Tuesday, April 30, 2013

1977 Topps - Doyle Alexander.

With the Rangers having the day off yesterday I figured it was as good a time as any to get started on the 1977 Topps team set. Doyle Alexander leads off on card number 254.

Alexander's wearing airbrushed duds because he was signed by Texas as a free agent on November 23, 1976. The Rangers expected Alexander to be a solid starter and give the team a lift down the stretch.

Doyle served only as a starter in 1977, making 34 starts and pitching a career high 237 innings. That tied him with Gaylord Perry for starts and put him one inning behind Perry for the team lead. While Alexander's 3.65 ERA and 1.278 WHIP were not team bests, his 17 wins were. This in spite of a career high number of walks.

All in all the Texas Rangers got what they wanted when they signed Doyle Alexander - a solid starter they could run out on a consistent basis. As far as the stretch help, Alexander won four of his last five starts with the Rangers in contention.

In 1977 Doyle Alexander was one of those rare free agent signings that work out as expected. His increased walks were a concern but if he could get them back down to his previous numbers he could be a solid piece of the rotation for several years.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Minor League Monday - Doug Cronk, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Two losses in the last two days. Not good. At least the Rangers are still in first. The day off today can't hurt and tomorrow they are at home. Time to get on another roll.

Figured this would be as good a time as any to get back to Minor League Monday. Today we have Doug Cronk appearing on card number 5 five of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set.

Texas promoted Doug to Charlotte after he spent the 1989 season at Gastonia. The jump from A to A+ was probably at the same time in spite of, and because of, the high number of strikeouts he had in 1989. He moved up anyway but didn't get to Double A.

Cronk appeared in 106 games and made 390 plate appearances for the Charlotte Rangers. His batting average tumbled 65 points to .186 while his on-base percentage dipped 50 points to .301. He hit just four home runs as compared to 22 in 1989 and struck out 91 times. His fielding percentage remained the same at .989.

Those weren't good numbers for any player trying to make their way up the minor league chain. Especially not for Doug Cronk. 22nd round picks usually don't get a lot of second chances and Cronk didn't get one. 1990 would be his last season in pro ball.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Senators Saturday - Gene Woodling, 1962.

So, the Rangers are on a win streak. I still have no 2013 cards except for a Topps Heritage Neftali Feliz. He's still on the Disabled List though and isn't taking part in the wins.

After fighting with a dying computer I finally got card number 125 of the 1962 Topps set scanned. Sort of. The actual card does not cut off Gene Woodling's name or position.

Coming off a fine season in 1961, Gene was still 39 years old and playing out the twilight of his career. Coming into the 1962 season the Senators revamped their outfield. All three starting outfielders from the 1961 campaign lost their jobs.

Serving in a backup role Gene appeared in just 44 games for Washington and made 135 plate appearances. He would post a .280 batting average and a .421 on-base percentage. The batting average was a drop from the previous season but was still higher than the three regular outfielders. Woodling used his veteran cunning to raise his on-base percentage and lead the team in that category.

Still, with eight total outfielders in the mix, something had to give. Woodling was the oldest and therefore the most expendable. On June 15, 1962 the Senators sold Gene's contract to the New York Mets. On March 8, 1963 his Major League career would close when the Mets released him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Odd Moments: Conflicts.

Loss to the Cubs last night. To the Cubs. Sigh. Guess that's what happens when all semblance of control deserts your starting pitcher. Time to get back to the Top Fifty Odd Moments in Rangers History list. Got several installments today.

Number 28. WWF pitch selection - May 24, 2005 in Kansas City. Rod Barajas, shown here on card 329 of the 2005 MLB Showdown set, was the starting catcher. Ryan Drese took the hill for Texas. The result was a 4-3 Rangers win but not before a tense moment in the dugout. Chanelling Ray Chalk and Lefty Williams, Barajas and Drese mixed it up in the dugout over pitch selection. At one point the pair was rolling on the floor and had to be separated by teammates and manager Buck Showalter. Buck declined to comment on the incident after the game. Barajas shook Drese's hand when the latter gave way to a reliever.

Number 29. Preparing for the worst - For a short period after the Rangers left Arlington Stadium for the final time it was empty and vacant. Scheduled to be torn down, the park was the source of alarm when gunfire was heard from inside. Apparently an employee gave the FBI permission to use the stadium as a training ground for anti-terrorist drills. Good idea. Even better would have been to tell someone about the pending training.

