Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1976 Topps - Dave Moates.

Dave Moates, shown here on card 327 of the 1976 Topps set, was a fellow 1969 draft pick to Joe Lovitto. Dave was selected by the Senators in the fourth round of the draft.

Moates had a cup of coffee with Texas in 1974 and then split the 1975 season between the minors and Arlington. In 1976 he would avoid the minors all year.

Moates' role as the team's fifth outfielder limited him to 85 games in 1976. In those 85 games he made 153 plate appearances. He posted a .241 batting average and a .293 on-base percentage. He hit seven doubles, one triple, and no home runs. Moates was considered a base-stealer but got caught in three out of nine attempts.

On defense Moates played in all three outfield positions. His fielding percentage was a decent .991, ten points higher than the league average. His range factor was about average.

Moates had a big problem with the bat. Mainly, he didn't seem to have much of one. Not sure if that was related to wearing his batting glove on his top hand or not. If Dave wanted to shove his way into the Rangers crowded outfield he would need to do it with his bat. Offense would have to be his area of focused improvement.

Monday, October 22, 2012

1976 Topps - Joe Lovitto.

Wow, 20 days since I last posted. Things have been real busy lately but I didn't realize it had been that long. Finally seem to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Looks like February at the latest to get the wife and kids moved down to join me. Should be able to get back to regular posting shortly thereafter. Until then it's just me and my Topps binder.

Anyway, on to Joe Lovitto in 1976. By the time Joe Lovitto appeared on card 604 of the 1976 Topps set his time with the Rangers was over. On December 12, 1975 Texas traded Joe to the Mets for Gene Clines. On March 26, 1976 New York released him.

That was it for the number two pick in the 1969 draft. After just four seasons in the Majors, Joe Lovitto's playing career was over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

1976 Topps - Mike Kekich.

Relief pitcher Mike Kekich shows up here on card number 582 of the 1976 Topps set. By the time collectors were pulling this card from packs, Kekich was no longer with the Rangers. Texas released Kekich in March of 1976 and he spent that season in Mexico trying to come back from a shoulder injury.

Kekich was a solid pitcher early in his career before injuries took their toll. He is best known though for a 1973 trade he was part of. The trade involved Kekich and then Yankees teammate Fritz Peterson.

Unlike most trades, this one also involved Kekich's wife Susanne and Peterson's wife Marilyn. The two pitchers traded everything. Wives, kids, dogs, houses, all of it. When they showed up for Spring Training in 1973 and announced the arrangement there was a lot of surprise. Yankees executive Dan Topping commented, "We may have to call off Family Day this season."

Unfortunately for Mike, his end of the deal didn't work out. He broke up with Marilyn Peterson shortly after the swap. Fritz Peterson meanwhile married Susanne Kekich and they are reportedly still together. To add salt to Kekich's wound, there has been some recent talk of a movie about the incident. Mike refuses to cooperate though and is apparently dreading the possibility.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1976 Topps - Fergie Jenkins.

Even though Fergie Jenkins appears in a Rangers uniform on card 250 of the 1976 Topps set he would not appear in a Rangers uniform in 1976.

Texas had traded Fergie to the Red Sox in November of 1975. In return the Ranger had gotten Juan Beniquez, Steve Barr, and Craig Skok.

Jenkins would spend two seasons in Boston before coming back to Texas in December of 1977.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

1976 Topps - Roy Howell.

Roy Howell appears here on card 279 of the 1976 Topps set. Gotta love the old school glasses.

In just his second season in the Majors, Roy would appear in 140 games for Texas in 1976. 130 of those games were at third base, eight were at designated hitter, and two were presumably pinch-hitting appearances. Clearly Texas was trying to make Roy Howell their starting third baseman.

Howell would put in 1,111.1 innings at the hot corner. He would commit 20 errors for a .926 fielding percentage. That was 27 points below the league average. It also was a slight drop from the year before.

On offense Roy also struggled. In 531 plate appearances he posted a .253 batting average. That was one point higher than the previous season but his on-base percentage dropped 27 points to .295. Howell's power was a bit of a mixed bag. His doubles climbed to 28, his triples held steady at 2 and his home runs dropped to 8. Perhaps more ominously for Howell, his walks dropped by nine from the previous season to 30 while his strikeouts skyrocketed by 27 to 106 on the season.

Roy had plenty to work on if he wanted the Rangers plans to make him a fixture in their infield to succeed. His defense had to improve significantly. He also needed to improve either his power or his on-base percentage. Both would be nice but a significant upswing in one or the other might be enough to help him hang on.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

1976 Topps - Toby Harrah.

Toby Harrah, shown here on card 412 of the 1976 Topps set, nailed down the starting shortstop position in 1976.

In 155 games Harrah would play 1,318.1 innings at short as compared to just 45 innings at third base. Aside from a few games as the designated hitter those were the only two positions Toby played. With a .955 fielding percentage at second (12 points below league average) and a .923 fielding percentage at third (30 points below league average) it was clear that Harrah wasn't making his way in the world with his glove.

Unfortunately for Toby, his bat also developed some problems. In 688 plate appearances his batting average came to just .260. That was a 33 point drop from 1975. His on-base percentage also dropped by 43 points to .360. The one thing that didn't drop significantly for Toby was his power. He hit 21 doubles, 1 triple, and 15 home runs.

In spite of the drop-off season Harrah was still selected to the All-Star team for a second straight year. That was probably due to the previous season's performance. Toby needed to get back to his 1975 form if he wanted to keep going to the midsummer classic.

Friday, September 21, 2012

1976 Topps - Mike Hargrove.

Mike Hargrove, shown here on card 485 of the 1976 Topps set, found himself back at first base for the 1976 season. The starting first baseman, Mike would appear only at first and as the designated hitter.

Hargrove played 1,259.2 innings at first in 1976. He made an astounding 21 errors for a fielding percentage of .984. That was eight points below the league average.

On offense The Human Rain Delay would make 654 time consuming trips to the plate. For the first time in his Major League career his batting average would drop below .300. In spite of his .287 average, Mike's on-base percentage would go up by two points to .397. That was due in large part to his league-leading 97 walks. Hargrove also hammered 30 doubles - the highest of any Texas starter.

In spite of the drop in batting average, things were looking up for Mike Hargrove. He had the first baseman's job nailed down. If he could fix his glove issues he could probably keep it. Sooner or later some of those doubles would start to drop over the fence for home runs and the ability to work walks would always come in handy. 1977 had the potential to be a good year for Mike.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

1976 Topps - Steve Hargan.

Steve Hargan, seen here on card number 463 of the 1976 Topps set, was the workhorse of the Rangers bullpen in 1976. He also served as an occasional spot-starter.

Filling a long relief role, Steve pitched 124.1 innings in 35 appearances.  While the appearances didn't lead the bullpen, the number of innings pitched did.

Hargan did pretty decent in those 124.1 innings. He managed to drop his ERA and WHIP from the previous season. The ERA totaled to 3.62 and his WHIP to 1.327.

