Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rangers return home triumphant.

Today's card really has no connection to the topic of this post. It brings back memories for me though. Mike Stanley signed this 1989 Donruss card through the mail for me back in the early 1990's. It was one of the first through the mail success I had.

Well, the Rangers win streak ended last night in Cleveland and they are back at home tonight after a nine game, three city road trip. They come home with a 7-2 trip and a record that's now one game under .500. Not too bad for a team most had written off.

Prince Fielder has been on fire. After hitting well for average from the get go, he's now adding power and launching moonshots like the Prince of old. The defense and pitching have tightened up and the rest of the lineup has finally joined Fielder in producing. Makes for a fun team to watch. Are they a contender? Not yet and they may not be one this year. They are playing much better ball than a few weeks ago though and at least may be able to avoid the AL West cellar.

Not all the players returning to Arlington were with them team when it left and not all the guys who left are returning right yet. Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list and Jake Smolenski is back in the minors. They have been replaced by Josh Hamilton and Jon Edwards. Texas also sent outfielder Carlos Peguero to the Red Sox for cash yesterday.

In the meantime former Rangers manager Ron Washington returned to Major League baseball. He's back in his old position as a coach with the Oakland A's. The A's owe part of their last place position to a huge number of defensive errors and are hoping Wash can help control the bleeding. It's good to see Ron back in the saddle and I wish him success, except against Texas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

He's back.

So the Rangers ran their win streak to six yesterday to make their record 6-1 on this road trip. The 10-8 victory also puts them to within one game of .500. They've moved into third place in the American League West and scored more runs than anyone else in May.

Along with the rest of the offense, Prince Fielder's power has returned. He's been hammering long balls like it's going out of style. The bullpen also appears to have solidified some and the starting pitching has been surprisingly good.

Is any of that what folks are talking about? Not really. The topic of conversations seems to be the return of Josh Hamiltion, shown here on card 94 of the 2008 Upper Deck A Piece of History set. For several weeks Rangers fans have been getting regular updates on Hamilton's progress during his rehab stint in the minors. Over the weekend it was announced he would be re-joining the team when they arrived in Cleveland. Sunday evening there were in-game reports that he had arrived in Cleveland. Yesterday he was in the Rangers lineup for the first time since 2012. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, a walk, and a run scored against the Indians.

Not the most earth-shaking return for Josh, but maybe that's a good thing. If he can come in and help the team while avoiding the spotlight that would probably be best. If he can put together some good numbers on this road trip that would be better. Might help ease the return to Arlington. It's going to be interesting to see this play out though. Hopefully this move helps the Rangers and Hamilton.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Don't ever forget them. Those who gave their lives for the freedoms we still at least partially enjoy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Congratulations to Beltre on #400.

First off, let me say congratulations to Adrian Beltre, shown here on card 14 of the 2011 Allen and Ginter set. Beltre hammered his 400th career home run on Friday to give the Rangers a lead. unfortunately the pitching could not hold and Texas ended up losing the game. 400 dingers is a milestone though and it legitimately puts Adrian in the Hall of Fame discussion. He's definitely got a shot in my opinion. Year in and year out he's been one of the best defensive third baseman in the game and a consistent threat at the plate. Easily the best in Texas at the hot corner since Buddy Bell. If Beltre can keep it up for a couple of more years he should have enough on his resume to make a very strong case.

Secondly, I want to thank you for putting up with my pre-scheduled posts for the past couple of weeks. While the Rangers demoted Rougned Odor to the minors and overhauled their bullpen, I was on a family trip to Hawaii. Mrs. Spiff is from there and still has quite a few relatives on the islands. It was time for great-grandma to meet the grandkids she'd never seen and for the kiddos to get a feel for where mom grew up. Very enjoyable but I'm glad to be back. I intended to post while I was gone, at least on Thursdays, but the laptop I took with me developed a propensity to crash so that didn't happen. The five hour time difference didn't help either. Back in action now and looking to get on top of things. Thanks again for your understanding.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Minor League Monday - Brad Arnsberg, 1990 CMC.

By the time Brad Arnsberg appeared on card 157 of the 1990 CMC set he already had some Major League time under his belt. Originally debuting with the Yankees in September of 1986, Brad split the 1987 season between Triple A Columbus and New York.

In November of 1987 the Rangers sent Don Slaught to The Evil Empire in exchange for Arnsberg. There were some concerns since Brad ended the 1987 season in the Disabled List for a right elbow problem but Texas thought he would be good to go in 1988. That was not the case. Brad re-injured the elbow in Spring Training and underwent Tommy John surgery on April 6, 1988. He missed the entire season in rehab.

Coming back from the injury in 1989, Arnsberg won a spot on the Rangers Open Day roster as the long reliever. He struggled though and Texas sent him down to Triple A Oklahoma City on May 22, 1989. Brad spent most of the rest of the season with the 89ers, returning to Arlington on September 2, 1989. He finished out the season with the Rangers.

