Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Odd Moments: Randle v. Lucchesi.

Lenny Randle is shown here on card number 8-RAN of the 1986 TCMA All Time Rangers set. He shouldn't be. Because of what is one of the ugliest incidents in Rangers history Len Randle cannot ever be considered in any list of top Rangers players.

Randle had made his Major League debut in 1971 for the Washington Senators. He made the move to Texas with the team and appeared for them in every season up through 1976. Prior to 1976 he had been used mainly as a platoon or utility player. In 1976 he grabbed the starting second baseman's job. Unfortunately he had not produced as well as Texas expected him to.

Frank Lucchesi had been appointed as the Rangers manager in 1975 following the firing of Billy Martin. By the Spring of 1977 the 50-year old manager was ready to lead the team back into contention.

During Spring Training in 1977 young rookie phenom Bump Wills arrived at camp amid much acclaim. Like with Elvis Andrus at shortstop a couple of years ago, the management decided that second base was Wills' position to lose. That didn't sit well with Randle and he threatened to walk out of camp. Lucchesi was not amused and made some pretty harsh comments concerning "punks saying play me or trade me..." The remarks showed up in the papers.

On March 28, 1977 the Rangers were in Orlando, Florida for a Spring Training game against the Twins. The Rangers were taking batting practice about an hour before the game. Frank Lucchesi was on the field talking to his players and coaches. He hadn't been there long and was still not in uniform. Randle approached him and said he needed to talk to him.

The two stepped to the side. A few words were exchanged. Suddenly Randle punched Lucchesi in the face, knocking him to the ground. As Frank fell, Len landed several more punches. As players rushed to Lucchesi's aid, Randle jogged out to center field and started to run wind sprints. Outfielder Ken Henderson started after him with the intent of returning the punches for Lucchesi. Other players stopped Henderson.

Frank Lucchesi was transported to the hospital. Randle had broken his cheekbone and bruised a kidney. He needed surgery to repair the facial injuries and would be in the hospital for a week.

The Rangers immediately suspended Randle without pay for 30 days and fined him $10,000. The police got involved and criminal charges were filed. Before the 30 day suspension was up the Rangers shipped Randle to the Mets. He later pled no contest to the battery charges in criminal court and paid a $1,000 fine.

In late June the Rangers fired Frank Lucchesi. He claimed the firing was in part due to the incident with Randle. A lawsuit followed. The matter was settled out of court with Randle reportedly paying about $25,000 in damages to Lucchesi.

In sum total the incident cost the Rangers a decent manager and a public relations headache. It also cost them a versatile player and possibly a chance at the post-season. It cost Lenny Randle around $36,000 plus his lost wages. More importantly it cost him his good name. A high price to pay for an angry outburst.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1975 Topps - Jim Fregosi.

Despite what card number 339 of the 1975 Topps says, Jim Fregosi spent most of his time in 1975 playing first base rather than third. He did play third and occasionally served as the designated hitter but most of his time was spent platooning with Jim Spencer at first.

Fregosi played in 54 games at first and logged 336.1 innings at the bag. He committed six errors for a fielding percentage of .985. That was five points below the league average. In contrast he got just four appearances at third for a total of ten innings.

Mainly employed against left-hand pitching, Jim got 217 plate appearances in 77 games. He ended the season with a .262 batting average and a .329 on-base percentage. Most of the rest of his offensive numbers were about as unremarkable. He struck out 39 times and walked 20. He also bumped in 33 RBI while scoring 25 times himself. Of his hits five were doubles and seven were home runs. He hit no triples and stole no bases.

For Jim Fregosi 1975 had been almost identical to 1974. Most of his offensive numbers were within a few points of the previous season. He had played more at first than third but at this point in his career he was a corner infield backup. He didn't let that get to him though and kept working with younger players to teach them the game.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Minor League Monday - Steve Allen, 1989 ProCards.

Texas picked up Steve Allen, seen here on card 1022 of the 1989 ProCards set, late in the 1988 draft. By late I mean he was the Rangers 37th pick. He was 21 years old. Most of the time guys taken that low and that old aren't really expected to make a big splash.

