Well, at least it was a winning road trip.
Brandon McCarthy struggled in his return from the disabled list, giving up four runs in 3.2 innings, and the Rangers dropped their series finale to the Boston Red Sox, 7-3. McCarthy, who hadn't made a major league start since June 9th thanks to a blister on his right middle finger, gave up six hits and three walks while fanning just one. He was held to 81 pitches on the night; he'll get the Orioles next time out in Arlington, so expect better things in his next start.
Willie Eyre came on in relief for McCarthy, and had somewhat mixed results. On the one hand, Eyre went 3.1 innings (throwing 83 pitches in the process) and helped save a depleted Rangers bullpen, but he also gave up a devastating two out, bases loaded triple to Eric Hinske in the 5th inning that put Boston up for good at 7-3.
Brad Wilkerson hit a three run homer in the top of the 5th to put the Rangers within a run at 4-3, but they were unable to muster any more offense against starter Kason Gabbard and the Red Sox bullpen. Hinske's triple to dead center field landed perhaps a foot beyond Lofton's outstretched glove, and pretty much put the game away. Texas comes home from their rain-shortened road trip with a 4-3 record, which is honestly more than I was expecting.
Ian Kinsler is being reported as being out for anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, with Monday's MRI detecting a stress fracture in his left foot. This is pretty much the worst case scenario for the Rangers, with Hank Blalock still out for another 4 to 6 weeks and Mark Teixeira out until after the All-Star break. In the meantime, Kinsler will be in a walking orthopedic boot to alleviate weight on the left foot.
Jerry Hairston Jr. will "likely get the majority of the playing time" at second base until Kinsler returns, with Ramon Vazquez and Desi Relaford probably getting work there as well. GM Jon Daniels says he will take a look at options outside of the organization, but doesn't anticipate a major transaction taking place.
On the Eric Gagne front, Daniels may discuss a possible contract extension with Gagne's agent, Scott Boras. As I said last night, I'd love to keep Gagne, but payroll limitations make that rather unrealistic. Don't count on an extension getting done this summer, or at all for that matter.
Aki Otsuka's stiff right elbow is not getting better very quickly, and he will not be available for Tuesday's series opener in Arlington against the first-place Angels. Otsuka may undergo an MRI on Tuesday to ensure that there are not any structural issues in his elbow. This is starting to become something worth keeping a close eye on, which is never a good thing.
T.R. Sullivan has a new mailbag column out at the Rangers website, with Sullivan addressing the latest Teixeira trade news, some odd trade proposals, and a potential Sosa contract extension, which T.R. says is something that Jon Daniels will discuss. I can't say I'm real excited about that idea.
Some of the trade proposals suggested by readers include:
Mark Teixeira for Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle's having a down year by his standards (4.63 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), but Marlins GM Larry Beinfest would probably want additional players from the Rangers, as Willis is under club control through 2009, while Teixeira only through 2008. Very unlikely.
Jason Botts and Edinson Volquez for Mark Buerhle and Jermaine Dye. Well, Buerhle and Dye are free agents after this year, and while Dye has expressed interest in signing with Texas in the Chicago papers, Buerhle and the Rangers don't have a real great history. Add in the fact that Buerhle can snag much more in terms of talent on his own than Botts/Volquez, and you have a trade that has no chance of happening. Maybe if Texas threw in Eric Hurley or something.
Joaquin Benoit for Tony Gwynn Jr. Uh, sure, I guess. Gwynn's very fast, steals lots of bases and can sort of get on base. Unfortunately, he has virtually zero power with a career minor league line of .271/.351/.343, and he compares rather closely with Freddy Guzman, or Joey Gathright, or any other player in the Juan Pierre/Tom Goodwin mold.
Gwynn's hitting .301/.363/.349 this year for the Brewers in 83 AB, but he probably won't keep that batting average or OBP up. He certainly wouldn't be a long-term solution in center field; John Sickels at Minor League Ball didn't even include him as part of his list of the top 20 prospects in the Brewers organization before this season. Sullivan thinks it could take Aki to obtain Gwynn, but I don't feel there's any way he's worth that much. I'll pass.
Mark Teixeira for Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. What?
Joaquin Arias underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday, with the Rangers hoping he can return before the end of the minor league season. Given how long we've been hearing about Arias, it seems nearly impossible that he can still be 22 years old. Indeed, his 23th birthday isn't until September 21st. His odds of ever becoming a major league regular for the Rangers, however, seem to be shrinking rapidly.
If it's any consolation, Robinson Cano (who the Rangers passed on when they selected Arias in the 2004 A-Rod deal) is having a pretty lousy season for the rapidly fading Yankees, batting just .265/.304/.397 in 302 AB this year. Then again, he hit .342 last year, so what do I know?
Kevin Millwood will face Anaheim's Ervin Santana on Tuesday night, as the Rangers launch a three game set against the newly crowned best team in baseball, the 51-31 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Here are a couple of fun 2007 pitching splits from the upcoming matchup:
Millwood's home record : 23.1 IP, 8.49 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, .361 BAA, 4 HR
Santana's road record: 43 IP, 7.53 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, .313 BAA, 13 HR
Translation: If you're sitting in the outfield seats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday night, bring your gloves.
Tuesday, July 3rd Game Preview
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ( 51-31 ) at Texas Rangers ( 34-48 )
Ervin Santana ( 5-8, 5.27 ERA ) vs. Kevin Millwood ( 4-7, 7.06 ERA )
7:35 PM CST in Arlington, Texas ( Rangers Ballpark in Arlington )
TV: KDFI/My27 | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM
Editor�s note: Thanks to Randy of Lone Star Ball, who pointed out that Joaquin Benoit is eligible for arbitration after the 2007 season and is not a pending free agent.