Monday, August 31, 2009

Salty shut down.

September call-ups are just around the corner and word is that the Rangers will try to bolster their pitching and catching staffs. There is also the possibility of a little speed for pinch running situations.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, seen here on card number BDP26 of the 2007 Bowman set, is unlikely to return to the team tomorrow when the roster expands. He had been set to come off the DL then but the team has shut down his minor league rehab stint. Apparently he left the game yesterday after seven innings when his arm started to go numb. That probably indicates the need for season-ending surgery to address his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

At least the team has Pudge to keep things together for the rest of the season. So far Ivan's ability to handle pitchers seems to be better than Salty's. That could be key as the team gets to the do-or-die point in the season.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Texas takes two in Big Apple.

The Rangers pulled off a 7-2 win in New York last night to take the three game series from the Yankees. In my view winning that series was huge. I'll put up a poll to see if anyone else agrees with me.

Jason Grilli was the mainstay pitcher last night after starter Dustin Nippert struggled early. Grilli went 2.1 perfect innings in relief to get the team over the hump and collect the win.

Ian Kinsler, seen here on card number 221 of the 2007 Upper Deck set, led the offensive charge for Texas. Ian was 2-for-4 at the plate with both hits being home runs. He collected four RBI as a result. Chris Davis hammered a three run shot for his first home run since rejoining the team. That was all of the RBI for the evening for Texas but the other guys were obviously getting on base. Nice to see the offense firing.

On to Minnesota tonight for the farewell series at the Metrodome. Hopefully the roll continues.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bombed in The Bronx.

Mark $ Teixeira and his Yankee teammates unloaded on Texas last night with a 9-2 score. Ugly game. Dollar Man is seen here on card number PC-59 of the 2004 Studio Players Collection set. The card is numbered 53/150 and features a piece of Mark's jersey that smells like money.

The only Ranger whose bat was working last night was David Murphy. Murph went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. He had a run scored and the only two RBI for Texas.

Following last night's debacle Jason Jennings was designated for assignment and Pedro Strop called up from Triple A to replace him. Wonder if that means my autograph request to Jennings will go unanswered?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rangers open in NY with win.

The Rangers picked up a game in the AL West last night as they beat the Yankees in New York. The Evil Empire attempted a ninth inning comeback and Texas barely escaped with a 10-9 win.

As you might figure with such a score, the emphasis was mainly on the offense. The big knockers for Texas were Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young, seen here on card number 167 of the 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Charcoal set.

Young was 2-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored, three RBI, and a home run. Not too bad for a washed up old man. Hamilton kept up with a 4-for-6 night including two RBI. Andrus post a 3-for-5 tally with a double, a run scored, and three RBI. As a side note, in his return to the majors Chris Davis went 2-for-4 and avoided the strikeout.

On the defensive side of things Andrus also pulled off an unassisted double play to end the ninth inning. Marlon Byrd made a by now routine diving catch in the outfield to rod Melky Cabrera of a hit. Neftali Feliz made a two inning scoreless appearance, striking out two.

A good thing to get the win in the opening game of a crucial series like this one. It would be nice to see the Rangers pick up at least one more win in the next two games. Taking a series from the Yankees in the Belly of the Beast would be a great morale booster.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guest columnist.

Today is Spiff Jr.'s fifth birthday and so I let him pick the card to be posted. This card comes from Spiff Jr.'s card book. It is number TTT23 in the 2009 Topps Topps Town set. I actually don't have this particular card, he pulled it from a pack he bought.

Spiff Jr. states that he picked this card because it features Josh Hamilton. He claims Josh is his favorite player and states that Hamilton sometimes hit home runs. He says he has four Josh Hamilton cards.

"I guess that's good." - Spiff Jr.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Feldman to the rescue.

Once again this year, Scott Feldman strode to the mound to deliver the Rangers from a tight situation on the road. Once again he delivered. Scott's win last night kept the Rangers from getting swept by the Devil Rays and also kept them up in the the post-season hunt.