Steve started off his pro career with the Rookie League Butte Copper Kings in 1988. He split his time between starting and relieving. In 46.1 innings he posted a horrific 9.32 ERA and a 1.899 WHIP.

In spite of those numbers Allen got moved up to Single A Gastonia for the 1989 season. He also got moved out of a starting role. All 51 of his appearances for the Gastonia Rangers were in relief.

Apparently Steve found his groove in 1988. He pitched a total of 89 innings and managed to improved his numbers pretty dramatically. His ERA tallied to 2.02 on the season and his WHIP dropped to 1.022. He struck out 84 batters in route to a 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He did hit ten batters though.

By the end of the 1989 season Steve Allen seemed to be on his way to bucking the trend for low draft picks. His numbers at Single A had been pretty impressive and he would get a ticket to Double A Tulsa for the 1990 season as a result. What he needed to do was stay on track and continue to improve steadily. Improved control resulting in fewer hit batters was also an important area for improvement.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Senators Saturday - Bennie Daniels, 1962.

Let me start off by saying that there is a top border on my copy of card 378 of the 1962 Topps set. I'm not sure why the scanner insisted in cutting almost all of it off the scan. Perhaps it is messing with Bennie Daniels.

After a decent 1961 season Bennie was probably looking to build on that and secure a place in the top of the rotation in 1962. After all, he had tied for the most innings pitched, led in wins, and posted the second best ERA of any Senators starter in 1961.

Unfortunately for Bennie, and for Washington, 1962 would be a drop-off. Bennie's innings pitched dropped to 161.1, probably because he had lost a regular spot in the rotation. Of the 44 games he appeared in he started just 21. In spite of fewer innings his ERA rose by 1.41 to an unattractive 4.85. His WHIP was also up to 1.488 and his strikeout to walk ratio dropped to 0.97.

Needless to say, Daniels' 1962 season was not a positive follow-up to the Senators' inaugural effort. Probably one of the reasons that he managed to stay in the Majors was the lack of a developed farm system. However, if he wanted to stay there his 1963 season needed to be an improvement.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Best Seasons: Rafael Palmeiro - 1993.

Rafael Palmeiro's 1993 season is number 11 on T.R. Sullivan's Fifty Best Seasons in Rangers history. By 1993 Palmeiro, pictured here on his 1993 Sports Cards Magazine card, had been with the Rangers for four years. His fifth season would be the final one before free agency and a five year hiatus to Baltimore.

Palmeiro played in 160 games for the Rangers in 1993. In all of those games he played at first base, a league best. Over the course of 1395.1 innings he committed just five errors for a .997 fielding percentage. That was four points higher than the league average and third highest in the American League. Interestingly, it was also higher than in any of the three later years where he won a Gold Glove.

At the plate Rafael posted a .295 batting average and a .371 on-base percentage in 686 plate appearances. He had 37 home runs, 40 doubles, and two triples. He also stole 22 bases while getting caught just three times. He also knocked in 105 RBI while scoring a league-leading 124 times himself. Perhaps Palmeiro's performance at the plate could best be summed up as balanced.

While Raffy would have better power numbers when he returned to Texas in 1999 he was a better all-around player in 1993. It was his breakthrough season.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Odd Moments: Good guy Dave?

Number nine on T.R. Sullivan's Fifty Bizarre moments involves Dave Stewart. In January of 1985 Stewart, shown here on card 343 of the 1985 Donruss set, was a yet to be determined quality for the Rangers.

He was however well regarded among his teammates and the organization. As such he was selected to received the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award at the club's 1985 Winter Banquet on January 27th. Along with the rest of the team, Stewart was invited to the Banquet.

Here is where things started to go wrong for Dave. According to the Los Angeles Times he was arrested on January 25th in downtown L.A. "on suspicion of participating in an act of lewd conduct in a public place..." Apparently LAPD officers had observed Stewart soliciting a prostitute by the name of "Lucille". The pair were arrested as they sat in Stewart's car in an alley.

