Friday, April 30, 2010

Ian's back!

So Ian Kinsler has finally caught up with the team. The Rangers activated him off the DL today and he will start tonight against Seattle.

That's very good news for Texas fans and merits an appearance on today's card. Ian appears here on card number 95 of the 2007 UD Future Stars set. As best I can figure this picture was taken on May 13, 2007 in Arlington. That was Mother's Day and the Rangers beat the Angels 7-6.

Glad to have Kinsler back in the lineup and on the field. The team has missed him. Andres Blanco just doesn't have the bat Kinsler does and Joaquin Arias doesn't have the defense. To make room for Kinsler the team placed Joaquin Arias on the 15 day DL with a strained back. When Arias is ready to come back from the DL is when things will get interesting. There's going to be a shootout between Arias, Blanco, and Ryan Garko. The loser is going to get sent down to Triple A.

Arias has recently had the hot bat with a .312 average. Blanco has the defense at both middle infield positions. Garko has the advantage of being able to play both first and third base. Could be interesting to see who gets the bus ticket north.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beating the odds.

Charlie Hough makes another appearance. This time on a signed 1983 Fleer card. Charlie's got a grin here because we have a winner in the guess the number of autographs contest.

Totaled up I have the autographs of 154 different Rangers players from the past and present. There were 14 guesses in the contest and I really appreciate all who entered. Johngy guessed 153 to grab the prize. Guess the Bill Stein, Scotty Fletcher, Alan Bannister, Brian Downing, and Joe Lahoud numbers combo worked. I guess if folks can do birthdays on lotto tickets then your method is just as valid.

Congratulations Johngy! If you haven't gotten over to Johngy's Beat you really ought to, it's very interesting reading.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wantlist - 1986 Donruss.

The 1985 Donruss team set is completed so today we move on to 1986. To represent the set we see Gary Ward on card number 20. Gary is on a Diamond Kings card from back when that was a subset rather than it's own set. Have to admire the 1980's looking background.

Only need one card to put this set to rest:
1986 Donruss
422 Mike Mason

If you have Mike's card running around and agree with Night Owl that this is an ugly set then do yourself a favor and trade it to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can't cruz if the wheels are coming off.

Nelson Cruz, seen here on card number UH317 of the 2009 Topps Update set, went on the DL today. Craig Gentry was called up from Triple A to replace him on the roster. Cruz injured his hamstring a week ago but had been trying to stick it out. Without his wheels though he couldn't get it done.

Speaking of wheels, they seem to have come off for the Rangers as far as catching is concerned. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden were both optioned to Oklahoma City today. Salty had been there on a rehab assignment but was activated and assigned to Triple A. Teagarden had been replaced by Matt Treanor as the Rangers' primary catcher and was sent down. Max Ramirez was called up to serve as Treanor's backup. Saltalamacchia is supposed to serve as the primary catcher in Oklahoma City and Teagarden will be the backup. If the assignment lasts too long it is likely Teagarden will end up in Double A in order to get more catching time.

I must say that I am getting worried. First Chris Davis heads north on I-35 and then the two top catchers the team has. Not good. The DL and OKC are both getting crowded with the guys that Nolan Ryan said would take the division this year. Not encouraging.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Minor League Monday - Rick Surhoff, 1986 ProCards.

Today's a travel day. Well, for me anyway. Should be on my way home from visiting my folks.

Rick Surhoff did some traveling in 1985 and 1986. In 1985 he pitched for the Phillies, their Triple A team, and the Rangers. While he did well in the minors he wasn't particularly impressive in the Majors.

As a result Rick started his 1986 season with the Eighty-Niners. Rick would appear in 53 games for OKC and would pitch 85.2 innings. He posted a 5.46 ERA.

This was an improvement over his MLB experience but not enough of one for the Rangers to try him again. On July 28, 1986 they sent him to the Chicago Cubs to complete an earlier deal. Rick would stick it out in the minors until the end of the 1989 season and would pitch for three more organizations after the Rangers. He would never get back to the Majors though.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Senators Saturday - Casey Cox, 1968.

Casey Cox appears today on a creased number 66 in the 1968 Topps set. In 1968 he appeared hardly at all for the Senators.

Casey spent most of the 1968 season in Buffalo, New York. He showed up in 60 games for the Triple A Buffalo Bisons, all in relief. In 104 innings pitched he struck out 65 and walked 30. His minor league ERA was 2.34 on the season.

