Two quick things: (a) Given the extent to which the Rangers have been forced to lean upon their bullpen as of late (as evidenced here), it strikes me that Texas needs to supplant Guillermo Moscoso with somebody that can be trusted to pitch more than once per week, and soon; and (b) what better way to begin a Saturday morning than with one of the great underrated late-90s posse cuts?
● I'm not sure if the "go big or don't go at all" trade mantra which I repeatedly hammered home during last summer's Roy Halladay-to-Texas uproar applies quite so well this year (particularly because the Rangers' aggregate production at catcher and center field is still terrible and could be greatly improved with something less than a superstar-level talent), but the first big fish -- the Astros' Roy Oswalt -- has sent the summer trade market into motion by demanding out of Houston, and his willingness to waive his no-trade clause to reinforce his intrastate opponent has understandably ignited some Oswalt-to-Texas trade speculation already.
Oswalt isn't quite on the level of Halladay, but is a very good 3.5- to 4-win pitcher and would likely add at least one win to the Rangers' post-July 31st record -- an especially valuable thing for a team positioned where Texas is on the marginal win curve. Aside from the $20 million-plus still contractually owed to Oswalt, however, there's the fact that Houston will be seeking a significant bounty (M. Perez/M. Harrison/M. Moreland might be in the right area code), as well as Drayton McLane's abundant disdain for the notion of dealing star-level talent to the Rangers, whom he perceives as competition; rumors swirled years ago concerning a deal which would have sent Oswalt to Baltimore -- and then to Texas -- that McLane refused to green-light. I don't expect we're done talking about this, but I also don't expect an Oswalt-to-Texas deal to manifest anytime soon.
● If there was ever a time when Ron Washington's every move wasn't magnified and every hint of "small ball" tendencies on the part of his team wasn't subject to ridicule, that time has long since passed. That much is abundantly clear. And so when Josh Hamilton laid down a fourth-inning sacrifice bunt entirely of his own volition which advanced Vladimir Guerrero along to third base in a deadlocked 1-1 contest, the floodgates of criticism opened, and perhaps rightly so; in any event, Guerrero was plated on a tie-breaking double, Texas won and Washington was absolved of any direct responsibility for the bunt, with Hamilton later intimating that he would like to further incorporate the bunting "threat" into his game.
Here's the thing: Given the unpropitious lefty-lefty matchup and the fact that Hamilton was working with the element of surprise, you could at least make the case that Hamilton's decision to bunt wasn't quite so egregious as, say, squandering the .420-plus OBP talents of Elvis Andrus on a bunt. It still wasn't a very good decision, though, and that leads me to wonder about two things which I cannot answer definitively: (a) whether Hamilton's decision to bunt was influenced by Washington's espousal of the bunt in general, and (b) as Jason Parks hints around on the "Up And In" podcast with Kevin Goldstein, whether the more saber-friendly people in the Rangers' front office have voiced their concerns to Washington about these tendencies at any point.
Quick Hits: It's great to see Michael Young (.318/.379/.434; .360 wOBA) finally hitting, but those two balls grounded past him in the eighth inning served as a harsh reminder of his "liability" status; any hope that he would ever be even mediocre defensively -- much less league average -- at third base has pretty much come and gone ... As mentioned above, Jason "El Magico" Parks and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus have debuted the "Up And In" podcast, and it's definitely worth your time ... Welcome back, Greggo?