Monday, December 23, 2013

Technical problems...

Quick post to let you know I'm having computer issues. May not be able to post again until after Christmas. Sorry about the lack of posts.

In case I'm not able to get back before then I want to wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Random Rangers auto.

Not much to report today from the Rangers. On the home front things are starting to get busy leading up to Christmas. At least there's no crisis, just a lot to get done before the relatives arrive.

Today you are getting a truly random Rangers autograph. Mike Stanley signed and returned this 1988 Donruss card for me in the early 1990's. It was one of my first TTM successes.

Hopefully you and yours are enjoying this holiday season in spite of all the rush and hurry. We should all remember to take some time to remember and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1977 Topps - Tom Grieve.

Following a mixed season in 1976, Tom Grieve returned to a backup/designated hitter role in 1977.

Grieve, shown here on card 403 of the 1977 Topps set, played in 79 games for Texas that year. He made 255 plate appearances while compiling a .225 batting average and a .273 on-base percentage. those numbers were all significant drops from the previous season. Tom's power also deserted him as his home run total dropped from 20 to just seven. All the while he was being victimized by his old nemesis, the K. Grieve would strike out 57 times in 1977 while walking just 13.

In his backup role Tom played 443.1 innings combined at the two corner outfield positions. He did not appear in center and spent most of his time in right field. He made just two errors but still ended up with a .976 fielding percentage, two point under the league average.

It was looking more and more like Tom Grieve had been given his chance with Texas and failed to nail down a starting spot. He was looking at a backup role for the foreseeable future with the team. That future might or might not extend very far, backup players are usually available for trade.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Senators Saturday - Howie Koplitz, 1964.

It is fitting, with the Rule Five draft just completed, that Howie Koplitz is the next Senator up. Washington got Howie from the Tigers in the 1963 Rule Five draft. He had stints with Detroit in 1961 and 1962 before spending 1963 at Triple A.

Before we go any further, I have to say I am liking Howie's glasses as shown on card 372 of the 1964 Topps set. They give him a real common man look that you don't see much from today's ball players.

During the 1964 season Koplitz played for the Senators and Braves shared Triple A affiliate in Toronto. He also played a few games for the Giants Triple A affiliate in Tacoma, Washington. Not sure how he ended up playing in Tacoma and still being available for a call-up by the Senators.

Howie really didn't do too badly in the minors and the pitching starved Senators decided to give him a shot. He would end up appearing in six games, all but one in relief. Over 17 innings he posted a 4.76 ERA and a 1.941 WHIP. Those weren't real good numbers but at least he had made it back to the Big Leagues.

Howie Koplitz managed to avoid disappearing into the farm system when he switched teams. What he needed to do for 1965 was work on improving to the point he could get a spot nailed down in the Washington bullpen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best Seasons: Buddy Bell - 1979.

Working our way rapidly through T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history now that the winter has quieted down for Texas.

Coming in at number 34 is Buddy Bell, shown here on card number 1 of the 1985 Fleer Limited Edition set. Bell makes the list on the strength of his 1979 season.

In his first season with Texas, Buddy played in a league-leading and career high 162 games. That gave him a career high 720 plate appearances. He took advantage and posted a .299 batting average and a .327 on-base percentage. Neither were career bests but his 200 hits were. So were his 42 doubles, 89 runs scored, and 101 RBI. His 18 home runs were within two of a career high.

In the field Bell had a significantly higher range factor than other third basemen. He committed just 15 errors in 495 chances over 1210.2 innings. That gave him a .970 fielding percentage, that was 16 points higher than the league average at third.

Bell had amazed in his first season for Texas. He earned a Gold Glove and MVP consideration. He also started to build his reputation as possibly the best defensive player outside of catcher to ever suit up for Texas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Best Seasons: Mark Teixeira - 2005.

Number 33 in T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history is Mark Teixeira's 2005 effort.

