Monday, December 23, 2013

Technical problems...

Quick post to let you know I'm having computer issues. May not be able to post again until after Christmas. Sorry about the lack of posts.

In case I'm not able to get back before then I want to wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Random Rangers auto.

Not much to report today from the Rangers. On the home front things are starting to get busy leading up to Christmas. At least there's no crisis, just a lot to get done before the relatives arrive.

Today you are getting a truly random Rangers autograph. Mike Stanley signed and returned this 1988 Donruss card for me in the early 1990's. It was one of my first TTM successes.

Hopefully you and yours are enjoying this holiday season in spite of all the rush and hurry. We should all remember to take some time to remember and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1977 Topps - Tom Grieve.

Following a mixed season in 1976, Tom Grieve returned to a backup/designated hitter role in 1977.

Grieve, shown here on card 403 of the 1977 Topps set, played in 79 games for Texas that year. He made 255 plate appearances while compiling a .225 batting average and a .273 on-base percentage. those numbers were all significant drops from the previous season. Tom's power also deserted him as his home run total dropped from 20 to just seven. All the while he was being victimized by his old nemesis, the K. Grieve would strike out 57 times in 1977 while walking just 13.

In his backup role Tom played 443.1 innings combined at the two corner outfield positions. He did not appear in center and spent most of his time in right field. He made just two errors but still ended up with a .976 fielding percentage, two point under the league average.

It was looking more and more like Tom Grieve had been given his chance with Texas and failed to nail down a starting spot. He was looking at a backup role for the foreseeable future with the team. That future might or might not extend very far, backup players are usually available for trade.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Senators Saturday - Howie Koplitz, 1964.

It is fitting, with the Rule Five draft just completed, that Howie Koplitz is the next Senator up. Washington got Howie from the Tigers in the 1963 Rule Five draft. He had stints with Detroit in 1961 and 1962 before spending 1963 at Triple A.

Before we go any further, I have to say I am liking Howie's glasses as shown on card 372 of the 1964 Topps set. They give him a real common man look that you don't see much from today's ball players.

During the 1964 season Koplitz played for the Senators and Braves shared Triple A affiliate in Toronto. He also played a few games for the Giants Triple A affiliate in Tacoma, Washington. Not sure how he ended up playing in Tacoma and still being available for a call-up by the Senators.

Howie really didn't do too badly in the minors and the pitching starved Senators decided to give him a shot. He would end up appearing in six games, all but one in relief. Over 17 innings he posted a 4.76 ERA and a 1.941 WHIP. Those weren't real good numbers but at least he had made it back to the Big Leagues.

Howie Koplitz managed to avoid disappearing into the farm system when he switched teams. What he needed to do for 1965 was work on improving to the point he could get a spot nailed down in the Washington bullpen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best Seasons: Buddy Bell - 1979.

Working our way rapidly through T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history now that the winter has quieted down for Texas.

Coming in at number 34 is Buddy Bell, shown here on card number 1 of the 1985 Fleer Limited Edition set. Bell makes the list on the strength of his 1979 season.

In his first season with Texas, Buddy played in a league-leading and career high 162 games. That gave him a career high 720 plate appearances. He took advantage and posted a .299 batting average and a .327 on-base percentage. Neither were career bests but his 200 hits were. So were his 42 doubles, 89 runs scored, and 101 RBI. His 18 home runs were within two of a career high.

In the field Bell had a significantly higher range factor than other third basemen. He committed just 15 errors in 495 chances over 1210.2 innings. That gave him a .970 fielding percentage, that was 16 points higher than the league average at third.

Bell had amazed in his first season for Texas. He earned a Gold Glove and MVP consideration. He also started to build his reputation as possibly the best defensive player outside of catcher to ever suit up for Texas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Best Seasons: Mark Teixeira - 2005.

Number 33 in T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history is Mark Teixeira's 2005 effort.

Teixeira, shown here on card 94 of the 2006 Upper Deck Artifacts set, was already a star as he began his third season in the Majors. He would continue to excite Ranger fans.

Mark played in all 162 games and went to the plate 730 times. Both remain career highs. He compiled a .301 batting average and a .379 on-base percentage. He walked 72 times. He also hit 41 doubles, three triples, and 43 home runs. It remains the only time in his career he has reached 40 home runs in a season. The 144 RBI he knocked in also remain a career best.

On defense Teixeira continued to build his reputation as an above average gloveman. His .998 fielding percentage was 18 points higher than the league average for first basemen. He committed just three errors all season.

Mark Teixeira had a monster season in 2005 by any standard. The sportswriters and fans noticed. He was elected to the All-Star game, won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, and received MVP consideration. Hard to top a season like that.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1977 Topps - Steve Foucault.

Steve Foucault makes his final appearance as a Texas Ranger on card 459 of the 1977 Topps set. By the time collectors were pulling this card from packs Steve was part of the Detroit Tigers. Texas sent him to Detroit on April 12, 1977 in return for Willie Horton.

Foucault's standout year with Texas was 1974. Manager Billy Martin probably overused his arm that season and he was never able to get back to that level again. After the trade he would play two more seasons in the Majors before hanging up the spikes after the 1978 season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Minor League Monday - Barry Manuel, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Barry Manuel, shown here on card #12 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, was drafted by Texas in the second round of the 1987 draft. In spite of any real impressive numbers, he was promoted up to Double A by the end of 1989. There his performance caught up with him. He was sent back down to A+ Charlotte for the 1990 season.

Barry made 57 appearances for Charlotte in 1990. All of those were out of the bullpen and he finished 56 of the games he pitched in. Over 56.1 innings he posted a 2.88 ERA and a 1.225 WHIP. While he had a lower ERA with Charlotte in 1988, Manuel's WHIP was the lowest of his professional career. The experiment of converting him from a starter to a reliever seemed to be right on track. That's probably the reason for the smile on his card.

Based on his improved numbers, Manuel would start the 1990 season back at Double A Tulsa. He had his second chance, now he just needed to make good on it and complete the climb to the Bigs.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yesterday's post today.

Been a slow couple of days on the Rangers front. Fits with the icy conditions on the local roads. Also fits with the flu that has been tearing through my house. Sorry about the lack a post yesterday. I got this 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Factory Set #498 scanned but then the flu and the slow Internet (probably due to the weather) caught up with me.

Anyway, Texas announced yesterday they have signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a one-year contract worth about $2 million. The plan is for Arencibia to serve as a backup to Geovany Soto next season. It seems the club doesn't want anyone blocking Jorge Alfaro when he's ready for the big time.

In other news, former Ranger pitcher of the year Scott Feldman, shown on today's card, signed a three year contract with the Houston Astros. That means Texas will be seeing him several times throughout the season.

Former Ranger catcher Mike Napoli is headed back to the Boston Red Sox. Nap and the BoSox worked out a two-year deal.

Well, hopefully the roads and my head will clear up in the next day or two so I can get back to normal life and normal posting.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Need a little help.

You're getting a truly random Rangers card today. This 2000 Topps Home Team Advantage card of Todd Zeile was the first Rangers card I saw when I went looking for something to post. I received it a few days ago after buying it for $0.20 with free shipping on Ebay. It has nothing to to do with the point of the post.

The point is to ask my readers for a little help. I've never been a blogger who sends out Christmas packages to folks. That's going to change for this year. I need to thin the amounts of other teams cards I have. The Oakland A's already have a home as do the Rangers but just about everyone else is looking to go.

What I need is names, addresses, and team preferences. Yours is great. A friend or family member's is also great. All I ask is no pranks. No Yankees cards to the BoSox fans and such. I would be happy to include your name as the person who requested the cards or not at your direction.

