Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Along with the offense Wilson was back in form as the staff ace. He went seven innings while allowing just two runs. That in spite of taking a batted ball off his leg and his throwing hand. Hung in there though and got the well-deserved win.
Glad to see the win. I know Houston has been struggling but the Rangers have had a rough time on the road recently. Ian Kinsler in particular is night and day at the plate on the road and at home. Good to see him put together a good game away from Arlington. Maybe that will help him relax and get the train back on track.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Jim had suffered through a pretty lackluster year in 1974. If he was looking to rebound in 1975 he was going to be disappointed.
In 12 starts with Texas Bibby would toss 68.1 innings and end up with a 2-6 record. That wasn't better than the year before, in fact it was worse. Jim's ERA would also get worse as it surged up 1.12 points to an even 5.00. His WHIP climbed almost ten points to 1.478. In addition Jim had walked 28 batters while striking out just 31. Not a good ratio.
Clearly Jim was struggling. With the numbers he was putting up something had to give. On June 13, 1975 something did give as the Rangers traded Jim to the Indians. Along with Bibby the Indians got Jackie Brown, Rick Waits, and $100,000. In return the Indians sent Gaylord Perry to Texas.
Monday, June 27, 2011
The Rangers drafted Eric McCray, shown here on card number 1008 of the 1989 ProCards set, in the 1988 draft. He was their 10th selection in the draft.
Texas started the lefty at Rookie ball in 1988. He posted a 1.44 ERA in 56.1 innings as a starter. That was good enough for a promotion to Single A Gastonia for the 1989 season.
McCray's success would continue at Single A. His ERA climbed a bit but was still a nice 2.52. His WHIP inched up to 1.233 but that was still acceptable as well. In the 22 games he started for Gastonia he more than doubled his innings pitched to 121.2 and posted a 7-7 record for the season. He struck out 110 while walking 55. He could stand to lower the walk totals but for a lefty in just his second season of pro ball he was doing well.
All in all Eric's first two pro seasons had gone well. The tenth round pick had been a pleasant surprise and would be promoted to Double A for the 1990 season. Here is where the real climb to the Majors would begin. McCray would have to translate his early success to the higher levels of play if he wanted to pitch in Arlington.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Jim King, shown here on card number 42 of the 1962 Topps set, was in his second season with Washington in 1962. After making a fair bid for a starting outfield spot in 1961 he was hoping to get and keep a job in 1962.
Jim would appear primarily in right field but would put in some time in left as well. The 605 innings in right was enough for him to be considered the starting right fielder though. All told Jim would play 778 innings in 101 games in the outfield in 1962. He would see 191 chances and would handle all but four of them without an error. Interestingly he was also involved in four double plays as well. His .979 fielding percentage was just one point below the league average.
Jim would slip a bit on offense from the previous season. He would have 90 more plate appearances than in '61 for a total of 396. That would net him ten more hits (81) and three more doubles (15). His home run output would remain the same at 11. King would see his batting average drop 27 points to .243 and his on-base percentage slump ten points to .353. In spite of the drop the on-base percentage was the best in the starting nine.
Jim's main problem following the 1962 season would be making himself stand out. The Senators outfield could be a crowded place for a decent defensive player with middling offensive skills. Jim would need to work on one or the other in order to carve out a permanent spot for himself.
Friday, June 24, 2011
To kick off the Best Seasons series we find Ferguson Jenkins at number one with his 1974 season. I've talked about this season in a previous post but it could bear a second look.
Over the years Texas has been known as an offense heavy club. Jenkins' 1974 season is the opposite and is by far and away the best by any Rangers pitcher ever. A recap of the season really isn't necessary but a look at the numbers is in order.
In his first year with Texas, Fergie would start 41 games. He won 25 of those starts while losing 12. Amazingly he completed 29 games, 6 of those were shutouts. All that pitching totaled to 328.1 innings for Jenkins on the season. He struck out 225 batters while walking just 48 - three of those walks were intentional. His ERA for the season was 2.82 and his WHIP totaled to 1.008.
