerry Hairston Jr. will return from the disabled list on Tuesday, with either Matt Kata or Nelson Cruz being sent down to make room. Evan Grant suggests that whoever survives the roster cut will be demoted anyway when Brad Wilkerson returns, although he has yet to begin his rehab assignment. Since Victor Diaz has been playing in right field lately, I'm betting Cruz gets sent down first - although that's probably for the best. Right now, Cruz needs to go back to AAA and try to get his game back together.
Speaking of Cruz, here's a disturbing quote from Nelson on T.R. Sullivan's blog:
"My swing is getting better, but I can't show it if I'm not playing."
As some of you may recall, former Ranger Kevin Mench complained about his lack of playing time under the Buck Showalter regime in 2005. On the contrary, Mench played 150 games and got 557 ABs that year.
I may be a Nelson Cruz fan, but Ron Washington has given Cruz ample opportunities and playing time, and only benched him when his miserable offensive production and defensive mistakes became too much to bear. I don't like hearing quotes like this, and Cruz better watch out, because his major league career is hanging by a thread right now.
By the way, Cruz went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in Sunday's series finale against the Mariners. The Rangers' lineup on Sunday, in fact, has to be up there as one of the worst lineups this team has put out there in recent memory when using career numbers as a benchmark. Somehow, I don't think the front office was sitting around before the season started and envisioned Ramon Vazquez, Victor Diaz, Marlon Byrd, Matt Kata and Nelson Cruz all being in the same lineup on June 2nd.
On the topic of Victor Diaz, Scott Lucas tracked down this statistical nugget: Diaz has not drawn an unintentional walk at the big league level since September 10th, 2005. That's 125 consecutive plate appearances. Victor has been one of the few bright spots for the Rangers this year, but this could be a big warning sign.
Brandon McCarthy reported no problems after throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, as he looks to return from a blister on his right middle finger. He's expected to throw a simulated game Tuesday, and is still expected to start on Saturday against the Brewers if things go as planned.
And finally, here's an eye-opening piece from Evan Grant detailing the poor talent evaluation by the Rangers over the last few years.
I'll go more in-depth into Thursday's draft tomorrow. A critical moment in this organization's future lies less than 72 hours away.