To add insult to injury (and spice to the tabloids) it was revealed after the arrest that "Lucille" was actually a man by the name of Elson Tyler. Stewart claimed that he had no idea he had picked up a transvestite until after the arrest. A LAPD commander commenting on the story stated that the police believed him on that score. It didn't help and the incident got serious media exposure.

The Rangers gave Dave the opportunity to skip the Winter Banquet. He didn't though and showed up to receive his Good Guy Award. Newly minted GM Tom Grieve and team owner Eddie Chiles were among those in attendance as were the rest of the team and almost 1,000 fans. The presentation of the award was greeted with silence. Stewart then apologized directly to Mr. Chiles, his teammates, then to the fans. According to the L.A. Times Stewart was brief in his remarks and commented that, "All I can say is good guys make mistakes, too." As he sat down those in attendance applauded. I am guessing that Tom Grieve then sighed a huge sigh of relief.

All in all the whole situation was an awkward one for both Stewart and the team. It was also truly strange that a man arrested for solicitation was awarded a good guy award just two days later at a public event.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making a closing move.

Jon Daniels has said that he has two goals for the Texas Rangers: keeping the core of the team and focusing on pitching. Yesterday he made a move that fell into the second category.

Texas dipped into the free agent pool for the first time this off-season with the signing of pitcher Joe Nathan. Nathan had been the Twins All-Star closer from 2004 to 2009. He missed the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery and struggled with injuries in 2011. Obviously Daniels is hoping for a return to Nathan's pre-2010 form. That is a distinct possibility for an experienced pitcher like this. If that doesn't happen the contract is only for two years and has a buyout option on it.

If Joe can get his game back to his 2009 level he will help shore up the bullpen. He also allows the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. Feliz, shown here on card TT2-24 of the 2011 Topps Town set, was a starter prior to being called up the the Major Leagues in 2009. For a long time he was viewed as a potential top of the rotation arm, apparently that's back on the table.

For his part Neftali seems to have moved past his discouragement with the abortive move to the rotation last Spring. He released a statement saying that the Rangers had talked to him about the move and that he was happy with it. He referenced his minor league pitching career and says he is already running more in order to be ready to enter Spring Training as a starter. If Feliz can live up to his potential and Holland continues to solidify I think that Texas is looking at two very strong guns to lead off the rotation.

The Rangers say that their decision in signing Nathan and moving Feliz had nothing to do with the latter's blown save in game six of this year's World Series. I believe that. Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan, and Ron Washington don't make decisions based on one game - even a game for all the marbles. Looking back at last Spring and before Feliz made the Majors in 2009 it seems to me that his being a starter was always the plan and that the closer gig was just a detour.

Texas is also saying that the signing of Joe Nathan is not a comment on their attempts to re-sign C.J. Wilson. I'm going to have to pass on buying that one for now. Wilson is reportedly looking for at least a six year deal and Texas is notorious for cringing at long-term deals for pitchers. They'll still try and get Wilson to stay but this deal looks like an insurance plan they are likely to use.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Minor League Monday - Darren Oliver, 1989 ProCards.

Today on Minor League Monday we see current Major League pitcher Darren Oliver. Darren is showing off his early form on his 1989 ProCards card, number 1021.

Texas made Oliver their third pick in the 1988 draft. The same year he played in Rookie level ball with the GCL Rangers. After posting a 2.15 ERA he was promoted to the Gastonia Rangers in A ball.

In 1989 for Gastonia the 18-year-old pitched a minor league career high 122.1 innings in 24 games. He started 23 of those games. Ollie's ERA for the season tallied to 3.16 and his WHIP to 1.373. While those weren't bad numbers it is obvious that he was beginning to struggle with the bane of lefthanders everywhere - wildness. In addition to walking 82 batters he also hit five and threw 15 wild pitches. Of course his 108 strikeouts showed that he could control his pitches on occasion.

While Darren's ERA had climbed from 1988 to 1989 it was still pretty acceptable and the extra run could be attributable to the increase in competition. The wildness was a concern but it is also expected with southpaws and especially with young hurlers. Oliver was still impressing management and still had time to learn the ropes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Senators Saturday - Bob Schmidt, 1962.