Those numbers are incredible. I just can't see the innings total, wins, and complete games ever being matched by another Texas pitcher. In putting them together Jenkins put the Rangers into contention as they finished second in the American League West.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Anyone else considering voting for Mike Stanley to start at catcher? Mike's a former All-Star and played for the Red Sox and Yankees. Sterling credentials there and the ones that seem to be truly important. In addition he has only appeared in 14 fewer games than Joe Mauer has this year and Joe's in third place in the balloting with over a million votes.
Let's go Mike!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Derek Holland, shown here on card number 218 of the 2009 Topps Chrome set, started the game and got the win. Derek went 7.1 innings and allowed three runs. That was good enough to get him the win as Texas downed Houston 8-3. After the game Derek was asked why he thought he has gotten such good run support this year. He attributed it to his pregame Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. Whatever it takes man. Maybe the rest of the rotation should learn how to mimic famous people.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Matt Harrison, shown here on card number BDP20 of the 2008 Bowman Chrome set, is having a pretty good year. So far he's got a 3.16 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Not bad for a guy who wasn't a lock to make the starting rotation in Spring Training. Starting the season Matt was considered the number three pitcher in the rotation.
On Saturday Harrison started the game against his former franchise as the Rangers visited the Braves in Atlanta. After 4.2 innings he was pitching with a 4-2 lead and looking good. Then the rain came. I was hoping for a just a short delay so Matt could get back out and be the pitcher of record. After all, he has already lost a start this season to rain - that one when he was ahead 7-0.
An hour into the delay I was feeling bad for Matt. After all, there was no way he was coming back out. Two hours in I was wondering if the game might be called. After a delay of two hours and sixteen minutes the game resumed. To my surprise Matt Harrision strolled back out to the mound to finish the fifth. First time I can ever recall a pitcher coming back into a game after a lengthy delay. I understood though. Ron Washington wanted Matt to get the official game after losing one earlier in the season. Surely after getting that long-delayed out Matt would leave the game. Wrong.
All told Matt went 6.1 innings and allowed just one earned run. Amazing if you ask me. Matt's got guts to come back after the delay and then sit twice more before leaving the game. So does Ron Washington to let him try it. No babying that pitcher going on there. More of an iron man race.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
After several years of admiring his impressive collection I broke down and bought my first SGA bobblehead - Jim Sundberg. Awesome from the moment I opened the box.
Mrs. Spiff is very observant and very tolerant of my Rangers addiction. She noticed that I was smitten with the bobblehead idea and decided to use our anniversary to help jump start my bobblehead collection. This Fergie Jenkins 2007 SGA bobblehead was the result. Great choice of a great former Rangers pitcher. Gotta say, he isn't Sunny but Jenkins is just downright great.
What I found equally interesting was Mrs. Spiff's account of purchasing Fergie's bobblehead. As she looked through the listings on Ebay she came across this one. Looking over the description she noticed that part of it was a write up on Jenkins' phenomenal 1974 season. It looked familiar. Surely not. Yes. At the end of the description was this: (Spiff, 2011). Just below that was this:
Spiff. (2011). Texas Rangers Cards. Retrieved from blogspot.com: http://rangerscards.blogspot.com/2011/02/1974-topps-fergie-jenkins.html
Yes, the seller had quoted from this post. I appreciated that he had given me credit for the write-up. The question remains though, does this mean I've reached the big time? Does this qualify me as a cited source? Either way I got a real kick out of it.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Had Spiff Jr. ballgames last night and tonight. He did well with his catching but his team didn't do too much better than the Rangers the past three nights against the Yankees in New York.
Since I have no other ideas for tonight. I decided to post a random through the mail auto success. Since Spiff Jr. is still wanting to catch I decided to go with a card featuring the catcher's gear in action.
I sent this 2004 Upper Deck card to Einar Diaz on February 5, 2009. He graciously signed and returned it. I got it back on February 20, 2009. From what I could tell, the damage to the signature is from the card rubbing on the inside of the return envelope. Even with that I am still glad to have the card in my collection and grateful that Mr. Diaz was willing to sign and return it.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Number six is the decision to award a new franchise to Washington in 1961. Of course this impacted the Rangers because the new Senators would later move to Texas to become the Rangers.
