So as not to foster any confusion about what the initial comments below are referencing, I originally wrote "Alexi Ogando is probably the best pitcher in baseball history" in this same space last night, and, of course, did so with tongue firmly planted in cheek ... but with eight more frames of one-run, four-hit, six-strikeout, one-walk baseball appended to his season ledger (which I'll happily take a scintilla of credit for, given that he was one of the focal points of my latest Baseball Prospectus column), and with no unceremonious fall back to earth in sight, one begins to wonder if he really is destined for the greatest single season by a Rangers starting pitcher ... ever:
● Julio Borbon has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, effectively locking in Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry as the Rangers' new center field platoon for the foreseeable future; when queried on why the Rangers went in this direction, general manager Jon Daniels explained that the team didn't feel it was the right time to "shake [things] up" in light of how well Chavez had been playing, and that it didn't make sense to activate Borbon and leave him riding the pine; however, Daniels also suggested that the Rangers see him getting back to the majors "soon" (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[Again, I don't know how much I buy into the "hot hand" argument; modern sabermetric wisdom holds that hot streaks such as that which Endy remains on -- another 3-for-5 showing on Friday night certainly aided matters -- have little to no predictive power, meaning that it's quite likely that he'll revert to his career baseline at some point. Here's the thing, though: (a) we don't know when that will be, and (b) I wouldn't be shocked if the hypothetical difference in value between Chavez and Borbon the rest of the way was, in fact, negligible, which would inject some added practicality into all of this because it would preserve the Rangers' center field depth in full. If Chavez doesn't turn into a pumpkin, though, I'm not sure how Borbon's going to find his way back to the majors in a Rangers uniform.]
● Elvis Andrus on the alterations in his basestealing approach between this year and last that have enabled him to pull off an incredible 19-for-19 run on the basepaths: "Last year, I really learned a lot of things. So far this year, I’m keeping better communication with [first base coach] Gary Pettis. Last year, I was good at the beginning, but every time I got on base, I started running. Now, I’m trying to take my time. See how many strikes, see the count. If a guy gives me a pretty good chance to steal, then I’m going to take it." (Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News)
[I feel as though this virtually crying out to be put into its proper historical context, so here goes: according to FanGraphs' new UBR (Ultimate Base Running) linear weights baserunning metric, Andrus grades out as the best overall baserunner in baseball from the beginning of the 2009 season to the present at 15.1 runs -- or 1.5 total wins -- above average, which isn't anything to sneeze at. And since caught-stealing statistics began to be recorded at the beginning of the 1951 season, there have been only 13 instances of a player stealing 20 or more bases in a single season while being caught no more than one time (only three of which were perfect with zero caught-stealings).
If Andrus were to, say, achieve a perfect 24-for-24 run and then call it quits while he was still ahead (which he wouldn't, of course, but we're speaking in hypothetical terms here), he would top Chase Utley (23-for-23 in 2009) by a single steal for the title of the greatest "perfect" single-season basestealing campaign in recorded history. As if you needed another reason to love him.]
● Brandon Webb was shut down on Thursday after feeling some discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder and is again out indefinitely; Scott Feldman remains out indefinitely because he can't shake the soreness and fatigue in his right knee; Tommy Hunter will be out for approximately one more month as he attempts to rebuild arm strength during a string of minor league rehab starts (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[Fun fact you may not have realized: 55 of the 58 starts made by Rangers pitchers this season have emanated from the Opening Day starting rotation. The other three? Dave Bush. It is nothing short of remarkable that this ballclub has managed to skate by for so long without a No. 6 starter, but as I wrote in my BP column, the problem is that there's really no relief in sight in that regard -- Texas is but one more Hunter groin tweak (and I certainly wouldn't rule out another such setback, given his injury timeline and his lacking conditioning) away from having no viable backup rotation options until late July.
C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, and Alexi Ogando may be a sufficient front three in a short post-season series and this team may not need to pay through the nose for an upper-tier rotation piece this summer to have a legitimate chance of advancing deep into the playoffs (provided they actually do make it there), but the problematic depth situation could possibly step up the sense of urgency -- and, if nothing else, you could very easily see the Rangers take a cheap flier on a decent No. 6-7 type pitcher that could be stashed away at Round Rock and moved up if a worst-case rotation scenario does actually manifest.]