Rangers News and Notes Week 16

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2015

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By Dic Humphrey
dic.humphrey@yahoo.com

The Rangers won two of three in Denver this week, their first series win in the last five.  Even with this week’s turnaround, they are still 4-10 over the past three weeks to fall four games under .500.
They are 8-1/2 games out of first place, such that holding off Seattle and Oakland for third place is a question.
Los Angeles has surged since the conflict between GM Jerry DiPoto and manager Mike Scioscia was resolved with DiPoto’s resignation.
Houston lost their last six before the All-Star break to fall out of first place, but they still look very solid after bouncing back to win five games since the break.  In short, catching either the Angels or Astros looks improbable.
The Rangers rank eighth in the American League in batting average and runs scored, 13th in team ERA and 14th in fielding percentage.  With almost 60% of the season in the books, it should be obvious to even Jon Daniels that this just isn’t a very good team.
The non-waiver trade deadline is now less than a week away, and it’s almost a certainty that when the Rangers call roll on Saturday, August 1; players currently on the roster will be missing.  This should be an opportunity for Texas to improve for the coming years.
The name that will likely bring the most in return is Yovani Gallardo.  He has the 10th best ERA among A.L. qualifiers at 2.91.  He is a pitcher that can help any contender.  The problem though is that there are better starters rumored to be available.
This has been a slow developing market; as until recently, there were few clear cut sellers, and lots of teams potentially in the hunt.  The first significant trade happened on Thursday when the Astros procured Scott Kazmir, a starting pitcher, from Oakland for prospects.  Cole Hamels, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Chris Sale are some of the names that are perceived to be better than Gallardo and available for trade.
Kansas City is rumored to have interest in Gallardo.  National writer Jayson Stark tweeted late this week that he thought Gallardo was a perfect fit for the Dodgers.  He is scheduled to start Saturday against the Angels, which will likely be his last Ranger start if he isn’t traded before the game.
Gallardo himself is hoping for a trade in financial terms.  Under the current free agent compensation rules, he can be given (and likely will be) a qualifying offer from the Rangers if he stays until the end of the season.  A team signing him then forfeits a high draft choice and the slot money associated with that pick.  However, if he gets traded during the season, that deal is off.  He will be a much more attractive commodity in free agency if the team that signs him doesn’t have to forfeit a high draft.
Wandy Rodriguez is almost a certainty to be traded also.  He has proven to be a serviceable back of the rotation starting pitcher.  He is a veteran that has been through pennant races before.  He won’t bring a return as great as Gallardo, but the Rangers will surely get something for him.
A year ago, the Rangers made two deals for veteran relievers with good results.  They received pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel from the Tigers for Joakim Soria and Spencer Patton from Kansas City for Jason Frasor.  Patton is pitching his way into the back end of the bullpen.  Thompson is considered one of the top 10 prospects in the system, and Knebel was part of the trade package that secured Gallardo last winter.
Unfortunately, Texas has no solid veteran relievers to dangle in front of contenders this year.
On the offensive side, the player that would have the most value of all is the popular Adrian Beltre.  Beltre is finally hitting his stride at the plate after struggling when he was initially activated from the disabled list (lacerated thumb).  He has a year left on his contract after this season, so is more than a two month rent-a-player.
However, Beltre is a fan favorite.  It’s doubtful that Daniels has the courage to deal Beltre away.
Mitch Moreland is another that should be considered.  He’s finally playing on the field as the Rangers have expected.  He leads the team in home runs and is above average defensively at first base.  However, he has always been injury prone.  This is the first season that he’s been relatively injury free.  It might be the time to trade him while he’s hot.
This year’s slow developing trade market has been attributed to so many teams being in a playoff race now that two teams in each league make the playoffs as a Wild Card team.  No team in the American League is as many as 10 games out of the second Wild Card slot.  This has generated the idea of moving the non-waiver trade deadline back to August 15 to allow teams more time to assess their playoff chances before making trades.  Even Commissioner Rob Manfred says the idea merits serious consideration.

MINOR MATTERS:
ESPN analyst Keith Law issued his mid-season rankings of minor league farm systems.  The Rangers moved up to third, after being ranked 11th in Law’s January ratings.  Nomar Mazara is gaining note as one of the top minor league prospects in baseball.  Law has him ranked third, as he is hitting .285 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs for AA Frisco.
Another Frisco outfielder trails Mazara in perception, but is certainly his statistical equal.  Nick Williams, who played at Galveston Ball High School, is hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs.

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