Washington picked up Bob Schmidt, shown here on card 262 of the 1962 Topps set, and Dave Stenhouse from Cincinnati on December 15, 1961. In return the Reds got Johnny Klippstein and Marty Keough.

Bob hadn't seen much action in 1961 with the Reds and the back of his 1962 Topps card says that he was happy to be with Washington where he would get more work. Bob did get more work with the Senators - about 51 games more. He was still the second string catcher though. Ken Retzer had the starting job.

In the 88 games Schmidt appeared in he got 274 plate appearances. He used those to post a .242 batting average and a .281 on-base percentage. The 37 strikeouts as compared to the 14 walks helped put a damper on the on-base percentage. Not great numbers but apparently when he hit, Bob could hit for power. Of his 62 hits, ten were home runs and 14 were doubles. He also batted in 31 runs.

Probably if Bob could have brought his on-base percentage up he could have given Retzer a challenge for the starting job. His batting average was only four points lower and he was better behind the plate. In fact, looking at the innings played on defense it looks like Schmidt often served as a late-inning defensive replacement. In 639 innings Bob committed just one error for a fielding percentage of .997. That was eight points higher than the league average and the best in the American League for backstops. He also caught 53% (16/30) of base runners trying to steal on him.

All in all Bob Schmidt appeared to have the glove and the power to play every day. He just needed some patience at the plate in order to bump up his on-base percentage. He didn't seem to be in a bad position with the team still in flux. From all appearances Schmidt stood an excellent chance to challenge for the first-string catcher's job in 1963. Appearances can be deceiving though and Bob's 1963 season would not turn out the way he was probably thinking it would.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Astros AL bound.

Nolan Ryan, shown here on card 665 of the 1990 Donruss set, played nine years for the Houston Astros before joining the Rangers in 1989. That information is easily discoverable if you look Nolan up on Right next to the Astros' name is the notation "NL".

That notation will apparently be out of date starting in 2013. Yesterday Commissioner Bud Selig announced the move of the Astros to the American League West starting in 2013. To be honest, this move puzzles me.

Starting in 1962 the Astros have always been a National League franchise. They have lived and died in the National League. During their dominant years they were mainstays in the NL playoffs. Now they're going to the American League and not everyone's happy about it. One survey I saw referenced stated that up to 75% of Houston fans strongly oppose the move to the AL.

I can't say I blame them. As much as I prefer NL ball to AL ball I'm not sure how I would feel about the Rangers switching leagues. If they were already in the NL I am sure I would oppose a move. Apparently the vast majority of 'Stros fans agree with me. So why move them?

Not sure I know. Commissioner Selig says he wants to even out the leagues and expand the AL West to five teams. OK. Why the Astros? For all of their existence they have been a National League team. Compare that to the Milwaukee Brewers. From 1969 to 1998 the Brewers were an American League team. Then came the move to the National League. Why not move them back? Looks like the best option to me. After all, the Brew Crew has a World Series appearance as an American League team but not as a National League team. The Astros World Series appearance came as the representative of the National League.

Of course the Brewers weren't for sale. That means their owners weren't over a barrel to force the move. Also, Bud Selig never owned the Astros. That's probably the real reason Houston's making the move. Commissioner Selig can give any reasons he wants for the Astros to move but I can't see it. Move the Brewers back to the AL Central and slip the Royals over to the West. Those moves would likely grieve KC fans but they make more sense than what's being done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random Ranger game-used.

Aside from Matt Treanor signing with the Dodgers there hasn't been a lot going on as for Rangers fans the past few days. Ron Washington got passed over again for Manager of the Year but that's nothing new.

Seeing as how things are relatively slow, I thought a random jersey piece might be in order. This particular one is in Ivan Rodriguez's 2002 Fleer Focus Larger than Life card.

I like the concept of the card but there is something about Pudge's picture that seems off. Can't quite put my finger on it but there are other cards I like more. Still, it is a game-used card and in my world that still means something.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Decisions: Standing behind Ron Washington.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the post I wrote in March of last year about Ron Washington. The news of Washington's positive Cocaine test during the summer of 2009 had just broken. The title of my previous post says it all: "Disappointed."