What the packages will include is a random assortment of the team's cards. They'll go out in the order I received the requests as I come up with the extra cash.

Shoot me an email at rmatlack3 at Juno dot com if you can help out. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gentry goes.

Well, the Rangers made another move yesterday and the result is that Craig Gentry, shown here on card US17 of the 2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary set, will not be on the team in 2014. Texas dealt Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom to the Oakland A's in exchange for outfielder Michael Choice and middle infielder Chris Bostick.

Going to miss Gentry. He is a good defensive player with great speed on the bases. I like those types of players and could handle the fact that his bat can be a bit soft at times. I was looking forward to him getting a little more playing time this coming season. At least that's likely for him with Oakland.

Lindblom is probably not going to be greatly missed unless the Athletics turn him into a real mean machine. Coming over in the Michael Young trade, he just never stuck with the Rangers. Spent most of last season at Triple A.

From what I read, Michael Choice was the number two prospect in the Oakland system. He's supposed to be an average defender able to play all three outfield spots with a bat rapidly developing into a serious threat. He got a look by the A's last season. Texas is looking at him to earn a starting job for 2014 and possibly hit in the middle of the lineup.

Chris Bostick was ranked as the 17th top prospect in the A's system. He's never played above Single A and is a long way from the Majors. He has the potential to develop though and could be a name to remember for the future.

Obviously Choice and Gentry were the two big names in the deal. Texas clearly traded speed for power. I asked my A's fan brother what he thought. He was excited to see Billy Beane replacing Seth Smith in center field and thought Lindblom was worth a gamble. He had never heard of Michael Choice or Chris Bostick. I wasn't surprised Bostick wasn't being talked about. Choice was another matter. Texas usually talks about their top two or three prospects. Maybe Oakland doesn't.

Going to be interesting to see how this all turns out. Texas is looking at a lot of young kids taking the field next year. That could be good or could cause an implosion. A lot of it will depend on how well the veterans in the clubhouse handle the transition.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1977 Topps - Bill Fahey.

Sorry about missing Topps Tuesday last week and posting a different theme. I must not have been thinking clearly at the time. Going to go to Bill Fahey on card 511 of the 1977 Topps set to get back on track.

Despite remaining healthy in 1976, Fahey did not get a real shot at the Rangers starting catcher spot. Jim Sundberg pretty much had that nailed down. Fahey ended up splitting the backup duties with John Ellis.

Bill would fill in for Jim Sundberg in parts of 34 games. In 186.1 innings he flawlessly handled 109 chances for a 1.000 fielding percentage. He also allowed no passed balls. That was pretty good. Where the difference began to show was that teams ran on Fahey. He caught just four of the 22 players who ran on him. That 18% of caught stealing was well below the league average and far below Jim Sundberg's numbers.

Fahey also made 72 trips to the plate in 1977. His .221 batting average and .232 on-base percentage were both significant drops from the previous season.

Bill Fahey's 1977 season followed the now familiar pattern of backing up other catchers. The drop in offense was a concern though. If Bill wanted to be backing up Jim Sundberg in 1978 he had better figure out how to patch the holes in his bat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Minor League Monday - Jim Hvizda, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

In 1990 Jim Hvizda, shown here on card 11 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, was still a long way from the madness that would later grip him. He was also a long way from the Majors but appeared to be making progress.

Coming off a stellar 1989 season at Gastonia, Hvizda started the 1990 season at A+ ball. He pitched a total of 28.2 innings in relief over 13 games for Charlotte. He made quite the impression with his 1.57 ERA and 0.907 WHIP. That impression was enough to earn a mid-season promotion to Double A.

While finishing out the season with the Tulsa Drillers, Jim appeared in 32 games, again all in relief. In the 43 innings he pitched he posted a 3.77 ERA and a 1.419 WHIP. Those were significant performance drops over his time with Charlotte and Gastonia.

Apparently the change in performance with the promotion was enough to give the Texas front office pause. 1990 would be Hvizda's last year in the Rangers minor league system. He ended up with the Brewers Single A club in 1991 and then hung it up.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Seasons: Kenny Rogers - 1994.

Number 32 on TR Sullivan's list of the top 50 seasons in Rangers history is Kenny Rogers' 1994 season.

TR admits he picked the strike-shortened season because of Rogers' perfect game, shown being celebrated on card 315 of the 1995 Score set. In my mind that's really the only reason to include this season on the list.

Rogers made 24 starts in 1994 and completed six of them. He posted a 4.46 ERA and a 1.321 WHIP in 167.1 innings. He ended the season with an 11-8 record. None of those numbers are real eye catching, even for the steroid era. Of course, the perfect game glitters brightly and tends to overshadow Kenny's daily performance.

What I remember most about 1994 was the strike that ended the season and erased the playoffs and World Series. It also started my hiatus from following the Rangers.

1994 was not a sunny time for the Rangers, their fans, or baseball at large. Kenny Rogers brought a ray of light on July 28th. Perhaps for that reason alone he deserves to be included on the list of Best Seasons in Rangers history.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Minor League Monday - Jose Hernandez, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Not a whole lot of Ranger news out there. Colby Lewis accepted the club's offer of a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training and a chance to make the team. Glad to see that. I like Lewis and it's nice to see him resign. Figuring he will make the team and there will be plenty of other times for me to show one of his cards.

For now though, it's back to Minor League Monday for the first time in almost a month. Today we see shortstop Jose Hernandez on card number 10 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set.

Texas signed Hernandez as an undrafted free agent in 1987 and sent him to the Gulf Coast Rangers. He spent the 1987 and 1988 seasons in Rookie Ball before moving up to Single A Gastonia in 1989. So far he had not impressed.

In 1990 Jose would appear in 121 games for the A+ Charlotte Rangers. 119 of those games were at shortstop and one was in the outfield. At short Hernandez posted a .959 fielding percentage. That was due to 24 errors in 588 chances.

Hernandez made 455 trips to the plate for Charlotte. He ended up with a .255 batting average and a .345 on-base percentage. He had just one home run but 14 doubles and seven triples. Those were an indicator of some possible power developing. He also struck out 122 times while walking just 50.

In his fourth professional season, Jose Hernandez was not looking like future Major League material. If he wanted to make the Bigs he needed to work on his defense and cut down on his strikeouts. Leading the team in errors and strikeouts was not the way to win friends and impress people. If he couldn't fix the holes in his glove and bat, he could find further climbing in the Rangers system to be rough going.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Senators Saturday - Ron Kline, 1964.

1964 was Ron Kline's second season with the Washington Senators. Kline, shown here on card 358 of the 1964 Topps set, was primarily a reliever and did well for Washington in 1963. He would do a bit better in 1964.

Kline appeared in 61 games for the Senators in 1964, all in relief and a team high. The de facto closer for the team, he finished 52 games. Of those 52, 14 were saves (best on the team), 10 wins, and seven losses.

In 81.1 innings pitched Ron posted a 2.32 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP. That ERA was low enough to be the team leader and the WHIP was the second best coming out of the pen.

While Ron Kline was not an All-Star reliever, he was a breath of fresh air for the pitching-starved Senators. His consistent performance out of the pen was a relief. The money spent to purchase his contract from the Tigers in 1963 appeared to be money well spent. Ron had a slot in the pen for 1965, he just needed to take advantage of it and keep working improve his performance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wow, just wow.

Late-breaking news last night that the Rangers traded Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder and $30 million. In spite of the talk of possibly trading Kinsler, Jurickson Profar, or Elvis Andrus the news took me by surprise.

