Thursday, June 21, 2012

Packing, the DL, and future posts.

Well, it's been a whirlwind since my last post. Getting the packing process started, meeting with the realtor and getting the house on the market, breaking the news to friends and co-workers. Dealing with the kids' reactions. Made for a long few days.

The Rangers have had a long week as well. They keep winning, so I hear. The west coast trip and getting ready to move have mysteriously eaten into my game time. The continued winning is good.

Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison's recent performances have also been good. Hopefully Roy Oswalt's Texas debut tomorrow night will be good as well.

What's not so good is the Disabled List. Josh Hamilton narrowly avoided it after being hospitalized with a virus. Mitch Moreland, shown here on card number 234 of the 2011 Topps Heritage set, is looking like he will be on it in the next day or two. Mitch pulled a hamstring in the game against San Diego last yesterday and is probably headed to the DL tomorrow. The injuries are hammering the Rangers right now. If they can hold on through them they should be that much tougher come the end of the season.

Back to the packing up. Right now all of my non-Rangers and most of my Rangers cards are packed. Not sure when they will see the light of day again - depends on the housing situation. I will be trying to keep some out though so I can use them for the occasional post. At least the Topps binder will stay out so I can continue to work through the teams. Could lead to some disjointed post topics as I can't get to some cards that I would like to post. I appreciate your understanding as I try and navigate my way through this move.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Changing stadiums.

Sorry about the very poor scan today. These 1994 Score Gold Rush cards don't scan well at all. You can see the important part of card 329 though, Arlington Stadium.

By the time this card came out in 1994 the Rangers had moved into The Ballpark in Arlington. That brings me to the point of this post, moving.

Yesterday I accepted a job in Texas. That means that in the next three weeks I will be trying as hard as possible to get as much done as possible to get the family packed and the house ready to sell. Following that I will be starting a new job two states away from where I now live and work.

Needless to say, that will cause a major amount of upheaval. While I am still planning on posting as often as possible, I will say up front that there will likely be many interruptions due to life. I would ask your pardon and understanding in advance. I am already looking forward to getting back to a regular posting schedule. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rangers All-Time Team (40th year in Texas).

The Rangers announced their All-Time team today and there were a couple of surprises. The first is that more players were named to each position than voters were allowed to select on their ballots. Makes sense I suppose as it decreases the chance of a tie. The second surprise is that a couple of players made the team in more than one position. Should have left them where they got the most votes and knocked them off the second position. If you want to compare the results and see how far off my ballot was you can see the way I voted in this post.

Here is the team and a few of my comments.

Starting pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Kenny Rogers, and Ferguson Jenkins. No problem with Nolan, even though his best years were not in Texas. Charlie deserves to get in for hanging in there during the down years of the 1980's. Rogers is in for his perfect game. Jenkins is probably in for 1974. Overall I think the voters got it right but I would still take Jon Matlack over Rogers for a lefty.

Relievers: John Wetteland, Neftali Feliz, and Jeff Russell. Wetteland and Feliz deserve to get in. Good to see Russell getting some love as well. Pen seems a bit thin though and I think that a couple of more guys could have been considered.

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez and Jim Sundberg. Perfect.

First base: Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. No arguments here.

Second base: Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. Shame to see Bump Wills left off. Young will do but his best years were not at second.

Shortstop: Michael Young and Elvis Andrus. This is probably where Young should have landed but I would have left him at second anyway and added Toby Harrah, shown above on a 1978 RC Cola iron-on.

Third base: Buddy Bell and Steve Buechele. Beltre hasn't been around long enough. If he stays and keeps playing the way he is, he will threaten Boo.

Outfield: Juan Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Rusty Greer, Ruben Sierra, Jeff Burroughs, and Nelson Cruz. No Al Oliver??? Not sure what happened here but the omission of Scoop is a travesty. I could live with him replacing Sierra or Cruz.

Designated hitter: Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. Another solution to the Oliver snub would be to leave Gonzo at DH and put Al in the outfield. If you leave Raffy at first you could put Larry Parrish in here. Of course you could also leave Palmeiro here and add Pete O'Brien at first.

