If that four-game disaster against the Orioles didn't serve as the necessary wake-up call to remind everyone that the Rangers, despite still being strong divisional favorites, are not -- and never were -- post-season locks, then perhaps this sobering dose of reality will serve that purpose: Per ESPN.com's Buster Olney, no other above-.500 team in baseball has fewer post-ASB home games than the Rangers (31-of-74), and only one other team in the American League (Detroit; 42) has more games remaining against .500-or-better ballclubs than Texas (41):
● Rangers Baseball Express, the prospective ownership consortium publicly fronted by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, has filed suit against the Texas Rangers, alleging that the team breached the purchase agreement struck between RBE and Tom Hicks on May 23rd and claiming that RBE still possesses exclusive purchase rights; in turn, the court-appointed restructuring officer overseeing the case, William K. Snyder (whose power RBE is apparently seeking to limit), has alleged in a "bombshell motion" that the Rangers are working with RBE in their lawsuit against the ballclub (Barry Schlacter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Daniel Kaplan, Sports Business Journal)
[Snyder has also received telephoned threats from incensed Rangers fans, which is remarkably stupid, but that's beside the point. Frankly, I'm not clear on the implications of Snyder's allegation, but it appears to have something to do with RBE demanding in its suit that the monetary difference between its offer and the prevailing bid in the scheduled July 22nd auction be given to RBE; this demand will be reviewed during a 1:30 p.m. CDT hearing on Tuesday, and if accepted would advantageously position RBE going down the stretch here, but let's be clear -- the victories for Greenberg/Ryan have been few and far between lately, so any optimism directed towards their camp should be heavily tempered.
In any event, as Phonte of the now-dissolved hip-hop group Little Brother once rapped, "It's the bottom of the ninth with no extra innings ..." for Greenberg/Ryan, with their desperation becoming increasingly apparent in recent weeks. That shouldn't be held against them, as I think any of us would act similarly if we were helplessly watching our dream of owning a professional sports franchise get torn from our grasp, but you wouldn't see that desperation supplant the prior cool-headedness unless they were resorting to last-ditch attempts to salvage the sale. They might still be the nominal favorite to purchase the team, but time's running out.]
● Rich Harden notched a 2.2-inning rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday; shortly before the All-Star break, Harden mentioned feeling more comfortable with his fastball and mechanics than at any point this season following a 58-pitch bullpen session, stating, "I'm getting where I want to be" (William Wilkerson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
[There's no talk of Harden's imminent return, nor that of Derek Holland, but there's an interesting aspect to their respective recoveries and the back of the starting rotation. With Scott Feldman flirting with expulsion from the starting rotation, there's been some discussion of what could actually be done with him ... and, well, the answer is "not very much." You can leave him where he is, or you can pull some disabled-list chicanery, or you can banish him to long relief, and those are really your only three options. With Harden, it's either the rotation, the bullpen or outright release. I'm going somewhere with this.
Four years ago, Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus -- and I may have already made this exact point here previously, but it's worth reiterating -- found that starting pitchers who (a) post high walk rates and (b) low isolated power rates have a tendency to enjoy better performance gains upon conversion into relievers than other starters-turned-relievers. Harden clearly fits part (a), but perhaps not so much with part (b). However, given that he's effectively a two-pitch guy at this point, perhaps there's some degree of sense to assigning him to the bullpen upon his healthy return -- particularly if Scott Feldman is pitching passably well -- and seeing what he can do. Getting Harden to accept it, however, might be a different case altogether.]