Something tells me that Fred Wilpon shouldn't expect to receive glittery Christmas cards from Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes this winter:
- Texas salvaged a game in Philadelphia -- and averted what would have been the first series sweep of the season -- by way of Matt Harrison tossing 8.1 shutout innings on Sunday, in spite of logging only three strikeouts against three walks (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
[He truly is a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma. That's three consecutive quality starts with just five earned runs allowed over 21.1 innings, but it comes complete with a foreboding 12-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and the fact that he's such a high-variance and unpredictable starter leads one to contemplate just how long he'll be safe once Scott Feldman -- who appears to be considerably ahead of Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb rehab-wise -- is finally deemed good to go and able to handle a starter-level workload again. It may very well be that Feldman is no better than Harrison on an overall performance level, but that his consistency (provided he can find it again) renders him a better back-rotation fit.]
- Both Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz successfully completed their minor league rehab assignments and have been activated from the 15-day disabled list; to clear room on the active roster, Taylor Teagarden and Chris Davis were optioned to Triple-A Round Rock; in addition, the Rangers have optioned right-hander Cody Eppley to Round Rock and have recalled 35-year-old Japanese right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama, who is now in line to make his major league debut (Anthony Andro, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
[It was initially reported that Endy Chavez (hamstring) had been placed on the 15-day disabled list, but it turns out that it is Davis, not Chavez, who is taking the roster ax to the neck for now. Teagarden doesn't survive, either, as the concurrent presence of Michael Young, Mitch Moreland, and Hamilton -- who will be DHing until the Rangers deem him ready to return to the outfield -- leave first base and DH adequately locked down; thus, Mike Napoli slides back into more of a reserve catcher role for the time being, though he is positioned to nudge the playing-time split between himself and Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate to around 50-50 if he can catch a bit of offensive lightning in a bottle.
Eppley, meanwhile, didn't prove nearly effective enough during his time up in the majors, and so the Rangers take a shot with the deceptive Tateyama, who posted a 26-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings at Round Rock. Per Kevin Goldstein last winter, Tateyama wielded (wields?) an "86-91 mph fastball and a 'solid' curveball/change-up combo with good command/movement/deception," which could mean anything from Akinori Otsuka-lite -- I'm not counting on this one -- to Kazuo Fukumori v. 2.0 and all possibilities in between. The Rangers' efforts to fortify the bullpen through internal means have been futile to this point, so perhaps Tateyama is the man to break the trend ... or perhaps not.]
- According to major league sources, the Rangers have made "low-level inquires" on Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who has posted a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 total innings this season and has gone a perfect 13-for-13 on save opportunities; if, however, Pittsburgh is interested in moving Hanrahan at all, it will entail a "significant price" (Ken Rosenthal, FOXSports.com)
[Like most prospect mid-season bullpen upgrades, Hanrahan carries a inflated price tag with him; in this case, however, he may be even more of a buy-high trade candidate than we've grown accustomed to seeing during the summer months, owing to (a) his status as a closer, and a rather good one at that, (b) the sub-2.00 ERA that somewhat belies the peripherals he's delivered thus far this season, and (c) his club controllability through the 2013 season. That being said, Pittsburgh may not be working with the greatest degree of leverage -- Hanrahan could be in line for a salary bump from his present $1.4 million to the $4-5 million range after this season, and it is unclear how long such a piece can remain a viable fit with a team that figures to continue working in the $45-50 million range.
Hanrahan has flourished to the extent that he's posted a steady 2.60-2.70 fielding-independent ERA between this year and last, but not through the exact same means in each year -- his strikeout rate has slumped to just 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings despite steadily increasing fastball velocity (97.2 mph this season), but his walk rate (2.1 BB/9) and home run rate (0.4 HR/9) have fallen enough to sufficiently compensate for the lost whiffs. At the same time, his proportion of fastballs to sliders has climbed from 2-to-1 all the way above 6-to-1 (or 86 percent fastballs, to be precise). I wouldn't call any of this alarming, per se, but it is always something of a red flag when a pitcher with an established propensity for high strikeout ratios suddenly and inexplicably ceases to generate as many whiffs as usual.]