When I got this O-Pee-Chee Materials card of Ian Kinsler a week ago in a trade he was the only player featured still with Texas. Now he's gone and Prince Fielder is on his way in. Probably one of the biggest trades I can remember since Ruben Sierra went to Oakland in a deal for Jose Canseco. Supposedly Texas was expected to make a splash this off-season. Looks like they made it.

Still not sure what I think of the deal. Hopefully it works out well for the Rangers. Kinsler still plays great defense but he has been slowing down on the base paths in recent years. He can also be streaky with his offensive power and has been somewhat fragile with stints on the Disabled List over the past couple of years. On the other hand, he was the undisputed clubhouse leader and an experienced leadoff man.

Fielder looks like he will have trouble with the heat. Of course he also looks like he should be easily injured but he's missed just one game in the past three seasons. He can't run at all and only plays average defense at best but his offensive presence in the lineup is heavier than Kinsler's. He's also locked in for several more seasons than Kinsler but is more expensive.

What the situation really seems to come down to has little to do with Fielder or Kinsler. Of course the Rangers hope Fielder has some monster seasons for them. If Kinsler tails off, the deal looks decent even if Fielder drops to average. Profar is the key though. If he steps up and performs to his potential, the trade looks good. If he stumbles and Texas develops a hole at second base, the trade looks like folly.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Murphy moves on. is reporting today that David Murphy, shown here on card 272 of the 2012 Topps Heritage set, has signed a two year deal with the Cleveland Indians. The contract is worth $12 million over the two years and includes a club option for 2016. The Indians expect Murphy to take over the starting right fielder's job.

This really isn't surprising news. Texas didn't make an effort to re-sign Murph after his let-down performance last season. Couple that with the chance Cleveland is giving him to play every day and it is unlikely the Rangers could have kept him even had they wanted to.

I always liked Murphy and felt he was an underrated piece of the Rangers World Series teams. Watching him struggle last season was painful. Hopefully the change of scenery will jolt him back to his usual level of play. Against every team except the Rangers of course.

Also in the headlines are continued rumors concerning Texas' middle infield trio. Supposedly the team has been hearing from clubs interested in one of the three but there hasn't been any serious discussion yet. Not word on which player is the most sought after. Hopefully the team gets some real value if they trade any of the three.

Just a quick programing note. This week is extremely busy for me. That means my posting may be a little lacking (like yesterday). I'm going to try to keep up but there may be a day or two more before next week that I miss.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vealtones in the mail.

More rumors out there. This time Texas is looking to sign Shin-Soo Choo and passing on Jacoby Ellsbury. Supposedly the team likes Leonys Martin enough to pass on Ellsbury. Can never have too much speed I say.

Something that is no longer a rumor is a trade I recently made with Dustin over at Coot Veal and the Vealtones. Dustin cleverly insured he would send first by neglecting to provide me with his address. I got my part of the trade on Saturday and will be sending today or tomorrow.

The trade came about as the result of an earlier post looking to add to my Rangers game-used and autograph collection. Dustin was able to come through for me in a big way with seven game-used and three certified autograph cards. If that wasn't enough, he also tossed in a slew of other cards I needed. One of the additional cards was this 2007 Upper Deck card of Kevin Millwood. It's card 231 in the set and completes my 2007 Upper Deck team set.

Always nice to make a trade with a stand-up guy. Even nicer when he unexpectedly throws in extras that hit your wantlist. Dustin's that kind of guy. If you ever get a chance to make a trade with him you should do it in a heartbeat. Thanks again Dustin!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Here and there.

Well, there hasn't been much going on for the past couple of days. At least for the Rangers. Work for me has been another matter and that's my weak excuse for the lack of posts. Work got in the way of blogging. Anyway, despite the lack of any big news there has been a few things going on here and there.

Texas did sign utility infielder Adam Rosales to a one-year deal on the 14th. You may remember Rosales as the player who went back and forth between Texas and Oakland several times in the last part of last season. The move provides some cheap backup if it's needed.

On November 13th the Cy Young Award winners were announced. Detroit Tiger Max Sherzer won the American League award. Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish came in second.

The Rangers still seem to be pursuing Brian McCann. I guess the thinking is he could play at first and catcher and DH. Not sure I like the idea of signing him to a long-term contract but it's looking like Texas is serious.

Apparently Texas may or may not be serious about dealing either Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar, or Elvis Andrus. There are some rumblings the mention of their availability may be a message to Kinsler that he needs to consider a move to either the outfield or first base. Of course, if he doesn't mind changing teams, the message probably won't get through.'s Hot Stove blog is reporting the Padres are interested in acquiring a left-handed bat to help them against right-handed pitching. A trade is the preferred method but David Murphy, shown here on an Academy Sports playing card, is also on the radar. Murph's disappointing season last year might parlay into a lower contract. That could help the Padres get in with their limited budget. Also, if Murphy takes a shorter contract he could try to get his bat on track before free agency hits again. That might be a better option for him than a long-term fire sale contract.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Making some moves.

Lots of former Rangers players making moves over the past couple of days.

Yesterday Texas announced the hiring of one-time Rangers catcher Benji Molina as first base coach and catching instructor. That leaves former Ranger Bobby Jones as the assistant hitting coach. That settles the coaching staff unless there is an unexpected development.

Also yesterday, former Ranger Mark DeRosa announced his retirement as a player. The Blue Jays had already picked up his option for next season but DeRosa said he was tired of battling injuries and wanted to spend more time with his family.

Yesterday as well, former Ranger Kevin Brown's 1994 Pacific card 610 completed the move to my collection. Brown was accompanied by two other hits off my want list, two former Rangers autographs, and two game-used cards featuring mostly former Rangers. The arrivals were the result of a trade worked out with reader Scott following my post looking for such trades. Scott got in touch with me and proposed a trade. He was very gracious through the whole process and we ended up with a mutually agreeable deal. If Scott ever contacts you, wants to make a trade, and throws my name out as a reference, you can be sure it's a good recommendation. Thanks again Scott!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nellie says no.

Nelson Cruz, shown here on card 133 of the 2010 Allen and Ginter set, turned down the Rangers one-year offer yesterday. That wasn't unexpected and insures Texas will receive a compensatory draft pick if Cruz signs elsewhere.

Word is Nellie wants to test the free agent market. The Rangers would like to keep him and have stayed in contact with his agent. A lot will be determined by whether or not Cruz is actually interested in staying in Texas. A lot will be determined by Cruz and his agent's willingness to keep talking to the Rangers as other teams get involved.

Cruz is considered a top-tier free agent. The only other outfielders in that group are Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, and Marlon Byrd. If the Rangers can't retain Cruz, they might make a run at one of the others in the group. Ellsbury is the only one who really stands out to me as a possibly good signing. Choo and Byrd have defensive limitations. Beltran and Granderson are aging.

As much as I doubt Cruz and his slowly declining defense, it looks like keeping him might be the Rangers best option. The team needs to upgrade its offensive capability. Obviously Cruz wouldn't be an upgrade over himself but keeping him would allow the club to upgrade in another area.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Senators Saturday - Jim King, 1964.

Coming off his 1963 season, Jim King, shown here on card 217 of the 1964 Topps set, had two main goals: to up his on-base percentage and batting average.

King would continue to serve as the Senators starting right fielder in 1964. He spent 955 innings in right over 121 games and didn't play any other position in the field. He made seven errors for a .973 fielding percentage. That was a pretty significant drop from his fielding percentage the year before and well below the league average .980.