In a way the awarding of the franchise was pretty amazing. There were plenty of other cities that would have taken a team and Washington had just lost their franchise to Minnesota. It seems a bit odd to think it would be able to support a new one. Perhaps the powers that be thought the city had learned its lesson and would come out and support the team.
Just as big as the awarding the franchise was the poor management put into place. General Elwood Quesada was the team's first owner. He made several bad decisions - including a ten year stadium lease, that haunted the team. Perhaps his style might be summed up in the rumor about him asking why he even needed to pay players who didn't belong in the Majors. Needless to say, by the time Quesada sold out in 1963 he had laid the foundation for a decade of futility.
Number seven on T.R.'s list is the sale of the team by Eddie Chiles in 1989. The new owners, headed by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose brought in financial and operational stability. For the first time the franchise could operate on more than a year-to-year basis. Early signings of key free agents would help build up to the first two playoff appearances in club history.
Number eight appropriately follows the Bush/Rose ownership. In 1994 George Bush left the ownership group after being elected to the governorship of Texas. With Bush gone the clock started ticking. In 1998 what remained of the group sold the franchise to Tom Hicks. One more playoff appearance remained before Hicks drove the team into the ground and led it into a decade of futility.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Texas purchased Cesar's contract from Philadelphia on December 7, 1973. The back of his card describes him as a "handyman" and he had played a variety of positions with the Phillies. With the Rangers he would stay in the outfield with occasional appearances at designated hitter.
1974 started off a pretty rough for Tovar. An early leg injury limited him to just three games in April and he really didn't hit his stride until June. That was late enough that he never nailed down a starting spot and instead served as a backup for most of the year. Manager Billy Martin liked Cesar though so he still saw almost as much action as a starter.
In 629 plate appearances Tovar managed a .292 batting average and a .354 on-base percentage. He stole 13 bases while getting caught nine times. He also walked 47 times while striking out 33. "Pepito" had some power but it was mostly as a doubles hitter - he knocked 24 of them on the season as compared to 6 triples and 4 home runs.
In the field Cesar played in 1,171.2 innings. That total was for all three outfield spots combined. His fielding percentage was .980 - identical to the league average. Some of his 7 errors may have been attributable to a lack of communication between him and the other outfielders. Apparently there were some difficulties since he was using a police whistle by the end of the season to warn off the other fielders. I suppose that was an early example of tweeting one's location.
All things considered, Cesar had turned in a successful campaign in 1974. His offensive numbers were up over the previous two years and he had seen almost four times as much action in the field as with Philadelphia in 1973. The trick was going to be to ward off further injuries and keep his age (he was 33 in 1974) from starting to catch up with him.
Monday, June 13, 2011
The Rangers signed Lewis as a free agent in 1988. He played at Butte in Rookie ball the same season as an outfielder, shortstop, and catcher. He would start the 1989 season at Butte before being promoted to Single-A Gastonia. No shortstop in 1989, just outfield and catching.
In 1989 Lewis blew the cover off the ball in Rookie League with a blistering .385 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage. He couldn't translate that success to Gastonia though. His batting average dropped to .233 and his on-base percentage to .333. No too surprising but he also struck out three times more than he walked. Not good news at such a low level in the farm system.
The Rangers would leave Lewis at Single-A for the 1990 season as well. In 1990 he spent most of his time hitting but also spent some time behind the plate, no outfield. The team probably wanted to see if he could catch up to the pitching and bring his offense up. He couldn't. At season's end his batting average sat at .235 and his on-base percentage at .287 - even lower than the year before. With young phenom Ivan Rodriguez looking to set up shop behind the plate in Arlington things weren't looking good for a minor league catcher struggling at Single-A. That probably contributed to 1990 being Joe's last season as a professional ball player.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Micahel Young, shown here on card number 30 of the 2007 Upper Deck MLB Artifacts set, managed to break out of a slump. Mike went 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and a runs scored himself. Good to see after his recent struggles. Part of the problem may be that he is getting tired after only missing one game to this point in the season. Ron Washington says that Young will sit in one of the next two games.