All in all Steve Hargan seemed to have made the adjustment from starter to reliever. At least the newly-formed Toronto Blue Jays thought he had. They claimed Hargan from Texas on November 5th in the 1976 expansion draft. Texas then traded Roy Howell to the Blue Jays to get Hargan back along with Jim Mason and $200,000 on May 9, 1977.

Steve would make six appearances for the Rangers out of the bullpen before the end of the 1977 season but his 8.76 ERA brought little relief. On December 13, 1977 Texas sold Hargan's contract to the Atlanta Braves. This time he wouldn't be back.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

1976 Topps - Bill Hands.

By the time Bill Hands appeared on card number 509 of the 1976 Topps set his Major League career was over. Perhaps if Bill knew this would be his last card he might have tried to look a bit more cheery.

Following the 1975 season Texas had traded Hands to the Mets on February 24, 1976. In return the Rangers had obtained George Stone. Neither Stone nor Hands would see Major League action after the trade. As a matter of fact, neither would even play in the minors again.

I have to confess that I am a bit baffled by the fact that both players' careers ended just after the trade. For one player in a trade to hang up the spikes is not unusual. For both to disappear from the active player ranks is strange.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1976 Topps - Tom Grieve.

Tom Grieve, shown here on card 106 of the 1976 Topps set, had five Major League seasons under his belt going into the 1976 campaign. He had yet to nail down a starting job. After some modest success in 1975, this was Tag's chance to grab an outfield spot.

Grieve would play in a career-high 149 games in 1976 and make a career-high 600 plate appearances. Unfortunately the results were mixed. Tom led the team in home runs with 20. He also hit 23 doubles and three triples. His 81 RBI were second best on the team. Those were the positive numbers. On the other side of the equation was his .255 batting average and .301 on-base percentage. Both were lower than the previous year. One contributing factor was his 119 strikeouts, up from 74 in 1975.

Unlike the previous year, Tom only played the two corner outfield positions in 1976. All told he put in 431.1 innings over 52 games in the outfield. His .983 fielding percentage was just two points higher than the league average.

If Tom Grieve had a starting job in 1976 it was at Designated Hitter. He played in 96 games there, 95 as a starter. Unfortunately his bat betrayed him. At 28 years old the former first round draft pick appeared to be headed back to a back-up role in 1977.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

1976 Topps - Jim Fregosi.

Continuing in his role as a utility player, Jim Fregosi appeared in 58 games for the Rangers in 1976. He appears here on card number 635 of the 1976 Topps set.

Topps again lists Fregosi as a third baseman. Again the truth is not quite as clear-cut. Jim played at first and third and as a designated hitter. His most common position was first base where he put in 193 innings and committed just one error for a fielding percentage of .995. Next was designated hitter, an assignment Fregosi handled for 18 games. Lastly was third base where he logged just 14 innings and one error.

Jim made 160 trips to the plate on offense and saw his batting average tumble almost 30 points to .233. Due in part to his 23 walks his on-base percentage actually climbed over the previous season to .342. Neither of those numbers are particularly good for a DH or a corner infielder. Fregosi's almost total lack of power didn't help. He hit just seven doubles, no triples, and two home runs in the course of the season.

1976 had seen the continuation of a steady decline for Jim Fregosi. At 34 years of age his injuries were starting to catch up with him. On June 15, 1977 the Rangers would trade him to the Pirates for Ed Kirkpatrick. In 1978 the Bucs would release him and end his playing career.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

1976 Topps - Steve Foucault.

After a down 1975 season Steve Foucault, shown here on card 303 of the 1976 Topps set, lost his closer role for the Rangers in 1976.

Returning to the middle of the bullpen meant at least a partial return to his 1974 form. Foucault appeared in fewer games than in 1975 but he seemed to handle the workload better. His ERA dropped .79 points to 3.33 and his WHIP dropped almost .2 points to 1.229.

Steve seemed to be on the road back. A little bit of improvement in 1977 could see him back in the closer's role and on top of his game. That improvement wouldn't happen in a Rangers uniform though. On April 12, 1977 Texas sent Foucault to Detroit in exchange for slugger Willie Horton.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

1976 Topps - Bill Fahey.

While John Ellis was having a rough season in 1976, Bill Fahey finally shook the injury bug. After serious injuries in 1973, 1974, and 1975 Fahey, shown here on card 436 of the 1976 Topps set, avoided the Disabled List in 1976.

Unfortunately for Fahey, the effects of his injuries lingered. Not that they effected his performance but they had allowed Jim Sundberg to pass him in the organizational depth chart. With Sunny starting, Fahey was relegated to a back-up role.

In that role he played in 38 games and put in 228.1 innings behind the plate. He made just one error for a .993 fielding percentage. That was much higher than the league average .981. Fahey could be stolen on though. He caught just 32% of runners trying to steal on him. He nabbed 11 would-be thieves but there were 23 successful grabs.

On offense Fahey made 94 trips to the batter's box. He would post a .250 batting average and a .348 on-base percentage. He didn't demonstrate much power with just two doubles and one home run.

Bill Fahey had turned in a decent performance in 1976. It wasn't enough to get him the starting gig but it demonstrated that he could stay healthy and be effective. The one area that he really needed to improve in was his ability to gun down base-stealers. If he wanted to challenge Jim Sundberg for the starting job in 1977 he had to be practically flawless on defense and with the throws to bases.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1976 Topps - John Ellis.

Catcher/first baseman John Ellis, shown here on card number 383T of the 1976 Topps Traded set, came to Texas from Cleveland in a December 9, 1975 trade. In return the Rangers sent Ron Pruitt and Stan Thomas to the Indians. Ellis' role was supposed to be as a back-up for first baseman Mike Hargrove and catcher Jim Sundberg.

What actually happened was that Ellis served as designated hitter in three games and spent seven games at catcher.

John put in 39 innings behind the plate without committing an error. He also caught two of the four runners trying to steal on him.

On the other side of things, Ellis posted a .419 batting average in 31 plate appearances. He didn't work a walk but a .419 on-base percentage isn't bad. His lone home run came in the second inning of a May 9th game in Boston. That home run came at a good time as it helped Texas win their eighth straight and keep a hold on first place.

Coming up in the 5th inning of the same game, Ellis singled. Up came Toby Harrah. Harrah hit a bounding ball to second base. Ellis thundered down to second and slid in hard to try and break up the double play. The slide was too hard and John was still on the ground as the dust cleared. Coming in to the bag he had dislocated his left ankle and broken his leg.

That was it for the season for John Ellis. The rest of the year was spent in healing and therapy. He was determined to play again in 1977 but it would be a long haul.

Monday, September 3, 2012

1976 Topps - Mike Cubbage.

The front of card number 615 in the 1976 Topps set lists Mike Cubbage as a third baseman. The back lists him as playing third and second base. The back of the card is correct for 1976.

