Monday, April 28, 2014

Minor League Monday - Roger Pavlik, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Roger Pavlik, shown here on card 19 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set, was a second round pick for the Rangers in the 1986 draft. He didn't start his pro career until the 1987 season.

Three years later Roger started the 1990 season with the A+ Charlotte Rangers. He made 11 appearances for Charlotte, all starts. In 66.1 innings Pavlik compiled a 2.44 ERA and a 1.357 WHIP. He also struck out 76 opposing batters while giving up just 40 walks. Those numbers gave him a 5-3 record and a mid-season promotion to Double A Tulsa.

Pavilk made 16 starts for Tulsa and pitched 100.1 innings. The work seemed to agree with him as his ERA actually lowered to 2.33. Some of that was due to luck though as his WHIP crept up to 1.365. The strikeouts continued but he was able to whiff just 91 while walking 71. The Double A batters had a better eye than the Single A ones.

Roger's reward was a 6-5 record and a chance to start the 1991 season at Triple A Oklahoma City. After some early struggles it looked like Roger Pavlik was on his way. If he could translate his Double A success to the next level he would very likely get a shot at pitching in Arlington.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

50/50 auto.

I have quite a few Charlie Hough autos. Some have come through the mail, others through a 50/50 deal I once was part of. This signed 1989 Score card of Mr. Hough is one of the ones I got in the 50/50 deal.

Several years ago I saw a notice on a card trading website I was a member of. One of the other members lived near where Charlie Hough managed for a minor league team. The guy had season tickets as I recall and wanted to build a Hough collection. He was looking for 50/50 partners.

The deal was that I was supposed to send a batch of Charlie Hough cards to the other guy. There were two or three of each card. He would get as many signed as possible and return one of each to me. He was to keep the rest of the cards (one or two of each depending on how many I sent) for his part. Any shipping expenses would be split 50/50.

I gathered up the lot and sent it off. Included were several cards I could only find one extra of and a note telling my trade partner to keep all the cards with only one copy. Now it was waiting time.

In the fall I got an email from the other guy. Yay! My Charlie Hough autos were on the way? No. He had the autos but he hadn't sent them. He needed me to send him money to cover the cost of return postage. This hadn't been the deal before. It doubled my expense. If I didn't send him the money he would hang on to the cards and await developments. I sent him the money.

My signed cards arrived and were as advertised. I figured the cost and found the price per auto was about three times what I would have paid if I sent the cards directly to Hough a few at a time. I was glad to get the cards but have never since even considered a 50/50 autograph deal.

Anyone else ever tried a 50/50 autograph deal on either end? How did it work out for you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time for some decisions.

When playing MLB Showdown a well-constructed strategy deck was essential. I never used this Dugout General card from the 2004 MLB Showdown set because it could only be played late in the game. I held on to it though because it featured the Rangers.

Well, it's not late in the game but it's still time to choose and possibly discard. I am going to be updating my blog links list soon. Hopefully there won't be too many discards of defunct blogs but I would like to add to the list.

As you can see from the links list, not every other MLB team is represented. It would be great to change that. I would also like to add some Rangers blogs and possibly more set tour blogs.

If you have a blog you would like to see linked please leave a comment or shoot me an email. The blog can be your own or somebody else's, just so long as it's family friendly and a fun read. If for some reason you are already linked and would like to be removed please let me know that as well. If you're linked and haven't posted on your blog in awhile but don't want to be removed please let me know that as well. I won't be making the changes right away but will do so soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1977 Topps - Jim Umbarger.

Jim Umbarger's 1977 season was unusual to say the least. Umbarger, shown here on card 378 of the 1977 Topps set, had a decent campaign in 1976 as he moved into the full-time starter role. Coming into Spring Training in 1977 he was determined to build on those numbers.

That 1976 season was enough to garner the Oakland A's attention. They sent Claudell Washington to Texas on March 26, 1977 for Umbarger and the newly acquired Rodney Scott.

With the A's it was back to a swingman role for Jim. He made eight starts in 12 appearances and pitched a total of 44 innings for the Swinging A's. The results were not good. By late August Umbarger was sporting a 6.55 ERA and a 2.045 WHIP.

Perhaps hoping that a return to familiar surroundings would mean a return to his 1976 numbers, Texas purchased Umbarger's contract from Oakland on August 25, 1977. The homecoming was not overly successful. Jim made two starts in three appearances for the Rangers. In 13 innings he posted a 5.54 ERA and a 1.385 WHIP.

While Umbarger's return to Texas did improve his numbers he still had much work to do. Lefties have nine lives but Jim needed to start lowering his ERA and WHIP if he wanted to stay in Texas in 1978.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Minor League Monday - Jeff Oller, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Jeff Oller, shown here on card number 18 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set, was originally a third round draft pick in 1985. The Montreal Expos took Jeff out of high school. Drafting guys that young is always a risk and it didn't pay off for Montreal in Oller's case.

By 1990 Jeff was in the Rangers farm system. He had yet to play above Double A and had spent most of his career in A ball.

Oller had 375 plate appearances in 104 games for Charlotte in 1990. He posted a .275 batting average and a .358 on-base percentage. Both were career highs for him. He had 17 doubles, one triple, and one home run. Those weren't highs.

In the field Oller played only at third base. He played defense in just 50 games. His 16 errors in 108 chances gave him a horrendous .852 fielding percentage.

Clearly things weren't panning out for Jeff Oller. In five years of pro ball he had yet to make it to even the highest level of the minors. Playing in a Big League park remained a distant dream. His power at the plate appeared to be ebbing and his glove was not coming around. Those factors all combined to make the end of the 1990 season the end of Jeff Oller's pro career.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A little luck.

Well, the Rangers got a bit of luck last night to down the Mariners on a Leonys Martin walk-off single. Seattle scored two runs off Yu Darvish, his first two runs given up of the season. That was all they would get though.

The Rangers battled back and managed to tie the game by the bottom of the ninth inning. Two up and two down to start the inning. Then Kevin Kousmanoff got a hit. A Mariners miscue at second kept the inning alive and a wild pitch moved the runners up. That gave Leonys Martin the chance to dump his single into the outfield and get the winning run home.

Nice use of the extra out by Texas. That gives them two wins in a row, a chance to win the series, and a record over .500. All good signs.

In an effort to keep the good times going, I am posting this signed 1988 Score card of former Ranger Charlie Hough. Can't do much better than Charlie when it comes to a good thing for Texas. Maybe it will give the guys a little more luck this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Encouraging performance.

Last night's game against Seattle was encouraging on several fronts. First, it was a win and got the Rangers back to .500. With the current pitching and hitting problems .500 is an achievement.

Robbie Ross made the start and got the W. I can't find a card of him or he would get today's card. Robbie hurled 7.2 scoreless innings to get his first win and lower his season ERA to 1.00. Not too shabby for a guy making the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Ross is a bright spot on the mound for Texas.

Taking over for Ross was Alexi Ogando, shown here on card US190 of the 2011 Topps Gold set. Alexi only pitched a third of an inning but he did not allow the runner he inherited from Ross to cross the plate. Considering some of his early struggles this season, that is a good sign. Perhaps the old Ogando is back. Neal Cotts came in to finish the game off because it was no longer a save situation. He did not allow any runs to score either. A good night from the pitching staff and a combined shutout of the Mariners.

On the offense side of things Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the season in the second inning. It ended up being his only hit of the night but it gave the Rangers a lead they never gave up. Hopefully Fielder's bats will heat up soon. Coming up right behind Fielder, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit his first long ball of the season. Kouzmanoff has been on fire since the Rangers called him up. It would be great if he can keep it up at least until Adrian Beltre returns from the Disabled List next week.

The offense put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth to run the final score to 5-0. Very nice to see the late inning outburst. If they can repeat tonight against Felix Hernandez, and Yu Darvish keeps his momentum going, things could end up looking real good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1977 Topps - Jeff Terpko.

A quick programming note before we get on to today's card. Starting yesterday, the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty hectic for me. As such I will be posting when I have time. That means some posts will be pre-scheduled and others will not. If it appears I am not paying attention to the current Rangers team, I am. The posts just may not match up.

Jeff Terpko, shown here on card 137 of the 1977 Topps set, came to the Washington Senators in April of 1971 as part of the Curt Flood trade. He was still in the minors when the team moved to Texas.

Jeff got a cup of coffee with the team in 1974. In 1976 he appeared in 32 games - all in relief. Over the 52.2 innings he pitched, Terpko compiled a 2.39 ERA and a 1.348 WHIP. The ERA looks acceptable but the WHIP is high for a reliever.

Apparently Texas decided Jeff wasn't going to get any better with more time. After all, he'd been playing in the minors since 1968. On March 15, 1977 the Rangers sent Terpko to the Montreal Expos for Rodney Scott. Jeff would appear in just 13 games for the Expos before his Major League career ended.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking for company.

Feeling pretty frustrated by all the injuries the Rangers are facing this year. Looking at this 2003 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection dual game-used jersey card helps a little.

