Saturday, December 31, 2011

Senators Saturday - Claude Osteen, 1962.

Future Rangers pitching coach Claude Osteen appears here on card number 501 of the 1962 Topps set. Washington had picked Claude up from Cincinnati in September of 1961 in exchange for Dave Sisler. It was an excellent move by the Senators.

The back of Claude's card says that he "has good stuff and should be a big winner." The winning was in the future but Osteen showed his stuff in 150.1 innings he pitched for the Senators in 1962. His 8-13 record did not do him justice. Primarily a starter, "Gomer" would kick off 22 of the 28 games he appeared in. Seven times he went all nine and twice he tossed shutouts.

Osteen posted a 3.65 ERA, about average for the Washington rotation. His 1.244 WHIP led the pitching staff though and would have been even lower if he could have shaved off some walks. Of course the 47 that he issued was still third lowest on the staff. He also struck out 59 of the 626 batters he faced.

1962 had been Claude Osteen's arrival season. For the first time he had thrown over 50 innings in a season at the Major League level. He had also made more starts than relief appearances for the first time in his career. The 22-year-old left-hander hadn't wasted his chance at the Big Show. Unless something changed he was a lock for the starting rotation in 1963.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Random Rangers auto.

Dipping into the through the mail and in person autographs box today. Came up with this 1989 Topps UK card of Rangers mainstay Charlie Hough.

I picked this card up in a 50/50 deal in 2009. Charlie was managing in the Dodgers minor league system and was a very gracious signer. The result was a deal between me and a Hough collector in the area where Charlie's team played. He ended up with some Hough cards he didn't have and I ended up with some Hough autos I didn't have. Success all around!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1975 Topps - Steve Hargan.

Steve Hargan, shown here on card number 362 of the 1975 Topps set, had a rather odd year in 1975. After a decent 1974 season it seemed like Steve's numbers couldn't decide if they wanted to improve or not.

Depending on which stats one looks at, Hargan was either the second or third starter in the Rangers rotation. He would make 26 starts in 33 appearances and end the season with a 9-10 record. He would pitch a total of 189.1 innings, up slightly from the year before. Hargan's ERA dropped by 15 points to 3.80 but his WHIP climbed to 1.400. This was mostly due to his walks jumping by 14 to 62 on the season, his hits allowed total inched up by just one. His strikeout total came to 93, five less than the previous year.

1975 was a troubling year for Steve Hargan. He didn't implode but there were signs of trouble ahead. In addition to the above numbers he also threw 12 wild pitches and allowed 17 home runs. Apparently he was struggling with his control. If he wanted to stay in Texas for the 1976 season he would need to address that issue. If he couldn't figure it out his post playing career in the mail order business might arrive sooner than estimated.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Minor League Monday - Coaching Staff, 1989 ProCards.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Taking the rest of this week off to spend with family so the posts will be pre-recorded. Letting you know in case I miss a major Rangers development. Going to finish up the 1989 ProCards Gastonia Rangers team set today. I have previously posted all the players and am now down to the coaching staff. Since the staff is rather hard to research I will be combining them all in this post.

First off is manager Orlando Gomez on card number 1017 of the set. Gomez was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1964 and spent 13 seasons in the minors as a player. He then moved into managing in 1977. Since then he has managed for 16 seasons in the minors. In 2011 he managed for the Baltimore Orioles A+ team.

Coach Jim Crawford appears on card number 1015. 1989 was his first year as a coach in professional ball after twenty years in the collegiate ranks. Can't find much information on Jim so I have no idea where he's at today.

1989 was also pitching coach Oscar Acosta's first year as a coach at the professional level. Acosta, shown here on card number 1025, played in the Phillies' minor league system for three years in starting in 1978. He must have liked coaching because he moved into minor league managing in 1999. He managed in 1999 in the Cubs system and in 2004 and 2005 in the Yankees system. Oscar passed away in April of 2006 at the age of 49.

Trainer Chuck Marquardt appears on card number 1010. It's almost as hard to find information on Chuck as it is on Jim Crawford. 1989 was Chuck's second season with the Rangers organization. He had previously served in the Navy and worked as a high school trainer and at the University of Washington. He also taught sports medicine in the off-season.

Well, that wraps up the 1989 ProCards Gastonia Rangers team set. Doesn't wrap up my minor league collection though so Minor League Monday will continue.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas gift.