Cubbage played in 14 games for Texas in 1976. Six of those games were at DH. Five more were at second and in one game he played at third. In 35 innings at second base Mike was perfect with no errors. His one inning stint at third base was also perfect but that was because he saw no action there.

At the plate Cubbage was struggling to say the least. In 39 plate appearances he stayed just north of the Mendoza Line with a .219 batting average. The seven walks he picked up bumped his on-base percentage up to .346. He had no extra base hits and just one stolen base.

In 1976 Texas was looking to make a move. The club was trying to regain their 1974 form and was willing to deal to make it happen. Mike Cubbage was a piece the franchise was willing to part with. On June 1, 1976 Mike was sent to the Minnesota Twins as part of a deal that brought Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to Texas.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thanks and No Thanks.

Well, judging by the comments on my last post, it looks like there are a lot of people who have thoughts on my recent lack of posts.

Some like Play at the Plate have been encouraging. Thanks for hanging in there man, I appreciate the support. Others like Jim from Downingtown have offered sound advice. I would do a series on the starting nine in 1972 Jim but I have already posted my 1972 Topps set. Need to find another 1972 set before I can undertake that.

Then there are some I don't know exactly how to take. Not defunct James, were you asking, prodding, or complaining?

Still others I know how to take and am not sure what I did to irritate them. Sorry Dave, not canceled. Not sure exactly "how long it really takes" George. Moving one's family 500 miles and starting a new job is a rather fluid situation. The job is going well but I'm not yet out of training so that is taking a lot of time. The family is still 500 miles away from me so I am doing the long-distance husband/father thing. That takes even more time.  How much time? I don't know and I have a feeling you don't either. Thanks for asking though.

Anyway. To all out there, supporters and others, I'm back. Sort of. Most of my cards are still boxed up. That's part of not having a permanent living arrangement yet. I still have my Topps book out though. My present plan is to work my way through some team sets while I wait to find out how long this relocating thing really takes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1976 Topps - Leo Cardenas.

Finally got set up with a scanner. Most of my cards are still in storage since I am the only one of my family in Texas. Mrs. Spiff and the kiddos are still waiting for the house to (hopefully) sell before moving down to join me. Since the scanner is not mine I will have to get used to it some before it gets as easy to turn out posts as it was before the move.

With only one card book to choose from we come to the next card in the 1976 Topps set, number 587. Leo Cardenas had struggled in 1975 and really needed to improve his hitting to keep a spot on the team in 1976.

Apparently he wasn't able to improve enough at the plate during Spring Training in 1976. The Rangers released him on March 24th. He was unable to catch on with another team. After 16 Major League seasons, Mr. Automatic's career was over.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1976 Topps - Jeff Burroughs.

Been awhile since I last posted. Seems like time has just flown as the packing and other moving preparations continue. In addition the family and I made a previously planned trip to Texas this past weekend. Got to see the Rangers host the A's on Sunday - the only game of the four that Texas lost. Oh well, at least my brother, the A's fan, was happy. His family went with mine to the game along with my folks. Pretty funny picture of my five-year-old girl walking into the stadium holding hands with her five-year-old cousin. She's in Rangers gear, he's wearing A's stuff.

Anyway, I am due to start my new job on Monday. After that I hope to get back to at least occasional posting. The catch is that I only have my Topps book left unpacked. That means a continued look back at previous years. It gives me something to post but means I won't always be posting a card that fits current Rangers events.

Today we have Jeff Burroughs appearing on a poorly scanned card number 360 in the 1976 Topps set. Two years removed from his MVP performance in 1974, Burroughs continued to struggle. He remained the Rangers starting right fielder though and so still got quite a few plate appearances. In fact, he was second only to Toby Harrah on the team.

In 681 trips to the plate Jeff's batting average was a disappointing .237. His 69 walks helped boost his on-base percentage to .315. That was the same as the previous year in spite of his batting average coming up. Ten less walks and the 93 strikeouts helped to keep it the same. Burroughs also saw his power dip significantly as he managed just 18 home runs - 11 less that the previous season. He did get 22 doubles and two triples but still saw his slugging percentage drop.

Burroughs logged all of his playing time on defense in right field. Over the 1361 innings he played, he posted a .987 fielding percentage. That was six points higher that the league average.

All in all Jeff was still a long way from his MVP form. Texas desperately needed him to get back to it. In spite of his low numbers he was still one of the main power threats in the lineup for the Rangers. That meant they needed to do something. Trades were on the horizon and Jeff Burroughs was on the block.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Packing, the DL, and future posts.

Well, it's been a whirlwind since my last post. Getting the packing process started, meeting with the realtor and getting the house on the market, breaking the news to friends and co-workers. Dealing with the kids' reactions. Made for a long few days.

The Rangers have had a long week as well. They keep winning, so I hear. The west coast trip and getting ready to move have mysteriously eaten into my game time. The continued winning is good.

Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison's recent performances have also been good. Hopefully Roy Oswalt's Texas debut tomorrow night will be good as well.

What's not so good is the Disabled List. Josh Hamilton narrowly avoided it after being hospitalized with a virus. Mitch Moreland, shown here on card number 234 of the 2011 Topps Heritage set, is looking like he will be on it in the next day or two. Mitch pulled a hamstring in the game against San Diego last yesterday and is probably headed to the DL tomorrow. The injuries are hammering the Rangers right now. If they can hold on through them they should be that much tougher come the end of the season.

Back to the packing up. Right now all of my non-Rangers and most of my Rangers cards are packed. Not sure when they will see the light of day again - depends on the housing situation. I will be trying to keep some out though so I can use them for the occasional post. At least the Topps binder will stay out so I can continue to work through the teams. Could lead to some disjointed post topics as I can't get to some cards that I would like to post. I appreciate your understanding as I try and navigate my way through this move.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Changing stadiums.

Sorry about the very poor scan today. These 1994 Score Gold Rush cards don't scan well at all. You can see the important part of card 329 though, Arlington Stadium.

By the time this card came out in 1994 the Rangers had moved into The Ballpark in Arlington. That brings me to the point of this post, moving.

Yesterday I accepted a job in Texas. That means that in the next three weeks I will be trying as hard as possible to get as much done as possible to get the family packed and the house ready to sell. Following that I will be starting a new job two states away from where I now live and work.

Needless to say, that will cause a major amount of upheaval. While I am still planning on posting as often as possible, I will say up front that there will likely be many interruptions due to life. I would ask your pardon and understanding in advance. I am already looking forward to getting back to a regular posting schedule. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rangers All-Time Team (40th year in Texas).

The Rangers announced their All-Time team today and there were a couple of surprises. The first is that more players were named to each position than voters were allowed to select on their ballots. Makes sense I suppose as it decreases the chance of a tie. The second surprise is that a couple of players made the team in more than one position. Should have left them where they got the most votes and knocked them off the second position. If you want to compare the results and see how far off my ballot was you can see the way I voted in this post.

