What if some enterprising reporter asked Arte Moreno, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" Have you ever thought about it?
● We're deep into that waning stage of the regular season where the proximity of the playoffs tends to heighten public sensitivity towards outcomes that normally wouldn't move the needle all that much, and now, after much clamoring for Martin Perez to get the start over Scott Feldman last night, we have the former reeling from a pretty underwhelming effort in a pitchers' ballpark against a subpar offense, and the latter coming off a strong long-relief effort that helped Texas stay in the game until the late innings. I imagine that the Rangers will be taking at least one of the two to war in the ALDS as a long-relief security blanket, and it was getting a bit easier to exclude Feldman from the first-round roster mix after Seattle KO'd him a week ago ... but, yeah, things change quickly late in the season, and, at this point, I think you can construct a reasonable case in favor of either of them.
● Not a real good look from Michael Young last night, who did drop a single in a 1-for-4 effort but also struggled from a WPA standpoint -- due in large part to a couple of GIDPs -- and endured what felt like one of his worst nights in the field in a long time, as Adrian Beltre's absence from the lineup prompted Ron Washington to pencil Young's name in at the hot corner. That's the thing about playing Young at a middle-infield position or at third base: some nights, it won't matter one whit because he won't see a single tough defensive chance and he'll handle his responsibilities with aplomb and ease, and some nights it'll all go horribly wrong.
Last night didn't irk me quite as much as it probably should have because (a) I've been at a state of peace with Young's defense for a while now and (b) Young, in a perfect world, shouldn't have to play 2B/3B/SS in the post-season at all, but I do wonder about the state of Beltre's overall well-being, and with Mike Olt's status going forward being a major question mark, I imagine that we'll be getting more Young at third base if Beltre should end up missing any additional time in October. I am not looking forward to that possibility, and if that should come to pass and Beltre simply can't warrior himself into the starting lineup on a given night, you hope it happens on a night where Yu Darvish is on the bump and he can minimize the workload for his defense by missing lots of bats.
● On the opposite end of last night's offensive spectrum, we had David Murphy (3-for-4, HR) churning out the highest WPA (+.385) of any player who participated in last night's game, and after having never posted a single major league season above 2.0 fWAR, he's now sitting at four wins above replacement for the first time in his major league career. This is hardly the first time a fourth/fifth-outfielder type for the Rangers has experienced a huge offensive surge around that age 29-31 window, and I'm sure it won't be the last; with that in mind, though, I don't think the Rangers are going to view his 132 wRC+ this year as his new offensive baseline and throw a multi-year deal at him on that basis. I love what Murphy's giving this club in 2012; I'm just skeptical about how long it can last.
● Alexi Ogando got jacked on a high 3-2 slider by Miguel Olivo of all people (yes, he of the sub-.600 OPS) to hammer home the final nail in the Rangers' coffin last night, and in light of his recent biceps tightness and difficulties on the bump (three 'meltdowns' in his last five appearances), there's a resurgence of speculation about what, exactly, Ogando's role is going to be in the post-season, and whether he'll even be trusted ahead of Koji Uehara in October. On the one hand, Ogando's struggles become even more disconcerting when you consider that Mike Adams has been very iffy of late and down this season on the whole; on the other hand, though, Uehara possibly jumping ahead of Ogando isn't such an insult to Ogando, because Uehara's been sensational this year, and Joe Nathan and Robbie Ross are both about as good right now as you could reasonably expect them to be in the month of September.
That's five relievers with relief skill sets that range between very good and elite, and you have three of them in good shape, one in somewhat iffy shape (Adams), and one in iffier shape (Ogando). Yeah, it'd be great if all five were humming along at maximum effectiveness right now, but that's never a realistic hope or expectation to cling to. The late-game bullet chamber could be in better shape, but I just can't bring myself to fret too much about the kind of shape that it's in right now.