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Amid all the wrappings and trappings of our modern-day Christmas each of us should remember to do as Mary. Keep in mind and ponder the greatest gift that mankind has ever received, reconciliation with God. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kasey has struck out.

The first round of the 2006 draft has officially not turned out well for the Rangers. Today they released their first round pick. Texas took Kasey Kiker, shown here on an autographed 2007 Bowman card, after the Giants took their original choice, Tim Lincecum.

Fortunately for Texas, Kiker didn't develop the drug habit that Lincecum apparently has. Unfortunately he didn't develop as a pitcher either. In the six seasons since he was drafted Kasey never made it past Double A.

In 2011 he pitched for Myrtle Beach in A ball. In 44.2 innings he posted a 7.05 ERA and an ugly 2.172 WHIP. Part of the reason for that was that he struck out just two more batters than he walked all season (54/52).

Well, I feel bad for Kasey but that's just the way things shake out sometimes. At least he stayed with it for six years and tried to get it put together. At 24 he still has a lot of good years left and hopefully he finds success in whatever he attempts next.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quick show-off post.

Very busy day today. Went from work to a meeting to church and now trying to get the kiddos to bed. Not much time to concoct a post.

Since I'm running behind today I decided to show off the latest addition to my Jon Matlack collection. I just picked this 1979 Baseball Guidebook up from Ebay. I had never seen this particular magazine cover of Matlack before so I jumped on it when it popped up. Gotta say that I like the picture.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


The title about sums it up. The Rangers won the rights to Japanese pitching phenom Yu Darvish.

Not really sure what I think about this. Never expected Texas to be a serious bidder so I never really mulled it over. Just hope he works out better for Texas than Hideki Irabu, seen here on card 488 of the 2002 Topps Chrome set, did for New York.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Minor League Monday - Mike Mendazona, 1989 ProCards.

The Rangers signed Mike Mendazona as a free agent on June 7, 1988. That was about a month and a half before they signed another catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. That set up a big hurdle for Mike, shown here on card number 1026 of the 1989 ProCards set.

Unlike his drafted teammates, Mendanzona started his career with the Rookie level GCL Rangers in 1988. In 71 plate appearances he posted a dismal .183 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage. He committed just three errors in 134 chances though. His glove is likely what got him promoted to Single A for the 1989 season.

With Gastonia Mike's offensive woes continued. He made 147 plate appearances and posted a barely improved .188 batting average. His on-base percentage dropped to .250 while his strikeouts jumped. In fact Mike struck out 16 times in the course of the season while walking just 11 times. That might work for a thumper but Mendazona wasn't a power hitter.

If there was any improvement to Mike's game it was on defense. He again committed three errors on the season but this time they came in 318 chances. That pushed his fielding percentage up to .991. One possibly disturbing point was that his number of passed balls climbed from six the previous season to 15 in 1989.

Things just hadn't come together for Mike Mendazona in 1989. In spite of his defense, Ivan Rodriguez had blown past him. Mike had really needed his bat to show up for the season and it just hadn't. In fact, things had gotten worse. Apparently the Rangers weren't convinced they were going to get better either - 1989 would be Mike Mendazona's last season in pro ball.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Senators Saturday - Danny O'Connell, 1962.

Danny O'Connell, shown here on card 411 of the 1962 Topps set, was in the middle of the Senators' struggles at third base in 1962. After a comeback season in 1961 he split his time in 1962 as a backup for third baseman Bob Johnson and second baseman Chuck Cottier.

Most of Danny's defensive time was at third base. He put in 319 innings there in 41 games. He committed five errors at the hot corner for a .961 fielding percentage - nine points higher than the league average. At second he would see action for 167 innings over 22 games and commit five errors there as well. His .946 fielding percentage was well below the league average .980.

O'Connell made 268 plate appearances on the other side of the game. He managed to bump his batting average up to .263 but his on-base percentage dropped 34 points to .327. Danny also slowed down as he stole just five bases. Perhaps more ominously than anything else was the fact that his doubles dropped to seven. That was less than a quarter of the number he had hit the year before with a little over twice as many at-bats.

Danny's dropping on-base percentage and doubles production seemed to be signs that the end was near for his playing career. It turns out it was. After 26 games at Double A in 1963 Danny and the Senators parted ways. That would be the end of the line for his pro career.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Decisions: Cliff Lee.

The trade for Cliff Lee in 2010 is number 15 on T.R. Sullivan's list of the fifty decisions that have shaped the Rangers history.