Here is the team and a few of my comments.

Starting pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Kenny Rogers, and Ferguson Jenkins. No problem with Nolan, even though his best years were not in Texas. Charlie deserves to get in for hanging in there during the down years of the 1980's. Rogers is in for his perfect game. Jenkins is probably in for 1974. Overall I think the voters got it right but I would still take Jon Matlack over Rogers for a lefty.

Relievers: John Wetteland, Neftali Feliz, and Jeff Russell. Wetteland and Feliz deserve to get in. Good to see Russell getting some love as well. Pen seems a bit thin though and I think that a couple of more guys could have been considered.

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez and Jim Sundberg. Perfect.

First base: Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. No arguments here.

Second base: Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. Shame to see Bump Wills left off. Young will do but his best years were not at second.

Shortstop: Michael Young and Elvis Andrus. This is probably where Young should have landed but I would have left him at second anyway and added Toby Harrah, shown above on a 1978 RC Cola iron-on.

Third base: Buddy Bell and Steve Buechele. Beltre hasn't been around long enough. If he stays and keeps playing the way he is, he will threaten Boo.

Outfield: Juan Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Rusty Greer, Ruben Sierra, Jeff Burroughs, and Nelson Cruz. No Al Oliver??? Not sure what happened here but the omission of Scoop is a travesty. I could live with him replacing Sierra or Cruz.

Designated hitter: Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. Another solution to the Oliver snub would be to leave Gonzo at DH and put Al in the outfield. If you leave Raffy at first you could put Larry Parrish in here. Of course you could also leave Palmeiro here and add Pete O'Brien at first.

Overall this team is ok and is a good representation of past and present Rangers teams. The omissions of Al Oliver and Toby Harrah are outrageous but understandable. Very glad to see that Alex Rodriguez got left off.
Anyone else care to share their thoughts?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bad news, bad news.

Well, the Angels are to within three games and are showing no signs of stumbling. Meanwhile the Rangers are playing poorly, very poorly. Even the 5-0 win over the Giants on Sunday was painful.

Alexi Ogando, shown here on his 2012 Topps Gold Futures card, made a spot start on Sunday for Derek Holland. Dutch joined Neftali Feliz on the Disabled List with a stomach virus. After pitching three scoreless innings Ogando came up in the fourth. He bunted for a hit but strained a groin muscle. Off to the DL he went today. Three pitchers now down - two until after the All-Star break. After avoiding the injury bug last season, the pitching staff is now making up for lost time. Going to get real ugly here shortly when the Angels get caught up.

Former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo got some bad news today as well. The Cubs sacked him. After leaving his job with the Rangers because he was concerned that they might not keep him long term, Rudy lasted two and a half seasons in Chicago. The Cubs on-base percentage dropped every year he was there. Guess the job security he was looking for didn't come to fruition.

Not sure who got the bad news in Canada today as the Blue Jays released Vladimir Guerrero. I suppose it's possible that nobody did. Vlad had signed a minor league deal but appeared to be blocked at Triple A by younger players. He then asked for his release and the Jays gave it to him. He could be an interesting piece for a team looking for an upgrade at DH down the stretch or a powerful pinch-hitter. On the other had he could fail to get a contract or to deliver. I find the latter hard to believe, even at Vlad's age.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Minor League Monday - Fidel Compres, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Going to be away from my computer all day today so you'll have to make do with a pre-scheduled post. My apologies for this not matching up with current happenings.

Fidel Compres, shown here on card 4 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, didn't give up easily. His pro career had started as a 19 year old in 1984. He had signed with Cleveland in November of 1983 and would play five seasons in the Indians system without ever getting above Single A. Most players would have given up after that. Not Compres.

In July of 1989 he signed on with the Rangers and was assigned to Single A Gastonia. In 19.2 innings pitched there he posted a 0.92 ERA and a 0.864 WHIP. Both were career bests.

That was good enough for Compres to start the 1990 season with A+ Charlotte. He would start 16 games and appear in relief in six more. All told he would pitch 116.2 innings and post a 2.24 ERA. His WHIP tallied to 1.131. Up to Double A Tulsa he went.

Tulsa is where the wheels came off for Compres. He appeared in just six games, all in relief. In the 10.1 innings he pitched he saw his ERA skyrocket to 6.10 and his WHIP climb to 2.226. Ugly stuff. In two seasons the Rangers had seen what it took Cleveland five to see, Compres was done as far as the Rangers were concerned.

Fidel didn't quit though. He had the drive and the Cardinals had the time so he ended up with them in 1991. In 1993 he went to the Padres organization in mid-season. In 1995 he was out of organized baseball. Ten years in the minors would be enough for most. Not for Fidel. In 1998 he mounted a comeback attempt in independent ball after missing two seasons. It failed. In 2000 he tried again in independent ball. Still no luck. At 35 that would finally be the end of the road for Compres. 16 years after he first signed with the Indians he would finally hang it up after never getting higher than Triple A.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Random Rangers game-used.

Got an extra long shift at work today so there's no time to post. Going to leave you with this 2005 Upper Deck Reflections Fabric Reflections card featuring Hank Blalock and a swatch of his jersey.

Should be back tomorrow. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alexi perplexes A's.

Well, the Rangers won one against the A's last night in Oakland. Former A's prospect Alexi Ogando was the key player of the night.

Starter Derek Holland went 5.1 innings and gave up all three of Oakland's runs. Suffering from the effects of a stomach virus, Dutch left the game early and with two runners on. In came Ogando, shown here on card 104 of the 2012 Topps Opening Day set. Alexi shut down the potential A's rally to get out of the sixth. He then went through the seventh without giving up a run. With one hit allowed, one walk, and four struck out Ogando delivered the two run lead to Mike Adams.

Mike held Oakland scoreless through the eighth and in the ninth it was Joe Nathan time. Final score: 6-3 Rangers.

Great to have the bullpen able to ride in and put out the fire. Just so long as the starters don't make a habit of that, it will be all right.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1976 Topps - Nelson Briles.

Ugly game last night. At least from the Rangers standpoint. If you happen to be an A's fan like my brother then you probably enjoyed it. I was getting text messages from him around midnight celebrating the route and lamenting the lost no-hitter. Ugh. Time to take another break from the season.

Nelson Briles, shown here on card 569 of the 1976 Topps set, came to Texas from Kansas City in return for infielder Dave Nelson. Having suffered through two sub-par seasons in Kansas City, Briles was seen as a gamble and a potential rotation upgrade. True, he had injured his knee in KC during the 1974 season but he had also been a star with the Pirates and Cardinals before that.

What Texas got in 1976 was closer to the Cards and Bucs version of Briles rather than what the Royals had experienced. Nellie started 31 of the 32 games he appeared in and won 11 of them. That made him and Gaylord Perry the only two Rangers starters with winning records.

In 210 innings pitched Briles recorded a 3.26 ERA and a 1.290 WHIP. Both were significant improvements over the previous season. He also struck out 98 batters while walking just 47, not bad numbers for a control pitcher who relied mainly on guile.

