Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time for some decisions.

When playing MLB Showdown a well-constructed strategy deck was essential. I never used this Dugout General card from the 2004 MLB Showdown set because it could only be played late in the game. I held on to it though because it featured the Rangers.

Well, it's not late in the game but it's still time to choose and possibly discard. I am going to be updating my blog links list soon. Hopefully there won't be too many discards of defunct blogs but I would like to add to the list.

As you can see from the links list, not every other MLB team is represented. It would be great to change that. I would also like to add some Rangers blogs and possibly more set tour blogs.

If you have a blog you would like to see linked please leave a comment or shoot me an email. The blog can be your own or somebody else's, just so long as it's family friendly and a fun read. If for some reason you are already linked and would like to be removed please let me know that as well. If you're linked and haven't posted on your blog in awhile but don't want to be removed please let me know that as well. I won't be making the changes right away but will do so soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1977 Topps - Jim Umbarger.

Jim Umbarger's 1977 season was unusual to say the least. Umbarger, shown here on card 378 of the 1977 Topps set, had a decent campaign in 1976 as he moved into the full-time starter role. Coming into Spring Training in 1977 he was determined to build on those numbers.

That 1976 season was enough to garner the Oakland A's attention. They sent Claudell Washington to Texas on March 26, 1977 for Umbarger and the newly acquired Rodney Scott.

With the A's it was back to a swingman role for Jim. He made eight starts in 12 appearances and pitched a total of 44 innings for the Swinging A's. The results were not good. By late August Umbarger was sporting a 6.55 ERA and a 2.045 WHIP.

Perhaps hoping that a return to familiar surroundings would mean a return to his 1976 numbers, Texas purchased Umbarger's contract from Oakland on August 25, 1977. The homecoming was not overly successful. Jim made two starts in three appearances for the Rangers. In 13 innings he posted a 5.54 ERA and a 1.385 WHIP.

While Umbarger's return to Texas did improve his numbers he still had much work to do. Lefties have nine lives but Jim needed to start lowering his ERA and WHIP if he wanted to stay in Texas in 1978.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Minor League Monday - Jeff Oller, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Jeff Oller, shown here on card number 18 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set, was originally a third round draft pick in 1985. The Montreal Expos took Jeff out of high school. Drafting guys that young is always a risk and it didn't pay off for Montreal in Oller's case.

By 1990 Jeff was in the Rangers farm system. He had yet to play above Double A and had spent most of his career in A ball.

Oller had 375 plate appearances in 104 games for Charlotte in 1990. He posted a .275 batting average and a .358 on-base percentage. Both were career highs for him. He had 17 doubles, one triple, and one home run. Those weren't highs.

In the field Oller played only at third base. He played defense in just 50 games. His 16 errors in 108 chances gave him a horrendous .852 fielding percentage.

Clearly things weren't panning out for Jeff Oller. In five years of pro ball he had yet to make it to even the highest level of the minors. Playing in a Big League park remained a distant dream. His power at the plate appeared to be ebbing and his glove was not coming around. Those factors all combined to make the end of the 1990 season the end of Jeff Oller's pro career.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A little luck.

Well, the Rangers got a bit of luck last night to down the Mariners on a Leonys Martin walk-off single. Seattle scored two runs off Yu Darvish, his first two runs given up of the season. That was all they would get though.

The Rangers battled back and managed to tie the game by the bottom of the ninth inning. Two up and two down to start the inning. Then Kevin Kousmanoff got a hit. A Mariners miscue at second kept the inning alive and a wild pitch moved the runners up. That gave Leonys Martin the chance to dump his single into the outfield and get the winning run home.

Nice use of the extra out by Texas. That gives them two wins in a row, a chance to win the series, and a record over .500. All good signs.

In an effort to keep the good times going, I am posting this signed 1988 Score card of former Ranger Charlie Hough. Can't do much better than Charlie when it comes to a good thing for Texas. Maybe it will give the guys a little more luck this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Encouraging performance.

Last night's game against Seattle was encouraging on several fronts. First, it was a win and got the Rangers back to .500. With the current pitching and hitting problems .500 is an achievement.

Robbie Ross made the start and got the W. I can't find a card of him or he would get today's card. Robbie hurled 7.2 scoreless innings to get his first win and lower his season ERA to 1.00. Not too shabby for a guy making the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Ross is a bright spot on the mound for Texas.

Taking over for Ross was Alexi Ogando, shown here on card US190 of the 2011 Topps Gold set. Alexi only pitched a third of an inning but he did not allow the runner he inherited from Ross to cross the plate. Considering some of his early struggles this season, that is a good sign. Perhaps the old Ogando is back. Neal Cotts came in to finish the game off because it was no longer a save situation. He did not allow any runs to score either. A good night from the pitching staff and a combined shutout of the Mariners.

On the offense side of things Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the season in the second inning. It ended up being his only hit of the night but it gave the Rangers a lead they never gave up. Hopefully Fielder's bats will heat up soon. Coming up right behind Fielder, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit his first long ball of the season. Kouzmanoff has been on fire since the Rangers called him up. It would be great if he can keep it up at least until Adrian Beltre returns from the Disabled List next week.

The offense put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth to run the final score to 5-0. Very nice to see the late inning outburst. If they can repeat tonight against Felix Hernandez, and Yu Darvish keeps his momentum going, things could end up looking real good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1977 Topps - Jeff Terpko.

A quick programming note before we get on to today's card. Starting yesterday, the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty hectic for me. As such I will be posting when I have time. That means some posts will be pre-scheduled and others will not. If it appears I am not paying attention to the current Rangers team, I am. The posts just may not match up.

Jeff Terpko, shown here on card 137 of the 1977 Topps set, came to the Washington Senators in April of 1971 as part of the Curt Flood trade. He was still in the minors when the team moved to Texas.

Jeff got a cup of coffee with the team in 1974. In 1976 he appeared in 32 games - all in relief. Over the 52.2 innings he pitched, Terpko compiled a 2.39 ERA and a 1.348 WHIP. The ERA looks acceptable but the WHIP is high for a reliever.

Apparently Texas decided Jeff wasn't going to get any better with more time. After all, he'd been playing in the minors since 1968. On March 15, 1977 the Rangers sent Terpko to the Montreal Expos for Rodney Scott. Jeff would appear in just 13 games for the Expos before his Major League career ended.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking for company.

Feeling pretty frustrated by all the injuries the Rangers are facing this year. Looking at this 2003 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection dual game-used jersey card helps a little.

Looking at Hank Blalock I am reminded that an injury, or a series of them, can be career threatening. Hank had his career derailed by repeated injuries. At least most of the players the Rangers are currently missing are expected back.

Former Ranger Mark Teixeira is on the disabled list right now for the Yankees. It's a reminder that the other teams are also struggling with their share of injuries to key players. The Rangers aren't alone in the American League.

The Angels are going to miss Josh Hamilton for 6-8 weeks with thumb surgery. The A's don't have A.J. Griffin, or Craig Gentry. The Blue Jays are doing without J.A. Happ and Jose Reyes. The Orioles are missing Manny Machado. Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore aren't pitching for Tampa Bay. Boston is short Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino. Detroit is doing without Jose Iglesias. The Yankees are missing Mark Teixeira and I just saw a headline that indicates Jacoby Ellsbury may be following him to the DL.

While the Rangers seem to be among the hardest hit, it does help a little to take a glance around the American League at the other teams losses. I guess misery does love a little company now and then.