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June 27, 2007

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

Shea Hillenbrand:

I feel like I'm being pushed aside, put on a back-burner, and I don't like that at all. If I'm not going to play here, give me enough respect to trade me or get rid of me. I think I deserve that.

[If Manager Mike Scioscia] doesn't think I can help this team, there are teams out there I can help. I'm a quality player in the prime of my career. To go from playing every day to not playing at all, it's very disheartening.

We're winning, we're in first place, it could be a lot worse. But I know I can help this team win down the stretch, and you can't do that if you're not given the opportunity. I'm trying to stay positive, support my teammates. When you're winning, the last thing you want to be is a distraction.

I'm just not at a point in my career where I'm ready to sit on the bench.

Hillenbrand is batting .254/.275/.325.

220 MLB players have at least 200 plate appearances. He ranks 210th in on-base percentage, 211th in slugging percentage, and 216th in VORP.

Posted by Lucas at 09:39 AM

June 26, 2007

Padilla Down, Feldman Up

Texas placed pitcher VICENTE PADILLA on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AAA Oklahoma.

Padilla's been hurt all year, apparently. Lovely.

Posted by Lucas at 12:37 AM

June 22, 2007

The Veteran Bat

Despite the achievement of his 600th homer, to date Sammy Sosa represents another failed attempt at renting a veteran bat, by which I mean an older player hired on a one-year deal.

Base Salary
Sammy Sosa
$ 0.5
Phil Nevin
$ 10.5
5/31, traded to CHC for Jerry Hairston
Brad Fullmer
$ 1.0
7/24, injured, did not return
Ruben Sierra
$ 0.6
6/06, traded to NYY for Marcus Thames
Andres Galarraga
$ 6.0
7/24, traded to SFO for Erasmo Ramirez and others
Ken Caminiti
$ 3.5
7/02, released

(MLV is marginal lineup value, a measure of one player’s positive or negative effect on runs scored per game. It’s not position-adjusted.)

This list isn’t entirely consistent; Texas actually traded for Nevin during 2005 and Caminiti was also commissioned to provide solid defense at third. But they fit thematically, if not technically.

Sosa’s standing among fandom at large is helped immensely by his quest for 600, his 53 RBIs and an awful surrounding cast that bestows upon him an air of relative competence. In truth, he is, at best, a very modest improvement on the veteran bats preceding him.

Posted by Lucas at 06:49 PM

Weekend Photo

Colby, 22 June 2007. Hanging in there.

Posted by Lucas at 01:47 PM

June 21, 2007

History Lesson

Most Days For Texas As Worst Team in AL During A Season

Days in Last

Consective Days for Texas as Worst Team in AL

5/03/73 - 6/30/73
8/08/73 - 10/01/73
8/31/72 - 10/04/72
5/01/85 - 5/30/85
5/06/84 - 5/26/84
7/18/84 - 8/02/84
5/02/82 - 5/13/82
6/10/07 - 6/21/07
4/22/73 - 4/30/73
7/14/73 - 7/21/73
4/19/87 - 4/25/87
5/22/07 - 5/28/07
8/03/72 - 8/08/72
4/24/85 - 4/29/85

(First nine games of season are not included in either table.)

Surprisingly, Texas was never the worst AL team at any time during 2000-2006 except for one day, September 22, 2000.

Posted by Lucas at 07:08 PM

June 17, 2007

Wright Activated, Litteton Optioned

On Saturday, Texas activated pitcher JAMEY WRIGHT from the Disabled List, optioned reliever WES LITTLETON to AAA, and activated pitcher JOSH RUPE before transferring him to the 60-day Disabled List.

Save us, Mike Matheny!

Posted by Lucas at 11:44 AM

June 15, 2007

Worse Than You Think

Although Texas can “catch” the Tigers by reducing its starters’ ERA by only 0.11, doing so would not equal them in terms of quality. Many people think of the period from the mid 1900s to the present as similar in terms of offense-heavy games, but in fact run scoring in 2007 has declined by about one-half run per team per game compared to 1996. Thus, while the ’07 Rangers and ’96 Tigers share similar rotation ERAs, Texas has performed considerably worse relative to the park-adjusted league average:

Detroit, 1996
Texas, 2007
Starters' ERA
AL Starters' ERA
Park Factor
Park-Adjusted ERA for Starters
Difference in ERA between Team and League
Pct. Diff. in ERA between Team and League
27% higher
42% higher

Texas must shave its starters’ ERA down to 6.05 to achieve equivalency to those wonderful Tigers.