Overall this team is ok and is a good representation of past and present Rangers teams. The omissions of Al Oliver and Toby Harrah are outrageous but understandable. Very glad to see that Alex Rodriguez got left off.
Anyone else care to share their thoughts?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bad news, bad news.

Well, the Angels are to within three games and are showing no signs of stumbling. Meanwhile the Rangers are playing poorly, very poorly. Even the 5-0 win over the Giants on Sunday was painful.

Alexi Ogando, shown here on his 2012 Topps Gold Futures card, made a spot start on Sunday for Derek Holland. Dutch joined Neftali Feliz on the Disabled List with a stomach virus. After pitching three scoreless innings Ogando came up in the fourth. He bunted for a hit but strained a groin muscle. Off to the DL he went today. Three pitchers now down - two until after the All-Star break. After avoiding the injury bug last season, the pitching staff is now making up for lost time. Going to get real ugly here shortly when the Angels get caught up.

Former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo got some bad news today as well. The Cubs sacked him. After leaving his job with the Rangers because he was concerned that they might not keep him long term, Rudy lasted two and a half seasons in Chicago. The Cubs on-base percentage dropped every year he was there. Guess the job security he was looking for didn't come to fruition.

Not sure who got the bad news in Canada today as the Blue Jays released Vladimir Guerrero. I suppose it's possible that nobody did. Vlad had signed a minor league deal but appeared to be blocked at Triple A by younger players. He then asked for his release and the Jays gave it to him. He could be an interesting piece for a team looking for an upgrade at DH down the stretch or a powerful pinch-hitter. On the other had he could fail to get a contract or to deliver. I find the latter hard to believe, even at Vlad's age.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Minor League Monday - Fidel Compres, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Going to be away from my computer all day today so you'll have to make do with a pre-scheduled post. My apologies for this not matching up with current happenings.

Fidel Compres, shown here on card 4 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, didn't give up easily. His pro career had started as a 19 year old in 1984. He had signed with Cleveland in November of 1983 and would play five seasons in the Indians system without ever getting above Single A. Most players would have given up after that. Not Compres.

In July of 1989 he signed on with the Rangers and was assigned to Single A Gastonia. In 19.2 innings pitched there he posted a 0.92 ERA and a 0.864 WHIP. Both were career bests.

That was good enough for Compres to start the 1990 season with A+ Charlotte. He would start 16 games and appear in relief in six more. All told he would pitch 116.2 innings and post a 2.24 ERA. His WHIP tallied to 1.131. Up to Double A Tulsa he went.

Tulsa is where the wheels came off for Compres. He appeared in just six games, all in relief. In the 10.1 innings he pitched he saw his ERA skyrocket to 6.10 and his WHIP climb to 2.226. Ugly stuff. In two seasons the Rangers had seen what it took Cleveland five to see, Compres was done as far as the Rangers were concerned.

Fidel didn't quit though. He had the drive and the Cardinals had the time so he ended up with them in 1991. In 1993 he went to the Padres organization in mid-season. In 1995 he was out of organized baseball. Ten years in the minors would be enough for most. Not for Fidel. In 1998 he mounted a comeback attempt in independent ball after missing two seasons. It failed. In 2000 he tried again in independent ball. Still no luck. At 35 that would finally be the end of the road for Compres. 16 years after he first signed with the Indians he would finally hang it up after never getting higher than Triple A.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Random Rangers game-used.

Got an extra long shift at work today so there's no time to post. Going to leave you with this 2005 Upper Deck Reflections Fabric Reflections card featuring Hank Blalock and a swatch of his jersey.

Should be back tomorrow. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alexi perplexes A's.

Well, the Rangers won one against the A's last night in Oakland. Former A's prospect Alexi Ogando was the key player of the night.

Starter Derek Holland went 5.1 innings and gave up all three of Oakland's runs. Suffering from the effects of a stomach virus, Dutch left the game early and with two runners on. In came Ogando, shown here on card 104 of the 2012 Topps Opening Day set. Alexi shut down the potential A's rally to get out of the sixth. He then went through the seventh without giving up a run. With one hit allowed, one walk, and four struck out Ogando delivered the two run lead to Mike Adams.