As a human interest note, Nellie could also sing. Sing well too. In fact, he sang the National Anthem prior to the Old Timer's Game in Arlington in 1976 and had previously sung it before Game Four of the 1973 World Series. Not too shabby there.

1976 had been a bounce-back season for Nelson Briles. At age 32 he seemed to be reviving his baseball career. Keeping it up in 1977 would be the real challenge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Looking up.

Finally some good news after a four game losing streak. Of course the draft also starts today so there may be some more good news on that front as well.

First off is last night's game. Coming off a Ron Washington talk, the team took the field against the Angels in wherever it is that the Angels claim they are from these days. Matt Harrison got the start. He went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs. Hairy still got the win though, thanks in part to Nelson Cruz's two run homer in the seventh inning. MLB.com places the long ball at 491 feet - the longest this season.

Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli both had excellent nights with the bat as well. Alexi Ogando had a bit of a rough time with the three Halos he faced but he, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan managed to keep and Angels runs from scoring in the final 2.1 innings. Great to leave the Big A with a win, even if not with the series. Now if they can just keep that up as they go into Oakland tonight.

The second item of good news concerns Josh Hamilton, shown here on the eight of hearts from the 2008 Academy Sports set. Josh was named the American League Player of the month for May yesterday. That follows on his April award and makes this just the second time in the American League that a player has won back-to-back player of the month awards to start the season. The first player to do it? Josh Hamilton circa 2008.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Best Seasons: Jim Kern - 1979.

Day off yesterday and a late game in Anaheim tonight. That means it's time to move on down the list of T.R. Sullivan's 50 Best Seasons in franchise history.

Jim Kern is entry number 23 on the list with his 1979 performance. He appears here on card 3-RAN of the 1986 TCMA All Time Rangers set. Not sure why a set issued in 1986 uses such a badly done airbrush job when there are plenty of photos of Kern in a Rangers uniform.

Texas acquired The Amazing Emu from Cleveland on October 3, 1978. The return was immediate from the quirky reliever. Coming out of the bullpen in 71 games that year, Jim pitched 143 innings. That was just six innings shy of the Rangers third starter, Doc Medich. Kern converted 29 of his appearances into saves and won 13 games as well. He lost just five games. Jim struck out 136 opposing batters while walking 62. At the end of the season his ERA stood at 1.57.

Pretty amazing season. A performance like that is unlikely to be seen again anytime soon. With the strict limits that most teams observe on overworking their bullpens such use is rare. To see a pitcher used that hard be that effective is even more rare.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Decisions: Firing Bobby Valentine.

What a beating last night. From the Mariners too. Ugly. Coming off two losses in a row to Seattle the Rangers seem like they can use today's day off. I'm going to take advantage of it by looking at the next installment in T.R. Sullivan's Top 50 Decisions the shaped the Rangers.

 Number 28 on Sullivan's list is the firing of manager Bobby Valentine. Bobby V. had been hired in 1985 after the firing of Doug Rader. He would manage the team up until he was fired midway through the 1992 season. At the time of his firing Bobby was the longest tenured manager in the history of the franchise. He was also probably the most popular with the fans.

Valentine, shown here on a signed 1986 Topps card, had a winning record with the Rangers in five of the eight seasons he managed. That is saying something when you consider the players he was given to work with in the early going. By 1992 though the management was looking to compete.

After losing two straight games to fall to 6.5 games behind first-place Minnesota, Bobby was done. Managing partner George W. Bush handled the firing and told the media that Valentine was a good guy but that the team was concerned about the pennant race getting away from them. It did anyway.

Interim manager Toby Harrah was unable to turn things around as he went 32-44 for the remainder of the season. The Rangers finished at 77-85 and in 4th place. Maybe firing Bobby V. with his 45-41 record wasn't the best course of action.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oswalt, pitching, and defense.

So the Rangers have signed Roy Oswalt to a one-year deal. I guess that's good. Could be he does real well and gives them a solid spot in the rotation. Could be his already creaky back goes down after a start or two and all Texas gets is a few spot starts. Either way it's only for one year. Hopefully Nolan Ryan's judgement of players holds up on this one.

The man Roy Oswalt is looking to replace in the rotation takes the hill tonight against the Mariners. Scott Feldman is looking to extend the Rangers current win streak to five games. If he gets the help that Matt Harrison did last night he should be able to do it.

Matt got a great defensive play from Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Mike Napoli in the eighth inning. After Craig Gentry dove for and missed a drive into center it looked as though the Mariners were going to pick up two runs on an inside the park home run. However, Cruz backed up the play and fired the ball into Kinsler. Ian relayed it to Napoli, shown here on his 2011 Allen and Ginter Hometown Heroes card, number HH92. Nap blocked the plate and tagged out Seattle's Brendan Ryan.

If that play wasn't enough, Napoli hammered a three run home run in the sixth inning to put the Rangers ahead for good

Of course Matt Harrison maximized on the help by going eight innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits. He also struck out five while walking nobody. That kind of pitching keeps the team in the game so that hitting like Napoli's and defense like Cruz's matters. Final score: 4-2 Texas.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Don't forget any of them. No matter the time period.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Let me start off by apologizing for missing most of the week. Things just got real busy at work and home. I kept thinking I would be able to get back but it didn't work out until today.

Gotta say that last night's 14-3 trouncing of the Blue Jays is a very nice note to come back on. Derek Holland was great as he went 7.1 innings. He allowed just two runs in the stretch and allowed just one walk while striking out nine.

In spite of that stellar performance I'm going to have to give Nelson Cruz the card of the day. Nellie is shown here on card 96 of the 2010 Topps Chrome set. Cruz went 4-for-5 in the game. He did strike out once but also doubled and hit a grand slam home run. All told he drove in eight of Texas' fourteen runs. Very nice.

In addition to that, he has already homered in today's game. Good to see Nellie's bat back and good to be back to posting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Colby, Neftali, and Michael.

So the Rangers won 6-1 yesterday to take the series from the Astros. Obviously the offense showed up finally but Colby Lewis was the star of the game to be sure. Colby started the game and went 8+ innings. He was lifted after he allowed a lead-off home run in the ninth inning that ended his shutout bid. He allowed just three hits other than that home run and struck out six while walking just one. If that wasn't enough, Colby also jumped in on the offensive side of things. He went 2-for-4 at the plate. While he did strike out twice he also drove in two runs. Not bad at all for an American League pitcher. Steve Busby summed it up nicely, "Atta boy Colby!"

So that's the good news. Couple of items of concern coming down today as well. First is Neftali Feliz, shown here on card 459 of the 2010 Topps Heritage set. The Rangers won his last start on Friday but Neftali took a no-decision as he struggled with his control. Today the Rangers placed him on the 15-day Disabled List for shoulder inflammation. That probably puts him out of action at least until after the All-Star break. At least there were no tears or structural damage in Neftali's shoulder. Scott Feldman is currently slated to step into Feliz's spot in the rotation and Yoshinori Tateyama has been called up from Triple A to replace Feldman in the bullpen. Not sure if that will be the permanent fix or if something else will happen. Jon Daniels says that all options are on the table and that the club has not ruled out trying to sign Roy Oswalt. Hope it's an extremely cheap contract with lots of incentives if they decide to go that way.

The second item of concern comes from Triple A Round Rock. Here is the Rangers official release by way of T.R. Sullivan's blog:

Arlington, Texas—Pitcher Michael Kirkman was diagnosed in January with a form of skin cancer during an examination that took place in Gainesville, FL, which is near his off-season home in Lake City, FL. Michael is currently undergoing regular treatment in Round Rock and is being continually monitored by his doctors in both Florida and Texas. He is allowed to participate in full baseball activity while undergoing the treatment, and the prognosis is for a full recovery.

Scary stuff. Glad to see that a full recovery is expected. Always hope and pray for the best whenever I see or hear of somebody facing the cancer fight.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kicking off the Silver Boot.

Nice 4-1 win in Houston last night to start the 2012 Silver Boot Series. Of course it's probably the final Silver Boot Series with the Astros moving the American League West next season.

Good to see the offense pick up and help Neftali Feliz out. About the only gripe I have is that Feliz went less than five innings. Even though he gave up just one run he was pretty wild and appeared to have been experiencing one of his confidence stumbles.

Robbie Ross continued to impress out of the pen as he worked 2.1 scoreless innings. Would have been nice to see him get a day off but it's also nice to have him there to cruise through the middle innings. Koji Uehara handled the eighth and then Joe Nathan came out and worked a three up-three down ninth. Very encouraging to see him do that on his fourth outing in four days. Looks like he may be completely back to his pre-injury form.

Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, and Michael Young all turned in good offensive performances. Michael gets the card of the day though, number 87 in the 2005 ESPN set. Mike gets the card because his 2-for-3 night ended an 0-for-11 skid that he had been on. Great to see him have a good night after struggling. Hopefully that's what it will take to get him on track and tearing it up again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Odd Moments: Eye for trouble.

Looks like the guys are on track for a win in Houston tonight barring an Astros rally. Since the game is still in progress though I don't want to jinx it by commenting. Instead we'll take a look at one of the Top 50 Strange Moments in Rangers history.

Coming in at number 27 we have Ned Yost, shown here on card 221 of the 1985 Donruss set. The December, 1983 Yost for Sundberg trade was one of the worst trades in Rangers history. This incident helps explain in part why.

In his lone season with Texas Yost appeared in just 80 games. Part of the reason for his low number of appearances was due to being on the disabled list.

Yost had been having trouble hitting and throwing out runners. Many people might have attributed that to the fact that he had been a back-up catcher for his entire Major League career to that point and was trying to transition to a full-time role at 29 years of age. Also, the comparisons with Jim Sundberg could not have been favorable in the minds of most observers. Manager Doug Rader wasn't buying. Something had to be wrong and it couldn't be his opinion of Yost and Sundberg.

Off to the disabled list went Ned. Why? "Excessive eyelid tension." The unique diagnosis was also described as "heavy eyelid tension." I thought that was what happened when you didn't get enough sleep. I never realized how serious it can be. It is though. At the time Doug Rader remarked that, "We're going to treat it just like knee surgery." Now that's bizarre.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Best Seasons: Jon Matlack - 1978.

Extra innings loss this afternoon in Arlington. A's split the series and Mike Adams takes the L. Ends a seven game home stand at 3-4. Hopefully the guys can get it back on track against Houston. Might be a good time for another installment from T.R. Sullivan's 50 Best Seasons in Rangers History list.

Jon Matlack, shown here on a signed 1981 Topps card, had his best seasons with the Mets. However, he still had some gas left in the tank when he came to Arlington. 1978 was his first season with Texas and he joined a pitching rotation that included Fergie Jenkins, Doyle Alexander, and Doc Medich. Jon was supposed to bring some added firepower and he did.

Matlack made 33 starts and pitched 18 complete games for a total of 270 innings pitched. All three were team bests. His 2.27 ERA was also a team best, for the whole pitching staff. His 1.122 WHIP was second only to Fergie Jenkins. He tied Fergie for the team lead in strikeouts with 157.

Not bad numbers and the team stayed in contention as they finished second in the American League West. In addition to leading the team in several pitching categories that season, Jon also put his name in the franchise record book. His 2.27 ERA remains the lowest ever by any Rangers pitcher with at least 200 innings pitched in a season. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Decisions: Four in one.

Doing a rare no scan post today. Got busy before work and now I'm trying to get this posted on my dinner break. Due to the Rangers anemic offense and a couple of poor throws by Colby Lewis the Royals came out on top last night. Not much else to discuss so this strikes me as a good time to take another look at T.R. Sullivan's list of the Fifty Decisions that have shaped the Rangers as a franchise. The lack of a scan works out since the next few entries really don't have a specific player attached to them.

Number 24. San Diego. Astros owner Roy Hofheinz convinced the National League to expand in San Diego in 1969. Dallas had also been under consideration.

Number 25. Sorry Charlie. Charlie Finley started looking to move the Athletics out of Kansas City almost as soon as he bought them. In 1964 he tried to take the team to Dallas. The American League turned him down and the team later went to Oakland instead. That meant no Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, or Vida Blue in Texas. As a side note: Mrs. Spiff is particularly grateful for this entry, she has no interest at all in the A's green and gold.

Number 26. Mike Stone. Eddie Chiles hired him as the club president in 1984. T.R. credits Stone with bringing a real sense of professional organization to the franchise.

Number 27. Sandy Johnson. Hired by Tom Grieve to oversee scouting and player development, he helped build the Rangers farm system into a real talent pipeline that eventually included Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

1976 Topps - Juan Beniquez.

Kind of frustrating last night listening to the ballgame. After playing the Angels hard, the Rangers couldn't score more than one run against the Royals. On top of that, a rare Adrian Beltre error led to two unearned runs to give Scott Feldman the undeserved loss. Time to start through the 1976 Topps team set.

Juan Beniquez appears in an obviously airbrushed uniform on card number 496. Gotta like the buttons and stitches around the collar. The reason for the airbrushing is that Juan came to the Rangers on November 17, 1975. The trade that brought him to Texas also brought Steve Barr and Craig Skok to the Rangers. In exchange Texas sent Fergie Jenkins to Boston.

Moving from a fourth outfielder role with the Red Sox, Beniquez became the Rangers everyday center fielder in 1976. In 141 games he logged 1,169 innings in center. His .986 fielding percentage was five points higher than the league average and his 18 assists were a league best. In fact, they were the most by an American League outfielder since Bobby Mercer managed 21 with the 1974 Yankees.