Feldman, seen here on card number 196 of the 2006 Upper Deck First pitch set, was superb yesterday. He lasted seven innings, allowed no runs, and struck out 11. That performance brings him to 9-1 on the road for the season and 13-4 overall. I think there are a lot of folks out there wondering where Scooter came from. He was never a highly touted prospect but things seem to be coming together for him this year. One downside to Scott's surprising year is that I may soon run out of cards of his to post.

Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez did the heavy lifting to back Feldman on offense. Both had two RBI and neither struck out. Michael went 1-for-4 while Pudge tallied 1-for-2 with a walk.

Today Michael Young was named the AL player of the week. His .500 week at the plate is the most likely reason for the honor. Nice to see Mike getting some kudos.

According to T.R. Sullivan, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The Rangers are hoping it is a mild case and that he will be back by September 1st. No guarantees though.

Chris Davis is headed back to the majors. He will be activated tomorrow and will take over at first going into New York. Crush has been hitting .327 in Triple A and continuing his Gold Glove calibre defense. It would be nice if he can continue the offense against the Evil Empire.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tough loss.

5-4 in ten innings and a loss of a game in both the AL West and the Wildcard. There are days that the expression on this card sums it all up perfectly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Texas tees off on Twins.

The Rangers managed to pound the Twins last night 11-1 to move up one game in the AL West. While Derek Holland was collecting his seventh win of the season the lineup was collecting hits.

Hank Blalock, shown here on card number UD-HB of the 2007 Upper Deck Game Materials set, was one of three Rangers to go 3-for-5 on the night. The other two were Julio Borbon and Michael Young.

Marlon Byrd was perhaps better as he went 2-for-3 with a walk and an awesome diving catch on defense. Josh Hamilton chimed in and went 2-for-5. The rest of the lineup all got one hit each.

Everyone in the lineup hitting and the pitching running smooth. Gotta like that. Hopefully they can take it on the road since they have more road than home games from here on out.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1972 Topps - Tom McCraw.

Listening to the Rangers leading 10-1 in the bottom of the seventh in Arlington. Surely they won't blow this lead, not like last night, not like the night before. This whole blowing leads thing is becoming a bothersome habit.

Tom McCraw looks a little bothered on his 1972 Topps card, number 767. Maybe it was the Senators dismal performance the one year he was with them. Maybe he misses playing for the White Sox. It could be the bright red cap that he normally wears for hunting but forgot to leave at home on this photo day. Perhaps it's the fact that he is on a Rangers card when he never appeared in a Rangers uniform.

As Tommy demonstrates, there are enough other reasons to worry without blowing decent leads.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He's back!

In a surprise move yesterday the Rangers traded two minor league players to the Astros for Ivan Rodriguez. After six and a half seasons Pudge, shown here on card number 509 of the 2003 Donruss Team Heroes set, is home.

Needless to say, most fans are ecstatic and the players are pretty excited as well. All in all this seems to be a popular move.

I happen to think this is a good move for Texas at this point in the season. Pudge is getting old but he can still play and appears to be fine with being Taylor Teagarden's backup. That will give the Rangers some spark coming off the bench and Taylor a great opportunity to learn from one of the greatest backstops ever. It also gives a veteran presence in the clubhouse with post-season experience. If Pudge was ever involved with PEDs he off of them now, what with the testing and his stats dropping like they should at his age so I think that is of little concern.

Houston had Pudge signed to a one year deal so he will be a free agent after this season. Of course the Rangers will hopefully have Jarrod Saltalamacchia back by then. Also, Pudge didn't get signed by Houston until Spring Training was almost over. Maybe that sent him a message. Perhaps it is time to call it a career. This could be his opportunity to retire a Ranger.

Yesterday's post generated several comments asking where I had come up with the possibility that Jarrod Saltalamacchia might have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The possibility is mentioned in this article in the third paragraph. I'm glad I was able to find it, at least I know I'm not crazy yet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Problems in unusual places.

So, the Rangers come out of the weekend in sole possession of first in the Wildcard race but still 4.5 games behind Anaheim in the A.L. West. If they can stay hot the two series with Anaheim next month might help them gain some ground.