Washington, shown here on his 2008 Dr. Pepper card, came clean about the whole mess. He admitted to his use and stated that it was a one-time experiment. According to him, he had never used since the time of the test in 2009 or before that. Some folks believed him, some didn't. There were lots of calls for his job and blood seemed to be in the water. From the looks of things Texas was going to be looking for a manager sooner rather than later.

Jon Daniels and the rest of the upper management in the organization didn't follow conventional wisdom this time though. They stood behind Washington and kept him on as manager. That was decision number 12 on T.R. Sullivan's list and it shocked and angered quite a few people.

I don't know if there were any conditions given to Ron for keeping his job. If there weren't there should have been. Staying clean should have been at the top of the list. Regular testing should have been a must. I'm guessing that there are a few conditions - Jon Daniels isn't stupid.

In 2010 and 2011 Ron Washington went out and showed the baseball world just how smart Jon Daniels and the rest of management were to keep him. Less than a year removed from the controversy he led the Rangers to their first ever World Series appearance. He followed that up by walking them back to a second consecutive appearance this year.

The Rangers could have fired Ron Washington. They didn't and instead he led them to the World Series twice in a row.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1975 Topps - Steve Foucault.

Steve Foucault, shown here on card number 283 of the 1975 Topps set, had turned in a career year in 1974. His bullpen performance had played a key role in Texas remaining in contention as long as they did.

Manager Billy Martin had called on Foucault a career high 69 times in 1974 and he had pitched in a career high 144.1 innings. By 1975 those innings appeared to be taking a toll.

Foucault appeared in 59 games for Texas in 1975. All were in relief. While still leading the bullpen in appearances Steve's appearances had dropped off. His innings pitched also dropped off - even more so than his appearances. Not only was he being used less often, he was being used less when he was used.

Steve tossed 107 innings in 1975, second most among Texas relievers. He posted a 4.12 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP for the year. Both were significantly higher than the year before. His strikeout-to-walk ratio also went the wrong direction as it fell to 1.02. That was less than half of 1974's total.

Steve Foucault had been ridden hard in 1974 but had done well. 1975 was a different story though. Whether it was overuse from the previous year or a failure to make needed adjustments, things had not gone well. From a key component in a contender Steve had gone to a big question mark. He needed to get some rest and figure out what he needed to do to recapture the magic of 1974.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Minor League Monday - Francisco Valdez, 1989 ProCards.

Francisco Valdez appears here on card number 1020 of the 1989 ProCards set. Judging by the picture Francisco didn't get the memo about picture day. It looks like he is wearing jeans underneath his untucked jersey.

Texas signed Francisco as a free agent in January of 1987. After waiting a season, perhaps for Valdez to complete high school, the club started him at Rookie Ball in 1988. Francisco pitched in 13 games and tossed 63.1 innings for the Gulf Coast League Rangers. All but one of his appearances was as a starter. His 3.55 ERA wasn't anything to write home about but it was good enough to get him a ticket to Gastonia for the 1989 season.

Francisco continued to start in A Ball. Of his 26 appearances 24 were starts. All told he would pitch 135.1 innings and post a 14-3 record. He also saw improvement in important areas. His ERA dropped to 3.13 and his WHIP dropped 136 points to 1.190. He strikeout-to-walk ratio also improved slightly to 1.56.

1989 had been a good year for Francisco Valdez. At age 19 he seemed to be a solid pitching prospect for Texas. He wasn't burning through the system but he was young and was making progress. Texas needed pitching and Valdez seemed to be on his way. That makes it all the more strange that the 1989 season was his last in pro ball. In spite of looking I can't find any information on why. After just two years Valdez's career seems to have come to an abrupt end.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Senators Saturday - Ray Rippelmeyer, 1962.

Ray Ripplemeyer appears today on card number 271 of the 1962 Topps set. The photo is probably a little off to avoid showing any more of Ray's Reds pinstripes than necessary.

Washington picked Ray up from Cincinnati in November of 1961 during the Rule 5 draft. That meant that he had to be on the Senators Major League roster all season or be returned to the Reds.

