It's time ... for Joaquin Arias to go, for Julio Borbon -- who is still on pace for the single-worst offensive season by a center fielder in baseball history -- to either show some indication of figuring it out in the majors or be dispatched back to Triple-A Oklahoma City to figure it out there, and for you to listen to the latest Jason Parks & Kevin Goldstein podcast extravaganza:
● Well, here we are at the season's 50-game checkpoint, and the Rangers' offense is neither great nor abysmal -- it's actually right around the league-average mark (.326 wOBA; 1 wRAA), although given that those figures aren't park-adjusted, it's more like a tick below average. This in spite of Elvis Andrus's .400 OBP-fueled exploits, Vladimir Guerrero proving one of the better signings of this past winter, Michael Young completely turning his season around and Josh Hamilton hitting at an above-average clip, plus the injury-abridged dominance of Nelson Cruz. It feels like a waste, somehow. The composite product should be better than this, but it's not, and I think we pretty much understand why.
Somebody will inevitably raise the point that the offense's underwhelming nature is ascribable -- at least in part -- to below-average performance with runners in scoring position, which is actually true thus far this season, but look at the wildly fluctuating team batting splits between different base states and then tell me whether you think this is all likely going to normalize in due time. Because if you respond 'no,' I'm naturally going to assume that you believe Texas will continue hitting .338/.384/.542 with runners on first base but only .222/.305/.299 with runners on second base, and I'm then going to find myself puzzling over why you think that. And I'd rather not waste time doing that.
● If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that everyone has their own set of paralyzing baseball memories -- you know, the ones where belief is momentarily suspended and a nauseating emotional cocktail of incredulity and horror immediately drills you in the gut. The Tony Saunders game. Ricardo Rodriguez being incapacitated by Robb Quinlan's line drive. Curtis Pride. The abortive Aki Otsuka-Jorge Posada showdown. They take many different shapes and forms, but as bizarre as it may sound, Derek Holland cemented a place within this group by eliciting many utterances of disbelief as he opened his Sunday evening start with a flurry of 85-86 mph fastballs. Absolutely blindsiding.
After holding several confabs with pitching coach Mike Maddux, Holland's velocity ramped back up into its usual low-90s range, but by his own admission this wasn't a good thing: "I felt like everything was normal first], but I kept getting sore as I picked up velocity." His injury is tentatively classified as "left shoulder soreness," concentrated mostly near the rotator cuff, but during ESPN's telecast Holland could be heard to state that he had difficulty feeling the ball in his hand -- a sensation very much akin to that which Matt Harrison felt before undergoing corrective Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery last year. It's very possible that's not what is ailing Holland, but whatever it is, it's damn alarming, and reduces that vaunted rotation depth to just about nil. A very ominous sign.