One area of concern right now is catching. Strange to think that the Rangers might need help behind the plate. Apparently everything hit at once though. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was put on the disabled list on Saturday. Apparently Salty, shown here on his 2008 Topps Year in Review card, was having difficulty throwing as a result of numbness in his right arm. Prospect Max Ramirez was just finishing up a stint on the DL in the minors and so wasn't deemed ready to come up. That left Kevin Richardson. Richardson was a non-draft signing in 2002 and has been in the minors since. Word is that the team is looking to make a quick deal to put a band-aid on the situation.

Hopefully the problem will work itself out without the need for a trade. If Richardson can hold on long enough for Ramirez to get back in shape, things could be well. Of course nobody seems to know what exactly is the issue with Salty. There is talk of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. That would end his season. There are also darker rumors of a psychological throwing problem such as Mackey Sasser had. That could end his career.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No post post.

Sorry, no post today. Had a Wisdom tooth taken out and between the pain and the dope I am having a rather hard time tracking.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Straight F's.

The Rangers' win at Cleveland yesterday was brought to you by the letters F and H. As in Feldman, Feliz, Francisco, and Hamilton. The win gave the series to Texas and left them with a .500 road trip as they head home to face the Red Sox tonight.

Scott Feldman was his by now effective self as he went six innings while only giving up on run. That was good for his 12th win of the season. He struck out six while walking two and hitting a batter. Some control issues there but not enough to hurt him.

In the third inning with Texas down one run Josh Hamilton came to bat with two on. A double later the Rangers were leading 2-1. All told Josh went 4-for-4 with his double, two RBI, and a run scored. Great night for Hamilton.

Neftali Feliz, seen here on card number BP1 of some 2009 Bowman set, came on in relief in the seventh. He went two perfect innings striking out five. Continuing from his last appearance that gave him seven strikeouts in a row. With the exception of Nolan Ryan in 1991, that is the only time any Rangers pitcher has gotten that many K's in a row. Nice. Hopefully he can keep this up.

Frank Francisco closed things out with a scoreless ninth inning. That gave him his 16th save of the season and pulled the Rangers to within a half a game of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race. They are also 4.5 games out from the Angels in the A.L. West.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rangers from an Indians fan.

Got up this morning to find a package in the mail from Tribecards. Recently Dave has been giving away free cards and I signed up for some Rangers. Can't resist the free Rangers.

Anyway, the cards arrived today and the lot was a nice one. Included in it was this 2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Heroics Alex Rodriguez, number HH-AR1. I didn't have this card and several others included in the package and am glad to get them. Just for the record, the card pictured is not actually off-centered. That is because I couldn't get it to scan centered.

Free Rangers cards and some I needed. Way cool. Thanks Dave! I am still rooting for Texas to top Cleveland this morning though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hunter tackles Tribe.

Unfortunately I can't find a card of Tommy Hunter. Give me a break though, Tommy has only appeared in twelve games over the last two seasons with Texas. Tonight he was the man however as he tossed 7.2 innings of shutout ball. After C.J. Wilson wrapped things up, the final was 5-0 Texas on top of the Indians. Tommy struck out five and walked none as he picked up his fifth win of the season. Nice.

Another nice thing is the apparent return if Josh Hamilton's bat, seen here on card number 186 of the 2008 Upper Deck Goudey set. After stumbling a bit coming out of the All-Star break Josh seems to finally be heating up offensively. He went 3-for-4 tonight with no strikeouts. One of Josh's hits was a two run double to give the Rangers their initial lead. That performance gets Josh today's card in the absence of Tommy Hunter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

1972 Topps - Elliot Maddox.

Running behind so tonight's post will be quick. Guess working and then mowing the yard will put one behind on posting the day's card.

On to the card. Today's card should please the gals at Dinged Corners as it is a 1972 Topps, number 277 in the set. Elliot Maddox arrived in the same trade that sent Denny McLain to the Senators. Unlike McLain he would make the move to Texas with the team and play in 98 games in 1972.

I like this card for a couple of reasons. First has to be Maddox's expression. Looking kind of sly there. Second is the trivia question on the back. It asks who threw three shutouts in four days against the New York Americans. The answer is Walter Johnson. Gotta love the Big Train. Anyone who can shutout the Yanks (or their forerunners) like that is ok in my book.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The trouble with Josh.