Brad failed to win a spot on the roster to start the 1990 season and was assigned to Triple A. The 89ers experimented with using Arnsberg as a starter, giving him three starts in the 14 games he appeared in. He was noticeably better out of the bullpen though and it didn't take long for him to get back there.

Over the 29.2 innings he pitched, Arnsberg put up a 5.16 ERA and an 1.517 WHIP. This is where the difference between starting and relieving shows up. The above numbers are combined. In his three starts Brad went 0-3 and posted a horrendous 10.33 ERA over 11.1 innings pitched. Out of the pen Arnsberg lasted 18.1 innings and put up an impressive 1.96 ERA. He did not allow a single run in his last 7.1 innings pitched over six games with OKC.

Needing relief help, the Rangers purchased Brad's contract from the 89ers on May 26, 1990. He would go on to see heavy use and put together a very decent season, all in relief. He would not be back to Triple A for the remainder of the season.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Senators Saturday - Ed Stroud, 1969.

 There is no excuse for the photo of Ed Stroud Topps used on card 272 of the 1969 Topps set. I'm not sure if this is a minor league uniform or from when Ed was with the White Sox. Either way, Topps should not have used it. After all, they had a photo of Stroud in a Senators uniform they used on his 1968 Topps card. At least they could have re-used that picture.

Coming into 1969, Ed Stroud was the Senators starting right fielder. The mid-season acquisition of Lee Maye knocked Stroud out of the starting role and cut into his playing time. Even with that happening, Ed still played in 123 games for Washington and made 240 trips to the plate. He posted a .252 batting average and a .353 on-base percentage. He had a bit of power as his five doubles, six triples, and four home runs showed. Stroud scored 35 runs of his own and bumped in 29 more.

Meanwhile Ed played in all three outfield positions during the course of the season. His appearance in center was a one game two inning cameo but he had significant time in both corner positions. He played 110.2 innings in left field over 26 games. He committed no errors in center or left. Of course, Stroud was primarily a right fielder and he played 331.1 innings over 59 games there. He muffed two plays for a .976 fielding percentage. That was two points higher than the league average. Ed had significantly less range than the league average though and that probably helped open the door to a challenge for playing time from Lee Maye and Sam Bowens.

Ed didn't have a bad season for Washington in 1969. In spite of Maye's arrival he actually had a little more playing time than the previous season. He used the extra plate appearances to raise both his batting average and on-base percentage. It was a step in the right direction but the Senators outfield was crowded and breaking in full-time in 1970 would be a tough task.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1979 Topps - Fergie Jenkins.

Apparently the Rangers re-thought their 1975 trade of Fergie Jenkins to the Red Sox. On December 14, 1977 Texas sent John Poloni and some cash to Boston to re-acquire Jenkins, shown here on card 544 of the 1979 Topps set.

Fergie returned with an 18-8 record in 1978 and posted a 3.04 ERA over 249 innings pitched. He struck out 157 opposing batters and garnered some Cy Young consideration. That's what Texas was wanting when they brought Jenkins back and they were looking for more in 1979.

Jenkins again served as the anchor of the rotation in 1979. He led the staff with 37 starts and 259 innings pitched. His 4.07 ERA and 1.286 WHIP were not real impressive but the WHIP was the lowest of the starting rotation. Jenkins also led the Texas pitching staff with 164 strikeouts, 10 complete games, and three shutouts. Always susceptible to the gofer ball, he also led the American League with 40 home runs allowed. Fergie ended the season with a 16-14 record.

Fergie Jenkins had a down season in 1979. The Rangers learned their lesson from 1975 though and decided to wait and see if he could bounce back in 1980. If Jenkins could lower his ERA and WHIP he could easily return to 1978 form, or even better. He'd done it before and the Rangers would just as soon he do it for them.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Minor League Monday - Pat Garman, 1990 CMC.

James Patrick Garman, shown here on card 162 of the 1990 CMC set, is something of a mystery. It's always a challenge to find information on minor leaguers and there are several questions left unanswered about Pat.

Originally drafted by the Mariners in the second round of the January phase of the 1985 draft, Garman did not sign. Seattle thought enough of him to re-draft him in the first round of the June phase of the 1985 draft. Again he didn't sign. I have no idea what the hangup with the Mariners was. Texas took Pat in the first round of the June phase of the 1986 draft. He was the second pick overall. This time he signed.

The Rangers started Garman with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. He got one plate appearance there and struck out. I have no idea why he didn't play more. An injury? Delay from holding out before signing? Based on his record with Seattle, the latter is a definite possibility.

Garman split the 1988 season between low A Gastonia and Single A Charlotte. He started 1989 with Charlotte but ended the season with Triple A Oklahoma City. There was no stop at Double A and again, I'm not sure why.

At some point late in the 1989 season or early in 1990 there must have been an injury. Garman played in 73 games in 1988 and 105 in 1989. He would appear in just 26 games in 1990, split between the 89ers and Double A Tulsa. I'm not sure which stint came first so I'll start with the Drillers.