Casey appeared in just four games for Washington in 1968, all of them out of the bullpen. He went 7.2 innings while facing 29 batters. Four of those batters struck out and none walked. Cox posted a 2.35 ERA for the season. That was lights out for the Senators pitching staff.

I wonder why Casey didn't spend more time with the Senators in '68. In the short time he had with the team his ERA seemed to hold up. With the hurt that the Senators were in for pitching it is hard to understand why he spent so much of the season at Triple A. It's not like he was even a rookie, over the 1966 and '67 seasons he had thrown a combined 186 innings. As it was his 2.35 ERA was the second best of the whole pitching staff for the season.

Friday, April 23, 2010


So Paul over at Wrigley Wax was the first of two readers who responded to my 1982 Donruss wants post. He had both this Steve Comer card, number 341 and Jim Kern on number 89. He said he would send them my way and they arrived today. Knocks another team set off the list. Many thanks Paul! I'll try and get something out to you in return.

Don't forget to enter in the contest that kicked off yesterday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Looking at Charlie Hough's signature on this 1982 Topps card today. Charlie has always been an awesome signer and since he is one of my favorite Rangers I have several of his autographs. (Don't worry if you're reading this Mr. Hough, I have no intention of ever selling any of them.)

Anyway, that got me to thinking. I have in the mid 300's of through the mail and in person autographs from Rangers players. On each the player is pictured in a Rangers or Rangers farm team uniform. Of course that includes multiple autographs from some players like Mr. Hough and only one of other players. I wondered how many I have if each player is only counted once.

That struck me as a good idea for a contest so here's the deal. In the comments section of this post leave your guess as to how many different Rangers players' TTM and IP autographs I have (each player counting only once). One guess per person and the contest will run through next Thursday. Since the numbers are smaller than the first contest the winner will have to be within three cards either way of the actual total. If two people get the right answer the earliest guess wins. The prize will come from the GU and auto stack I have set aside to give away. OK, let's see the guesses!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wantlist - 1984 Donruss.

My 1983 Donruss Rangers team set is complete so today we move right on up to 1984. Billy Sample represents the set on card number 403. He seems a lot more thrilled to be featured than Pat Putnam was last week. In fact, Billy is probably giving a grin worthy of Lucy over at Dinged Corners.

Very close to completing this team set. Only have three cards let to go. Here is what I need:

1984 Donruss
28 Tommy Dunbar RC
281 Pete O'Brien RC
343 Dave Stewart

Let me know if you have these three cards and don't want to have them anymore. I am sure we can work out a trade. Even one or two would work.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

1973 Topps - Tom Grieve.

Tom Grieve played in 66 games for the Rangers in 1973. He played all three outfield positions and one game at designated hitter. He appears here on card number 579 of the 1973 Topps set.

In the 66 games he appeared in Tom put in 320.1 innings in the outfield. He handled 68 of the 68 chances he saw for a perfect fielding percentage on the season. That put him 22 points above the league average.

On the offense Grieve managed a .309 batting average in 136 plate appearances. That was a higher average than any of the three starting outfielders. His .348 on base percentage was behind only Jeff Burroughs in the regular outfield. Tom scored 22 times while bumping his teammates in 21 times.

By 1973 Tom seemed to be in a pretty good 60 game groove. This was his third season in the Bigs and he had averaged 59 games a season. His numbers were pretty good on both sides of the diamond. It remained to be seen though if he could handle an increased workload.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trading for Tisdale.

A while back I was looking at Emerald City Diamond Gems, a blog by dedicated Seattle Mariners collector Larry. Larry was asking people to contact him to trade him any Mariners they might have laying around. Since the Mariners were on my list of teams that I was wanting to move I contacted him. We agreed to a trade and today I got a box of Rangers from Washington state.

Larry sent me about 200 Rangers. I needed about 35 or so of them. Pretty good for a blind lot trade. One of the cards that I didn't have was this 1990 Best card of the Gastonia Rangers trainer Tom Tisdale. I have never heard of Tom Tisdale before today but I didn't have the card so I'm glad to get it.

Thanks for the smooth trade Larry. If anyone hasn't had a chance to check out Emerald City Diamond Gems you really should, it's a nice looking blog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Senators Saturday - Frank Bertaina, 1968.

In our previous looks at the Senators' 1968 season we have seen that the position players were a fairly mixed bag but that several did have decent seasons. It's when the pitching comes up that things get bad.