Number 30. Bopping practice - Not wanting to mix it up only with teammates Rangers catcher Gerald Laird got into a fight with Angels infielder Adam Kennedy during batting practice in 2005. Tom Hicks and Arte Moreno were chatting nearby and were not thrilled with the altercation.

Number 31. Zip it - Not everyone liked Howard Cosell. A Rangers batboy made several disparaging remarks about the announcer during a broadcast. Unfortunately the on-field microphones picked it up. The next time the Rangers were on national television the batboy appeared with a piece of tape over his mouth.

Ok, quick update on the card giveaway. The Red Sox are spoken for and a package is being assembled. Nothing else has been claimed. Help me out and put in your order. Promise no doubles in the lot. I would rather ship than toss these cards.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rainy day in Chicago.

No baseball last night for Rangers fans. Too much rain in Chicago. Now the team is facing the prospect of a special trip to ChiTown on an off day for one game against the Cubs. Have I mentioned how much I dislike this everyday inter-league play?

Still unpacking and getting my collection organized in its new home. Had a through the mail request come back during the time we were looking for a house. This 1992 Donruss card and two others came back from Dean Palmer on November 6, 2012. I sent the cards to Dean on November 1, 2009. At one time one of the more prolific and speedy signers, Deano seems to have slowed down a bit.

Slowing down. Julio Borbon's trade value seems to have slowed down. The Rangers weren't able to get a solid offer for him so he's on waivers. If he clears it's off to Double A. If not a trade could still be hammered out. Either way Borbon is getting sent somewhere.

Speaking of sending and waivers, I need some help. With the move I have realized I have a serious overload of commons and minor stars from other teams. Such an overload that the group is on waivers. Something inside me rebels at the thought of pitching these cards but it's looking like a possibility. If I could send them to a good home it would be nice. Right now I am low on Royals, A's, and Rangers. I could probably come up with a package for any of the other teams. If you would like some free cards of your favorite team let me know and I'll get them out to you. No trade needed. Please help me out before these cards clear waivers and things get ugly.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dealing, Dutch, and dead bats.

Well, I think I've reached an accord with my computer. At least for the time being. It let me scan card #136 of the 2010 Topps National Chicle set featuring Julio Borbon. Guess we'll see how long the cooperation lasts.

When Topps issued this card Borbon was probably the Rangers top outfield prospect. They were looking at him as the center fielder of the future.With injuries to Julio and Leonys Martin's arrival, that plan didn't work out. Now Jon Daniels is looking to deal Borbon because he's out of options. Word is the Rangers are looking to get pitching and are wanting more than just a roster filler. Makes sense. Borbon is a decent player, young, and has a lot of potential. He just didn't work out in Texas. He could very easily do well elsewhere. Apparently several teams are interested in him. Just what kind of pitching JD can haul in will be interesting to see.

Speaking of pitching, Derek Holland is near the top of my list of early season surprises for the Rangers. After three starts Dutch has tossed 22 innings while compiling a 1.64 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. The fact that he's walked just four batters helps those numbers immensely. Now to see if he can maintain his performance. Consistency has been Derek's problem from the get-go. If he can figure that out he has ace potential.

The Rangers offense has been consistent for Holland in his three starts this year. Consistently bad. With no run support to speak of Holland is just 1-1. He should be 3-0. Newcomers A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman brought their bats to the regular season as has Ian Kinsler. Nelson Cruz has also put on an offensive appearance. David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus, and Adrian Beltre seem to be missing in action at the plate. If anyone finds their bats in your freezer please thaw them out and return them to the team. With the A's on a tear Texas cannot afford to waste any decent outings by the pitching staff.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Technical difficulties...

Having trouble with the computer with the scanner so I can't scan cards for posts. I can get online with the laptop but the scanner won't interface with the laptop. Will try and get it all sorted out this weekend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Odds and ends.

One of the problems with dealing with a recent move is the lack of new cards. I don't have any of the 2013 issues yet. I've seen them in stores but didn't pick any up because I had no place to store them and make sure they didn't get damaged. Everything was in storage.

That said, you will have to settle for Dean Palmer on card number 88 of the 1996 Pinnacle Aficionado set. I like the concept of this set with the player's profile embossed along one side of the card. The placement of the background picture on Palmer's card is not the best though.