Mike held Oakland scoreless through the eighth and in the ninth it was Joe Nathan time. Final score: 6-3 Rangers.

Great to have the bullpen able to ride in and put out the fire. Just so long as the starters don't make a habit of that, it will be all right.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1976 Topps - Nelson Briles.

Ugly game last night. At least from the Rangers standpoint. If you happen to be an A's fan like my brother then you probably enjoyed it. I was getting text messages from him around midnight celebrating the route and lamenting the lost no-hitter. Ugh. Time to take another break from the season.

Nelson Briles, shown here on card 569 of the 1976 Topps set, came to Texas from Kansas City in return for infielder Dave Nelson. Having suffered through two sub-par seasons in Kansas City, Briles was seen as a gamble and a potential rotation upgrade. True, he had injured his knee in KC during the 1974 season but he had also been a star with the Pirates and Cardinals before that.

What Texas got in 1976 was closer to the Cards and Bucs version of Briles rather than what the Royals had experienced. Nellie started 31 of the 32 games he appeared in and won 11 of them. That made him and Gaylord Perry the only two Rangers starters with winning records.

In 210 innings pitched Briles recorded a 3.26 ERA and a 1.290 WHIP. Both were significant improvements over the previous season. He also struck out 98 batters while walking just 47, not bad numbers for a control pitcher who relied mainly on guile.

As a human interest note, Nellie could also sing. Sing well too. In fact, he sang the National Anthem prior to the Old Timer's Game in Arlington in 1976 and had previously sung it before Game Four of the 1973 World Series. Not too shabby there.

1976 had been a bounce-back season for Nelson Briles. At age 32 he seemed to be reviving his baseball career. Keeping it up in 1977 would be the real challenge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Looking up.

Finally some good news after a four game losing streak. Of course the draft also starts today so there may be some more good news on that front as well.

First off is last night's game. Coming off a Ron Washington talk, the team took the field against the Angels in wherever it is that the Angels claim they are from these days. Matt Harrison got the start. He went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs. Hairy still got the win though, thanks in part to Nelson Cruz's two run homer in the seventh inning. places the long ball at 491 feet - the longest this season.

Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli both had excellent nights with the bat as well. Alexi Ogando had a bit of a rough time with the three Halos he faced but he, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan managed to keep and Angels runs from scoring in the final 2.1 innings. Great to leave the Big A with a win, even if not with the series. Now if they can just keep that up as they go into Oakland tonight.

The second item of good news concerns Josh Hamilton, shown here on the eight of hearts from the 2008 Academy Sports set. Josh was named the American League Player of the month for May yesterday. That follows on his April award and makes this just the second time in the American League that a player has won back-to-back player of the month awards to start the season. The first player to do it? Josh Hamilton circa 2008.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Best Seasons: Jim Kern - 1979.

Day off yesterday and a late game in Anaheim tonight. That means it's time to move on down the list of T.R. Sullivan's 50 Best Seasons in franchise history.

Jim Kern is entry number 23 on the list with his 1979 performance. He appears here on card 3-RAN of the 1986 TCMA All Time Rangers set. Not sure why a set issued in 1986 uses such a badly done airbrush job when there are plenty of photos of Kern in a Rangers uniform.

Texas acquired The Amazing Emu from Cleveland on October 3, 1978. The return was immediate from the quirky reliever. Coming out of the bullpen in 71 games that year, Jim pitched 143 innings. That was just six innings shy of the Rangers third starter, Doc Medich. Kern converted 29 of his appearances into saves and won 13 games as well. He lost just five games. Jim struck out 136 opposing batters while walking 62. At the end of the season his ERA stood at 1.57.

Pretty amazing season. A performance like that is unlikely to be seen again anytime soon. With the strict limits that most teams observe on overworking their bullpens such use is rare. To see a pitcher used that hard be that effective is even more rare.