As most of you probably already know, Josh Hamilton made a major bad call this past Spring in Arizona. Hamilton, seen here on his 2008 Dr. Pepper card, went out to a bar and partied pretty hard with alcohol and women that weren't his wife. Major trouble.

The day after the incident, Josh informed the Rangers and his wife of what had happened. As far as I can tell he attempted to make no excuses but accepted responsibility for what he did. He recently had to apologize to the fans as well after photos taken during the binge became public and so made the failure a public issue.

As a Rangers fan and collector I felt I should say something on the matter. After all, a lot of other folks have. There has been no shortage of folks poking at Josh and at his faith, claiming that somehow this failing invalidates what has happened in Josh's life and Christianity as a whole.

In my view it doesn't and I will attempt to explain why. Josh was addicted to and had set patterns of behaviour involving alcohol before he was able to get his life together. Those patterns and addictions are not and cannot be conquered overnight. In his book Josh admits as much. At one point he says that he still fights the temptation for drugs and alcohol, sometimes daily.

For one to fail and fall is not unusual. The Apostle Paul, who wrote a significant portion of the New Testament, warns repeatedly of such failures and their consequences. In fact he talks even of his own failures in Romans 7:15, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do." Paul did what he hated? That's what he says. Is it possible that Josh Hamilton may have done the same thing?

At the time he wrote those words Paul was much more grounded in the faith and had more practice in it than Josh Hamilton. So why the struggle? Well, in Galatians 5:17 Paul addresses that question, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things ye would." Yes, Paul was an adherent to the old saying that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The natural tendency to sin that Paul and Josh Hamilton both have in common tends to trip them up from time to time, in spite of true and lasting changes in their lives. Paul never claims that perfection follows faith, just the strength to fight the inclinations of one's self.

As I look as this situation I realize that I have something in common with Josh Hamilton and Paul. I too struggle against the things that I know are not healthy or right for me to engage in. From time to time I too fail and fall. In those times I have to face the music, just as Paul and just as Josh Hamilton. Sometimes the consequences are more severe, sometimes less so. Oftentimes the severity is connected to the reaction of the fallen. In this case the consequences for Josh will involve his family, his employer, and the fans he has let down. The severity will likely be mitigated by his owning up to what he did.

So, what is the trouble with Josh? The same thing that was the problem with Paul, the "old man" as he put it. Himself. The same thing that is my problem, and likely yours too. In the end sum of things the trouble with Josh is Josh. And that is something that we would all be wise to keep in mind.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hit the road Jack.

The guys backed Tommy Hunter with six runs to top the A's 6-4 last night in the last game of the series in Oakland. Anaheim won though so Texas is still 4.5 games out. Tonight starts a three game series in Anaheim. Very good time for the team to get hot and make up some ground.

Vicente Padilla, seen here on card 290 of the 2007 Topps Heritage set, last pitched on Wednesday. He went 5.2 innings and allowed six runs. Several of those runs came on the three home runs he allowed. He also hit Kurt Suzuki (A's catcher) without provocation. What a dolt. Padilla has a reputation for starting throwing wars. Sure enough, the A's retaliated and hit Michael Young. Fair enough. You gotta protect your players.

Apparently Padilla's beanball antics didn't sit well with the Rangers' front office. Neither did his sitting on the bench laughing as Michael Young got thrown at. That probably contributed to his being designated for assignment today. That puts Vicente on trade waivers immediately. If he clears waivers the Rangers might try and trade him. That appears unlikely, they will probably end up releasing him.

About time. Somebody with a 4.92 ERA has no business trying to cultivate a bad guy image by throwing at opposing players.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Slow day.

Another day another loss to Oakland. To the A's of all teams. What is going on?

Nelson Cruz may be headed for the DL. Josh Hamilton is headed up in the lineup after ditching his ADD meds.

Not much other than that. Busy day here with house company. I leave you with this signed 1972 Topps Richard Billings card that I got a while back in trade on The Bench. Is anyone else on The Bench? If so, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Byrd has the word.