Juan made 526 plate appearances on offense. His batting average totaled to .255 and his on-base percentage to .315. While Beniquez didn't have a lot of power (he hit no home runs), he did have some speed. He managed to steal 17 bases while getting caught six times.

In retrospect Beniquez's performance in the field had probably been everything that the Rangers were hoping for in 1976. Unfortunately his offense had tailed off significantly from the previous season when he played with Boston. Juan was safe for the immediate future but he needed to get the offense up if he wanted to keep showing off his cannon arm in the outfield.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Walloping on Weaver.

With the series tied at one game apiece, Texas sent Neftali Feliz to the hill last night against the Angels in Arlington. Feliz lasted six innings and gave up two earned runs while striking out five Halos. Not a bad start but several pitchers have found out in the past that a better one is needed against Angels ace Jered Weaver.

Not the case last night though. The Rangers managed to hang eight earned runs on Weaver before he left after 3.1 innings. That was enough to give Feliz the win and hang a rare loss on Jered. Very nice to see the win coming against the division rivals' ace.

Amazingly, Josh Hamilton didn't hit a home run during the game. In fact, the Rangers hit just one long ball as compared to the Angels three. The one Texas homer was a good one though. Nelson Cruz, shown here on card DDC-101 from the 2012 Topps Diamond Die Cut set, hit it in the third inning off Weaver. At the time there were three runners on. Nellie's grand slam made up a major part of the Rangers five run third and helped put them back on top after the Angels briefly led the game 2-1.

The Texas bats kept rolling even after Cruz's blast. Even though reliever Mark Lowe struggled and gave up three runs in his two thirds of an inning pitched, the Rangers managed to stay on top. Final score: 13-6 Texas.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The bombing continues.

Posting Josh Hamilton's 1987 Topps Mini card from this year's Topps set tonight. Texas lost today but Hamilton's home run torrent is continuing as he launched another bomb in the loss.

That gives Josh nine homers in his last six games. Incredible. That's about the only word for it. He's even got Rangers manager Ron Washington expecting something to happen about every time he steps into the batter's box.

The latest onslaught brings Hamilton to 18 home runs on the season. That total leads the Majors. It also puts him on pace to possibly break Barry Bonds' single season home run record. Of course there are those out there who would claim that such a record would be just as tainted as Bonds'. I find that hard to believe with all the extra drug testing that Hamilton is required to undergo by his team and Major League Baseball.

Two big things are going to stand in the way of Hamilton continuing his tear. One is the opposing pitchers. They have already started to intentionally walk him - he leads the league with five intentional free passes so far. Of course the fact that Elvis Andrus is doing well getting on base ahead of him and that he has protection behind him will help minimize that trend.

The second thing that could derail Josh is injury. Hopefully that is a non-issue but with the way he plays all out it is always a possibility. Of course, if he didn't play 110% he wouldn't be Josh so having him back off is not really an option. I do wish that he would do something about his head first slides. They make no sense going into first base and I cringe along with Ron Washington every time he does it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What was that?

Well, Texas split the double header yesterday in Baltimore. The Rangers and Orioles ended up playing the twin bill to makeup for the rain out on Wednesday. I got to listen to the Rangers take game two. I missed game one due to work.

Apparently I missed a very interesting game in spite of the Rangers losing. Colby Lewis, shown here on 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Factory Set card number 634, made the start for Texas. By all accounts he felt good while he was warming up.

Seven innings later Lewis said he still felt fine. In fact he felt like he hadn't thrown much at all. He had though. Enough to strike out 12 O's. Very impressive. With a strikeout total like that one would expect a win. Colby lost though. That was due to the five home runs he gave up. With a home run total like that one would expect that he was being hammered all over the park. Nope. Lewis only gave up five hits in seven innings. All five were long balls though.

12 strikeouts and only five hits over seven innings for a 6-5 loss? Even Colby didn't know what to say about that. He told MLB.com, "It was just a weird game. I don't know how to justify that game." That about sums it all up I think.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hamilton's home run derby.

There isn't much to be said about Josh Hamilton's Tuesday night performance other than that it was simply a thing of beauty.

Josh, shown here on card 274 of the 2009 Allen and Ginter set, went 5-for-5 against the Orioles. That in and of itself is noteworthy. Of those five hits one was a double and four were home runs. That is historical. I believe that Hamilton is now one of 17 players to ever hit four home runs in a single game.

That is one of the most exclusive groups in baseball history. To help put it in perspective, more players have pitched perfect games than have hit four home runs in a game.

Of course the radio talk shows are all abuzz with speculation that Josh's performance is going to drive up his asking price as he goes into a free agency year. Perhaps. It's a long season though and Hamilton has a hard time playing full seasons. If he misses too much time on the Disabled List it could counter Tuesday night's performance. In the end though the ongoing contract negotiations will have to run their course. I will be surprised if a deal is announced before Josh gets to talk to other teams.

The second thing that folks are talking about following Tuesday night's game is Hamilton's legacy. Talk of the Hall of Fame, the single-season home run record, and a possible Triple Crown are in the air. As premature as contract speculation might be, this type of talk is even more so. Josh is dominating when he is healthy. Hopefully he remains healthy and can continue to dominate. However there have been many promising careers cut short by reasons as varied as the ballplayers who played them. The thing is, we may well be watching our generation's Willie Mays. We won't know for several more years though. What we do know right now is that Hamilton is something special with the potential to become something legendary.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Odd Moments: Mangers and Sportswriters.

Extremely busy day today. Going to have to leave you with this pre-scheduled installment from T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Bizarre Moments in Rangers history. Today we see two involving managers and one a sportswriter.

Number 24. Help for Oates - T.R. doesn't give a date for this incident but he does recall that it happened at the Ballpark in Arlington. An irate Johnny Oates left the dugout to argue a call with third base umpire Jim McKean. The argument was barely started when a young man hopped out of the stands to join the confrontation. Apparently he agreed with Oates. That didn't make any difference to the security guards though, he was still hauled off.

Number 25. Valentine suspended - September of 1986. Another confrontation between a manager and umpire. This time the players were Bobby Valentine, shown here on card number 1 of the 1991 Mother's Cookies set, and Larry Burnett. Valentine went way beyond being tossed however, he ended up suspended for four games. That was because he moved from arguing the call to accusing umpire Burnett of having bet on the game. Surely Bobby V. would never say such a thing.

Number 26. Do Ya Wanna Dance? - One of the reoccurring post-game concerts for the Rangers in the 1980's were the Beach Boys. Lots of fun and even some dancing. One particular night Star-Telegram writer Jim Reeves danced on the ledge in front of the press box, all the way down to owner Eddie Chiles' box. Not sure if that occurred during Little Deuce Coupe or California Girls.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Man of many talents.

Listening to last night's game and one thing really stood out. The Rangers were fortunate not to have to face Oriole's reliever Chris Davis, shown here on card 188 of the 2009 Allen and Ginter set.

