Things certainly could have gone better for the Rangers on the West Coast this past week, but a 3-3 road trip isn't too bad.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get much easier for Texas over the next week, as the Indians and Mariners lie ahead during a seven game homestand in Arlington that begins tonight. Cleveland leads the AL wild card race at 55-39, while Seattle sits just a game back of Cleveland and two games behind the division leading Angels.
Of course, the biggest topic of interest concerning the Rangers right now is the approaching trade deadline. ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote about the latest rumblings out of Arlington this morning, and he doesn't seem to be particularly optimistic that Texas will completing any major deals:
What team has the biggest names to sell off this month? Everyone agrees it's the Rangers. But the Rangers' asking price for Teixeira, Eric Gagne, Akinori Otsuka and everyone else has been so off the charts, an official of one team predicts: "The way they're going right now, I don't think they'll make a trade -- any trade."
There's several other comments from rival executives, who seem to be particularly frustrated at the high price tags being placed on the Rangers' main trade commodities by GM Jon Daniels. This isn't the first time we've heard rumors of Daniels being labeled as difficult to deal with around the league, but it's hard to say what percentage of those rumors are truly accurate, and how many of those spring from resentment by rival GMs who tried unsuccessfully to pull a fast one on Daniels.
T.R. Sullivan has a lengthy article on "Postcards from Elysian Fields" that seems to echo some of these sentiments, but Sullivan doesn't agree with the idea that Daniels is simply difficult to deal with:
Yes, he has some people around the league fuming. One scout said the Rangers were being "completely unrealistic" when it comes to their relievers, and another said his team was backing off Teixeira because Daniels was "asking for the world."
He has to. Daniels only answers to Tom Hicks and he can't miss on the return package if he does trade Teixeira. Daniels knows it's better to take a highly-motivated Teixeira into his walk year in 2008 rather than get fifty cents on the dollar in return on a trade.
I'm still really hoping to see the Rangers deal Teixeira, but there's no arguing with Sullivan's logic: accepting a less than spectacular package of players for Tex doesn't really help the Rangers, and given that this will be considered the signature trade of Jon Daniels' career, he can't really afford to miss the mark here.
T.R. also comes right out and says that Sammy Sosa will be dealt, but that the Rangers "have to find the right buyer first." Whatever that means. It certainly wouldn't look good from a public relations standpoint to deal Sammy to a non-contender, but something has to get done here, since Ron Washington continues to insist on batting him against right-handers. Sosa's hitting a miserable .213/.248/.404 against RHP this year, a major dropoff from his .348/.450/.606 line against LHP.
On a related note, Sammy will be honored for hitting his 600th home run with a pre-game ceremony before Saturday's game. Rangers PA announcer Chuck Morgan was on BaD Radio earlier this afternoon, and said that Van Diesel, Juan Marichal, Felipe Alou and others would be in attendance. Yeah, don't look for Sosa to get dealt before Saturday.
Jason Botts was placed on the seven-day disabled list Wednesday with a lacerated finger, which he injured on Tuesday night when a fly ball glanced off his right ring finger, tearing up the nail and fracturing the end of his finger. I imagine that's a pretty painful injury, and let's pray this DL trip doesn't slow down Jason's scorching hot bat.
Aki Otsuka was set to be examined today by team orthopedist Dr. Keith Meister before the Rangers were to make a decision on whether or not to place him on the disabled list. Otsuka suffered a setback while warming up in preparation for a relief appearance on Tuesday night, forcing him to end his warmup session after just 10 pitches due to soreness in his troublesome right elbow.
Otsuka will likely have a precautionary MRI performed on his elbow, although Texas doesn't believe he has structural damage. The Rangers can only backdate a potential DL assignment ten days, meaning he wouldn't be eligible to pitch again until July 24th. At this point, Aki's very likely headed for the disabled list, which would pretty much cripple the chances of him being dealt before the trade deadline. And that's probably for the best.
The Rangers are now hoping Vicente Padilla can make his next rehab start on Friday night in Frisco, which would put him on schedule to rejoin the rotation sometime next week. I wouldn't hold my breath on that happening, but Robinson Tejeda is probably in the most danger of losing his rotation spot if Padilla does return.
Michael Young will miss Friday and Saturday's games against Cleveland to attend the funeral of his wife's grandmother in Los Angeles.
Speaking of Young, Jamey Newberg has the newest installment of his "Swapping Stories" column out, detailing the history of the Doug Melvin trade that brought Young to the Rangers in July 2000 in exchange for Esteban Loaiza. Jamey left this part out, but as you may recall, John Hart nearly dealt Young away several years later, citing concerns over his offense. Uh huh.
Ian Kinsler was expected to begin jogging today, with the hopes of returning from the disabled list on July 27th against Kansas City. It'll be nice having Kinsler back, as that means not having to get spared to death on a nightly basis by Desi Relaford and friends.
And finally, the DMN's Evan Grant had his weekly chat session yesterday. There's far too much great stuff there to begin to try summarizing it, so instead, I'll simply advise you to check it out if you haven't seen it yet.
Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia will face Kameron Loe about 40 minutes from now; on April 25th, the Rangers roughed up Sabathia for five runs in six innings, but lost 8-7 in 11 innings.
Texas needs to finish the job tonight.
Thursday, July 19th Game Preview
Cleveland Indians (55-39) at Texas Rangers (41-53)
C.C. Sabathia (12-4, 3.78 ERA) vs. Kameron Loe (5-7, 5.49 ERA)
7:35 PM CST in Arlington, Texas (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)
TV: FSNSW | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM