Saturday, February 28, 2015

Senators Saturday - Dick Bosman, 1969.

Future Rangers pitching coach Dick Bosman appears today on card 607 of the 1969 Topps set. This card is a little beat up but it's a high number and so difficult to find at an affordable price.

Bosman relied mostly on his control and had a passable year in 1968. He was highly competitive though and looking to improve in 1969. He spent most of the season with Washington but did pitch two innings in one game for the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. Not sure what that was all about.

Dick appeared in 31 games for the Senators in 1969 and started 26 of them. He pitched a total of 193 innings throughout the season - second most for the club. Bosman walked 39 opposing batters but struck out 99. That brought his strikeout to walk ratio to 2.54 - best on the team and fourth best in the league. Dick's 2.19 ERA lead the team and the league. His 1.010 WHIP was best on the team and third lowest in the American League.

Dick Bosman had an outstanding year in 1969. He won the AL pitching title, got some MVP consideration, and posted a club best 14-5 record. Apparently the lowering of the mound between 1968 and 1969 didn't effect his control. The Senators had some pitching problems but Dick Bosman wasn't one of them. They expected great things from their young hurler in future seasons.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cards from John.

A short while back reader John H. told me he was going to send me a few cards I might need. Yesterday I got an envelope in the mail from John. Inside was a note and 17 Rangers cards.

One of those cards was this 2004 National Trading Card Day #DP-4 card of Alfonso Soriano. Not sure if this is a Donruss Classics card or part of a set all its own but it's a great card.

Also in the envelope was a note from John saying he hoped the cards he sent would fit my want list. Well, the Soriano card was a great start as I didn't have it. All told there were 13 more cards that filled holes in my collection. 14-for-17 is an awesome average not matter if you're at bat or sending cards to a fellow collector.

Thanks for the great package John, it made my day. I hadn't had a package arrive in awhile and I really appreciate it.

Also arriving yesterday was another card package that will be reviewed in the near future and a long-awaited through the mail autograph request.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring Training in full swing.

Well, so far Spring Training seems to be going well for the Rangers. The worst news to this point is that Jurickson Profar will be undergoing shoulder surgery and missing another season. The surgery is related to the same injury that caused Profar to miss last season. Looks like Roughned Odor will not have as tough a time as expected in nailing down the second base job.

The other news out of Surprise is related to how Matt Harrison is progressing and the fact that all players are now in camp. Of course, Yu Darvish is getting mobbed by the Japanese media again this year.

Michael Young, shown here his 2006 Upper Deck Artifacts AL Artifacts #AL-MY card, is also in camp. This time as an instructor rather than player. Ivan Rodriguez should also be putting on an appearance at some point to work with the catchers. A few other former Rangers will probably be in and out as well.

So far so good, it seems. I still have my fingers crossed but can't help hoping for a bounce-back season and possibly a contending team. Anything with the majority of the team healthy would be a welcome improvement though.
2006 Upper Deck Artifacts AL Artifacts #AL-MY

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

1979 Topps - Len Barker.

Another victim of the constant turnover Texas experienced in the late 1970's, Len Barker was no longer a Ranger by the time card 94 of the 1979 Topps set hit the store shelves. After Barker had a rough 1978 season, the Rangers sent him and outfielder Bobby Bonds the Cleveland Indians on October 3, 1978. In return Texas got Jim Kern and Larvell Blanks.

As for Barker, he went on to turn in a serviceable career for the Indians and even tossed a perfect game for them in 1981. Cleveland traded Len to the Braves in 1983 and he played there until he was released in April of 1986. The Expos picked him up but he spent 1986 in the minors and was released in March of 1987. Milwaukee gave him a shot and he pitched some for the Brewers in 1987 but injuries and age had taken their toll. 1987 was the end of the line.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Minor League Monday - Paul Postier, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Paul David Postier, shown here on card 1164 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set, was drafted by the Rangers in the 17th round of the 1986 June draft. He started his pro career the same year. Four seasons later in 1990 Paul found himself preparing to start his second season with Double A Tulsa. That's not exactly shooting through the system.

As the front of Postier's card indicates, he was mainly an infielder. In 1990 he appeared at first and third base for the Drillers and in the outfield for ten games as well. He was not a regular starter at any of the positions he played.

In the 32 games Paul played at first base he handled all 283 chances he saw without an error. At third base he committed two errors over 46 games for a .985 fielding percentage. He was flawless in the ten games he appeared in the outfield.

Interestingly, Postier also pitched for Tulsa in five games. That indicates either a lot of blow-outs or perhaps an attempt to look at transitioning to pitching. Paul had pitched before, in two games with Single A Gastonia during the 1987 season, but not in the previous two seasons. The lack of practice didn't seem to hurt him though. He posted a 1.35 ERA and a 0.900 WHIP in 6.2 innings for the Drillers.

Paul made 319 trips to the plate over 89 games for the Drillers in 1990. He struggled to a .236 batting average and a .263 on-base percentage. Both were attributable to his propensity to strike out. He whiffed 55 times while working just 12 walks. Couple that with his lack of power - just eight doubles and one triple - and the outlook was grim indeed.

Paul Postier was a versatile player. He could play multiple positions fairly well and could even pitch effectively when needed. The problem was he couldn't hit. The Rangers were going to bump Paul up to Triple A Oklahoma City for the 1991 season but he was going to have to find his bat fast if he wanted to stay there or possibly get a shot in Arlington.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

1979 Topps - Sandy Alomar.

By the time Sandy Alomar appeared on card 144 of the 1979 Topps set his Major League playing career was over.

It had been clear in 1978 that Sandy was at the end of the line as a player. After 15 seasons in the Majors he was slowing down both offensively and defensively. The Rangers released him on October 24, 1978. Nobody picked him up.

Within seven years Sandy was back in the Majors, this time as a coach. He would coach with the Padres from 1986-1990, the Cubs in 2000-2002, the Rockies in 2003-2004, and with the Yankees starting in 2005.

In the years between playing and coaching Sandy taught his sons, Roberto and Sandy Jr how to play the game of baseball. He apparently taught them well. Sandy Jr had a successful Major League career as a catcher and Roberto was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Senators Saturday - Dave Baldwin, 1969.

Coming off a downer season in 1968, Dave Baldwin was looking for a bounce-back year in 1969. Unfortunately for Baldwin, shown here on card 132 of the 1969 Topps set, it didn't turn out the way he wanted.

Used strictly as a reliever, Dave appeared in 43 games for the Senators in 1969 and pitched 66.2 innings. That was just three more appearances but 24.2 innings more than the previous year. Obviously Baldwin was staying in the game longer. Dave struck out 51 opposing batters and walked 34 for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.50. That was a whole point lower than in 1968. His ERA totaled to 4.05, just .02 lower than the previous season, and his WHIP to 1.365, a rise of .127.

1969 had not been the season either Dave Baldwin or the Washington Senators were looking for from him. He hadn't been able to make any substantial improvement in his ERA and his WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio made a definite downward turn.

Perhaps the Senators decided Dave's old elbow injury was back or maybe they just gave up on the side-arming hurler. Whatever the reason, the final result was a December 4, 1969 trade to the Milwaukee Brewers for George Brunet.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Almost time!

Eight days. Just over a week before pitchers and catchers report. The Rangers equipment truck left for Surprise, Arizona on Monday. It's almost time for some baseball!

Prince Fielder says he's tanned, tested, and ready for the 2015 season. The doctors have cleared Prince to play and he says he's as strong as ever and feels great. I hope so.

Yu Darvish is also reportedly in tip-top shape and ready for the season. A solid season out of him would take the club miles towards a total reverse of last season's disaster.

Matt Harrison is starting to throw but still has a long way to go before his comeback bid gets anywhere close to success. He's confident but it's going to be a long road. Best of luck to him. It would be awesome to see him overcome his back issues and surgeries to get back on the mound. Probably won't be a factor in 2015.