On July 9, 2010 the Rangers obtained the services of Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe from the Mariners. In return Texas sent Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson to Seattle. The trade occurred just in time for Lee to represent Texas in the All-Star game as shown on card US-305 from the 2010 Topps Update Series.

Sullivan enters Lee on the list with the simple words: "The trade that put the Rangers in the World Series for the first time." I think it's not as clear cut as that.

When the trade happened the Rangers were already in first place in the American League West and looked to win the division. Excepting any mental boost Lee did not affect the race at all. His ERA after the trade approached 4.00 as he battled back problems and posted a losing 4-6 record.

The American League Division Series is where the trade appeared to pay off for the Rangers. Lee was masterful as he beat the Devil Rays twice, both in Tampa. On the strength of Lee's two wins the Rangers won their first ever postseason series. That broke the glass ceiling for the franchise as they moved on to the American League Championship Series.

Lee made just one start in the ALCS and won it 8-0 as the Rangers pounded the Yankees in game three in New York to take the series lead. Derek Holland picked up a win as well and Colby Lewis stole Lee's thunder as he won two. Texas downed the Yankees 4-2 to advance to their first ever World Series.

In the 2010 World Series Lee made two starts. He lost both as his ERA soared to near seven. Texas lost the Series 4-1 to the Giants.

So, did Cliff Lee put the Rangers in the World Series? The answer appears to be yes and no. Lee was a non factor down the stretch in the regular season. He was vital in the ALDS, a nice piece in the ALCS, and a real downer in the World Series. The trade was probably worthwhile on the strength of Cliff's ALDS performance alone but the team still had to get through the Evil Empire in the ALCS to get to the World Series. Perhaps T.R. Sullivan should have said that the Cliff Lee trade was the trade that put the Rangers in their first-ever American League Championship Series.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Seasons: Kevin Brown - 1992.

Number 13 on T.R. Sullivan's Fifty Best seasons in Rangers history is Kevin Brown's 1992 performance. I got this 1992 Upper Deck card of Brown signed back before he was really well known as a head case.

Issues or not, Brown wasn't a bad pitcher before he landed with the Yankees in 2004. 1992 wasn't the best season of his career but it was the best he had with Texas.

In 1992 Kevin made 35 starts and pitched 11 complete games. He led the league with 265.2 innings pitched and 21 wins. He also turned in a 3.32 ERA and a 1.272 WHIP on the season. Additionally he struck out 173 batters while walking only 76.

Those numbers made Kevin both the workhorse and ace of the Rangers pitching staff. They also garnered him some Cy Young consideration and a start in the All-Star Game. I believe that makes him the only Rangers pitcher to ever start an All-Star game.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Odd Moments: Final forfeit.

The expansion Senators never encountered much success in the eleven years they were in Washington. After Bob Short bought the team under a mountain of debt they also experienced financial problems. The end result was that Short obtained permission to move the team to Texas following the 1971 season. The few fans the Senators had left were not impressed.

September 30, 1971 was the Senators' final game. They were slated to host the New York Yankees. 14,460 fans showed up and paid the admission to get into the last Major League Baseball game in RFK Stadium. There were rumors though that the security guards left early and several thousand more fans simply walked in for free. One estimate placed the total attendance at 25,000.

Most of the Senators players received applause when they appeared. Frank Howard, shown here on card 23 of the 1985 Topps Circle K set, got a thunderous ovation when he strode to the plate. Many fans were obviously upset by the imminent departure of the team. Signs began appearing around the stadium ridiculing Bob Short. As soon as security removed a sign another would appear. One of the ones that received the most acclaim was one that read simply, "Short stinks."

By the bottom of the sixth inning the Yankees were leading 5-1. Suddenly the Senators came alive and plated four runs to tie things up. The lead-off hit in the inning was Frank Howard's 26th home run of the season. That bomb seemed to lift the spirits of the crowd and even got to Howard himself. As he ran the bases he tipped his helmet to the fans for the first and only time. As he approached the dugout he tossed his cap into the stands.

In the eighth Washington put two more runs on the board to take a 7-5 lead. That held through two outs in the top of the ninth. By this point the crowd had turned ugly again and was calling for Bob Short's blood - literally. One sportswriter of the time compared it to a lynch mob in full swing. Already fans had rushed the field and been cleared off.

With two outs in the top of the eighth the crowd rushed the field again. Swarms of young people snatched tufts of grass and anything else they could get their hands on. One young man even made off with first base. Those remaining in the stands expressed their approval. The scene was total pandemonium.

With the crowd going wild, no security in sight, and only three bases remaining the game was called as a forfeit. Official score: 9-0 in favor of New York. Perhaps it was a fitting epilogue for a team that had struggled fruitlessly for much of eleven seasons.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1975 Topps - Bill Hands.

The Rangers grabbed Bill Hands off waivers from the Twins on September 9, 1974. As such he had just a couple of appearances with the 1974 team. For all intents and purposes 1975 was his first year with the team. It is perhaps fitting then that Topps heavily airbrushed card number 412 of the 1975 Topps set in order to get Bill into Texas threads.

Bill had a rough season in 1975. On June 9th he pulled a calf muscle and was out of action until the 27th. In August his back started acting up and forced him out of action for the remainder of the season. Perhaps the expression of Bill's face isn't hostility but pain.

Due to the two stints on the Disabled List, Hands had just 18 appearances with the Rangers in 1975. All 18 were starts and he ended the season with a 6-7 record. In 109.2 innings pitched Bill posted a 4.02 ERA and a 1.331 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio was pretty good as he struck out 67 batters while walking 28. Aside from the strikeout to walk ratio the numbers seem to reflect his difficult year.

It is often thought that when a player ends up on waivers he has been struggling. This was true of Bill Hands. In 1974 his ERA had gone over 4.00 for the first time since 1966. His WHIP had also risen for three straight years. With Texas in 1975 he managed to lower the ERA but the WHIP continued to climb.

The consistently rising WHIP coupled with the injuries that cost him almost half the season sounded the final bell for the 35-year-old Hands. In Feburary of 1976 the Rangers traded him to the New York Mets for George Stone. Neither player would ever see Major League action again.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Minor League Monday - Tim MacNeil, 1989 ProCards.

Tim MacNeil, shown here on card number 1024 of the 1989 ProCards set, was the Rangers 13th selection in the 1988 draft. He started his pro career the same year with the Butte Copper Kings in Rookie ball.

In 1988 MacNeil appeared in 24 games, all in relief. He posted a 3.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP. Those weren't very good numbers for a right-hander in Rookie ball. That's probably part of the reason that Tim split the 1989 season between the Rookie ball GCL Rangers and the Single A Gastonia Rangers. I'm not sure which team came first in the season but neither stint was particularly pretty. Since today's card shows him with Gastonia we'll take a look at those numbers.

MacNeil tossed 43.2 innings in 22 games with Gastonia. All but one of his appearances was in relief. Unfortunately for Tim his ERA climbed to 5.98 and his WHIP to 1.786. He also continued to battle wildness as he let loose with nine wild pitches and hit three opposing batsmen. Predictably he walked more batters than he struck out (38 walks/32 strikeouts).

Needless to say, 1989 was not a solid season for Tim MacNeil. He was still struggling to get his control and couldn't seem to keep runs from crossing the plate. Neither of these problems is good for a pitcher. That is doubly so for a right-handed pitcher at a low level of play.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Senators Saturday - Bob Johnson, 1962.

Bob Johnson's 1962 Topps card, number 519, identifies him as a shortstop with the Washington Senators. While Bob was with the Senators in 1962 he didn't play just short.

Johnson was actually the closest thing the Senators had to a starting third baseman in 1962. He played 612.2 innings there in 72 games. He also played 416.2 innings at shortstop in 50 games. Those were his two main defensive positions but he also played seven innings in one game in left field. All told Bob committed 22 errors in total on the season - 13 of those were at third. There was a reason for that, Topps was right. Johnson wasn't a third baseman. 1962 would mark the highest number of games and innings he would play at third in his career. It was one of only three times in an eleven year career that he broke the 100 inning mark at the position.

Johnson made 504 trips to the plate in 1962 - over twice the number of the previous season. He managed to compile a .288 batting average (second only to Chuck Hinton on the team) and a .334 on-base percentage. He also knocked a career-high 12 home runs and 20 doubles. Two triples also jumped into the mix. Unfortunately Bob also struck out a career-high 50 times while walking just 32 times - also a career high.

By the end of 1962 the Senators had a problem. Bob Johnson was obviously struggling with the transition from shortstop to third base. Leaving him at short was not an option with Ken Hamlin and Ed Brinkman already doing battle for the position. That made Bob expendable. On December 5, 1962 Washington sent him and Pete Burnside to Baltimore in exchange for Marv Breeding, Art Quirk, and Barry Shetrone.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Best Seasons: Julio Franco - 1991.

Number 12 on T.R. Sullivan's list of the Fifty Best Seasons in Rangers history goes to Julio Franco, shown here on card number BC39 of the 1990 Baseball Cards Magazine set.

Julio's 1991 season really stands out for one number, his batting average. Franco tormented opposing pitching that year as he racked up a .341 average. That easily won Julio the first batting title in Rangers history. How easily? Well, he was nine points ahead of second-place Wade Boggs in the race.

While the batting average and title stole the show in 1991 they weren't the only impressive numbers for Julio that year. He also complied a .408 on-base percentage and stole a career high 36 bases. His 108 runs scored were also a career high.

All told Franco had a career year with the bat in 1991 and the awards committees recognized it. In addition to the American League batting title he also went the the All-Star game and received a Silver Slugger award as well as receiving some MVP consideration. Perhaps just as important for the fans, he brought a batting title to a team that had never had a player win one.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Angels arm up for 2012

Well, the past day or so has certainly been huge in the American League West. The Angels broke the bank open and signed both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to long term deals. Texas had told Wilson they were interested but had never tendered him an offer due to the long-term offers that the Angels and Marlins were shooting his way.

The question becomes, do these moves change the balance of power in the division? I think the answer is, it's hard to say.

The Halos addition of Pujols is a definite plus for them. There is always the possibility that the ten year, no trade contract could become a weight on their payroll but if any player can pull this one off it would be Albert Pujols.

The signing of C.J. Wilson is a little more murky. Wilson has pitched pretty well for Texas as a starter over the past two seasons. In the two seasons combined he has posted a 3.14 ERA, a 1.215 WHIP, and a 31-15 record.

Those aren't bad numbers at all but there are a few things to consider in light of the five year deal that the Angels just gave Wilson. First and foremost, his age. Wilson is 31 right now. That puts him at 36 by the end of the contract. Pitchers not named Nolan Ryan tend to start to slow down in their 30's.

The second item is his workload. Wilson has made a total of 73 starts in the Major Leagues in seven seasons. All but six came in the last two seasons. He has pitched a total of 708 innings in his career. 427.1 of those were in the past two years. Compared to the early years of his career Wilson has been under quite the workload the past two seasons. There is always the possibility that after five years of a lighter load, the increased work could catch up with him at some point. It might not but if it does it will be sooner rather than later.

The third point to consider is Wilson's performance in big games. Mainly that he doesn't. If he had the Rangers probably would be the World Champions right now. That's because they would have had the home field advantage and played games six and seven at home had C.J. not lost the All-Star game. He also stumbled badly in the 2010 and 2011 post seasons.

Back to the original question. Do these signings shift the balance of power in the A.L. West? I think that the answer is, possibly. Pujols is huge and is a veteran. He'll adjust and be the threat that he was in the National League. Barring injury he will be a major weapon for the Angels for the foreseeable future. Wilson is more of a question mark. While he has an engaging personality I can't help but doubt that he will be a force for more than a season or two at most. I think it's very possible that Anaheim will regret his contract. For the same reason I doubt that his departure will be a long term setback for the Rangers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1975 Topps - Tom Grieve.

Tom Grieve, shown here on card 234 of the 1975 Topps set, had a two-fold mission in 1975. First, he had to build on his 1974 performance and second he had to prove he could hit right-handed pitching.

TAG played in 118 games for Texas in 1975. That was a career high to that point and netted him 396 plate appearances. He managed to get his batting average up to .276 and his on-base percentage inched up to .316. Tommy also had a much higher RBI total with 61 and scored more runs than in 1974 with 46. He also hit 17 doubles, one triple, and 14 home runs. He did walk 22 times but struck out a troubling 74 times.

Tom played all three outfield positions in 1975 and served in 41 games as the designated hitter. He played left field most with 328 innings in 46 games. Next up was right field with 126 innings in 16 games and then center with ten innings in two games. His fielding percentage for all three positions combined was .990, better than the league average by eleven points.

Tom Grieve had been given a chance in 1975 and seemed to have used it. Perhaps he hadn't awed observers but he had significantly improved his offensive performance in almost every category while starting to hit right-handers and had maintained his great defense in the field. The only disturbing trend was his tendency to strikeout, he would need to figure out how to cut down on that. If he could 1975 looked to be his breakout year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Minor League Monday - Jeff Fry, 1989 ProCards.

Card 1023 of the 1989 ProCards set makes me smile. Jeff Fry looks so intense and yet so young. His boyish face, slight build, and screen-backed cap make him look more like a high school ballplayer than a 22-year-old man attempting to play his way the Major Leagues.

The Rangers drafted Jeff in the 30th round of the 1988 draft. He played in Rookie ball the same year with the Butte Copper Kings. In 1989 he would be assigned to Single A and would play with the Gastonia Rangers of the Gulf Coast League.

In 125 games Fry made 543 plate appearances. He posted a .313 batting average and a .405 on-base percentage. His on-base percentage was helped by the fact that he knew how to take a walk. He worked 72 of them while striking out just 53 times. While Jeff could get on base he didn't have much power at the plate. He hit 26 doubles but only three triples and one home run on the season. He could run though and stole 33 bases but needed to work on his technique as he got caught 13 times.

As the front of his card indicates, Jeff played second base. In 1989 he put together a .977 fielding percentage at that position. His errors matched his uniform number, 14. Defense was definitely an area for improvement in Fry's game.

Apparently the Rangers thought Jeff had potential. Probably it was his bat that caught their eye. As a result he got a promotion. Not to Double A though but to A plus Charlotte for the 1990 season. I'm not positive but I would guess that the partial promotion had to do with the need for him to improve his glove work.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Senators Saturday - Joe Hicks, 1962.

1962 was one of the few seasons that Joe Hicks, shown here on card 248 of the 1962 Topps set, spent the whole season in the Majors. In fact, most of 1961 had been spent in the minors.

Joe played in 102 games in 1962 and made 191 plate appearances. That was more in both categories than in all three previous seasons where he had Major League experience combined.

In his 191 plate appearances Hicks posted a .224 batting average and a .286 on-base percentage. His on-base percentage was undoubtedly hurt by the fact that he struck out over twice as often as he walked. (15 walks to 34 strikeouts.) He also displayed a lack of power with just four doubles, two triples, and six home runs.

In the field Joe served as a fourth outfielder and played 282.1 innings total in all three outfield positions. He made three errors for a .962 fielding percentage - well below the league average .980.

1962 was Joe Hicks first big shot at the Majors. Too bad he really couldn't capitalize on it. He needed to show something big in order to dislodge one of the regular outfielders. That just didn't happen either in the field or at the plate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Decisions: Two-for-one.

Ok, I have to plead ignorance as far as the first of the next two decisions off of T.R. Sullivan's list. As for the second, well I wasn't really paying much attention in 2001 so I don't remember it.

Number thirteen is is the rejection of Edward Gaylord's attempts to buy the Rangers. He tried in 1987 and 1988. Both times the American League refused to approve the sale for fear that Channel 11 would become a superstation. I have no memory of this and find it hard to understand given Ted Turner, TBS, and the Braves. I do know that with the Rangers still unsold the result was the ownership group headed by George W. Bush buying the team in 1989.

Number fourteen is the firing of Doug Melvin. I'm not sure what Tom Hicks was thinking when he fired Melvin and brought in John Hart. I do know that under Melvin the team had qualified for the playoffs three times and that they didn't at all under Hart. Meanwhile Melvin moved on to Milwaukee and moved them from a sub .500 team to postseason qualifiers. Not hard to see that the switch wasn't a very good move.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Valentine's day in Boston. is reporting that the Red Sox will introduce Bobby Valentine as their new manager this evening at Fenway Park. Bobby V was the Rangers manager from 1985 to 1992. I am showing him today on a 1987 Topps card that he signed for me through the mail in 2008.

Valentine was the first Rangers manager that I can really remember. Doug Rader would have still been in place when I first latched onto the team but I have no memory of him. Valentine I remember and always enjoyed watching. I'm not the only Rangers fan who remembers Bobby. Until Ron Washington's recent postseason successes he was probably the most popular manager in Rangers history behind Johnny Oats.

After leaving the Rangers Bobby managed the Mets from 1996 to 2002. Not a bad stint for such a volatile environment. It probably helped that the Mets had several postseason appearances during his tenure.

Boston is probably closer to New York than Texas when it comes to the atmosphere and pressure of managing. Unlike New York though, the Red Sox are Boston. No shadow of the Evil Empire there, all the focus is on the Sox. Hopefully Bobby V will be able to deliver some success to the franchise and placate the fans and media. It would be nice to see him back in the Bigs and doing well. Not too well of course, can't root for Bobby over the Rangers.