Teixeira, shown here on card 94 of the 2006 Upper Deck Artifacts set, was already a star as he began his third season in the Majors. He would continue to excite Ranger fans.

Mark played in all 162 games and went to the plate 730 times. Both remain career highs. He compiled a .301 batting average and a .379 on-base percentage. He walked 72 times. He also hit 41 doubles, three triples, and 43 home runs. It remains the only time in his career he has reached 40 home runs in a season. The 144 RBI he knocked in also remain a career best.

On defense Teixeira continued to build his reputation as an above average gloveman. His .998 fielding percentage was 18 points higher than the league average for first basemen. He committed just three errors all season.

Mark Teixeira had a monster season in 2005 by any standard. The sportswriters and fans noticed. He was elected to the All-Star game, won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, and received MVP consideration. Hard to top a season like that.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1977 Topps - Steve Foucault.

Steve Foucault makes his final appearance as a Texas Ranger on card 459 of the 1977 Topps set. By the time collectors were pulling this card from packs Steve was part of the Detroit Tigers. Texas sent him to Detroit on April 12, 1977 in return for Willie Horton.

Foucault's standout year with Texas was 1974. Manager Billy Martin probably overused his arm that season and he was never able to get back to that level again. After the trade he would play two more seasons in the Majors before hanging up the spikes after the 1978 season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Minor League Monday - Barry Manuel, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Barry Manuel, shown here on card #12 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, was drafted by Texas in the second round of the 1987 draft. In spite of any real impressive numbers, he was promoted up to Double A by the end of 1989. There his performance caught up with him. He was sent back down to A+ Charlotte for the 1990 season.

Barry made 57 appearances for Charlotte in 1990. All of those were out of the bullpen and he finished 56 of the games he pitched in. Over 56.1 innings he posted a 2.88 ERA and a 1.225 WHIP. While he had a lower ERA with Charlotte in 1988, Manuel's WHIP was the lowest of his professional career. The experiment of converting him from a starter to a reliever seemed to be right on track. That's probably the reason for the smile on his card.

Based on his improved numbers, Manuel would start the 1990 season back at Double A Tulsa. He had his second chance, now he just needed to make good on it and complete the climb to the Bigs.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yesterday's post today.

Been a slow couple of days on the Rangers front. Fits with the icy conditions on the local roads. Also fits with the flu that has been tearing through my house. Sorry about the lack a post yesterday. I got this 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Factory Set #498 scanned but then the flu and the slow Internet (probably due to the weather) caught up with me.

Anyway, Texas announced yesterday they have signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a one-year contract worth about $2 million. The plan is for Arencibia to serve as a backup to Geovany Soto next season. It seems the club doesn't want anyone blocking Jorge Alfaro when he's ready for the big time.

In other news, former Ranger pitcher of the year Scott Feldman, shown on today's card, signed a three year contract with the Houston Astros. That means Texas will be seeing him several times throughout the season.

Former Ranger catcher Mike Napoli is headed back to the Boston Red Sox. Nap and the BoSox worked out a two-year deal.

Well, hopefully the roads and my head will clear up in the next day or two so I can get back to normal life and normal posting.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Need a little help.

You're getting a truly random Rangers card today. This 2000 Topps Home Team Advantage card of Todd Zeile was the first Rangers card I saw when I went looking for something to post. I received it a few days ago after buying it for $0.20 with free shipping on Ebay. It has nothing to to do with the point of the post.

The point is to ask my readers for a little help. I've never been a blogger who sends out Christmas packages to folks. That's going to change for this year. I need to thin the amounts of other teams cards I have. The Oakland A's already have a home as do the Rangers but just about everyone else is looking to go.

What I need is names, addresses, and team preferences. Yours is great. A friend or family member's is also great. All I ask is no pranks. No Yankees cards to the BoSox fans and such. I would be happy to include your name as the person who requested the cards or not at your direction.

What the packages will include is a random assortment of the team's cards. They'll go out in the order I received the requests as I come up with the extra cash.