The Rangers coaching staff, including Bobby Jones - shown here on a signed 1985 Topps card, have their work cut out for them this spring. Among other decisions, at least ten players are going to be making a bid for the left field spot. Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, Mitch Moreland, and Jake Smolinski played for Texas in 2014. Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks, Antoan Richardson, and Carlos Peguero are veterans coming into camp on minor league contracts. Delano DeShields is a Rule 5 pickup who will have to be returned to the Astros if he doesn't stick. Jared Hoying is a home grown talent who might be an outside contender for the job. The competition should be interesting to watch.

All in all there are 61 players currently slated to report to Rangers Spring Training. That's as many players as Texas placed on the Disabled List in 2014. Hopefully this season will turn out better. Either way, it's almost here and it's time to get excited!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

1979 Topps - Doyle Alexander.

Time to move on from the 1978 Topps team set to the 1979 Topps team set. 1979 would be the first time in three seasons the Rangers finished below second place. Their record dropped to 83-79 under manager Pat Corrales. It began a period of steady decline for the club with only a couple of bright years during the 1980's.

Doyle Alexander leads off the team set on card 442 of the 1979 Topps set. Couple of things about this card. One, you gotta like Doyle's mustache. It has the old cowboy/gunslinger look to it. Second, I have no idea who that is doing sit-ups in the background.

Alexander had been brought on board just previous to the 1977 season and had done well. His performance dipped in 1978 and he was looking for a rebound season in 1979.

Still primarily a starter, Doyle started 18 of the 23 games he appeared in for Texas in 1979. He pitched 113.1 innings, down significantly from the previous year. Alexander's ERA totaled to 4.45, second highest in the starting rotation, and his WHIP came to 1.615. That WHIP was .207 higher than the year before and was the highest of any of the regular Rangers pitchers. Alexander also issued 69 walks while striking out just 50 opposing batters. His strikeout to walk ratio tumbled to 0.72, again lowest among Rangers regulars. Unsurprisingly, he ended the season with a 5-7 record.

1979 was not the rebound season Doyle Alexander needed. After his solid 1977 campaign his numbers had steadily eroded over the next two seasons. Texas was looking to stay competitive and his recent numbers put Alexander's future with the team in doubt.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Minor League Monday - Rob Maurer, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

The Texas Rangers selected Rob Maurer in the 6th round of the 1988 June Draft. He started his pro career the same year with the Rookie League Butte Copper Kings. By 1990 Maurer, shown here on card 1163 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers set, had worked his way up to Double A.

Rob appeared in 104 games for the Drillers in 1990. 99 of those games were at first base - the only position he played. That easily made him the starting first baseman for the club. Maurer saw 1022 chances at first and committed 11 errors for a .989 fielding percentage.

Maurer made 429 trips to the plate for Tulsa and put together an even .300 batting average. He walked 54 times to help bump his on-base percentage up to .396. He did strike out 112 times (team high) but his .578 slugging percentage helped overshadow that. The 31 doubles (second highest on the team), four triples, and 21 home runs (team best) he hammered showcased his power.

Rob Maurer turned in another solid season with the bat in 1990 in spite of his high numbers of strikeouts. He needed to cut those down and get his glove polished up a bit but those were things the Rangers were willing to take a chance on. Maurer would be moving up to Triple A Oklahoma City to start the 1991 season.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Senators Saturday - Fred Valentine, 1968.

First off let me say I know I should have saved card 248 of the 1968 Topps set for next Saturday. A card featuring Fred Valentine on Valentine's Day would have been suitable. I didn't want to get out of order on my walk through my Senators team sets though and probably wouldn't have remembered to come back to it if I skipped it. That's the problem of constantly adding to sets and posting the cards.

Anyway, Fred Valentine was coming off a downer season in 1967 and trying to compete for a spot in the crowded Washington outfield in 1968. Unfortunately for Fred, Del Unser, Frank Howard, and Ed Stroud pretty much nailed down the starting outfield jobs in 1968. That left Valentine competing with Cap Peterson, Brant Alyea, and Sam Bowens for the backup outfielder slot.

