Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1978 Topps - George Medich.

The Rangers signed George Medich as a free agent on November 11, 1977 in an attempt to bolster their starting rotation. That's probably the reason for the airbrush job on card 583 of the 1978 Topps set. There can be no reason for how poorly done it is.

"Doc" earned his nickname when he started medical school the day after his Major League debut with the Yankees. He made it successfully through and became a full-fledged MD while playing Major League baseball. In 1978 he was a first year resident in general surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. The hours were considerably worse than those of a MLB player.

Sometimes those hospital hours intertwined with baseball. On July 17, 1977 in Baltimore, Medich was running wind sprints in the outfield prior to a game with the Orioles. Suddenly the loudspeaker requested medical assistance in section 7 of the stands and asked for any medical personnel in the park to respond to that location. Medich did so and was apparently the only doctor in the house. He found 61-year-old Germain Languth in apparent cardiac arrest and began CPR. Doc kept it up until paramedics arrived and took over. Three weeks later Languth walked out of the hospital. Several other doctors credited Medich with the save.

When he wasn't saving lives, Medich made 22 starts in 28 appearances for  Texas in 1978. He pitched 171 innings and put together a 3.74 ERA and an 1.275 WHIP. He ended the season with a 9-8 record and two saves. None of those numbers were career bests but Doc served reasonably well as the Rangers fourth starter and occasional emergency reliever. Texas would like to see some improvement in 1979 though. After all, a fourth starter can be challenged for his spot in the rotation.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Minor League Monday - Mitch Thomas, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Mitchell Drew Thomas, shown here on card 1157 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers set, was the Rangers pick in the 8th round of the 1985 draft. He got started on his pro career the same year with the Gulf Coast Rangers in the Rookie League.

Thomas also played for the Single A Salem Redbirds in 1985 and again in 1986. In 1987 he appeared with the Single A Charlotte Rangers.

After three seasons of Single A, Mitch got a ticket up to Double A Tulsa. He was with Tulsa in 1988 and 1989. Apparently he got injured late in the 1988 season or first thing in 1989. He only played in one game in 1989 and only pitched four innings. Thomas remained at Double A for the 1990 season.

In 1990 Thomas appeared in eight games for the Drillers, all as a starter. Over 37.2 innings he compiled a 3.35 ERA and an 1.354 WHIP. He struck out 28 opposing batters while walking 26. He ended the season 2-3.

If I had to guess, I would say Mitch Thomas was injured in his first start of 1989 and didn't return to play until midway through the 1990 season. By that time he was significantly behind the developmental curve. Apparently either the Rangers or Thomas felt he would be unable to complete a come-back. 1990 was his final season as a professional ball player.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Greatest Gift.

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

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wow! Just, Wow!

So I was gone most of last Monday. Returned home just before midnight. As I was helping get sleeping kiddos out of the car Mrs. Spiff told me there was a box on the front porch. Hmm, I hadn't ordered anything. All the Christmas gifts arrived already. Mrs. Spiff told me the box didn't look like it had been shipped. I squinted in the dark. "Spiff" it said in black sharpie.

Kids in, I hauled the box in and examined it. It was heavy and was closed by the flaps being folded together. No indication on the outside who it was from.

Opened it up to find a note from Tom over at The Angels, In order. The note said Tom needed more room for his Angels stuff and thought I might like the contents of the box rather than him throwing them out. Boy did I ever!

Under the note was a stack of Rangers awesomeness. A pin, a wall banner from the Junior Rangers Club (Just like Spiff Jr's!), a media guide, assorted stadium handouts, two decks of Rangers playing cards, and 26 assorted magazines, programs, and Rangers yearbooks! I about fell over. What a great surprise!

I know I didn't have most of the contents of the box. This program from September 1-3, 2003 was one of many items I didn't have. There were even doubles of a couple of programs. You might think that is a bummer. Spiff Jr didn't. He thought Christmas came early when I handed the extras to him and told him they were his. The boy had to be pried away from reading them to take a shower and get to bed.

Tom's note said I shouldn't feel under any obligation to keep the contents of the box. I don't but I will. I haven't made it all the way through the box but I haven't found anything that will be getting tossed. Thanks a ton, Tom. There's no way to thank you enough so that will have to do for now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1978 Topps - Dave May.

Dave May, shown here on card 362 of the 1978 Topps set, came to Texas via the Jeff Burroughs trade. He was expected to be a back-up outfielder in 1977.

With Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve fighting injuries, May got a lot more playing time in 1977 than the Rangers planned. He appeared in 120 games, mostly in right field but with time at the other two outfield positions and at designated hitter as well. May actually played right field enough to be considered the primary right fielder for the club.

In 340 at-bats he put together a .241 batting average and a .311 on-base percentage. He hit 14 doubles, one triple, and seven home runs.

Dave served well as an emergency fill-in in 1977. He wasn't what the Rangers were looking for long-term though. That made him an extra wheel in an already crowded outfield that was undergoing an major overhaul. On May 17, 1978 Texas sold May's contract to the Milwaukee Brewers. After just one season, Dave May's time as a Texas Rangers was over.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Minor League Monday - Mike Taylor, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Well, Christmas is rapidly approaching and things are getting pretty busy here. Hope everyone is enjoying the season and not getting too overwhelmed by all the preparation. Taking a few minutes out to post since it's been awhile since I did so.

Today we have Michael David Taylor appearing on card 1156 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set. Mike was drafted by the Orioles in the 1986 regular phase, and the Brewers in the 1986 secondary draft. He finally signed with Texas after being drafted a third time in 1987. Mike started his pro career the same year with the Gastonia Rangers.

Taylor spent three seasons at Single A. Two with Gastonia and one with the Charlotte Rangers. He gradually lowered his ERA and WHIP over the tree seasons. 1989 was his best at Single A as he turned in a 2.55 ERA and an 1.582 WHIP over 99 innings. It was up to Double A for the 1990 season.

Serving as a swing man, Mike made 9 starts for Tulsa in 33 appearances in 1990. He pitched 98 innings and ended the season with a 1-6 record and two saves. Taylor's lack of wins was probably attributable to his 5.79 ERA and 1.582 WHIP. His control seemed to have entirely deserted him as he hit ten opposing batters (career high) and walked 47 in between ten wild pitches (career high).

Double A had not been kind to Mike Taylor. He hadn't had a year quite as bad as 1990 since he signed with Texas. The loss of control in a right-hander was very concerning indeed. I can't determine if it was caused by an injury or some other issue and there's no way to find out if it would have gotten better. 1990 was Mike Taylor's last pro season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Random Rangers and free cards.

Not much going on in Ranger land recently. Been pretty hectic in my world though and I apologize for the lack of recent posts. The lead-up to Christmas has begun and my time seems to be disappearing before my very eyes. Doesn't look like things will be slowing down anytime soon either.

With the lack of activity on the Rangers front, I opted for a random Rangers game-used card today. Hank Blalock got the call on this 2004 Upper Deck Matinee Idols card featuring a swatch of Hank's jersey.

I could use some help from my readers (if my lack of posting hasn't driven them all off). The Christmas giveaway was a success, even if I would have preferred to send out more packages. Space was cleared enough to allow me to sample the upcoming 2015 releases. Then a very nice problem. I was given a defunct collection. Mostly Indians. Enough to fill up the empty space and then some in the American League box. Enough other cards to take up most of the empty space in the National League box.

I need an Indians collector willing to take free cards. A Giants collector would also be appreciated since I am reaching critical mass on the black and orange. Of course, any space cleared would be good. If you missed the Christmas giveaway please let me know. Include a couple of teams you would be interested in (in order of preference). Email me at rmatlack3 at juno dot com with your name, address, and team list. If I have cards left from any of the teams you list I'll get some out to you in the next couple of weeks. Free cards. Can't beat that can ya?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Senators Saturday - Joe Coleman, 1968.

Joe Coleman looks less than impressed with the pitch he just threw on card 573 of the 1968 Topps set. Seeing as this is probably a pose, it's an interesting facial expression.

1968 was Joe's first full season in the Majors. He made 33 starts for Washington and completed 12 of them. Two of those complete games were shutouts. Coleman led the club in starts and never appeared in relief. He ended the season with a 12-16 record.

Over the 223 innings he pitched (team high), Joe put together a 3.27 ERA and an 1.179 WHIP. He whiffed 139 opposing batsmen (team best) while issuing 51 free passes. His 2.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best on the team. Joe also tossed nine wild pitches and hit 12 batters.

Joe Coleman had been a workhorse for the Senators in 1968 and appeared to do well in his first full season with the club. He had some work to do though. His control obviously needed to be polished up. If Coleman could lower his WHIP a bit he might see his ERA drop some. That could put him from being a serviceable pitcher to a good one. Washington might have something in Joe Coleman and they wanted to see him develop quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tom's Terrific!

Got a nice surprise in the mail this morning from Tom over at The Angels, In Order. Of course, it's always nice to hear from Tom but he outdid himself this time.

Just because he's a nice guy, Tom sent me a nice assortment of Rangers cards and team issue cards. Since I have only been to one FanFest in my life I really appreciate those kind of issues. It's surprising how hard they are to find on the secondary market.

What really made my day was that quite a few of the team issue cards were signed. Nine to be exact. Not often I open a package and fine nine Rangers autographs. A day to remember for sure.

One of the signed ones was this ballpark view card signed by former Ranger Ellis Valentine. Ellis was a Ranger for only a few weeks so it's hard to find any cards showing him in a Texas uniform. A card like this answers the purposes of obtaining an autograph nicely.

Thanks for the package Tom. I really appreciate it and it adds a lot to my collection.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Back and catching up.

Wow! It's been a long time since my last post and for that I apologize. Things got really hectic aver the past two weeks and I wasn't able to get enough posts pre-scheduled to make up the difference. I'm back in town now though and have no plans for any further vacations in the immediate future. Hopefully that means the regular posts are back. Lots going on with the Rangers since I last posted.

Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar both got good news. They had MRI's and things are looking good. Moreland should be full strength by Spring Training and Profar should be back by the start of the 2015 season.

Adam Rosales, Michael Kirkman, and Alexi Ogando, shown here on card 56 of the 2014 Topps Heritage set, all received bad news. The Rangers non-tendered the trio, making them free agents. Not a real surprise with any of the group. Rosales was a stop gap utility player and Kirkman just never came around. Ogando's elbow is a major concern and his failure to pitch in winter ball sealed the decision for Texas.

The Rangers have re-signed pitcher Colby Lewis to a one year deal. That's a real kick in the teeth for the anti Jon Daniels crowd. It's a good thing for the team I think. Colby struggled early in the 2014 season but by the end of the season he seemed to be mostly recovered from his hip surgery and back to his old self. If that continues in 2015 this signing could be the one that really helps the club.

Also, amidst all the confusion of the past couple of weeks, I got the Christmas giveaway packages sent out. Some were smaller than others due to a lack of cards for those particular teams. Hopefully all arrived safely and were enjoyed by the recipients. If you missed the giveaway just let me know your address and team preference and I'll see what I can do. I have no Rangers, A's, Angels, or Royals. I have a lot of Giants, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, and Orioles. The rest of the teams have a few cards left as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Senators Saturday - Dave Baldwin, 1968.

The picture on Topps 1968 card 231 puzzles me. I can't decide if Dave Baldwin is trying to pose like he just threw a breaking ball, if he's offering the photographer a fist bump, or if he's the fore-runner to Kenny Rogers going after the television camera-man.

Whatever the case, Baldwin had a fine rookie season in 1967 and looked to follow it up in 1968. A career long reliever, Dave appeared in 40 games for Washington in 1968 and pitched a total of 42 innings.

Something went dreadfully wrong during those 42 innings of work. Baldwin's ERA soared to an unsightly 4.07 and his WHIP took a jump to 1.238. In 18 fewer innings of work, he allowed five more home runs than the previous season. Dave got saddled with two losses and picked up no wins.

Probably as a result of his stumbles, Baldwin spent part of the year with the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. He pitched 17 innings over ten games there and put together a 3.71 ERA and an 1.765 WHIP. Neither number was impressive at all.

For Dave Baldwin, the Year of the Pitcher wasn't. For some reason the wheels came off the wagon for him. He needed to get the 1967 form going again or it was going to be difficult to nail down any sort of regular role in the Washington bullpen in 1969.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hearing the Vealtones.

First off, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope all take some time to reflect on how blessed by God we are.

Last weekend marked the beginning of a couple of very busy weeks for me. Work schedule shifts, Thanksgiving, travel, etc. Hectic.

Got home on Monday to find a package from Dustin over at Coot Veal and The Vealtones. We had been working on a trade for awhile and finally got the details hammered out just before things got busy. Being an understanding guy, Dustin sent his end of the trade and told me to get mine in the mail when possible. Included in the package from Dustin were two Rangers game-used cards, one of which was this 2005 Donruss Champions bat bit card of former Ranger Al Oliver. Anytime I can scoop a Scoop card I'm up for it. Also in the mailer was a Tanner Scheppers auto, a game-used Bob Gibson, and four cards that are probably going out as gifts. Dustin also tossed in several Rangers not included in the original trade. They all hit holes in my collection.

Dustin's still looking for trades so if you haven't already, get over to his blog and check out his trade bait. Thanks a ton for the trade Dustin, I really enjoyed the break when package arrived. Your cards are on their way, if you don't have them yet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1978 Topps - Jim Mason.

Jim Mason, shown here on card 588 of the 1978 Topps set, was in his second stint with Texas when this photograph was taken. Interestingly, both of his times with the Rangers were impacted by Toby Harrah.

The Senators brought their former second round draft pick (1968) with them to Texas. Limited playing time in 1972 and 1973 made it clear that Mason was blocked at shortstop by Harrah. In December of 1973 the Rangers sold Jim's contract to the New York Yankees. 1974 was his first professional season outside the Senators/Rangers organization.

The time away from Texas gave Mason a chance to play in the World Series in 1976 and hit a home run in his only World Series at-bat. In November of 1976, the newly former Toronto Blue Jays grabbed Jim in the expansion draft. He would start the 1977 season with them.

Going into 1977 the Rangers moved Toby Harrah to third base to make room for the newly signed Bert Campaneris. This move left Roy Howell without a home. Texas was hoping Howell was their third baseman of the future but he never jelled. Now he was available. The Rangers needed to move Howell and would like a backup to Campaneris. The Jays needed a third baseman. On May 9, 1977 Mason returned to Texas in a trade for Howell that also involved Steve Hargan and $200,000.

Mason spent the rest of 1977 in a backup role and was expected to spend 1978 in the same manner. However, Campaneris struggled in his second season with Texas and Jim saw more action than expected.

Over 42 games, Mason played 221.1 innings at short stop. He posted a .938 fielding percentage, significantly below the league average .954. Jim also played 79 innings over 11 games at third with a .905 fielding percentage, 49 points below league average. A two inning cameo at second base rounded out his defensive time in 1978.

Jim made 116 trips to the plate in 1978 for Texas. He posted a dismal .190 batting average and a .227 on-base percentage. He hit just four doubles with no other extra base hits.

Had Jim's bat been even average, he might have carved out more playing time for himself in 1978. He was only about four points ahead of Campaneris though and his glove was way behind. That was not a formula for displacing Campy. Things were unsettled at short for Texas however. Mason had an uphill road but there was an outside chance he could make a play for the position in 1979, if the Rangers held on to him.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Minor League Monday - Chris Shiflett, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

George Christian Shiflett, shown here on card 1155 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set, was big news in 1986 when the Rangers took him in the first round of the draft. He was the third pick over all behind only Jeff Shaw and Moises Alou.

I am guessing injuries slowed Chris at Rookie ball in 1986 and Single A in 1987. He pitched a total of 3.2 innings in those two seasons yet still managed to get promoted each year. The benefits of being a first rounder I suppose.

In 1988 with Single A Gastonia, the lack of experience caught up with Shiflett. He got shelled to the tune of a 8.57 ERA over 21 innings. It was back to Rookie Ball for 1989, this time with the Butte Copper Kings. In spite of his 4.25 ERA with Butte, Chris got jumped up to Double A Tulsa for the 1990 season.

Shiflett made 13 appearances for the Drillers in 1990, all out of the bullpen. In the course of 27 innings he struck out 26 batters while walking just nine. That was a very promising stat. His ERA tallied to 3.00 and his WHIP to 1.222.

Chris' 1990 numbers were nothing to write home about but they were a significant improvement over his 1988 and 1989 efforts. Perhaps He was finally on the right track. The Rangers hoped so. After all, they used a first round pick on this guy and needed him to make good.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Senators Saturday - Fred Valentine, 1967.

Fred Valentine and his cheek full of tobacco appear on the front of card number 64 of the 1967 Topps set. For some reason I really like the picture on this card. Just has the old-time baseball feel to it.

Valentine played all three outfield positions in 1967 for the Senators over the 151 games he appeared in. Of his total of 1078.1 innings played in the field 510.1 were in center, 467.1 were in right, and 100.2 were in left. His combined .989 fielding percentage was nine points higher than the league average. He actually had the 5th highest fielding percentage in the league. Unfortunately he also had significantly less range than the average outfielder.

Following a career-high number of plate appearances in 1966, Fred made 527 trips to the plate for Washington in 1967. He watched his batting average tumble 42 points to .234 and his on-base percentage slide down to .330. Even being fifth in the league with 10 hit by pitches couldn't rescue his on-base percentage. Valentine's 16 doubles, one triple, and 11 home runs were not enough to keep his slugging percentage from falling by over 100 points. He did continue to exhibit some speed on the base paths as he stole 17 bases while getting caught just three times. That was the best stolen base percentage in the league.

1967 was a downer season for Fred Valentine. He had been unable to maintain his 1966 numbers in his second full season as a regular player. That was not a good sign. Fred needed to increase his range and recover his power and average with the bat if he wanted to continue playing full-time in the crowded Washington outfield in 1968.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heartbreaking surprise.

So, awhile back I dropped some random Twins cards on Matt over at Heartbreaking Cards. I needed the space and wanted to send the cards to somebody who might appreciate them. Matt likes the Twins. Perfect match. Out went the Twins and I gained some ground in my war for space in my card boxes.

Unexpectedly, Matt sent me some Rangers in return. Some very nice Rangers. A couple of minis, a Topps Chrome Yu Darvish, and a couple of game-used cards. One of the game-used cards was this 2010 Allen and Ginter Relics bat bit card of Ian Kinsler. Every card in the bubble mailer hit a hole in my Rangers collection. Thanks a ton Matt! The cards were an awesome surprise. I'll be sure to keep you in mind for any Twins I might be able to send your way.

Speaking of sending cards out. So far I've received just one comment regarding the Christmas giveaway I will be commencing here in a few days. Had a nibble on the Red Sox but no email with an address. If you want to shout out for a team lot of free cards shoot me an email at rmatlack3 at juno dot com. Remember, I gotta have an address to send the cards to. Help me out here, I can't buy any of the new releases until I clear enough room for the non-Ranger teams.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1978 Topps - Paul Lindblad.

Aside from the airbrushed cap, this first thing I have always noticed about 1978 Topps card 314 is the top button on Paul Lindblad's uniform. It's two-toned. I can't recall having seen that on a modern uniform. Got to wonder what the story is. Perhaps Paul lost a button and the uniform guy couldn't find an appropriate replacement. Maybe the button's fine but the airbrushing job wasn't so good. Perhaps it's the lighting. Who knows?

Anyway, both the A's and the Rangers liked Paul Lindblad. He started his career with the A's in 1965 and played for them until traded to the Senators in May of 1971. He made the move to Texas with the team in 1972 and led the league in appearances by a pitcher before being traded back to Oakland in October of 1972. There he stayed until Texas purchased his contract in February of 1977 and he returned to the Rangers.

Lindblad appeared 42 forgettable times for Texas in 1977 and posted a 4.20 ERA. As with the most of the rest of his career, he was primarily a reliever but did make one spot start.

In 1978 Paul was once again in the bullpen. He appeared in 18 games, all in relief. Over the 39.2 innings he tossed for Texas he posted a 3.63 ERA, an 1.412 WHIP, and an 1.67 strikeout/walk ratio. All were about the middle of the pack for Texas relievers.

In 1978 the Rangers were looking for the quick fix. The 36-year-old Lindblad was serviceable but not impressive. He was also apparently nearing the end of his career. Those factors made him expendable. On August 1, 1978 the Rangers sold his contract to the New York Yankees.

Lindblad appeared in just seven games for the Yanks prior to the end of the season. In November of 1978 they sold his contract to the Mariners. Seattle released him in March of 1979, ending his Major League career.

Paul Lindblad got 14 years in the Majors before he hung up the spikes and retired to his home in Arlington, Texas. He kept busy with his fried chicken restaurant, hunting, fishing, and searching fields with his metal detector. He passed away on January 1, 2006.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Minor League Monday - Cedric Shaw, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Cedric Charles Shaw, shown here on card 1154 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set, was taken by the Rangers in the 12th round of the 1988 draft. He was playing for Grambling State University in Louisiana when Texas signed him.

Shaw spent 1988 with the Rookie League Butte Copper Kings and 1989 with Single A Charlotte. He was improving but wasn't impressing.

1990 began with in Single A with the Charlotte Rangers. Cedric started 11 games and pitched 68 electric innings. He put up an 1.59 ERA and 1.103 WHIP en route to a 5-3 record. He also struck out over a batter an inning with 69 whiffs.