Ray ended up playing in 18 games for Washington in 1962. Most of his appearances were in relief as he started just one game. All told he would spend 39.1 innings on the mound and face 179 batters. Ripplemeyer's ERA tallied to an ugly 5.49 and his WHIP to a monstrous 1.627. He walked as many batters as he struck out (17). Those were some bad numbers, even for the Senators.

Ray tried to make up for his pitching performance at the plate. He had six plate appearances and batted an amazing (for a pitcher) .500. One of his three hits was a solo shot home run and one was a double. That's some pretty decent power for a pitcher.

Unfortunately for Ray, the Senators didn't seem to think his bat was worth putting up with his arm. On July 11, 1962 they returned him to the Reds. He would spend the rest of the year in the minors. Following the 1965 season he hung up the spikes, his time with Washington his only Major League experience.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Odd Moments: On camera(men).

Number eight on T.R. Sullivan's Fifty Bizarre Moments is truly bizarre.

On June 29, 2005 Kenny Rogers, shown here on card number 107T of the 1989 Score set, was nearing the end of his third stint with the Rangers. As he walked out onto the field in Arlington for pre-game warmups he spotted two cameramen filming him. Unprovoked, Rogers confronted the two men.

Kenny shoved a Fox Sports Net Southwest cameraman and told him, "I told you to get those cameras out of my face." He then grabbed a camera from a local television station's cameraman, threw it on the ground, and kicked it. Kenny then went after two other cameramen. Rod Barajas stepped in though and got Rogers off the field. As he left Rogers was saying that he would break all the cameras.

What made the incident so odd was that neither cameraman who was assaulted had even spoken to Rogers. In fact, Kenny had stopped speaking to the media following a previous story in the local news that he was having trouble getting a contract extension from the Rangers and might be considering retirement if the extension wasn't granted.

Stories like that are annoying and the media can be a real circus but Rogers apparently had some deeper issues. ESPN quoted Texas General Manager John Hart as saying, "Kenny is having anger issues right now, I don't know what's going on inside. We're responding to something that's very unusual." Unusual is right. Rogers had just missed a start after breaking a finger during an angry outburst and now he had gone after two members of the media. Something was definitely wrong.

The Rangers sent Kenny home and contacted the Commissioner's Office. A suspension and fine were levied. The cameramen filed charges with the Arlington Police and Rogers ended up with two misdemeanor charges and anger management classes. He also had to deal with a civil suit from one of the cameramen.

At the end of the 2005 season Texas did not resign Rogers. He didn't retire either as he signed with the Detroit Tigers and pitched for three more years before retiring. Too bad that one of the last memories Rangers fans have of him is this incident.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best Seasons: Michael Young - 2005.

As long as Michael Young has been with the Rangers you would have to figure that he would eventually show up on T.R. Sullivan's list of the Fifty Best Seasons in Rangers history. Sure enough, here he is at number ten.

Young, shown here on his 2007 UD Masterpieces Captured on Canvas card, has been Mr. Consistent during his time with the Rangers. That makes picking a best season a little difficult. T.R. tabbed 2005 as his entry on the Best Seasons list.

In 2005 Michael won his only batting title to date as he led the league with a .331 batting average. He also led the league in hits with 221. Additionally he had career highs in home runs (24), on-base percentage (.385) and walks (58). He tied a career high for runs scored with 114.

As a result of those numbers Young was named to All-Star team and received MVP consideration. Amazingly he did not win a Silver Slugger award.

*T.R. Sullivan published his list of the Fifty Best Seasons in Rangers history on June 13th of this year. At that time there is no way he could have known what kind of season Michael would turn in this year. While Young did not win a batting title this season it is up for debate if 2011 was a better year for him than 2005.*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Odd Moments: One-night stand.

Getting back to T.R. Sullivan's list of odd and bizarre moments in Rangers history. Since today's moment was so brief I don't have a card of the involved person. As such you will have to settle for the cover of the 1977 media guide.

