Per Pete Aldrich of the Dallas Morning News, supplemental round pick Tommy Hunter has been signed by the Rangers. The 21-year-old right-hander was selected with the Rangers' fifth pick (54th overall) of the 2007 MLB Draft, which Texas obtained when Type B free agent Mark DeRosa signed with the Chicago Cubs this past offseason.
Hunter's large 6'4", 250 pound frame has drawn comparisons to the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton, who Texas nearly obtained for Alfonso Soriano in December 2005 before the Brad Wilkerson deal went down. His fastball can touch 93 MPH, and he has a power slurve that works from 82-84 MPH; he profiles as either a setup man in the Tyler Yates mold, or a back of the rotation starter.
After the draft, Hunter was regarded as perhaps the Rangers' biggest reach among their top five picks, as well as perhaps the toughest sign in that group. Of course, that title has since gone to Blake Beavan. Texas has now signed 25 of their 54 draft picks.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writes that the cost of giving up top prospects shouldn't deter contenders from making a deal for Mark Teixeira. For all the bad things I have to say about Teixeira, I can't knock the way he's been hitting since his return from the disabled list: he went 4 for 12 with two walks over the weekend against Anaheim, with three doubles and one HR. I continue to pray there's something resembling a James Loney/Clayton Kershaw package floating out there.
The Chicago Tribune includes these two blurbs in their "Trade Whispers" segment from today:
The Tigers also are studying Houston's relievers along with Texas' Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka and Kansas City's Octavio Dotel. Gagne says he would like to stay with the Rangers in 2008, however, so it's possible Texas will extend the righty rather than deal him.
Mark Teixeira's recent criticism of management makes it more likely Texas will move him before the deadline, assuming he returns from the disabled list hitting well enough to bring significant young players in return. Baltimore would love to add Teixeira and extend his contract beyond 2008, currently its final year. The Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Braves and Giants are following this situation closely. It wasn't lost on Texas GM Jon Daniels that the Rangers went 16-11 as Teixeira nursed a strained left quadriceps muscle.
In addition, Daniels appeared on the Bob and Dan Show on KTCK 1310 AM The Ticket this afternoon, and commented on Teixeira's remarks to the media from last week, saying that they were "a distraction that we didn't need." For those who are still big Mark Teixeira fans, enjoy him while you can.
Bob Hersom of the Daily Oklahoman talks about the growing comparisons between Travis Hafner and Jason Botts, who went 2 for 2 with another three walks last night. Botts is now hitting .324/.439/.563 in 339 AB for Oklahoma; in July, he's hitting a ridiculous .415/.554/.976 with 5 HR in 41 AB, so his power stroke certainly seems to be coming around. Hersom also includes some great quotes from Botts, who seems to be handling the entire situation with incredible class:
"They have told me they don't want me to go up there and only play every three or four days,� Botts said. "I'm very grateful to go up there. It was a great experience. But at the same time I don't really want to do that again.
"I'd much rather be here playing every day and continuing to learn and work. I feel like I'm a major league hitter, but I want that everyday opportunity. I just need to stay patient and wait for it.�
Of course, to clear room for Jason Botts, Texas will first have to get rid of Sammy Sosa, who is just barely keeping his head above water at this point. T.R. Sullivan wrote on Saturday that the Rangers were willing to be "more than reasonable" in discussing a trade for Sosa, which is basically the equivalent of begging for some team to take him off their hands just to avoid the clubhouse, media and fan backlash that would result from designating him for assignment.
Best case scenario here: Texas deals Sosa to a playoff contender for a fringe prospect, and calls up Botts immediately afterwards. It keeps everybody happy, and gives Sammy another shot at that elusive World Series ring. Needless to say, if Botts isn't getting regular at-bats with the Rangers by August 1st, something went very, very wrong with that plan.
Kenny Lofton is attracting significant trade interest from Cleveland and Milwaukee, with several unnamed clubs showing interest as well. Lofton's had a very nice year for Texas, batting .309/.391/.443 with an OPS+ of 117 in the leadoff spot, so you'd like to think he might bring back a decent prospect or two. Unfortunately, rival GMs will probably catch on to the fact that his OPS is just .756 on the road.
And to make matters worse, Lofton has decided to publicly agree with Gary Sheffield's accusations against Joe Torre; Sheffield claims that Torre treated white players and black players differently during his three year stint with the Yankees. Sometimes, I wish Texas players would just keep their mouths shut.
Aki Otsuka was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today in Oakland, and could finally make his return on Tuesday. If he experiences another setback, the Rangers may be forced to place Otsuka retroactively on the disabled list in order to make room on the roster for Robinson Tejeda, who will be activated for Tuesday's start against the A's.
If Otsuka's good to go on Tuesday, Wes Littleton will be optioned, once again, to AAA. Texas can only backdate a DL assignment ten days, meaning that Aki would be unavailable for at least five days if the Rangers placed him on the disabled list now.
Vicente Padilla did not throw his planned bullpen session on Saturday, and the Rangers are uncertain if he will make his next scheduled rehab start for Frisco on Tuesday or not. Texas had hoped to activate him for a July 22nd start against the Indians, but that's beginning to look like a long shot now.
Former "All-Star" pitcher Mark Redman opted out of his contract with Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday, after going 2-4 with a 5.34 ERA in nine starts. He could have pushed his way into the starting pitching equation with a nice run for the Redhawks, but that obviously didn't happen.
Single-A Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis extended his hitting streak to 33 games on Sunday with his 6th grand slam of the season. Davis is now hitting .314/.356/.598 with 21 HR in 338 AB for the Blaze. The California League hitting streak record is 35 games in a row, set by Brent Gates in 1992.
Jamey Wright and Dallas Braden will square off in a little over an hour from now, as the Rangers and Athletics kick off a three game series in Oakland.
Monday, July 16th Game Preview
Texas Rangers ( 39-52 ) at Oakland Athletics ( 44-48 )
Jamey Wright ( 2-2, 5.55 ERA ) vs. Dallas Braden ( 1-3, 6.08 ERA )
9:05 PM CST in Oakland, California ( McAfee Coliseum )
TV: KDFI/My27 | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM