To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure Derek Holland was quite as brilliant visually as his brilliant pitching line would imply (6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), but he was very, very strong nevertheless, and if he sets an every-fifth-day pace going forward that's anything close to what he did on the mound last night, I have a very difficult time imagining that Matt Harrison is going to reclaim his rotation spot -- from Holland, at least. And they might say that a player should never lose his job due to injury, but in this case the injury may have only accelerated what was an inevitable outcome all along:
● After not having amassed five homers in a single game since August 7th, 2009 at Anaheim (a game in which Omar Vizquel belted his first -- and still only -- homer since 2007), the Rangers halted that drought with 2,127 feet of home run distance on Wednesday evening, including Josh Hamilton's mammoth 439-foot blast that helped nudge his wOBA back above .380. There may still be a hint of that early-season tentativeness that we saw, but right now his offensive profile looks awfully similar across the board to that which he composed in 2008, and that's an extremely good thing for Texas if it holds up over the 162-game duration.
● Writes Bob Hersom of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's "yips"-related throwing plight: "In [Saltalamacchia's] last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone." As desperately as the Rangers require offensive support from the catching position (Max Ramirez's fine 3-for-4 performance notwithstanding), and as white-hot as Saltalamacchia's bat has proven at Triple-A Oklahoma City (.343/.400/.552 in 67 at-bats), Texas simply cannot trust a player who is so mentally misaligned that he cannot make the most basic of throws -- the risk is simply too great.
One of the things I've marveled at for quite some time is how we're fast approaching the three-year anniversary of the Mark Teixeira-for-everyone trade, and yet we still really don't know what exactly Saltalamacchia is. On paper, he's a career .251/.313/.388-hitting catcher who has honed his defense to the point where it's at least league average, and that has some value; however, that's effectively replacement-level offense translated to first base/designated hitter, so if this proves to be a long-term psychological issue that continually impedes his attempts to reclaim the big league catching job, the Rangers probably enter the 2010-2011 off-season searching for a new long-term solution there.
● One of the more frequent refrains in recent days/weeks has been that if the Rangers elect to dump Ron Washington, they should pick up Bobby Valentine, holder of a lifetime 581-605 record in eight seasons with Texas. I'm not qualified to judge whether Valentine would, in fact, be a suitable replacement, but it has been posited over the years that Valentine played a consequential role in the respective downfalls of Edwin Correa and Bobby Witt during the late-80s (pitch count data bears this out in Witt's case), and even during his later 1996-2002 managerial tenure with the Mets, Valentine oversaw 125-plus-pitch starts with some regularity.
Perhaps you're of the belief that Valentine -- and, to some extent, the way that coaching responsibilities are delegated within baseball -- has/have changed in the last 20 years, and don't consider his past managerial tendencies to be predictive of how he would perform as a manager today; that may very well be true. If, however, you're going to seriously entertain the notion of commissioning Valentine for a second managerial stint in Texas, I think you at least have to acknowledge his track record of overusing starting pitchers as a red flag, and determine whether it's really prudent to pair that alarming track record with the collection of young pitching talent that Texas has amassed.