Shoot me an email at rmatlack3 at Juno dot com if you can help out. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gentry goes.

Well, the Rangers made another move yesterday and the result is that Craig Gentry, shown here on card US17 of the 2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary set, will not be on the team in 2014. Texas dealt Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom to the Oakland A's in exchange for outfielder Michael Choice and middle infielder Chris Bostick.

Going to miss Gentry. He is a good defensive player with great speed on the bases. I like those types of players and could handle the fact that his bat can be a bit soft at times. I was looking forward to him getting a little more playing time this coming season. At least that's likely for him with Oakland.

Lindblom is probably not going to be greatly missed unless the Athletics turn him into a real mean machine. Coming over in the Michael Young trade, he just never stuck with the Rangers. Spent most of last season at Triple A.

From what I read, Michael Choice was the number two prospect in the Oakland system. He's supposed to be an average defender able to play all three outfield spots with a bat rapidly developing into a serious threat. He got a look by the A's last season. Texas is looking at him to earn a starting job for 2014 and possibly hit in the middle of the lineup.

Chris Bostick was ranked as the 17th top prospect in the A's system. He's never played above Single A and is a long way from the Majors. He has the potential to develop though and could be a name to remember for the future.

Obviously Choice and Gentry were the two big names in the deal. Texas clearly traded speed for power. I asked my A's fan brother what he thought. He was excited to see Billy Beane replacing Seth Smith in center field and thought Lindblom was worth a gamble. He had never heard of Michael Choice or Chris Bostick. I wasn't surprised Bostick wasn't being talked about. Choice was another matter. Texas usually talks about their top two or three prospects. Maybe Oakland doesn't.

Going to be interesting to see how this all turns out. Texas is looking at a lot of young kids taking the field next year. That could be good or could cause an implosion. A lot of it will depend on how well the veterans in the clubhouse handle the transition.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1977 Topps - Bill Fahey.

Sorry about missing Topps Tuesday last week and posting a different theme. I must not have been thinking clearly at the time. Going to go to Bill Fahey on card 511 of the 1977 Topps set to get back on track.

Despite remaining healthy in 1976, Fahey did not get a real shot at the Rangers starting catcher spot. Jim Sundberg pretty much had that nailed down. Fahey ended up splitting the backup duties with John Ellis.

Bill would fill in for Jim Sundberg in parts of 34 games. In 186.1 innings he flawlessly handled 109 chances for a 1.000 fielding percentage. He also allowed no passed balls. That was pretty good. Where the difference began to show was that teams ran on Fahey. He caught just four of the 22 players who ran on him. That 18% of caught stealing was well below the league average and far below Jim Sundberg's numbers.

Fahey also made 72 trips to the plate in 1977. His .221 batting average and .232 on-base percentage were both significant drops from the previous season.

Bill Fahey's 1977 season followed the now familiar pattern of backing up other catchers. The drop in offense was a concern though. If Bill wanted to be backing up Jim Sundberg in 1978 he had better figure out how to patch the holes in his bat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Minor League Monday - Jim Hvizda, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

In 1990 Jim Hvizda, shown here on card 11 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set, was still a long way from the madness that would later grip him. He was also a long way from the Majors but appeared to be making progress.

Coming off a stellar 1989 season at Gastonia, Hvizda started the 1990 season at A+ ball. He pitched a total of 28.2 innings in relief over 13 games for Charlotte. He made quite the impression with his 1.57 ERA and 0.907 WHIP. That impression was enough to earn a mid-season promotion to Double A.

While finishing out the season with the Tulsa Drillers, Jim appeared in 32 games, again all in relief. In the 43 innings he pitched he posted a 3.77 ERA and a 1.419 WHIP. Those were significant performance drops over his time with Charlotte and Gastonia.

Apparently the change in performance with the promotion was enough to give the Texas front office pause. 1990 would be Hvizda's last year in the Rangers minor league system. He ended up with the Brewers Single A club in 1991 and then hung it up.