Jim made 478 trips to the plate on offense throughout the season. He managed a .241 batting average - ten points higher than the previous season. He used his 55 walks (ten more than in 1963) to run his on-base percentage up to a little to .335. Only five points higher than the year before but still an improvement. Disturbingly, King's power lessened as his slugging percentage dropped 32 points to .412. His 15 doubles and 18 home runs indicated he could still thump the ball, but just not as often.

Overall Jim King had an acceptable year in 1964. His lessening power and trouble on defense were concerns that he needed to address if he wanted to keep his starting job. However, he had paid off well for a player plucked from the minors during the expansion draft just a couple of years before.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Inquiry, Offers, and Agreement.

Rangers General Manger Jon Daniels talked with the media yesterday. That gave a window into how the off-season is going. The window wasn't entirely clear though, in typical Daniels fashion. After all, you don't want to tip your hand to other teams.

Apparently the Rangers have received some inquiries as to the availability of Mitch Moreland. According to Daniels, the calls have been based on teams viewing Moreland as a "buy low" player. Can't tell if that's just Daniels' assessment of their reasoning or if he views Moreland as on the verge of breaking out.

The Rangers are expecting Nelson Cruz to reject the one-year offer they made to him. They are in touch with his agent and have not ruled out the possibility of re-signing him after the rejection.

Texas also made an offer to pitcher Colby Lewis, shown here on card 403 of the 2012 Topps Heritage set. Lewis missed the 2013 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery but the Rangers still like him and would like to see him back in 2014. No word yet on his intentions or details on the offer.

The main reason for the news conference where Daniels was talking to the media was to announce the long-term deal the Rangers inked with pitcher Martin Perez. The deal appears to be modeled on the one they signed with Derek Holland a year or two ago. The deal locks Perez in for four years with club options for 2018 - 2020. That knocks out Perez's arbitration years and gives Texas an out if he doesn't develop like projected. The initial contract calls for $12.5 million over four years. If he can turn in performances anywhere near his 2013 season, Perez should be well worth the investment.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Rangers are Listening.

Charlie Hough's autograph, shown here on a 1985 Donruss card, may be the most frequently posted auto on this blog. There's several reasons for that. One is that you can't go wrong with Charlie Hough on a Rangers blog. Two is that Charlie has always been very generous with the fans. Getting his autograph is as easy as writing and asking for it or catching him at a ballpark somewhere. That means I have a lot more of his signatures than other players who might not sign through the mail at all.

Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler don't sign through the mail. Not sure about Jurickson Profar since I haven't any extra cards to give him a try. That makes getting their autographs an expensive endeavor. I am also currently out of unposted game-used for Kinsler and Andrus.

That's why you are looking at a signed Charlie Hough on a post discussing Andrus, Kinsler, and Profar this off-season. The Rangers have apparently let other teams know they are willing to listen to offers for one of the three. Not that they are shopping any of them but they are willing to listen if the deal is good enough. No word on which of the three the team would rather deal and which two they would rather keep.

Ian Kinsler's locked into a long-term contract and that makes him somewhat unattractive to teams looking for a cheaper solution. He's also the oldest of the three and that's going to play a role. Of course, his contract is pretty reasonable compared to what Robinson Cano is looking to land and what several other front-line second basemen are already signed for. He's also the most powerful of the three on offense.

Elvis Andrus has a slick glove and enormous range. He also has a pretty weak bat. While he gets on base decently, a home run is a headline event when he's batting. I think he's also got a contract but not nearly as big a one as Kinsler.

Jurickson Profar is really the unknown quality in the mix. He's had limited Big League experience but was hyped as a top prospect in the Rangers' system. He's also shown flashes of power with the bat. Not as much as Kinsler but more than Elvis. If he continues to develop he's going to be very good. That's a big if, but the salary price tag isn't.

Not sure which of the three is most likely to generate an offer. Probably Profar since teams seem to like the unknown potential over the known qualities of more established players.

I'm not really excited to see any of them go but if the return is great enough it could be worth it. That's probably why John Daniels is willing to listen to offers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Signing Soto.

You might wonder why I am posting card 500 from the 1984 Donruss set today. Well, I don't have any cards of Geovany Soto and have always thought this card of Bob Johnson captures the essence of catching.

Texas signed catcher Geovany Soto yesterday to a one-year deal. The team is paying him about $3 million plus incentives and announced he will be their starting catcher. I can assure you Bob Johnson never got either $3 million a year or the starting job.

I have been thinking this deal over and I'm still not sure what to conclude. Soto is a serviceable defensive catcher with an average bat at best. Announcing he is the starter before the free agent season even opens is suspect in my mind. Of course, there are budget considerations and Texas might be looking to upgrade in other areas where bats are more plentiful. After all, good catching is at a premium all across baseball right now. That scarcity is going to result in bidding wars and somebody being tied into a long and expensive contract.

Speaking of long, the future might be another consideration. Most headline free agents are looking for multi-year deals. The Rangers only signed Soto for 2014 and only promised him the starting job for one year. There are a couple of young catchers in the system and maybe the front office is thinking they could be ready in 2015. If you have a hot hand coming up there's really no reason to overpay right now and end up with a logjam.

On the other side of things, a one year deal is a patch at best. It does nothing to stabilize the situation. If Soto has a good year he could hit the free agent market next year as a very desirable commodity. That could put the Rangers back on the hot seat if the young talent doesn't develop in time.

Either way, one thing is certain: Geovany Soto does not appear to be a long-term solution. He'll probably bat around seven or eight and be about average behind the dish. He'll also probably be gone after 2014 or be back to being a backup or platoon player.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Off-Season Shuffle Picks Up.

Well, the off-season moves have begun in earnest for the Rangers. Staff and roster moves for now but the trades and signings will be coming.

Closer Joe Nathan voided his one year option on the first. Texas had picked up their end of the deal but Nathan saw enough action in 2013 that he had the right to void it. He's looking for a multi-year deal and the Rangers are hesitant to give a 39-year-old pitcher with a recent history or arm problems that kind of contract. If they had been able to retain him there is a decent chance they might have shopped him around anyway. Look for Feliz and Soria to get a shot at the closer's role. Look for the Angels to talk to Nathan.

On the same day Nathan left, former Ranger Bobby Jones arrived. Jones, shown here on card 134 of the 1985 Donruss set, was moved up from the Triple A manager's spot to coach with the Big Club. Not sure if he will be the bench coach or first base coach. The Rangers still need one more coach to fill out their staff. Double A manager Steve Buechele will likely replace Jones at Round Rock.

Yesterday the Rangers announced Martin Perez was the team's Rookie of the Year. He certainly had a strong rookie season and provided a lot of excitement for the future.

Also yesterday the Rangers made Nelson Cruz an offer for $14.1 million. He's got until Monday to make a decision. Don't expect an acceptance since he's looking for a multi-year deal. What will be interesting to see is if his PED suspension hurts his chances at landing a lucrative contract. At least the Rangers look to get a compensatory draft pick if he leaves since the offer they made qualifies.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Senators Saturday - John Kennedy, 1964.

John Kennedy, shown here on card 203 of the 1964 Topps set, had been kicking around with the Senators since they signed him as an amateur free agent in 1961. He had short stints with the team in 1962 and 1963 but didn't stick. 1964 would be different.

Kennedy finally stuck with the team in 1964. He played mostly at third, in spite of what his card lists, but did put in time at short. He even had a cameo or two at second.

John put in 758.1 innings at third base over 106 games. He committed 18 errors though for a .941 fielding percentage. That was well below the league average .955. Things were a little better at short where he posted a .966 fielding percentage over 372 innings in 49 games as a result of seven errors. That was just two points under the league average .968. He briefly appeared at second with nine innings in two games. He had no errors there.