Marlon Byrd summed up last night's 6-0 loss to the A's. Said Marlon, "We stink. That's my quote."

Accurate but hopefully temporary. For such succinct wisdom Marlon is featured on today's card, number 527 in the 2008 Topps set.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Salt in the wound.

So Texas loses last night in Oakland to fall to 4.5 games behind Anaheim. The 3-2 loss was a stinger to in so many ways.

Dustin Nippert pitched five awesome innings to see his effort go up in smoke. Of course the other four pitchers who allowed no runs might also be a bit frustrated.

The bats couldn't get going against a guy whose post-game ERA is 4.20. Two runs in 7.2 innings. Ugh! Arias, Cruz, and Saltalamacchia all went ohfers.

C.J. Wilson. Nothing like coming in with one out left to get the save and giving up all three Oakland runs. C.J. just didn't have it at all last night and it happened so fast that I doubt Ron Washington had time to get anyone else warmed up.

To top it all off Nelson Cruz, seen here on number 564 of the 2007 Topps set, sprained left ankle on the last part of the batting practice Wilson threw. Word is that he might have to take a stint on the DL. Salt, salt, and more salt.

One bright spot was Neftali Feliz's Major League debut. In his first appearance in the big show Neftali was big news. He threw two scorching innings and allowed no base-runners. While racking up four strikeouts he topped out at around 101 MPH. Nice. The Mark Teixeira trade is looking better all the time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rangers busy with roster.

The Rangers were busy this past weekend. They lost to Seattle on Saturday and then won last night. Net result - still four games out of first.

In other news, Ian Kinsler, seen here on card number 18 of the 2007 Bowman set, and Jason Grilli were placed on the 15-day disabled list. Grilli has inflammation in his right elbow and Ian's hamstring just hasn't been getting any better.

To replace them on the roster the Rangers called up pitchers Neftali Feliz and Doug Mathis. Mathis has been up earlier this season with the team but this is Feliz's big call. Neftali is supposed to be a super-prospect and was slated to show up next year. Hopefully this early call-up isn't a mistake.

In addition to the pitching call-ups the club also activated Frank Francisco off the DL. Frank seems to be over his pneumonia and ready to hit the hill. Good news.

The team can use the pitching help, that's for sure. Tonight they start a ten game road trip. The first series is against Oakland and then they go to Anaheim before finishing in Cleveland. The team has done well in their past several road trips and needs to keep the roll going to close the gap with Anaheim.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rangers induct two.

The Rangers inducted two past players into the Rangers Hall of Fame tonight before the game against the Mariners. Toby Harrah and Ruben Sierra both got the nod from the fans to join ten others in the Hall.

Toby Harrah, seen here on card number 125 of the 1987 Fleer set, put in two stints with Texas. Toby actually started his big league career with the Washington Senators in 1969. He spent 1970 in the minors and then was up for good in 1971. Harrah made the move to Texas with the team and stayed with them until December of 1978 when he was traded to Cleveland. The fact that Toby was exchanged for another fan favorite, Buddy Bell, didn't lessen the sting of losing one of the most popular players on the club. In February of 1985 the Rangers sent Billy Sample to The Evil Empire to bring Toby home. He played two more seasons for his original club and then retired at the end of the 1986 season. In his eleven years with Texas Toby made the All-Star team three times.

The second player inducted was Ruben Sierra, seen here on card number 138 of the 1987 Fleer set. Ruben's first year in the Majors was Harrah's last. Ruben was a slugging switch-hitter who helped redefine the Rangers. As one of the early big bats, he was the harbinger of the big bopper teams to come. Sierra would do three tours with the team. The first would last from 1986 to 1992 when he was traded to Oakland. Ruben's surly attitude helped ensure that there was little feeling of loss from the fans as he departed. He was back again in 2000 and 2001 before being released at the end of the 2001 season. In 2003 the Rangers signed him again and he played until June when he was traded to The Evil Empire. That was the last of Sierra's playing time with Texas.

Congratulations to both of these guys on the honor that they have received. I know Toby appreciates it and it means a lot to him. Hopefully Ruben feels the same way.