Frank Bertaina, shown here on card number 131 of the 1968 Topps set, was primarily a starter for Washington that year - he started 23 of the 27 games he appeared in. He won only seven while losing 13. Frank posted a 4.66 ERA on the season. Part of that ERA is probably attributable to the 15 home runs he allowed. He did strike out 81 batters in the 127.1 innings he pitched but he also allowed 69 walks and led the league in wild pitches with 17.

None of those numbers are very good. They are even worse when one considers that 1968 was the year of the pitcher. It wasn't Frank Bertaina's year though.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playing games.

Royce Clayton finds himself on today's card. This particular card is number 432 in the 2000 MLB Showdown First Edition set.

I have mentioned before that I didn't discover Showdown until after the game was out of print. That didn't stop me from trying and liking it. In fact Mrs. Spiff also liked it. We got my Dad and brother hooked on it and formed a league that just finished its second season. Lots of fun.

I do have a couple of gripes with Showdown though. The primary one is the lack of cards. The cards were only issued from 2000 to 2005. A few Cooperstown cards were made for Hall of Fame players. Occasionally a custom card or two pops up on Ebay. Other than that you're stuck, no current players and precious few from before the 1999 season.

Kind of a bummer. I like the game but wish I could use some current players. After all, it would be nice to have Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Nellie Cruz in the lineup. My Dad would like to see a few of the Cardinals of his youth and my brother has been trying to figure out a way to introduce injuries into the game.

All that got me to thinking that as much fun as the game is, there might be a better option. A quick look around turned up Strat-o-Matic and APBA Baseball. I haven't ever player either and am kind of leery about shelling out too much money just to take a look see. Looking for some feedback here. Has anyone out there ever played either or both of those games? If so which did you like best? Why? What are the pros and cons of either or both? Any additional thoughts are also welcome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Very frustrating day for the Rangers and for Matt Harrison. Matt went seven innings and gave up one earned run only to lose 3-2.

Two runs were not earned due to an unusual occurrence, at least for the Rangers this year. Elvis Andrus and Michael Young, seen here on a 2004 Bowman Sterling bat card, both committed errors in the same inning. The first was Michael's, a throwing error to first to allow a runner. The second belonged to Andrus as he dropped a throw to allow a second runner. Matt Harrison then gave up a three run home run that should have been a two out solo shot.

The Rangers have really been stressing defense this season and have been doing well but something went wrong today. They committed three errors total during the game. That was as many as they committed in the first four games of the season.

Disappointing. Especially so for Harrison who has turned in strong outings in both of his appearances and has only an 0-1 record to show for it. Hopefully he can hang tough and get some wins.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wantlist - 1982 Donruss.

Pat Putnam does not look very thrilled to be representing the 1982 Donruss set. He also looks a little more red in the scan than he does on the actual card. Perhaps he's embarrassed. Well, whatever the case, here he is on card number 520.

1982 was actually the second year that Donruss issued a card set. I have the entire team set from 1981 though so we are skipping a year to start off the Donruss wantlists. Only need two cards to complete this team set. Here is what I need:

1982 Donruss
89 Jim Kern
341 Steve Comer

Has to be somebody out there who has these two cards and can help me get this early Donruss set knocked out. If you have them and are willing to part with them (or have any cards previously listed on wantlist posts) then shoot me an email. I am sure we can work out a trade.

***Update - I have an offer for both of these cards and it appears that a trade is imminent.***

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1973 Topps - Bill Gogolewski.

Day off for the Rangers today. Guess they're catching a breather after spoiling the Indians' home opener. Figured this would be a good time to take a quick trip back to 1973.

Today we see Bill Gogolewski on card number 27 of the 1973 Topps set. Bill's got one of the greatest names in Rangers history. Gotta be in the top five or six. The back of his card says that his nickname was "GoGo." Not very original perhaps but the announcers probably insisted on a nickname.

In 1973 Bill moved into the bullpen. He had started 21 games for Texas the year before but would only kick off one in 1973. He would be the workhorse of the pen. He led in appearances with 49, innings pitched with 123.2, and batters faced with 546.

In that work he posted a 4.22 ERA. He led the pen in strikeouts with 77. He also managed to give up more walks than anyone else in the pen (48) and got touched for the most runs (67). He also had a weakness for the home run, giving up 10 to lead the relievers in that category as well.

All in all 1973 for GoGo was almost a carbon copy of 1972 as far as his stats. He had moved from the rotation to relief but most of his numbers were within spitting distance of each other. The change of pace had apparently not affected him much either way.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closer situation not closed.