Kennedy made 521 trips to the plate on offense. He walked 29 times. That combined with his .230 batting average gave him a .280 on-base percentage. He also had no speed as he stole just three bases while getting caught three times. His power was also practically non-existent with a .324 slugging percentage as the result of just seven home runs, four triples, and 16 doubles. Those offensive numbers were in Ed Brinkman territory.

John Kennedy finally got his shot at the Big Show in 1964. Unfortunately he didn't manage to capitalize on it. When the Dodgers and Senators started talking, John's name was in the mix. He ended up going to Los Angeles in the Frank Howard deal when the Dodgers agreed to included third baseman Ken McMullen. With a new face at third, Washington decided they could let John Kennedy go.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rangers let Berkman go.

The Rangers made another off-season move yesterday afternoon. They declined to pick up Lance Berkman's option for 2014 and opted to buy out his remaining year.

Berkman, shown here on card 480 of the 2013 Topps Blue Border set, was supposed to provide the team with a power bat in the short term at designated hitter. After a hot start he battled injuries and lengthy Disabled List stays that made him largely ineffective.

Look for Lance to retire for good following this news. He announced his retirement before Texas signed him and talked about it again while injured. This will probably result in him pulling the plug for good.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Decisions: Final Installment.

Time to close out TR Sullivan's list of the top 50 decisions that made the Rangers who and what they are today. Kind of a big chunk to finish things off but I couldn't get the list to end evenly so here it is:

#43. Band-aiding the Stadium - Arlington Stadium was originally a minor league park. When the Senators moved to Texas the capacity was hastily expanded from 20,000 to 35,000. The Rangers spent the next 20 years trying to fix it. It ended up looking like a child's Play-Doh creation.

#44. Charlie Hough - Purchased on the cheap from the Dodgers in 1980, he went from reliever to starter to ace of the staff. Charlie, shown here on a signed 1988 Leaf card, was the heart and soul of the Rangers pitching staff for a decade.

#45. Opportunity lost - Jim Sundberg rejected a 1982 trade that would have sent him to the Dodgers for Orel Hershiser, Dave Stewart, and others. That same year the Rangers traded pitchers Walt Terrell and Ron Darling to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli. Think about the pitching staff they could have had if the first trade went and the second fell through.

#46. Short to Corbett - Brad Corbett bought the team from Bob Short in 1974 but couldn't keep his hands off. The Rangers ended up running in circles during his time as owner.

#47. Denny McLain - Ted Williams advised against the trade that sent Ed Brinkman, Aurelio Rodriguez, and Joe Coleman to Detroit in exchange for a washed-up Denny McLain. He was right. The three were front-line players for Detroit's division title team in 1972 while the Rangers were getting hammered.

#48. Big Broadcasting - In 1981 the Rangers started broadcasting on cable television for the first time because of the leadership of Merle Harmon. In 1982 Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel were paired together on radio for the first time.

#49. Frank Howard - The Senators sent Claude Osteen to the Dodgers on December 4, 1964 as part of a deal for Frank Howard. Hondo would become the marquee player for the Senators.

#50. Sundberg/Hargrove - Each had just one year of minor league experience when manager Billy Martin kept them on the Opening Day roster for 1974. Those were two of the key moves that sparked the Rangers turnaround season that year.

Here we are at the end of Sullivan's list. Some of it I disagreed with and some I had never heard of. Most of it was spot on. I hope you enjoyed the series.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trading with Roadkill.

So, a little over a week ago I sent out a plea for Rangers minis with a post of the minis I have for trade. At first there wasn't any response but a few days after the trade Duane over at Democratic Roadkill contacted me. He needed a couple of the minis I listed and wanted to work out a quick deal. I agreed.

I found out Duane's definition of a quick deal is to overpay for the cards he wants. In exchange for the two cards he needed from my list, he sent me six Allen and Ginter Rangers minis I needed. Included in the lot was this nice 2009 Allen and Ginter mini A&G back Kevin Millwood card.

I will give you this fair warning. If Duane ever contacts you and wants to make a deal, do it. You won't be disappointed and you will be glad you made the trade. I was. Perhaps you should even head over to Duane's blog, check out his wantlists, and see if you can help him out in his mini collecting quest.

Thanks again for the trade Duane.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

1977 Topps - John Ellis.

Even though John Ellis was starting his second season with the Texas Rangers in 1977 Topps apparently was unable to come up with a picture of him in a Rangers uniform. The result was an atrocious air brushing job on card 36 of the 1977 Topps set. Of course, the lack of a proper picture could have been due to Ellis' limited playing time in 1976.

John came into Spring Training in 1977 still rehabbing from the devestating injury that cut his 1976 season short. He ended up being assigned the backup role to catcher Jim Sundberg and first baseman Mike Hargrove. He would also see some action throughout the season as the designated hitter.

Ellis appeared in 49 games in 1977 and made 127 trips to the plate. He posted a .235 batting average and a .283 on-base percentage. Both were low and likely partially attributable to having missed so much of the previous season.

In the field John would play 68 innings over 16 games at catcher. He committed no errors behind the dish but caught just 11% of runners stealing on him. Ellis would also play 54 innings over eight games at first base. Once again, his defense was flawless.

John Ellis was still not at 100% in the recovery process from his 1976 injury but he was making progress. He also seemed to be settling into the role of backup and was apparently working out well. Some improvement with the bat and a few more runners caught would be nice but probably wouldn't win him a starting role in 1978.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Minor League Monday - Daren Hays, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Wow, I guess it's been awhile since the last installment of Minor League Monday. Mondays have been crazy lately and this one is no exception. At least I had time to pre-write this post.

Daren Hays shows up today on card number 9 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set. He doesn't look very thrilled to be getting his picture on a baseball card.

Texas drafted Hays late in the 1989 draft. In the 38th round to be exact. Draftees that late aren't really considered to be top prospects or even sleepers. Daren played for the Butte Copper Kings in the Pioneer League of Rookie Ball in 1989. He managed a .316 batting average and a .379 on-base percentage in 235 plate appearances. He also appeared to be a pretty decent outfielder and even got some work at first base.

That performance got Hays promoted to A+ Charlotte for the 1990 season. He would play in 70 games for the Charlotte Rangers and make 208 trips to the plate. The results were a .226 batting average and a .301 on-base percentage. His doubles dropped from 16 with Butte to 5 with Charlotte. In 59 games he played in the outfield and tallied a .975 fielding percentage.

It was probably those numbers and the drastic drop from his Rookie Ball production that caused Daren's serious expression when the Star photographer came around. 38th round draft picks don't get many second chances, especially at A+ ball. That would hold true for Daren Hays. 1990 was his last season in pro ball.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Senators Saturday - Ken Hunt, 1964.

Ken Hunt sure seems happy on his miscut copy of 1964 Topps card 294. Who knows, maybe he was. After all, his close friend, Roger Maris was on top of the baseball world after breaking Babe Ruth's single-season home run record just a few years previous. On the other hand, maybe he's just grinning at the joke of wearing an Angels uniform on a Senators card.

Washington purchased Hunt's contract from the Angels in September of 1963. He had a cup of coffee with the Senators before the end of the season but didn't see much action.

Going into the 1964 season the Senators outfield was pretty much locked up by Chuck Hinton, Don Lock, and Jim King. Ken's chances of breaking into that group were small. What he needed to to was make his case as the best alternative for the fourth outfielder spot. Fred Valentine beat him out there though. That resulted in Hunt splitting his season between Washington and Triple A Toronto.