Ok, the Rangers won last night. Good. Puts them at 4-1 on this home stand and 6-2 on the season. Considering that's against Anaheim and Tampa Bay as well as Houston I figure things area looking ok so far. Good to see the young guys step up. Rookie Nick Tepesch gave up just one run in 7.1 innings. Not too bad for a guy who wasn't supposed to make the team coming out of Spring Training. Rookie Leonys Martin went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the number nine spot. Also good to see the old man Lance Berkman working on making believers out of skeptics. I wasn't thrilled when Texas signed Lance but if he keeps up like his 3-for-4 performance last night I'm going to have to say I was wrong.

I want to go on record right here and now and say the Rangers main worry in the American League West is not the Angels of wherever they are this week. It's that no-name Oakland A's team. I said it before Spring Training started but want to get it here in writing. The A's six game winning streak seems to be bearing me out.

Kind of a downer as well. With Nick Tepesch's arrival, the Rangers designated Julio Borbon for assignment. Once the center fielder of the future, Borbon got passed up by Martin and Craig Gentry. Now he's out of options and the Rangers have ten days to trade him or place him on waivers. Borbon's not a bad player and you can bet John Daniels is on the phone trying to swing a deal. Best of luck to Julio wherever he lands. Just not while playing against Texas.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Josh hammers himself.

Ok, so I have been keeping up with the Rangers for the most part, even if I haven't been keeping up here. One of the major off-season stories was the signing of Josh Hamilton, shown here on the eight of spades from an Academy Sports playing card deck. Well, in Anaheim the story may have been the signing of Josh. In Texas it was the failure to sign Josh. While I understand Josh signing with another team and I understand Arte Moreno's compulsion to be just like George Steinbrenner, I do have a couple of thoughts.

Josh Hamilton was one of the most popular players in recent Rangers history. His story was inspirational and his playing amazing when he was on. He constantly used his platform to witness for Christ. That's almost all gone now. The popularity is long dried up and blown away. Josh himself torched the rapport with the fans and sadly, razed his witness as well. How did it all happen?

Josh (or his agent) told the Rangers they would get a chance to match any offer made. The first Jon Daniels heard of the Angels offer was the announcement that Hamilton signed with them. That's shady at best, dishonest at worst. Hamilton didn't want to sign with Texas because he got booed towards the end of last season as the team collapsed. That's fine. Just say so from the get go.

Katie Hamilton didn't help ease the fans' pain with her comments at the signing announcement about how the Rangers didn't really love Josh and didn't really try to resign him. That doesn't square with the $100 million four-year deal they offered shortly before Josh signed for $125 million for five years. Looks like Texas offered about what he accepted. As for if they would have matched, see above paragraph.

Hamilton showed up for the Angels' spring training full of vim and vinegar - and apparently bitterness. In an interview he famously stated the Dallas-Fort Worth area is not a baseball town. Well, if he meant that the NFL is more popular than MLB, he is right. He clarified his remarks though by stating the fans don't support the team and are "spoiled" by recent successes. Predictably, things took an ugly turn. Jerseys were burned and plans made to greet him when the Angels showed up for the home opener. Current Rangers players wisely denied knowing what Josh was talking about. Team management was suddenly not at fault for not signing him.

Home opener on Friday and the Angels showed up. Prior to the game the score board welcomed ballpark visitors to "Baseball Town." Tremendous booing for Hamilton. Every strike, out, and misplayed ball was cheered. Boos every time his name was announced. Chants of "Baseball town, baseball town." Ok, the fans got their licks in. Time to move on, right? Wrong.

At the post-game press conference Hamilton's arrogance and cluelessness was on full display. He remarked he was proud to be the source of the booing as it was the loudest he had ever heard the ballpark. If he could finally be the spark to put life into Rangers fans he was glad to help. A total load of horse manure there. Josh must have been asleep during the 2010 post-season and the 2011  post-season. Life and noise abounded.

As if that wasn't enough, Josh referenced Scripture when talking about the booing. He stated it was kind of like Jesus being rejected in His hometown. A prophet without honor and all that. Of course Josh forgot to mention what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:20 - there is no profit or glory if you suffer for your own faults.

That's the sad part. Almost all this animosity, name-calling, and bad blood has one source - Josh Hamilton's actions and words. Josh isn't some paragon of virtue returning to play against a team who scorned him. He's an immature arrogant ballplayer who can't seem to keep his mouth shut when he desperately needs to.