Looking at Hank Blalock I am reminded that an injury, or a series of them, can be career threatening. Hank had his career derailed by repeated injuries. At least most of the players the Rangers are currently missing are expected back.

Former Ranger Mark Teixeira is on the disabled list right now for the Yankees. It's a reminder that the other teams are also struggling with their share of injuries to key players. The Rangers aren't alone in the American League.

The Angels are going to miss Josh Hamilton for 6-8 weeks with thumb surgery. The A's don't have A.J. Griffin, or Craig Gentry. The Blue Jays are doing without J.A. Happ and Jose Reyes. The Orioles are missing Manny Machado. Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore aren't pitching for Tampa Bay. Boston is short Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino. Detroit is doing without Jose Iglesias. The Yankees are missing Mark Teixeira and I just saw a headline that indicates Jacoby Ellsbury may be following him to the DL.

While the Rangers seem to be among the hardest hit, it does help a little to take a glance around the American League at the other teams losses. I guess misery does love a little company now and then.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good news, Bad news.

Last night's game in Boston was full of good news and bad news.

First on the good news side was that the Rangers won. Bad news was the 10-7 score. Starter Martin Perez went 6.1 innings in the game and got the win. That was good. He allowed four earned runs and that was bad. Also bad was the three runs coughed up by closer Joaquin Soria in the bottom of the ninth.

The offense finally seemed to come alive and that was good. Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, shown here on card MVP28 of the 2012 Prizm set, found their bats. That was good. Manager Ron Washington lifted Beltre from the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left quad muscle. That's bad. The team flew Beltre back to Texas after the game to get further evaluation for a possible muscle strain. That's real bad.

Today the Rangers called up Kevin Kouzmanoff from Triple A and designated pitcher Seth Rosin for assignment. That indicates they expect the news on Beltre to get worse. I guess when the injury bug bites, he just keeps chomping away.

On a bit brighter note, Matt Harrison made a rehab start in Frisco yesterday. He went 4.2 innings and apparently looked real good. The club says he's still on track for a late April return. Colby Lewis also appears to be on track. The Rangers are expected to call him up in the next couple of days. It's looking like he will start Saturday when the Astros come to town.

Obviously the loss of Beltre will be a huge blow to the Rangers. Hopefully the pitching staff can get the kinks worked out and the re-enforcements plugged in to hold the line until Adrian can return to bolster the offense.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1977 Topps - Jim Sundberg.

A slightly out of focus Jim Sundberg appears today on card 351 of the 1977 Topps set. In 1977 Sundberg was the Rangers first string catcher.

Jim appeared in 149 games for the Rangers in 1977 and made 533 trips to the plate. Not known for his bat, Sunny was not doing a lot of hitting heading into July. The heat seemed to warm his bat up though and he hit .343 for the rest of the year. That brought his season batting average to .291 and his on-base percentage to .365. He walked 53 times and hit 20 doubles, three triples, and six home runs. That gave him 65 RBI and 61 runs scored of his own.

While turning in an above average season at the plate, Sundberg continued to be average behind it. Average for him that is. Above average for the rest of the catchers in the Majors. Jim put in 1214 innings behind the plate and saw 909 chances. He committed just five errors to end the season with a .994 fielding percentage. That was a full six points higher than the league average. Those numbers came with a range factor that was also above the league average. 43 runners stole on Sunny and lived to tell the tale. He gunned down 55 more would-be thieves though for a 56% caught stealing. The league average was 39%. Of course Jim padded his numbers by picking six runners off first and four off second during the year. Running on Jim Sundberg was risky business.

The Rangers looked to have found their starting catcher for the foreseeable future. If Sundberg could keep his bat working at a reasonable level he was going to continue to nail runners in Arlington for a long time. In seeming confirmation of that, Jim received some MVP consideration and took home his second Gold Glove.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Andrus did what?

The Rangers lost the series in St. Petersburg two games to one. They would have got swept if they didn't pull out the getaway game yesterday. Joe Saunders got hammered in the first game and is now on the 15-day disabled list. Not sure I am looking forward to him coming back.

I was looking forward to Yu Darvish coming back. He made his first start of the season yesterday and was as advertised. Struck out six in seven innings of scoreless ball. Got his 500th career Major League strikeout in the first inning. He also got the win thanks to Elivs Andrus, shown here on card 12 of the 2011 Topps Lineage set.

