Rangers Week 3 News and Notes

by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015

JH

By Dic Humphrey
dic.humphrey@yahoo.com
4/23/15
The Rangers are in Anaheim for three games this weekend.  They arrive in a three way tie for last place in the division with a 6-9 record, two games behind the Astros, the only team in the division over .500 on Thursday morning.
At this point in the schedule every team in the American League West has played five series – one each against the other four teams in the division and one against a non-divisional opponent.  The standings in the West have the teams bunched tightly with just two games separating first and last place.  In short, the teams in the West are beating each other up and no team in the division has separated from the pack.
The schedule format repeats itself over the next five series.  Each team will again play one series with each of the other four in the division and one against a non-divisional opponent.
Texas opened in Oakland and played in Seattle this past weekend, while hosting the Astros and Angels in between.  The Rangers thus open this second round of divisional play on the road in Anaheim, and then come home to host the Mariners and Athletics, before finishing the round in Houston.
It is thus difficult to get a fix on the division.  It is doubtful any team will take charge until the second round of divisional play is complete, and the opponents become teams that aren’t in the division.
Seattle and Los Angeles were the pre-season favorites.  Seattle has the good pitching.  Their question was offense.  The answer so far is that the offense is good.  The addition of Nelson Cruz has been a huge boost.  However, the pitching has not been as good as predicted, so the Mariners are one of the three times tied for last place.
The Angels batting order has Mike Trout and Albert Pujols at three and four; but after those two, it doesn’t look fearsome at all.  Howie Kendrick is gone, and Josh Hamilton will likely never be back.  Also, their pitching has struggled with opening day starter Jered Weaver at 0-2, 5.24 ERA, though he’s pitched better in his last two starts.  Garrett Richards is back, but he may not be in top form for a while.  C. J. Wilson has been inconsistent.  Right now they are the third team tied with the Rangers for last place.
Oakland and Houston however look better than projected.  The Athletics were difficult to get a fix on with so many changes, but may be the best team in the division.  They also expect two good starting pitchers, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, to return to the rotation later in the season.  They are a force to be reckoned with.
The Astros finished in fourth place last season, five games ahead of Texas.  They look better as this team is loaded with young players that continue to improve.  Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh are very good at the top of the rotation.  The batting order has a lot of power.  If things fall into place, the Astros could actually contend for a playoff berth.
That leaves the Rangers, a team that hasn’t won a series yet or even two games in a row, plays horrible defense, has a miserable offense, and big holes in the pitching staff; yet somehow is mathematically in the hunt.  Go figure.
That leads us to Josh Hamilton.  It’s been obvious that his life is in shreds as before spring training began, he volunteered the information that he had relapsed to use cocaine and alcohol.  He is essentially estranged from his team, as the Angels screamed long and loud when the ruling came down that Hamilton would not be suspended.  Owner Arte Moreno obviously wants to save his salary for the games missed had he been suspended.  The Angels also claim there are clauses in Hamilton’s contract that can relieve the team of paying a portion of his salary because of the drug relapse.  The Players’ Association disputes the claim, and litigation is likely.
It’s obvious the Angels don’t want Hamilton back period.  He is still injured and is rehabilitating a shoulder injury in Houston.  Then last week, the news broke that he has filed for divorce throwing his life into further turmoil.  Essentially, every aspect of his life besides the financial aspects is in turmoil, and the divorce may jeopardize even his finances with more than $80 million owed on his contract.
Last weekend, the Angels were in Houston to play the Astros.  Hamilton met manager Mike Scioscia and coach Dino Ebel for dinner one evening.  He also lunched with C.J. Wilson and David Freese.  All commented on how good Hamilton looks physically.  “Chiseled” was one of the adjectives.  All are in a quandary.  They want to support their fellow player, and quite frankly could use his bat in their batting order.  However, they don’t want to be viewed as not supporting team management.
Last week, local sports writers had fun proposing a trade between the Rangers and Angels that would bring Hamilton back to Texas.  The Angels obviously don’t want him back, but are stuck for the money under his contract.  Any such trade would surely involve the Angels picking up a hefty portion of Hamilton’s remaining salary.  The division standings indicate the Rangers might have a chance for the playoffs if they got an offensive boost.  Hamilton obviously performed well in the environment the Rangers created for him when he played for Texas.  On some level, it makes sense.
It’s doubtful that there will be many suitors for Hamilton with all the baggage.  In fact, there is a question as to whether he should be of interest to the Rangers.  The thrust of this team is to bring along young players such as Rougned Odor, Ryan Rua, Keone Kela, Nick Martinez and Jake Smolinski.  There are more that should be arriving soon from the minor league system led by Joey Gallo, Nomar Mara, Alex Gonzalez, Jorge Alfaro, and Jake Thompson.
Do the Rangers really want Hamilton around these players that are expected to be the heart and soul of a World Series caliber team in a few years?
One source indicated that last weekend, the Rangers and Angels actually agreed on a deal to send Hamilton to Texas.  In the end though, Moreno vetoed the deal because he doesn’t want Hamilton not only in Anaheim but in the division at all.  There is still skepticism as to the validity of the report, but if even remotely true, it smacks of desperation on Jon Daniels’ part after seeing the horrible mess on the field over the first two weeks of the season.  And make no mistake; the Rangers have been a mess on the field no matter what the standings say.
This week the Angels announced a tentative time table for Hamilton to return to the playing field.  He will first go to Arizona to resume baseball activities in extended spring training.  When ready, he will go on a minor league re-hab assignment.  He should be ready to join a Major League roster sometime in June.  The question though is which team’s roster will he be joining?

AND ALSO:
– Nick Martinez turned in another outstanding start Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks.  He went six innings, allowing his first earned run of the season.  That boosted his ERA all the way to 0.45.  He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out three.  The Rangers gave him the usual run support – seven runs, but scored late, such that Martinez was not credited with the win.  Martinez has three quality starts.  Shawn Tolleson was the winning pitcher in relief, the first win for the bullpen this season.
– The Rangers announced that Wandy Rodriguez would be added to the Major League roster to start Friday’s game in Anaheim.  The struggling Ross Detwiler’s next start will be pushed back into next week to allow extra time to work with pitching coach Mike Maddux.

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