In June of 1977 the Rangers fired manager Frank Lucchesi. The firing was in part due to an altercation that Lucchesi had with Len Randle in Spring Training. To replace Lucchesi Texas tabbed Eddie Stanky.

Stanky looked like a good grab. He had played eleven seasons in the majors between 1943 and 1953. Starting at the end of his playing career he had moved into managing. In 1952 and 1953 he had been a player/manager for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1954 and 1955 he was the manager for the Redbirds. In 1966 the White Sox had named Eddie as skipper. They kept him until 1968. During those two stints Stanky had posted a 466-435 record as manager.

Following his time at the helm of the Cardinals and ChiSox, Stankey became the head basketball coach at the University of South Alabama. He encountered success there as well. As Leo Durocher once observed, Eddie Stanky knew how to win.

A winner was what Texas needed. The team was in internal disarray but was still contending when Stankey took over. They were in third place in the American League West and just four games out. Stanky would face Gene Mauch and the second place Twins for his first game.

The Rangers were on the road in Minnesota on June 22nd. In the bottom of the first inning the Twins scored four runs to take a significant lead. Texas would score a lone run in the third but otherwise was shut out until the seventh. In the top of the seventh Texas put together a four run inning to take a one run lead. Minnesota would score a run in the bottom of the frame to even things up.

The tie would only last until the top of the eighth when the Rangers managed to keep the scoring train going as they posted five more runs. That would be enough to hold even with the Twins three run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Final score: 10-8 Texas.

A comeback win against a division opponent seemed to be a good start to Eddie Stanky's managing career with Texas. Here's where things got weird though. Following the game Stanky announced that he was resigning as the Rangers manager. Apparently he missed Alabama and collegiate basketball. He returned to the University of South Alabama and basketball success. After just one game Stanky was finished as the Rangers manager.

Unprepared for the resignation, Texas named coach Connie Ryan as interim manager. He would last six games before Billy Hunter took over and finished out the season as the team's fourth manager of 1977.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1975 Topps - Bill Fahey.

1973 and 1974 had been rough on Bill Fahey, shown here on card number 644 of the 1975 Topps set. 1975 would present its own set of challenges.

To start with Bill ended up in the backseat behind first string catcher Jim Sundberg. Sunny was in his second year of major league service and suffered through a sophomore slump with a .199 batting average.

In the 39 plate appearances he got, Bill was better with the bat than Sundberg. He posted a .297 batting average and a .316 on-base percentage.

While having an edge at the plate Fahey struggled to keep up behind the plate. His .983 fielding percentage was two points higher than Sundberg's but he caught just 21% of baserunners stealing on him. That was less than half the percentage Sundberg caught.

All things considered it was looking like Bill had lost the starting catcher's job to Jim Sundberg. If something didn't happen quick the situation would become permanent. Something did happen but it wasn't to Bill's liking. On June 21st while in California Fahey broke his hand. Apparently it was another accident since he didn't even play on the 20th or 21st. That injury would sideline him for nearly two months. Not a good occurrence. With three major injuries in three seasons Fahey now had to be concerned with being labeled as injury prone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Minor League Monday - Jim Hvizda, 1989 ProCards.

Well, it's hard to believe that I haven't had a Minor League Monday post since August. Guess that's what happens when there is a post season to talk about. To bring back the series we have Jim Hvizda on card number 1019 of the 1989 ProCards set.

Hard to find much on Jim Hvizda. Looks like the Rangers picked him up as the 19th selection in the 1988 draft. He played Rookie level ball that year with the Butte Copper Kings. Even though he posted a 4.50 ERA in 42 innings pitched he was promoted to A ball for the 1989 season.

With Gastonia in 1989 Jim caught fire coming out of the bullpen and recording 35 saves. In 90.2 innings he posted a very respectable 1.19 ERA along with a small 0.816 WHIP. He struck out 84 while walking 22 for a 3.82 SO/BB ratio.

Those numbers were a nice improvement over Hvizda's first season. In a pitcher needy organization like Texas they were more than welcome. They also earned Jim a ticket to A+ Charlotte for the 1990 season. In spite of the hiccup in Rookie ball, Jim Hvizda's career in pro baseball seemed to be off to a good start.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Miller time for Michael.