C.J. Wilson also broke out of a slump of sorts. After losing both starts in Minnesota last year he put together a win. Considering the rainy conditions Wilson's seven inning outing with three earned runs wasn't too bad. Nice to have a pitcher like C.J. who can put a stop to losing streaks before they get out of hand.
All in all a good evening up north. With the aid of hot bats, a solid start by Wilson, and lots of drying agent on the field, the guys were able to notch a win. It would be nice if this is the start of another winning streak.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Apparently the issue was not the Rangers offensive production
or Bosley's knowledge. Thad just never hit it off with the players and never got to know any of them. The result was a lack of communication that proved fatal to his stint as the team's hitting coach.
To replace Bosley the club named former Ranger Scott Coolbaugh as the new hitting coach. Scott was with the Rangers in 1989 and 1990 and has been a coach in the minors for them for several years. He was also on the short list the last couple of times the team was looking for a hitting coach at the Major League level.
In a way this is a feel good story as well. Scott and his brother Mike were both minor league coaches in 2007. Both were former Major League players and were hoping to return to The Bigs as coaches. Unfortunately Mike was killed by a line drive while coaching first base in a double-A game. The result was the helmets that first and third base coaches now wear at all levels of pro ball. Scott said that the shared dream with Mike and his tragic passing make this recent promotion mean all the more.
As a final note, Scott appears today on card number 42 of the 1990 Upper Deck set. Interesting since he is wearing the number 42 on the front of the card. More so since Major League Baseball has since retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I'd post an autographed card of Ian to mark the occasion. He doesn't respond to autograph requests though so I have none to post. Need to work on that I suppose.
Standing in for Kinsler tonight is fellow middle-infielder Bert Campaneris. Bert does respond to autograph requests. He signed this 1979 Topps card for me in October of 2008 along with a second card that I sent to him. Bert's signature looks a bit shaky but I am more than glad to have it.
Now back to the game to see if the Rangers can send it to extras in Minnesota.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Today we get a look at pro bowler Bill Sudakis. At least that's what it says about Bill on the back of card number 63 in the 1974 Topps set. Apparently that's what Bill did during the off-season. Better than crochet I suppose.
In 1974 Bill Sudakis was not with the Rangers. After trading with the Mets to get him prior to the 1973 season the club kept him just one year. On December 7, 1973 Texas sold Sudakis' contract. Ironically it was to the New York Yankees. After just one year out of The Big Apple he was on his way back there again. Bill would spend 1974 in pinstripes.
Monday, June 6, 2011
However, this evening I watched a team of six and seven year-olds play their second official game in the local coach-pitch league. That coupled with the draft kicking off today made me decide to hit the minors on this Monday.
Carl Randle, seen here on card number 1005 of the 1989 ProCards set, was the 17th selection in the 1988 draft. That year he pitched for Butte in the rookie league.
Carl started the 1989 season with the Gulf Coast Rangers in Rookie ball. After 13 appearances and 68 innings there he had a sparkling 1.72 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP. That got him promoted to Single-A ball.
With the Gastonia Rangers Randle would find the competition a bit harder than he did in Rookie ball. Randle would appear in 17 games for Gastonia, all in relief. In 33 innings he would post a higher but still acceptable 3.55 ERA. His WHIP climbed to 1.667. He would strike out 32 batters while walking 31. That ratio and the creeping WHIP did not bode well.
All told Carl would pitch in the Rangers system through the end of the 1991 season without ever getting above Single-A. Not sure what happened but in 1994 he would try a comeback with an independent league. That wouldn't stick though.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
To replace Borbon Texas called up Endy Chavez. Using Chavez and Craig Gentry in platoon the team has done ok. Julio went though rehab without a problem and swung the bat well.
Before yesterday's game Texas activated Julio off the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Round Rock. Apparently Chavez's .415 average and .455 on-base percentage were too much to let go. The Rangers decided that Borbon would be better off getting regular playing time in Round Rock rather than sitting on the bench waiting for Chavez to stumble.