Elvis came up to bat in a scoreless game in the top of the eighth inning with Shin-Soo Choo on base. To my (and probably everybody else's) amazement he shot a line drive into the bleachers for a two-run homer. It was the team's second of the season and gets Elvis 25% of the way to his total for last season. He now has 19 in his career. Of all the guys to punch a long ball, Andrus is the last on my possibility list. Glad to see him do it and give Yu the win.

The bullpen took over in the bottom of the eighth and held the Rays scoreless for the final two frames. Texas tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth but it wasn't needed. On to Boston tonight where Tanner Scheppers gets his second start of the season. Hopefully he will do better than his first one and lower that 15.75 ERA he's carrying.

Great to see the Rangers take a pitcher's duel. The Rays usually have a pretty good pitching staff and this year seems to be no different. To beat them in a close game like last night is something to be happy about. Darvish pitched in and out of trouble the last couple of innings he was in and probably would have gotten beat if he wasn't on when he needed to be. Hopefully he can iron out any last bugs and be a real workhorse for Texas this year. For now though, I'll take the win and run with it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Joy from Jim.

The Rangers had last night off. Probably good with the patched together rotation and lineup they have going right now. Any day off is a day closer to some of the regulars returning. Tonight they kick off a series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Saunders is going to be pitching for his spot in the rotation.

Towards the end of March I posted a list of the team sets I was down to one card to complete. A few days later I received an email from reader Jim. Jim wasn't able to hit any of the holes I listed but he'd taken a look at my wantlists and had a few other cards for me. I wasn't able to come up with anything from Jim's wantlists but he was gracious enough to offer the cards he had as a gift.

A few days ago a small package showed up in the mail. In the package was a group of Senators and Rangers cards. All hit holes on my wantlists. This 1993 Stadium Club #133 of Jeff Frye was one of the cards included. The whole package deserves the high five Frye is handing out. Jim knocked out several Rangers wants and around 13 cards off my Senators wantlists.

It's a rare occurrance to receive Senators cards in trade, even more so as a gift. Thanks a ton Jim, you really made my day with your generosity. Hope I can attempt to repay the favor someday.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Walking away with a win.

One of the areas I would like to improve in my Rangers collection is having more game-used or autos of current players. With the recent turnover of the roster that's a tall order. Going to have to be something I look into on my next trip to a card shop. Until then I will have to live with posting cards that don't always match the topic, like this 2001 Upper Deck Legends Legendary Jerseys card of Ivan Rodriguez. At least Pudge is still with the team in an instructor role.

I have to admit, the injuries in Spring Training had me dreading the start of the season. Opening day didn't do much to alleviate that feeling. The past two nights have helped though.

Following up on Martin Perez's strong start night before last, Texas got a little shakier start out of Robbie Ross Jr last night. Ross wasn't terrible but he did give up three runs in five innings. That's not great but it is promising for a young pitcher making the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Much better was the second night of scoreless relief by the bullpen.

The Rangers managed scratch one run across in the seventh but entered the bottom of the ninth two runs down. The Phillies brought in closer Jonathan Papelbon and I figured the Rangers were off to a 1-2 start to the season. Instead they managed to score two runs to tie the game up and Shin-Soo Choo headed to the plate with the bases loaded. He worked a walk to push in the winning run. Second straight walk-off win.

Great way to end the game. Who doesn't like walk-offs? They're great so long as they go your way. Just not a good thing to make a habit of. Still encouraging to see the team overcome the injuries and last-minute roster changes to get the season started off well. The team's off tonight and playing the Devil Rays tomorrow. Hopefully they can keep the train rolling.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beltre boosts Texas past Philly.

Well, the Rangers started the 2014 season at home against the Phillies on Monday. Seems wrong to start the season against a National League team. Even more so to lose the opener 14-10. Terrible pitching to say the least.

Last night's game was almost a polar opposite. no runs scored at all until the sixth inning. The Phillies grabbed two runs off starter Martin Perez in the top of the inning to knock him out of the game after a great first appearance of the season. In the bottom of the inning the Rangers got a run back.

In the bottom of the seventh Adrian Beltre, shown here on card 6 of the 2011 Topps Attax set, hammered a doubled to knock in new Ranger Shin-Soo Choo with the tying run. That was all the scoring until the bottom of the ninth when it was once again Beltre at the plate. That time he stroked a single to bring in Choo with the winning run. First walk-off win of the season.

Great to see Beltre back in form. Very encouraging after game one to see a strong start and scoreless appearances by the bullpen. Choo reaching base four times as the lead-off hitter is very nice as well. Glad to have some bright spots. Hopefully they continue and Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland join the party soon.