No, not a beer salute. Michael Young, shown here on card number 77 of the 2005 Upper Deck Flyball set, was named the Marvin Miller Man of the Year yesterday. This is the second time Young has won the award. He won it for the first time in 2008. Michael joins Jim Thome and John Smoltz as the only players to have won the award twice.

The award is given by the Major League Baseball Players Association. In explanation of the award I quote which says the award "is given to a player 'whose on-field and off-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond.'"

Nice to see Young get the award. Michael's had the reputation as a nice guy and a team player. Good to see he still has it. Hopefully his preseason antics this past Spring were just that, antics and not a new pattern of behaviour.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hot stove begins.

Well, Adrian Beltre picked up some more hardware yesterday with a Silver Slugger award. He really seems to be cleaning up this year.

While Beltre was receiving his awards the Rangers were rewarding Colby Lewis. Lewis, seen here on a signed 2000 Royal Rookies card, could have been a free agent this year. However instead of testing the market he can spend the winter resting and getting ready for next season since the Rangers exercised their option on his contract for next season.

The same day that Texas insured Lewis' return they also picked up the option on reliever Yoshinori Tateyama. Apparently they felt he is worth bringing back in spite of his late season struggles.

Texas still has several players who are free agents this off season. C.J. Wilson heads the list. Endy Chavez, Michael Gonzalez, Darren Oliver, and Matt Treanor round out players who were on the post season roster. Minor leaguers include: Omar Quintanilla, Brett Tomko, and Brandon Webb. Tim Wood has already signed a minor league contract with the Pirates.

In addition to releasing Ryan Tucker the Rangers have also out-righted Omar Beltre, Merkin Valdez, Eric Hurley, Andres Blanco, and Esteban German off the 40-man roster. That doesn't mean that these guys won't be back - just that they need to clear waivers. Darren O'Day didn't clear as the Orioles stepped in and grabbed him.

Even with the core of the team returning the Rangers look to be busy this off season. C.J. Wilson, or another front-line starter, is the priority. However, shoring up the bullpen is a big point as well. As Jon Daniels said, "Pitching, pitching, pitching." Good. The offense is in place and pitching is how you win ballgames.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One final snag for Beltre in 2011.

After two years of no Gold Glove winners the Rangers have one this year. Adrian Beltre, shown here on his 2011 Topps Sapphire Blue card, was announced as the third base winner last night. This is Beltre's third Gold Glove.

Adrian had a .965 fielding percentage this past season with just 11 errors. He was also ranked third in the league in range factor among third basemen. One thing's for sure, Adrian is a joy to watch play defense. Some of the plays he makes are pure gold.

Beltre's Gold Glove this year marks the first time a Ranger has won the award at third since Buddy Bell won his sixth straight in 1984.

Right now Adrian is looking good enough to possibly displace Bell as the Rangers best third baseman ever. He is also looking good enough to make Jon Daniels look like a genius for signing him. Hopefully that will continue throughout his contract.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1975 Topps - David Clyde.

Ok, the 2011 season is over. Time to move on with the off-season posting. Back to past Rangers on Topps Tuesday.

1975 was a rough year for young David Clyde, shown here on card number 12 of the 1975 Topps set. After his straight from high school debut in 1973 he was actually able to improve in 1974. Not enough though.

The Major Leagues are not a learning environment and in 1975 the Rangers finally did what they should have done with David back in 1973, sent him to the minors. Clyde would spend most of the season with the Double A Pittsfield Rangers. In 161 innings he posted a 3.07 ERA.

David also got one start with Texas in 1975. He went seven innings and gave up three runs for a 2.57 ERA and the loss.

At just 20 years of age, Clyde was still considered a valuable prospect and the Rangers were looking forward to his continued improvement. Sadly that didn't happen. David would spend two more years struggling in the minors before being dealt to Cleveland in February of 1978.

Although the Rangers reacquired him in January of 1980 they released him in March of the same year. The lone game in 1975 would mark the last time the once highly touted phenom would pitch in a Rangers uniform.