In seven game with Tulsa, Garman made 26 plate appearances. He posted an impressive .360 batting average and a .385 on-base percentage. He didn't have a lot of power but did manage two doubles, a triple, and a home run. in six games at third base he committed two errors for an unsightly .889 fielding percentage.

Over 19 games with the 89ers Pat went to the plate 62 times. He compiled a .236 batting average and a .323 on-base percentage. He got a double, a triple, and a home run. In 16 games at first base Garman committed just one error for a fielding percentage of .993.

Based solely on the numbers and the assignments the previous season, I suspect Garman started 1990 at Triple A and struggled before being re-assigned to Double A. He must have gotten hurt after only a short time there. In the alternate, he could have started the season with OKC, gotten hurt, and come back with Tulsa towards the end of the year.

Whatever happened, Pat Garman's 1990 season was abbreviated. He would be back in 1991 but it would be with the Double A Tulsa Drillers.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Senators Saturday - Phil Ortega, 1969.

Perhaps it is fitting that Phil Ortega appears with a palm tree on card 406 of the 1969 Topps set. After all, he never made it out of Spring Training with the Senators in 1969.

On April 5, 1969 the Senators sold Ortega's contract to the Angels. He would pitch parts of the 1969 season for L.A. to finish out his Major League career. The other parts of the 1969 season saw Ortega in Triple A. Phil spent 1970 with the Halos Triple A team before hanging up the spikes and calling an end to his playing days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

1979 Topps - Toby Harrah.

In a re-occurring theme, Toby Harrah was no longer with the Texas Rangers by the time he appeared on card 234 of the 1979 Topps set. Toby suffered an offensive drop in 1978 and that apparently made him vulnerable to the massive roster shake-up.

On December 8, 1978 the Rangers traded the fan favorite Harrah to the Indians for fellow third baseman Buddy Bell. Toby would spend five seasons in Cleveland and one with the Yankees before returning home prior to the 1985 season. By that time the Rangers would be nowhere near the team they were when he left.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Minor League Monday - Manager and Coaches, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Time to round out the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set. Since it's sometimes hard to find information on minor league coaches I am going to lump these three together in one post.

Leading off we have manager Tommy Thompson on card 1172. I can find no record of Thompson ever playing pro ball at any level. He was a long-time minor league manager though, beginning in 1977. 1990 was Tommy's 13th season as a skipper and his second in the Rangers system. He managed the Drillers to a 68-68 record and would be promoted to manage the Triple A Oklahoma City 89'ers for the 1991 season.

 Walt "No Neck" Williams, shown here on card 1173, served as the Drillers hitting coach in 1990. He played ten years in the Majors with the Colt .45's, White Sox, Indians, and Yankees. Prior to joining the Rangers, Williams served as a coach for the White Sox.

I believe Walt continued as hitting coach with the Drillers in 1991 before moving to a manager's position with Single A Gastonia in 1992.
Drillers pitching coach Jeff Andrews, seen on card 1174, pitched for two years in the Chicago Cubs system in 1981 and 1982. He never got above Single A.

He knew pitching though and it didn't take long for him to move into coaching. He joined the Rangers as a minor league instructor in 1986. In 1987 he was the pitching coach for Single A Charlotte. The Rangers moved Jeff up to Double to start the 1988 season and apparently liked his work there. 1990 was his third season with Tulsa. I wasn't able to find out how much longer Andrews stayed with Tulsa and where he went from there.

Well, that's it for the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Driller team set. I hope you enjoyed the sporadic walk through of the team. Looks like the next set up for Minor League Monday is the 1990 CMC Oklahoma City 89'ers.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Senators Saturday - Barry Moore, 1969.

If anyone out there is wondering where the inspiration for the Rangers red uniforms came from, Barry Moore has a clue for you on card 639 of the 1969 Topps set.

Moore was a lefty control specialist who relied on his curveball for success. When it was working it worked well, he won three of his last four decisions in 1968. Unfortunately it wasn't always working and Moore battled control problems in 1966 and 1967. He seemed to figure things out a bit in 1968 and the Senators were looking for him to build on that success in 1969.

Working primarily as a starter, Moore made 31 appearances for the Senators in 1969. 25 of those were starts and he went the distance on four of them. Once again victimized by his control, Moore watched his ERA climb almost an entire point to 4.30. He issued 67 walks (25 more than the previous season) as opposed to 51 strikeouts (five fewer than 1968). That caused his strikeout to walk ratio to sag .57 points to 0.76. It also caused his WHIP to climb .075 points to 1.418. Barry ended the season with a 9-8 record.

Clearly 1969 had not been the breakout season that either Barry Moore or the Washington Senators were looking for. Apparently it convinced the Senators that Moore was not going to be able to conquer his control problems. On December 5, 1969 Washington sent Moore and fellow reliever Dennis Higgins to Cleveland in exchange for Horacio Pina, Dave Nelson, and Ron Law.