Those numbers were impressive and got Shaw promoted to Double A Tulsa. He appeared in 14 games for the Drillers in 1990, starting 12 of them. Unfortunately Cedric did not live up to his Single A success. Over 63 bumpy innings he watched his ERA balloon to 6.86 and his WHIP climb to 1.841. He also discovered Double A batters to be a bit more discerning as he struck out just 41 while walking 44. He ended the season with a 4-5 record for the Drillers.

1990 started out very well for Cedric Shaw but ended on a severe down note. He was struggling but the Rangers thought he would catch on at Double A and left him there to start the 1991 season. He needed to catch on quick though, another season like the second half of 1990 and Shaw might find himself unemployed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Senators Saturday - Bob Saverine, 1967.

Bob Saverine looks like he just saw something unsavory as he appears on card 27 of the 1967 Topps set. I suppose he could have been reflecting on his .147 batting average in 1964, the last year he played for the Baltimore Orioles. He might also have been looking at his 1967 season with Washington.

The Orioles traded Saverine to the Astros for Don Larsen on April 24, 1965. He spent the season in the minors. The Senators snagged Bob in the Rule Five draft on November 29, 1965. He played for Washington in 1966 and got the most work of his career as he displaced Don Blasingame at second base.

In 1967 Saverine found himself in a platoon situation at second with Bernie Allen. Bob moved around a bit appearing at second base, short stop, third base, and left field. Most of his time was at second though. He put in 364 innings over 48 games and posted a .957 fielding percentage. That was quite a bit below the league average of .979. His second most frequently played position was at third base where he put in 49 innings over eight games. He also logged 46.1 innings over ten games at short stop. He was terrible at third and below league average at short. Three innings in two games in left field finished out Saverine's defensive work for the season.

Bob made 253 trips to the plate in 89 games for Washington in 1967. He compiled a .236 batting average and a .287 on-base percentage. He hit 13 doubles but that was the extent of his power. He also stole eight bases without getting caught.

All in all, 1967 had been a very down season for Bob Saverine. His bat, which had never been fearsome, suffered an alarming decline. He also experienced a disturbing loss of his glove abilities as well and appeared to be well on his way to being displaced by Bernie Allen at second. Unless Bob could dramatically improve his all-around performance, he was going to lose his spot on the roster completely in 1968.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Latest TTM return.

Things have been pretty hectic with work and family over the past couple of days. Decided this would be a good time to show the most recent through the mail autograph success.

I sent this 1974 Topps card to former Ranger Jim Merritt on May 11, 2013 and asked him to sign it. After a year I figured the odds of it coming back weren't good. It defied the odds though and showed up in my mailbox on October 31, 2014 with Mr. Merritt's signature attached. Many thanks to Jim Merritt for taking to time to sign and return my card.

Ok, I got zero responses from my first mention of my Christmas card giveaway. I went ahead and put down a few of my regular trade partners for some of the teams. That said, I still need some names and addresses for the rest of the teams. Somebody to take the Giants and Mariners would be extra appreciated. As a reminder, I'm tapped out of Rangers, Royals, Angels, and A's. Let me know if you're interested in any of the rest of the teams and I'll get you on the list. Might as well sign up, it's free cards and I don't sell the mailing list. How can you beat that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

1978 Topps - Willie Horton.

Willie Horton, shown here on card 290 of the 1978 Topps set, was the fore-runner of Vladimir Guerrero. Willie came and went via trade while Vlad was through free agency. Just like Vlad, Willie came, hammered, and left in the blink of an eye.

The Rangers sent pitcher Steve Foucault to the Tigers on April 12, 1977 in exchange for Horton. Apparently the Tigers thought their long-time slugger was done.

Serving primarily as the designated hitter, Horton appeared a few times in left field without accolades. He stepped up his offense though and hit .289 with an on-base percentage of .337 while knocking 23 doubles, three triples, and 15 home runs. He scored 55 runs and collected 75 RBI.

After one season of providing a key part of the power to a contending team, Willie Horton was gone. On February 28, 1978 the Rangers traded Horton and David Clyde to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Buskey and John Lowenstein. The team re-acquired Willie in a December 12, 1980 trade with the Seattle Mariners but released him on April 1st of the same year without a single plate appearance.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Minor League Monday - Wayne Rosenthal, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Up to 1990 Wayne Rosenthal, shown here on card 1153 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers set, had been a pretty pleasant surprise for the Rangers. Texas drafted the big right-hander in the 24th round of the 1986 draft. He tore through the first three seasons as a pro without ever posting a season ERA over 2.10. That earned him some rapid promotion through the lower levels of the Rangers farm system.

As an aside, these cards make the players look really small. Rosenthal is 6-5 and was about 220 pounds when this picture was taken. Somehow the photographer managed to make him look like a little leaguer.

Ok, back to Wayne Rosenthal. He started the 1989 season with Single A Charlotte and posted a 2.22 ERA there over 20 games out of the bullpen. Up to Double A Tulsa he went to finish the season. He made 31 appearances for the Drillers and posted a 3.06 ERA. Good enough to stick but not good enough to get an off-season promotion to Triple A.

Wayne was primarily a reliever. He hadn't made a start since his 1986 stint with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. That trend continued in 1990 as he made 12 trips out of the bullpen for the Drillers and pitched 15 innings. Rosenthal posted a 2.40 ERA and 1.200 WHIP. His control was very good - he struck out twice as many opposing batters as he walked.

Those numbers earned Wayne a mid-season trip to the Triple A Oklahoma City 89'ers. He continued to appear in relief there and pitched 48 innings over 42 games while compiling a 3.00 ERA and an 1.208 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio improved as he whiffed 39 opposing batsmen while issuing just 18 free passes.

Rosenthal's performance at Triple A was good enough to keep him there for the start of the 1991 season. He was at the top of the minor league ladder and just one step from The Bigs. If he could keep command of his pitches and lower his ERA just a bit he might very likely get a shot in Arlington the next season or two.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Senators Saturday - John Orsino, 1967.

According to the back of card 207 in the 1967 Topps set, John Orsino spent most of 1966 on the Disabled List. Apparently he wasn't fully recovered by the time 1967 rolled around and missed the majority of the season once again.

Johnny spent most of his season with the Triple A Hawaii Islanders. That meant he played in 16 games there and made 52 plate appearances. He posted a .217 batting average and a .288 on-base percentage.

Orsino did get a short stint with Washington in 1967. He pinch-hit in one game and struck out. It was the final at-bat of his Major League career.

To start 1968, John found himself in Double A with the Savannah Senators. He managed to get one game in with the Triple A Buffalo Bisons before the season ended.

On January 8, 1969 the Senators sold Orsino's contract to the Yankees. On June 12, 1969 the Yankees sent him to Cleveland in a trade. John never played above Triple A for either club and hung up his spikes at the end of the season.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beltre collects another Silver Slugger.

Adrian Beltre, shown here on 2012 Bowman card 95, was awarded his fourth Silver Slugger award yesterday. It puts him the company of Matt Williams, Mike Schmidt, and Wade Boggs as the only third basemen to win the award four or more times.

It is particularly nice to see Beltre win a Silver Slugger this year. Of course, the whole season was a real downer so it helps a little with that. It's also great that he could pull it off with little to no support or protection in the lineup. Imagine what he could have done if he had a decently big bat behind him. A batting title perhaps?

Well, it's early November and Christmas is still a long ways off it seems. It'll be here before you know it though and that's why I'm starting to think about my end of year team giveaway packages. Same as last year, I have no Rangers, Royals, or A's available. I also don't have any Pirates, Dodgers, or Angels right now. Pretty much all of the rest of the teams are available. Would really like to see somebody claim the Giants, Orioles, and Cardinals in particular. If you're interested in free cards of your team, just let me know. Drop me an email or leave a comment with your name, address, and team preference. I'll try to make sure there's no doubles in the lot but it will be a pretty varied lot as far as years and brands. Same as last year, if you want to sign up a friend or fellow collector that is fine but only for teams they really want. No having me send Yankees to a Red Sox man.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Young moves to the front office.

Michael Young has officially returned to the Texas Rangers. Young helped interview managerial candidates earlier this year and has been assisting in various roles. Yesterday the team announced his appointment as a special assistance to General Manager Jon Daniels. This is a real job and Young is probably going to be helping with player instruction as well as other assignments.

Good to see Michael back in the Texas fold. Apparently he was able to think things over after being traded and decided to patch it up with Daniels. Smart move on both sides.

Posting this 2005 Studio Master Strokes game-used card of Michael Young today to celebrate the news of his official entry into the front office side of baseball. This card is numbered 186/250 and was part of the lot recently sent to me by Matthew over at Bob Walk the Plank.

Also in the news is former Ranger Alfonso Soriano's announcement of his retirement as a player after 16 seasons. Soriano never really impressed me but he was a pretty good player for the better part of his career. Problem was, he knew he was good. Perhaps the biggest thank-you Rangers fans owe Soriano was that he replaced Alex Rodriguez on the team.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Roster and Radio news.

The Rangers activated nine players from the 60-day Disabled List on Monday. That they had so many players to activate is a reminder of how rough the 2014 season was.

Prince Fielder, Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando (shown here on card 96 of the 2012 Gypsy Queen set), Tanner Scheppers, Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar, and Shin-Soo Choo all came back to the active 40-man roster. That fills the roster for now.

Of course there will be more changes. The Rule Five draft is coming up and Texas will want to protect four or five minor leaguers. Somebody's gonna have to move off the 40-man for that to happen.

Fielder, Choo, Darvish, and Moreland are all expected to be ready for Spring Training. Profar might be as well but he'll have to fight to keep from starting the 2015 season in the minors. Martin Perez is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and probably won't make an appearance until mid-season. Ogando and Scheppers are real question marks. Both had a lot of promise but have suffered injuries recently and may or may not be able to regain their previous forms. It's doubtful Matt Harrison will ever pitch again in the Majors.

The loss of Harrison and the possible loss of Colby Lewis to free agency have the Rangers looking for starting pitching this off-season. Could be Moreland finds himself on the trading block if the club thinks Fielder is looking good. I would be sorry to see Mitch go. However, if the team was able to get a decent starter for him, and Prince came back online, it would be a good move.

The Rangers also announced recently that they will be switching their radio broadcast carrier starting with the 2015 season. A new contract gives the games to CBS radio at 105.3 FM here in the metroplex. I have no idea if this change is related to the fact that the south-western part of the metroplex could not receive the signal from ESPN 103.3 FM but I wouldn't be surprised. Complaints were rampant from fans who could drive to the ballpark in less than an hour but couldn't tune in to hear the games. I didn't air my grievances to the Rangers but I was in the frustrated fans camp. Hopefully this new station addresses the problem.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1978 Topps - Ken Henderson.

By the time Ken Henderson appeared on the front of his 1978 Topps card #612 he was no longer a Texas Ranger.

Primarily a rightfielder, Henderson arrived in Texas as part of the Jeff Burroughs trade on December 9, 1976. Ken lost large chunks of the 1977 season to injury. He missed three weeks in May with a pulled hamstring and then five weeks later in the season with bruised ribs. Those injuries managed to bring his total number of games for the season down to just 75. Henderson also saw dips in all of his offensive numbers.

On March 28, 1978 the Rangers sent Ken to the New York Mets to complete a trade made on December 8, 1977. Tom Grieve and a player to be named later went to the Mets in that trade. Henderson was named later. The Rangers also sent Tommy Boggs, Adrian Devine, and Eddie Miller to the Braves; and Bert Blyleven to the Pirates as part of the trade. Texas got Nelson Norman, Al Oliver, and Jon Matlack in return.

Ken Henderson's time as a Texas Ranger was finished after just one year and there wasn't much to stand out in that year. Perhaps Ken's most notable role on the team was the part he played in the Randle incident in Spring Training.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Minor League Monday - Marv Rockman, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Marvin Ward Rockman shows off a unique pose for pitchers on card 1152 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set. There's several more pitchers throughout the team set posing with both a glove and bat but I don't think I've seen that anywhere else.

The Rangers drafted Rockman in the 27th round of the 1987 draft. They immediately sent the 23-year-old to the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. He did well there in 14 appearances and moved up to Single A with the Charlotte Rangers. A rough ten appearances there meant Marv started 1988 still at Single A, this time with the Gastonia Rangers. He did well in 43 games and made a late-season jump to Double A Tulsa where he posted a 1.08 ERA over six games. That earned him a Double A start to the 1989 season and he posted a 3.06 ERA over 40 appearances with Tulsa. Not good enough for another promotion. The brass decided Rockman would get one more season start at Double A to see if he could earn a ticket to Triple A Oklahoma City.

Strictly a reliever for his whole pro career, Marv made 24 appearances for the Drillers in 1990 and pitched a total of 38 innings. Both were lower numbers than the previous season. Unfortunately for Rockman, his 3.79 ERA and 1.553 WHIP were not lower numbers than in 1989.

By the end of the 1990 season Marv Rockman was 26 years old, over two years older on average than most of his teammates. His age combined with his failure to earn a promotion in two seasons is likely what led to his career ending when the season did.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Senators Saturday - Mike McCormick, 1967.

Card number 86 in the 1967 Topps set is an interesting one. Of course you can always play the ball/no ball game with Mike McCormick posing for the picture, but there's another aspect as well. On the front of the card McCormick appears in a Washington Senators uniform and is listed as a member of that team. Turn the card over and Mike is listed as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The write-up on the back also talks about the trade that sent McCormick to the Giants.

Mike hadn't had a bad 1966 season but Washington was starting to develop pitching and needed offense. On December 13, 1966 the Senators sent McCormick to San Francisco. In return Bob Priddy and Cap Peterson arrived in Washington.

Back with his original team, McCormick led the National League in wins in 1967 with 22 victories while posting a 2.85 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. That performance was good enough to earn him the NL Cy Young award and some MVP consideration. It was the high point of his career. Mike played for the Giants until midway through the 1970 season when they traded him to the Yankees. The Yankees released him after the 1970 season and he was signed by the Kansas City Royals. In June of 1971 the Royals released him and his Major League playing days were over.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Walking the Plank.

I know, this isn't Thursday and I don't normally post two game-used or autographed cards in a row. The reason for me posting this 2008 SP Legendary Cuts Destined for History card of Michael Young isn't a normal reason though.

A couple of weeks back I was trolling through the various blogs linked from some of my regular reading. I came across Bob Walk the Plank. BWP is a great Pirates-oriented blog. I left a comment asking the owner, Matt, to send me his address so I could drop some random Pirates cards on him.

One of the reasons I don't buy a lot of packs is the lack of space to store the non-Rangers teams. I have to keep the other clubs down to a manageable level. Several teams have a bad habit of building up (looking at you Giants) and the Buccos were one of these teams. Any time I can find a good home for the non-Rangers cards I have built up I consider it a win-win. Somebody gets cards of their team and I get that much closer to an excuse to buy some packs. I dumped a small lot of random Pirates on Matt and cheered the new space. I was sure to tell Matt he did not need to return anything.

Matt's definition of not returning anything was a small bubble mailer that arrived in my mailbox within days of him receiving the cards I sent. Inside was this Michael Young along with two more Young game-used, a Hank Blalock game-used, and a Matt Harrison certified autograph. Wow and wow again.

There's no way what I sent Matt called for anything close to what he sent in return. Thanks a ton for your generosity Matt, hopefully I can return it someday.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


For me it always seems the days after the end of the World Series are filled with deafening silence. The season is officially over and the long winter stretches out before us like an endless plain. In some ways it's a relief when the Rangers struggle, next year is that much closer. In other ways it's like taking the first step away from base camp on a thousand mile trek across the silent tundra. The sound of the 2014 season is fading already and 2015 is still so far away. I miss baseball already.

To the Royals fans out there: I'm sorry, truly I am. I was pulling for the boys in blue up until the final out of Game 7. It won't help the disappointment but they played well. Seven games and a one run loss in the final game are nothing to sneeze at. The team looks solid and should be a contender over the next couple of years. Just remember, there's 28 other teams out there that would trade places with the Royals today in a heartbeat.

The off-season for the Rangers is moving slowly along. They promoted Steve Buechele, shown here on a signed 1990 Fleer card, to bench coach. Bu replaces the departed Tim Bogar and has to be viewed as a possible managerial candidate for the Rangers, or someone else, in the future. Can't say how great it is to see Steve succeeding in his post-playing career.

Texas also made an opening offer to Colby Lewis. That's a good thing I think. No need to leave Colby hanging any longer than need be. He wants to stay in Texas and the Rangers need starting pitching. Lewis is not an ace but he is an established Major League pitcher who knows how to win and can eat innings. He can also mentor a young staff and help steady a team in contention. Those things could come in real handy in 2015. Lewis has said he does not want to draw out contract talks. That could mean a relatively short negotiation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1978 Topps - Toby Harrah.

Toby Harrah, shown here on card 44 of the 1978 Topps set, was coming into his junior year as a third baseman after making the switch from short stop in 1977. He had responded well to the switch in 1977 and the Rangers were hoping he would continue his star performance in 1978.

Harrah played in 139 games in 1978, 20 fewer than the previous season. This was probably due to a trip to the disabled list. 91 of those games and 771.2 innings were at third base. Toby put together a .965 fielding percentage there, eleven points higher than the league average. With Bert Campaneris' struggles, Texas saw a hole opening up at short stop. Harrah got moved back to his old position in 49 games to try to fill the breach. Over the 413 innings he played at short he managed a .988 fielding percentage, 24 points higher than the league average.

Toby also made 547 trips to the plate for the Rangers in 1978. He watched his batting average fall 34 points to .229 and his on-base percentage tumble 44 points to .349. That was his lowest batting average since the team moved to Texas. Harrah's power also dropped as he hit 17 doubles, three triples, and 12 home runs - drops in all three areas from the previous season. He did steal 31 bases while getting caught just eight times. That was four more steals than in 1977 but he also got caught three more times.

Toby Harrah saved the Rangers defensively at short stop and third base but the unexpected offensive dip raised concerns. A shake-up was coming after the Rangers second straight second place finish. Harrah's offensive troubles could put him on the table. Even if they didn't, he needed to figure out a way to get his bat back up to where it had been over the past three or four seasons.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Minor League Monday - Eric McCray, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Eric McCray's first two seasons in pro ball had gone pretty well. One season in Rookie ball followed by one at Single A with success at both levels. Following the 1989 season, McCray was promoted to Double A Tulsa for the 1990 campaign.

McCray, shown here on card 1151 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set, made all 25 of his appearances for the team as a starter. He pitched 141 innings while posting a 4.21 ERA and an 1.589 WHIP. He ended the season with an 8-7 record.

After two successful seasons, Eric McCray's career suffered a setback in 1990. It was back to Single A for the start of the 1991 season. Eric needed to get things back on track and fast. A 10th round draft pick only has so many chances to make good, even if he is a left-hander.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Senators Saturday - Dick Lines, 1967.

Canadian Richard George Lines appears on card 273 of the 1967 Topps set. Dick looks happy about something and he had reason to be when this photo was taken. In 1966 Lines broke into the Majors and led the Senators regulars with his 2.28 ERA. That's not too bad for a rookie season and earned him a shot in 1967 as well.

Solely a reliever for the second straight season in 1967, Lines appeared in 54 games for Washington. Over the 85.2 innings he pitched, Dick compiled a 3.36 ERA and an 1.249 WHIP. Both were significant jumps from the previous season. In 2.2 more innings worked, Lines managed to keep his walk total at 24 - identical to 1966. He raised his strikeout total by five to 54.

Lines had his work cut out for him if he wanted to remain in the Majors in 1968. He started off well in 1966 but the rise in his ERA and WHIP in 1967 was very concerning. The lefty wasn't suffering from extreme wildness, he hit nobody and uncorked just four wild pitches. He must have had some control issues that were keeping him from getting the ball where he did in 1966. Either that or he was still getting the ball there and the league was adjusting. Whatever the problem, Lines needed to get a handle on it if he wanted a shot at making the team in 1968.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Royals and random stuff.

In recognition of the Royals win last night I am posting this signed 1978 Topps Jim Sundberg card. I got this card signed in person at the Rangers FanFest this past spring. Of course, Sunny was also the Royals starting backstop when they won it all in 1985. Hope to see another Royals championship this year as well. Since they didn't win game one the odds aren't with them. Odds don't seem to really bother this KC team though.

Been doing a little work on the trade list over the past week. I now have team names listed in the misc, rookies, and minis categories. Some of the players I am sure everyone knows the teams for but I think it's easier for team collectors to scan for their team rather than for specific players. Also eliminated a player or two from the list. Some of the Pudge game-used are on hold for a possible trade but the rest of the list is still available. Take a look and let me know if you see anything you like. The off-season is rapidly approaching and a few trades would make the long winter a lot easier.

Also, if you have a card blog yourself and would like it added to my links list, let me know. I'll take a look and see what I can do. I would like to add some more team oriented blogs in particular but any card blog is a good blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Big news, Big cards.

So, I got a phone call from Mark the Royals fan last Friday night. He was pretty pumped and had some big news to share. He had tickets to the World Series. One for game one and two each for two, six, and seven. That is some big news. Mark scored the tickets for face value. That's big news as well. The story of getting the tickets was pretty neat but that's Mark's tale to tell. Needless to say, he was really looking forward to heading off to Kaufman and seeing the series. Can't blame him, I would be pretty excited as well. Hopefully he sees a Kansas City title. I'm pulling for the Royals this year and really want to see them come out on top.

During the conversation Mark mentioned he just made a rather large trade with a Mets collector we've both been trying to reach to propose trades. Mark has quite an extensive Royals collection and had a bit of a hard time coming up with enough he needed to round out the trade. He hit my wantlists and filled out the trade with Rangers. He wanted me to know to be expecting a box.

The box arrived Monday and it was big. Well, it had this 1990 Topps Big card #127 featuring Rafael Palmeiro in it. That and about two hundred and fifty other Rangers cards. Mark was right, he hit my wantlists. The box shrank my wantlists by almost four pages and completed ten team sets. That's big. Bigger than anything I have to send in return.

Me not having anything to send in return is probably the biggest thing about this. Mark mentioned the box on Friday night in order to tell me not to send him anything in return. Nothing, just enjoy the cards and cross them off the list. Now that's big. Thanks Mark.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1978 Topps - Mike Hargrove.

Coming into 1978 Mike Hargrove, seen here on #172 of the 1978 Topps set, was looking to build on his successful 1977 season. Hargrove had managed to improve defensively and offensively in 1977. If he could make more improvement he might be able to get back to his 1974 form.

Hargrove appeared in 146 games for the Rangers in 1978. All but six of those games were at first base. Four more were as the Designated Hitter and two were pinch-hit appearances. Over the 1124.2 innings Mike played at first he made 17 errors and ended the season with a .987 fielding percentage. That was a six point drop from 1977 and five points below the league average.

Mike made 616 trips to the plate for Texas and put together a .251 batting average and a .388 on-base percentage. The batting average was a 54 point drop from the previous season and the on-base percentage fell by 32 points. Hargrove's power also deserted him as he hit 24 doubles, one triple, and seven home runs. All were less than in 1977 and the home runs fell by over half. Perhaps the brightest spot offensively for Mike was his league-leading 107 walks.

Well, Hargrove hadn't been able to build on his 1977 success. He was quickly developing a pattern of doing well on odd-numbered years and stumbling on even numbered ones. If the pattern held true then 1979 should be an up year. The question was, would the Rangers have the patience with Mike to give him another year?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Minor League Monday - Felipe Castillo, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Felipe Castillo, shown here on ProCards Tulsa Drillers card 1150, was signed by the Rangers as a free agent at age 19 in 1986. He started his pro career the same year with the Gulf Coast Rangers in Rookie ball.

The four years between the start of Felipe's career and the issuing if this card were not easy ones for Castillo. He got his ERA below 4.25 only once: 2.78 in a 23 game stint with the Low A Gastonia Rangers in 1988. Somehow he kept climbing and ended up with Double A Tulsa for the 1990 season.

Up to 1990, Castillo had been primarily a starter. That obviously wasn't working out well so the Rangers transitioned him to a relief role in 1990. He made 20 appearances out of the bullpen for the Drillers and tossed 46 innings. Felipe posted a career low 2.35 ERA while striking out 39. His 1.457 WHIP was a reason for concern but the improvement with the move to the bullpen had been dramatic. That was good for Castillo because he needed a dramatic improvement to keep his Major League dreams alive.

The improvement was enough to earn Felipe a promotion to Triple A Oklahoma City for the remainder of the 1990 season. He came out of the bullpen 19 times and made one spot start for the 89'ers. Over 28.2 innings he compiled a 3.45 ERA and an 1.744 WHIP. Apparently that was enough for Texas, Castillo would not be back in 1991.

Following the 1990 season is where Castillo's career takes an unusual turn and the lack of minor league information becomes frustrating. It appears he was out of organized baseball for four years. I can't even find any record of him playing in Japan.

In 1995 Felipe re-surfaces at age 28 with the Tulsa Drillers, still a Rangers farm team. This is clearly a comeback attempt, not a spot appearance. He pitched 33 innings over 14 relief appearances and posted a 3.82 ERA and 1.606 WHIP. Not too shabby for a guy missing for four seasons and suddenly jumping back into Double A ball. That's it though. He's gone again after 1995.

Castillo's back again in 2001 though. Still a reliever at age 34, he appears in ten games, evenly split between the independent Fort Worth Cats and the Triple A Mexican League Cordoba Cafeteros. Felipe got hammered over 4.1 innings with the Cats to a tune of a 6.23 ERA and a 2.077 WHIP. He did a little better with the Cafeteros as he posted a 3.18 ERA and an 1.941 WHIP. That was it. He finally hung up the spikes for good after 2001.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Senators Saturday - Frank Howard, 1967.

Frank Howard appears with a bat on card 255 of the 1967 Topps set. Probably an accurate depiction of his career. At the plate is where The Capitol Punisher earned his nickname.

Howard was the Senators starting left fielder in 1967 and appeared in 149 games. 141 of those games included playing left field and three included right field. He also played first base in four games which opened the possibility of moving him to that position sometime in the future. It was the first time Hondo had played first since 1961.

Over the 1086 innings in the outfield (only 3.2 innings were in right field and he saw no action), Howard committed just three errors en route to a .986 fielding percentage. That was ten points higher than the league average and a very pleasant surprise. His range in the outfield was significantly lower than your average American League outfielder though. At first base Frank played 17 innings without a miscue. Once again, his range was limited compared to most first basemen around the league.

Hondo made 585 trips to the plate in 1967, second only to Ken McMullen in plate appearances on the team. He batted a team best .256 and got on base at a .338 clip, also a team high. Frank's .511 slugging percentage was not only a team best, it was 5th in the American League. He hit 20 doubles, two triples, and 36 home runs (team best). He came in third in the American League in home runs. His 89 RBI led the team and was 4th best in the AL. Howard might have had a higher on-base percentage if he wasn't such a free swinger. He struck out a league-leading 155 times.

The Senators got what they were looking for from Frank Howard in 1967. He was hitting for power and that's why they traded for him. If he could cut down on the whiffs it would be nice but Hondo was a free swinger when he arrived from Los Angeles. The above average fielding percentage was an added bonus, Howard was on the roster for his bat. If he could cut down on the strikeouts in 1968 and maintain his defense, he would have a successful season. Due to his size any increase in range in the outfield was not going to happen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rangers roster begins off-season change.

The Rangers have begun their off-season moves. J.P. Arencibia and Kevin Kouzmanoff already took their free agency rather than start 2015 in the minors. Alex Rios won't be with the team in 2015 either it doesn't look like.

Texas announced on Wednesday morning that they won't be picking up Rios' $14 million option for the 2015 season. Instead the team opted to buy him out for one million and send him on his way as a free agent. As I mentioned in my 2014 season review, this move really doesn't surprise me. Chalk one up for my prediction skills I guess.

Alex didn't have a bad year in 2014, he just didn't have a really good one either. The Rangers figure they can get a decent year from one of their young outfielders at a fraction of the price Rios would have cost. What will be interesting now is how much Rios, seen here on card 85 of the 2014 Topps Heritage set, will get on the free market.

Right now the plan calls for Shin-Soo Choo to move from left to right field to replace Rios. Barring a trade or free agent signing, that will leave Michael Choice, Jake Smolinski, Daniel Robertson, Ryan Rua, and Jim Adduci duking it out for the left field spot. The runner-up will likely end up as the fourth outfielder.

