Friday, January 31, 2014

Young, Berkman hang up the spikes.

Michael Young, shown here on card 110 of the 2005 Leaf Century Collection, is slated to meet with the press this afternoon. The press conference will take place at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Young will appear as a member of the Texas Rangers. He will be announcing his retirement from Major League Baseball as an active player. After 14 MLB seasons Michael is hanging up the spikes.

Young spent all but one season of his career with the Rangers. He reportedly had contract offers from the Dodgers and Brewers on the table should he have wanted to continue playing. Apparently he decided it was time to go.

Michael was a workhorse for the Rangers. Since becoming a full-time player in 2001 he averaged 151 games a year for the club. He played through injuries and won fan hearts with an early career position move to accommodate prima donna Alfonso Soriano. Unfortunately he later became that prima donna himself and cried considerably over switching positions late in his career. Part of that crying was to publicly ask for a trade. It took a season or two but Texas obliged by trading him before the 2013 season. If it hadn't been for Michael's complaints, he likely would have played his final season for Texas. Even while complaining Young kept up his work ethic, making successful switches to third base and then to an everyday utility player.

Young retires with a career .300 batting average and .346 on-base percentage. He has 1137 runs scored, 1030 RBI, 441 doubles, 60 triples, 185 home runs, and 90 stolen bases to his credit. He's been an All-Star seven times, won the All-Star MVP once, the American League batting title in 2005, and was awarded one Gold Glove. He leads the Rangers for all-time numbers in most offensive categories.

Truly an impressive career. Hall of Fame? Maybe, the voters will decide in five years.

Yesterday former Ranger Lance Berkman also announced his retirement as a player. Berkman played 15 seasons in The Majors but just one with Texas. His retirement is not a surprise since he battled through the last part of last season with injuries and talked about hanging it up. Since he spent the majority of his career with other teams I'm going to skip the recap of his career. Lance is another player who will get Hall of Fame consideration but might be on the bubble.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Best Seasons: Alfonso Soriano - 2005.

Number 40 on T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history is Alfonso Soriano's 2005 season. Soriano is shown here on card PT-AS of the 2004 Flair Power Tools set. The card is numbered on the back 47/175. About the only thing I don't like about this card is the jersey piece. Sure looks like a Yankee pinstripe to me.

Soriano made 682 plate appearances for the Rangers in 2005. He compiled a .269 batting average and a .309 on-base percentage. Those aren't very impressive numbers. What gets Alfonso on the list is his 102 runs scored, 104 RBI, 36 home runs, and 30 stolen bases. He also managed to sneak 43 doubles into the mix. Soriano may have got on base less than a third of the time but when he did he caused havoc with the defense. Good thing too since his sub-par defense probably cost the Rangers a few runs.

Soriano got an All-Star trip and a Silver Slugger Award to recognize his achievements in 2005. He is also the only Rangers player to ever go 100-100 and 30-30 in the same season.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Best Seasons: Gary Matthews Jr. - 2006.

Just ten seasons left after today on T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history. Gary Matthews Jr gets the nod at number 39 for his 2006 season. He appears today on card number 457 of the 2006 Upper Deck set.

Matthews had a career year for Texas in 2006. As the starting center fielder his defense was below average but his bat more than made up for that.

In 690 plate appearances Gary posted a .313 batting average and a .371 on-base percentage. That batting average was the highest of his career. He also posted career highs in doubles (44), triples (6), home runs (19), RBI (79), runs scored (102), hits (194), and slugging percentage (.495). His 58 walks were the second highest of his career as was his on-base percentage.

For all his efforts Matthews received an All-Star selection and some consideration for MVP. He did not get a new contract from the Rangers at the end of the year. Texas wisely let him sign with the Angels and watched from a distance as his career wound down. Gary Matthews Jr had a great season in 2006 but he would never again return to such offensive heights.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1977 Topps - Joe Hoerner.

Joe Hoerner, shown here on card 256 of the 1977 Topps set, was on the tail end of his career by the time the photograph on this card was taken. He came up with the Houston Colt .45's in 1963 for a brief look and again in 1964 for the same. He broke into the Majors for good in 1966 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was part of their championship team in 1967 and the World Series team in 1968. He went to the Phillies as part of the infamous Curt Flood trade that ended up opening up baseball free agency.

Hoerner was no longer with the Rangers by the time this card was issued. Texas signed the career reliever prior to the 1976 season and released him before the 1977 season.

Joe's 5.14 ERA and 1.714 WHIP were likely the contributing factors in the team's decision to release him. He lasted through the 1977 season with the Cincinnati Reds but appeared in just eight painful games for them. They released him in October of 1977. That ended his Major League career.

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 FanFest review.

Well, the past few days have been rather hectic between work and family obligations. Things finally slowed down a bit though so here I am.

As you may be able to tell from the ticket to this year's Rangers FanFest, I spent Saturday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The trouble with being a long-distance fan is that you usually miss events like this one. This year we are closer to Arlington so I decided to take Spiff Jr and check out the happenings for the first time.

Acting on advice received from readers of the blog, we arrived early, almost an hour before the gates opened. Parking was free and the walk was short. The line to get in was already around two sides of the ballpark. While waiting we amused ourselves by observing the Rangers gear and occasionally outlandish outfits worn by some of the attendees. Rangers employees walked up and down the line handing out programs and cards for the lottery drawings for the bigger name autographs. To get the cards you had to be one of the first 5,000 in line. 250 numbers were drawn for each big name. Not too much better a chance than the real lottery. We also had to sign a waiver to get through the gates. That released the club from liability if we got hurt in one of the more interactive parts of the FanFest.

Once inside we walked through the concourse, discovered we were not winners for a Prince Fielder autograph, and checked the program to decide what to do next. Spiff Jr thought the autograph session for former Rangers Mark McLemore, Mike Jeffcoat, and Ellis Valentine looked promising. Down to the ballpark tunnel we went. Encountered Rangers Captain and got a photo of him and Spiff Jr. The line for the autographs wasn't too bad but McLemore was late and we only got signatures from Jeffcoat and Valentine.

Hit the Rangers Foundation fundraiser in the visiting clubhouse. Lots of game-used items but none really in our price range. I did pick up a 2012 media guide and a 2013 program for $1 each. Spiff Jr found a Josh Hamilton stadium giveaway figure in the box for $5. Fitted caps were $10 with the $39 sticker still on them. Not too bad. Cool to be able to look around the visitor clubhouse as well.

Back out in the tunnel we saw McLemore had arrived. Back in line. Got Mac, Jeffcoat, and Valentine this time through. Jumped right back to the end of the line because Kevin Mench and Cecil Espy were taking over. Spiff Jr really wanted Mench's autograph. Didn't have a long wait before he had it and Espy's as well.

Took a glance at the Rangers indoor batting cage and weight room. Walked up the home team tunnel to the Rangers dugout. Quite cool to walk into the sunlight and see the field from that perspective. Walked around on the field for a few minutes, photographed Spiff Jr sitting in the visiting dugout, and headed up to the concourse to try and snag a Derek Holland autograph.

The line for the Holland autograph would prove to be the only poor experience of the day. We saw Holland hobble his way to the front of the line on crutches but that was it. Apparently only the first 250 people in line got autographs. Nobody announced the end of the line though so we all continued to stand there and miss other parts of the event. Very poorly done by the Rangers.

Spiff Jr finally called an end to the waiting for Holland and we headed back down to the tunnel. Scored Donald Harris, Rich Billings, and Kevin Belcher autographs without much trouble.

Up to the Rangers Hall of Fame for a quick tour. Time for the catching clinic taught by Jim Sundberg and Ken Suarez in the HoF auditorium. It was very interesting and Spiff Jr claimed he learned several things about his chosen position. Sundberg and Suarez both signed after the clinic so we got their autos as well.

There was less than an hour left in the FanFest by the time we left the Rangers Hall of Fame. Spiff Jr thought maybe we could get a couple of more autographs so we headed back down to the ballpark tunnel. Managed to collect autos from Jose Guzman, Danny Darwin, and Tim Crabtree. That wrapped it up for us.

All in all it was a fun day and a good experience. Spiff Jr turned out to be quite the autograph hound before it was all over. I enjoyed seeing the back stage side of things and getting the retired players to sign. I think if we have the chance we will try and make the trip to next year's FanFest.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1977 Topps - Toby Harrah.

By 1977 Toby Harrah, shown here on Topps card #301, was a star with the Texas Rangers. He had developed power at the plate and secured the starting shortstop job. The position designation on this card and the All-Star banner are both referring to 1976. Things would be a bit different in 1977.

With the arrival of free agent shortstop Bert Campaneris and a hole developing at third base, the Rangers moved Harrah over to third beginning in Spring Training. The move meant he had to learn a whole new position but the front office was sure he had the reflexes and baseball instincts to do so.

Harrah played just one inning away from third in 1977, a cameo appearance at his old position, shortstop. The rest of of the season he played 1404.1 innings over 159 games at third base. Apparently the move had not hurt his durability. Toby committed 15 errors in 401 chances during the season. That worked out to a .963 fielding percentage - six points higher than the league average. All in all it looked like Harrah made the move to the hot corner just fine and had little trouble in nailing down the starting gig there.

Toby suffered a bit of a downer season at the plate in 1976 and he needed to get his numbers back up. He made 673 trips to the plate in 1977. His .263 batting average was just three points higher than the previous season. He led the league in walks though with 109 and that helped raise his on-base percentage 33 points to .393. He also found the power switch as demonstrated by his 25 doubles, 5 triples, and 27 home runs. Those were all improvements over 1976 with the most significant difference being in the longball category. The production raised his slugging percentage over 100 points. Toby also continued to run on the bases with 27 thefts while being caught just five times.

Over all Toby Harrah had a better season in 1977 than he had in 1976. He didn't go back to the All-Star game though. That was not due to any trouble Harrah encountered in switching positions. The move seemed to have worked out just fine for both him and the Rangers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Minor League Monday - Dwayne Henry, 1984 Tulsa's Baseball Card Store.

Going to take a break today from the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set. This break is brought to you by Tom over at The Angels, In Order. Tom emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if I was in need of a few Rangers cards he had. I was but didn't have anything new on the Angels front to trade. In typical Tom fashion he replied that was fine, he would just send them my way anyway. In they came late last week, and there were more cards than Tom mentioned. Among the extra goodies was this 1984 Tulsa's Baseball Card Store card of Dwayne Henry. It's #36 in the set and is now the oldest Rangers minor league card in my collection. Thanks a ton Tom! I'll be sure and keep an eye out for Halos for you.

Dwayne Henry was a second round draft pick for the Rangers in 1980. By the start of the 1984 season he had only made it up to Double A. That's not good progress over three seasons in a pitching-starved organization. Henry struggled at both Rookie and Double A ball in 1983 but the Rangers still had hopes for him. He began the 1984 season at Double A Tulsa.

Henry made 33 appearances for the Drillers in 1984, 12 of those were starts. He ended up with a 5-8 record. His 3.39 ERA and 1.471 WHIP were not dazzling but they were a significant improvement over the previous season. Dwayne's career seemed to be back on track.

As mentioned above, the Rangers were pretty desperate for pitching in the 1980's. Henry's improvement caught the eye of the front office and he got a bus ticket to Arlington when the rosters expanded in September. He made his Major League Debut on September 7, 1984 with an inning of scoreless relief to finish off a game the Rangers had already lost. Unfortunately, the rest of Dwayne's cup of coffee with the Big Club didn't go as well. In a total of 4.1 innings pitched, he allowed four earned runs for an 8.31 ERA to go along with his 2.769 WHIP. A lot of those numbers were due to the seven walks he issued.

The Rangers needed pitching but not that bad. Henry would start the 1985 season back at Double A.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Senators Saturday - Ken Retzer, 1964.

Take a look at card 277 of the 1964 Topps set. What about that catching stance Ken Retzer's displaying? Two handed catching with no hinges in the mitt. The baseball world is still waiting on Johnny Bench to popularize the hinged mitt and one handed catching.

I haven't posted any cards of Ken Retzer but he had been in the Senators catching mix for several years. In 1962 and 1963 he had even been about as close to the starting job as any backstop in those early years. Things had changed by 1964 and Retzer was locked in a dog fight with Don Leppert and Mike Brumley for the starting catcher's job.

Ken not only lost his starting gig, he came in third in the contest. That meant most of the season spent at Triple A with the Toronto Maple Leaves. He did get 17 appearances with Washington and made 38 trips to the plate. His .094 batting average and .237 on-base percentage tell the story of how well he was able to take advantage of the opportunity. His fielding percentage falling 19 points below the league average pretty much sealed the deal.

With Brumley grabbing the starting job and Leppert holding down the backup spot, Ken Retzer was the odd man out. His average and on-base percentage had declined in 1963 and he appeared to hit the bottom in 1964. The Senators responded to the situation by trading Retzer on October 15, 1964. The Twins sent Joe McCabe to Washington in a straight up trade. Retzer spent the next three years trying without success to make it back to the Majors. He hung up the spikes after the 1967 season.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Best Seasons: Dick Bosman - 1969.

Today's card is not a baseball card in the strict sense of the word, it's Dick Bosman's card from the 1969 Strat-O-Matic set. If you haven't ever tried Strat you should. Just be forewarned, it can be addictive.

Couple of quick notes before we get on to number 38 in T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history. First, the Senators invade the bottom portion of the list. Dick Donovan appeared just two spots ago and there are two more Washington players before after Bosman before we get to number 50. With the limited number of Senators cards in my collection and the need to have cards to post on Senators Saturdays I will have to be creative and post things like this Strat card. That leads to the second note. As you can see, this particular card is mis-cut. The angle of the printing is not the scanner's fault. In the early days of Strat the cards came in nine card sheets that had to be cut apart for play. The result was a lot of mis-cut cards. Today the cards still come in nine card sheets but are perforated to eliminate the mis-cutting.

Ok, on to Dick Bosman's 1969 season. The Senators who eventually moved to Texas were pretty bad. 1969 was the best pre-Texas year with the team posting an 86-76 record. A large part of that was probably due to the pitching staff, much to manager Ted Williams' dismay. Bosman was the crown jewel of the starting rotation.

Dick made 31 appearances for Washington in 1969, 26 of those were starts. He ended the season with a 14-5 record. Over 193 innings pitched he compiled a league-leading 2.19 ERA and a team best 1.010 WHIP. He struck out 99 batters while allowing just 39 walks. That worked out to a career best 2.54 strikeout to walk ratio. That performance garnered the 25-year-old some MVP consideration but he didn't get a trip to the All-Star game.

Bosman's 1969 season was a good one. It looks even better when you consider that Major League Baseball lowered the mound between the 1968 and 1969 seasons. More than a few pitchers struggled with the adjustment. Apparently Dick Bosman got it figured out pretty quick.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Well, the Rangers signed reliever Neal Cotts to a one year $2.2 million deal to avoid arbitration. That leaves Mitch Moreland, Neftali Feliz, and Alexi Ogando as the arbitration eligible players left. The Rangers have exchanged figures with them and could sign them before arbitration. That's normally what happens with Texas.

That's about all the Rangers news out there today and I don't have a signed Neal Cotts card to go with it. That got me to flipping through my autographs and game-used but nothing caught my eye. Then I remembered that small section of the box reserved for my 1/1 cards. I don't have many but I realized I hadn't posted one yet.

Picked this 2005 Upper Deck 1/1 of reliever Frank Francisco up off Ebay just before Frankie left Texas. This is the cyan printing plate from the set. Upper Deck encased their plates in a cardboard frame in 2005. While I think 1/1 cards are overrated at times it is neat to own a card that nobody else has a copy of. I've only pulled one 1/1, a Mark Prior printing plate from the 2005 Upper Deck set. Sold it on Ebay, after all, he wasn't a Ranger.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Best Seasons: Toby Harrah - 1985.

Number 37 in T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers History is Toby Harrah's 1985 effort. The Rangers traded Billy Sample to the Yankees in February of 1985 to get Harrah, shown here on card 159 of the 1986 Donruss set, back to Texas. Toby had been with the team from his debut in 1969 through the end of the 1978 season. At 36 years of age he was slowing down and his return was viewed by many as a swan song. Most expected him to fill a utility role in the last year or two he had left before retirement.

Harrah had other ideas though. He played in 126 games for Texas in 1985 and made 521 trips to the plate. His batting average rebounded to .270 and his on-base shot up over 100 points to .432. That was partially due to his career-high 113 walks. That's a franchise record for walks that still stands. Toby also knocked nine home runs, one triple, and 18 doubles. He got some speed out of his aging knees with 11 stolen bases while getting caught just four times.

Instead of being a utility player, Harrah nailed down the starting second baseman job. In 122 games he played 1021.2 innings at second. His six errors in 569 chances gave him a .989 fielding percentage, seven points higher than the league average.

While those numbers are good they didn't get Toby any accolades. Not even a trip to the All-Star game. They were a pleasant surprise for the Rangers and their fans though. An all-time favorite had returned home and proved he still had it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Knees, trades, and tickets.

The bad news for the Rangers pitching staff started before Spring Training this year. Derek Holland, shown here on card 413 of the Topps Diamond Anniversary Factory set, was supposed to shoulder a large amount of the starting load this season. Instead he underwent knee surgery on Friday to deal with some torn cartilage in his left knee. He apparently injured the knee falling on the stairs in his home while playing with his dog. Talk about a freak injury, that one has to go on the list. Dutch is looking at being out for six weeks and possibly making a mid-season return. He has no torn ligaments though so that timetable could be shortened a little. In the past an injury like this would have completely derailed the Rangers season. It still might but with the depth in pitching the Rangers have they might be able to hold on until Holland gets back.

Got a box of cards in the mail yesterday from John over at Johnny's Trading Spot. John contacted me several weeks ago about a large trade of Braves for Rangers. We eventually worked out a deal for about 375 cards each. I gotta say I liked the lot John sent. He included a large variety of cards and hit quite a few holes in my wantlist. He also completed the 1998 Pacific team set. Hopefully we can work out trades in the future as well. If John ever drops you a line wanting to relieve you of your excess Braves you should jump on the chance. Thanks again for the trade John!

Another happening from yesterday was the ordering of tickets to the Rangers FanFest for Spiff Jr and I. This will be a first for both of us and I am looking forward to it. The disadvantage of being an out of state fan is that you don't get a chance to do these types of things. Is anyone else going? Any advice from those who have been before?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Senators Saturday/Best Seasons: Dick Donovan - 1961.

Going to kill two birds with one stone here. Today we have Dick Donovan appearing on card 73 of the 1962 Post set. He'll be filling the dual role of Senators Saturday and being number 36 on T.R. Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history.

A quick comment on today's card before we go too much further. This card is the perfect example of the dangers of food company employees who don't know baseball writing copy for baseball cards. "The Senators were happy to acquire Donovan because of his sparkling 16-6 lifetime record against them." Really? The Senators grabbed Donovan in the 1960 expansion draft and hadn't played a game yet as a franchise when he first donned the Washington uniform. Pretty impressive that he was able to compile a 16-6 record against a team that he joined as part of its inaugural squad. Now, if you were going to run up against the Twins, he was probably your man.

Anyway, on to the main point of the post. Donovan's 1961 season has been covered but a recap is in order. Donovan made 22 starts and one relief appearance for Washington in 1961. He pitched a total of 168.2 innings and ended the season with a 10-10 record. That was more of an indicator of how much he wasn't supported than anything else. Dick's 2.40 ERA and 1.026 WHIP led not only the team but also the league. He walked just 35 batters while striking out 62 for a 1.77 strikeout to walk ratio. Not bad for anyone but especially impressive for a pitcher on an expansion team. The performance garnered Donovan a trip to the All-Star game and some MVP consideration. It also raised his trade value and helped the Senators move him in October of 1961 in an attempt to improve the club.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Minor league moves.

Getting closer to the final push before Spring Training. Rangers pitchers and catchers report on February 17th and the rest of the team on February 20th. Most of the rest of the clubs are scheduled for about the same time except for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers who are about ten days ahead of everyone else.

With the season fast approaching, the Rangers announced their minor league staffs yesterday. With the promotion of Triple A manager Bobby Jones to the position of assistant hitting coach with the big club there was a hole to fill.

Former Ranger Steve Buechele, shown here on card 558 of the 1986 Fleer set, is set to manage at Triple A Round Rock. That's a move up for Boo after the last four seasons at Double A and a season at Single A before that. So far he's had success and has a winning record. Always have liked Buechele and it's good to see him doing well.

Taking over at Double A is Jason Wood who managed at Single A last season. He'll be replaced by Joe Mikulik. Mikulik was a roving outfield instructor in the Rangers farm system last year and has about 13 years experience as a coach and manager in the Rockies system.

Wish all three of these guys the best of luck in their new positions. Hopefully they can keep the pipeline of young talent flowing into Arlington.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 Hall of Fame class announced.

Well the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2014 has been announced. In addition to managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre, three players got in. Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. I believe this is the biggest class of living inductees since the initial inductions. All of them deserve their spots and it is good to see them get in.

On the other end of the spectrum were the players who dropped off the ballot due to lack of support. Any player who gets less than 5% of the vote drops off. Some, like former Ranger Kenny Rogers, were expected. Kenny was a good player but not a Hall of Famer so it's no surprise to see him drop off.

Unfortunately it also wasn't a surprise to see former Ranger Rafael Palmeiro drop off the ballot. Raffy, shown here on card 225 of the 1990 Donruss set, had career numbers that compare favorably to Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray. All three of those guys are already in The Hall. Palmeiro put up his numbers in the steroid era though and that makes them somewhat suspect. Top it off with Raffy lying to congress, testing positive for PED's, and ending his career under suspension and it's no shock to see the voters dump him. Sad, but not unforeseen. Hopefully there's some young player out there watching and deciding the risk with PED's is not worth the possible benefit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Best Seasons: Vladimir Guerrero - 2010.

Number 35 on TR Sullivan's list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers history is Vladimir Guerrero's 2010 campaign.

The Rangers signed Vlad, shown here on card DDC-25 of the 2011 Topps Diamond Die Cuts set, to a one-year deal with the idea that he would primarily be a Designated Hitter. He played just a few games in the outfield without much success.

He was a hitter though. His 643 plate appearances translated to a .300 batting average, a .345 on-base percentage, and a .496 slugging percentage. Guerrero's strike out to walk ratio wasn't that good with 60 K's and only 35 walks but when he made contact he more than made up for it. His 29 home runs and 27 doubles played a big role as he drove in 115 RBI.

Vlad's numbers provided Josh Hamilton with protection in the Texas lineup and were a big factor in the Rangers first ever pennant. They also garnered him an All-Star nod, a Silver Slugger award, and some MVP consideration. All in all the season was a great one and made the signing look great. Of course, it was only a one-year contract and at the end of the year Guerrero rode off into the sunset like the Lone Ranger.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1977 Topps - Mike Hargrove.

Coming off a down year in 1976, Mike Hargrove was looking to improve his offense and defense in 1977. He appears here on card 275 of the 1977 Topps set.

Mike played 1288.1 innings over 152 games at first base. It was the only position he played in the field for the Rangers in 1977. I have no idea where Topps came up with the outfield position on this card, Hargrove hadn't played in the outfield since 1975. He would commit just 11 errors in 1977, ten less than the previous season in almost 30 more innings. That led to a .993 fielding percentage, a nine point improvement over 1976 and three points higher than the league average. Success on the defensive front.

On offense Hargrove made 648 trips to the plate in 1977. He posted a .305 batting average and a .420 on-base percentage. Both of those numbers led the team and were significant improvements. Mike also used his 18 home runs, 4 triples, and 28 doubles to bump his slugging percentage up to .476. All nice numbers and a definite improvement. Success on the offensive front.

1977 had been a good year for Mike Hargrove. His bat looked to have returned and he had closed up at least a few of the holes in his glove. He probably wasn't going to face any serious challenges for the first base job for at least another year. Apparently part of Mike's offensive success was due to Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver. In July Weaver suggested to Rangers skipper Billy Hunter that he consider using Mike as a lead-off hitter. On July 15th Hunter did just that and left Hargrove there for the rest of the season. From that point on Mike compiled a .445 on-base percentage. Of course he only stole two bases all year long and got caught five times, but I guess Texas decided they could do without the speed if they had a runner regularly on base.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back and catching up.

Whew! Hope everyone made it through the holidays in one piece. Things got pretty busy here. Lots going on in Rangers news as well. All the random happenings lead me to post this random Rangers card of Jim Sundberg. Sunny appears as a Diamond King on card 7 of the 1983 Donruss set.

So, my computer's power cord gave up the ghost on December 23rd. I looked into buying a replacement but the cost combined with the fact that my Dad was coming to visit and had an extra made me decide not to pull the trigger.

One of my brothers came in on the 24th and my in-laws were here for the day on the 25th. My family arrived on the 26th, with the new power cord. Trying to balance work and house guests ate up the 27th and 28th. The 29th and 30th were spent visiting with extended family and helping with a major project for my grandmother. The 31st I finally had time to sit down and briefly attempted to post. More visit time with my folks and a Strat-O-Matic game with my Dad squashed that. Back to work on the 1st. Most of the family left on the 2nd and my last brother hit the road on the 3rd. Then it was time to help Mrs. Spiff with the post-family cleanup and Christmas decoration packing. So, now you know my excuse for being gone so long. It was great to see everyone and we all had a pretty good time but it left little time for baseball cards.

In between I received a few more requests for the team lot giveaway and one for a trade. Getting the free lots together now and sent an email on the trade. Hopefully we can get a deal done.

While all that was going on, the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven year deal. I have to admit I am pretty leery about this. Prince Fielder's already locked in for the long term on a big deal. Hopefully the team won't end up with two monster contracts for aging players on their hands in a few years. If that happens the back stretch of the deals could be brutal.

Texas also continues to sign young prospects and inked Kensuke Tanaka to a minor league deal. This Tanaka is not the big news pitcher and only got a brief stint with San Fransico last season. He did well in Japan before that though and should give the Rangers extra outfield depth. Good to see the team still building for the future while trying to keep the current contention window open.