I try not to allocate too much time and attention towards pre-game minutia like this (which is why you almost never see game lineups posted here or other stuff along those lines), but in addition to everything else weird that's going on around this team right now, we have the news before tonight's 6:10 p.m. start that Craig Gentry will not start against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester tonight. David Murphy, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz are starting in the outfield tonight behind Ryan Dempster, with Elvis Andrus returning to the lineup at shortstop after a one-game layoff, and Michael Young returning to the DH spot.
Meanwhile, we're also getting some ostensibly unrelated word from the Rangers' beats that Roy Oswalt did not quit on his team on Sunday (despite the media's frenzied rush to condemn Oswalt, and the ensuing torrent of columns that called for him to be launched into the sun), and declined to pitch a third inning because he was completely spent after having thrown 200-plus pitches in less than a week between bullpen work and live game action. Per MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan: "Oswalt made it clear he still wants to start. But he said he is willing to pitch out of the bullpen whenever the Rangers need him. He said he has not asked to be traded." If this is true, then the Oswalt story is, in effect, a non-story, and all of the angst over his situation will have mostly been for naught.
"So," you inquire, "why bring up Oswalt's situation in a post that's supposed to be about Gentry?" Because now that we're moving past the Roy Oswalt story, hopefully the matter of Ron Washington's decision-making of late -- and, in particular, the fact that he's deploying lineups that aren't giving the Rangers the best possible chance to win on a given night -- can regain some attention from the media, and some more incisive questions can (and hopefully will) be asked on that particular front.
Washington justified the use of David Murphy over Gentry against a lefty starter this past weekend because Murphy was hitting well at the moment, and because he wanted to ride the hot hand ... but Murphy has now cooled back off, with a 3-for-16 showing over his last four games, and Murphy's career track record reflects the fact that he is best utilized as a starter against right-handers who rides pine against southpaws. Gentry, meanwhile, is the Rangers' best defensive outfielder by a rather substantial margin, and boasts a .328/.400/.421 triple-slash line on the season, along with a strong track record of hitting lefties -- and yet he not only finds himself on the bench against a lefty-tossing Lester, but has also received just one start in the last nine days.
This has passed the point of bizarre. If Gentry is hurting and can't go on that basis, then that's one thing (although we've heard nothing as of yet that might validate that possibility), but if he's not hurting and he's physically capable of playing at his usual level of effort ... well, then I've got nothing.