There are some big name free agent outfielders on the market. Melky Cabrera, Nick Markakis, Torii Hunter, Nori Aoki, and former Ranger Nelson Cruz. Since Texas is going to be looking to shore up the pitching staff I really don't look for them to make a play for any of these guys. If they do, Aoki would probably be the only one they would seriously look at.

The Rios move frees up some cash for a possible pitcher signing. I like that. It does take an experienced bat out of the lineup though so it's a bit of a gamble. It's probably the right move though. Texas has a lot of hungry young outfielders right now and can afford to bet at least one of them comes through to replace Alex.

Speaking of replacements, the Rangers announced the replacement for manager Ron Washington yesterday. Like many, I expected bench coach/interim manager Tim Bogar to get the nod. Instead the club went with Pirates bench coach Jeff Bannister. From the outside it seems that Bannister must have really wowed the front office to get the nod over Bogar. Hopefully he can wow the players and fans as well in 2015 and beyond.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Early off-season.

The off-season is trading time. All the teams engage in wheeling and dealing. I know, the off-season doesn't officially start until the World Series is over but we're close enough. I haven't had a trade in awhile and would like to remedy that. Of particular interest would be Rangers game-used and autographs I don't have. They don't have to be stars, ones like this 1996 Leaf Authentic Signatures card of Matt Whiteside would be fine. This section of my collection is a bit thin and I'd like to bulk it up a bit.

Of course, I'm also still trying to knock out the Rangers base team sets. I'm always interested in trading for any cards off my wantlist. Senators are welcome too, especially off the Washington wantlist. I'd even consider a blind team lot trade, if anyone is interested.

Other than the Rangers, I occasionally pick up cards of Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Stan Musial. I'd also consider any Royals parallels or inserts. Mark the Royals fan has most of the base cards already so it doesn't do me much good to pick them up. Of course, if you have anything of Jon Matlack from the Matlack wantlist be sure and let me know.

I've been slowly revamping my tradelist so if you see anything there you might be interested in, now is the time to speak up. Some of the cards listed will be disappearing in the coming weeks. I'd like to trade base for base, vintage for vintage, inserts for inserts, etc. but if you make an offer I'll listen. I'll even look through your tradelist if you see something off mine you like. I also have some Ivan Rodriguez memorabilia not listed on the trade list that I'd like to get traded to a good home so let me know if that catches your interest.

Well, that's my attempt to kick the hot stove season off to an early start. Let me know if we can work a deal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 in review - Bullpen and Manager.

Going into Spring Training, the relief corps was the big question mark for the Rangers 2014 season. The bullpen turned out to be almost a complete disaster. The fact that this portion of the review covers 19 pitchers is a bad sign. It's worse when you consider that the club traded or released at least four relievers throughout the season and I'm not reviewing them. Like the rest of the team, there were one or two bright spots to help mark the way to 2015. This review is in no particular order.

Injuries and struggles marred Alexi Ogando's season. Alexi, shown here on card 69 of the 2012 Bowman set, was looking for a bounce back year. Instead he ended the year with a horrendous 6.84 ERA and an equally ugly 1.920 WHIP. After 25 innings in 27 appearances Ogando ended the season on the 60-day Disabled List.

Shawn Tolleson made 64 appearances for the Rangers in 2014, all out of the bullpen. He tossed 71.2 innings and ended the season with a 2.71 ERA, and an 1.172 WHIP. Shawn struck out 69 batters while walking 28. He's no closer but provided a little stability for the club in the middle innings.

Neal Cotts was the Rangers bullpen utility man. He served as a long man, lefty specialist, steup man, and spot closer. Neal tossed 66.2 innings in the 73 trips (team high for pitchers) he made out of the bullpen. He wasn't terribly consistent and ended the season with a 4.32 ERA, an 1.335 WHIP, and two saves.

Roman Mendez was a mid-season call-up and logged 33 innings on the mound over 30 relief appearances. He was able to provide some bullpen stability with his 2.18 ERA and 1.121 WHIP. Roman was a nice surprise for the Rangers.

Scott Baker served as long relief and a spot starter when needed. His ability to eat up 80.2 innings aver his 25 appearances (including eight starts) helped off-set his 5.47 ERA and 1.190 WHIP. Not enough to make Scott look like a keeper but enough to make his versatility appreciated.

2014 was a season of frustration for Robbie Ross Jr. He spent time on the disabled list and in the minors as he tried to recover his form and effectiveness. He appeared in 27 games for the Rangers and pitched a total of 80.2 innings. 12 of those 27 appearances were starts. As you can tell by the low number of innings pitched, his 6.20 ERA, and 1.698 WHIP; Ross never was able to get a handle on the season.

Neftali Feliz fought injuries and made a trip to the minors in the course of the season but managed to turn in an impressive campaign. He pitched 31.2 innings over 30 appearances and racked up 13 saves after he moved into the closer role following the departure of Joakim Soria. Nefi put together a 1.99 ERA and an 0.979 WHIP. Seems he was able to find his Rookie of The Year form again.

Aaron Poreda got another shot at the Majors for the first time since 2009. He threw 21.1 innings over 26 games. His 5.91 ERA and 1.734 WHIP were not calculated to amaze.

Phil Klein made his first appearance in the Majors on August 1st. Between then and the end of the season he tossed 19 innings in 17 appearances. Phil put together a workable 2.84 ERA. His 1.105 WHIP was also serviceable.

Alex Claudio turned in mixed success over 12.1 innings in 15 appearances. His 2.92 ERA and 1.459 both need some improvement but show some promise.

Nathan Adcock struggled through ten innings in seven appearances while turning in a 4.50 ERA and an 1.600 WHIP.

After Adcock, the list of relievers gets into the less than ten innings pitched territory. The list includes Spencer Patton (0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings), Ben Rowen (4.15 ERA in 8.2 innings), Jon Edwards (4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings), Ryan Feierabend (6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings), Michael Kirkman (1.59 ERA in 5.2 innings), Matt West (6.75 ERA in 4 innings), and Seth Rosin (6.75 ERA in 4 innings). Pedro Figueroa (4.00 ERA in 9 innings) is also included on the list. He ended the season on the 60-day DL after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The 2015 bullpen is going to be a roll of the dice. Neftali Felix is positioned to resume his old role as closer, if he can carry over his 2014 performance. Roman Mendez also likely has a spot and Michael Kirkman drew some attention at the end of 2014. Figueroa won't be in the mix since he'll still be in recovery. The rest of the spots will probably be decided in Spring Training with roster and non-roster players duking it out. There could also be considerable turnover during the season, even if the team finds itself in a bounce-back year.

That wraps up the players but there was one more area of upheaval for the club, manager. On September 5th Ron Washington suddenly announced his resignation as manager. After almost eight years at the helm, he was gone over night. Some fools suggested he had been forced out by GM Jon Daniels. A press conference on September 17th revealed that Wash resigned of his own volition due to marital infidelity. Bench coach Tim Bogar was named as interim manager and led the team to a hot finish as they went 14-8 to complete the season.

Bogar is definitely a candidate for the manager's job on a permanent basis. The club has also interviewed pitching coach Mike Maddux and Triple-A manager Steve Buechele along with five candidates from outside the organization. General Manager Jon Daniels hopes to have a manager named by the end of October. Whoever it turns out to be will have some big shoes to fill.