With the Big Club, Hunt saw action in 51 games and made 113 plate appearances. His .135 batting average and .234 on-base percentage explain why Valentine edged him for that fourth outfielder's slot. Even worse, Ken was practically devoid of power at the plate with a .208 slugging percentage.

On the upside, Hunt played 251 innings in the outfield and handled 70 chances flawlessly. That made him valuable as a late-inning defensive replacement.

That defense wasn't enough to keep Hunt in the Majors for the entire season. He spent 15 games with Toronto but didn't do much better there with a .206 batting average and a .357 on-base percentage. Either he was better at taking a walk in the minors or the pitchers were wilder.

Ken Hunt was a long shot to make the Senators roster in 1965 and he didn't. For some reason he missed the entire season at any level. Perhaps he played in Japan or just took some time away from the game. On April 2, 1966 Washington traded him to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Bob Humphreys. Ken spent the 1966 season at Triple A before hanging up the cleats for good.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Odd Moments: Final Installment.

Final post for TR Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Odd Moments in Rangers history. Here are the final five:

#46 The Longest Save - On September 3, 2002 starter Aaron Myette took the hill against the Orioles. He managed to get himself tossed after just two pitches. In came Todd Van Popple who eventually wound up with the win and then Joaquin Benoit. Benoit pitched seven innings to get the save. That set a Major League record for the longest save. A ninth inning triple broke up the combined no-hitter.

#47 Honoring the Sabbath - Edwin Correa, shown here on card number 4 of the 1986 Donruss Rookies set, showed up for his second Spring Training in 1987. He was there as a starting pitcher. When he arrived he told the team he would not pitch from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays. Apparently this was based in his beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist. That made things interesting for the 15 starts he did make that year. Injuries intervened though and it never became a factor long-term.

#48 Ducking Snow - Manager Johnny Oates pulled the Rangers off the field during the Brewers 1998 home opener because fans were pelting the players with snowballs. Order was finally restored with the threat of a forfeit and the game resumed when the bombardment stopped.

#49 Mickey Sings - The quality of National Anthem performances at Ranger games in Arlington has always varied, from Van Cliburn on down. Perhaps nobody has botched the words as badly as former Monkees singer Mickey Dolenz did in 1987.

#50 One Ball, One Save - Texas was on top of Houston 9-6 in the ninth on June 14, 2002 when Randy Flores came in to pitch. Coming in he had a runner on first with two outs. Flores threw one pitch. It was a ball. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez picked Richard Hidalgo off first to end the game. Flores got the save with one pitch that wasn't even in the strike zone.

Well, that finishes up the list of the Top 50 Odd Moments in Rangers history. Hope you at least got a chuckle or two out of them.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trading time.

A week ago I posted my then-updated game-used and autographs trade list. I was looking for some trades to help build my Rangers collection and fill the off-season.

Reader Brandon came through for me with an immediate contact looking to work a deal. After some negotiating we reached an agreement. Out went the cards Brandon wanted and off the list they came. Then came the wait. I'm always a little leery trading with folks I've never done deals with before but Brandon proved those concerns pointless. He delivered his end with promptness and just as described.

One of the cards I received from Brandon was this 2003 Ex Behind the Numbers game-used card of Hank Blalock. It's hard to see in the scan but the card features a swatch of Hank's jersey through a cutout in the shape of the number nine. The card is also numbered 125/199.

Thanks much to Brandon for helping work a trade. It's been a long time since I was trading regularly and it feels good to get a deal done. If Brandon ever contacts you looking to make a trade you would be well advised to take him up on his offer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Best Seasons: Aaron Sele - 1998.

The World Series starts tonight. Cardinals versus Red Sox. Still not focused on it but since I grew up with the Cardinals as my National League team at least there's some interest. Seems like a good time for the next installment in TR Sullivan's list of the top 50 seasons in Rangers history.

Showing up at number 31 on the list is Aaron Sele's 1998 season. Arriving in an off-season trade with Boston Sele, shown here on card 430 of the 1999 Pacific set, was a starter brought in to bolster the Rangers rotation. Depending on your definition of bolster, he did just that.

Aaron made 33 starts for Texas in 1998 and posted a 19-11 record. He also pitched 212.2 innings over the course of the season. If those were the only numbers involved I would be tempted to agree with TR's assessment of the season as "excellent". However, take into account Sele's 4.23 ERA and 1.519 WHIP and the excellence of his season becomes a whole lot more debatable.

All things must be viewed in context though. Sele's ERA was the lowest among Rangers starters in 1998. While baseball purists might blanch at a staff ace with an ERA north of four, the times have to be considered. 1998 was the height of the steroids era and only a select few hurlers managed to keep their numbers reasonable. For the time Aaron must have looked somewhat decent, he was named to the All-Star team that year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Off-season shake-up continues.

Nolan Ryan, shown here on card 417 of the 1991 Score set, will be gone from the Rangers organization effective October 31st. As part of the deal, two of the other owners have bought out Nolan's shares of the Rangers. The Rangers say Ryan is retiring as team president. Ryan says he is resigning.

That's pretty typical of the past couple of years. It seems that General Manager John Daniels will say one thing only to have Nolan say another. Sometimes Ryan speaks first and then is contradicted by Daniels. The local media has taken to referring to certain members of the rangers staff as "Nolan guys" or "JD guys".

That seems to point to a division within the ranks. Following the announcement of  Ryan's departure, both Ryan and Daniels have released statements saying there isn't any division. Ryan specifically said he has had disagreements with Daniels but those disagreements didn't play any role in his decision to leave.

I hope that's the case. Ryan said he was leaving mainly to spend more time with his family and running his ranch. If that's the real reason I say more power to him. It would be a shame if it's not and he was forced out.

For whatever reason Ryan is leaving the Rangers, he deserves the thanks and applause of all Rangers fans. Nolan brought the national spotlight to the franchise as a player and grew the team to fit that spotlight as an executive. Very few other teams have been fortunate enough to have such a man as part of their organization.

Texas also announced they hired Tim Bogar as bench coach to replace the fired Jackie Moore. I don't really know much about Bogar. He was an infielder in the Majors, a coach with the Red Sox, and a successful minor league manager. Jon Daniels says he's got a great baseball mind. It would be nice to see him work out well with the team.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trolling for trades - GU and AU edition.

The updating of the trade list continues. I thought I was closing in on things. Then I found another stack of cards to be considered for the list that got set aside during the move. Even had a few more minis in there. As things currently stand, I have all but a fairly large number of Ivan Rodriguez cards on the list. Not at the end of the tunnel but I have seen a few glimpses of light.