Frank Francisco blew his second save of the season on Saturday. That predictably led to his removal as the Rangers closer. Neftali Feliz, shown here on 2008 TriStar Projections card number 249, was named the new closer yesterday. Used this card of him with the Spokane Indians to try and stay with the minor league Monday theme. Frankie was moved to middle relief. This arrangement is only supposed to last as long as it takes Francisco to get things back together.

The Rangers won 9-2 yesterday so Feliz didn't make an appearance. Not so today. It took the guys ten innings to down the Indians in Cleveland. Francisco pitched a flawless ninth and Nelson Cruz launched a two run homer in the top of the tenth. That set the stage for Feliz to pick up his first save as the Rangers closer. Three batters and one strikeout later he had it.

Nice to see. That's how it's supposed to work. Three up, three down, lights out. Just keep it going Neftali.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Senators Saturday - Cap Peterson, 1968.

Cap Peterson, seen here on card number 188 of the 1968 Topps set, was the Senators' backup corner outfielder that year. Cap primarily backed up Ed Stroud in right field, putting in 325 innings on that side. He also played 101 innings in left. With appearances in 94 games he was the most used player on the bench for Washington in 1968.

In that combined 426 innings in the field Cap saw 84 chances. He handled all 84 without an error. His 1.000 fielding percentage was 19 points higher than the league average. Nice to see in a backup.

Peterson made 248 trips to the plate in 1968. He managed 46 hits and 18 walks for a .262 on base percentage. His .204 batting average barely cleared the Mendoza line. Cap did score 20 runs for Washington (best on the bench) and accrued 18 RBI. Three of his hits were home runs.

Cap wasn't really a threat at the plate but he wasn't a pushover either. His excellent fielding combined with the ability to occasionally sting on offense made him a good backup.

Friday, April 9, 2010


So Joaquin Arias, shown here on card number 4 of the 2007 Topps '52 set, gets his first hit of the season tonight off Seattle starter Jason Vargas.

As the next batter, Elvis Andrus, approaches the plate the radio announcers start talking about how Jason Vargas has a great pickoff move. Just as they remark that Joaquin is not a very good baserunner and had better be careful he gets picked off.

Vargas hadn't even thrown home yet. Guess the announcers knew what they were talking about. I wasn't impressed. With Arias that is. The announcers were spot on.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Go Rangers!

Still on the 12-hour shifts so I'll leave you with this gem.

This is a Rangers Captain auto that I obtained in trade last year. I originally traded for it for Spiff Jr. but he decided to dip his toe into the through the mail game and sent his own card to Captain. Once he had his own auto this one was up for trade.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wantlist - 2002 Fleer.

Working 12-hour shifts for the rest of the week so posting time will be limited. Due to that I am pre-writing this and the next couple of days' posts.

Rob Bell shows up here on card number 306 of the 2002 Fleer set for the final Fleer wantlist. This nice looking set would be the final flagship set put out by Fleer before their bankruptcy. Upper Deck then bought the name and assets and put out two more Fleer sets before shutting it down for good.

Here's what I am looking for to complete my Rangers team set:

2002 Fleer
119 Rafael Palmeiro
170 Bill Haselman
190 Frank Catalanotto
206 Carl Everett
455 Juan Gonzalez CP
530 Hank Blalock FF

Still need several cards to finish out the Fleer run. If you have any of these and are willing to part with them (or have any cards previously listed on wantlist posts) then shoot me an email. I am sure we can work out a trade.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

1973 Topps - Ted Ford.

The Rangers are off today following their Opening Day victory yesterday. They are back in action against the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow. Unfortunately I am working twelve hour shifts the next three days so my posting time will be very limited.

Today's card is number 299 in the 1973 Topps set and features outfielder Ted Ford. For the second card in a row we see a player who didn't play for Texas in 1973.

On April 3, 1972 the Cleveland Indians sent Ted to Texas in exchange for Roy Foster and Tommy McCraw. The Rangers had traded the Indians for Roy Foster in December of the previous year. Weird. Gets stranger though. After playing 129 games for the Rangers in 1972 Ford was on the move again. Back to Cleveland. This time in exchange for Charlie Hudson. At least it wasn't for Roy Foster.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day win!

So the Rangers came from behind today and beat the Blue Jays 5-4 in Arlington. In the process they broke up a no-hitter bid that Jays pitcher Shawn Marcum carried into the seventh inning.

While Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit the walk-off single and Nellie Cruz tied the game with a three-run homer I think that Darren Oliver deserves today's card. Here he is on card number 418 of the 1998 Topps Chrome set.

Oliver came on in the eighth inning after Neftali Feliz got into some serious trouble and gave up a run. With only one out and the bases loaded Darren managed to shut down the Jays and get two outs without allowing a run to score. That kept Toronto from putting the game away and made Salty's hit the winner for Texas.

Looks like Oliver was a good pickup for Texas this last off-season. Same for Vladimir Guerrero, he went 2-3 at the plate and scored a run. Hopefully they left a huge hole behind them in Anaheim.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Senators Saturday - Ed Stroud, 1968.

Ed Stroud, seen here on card 31 of the 1968 Topps set, was the starting right fielder for Washington in 1968. It was his first full season with the team. In July of 1967 the Senators had sent Jim King to the White Sox in order to get Ed. Prior to coming to Washington he had played a season and a half for the Sox.

Stroud played 630.1 innings in the field for the Senators in 1968. In that time he saw 144 chances and made three errors for a fielding percentage of .979. That fell below the league average of .981 but not by much.

At the plate Ed managed a .239 batting average and a .284 on base percentage in 327 plate appearances. That was the highest number of times he had been to the plate in a season to that point in his career. Ed bumped in 23 RBI while scoring 41 times himself. He led the team in triples with 10 but managed just four home runs. He walked 20 times and stole nine bases - second highest on the team.

All in all 1968 was not a career year for Ed Stroud. He made improvements in some categories and dropped a bit in others from the previous year. He had a starting job though and was now seeing more more playing time than he had since coming up with Chicago in 1966. What remained to be seen was if he could capitalize on the situation the following season.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Moving Mendoza.

The Rangers sent pitcher Luis Mendoza to the Kansas City Royals today for cash considerations. Luis was going to have to clear waivers to make it back to the minors and he wasn't going to make the team this year out of Spring Training.

The Rangers got Luis from the Red Sox in 2006 in exchange for Bryan Corey. As this 2008 Upper Deck card indicates, he made it up to the big club in September of 2007. Since then he pitched 80.1 innings for the Rangers and ended with a 7.73 ERA.

I remember going to a Rangers game a couple of years ago and reading a write-up on Mendoza in the program. The emphasis was on his Mexican heritage and the excitement he was causing in his hometown. The article seemed to be real positive about him. I think that was probably in 2007 when his ERA was at 2.25.

I asked my Royals expert what he thought of his team's recent purchase. His reply was, "What have they done now?" When I explained he asked if I thought they had done ok. So much for experts.

I really can't say if the Royals did well or not. Luis has struggled recently but that may be because he was having a hard time getting playing time. It could also be because he just can't get it done. Time will tell. It would be nice for both him and the Royals to see him do well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Final answers.

Getting down to the wire before Opening Day. The Rangers only have one roster spot left to fill, that of a backup first baseman/third baseman. Matt Brown was the leading candidate to fill that slot but the team acquired Ryan Garko off waivers today. He could be a possibility.

The infield is nailed down as much as possible with Chris Davis at first, Andres Blanco at second (until Ian Kinsler comes off the DL), Elvis Andrus at short, and Michael Young at third. Joaquin Arias will be the backup middle infielder with the backup corner infielder to be determined. Not sure if Arias or Blanco will get the bump when Kinsler comes back.

The starting outfield will consist of Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, and Josh Hamilton. David Murphy is the backup and Vladimir Guerrero can also be used in a pinch.

The starting rotation will be Rich Harden, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison. The bullpen will consist of Frank Francisco, Darren Oliver, Chris Ray, Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day, Doug Mathis, and Dustin Nippert.

Catching duties look to be divided up between Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Since there has been no clear winner in the competition for the starting job there is a real possibility of the platoon situation lasting all season.

So that's it. One or two decisions left and then its time to see how the ship sails.

Decision time for the Devil Rays as well. Former Ranger Hank Blalock, seen here on his 2003 Topps Autographs card, says that he has no plans to play minor league ball this season. If he isn't on the Rays 25-man roster by Friday he can opt out of his contract with the team. Apparently he has done well enough this spring to make them think twice about letting him walk. He was scheduled to play today against the Orioles.

It will be interesting to see what happens, not just with the Rangers and Rays but with all the teams as they come out of the gate.