Chavez may stumble and Gentry may not continue his improvements. Both appear determined to avoid that scenario but it is comforting to know that Texas has a pretty decent center fielder who is probably wanting his spot back waiting in Round Rock.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Serious blow to the Giants with Posey having surgery and missing the rest of the season. Buster is almost in a class by himself. His loss is not to be easily made good. This all made me think of another catcher on another team from another time.
Jim Sundberg, shown here on card number 110 of the 1977 Hostess set, was amazing behind the plate. Handled pitchers well and was a wizard with the glove. Not so much with a bat. Sunny's bat was decent but never that of a superstar. Not in Posey's class to be sure. An injury like Posey's could have put his career in serious jeopardy. Not that he ever complained about the danger. In fact, I can't remember Jim complaining about much. He was class. Class in the genre of Stan Musial.
In a bad dream I can picture Jim Sundberg getting run over in a close game by a determined baserunner. I can imagine his leg snapping and him missing the rest of the season. I can't see him refusing to take a call from the other player to express his condolences and concern. Sunny had class.
Actually, Sundberg still has class. As a baseball executive he is part of the front office that helped put the 2010 Rangers team together. He's not the General Manager, not in that class. He's there though, and I can picture him having to deal with a catastrophic injury to a star player caused by a collision with a baserunner. I can't picture him condoning the injured player's refusal to be polite and take a call. Can't see him going on a radio show and saying he would be happy if the opposing player never played again in the Majors. If Sundberg issued a threat, veiled or otherwise, against the opposing player I would be shocked. That's not in Jim's class.
Of course, one never knows how a team, player, or executive will react to a terrible situation. I would expect better of Jim Sundberg though, he's just not in the same class as Buster Posey and Brian Sabean.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
At first base it is amazing how many of the leaders have Texas ties. Money Man Teixeira, shown here on his 2006 Upper Deck Game Materials card, is the leader. Adrian Gonzalez is next. Both are former Rangers. Mitch Moreland is running fourth.
Robinson Cano is looking to start at second base. Texas could have taken him over Joaquin Arias in the Alex Rodriguez deal. Of course that might have squeezed Ian Kinsler who is currently third in the race.
Elvis Andrus is third as well. Some old guy who plays for the Evil Empire is first. Really.
Speaking of the Alex Rodriguez trade, he's in first at third. Adrian Beltre is running third.
A bit thin at catcher in the American League apparently. Russell Martin is in first and Yorvit Torrealba even shows up in the top five.
At DH Michael Young is looking to lock up yet another trip to the midsummer classic. Mike has done a good job to this point of getting past his late off-season hissy fit. Hope he can keep it up and gets to the game. Young deserves a little recognition after he and Beltre carried the team in Hamilton and Cruz's absence.
In the outfield Josh Hamilton is third. All around vote leaderJose Bautista has a spot locked so third is really second. Nelson Cruz is still in the hunt as well.
Good to see so many Rangers in contention for spots. As usual though, I find the voting to be frustrating. Obviously the usual New York ballot stuffing is going on. Derek Jeter is first in votes at short? Jorge Posada is third at DH? Martin Russell is really the best backstop in the American League? Come on. This is why the game loses a little more importance to me each year.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Anyway, my card collecting has not been dormant. In the previous week before the baby came I picked up a blaster box of Gypsy Queen from Wal-Mart. No Rangers but I did pull an auto of Jose Bautista. Managed to turn that into some PayPal on Ebay. With that luck in mind I grabbed a "value pack" of Gypsy Queen from Target yesterday. Again no Rangers. Again an auto, this time of Brett Cecil. Guess I don't mind that luck too much.
Was able to use the minis that I pulled from the blaster to get a few Rangers cards that I needed to fill holes in my collection. One such card was this mini of Colby Lewis, number 285 in the set. Nice card to get with Colby shutting down the Devil Rays today for eight innings in route to a 3-0 win. Good to see that Feliz was able to get the save. Hope he can get his recent stumbles behind him.
So far so good. June first and in first place. Hopefully the rotation can stay strong, the bullpen tighten up, the offense catch fire, and everyone avoid injuries.