No luck so far on the minis. Today I'm looking to add to my Rangers game-used and autograph collection. As you can tell from this 2005 Prime Patches card of Mark Teixeira, I'll take just about anything I don't have of a player in a Rangers uniform. Here's the current list of game-used and autos I have for trade:

Game Used

2001 Leaf Limited – Billy Sylvester (bat) #329 (93/700) - Braves
2002 EX Hit and Run - Cliff Floyd (bat) - Marlins
2002 Upper Deck MVP Souvenir - Rafael Furcal (jsy) #J-RF – Braves
2003 Finest Relics – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #FRB-IR - Marlins
2003 Donruss Gamers – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #G-22 (390/500) - Marlins
2003 Playoff Piece of the Game – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #POG-41 – Marlins
2003 Topps Gallery Gallery Originals – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #GO-IR – Marlins
2004 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade – Ivan Rodriguez (bat/jsy) #TT-58 (122/250) – Marlins
2004 Diamond Kings Diamond Cut Collection – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #DC-31 (44/100) - Marlins
2004 Fleer Classic Clippings Jersey Rack – I. Rodriguez, Piazza, J. Lopez (jsys) #JR-P/R/L (217/225) – Mets, Tigers, Orioles
2004 Fleer Showcase Baseball's Best – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #BB/IR - Marlins
2004 Leaf Certified Materials – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #210 (170/200) - Marlins
2004 Topps Chrome Fashionably Great – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #FGR-IR – Marlins
2004 Topps Pristine Key Acquisitions – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #KA-IR – Tigers
2004 Ultra Turn Back the Clock – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #TBC-IR (175/199) - Marlins
2004 Upper Deck Awesome Honors – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #AH-IR (13/165) – Tigers
2004 Upper Deck Etchings – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #BE-IR – Tigers
2005 Bowman Heritage Pieces of Greatness – Josh Beckett (jsy) #PG-JB – Marlins
2005 Diamond Kings Crowning Moment Blue – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy/bat) #344 (19/100) - Tigers
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #30 (58/150) – Tigers
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (bat) #P-35 (66/100) – Marlins
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy/hat/bat) #P-35 (18/105) – Marlins
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy/bat/shoe/patch) #P-35 (30/150) - Marlins
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (bat/jsy) #P-35 (48/150) – Marlins
2005 Donruss Prime Patches – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #P-35 (206/394) - Marlins
2005 Topps All-Star Relics – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #ASR-IR - Tigers
2005 Topps Update All-Star Relics – Ivan Rodriguez (jsy) #ASR-IR - Tigers
2005 Upper Deck Marquee Attractions - Preston Wilson (jsy) #MA-PW - Rockies
2008 Topps Relics - Bobby Abreu (jsy) #TR-BKA – Yankees
2008 Upper Deck Game Worn Jersey – Johan Santana (jsy) #98-JS - Twins
2009 Sweet Spot Triple Swatch - Sizemore (jsy), Hunter (jsy), Wells (Jsy) #TSWHS - Indians, Angels, Blue Jays
2011 Topps 60 #T60R-MT - Mark Teixeira
2011 Topps Commemorative Patches #TLMP-FH - Felix Hernandez
2012 Topps Historical Stitches #HS-WMC - Willie McCovey

Autographs - certified

1995 Classic 5 Sport – Rey Ordonez - Mets
2005 Prestige Xtra Bases - Andy Greene #153 (10/50) – Diamondbacks
2007 Upper Deck Ultimate America's Pastime – Jason Bay #AP-JB - Pirates

Autographs - TTM/IP

1953 Topps Archives #165 - Billy Hoeft - Tigers
1990 Upper Deck #107 - Mike Harkey - Cubs
1991 Leaf #209 - Charlie Leibrandt - Braves
2000 MLB Showdown #8 - Jeff Huson - Angels
2000 MLB Showdown #28 - Kelly Stinnett - Diamondbacks
2000 MLB Showdown #90 - Jeff Reed - Cubs
2000 MLB Showdown #422 - John Flaherty - Devil Rays
2001 MLB Showdown #86 - Jeff Reed - Cubs
Bible tract - Frank Tanana - Tigers

Let me know if you see anything you like. I am sure we could work a trade. I should be adding some more Ivan Rodriguez game-used to the list so if you're interested in him make sure you check back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trolling for Trades.

Well, the off-season is well under way it seems. The League Championship Series seem to be good ones but I just can't get into them for some reason. Time to look at building up the collection for the upcoming season.

That brings me to Ian Kinsler's 2007 Allen and Ginter Mini #324. I generally consider my Rangers collection to be pretty well rounded. Not always complete but with a decent representation of card brands and years. Not so much with minis. For some reason that area is lacking.

With that in mind I am calling out for anyone interested in trading minis. You got Rangers minis, I probably want them. I do have a few from other teams for trade. Here's the minis trade list:

2008 Allen and Ginter #4 – Roy Halladay
2008 Allen and Ginter #26 - Corey Hart
2009 Allen and Ginter #88 – Brad Penny
2009 Goodwin Champions #23 – Kevin Youkilis
2009 Goodwin Champions #31 - Hanley Ramirez
2009 Goudey #111 - Ben Sheets
2010 Allen and Ginter #295 - Josh Thole
2011 Gypsy Queen #83 - David Price
2011 Gypsy Queen #131 - Cody Ross
2011 Gypsy Queen #141 - Brandon Inge
2011 Gypsy Queen #253 - Carlos Lee
2011 Gypsy Queen #350 - Carlos Pena
2011 Gypsy Queen G.Q. back #185 - L. Morrison
2011 Gypsy Queen G.Q. back #198 - Jayson Werth
2011 Gypsy Queen G.Q. back #348 - J.A. Happ
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-1 - Ubaldo Jimenez
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-6 – Clay Buchholz
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-15 - David Price
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-26 - Justin Morneau
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-36 - Hanley Ramirez
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-51 - Hank Aaron
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-64 - Jackie Robinson
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-86 - Whitey Ford
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-92 - Frank Thomas
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-111 - Tris Speaker
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-115 - Ty Cobb
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-136 - Paul Molitor
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-147 - Mark Teixeira
2011 Topps Kimball Champions #KC-150 - Joe DiMaggio
2012 Topps 1987 Topps Mini #TM-5 - Howie Kendrick
2012 Topps 1987 Topps Mini #TM-13 - Jayson Werth
2013 Allen and Ginter #40 – Will Middlebrooks
2013 Topps 1972 Topps Mini #TM-17 – Johnny Cueto
2013 Topps 1972 Topps Mini #TM-51 - Ken Griffy Jr

I am working on updating the rest of my trade list so let me know if you see any minis or any other cards you might be interested in. I would love to work a few trades. Be sure to check back since the updating will be an ongoing process.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1977 Topps - Gene Clines.

Gene Clines, shown here on card 237 of the 1977 Topps set, came to Texas in December of 1975 in exchange for Joe Lovitto. Clines definitely had Lovitto beat in the sideburns category.

Gene served as the primary left fielder for Texas in 1976. That allowed the Rangers to move Mike Hargrove to first base. Unfortunately Clines wasn't what the club was looking for on a permanent basis in left field.

On February 5, 1977 the Cubs sent former Senator Darold Knowles back to the Rangers for a player to be named later. On Feburary 15, 1977 Gene Clines found himself on the way to Chicago as that player. His short stint with Texas was over. He would last one season and a few games with the Cubs. They released him in May of 1979. He would not appear in another Major League game after that.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Senators Saturday - Tom Brown, 1964.

By the time Tom Brown appeared on card 311 of the 1964 Topps set, his Major League Baseball career was over. Signed before the 1963 season, Brown was a switch-hitting first baseman who seemed promising to the Senators. He spent most of the 1963 season proving he could not hit Major League pitching from either side of the plate.

Tom was assigned to double A York for the 1964 season. He appeared in 59 games and made 243 plate appearances. He hit just .217 but did manage a .346 on-base percentage thanks to the 40 walks he worked.

It looked like baseball wasn't Tom Brown's sport. That's probably why he signed with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. By the fall of 1964 Brown was taking the field with the Packers. He would play just over five seasons in the NFL - all but one game with Green Bay. During that time he played in two Super Bowls. That's more post-season action than he would have seen with the Senators.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Decisions: #38 - #42.

Moving on in T.R. Sullivan's list of Top 50 Decisions that have Shaped the Rangers.

#38 Staying West - Baseball was looking at a serious realignment that would have included the Rangers. Owner Tom Hicks helped counter the movement when he agreed to stay in the American League West in exchange for an annual home-and-home series with the Houston Astros. (Seems to me like it's time to re-visit this one with the Astros now in the AL West.)