Davis came on in the bottom of the 16th inning against the Red Sox on Sunday night. He tossed two scoreless frames to pick up the win when the game finally ended after the 17th inning. Rangers fans knew Chris could field and hit but probably had no idea he could pitch as well. Apparently Texas gave up more than they thought in the trade that sent Davis to Baltimore.

Judging by the seven run ninth for the Rangers last night, the O's would have been wise to have broken out their secret weapon again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Minor League Monday - Cris Colon, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Another loss last night. Time for a trip down to the farm.

Cristobal Colon, shown here on card 3 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, was signed by the Rangers in October of 1986. Coming from Venezuela it was hoped that he would be a shortstop in the vein of other great Venezuelans. Being the nephew of former White Sox star Chico Carrasquel helped to add to the expectations.

I have to admit that I am not really sure why Cris is included in this team set. He wouldn't play for Charlotte at all in 1990. Instead he split the season between Single A Gastonia and Double A Tulsa.

Colon earned the promotion from Single to Double A after his bat finally seemed to come around. A .321 batting average in 149 plate appearances got him the ticket.

Unfortunately Cris couldn't quite keep the average going at Double A. In 245 plate appearances his batting average slid to .244 and his on-base percentage to .260. Ominously, his walk total rose by just one while he struck out an additional 13 times. He was able to keep his power numbers steady for the most part but with three less triples his slugging percentage also dropped.

That kind of performance wasn't the way to get the call from Arlington. In fact, it wasn't even the way to stick at Double A. To start off the 1991 season Colon would find himself assigned to A+ ball. The year after this card was issued Cris Colon officially appeared on the Charlotte Rangers roster.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hello win column!

Apparently somebody responded to my post last night and located Derek Holland. Dutch turned in a nice 7.1 inning performance in Cleveland and allowed just two runs, only one of them earned. The second Indian run scored on a Mike Napoli passed ball.

Unfortunately for Derek, those two runs were enough to tie the game up and give him a no decision. Mike Adams picked up the blown save after he and Nap got crossed up. That sent the game into extras.

In the top of the eleventh Adrian Beltre came to the plate following two walks. The first was unintentional, the second was to Mitch Moreland to get to the pinch-hitting Beltre. Adrian, shown here on card US150 of the 2011 Topps Gold set, hasn't started a game in several days due to some hamstring concerns. The Indians must have been thinking that he would be cold coming off the bench.

Sadly for The Tribe, the intentional walk backfired. Beltre launched a three-run shot to put the Rangers up 5-2. Joe Nathan came in for the bottom of the eleventh. In spite of allowing one runner to reach base, he made the lead stand up. That stops the Rangers losing streak at three.

Couple of things about the game. First, it was great to see the shutdown version of Derek Holland show up. He got a tough break with the no decision but still pitched well deep into the game. In spite of the blown save the bullpen pitched well as well. Mike Adams, Alexi Ogando, and Joe Nathan all lowered their ERA's. Adams should have put the Cleveland fire out sooner than he did but I saw nothing to panic about.

Elvis Andrus was also a bright light tonight. Several outstanding defensive plays and a bunch of routine ones. No errors by him or the rest of the defense. Very nice to see that. Hopefully the defense will hold and the pitching continue to come around. The rest of the division is struggling and this is a good time to put some games between them and Texas.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Wow. Seems like this past week every Rangers starter except Yu Darvish has gone missing in action. Tonight was Colby Lewis' turn to lose as the Rangers skid hit three games in a row.

If you happen to see Derek Holland, shown here on 2009 Topps Heritage Chrome #560, Neftali Feliz, or Matt Harrison around please tell them to report to Cleveland to join the team. That way the club can give these batting practice pitchers who have been filling in a break.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

40th Anniversary All-Time Team

Well, the voting is open for the Texas Rangers 40th Anniversary All-Time Team. All you have to do is go here and you can vote from a list of selected players for each position. The position players were placed on the ballot due to being among the team's all-time leaders in games played. Pitchers were selected by wins, games started, appearances, and saves.

Here is the way I voted:
C - Ivan Rodriguez. Almost pulled the trigger for Jim Sundberg. In fact, Sunny has done more for the franchise than Pudge if you count his front-office work.
1B - Will Clark. Started winning with Will. Raffy was great but The Thrill helped bring postseason ball to Arlington.
2B - Ian Kinsler. Bump Wills speed, Julio Franco's offense, and Mark McLemore's glove. Kins gets it hands down.
SS - Michael Young. Michael was only listed here and at second. Toby Harrah should have probably beat him out but that's the stiffest competition he had.
3B - Buddy Bell. Steve Buechele's glove, Hank Blalock and Dean Palmer's bats. Almost went with Harrah here in order to get him on the team but Buddy wins out.
OF - Rusty Greer. Simply a company man and all-out player.
OF - Al Oliver. Great bat.
OF - Jeff Burroughs. First MVP award in team history.
DH - Juan Gonzalez. Power. RBI's. Simply decimated opposing pitching at his peak.
SP - Jon Matlack. Kind of a homer vote, kind of not. Probably about the best lefty the Rangers have ever started on a regular basis.
SP - Fergie Jenkins. 1974. Enough said.
RP - Danny Darwin. Starting in 1978 and running through 1984 Danny was a stable influence on a pitching staff in decline.
RP - Neftali Feliz. Rookie record for saves. I know he melted down during the World Series last year but he filled about any role in the pen the club had for him for the past couple of years.

So there you have it. I wasn't real thrilled that there was no chance to vote for backup players and no chance to write in. Toby Harrah and Jim Sundberg in particular need to be on the team. Also, why just two starting pitchers and two relievers? I can't think of any team that uses that small of a pitching staff. I also left off Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira on purpose even though both were on the ballot. The way they left the team did as much or more damage than what they contributed on the field during their stay.

Any else care to share your vote and/or thoughts on the process and ballot?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One of those days.

It's one of those days. A 1988 Score day. Look at card number 452 in the set and you know what I mean. Nothing against Dale Mohorcic but there's just not a lot of inspiration there. More blah than ha.

That's pretty much the way the day has gone. Feeling run down and dealing with some news on the home front. Nothing too serious but a letdown all the same. The Rangers loss to Toronto this afternoon really didn't help.

Since my motivation level is pretty low I'm going to call it a day. Should be back tomorrow and ready to post again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bottom up!

Normally if a Rangers pitcher had just won his fourth victory of the season before the end of April and had improved with just about every start, I would post his card. Unfortunately I have no cards of Yu Darvish. So, in spite of his nine strikeouts in seven innings last night, I can't post a card of his.

I can post a card of Mitch Moreland though. Here he is on card 634 of the 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Factory Set. Mitch batted 8th last night. In the seventh inning he sent a solo shot over the wall. A few minutes later Craig Gentry, batting 9th also went yard. Back-to-back jacks from the bottom of the order!

Those shots helped put the Rangers 4-1 win on ice. If they keep it up I had better add Gentry and Moreland cards to my shopping list alongside Darvish.