Valentine was unable to do anything to stand out from the crowd in the 37 games he appeared in for the Senators in 1968. His defense was passable on the surface, he committed no errors in the 202.2 innings he played in right field and the three innings he played in center. He still had significantly less range than the average American League outfielder though and that was a concern.

Fred made 110 plate appearances for Washington in 1968 and posted a .238 batting average. That was up just four points from the season before and his .291 on-base percentage represented a 39 point drop. His power also seemed to be on the blink as he hit just two doubles and three home runs.

The Senators outfield was crowded and they needed pitching help. Fred Valentine was the extra piece. On June 15, 1968 the Senators sent him to Baltimore in exchange for pitcher Bruce Howard. Howard would turn in an awful remainder of the season for Washington. Valentine would see his bat evaporate even further with the Orioles. Neither player would appear again in the Major Leagues after 1968.

Fred did manage to play one season in 1970 in the Japanese Majors.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I got nothing.

Since I have nothing to write about I am just going to post this 2001 Upper Deck Ultimate Copper game used jersey card of Ivan Rodriguez. Hopefully it will help you pass one more day of the off-season. After all, each day that passes is one less that we have to do without baseball.

This particular card is numbered 24/24. What makes it interesting to me are the two visible lines in the fabric where some kind of stitching was pulled loose. Not sure if that was a seam or if a piece of trim used to run along those lines. Either way it's a different look from the normal uniform swatches on these types of cards.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

1978 Topps - Bump Wills.

Coming off a drama and excitement filled rookie season in 1977, a lot was expected from Bump Wills in 1978. Wills, shown here on card 23 of the 1978 Topps set, was one of the players Texas planned to lean on. That's why he appeared in 157 games for the Rangers in 1978 - the most of any player that year.

Wills' spent the entire 1978 season at second base. He played no other position and appeared at second in a league high 156 games for Texas. Over the 1336.1 innings he played there he committed 17 errors (second highest in the league at second) for a fielding percentage of .981. That was just about even with the league average .980. The number of errors was in part attributable to the fact that Wills had the highest range of any second baseman in the American League. He made more errors than a lot of second basemen simply because he was getting to more balls than most other players were.

Bump made a team high 619 trips to the plate for Texas in 1978 and put together a .250 batting average. That was 37 points lower than the previous season but it could have been worse. As late as September 4th he was batting just .229 but a late-season surge brought his average up. Wills' on-base percentage also dropped by 30 points to .331. He did manage to lower his strikeout totals by five to 91 but his walks also dropped a hair to 63 on the season. Bump also suffered a power decline as he popped just 17 doubles, four triples, and nine home runs. His speed came up though as he stole a then club record 53 bases (third highest in the league) while getting caught just 14 times.

Clearly Bump Wills had encountered the dreaded sophomore slump. His defense held up though and his speed was impressive. He still had too many strikeouts but that was something he could work on. If Wills could rebound offensively in 1979 he would have no problem holding on to his starting job at second base for the foreseeable future.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Minor League Monday - Darrin Garner, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Darrin Garner, shown here on card 1162 of the 1990 Tulsa Drillers set, was a seasoned minor league vet by the time this card come out. He was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the June, 1985 draft. Five years later he was preparing to begin his second season with the Tulsa Drillers. That's a long, slow climb to Double A.

Darrin made 426 trips to the plate over the 107 games he played for Tulsa in 1990. He posted a .231 batting average and a .364 on-base percentage. The batting average was an eleven point drop from the previous season while the on-base percentage was 28 points higher. That's probably accounted for in part by the 42 walks Garner worked as compared to the 30 times he struck out. The six doubles and one triple demonstrated Darrin's lack of power. He did steal 11 bases but also got caught seven times.

Garner played second base for the Drillers in 106 of the games he appeared in, effectively making him the team's starting second baseman. He committed 15 errors in the course of the season and ended the year with a .972 fielding percentage.

Darrin Garner's 1990 season wasn't a bad one, for a second or third year in the minors. Six seasons in, it didn't look so good. His defense was passable but his offense clearly did not have the pop to get to the next level. Garner would start the 1991 season back at Single A with the Charlotte Rangers. It seemed just a matter of time before he gave up and ended his pro career.