#39 The Surprise move - The Rangers moved into one of the best Spring Training facilities in baseball when they moved to Surprise, Arizona in 2003.

#40 Josh Hamilton - Opinions differed at the time and there are still some who don't like it but trading Edison Volquez for Josh Hamilton was huge. Hamilton may not be able to control his mouth, but he could hit and field when he was with Texas and helped put them in their first World Series.

#41 Young to Designated Hitter - Michael Young, shown here on card 230 of the 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings set, switched positions three times after coming up as a second baseman. His 2011 switch to DH/super utility man was probably the biggest. His reaction to that move likely contributed to his being dealt to Philadelphia during the 2012-2013 off-season.

#42 Buck Showalter - He brought some success when he was hired in 2002. Just like Billy Martin and Bobby Valentine though, his early success created too much false hope.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best Seasons: Jose Guzman - 1991.

Ok, moving on in T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history. At number 30 is Jose Guzman's 1991 season.

Guzman, appearing here on a signed 1988 Topps card, started 25 games for Texas in 1991. He finished five of them, one a complete game shutout, and compiled a 13-7 record. In the 169.2 innings he pitched he tallied a 3.08 ERA and a 1.391 WHIP. He struck out 125 batters and allowed just 10 home runs.

Those numbers may not seem super and they probably aren't. What makes them noteworthy is that Jose had not pitched in the Majors in 1989 or 1991 after suffering a devastating shoulder injury. There was some doubt that he could come back at all, much less be effective. He did both though and won the 1991 American League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Odd Moments: #41-#45.

 Time for the next group installment from T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Odd Moments in Rangers history.

#41 The reign of the Tahitian warlord - Doug Rader's entire two plus years as manager were strange. He clashed with umpires, opposing players, media, fans, and his own players. He also crashed his car into the same tree every day in Spring Training.

#42 Hondo's Nestle Quik commercial - T.R. says you can find Frank Howard's Nestle Quik commercial on YouTube. If you can let me know. I spent almost an hour looking for it before I gave up.

#43 The wrong guy - During a game against the Orioles in 1992 the Rangers were looking for revenge because Glenn Davis had spiked Ivan Rodriguez the night before. In came reliever Danilo Leon, shown here on card 387 of the 1993 Donruss set, in the sixth inning to settle the score. He got the wrong guy though and hit Cal Ripken Jr. rather than Glenn Davis. Not like they looked different, wore different numbers, and had their names on their uniforms!

#44 R.A. Dickey - There are some who would claim Dickey is just one long bizarre moment. What Sullivan is referring to here though is the Rangers using their number one pick in 1996 to take a pitcher without an ulna collateral ligament.

#45 Hart's winter - The Ranger's first Winter Meetings under General Manager John Hart resulted in trades for Carl Everett and John Rocker. Those two guys qualify as strange to be sure.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

1977 Topps - Bert Campaneris.

On November 17, 1976 The Texas Rangers signed Dagoberto Blanco Campaneris to a five year contract. The team hoped Bert, shown here on card 373 of the 1977 Topps set, could bring some speed to the team and improve the defense. With the acquisition of Campy, Toby Harrah moved from short to third and displaced Roy Howell.

Campaneris was not known as a slugger or heavy hitter. Prior to coming to Texas he had not hit .300 in a season. That trend would continue with a .254 batting average and a .314 on-base percentage in 648 plate appearances in 1977. Both numbers were a slight drop from the previous season but nothing disastrous. Bert also led the league with sacrifice bunts, he laid down 40. Slightly concerning was Campy's performance on the bases. He stole 54 bases for Oakland in 1976. That was a spike for him and he dropped back down in 1977 with 27 thefts. Disturbingly, he led the league in caught stealing with 20.

In the field Campaneris logged 1284.1 innings at shortstop over 149 games. He didn't play any other position. Bert saw 777 chances at short and handled all but 25 of them without a problem. That gave him a .968 fielding percentage, five points higher than the league average. He also had much more range than most other shortstops in the league. That increased range probably accounted for some of his errors.

Bert Campaneris definitely filled a hole for Texas at shortstop. His defense was all that it was advertised to be and he was a steadying influence on rookie Bump Wills. His bat was light but that was expected. What was the concern was the drop in speed. Not only did his stolen base numbers drop but he was getting caught more often. That was something for Texas to keep an eye on going forward.

For the time being though Campaneris was doing well. He was selected to the All-Star team. Unsurprisingly, he played in the game but didn't bat.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Senators Saturday - Don Blasingame, 1964.

Don Blasingame appears on card 327 of the 1964 Topps set to continue the Senators Saturday series.

In July of 1963 the Senators purchased Blasingame's contract from the Reds. Coming into 1964 he looked to replace Chuck Cottier and his weak bat at second base.

Blasingame apparently succeeded in displacing Cottier. He would play in 143 games for the Senators and spend 1054 innings at second base. In fact, all the time Don spent on defense was at second. He made 14 errors in 609 chances for a .977 fielding percentage. That was below the league average .980 but close enough to be acceptable.

Blasingame made 556 plate appearances for Washington in 1964 and posted a .267 batting average and .320 on-base percentage. In typical middle infielder style for the time, he didn't have much power. His lone home run, two triples, and 17 singles attested to that.

Don Blasingame's 1964 season hadn't been calculated to blow the doors off. On the other hand, with what the Senators had been getting from the middle infield, it was within the acceptable range. That would do for now but wouldn't cut it long term. The Senators needed to improve and holding down a starting job would become more difficult as the minor league depth stabilized.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Best Seasons: Jeff Zimmerman - 1999.

Even though I am zipping through T.R. Sullivan's other lists, the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history will remain one entry at a time. Seems only fitting to give a guy his due for a great campaign.

Number 29 on the list is Jeff Zimmerman's 1999 effort. Zimmerman, seen here on card 447 of the 2000 MLB Showdown set, had his career cut short due to injuries but that was still in the future in 1999.

The 26 year old rookie blasted into Major League baseball in 1999 as the setup man for Rangers closer John Wetteland. He appeared in 65 games and pitched a bullpen leading 87.2 innings. His ERA totaled to 2.36, the lowest on the pitching staff. His 0.883 WHIP was a team best by far. His strikeout to walk ratio was 2.91. Even serving as a late-inning guy he ended up with a 9-3 record.

I wasn't paying much attention to baseball when Zimmerman made his arrival but I remember hearing about him. My grandfather was impressed and mentioned him several times as "the new kid in the bullpen." Apparently he wasn't the only one impressed. Jeff made the All-Star team and came in third for the Rookie of the Year. Not too bad for a reliever.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Moving into the off-season.

The Cleveland Indians head home after losing last night to the Tampa Bay Rays. Both Wildcard games are complete and this post-season is still not catching my interest.

The Rangers off-season moves have started. The team fired long-time bench coach Jackie Moore and first base coach Dave Anderson yesterday. No word on replacements but it would seem that Double A manager Steve Buechele, shown here on a signed 1990 Score card, is an early candidate for one one of the positions. I wouldn't mind that. Boo was a fan favorite during his playing days and would definitely be an asset on stressing defense.

Of course defense isn't what Texas is expected to focus on this winter. Offense is where they are looking to upgrade. There are several free agents out there who might add some pop to the lineup. The question is, how much should the club spend on an established player and how much should be invested in young talent? The eternal quandary for Major League clubs in the era of free agency and big contracts. Nolan Ryan says this could be a very challenging off-season. Hopefully he and the rest of the front office can meet the challenge.