Tangentially, Detroit used sixteen starters in 1996; the top five consisted of Felipe Lira, Omar Olivares, Greg Gohr, Justin Thompson, and Brian Williams. A.J. Sagar, C.J. Nitkowski, Scott Aldred and Todd Van Poppel also made between 8-9 starts each. The Tigers also featured a terrible bullpen that season, meaning that the rotation probably had a higher percentage of bequeathed runners reach home plate than Texas.

So, review those less-than-illustrious names from Detroit’s rotation, understand that the bullpen probably contributed to the rotation’s woes, and realize that Texas’s rotation is demonstrably and sickeningly worse.

Enjoy your weekend.

Posted by Lucas at 07:17 PM

Mahay Returns, Feldman Down

Texas activated reliever RON MAHAY from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

Mahay hadn’t pitched very well in rehab. He has a 3.86 ERA in the Majors… and a 1.65 WHIP… and 15 walks in 16 innings pitched.

Posted by Lucas at 06:34 PM

Weekend Photo

Grandmother Lucille and nephew James, 25 Dec 2006.

Posted by Lucas at 11:26 AM

June 14, 2007

McCarthy Down, Loe Up

Texas placed pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher KAMERON LOE from AAA.

I hope all that time Loe spent in Oklahoma working on his offspeed pitches will pay off.

Posted by Lucas at 12:54 PM

June 09, 2007

Melhuse Acquired

Texas has acquired catcher ADAM MELHUSE from Oakland for cash considerations and has optioned catcher CHRIS STEWART to AAA.

Jason Kendall is the worst hitter in baseball even when accounting for his starting position, and now Oakland’s backup is a true-rookie 23-year-old who was hitting.280/.351/.365 in AAA. Kendall, as before, will rest less often than any catcher in baseball despite his spectacular inadequacy (.197 with a 4% walk rate and an isolated power of .010).

Melhuse won’t supplant Laird but will play more often than Stewart, who started 11 games in 10 weeks. He had a couple of good hitting seasons in 2003-2004 but hasn’t done much since. As reported in the DMN, he’ll “tutor and push? Laird.

Melhuse will be arbitration-eligible after the season.

Posted by Lucas at 11:43 PM

Teixeira Hurt, Loe Down, Wilkerson and Metcalf Up

Texas has placed 1B MARK TEIXEIRA on the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher KAMERON LOE to AAA Oklahoma. Texas has activated outfielder BRAD WILKERSON from the DL and recalled 3B TRAVIS METCALF from AA.

Strained quad. Teixeira hasn’t missed a game since May 20, 2004. He’s batting .302/.405/.554; other Rangers non-pitchers were batting .248/.313/.413 coming into Saturday’s game. That’s an OPS+ of 88.

Demoting Loe to Triple-A is actually a vote of confidence. Texas really wants to see if he came become a viable starting pitcher, so he’ll work on his offspeed stuff in Oklahoma.

Ron Washington says Travis Metcalf will play, not sit. We’ll see. Ramon Vasquez has predictably cooled off (.197/.237/.222 in his last two weeks) after a stellar first few days, so Metcalf might not represent much of a dropoff.

Posted by Lucas at 11:20 PM

June 08, 2007

Weekend Photo

Back porch, 16 April 2006

Get well, Colby.

Posted by Lucas at 10:03 AM

Hairston Up, Rheino Down

Texas activated utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER to AAA.

Noted for the record. Not having Hairston and Kata on the same roster is progress. Tiny progress, but progress.

Posted by Lucas at 01:04 AM

June 05, 2007

Hairston and Rheino Up, Cruz Down, Kata Out

Texas activated infielder JERRY HAIRSTON from the 15-day Disabled List and pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER from the 60-day DL. Texas optioned outfielder NELSON CRUZ to AAA Oklahoma and designated utility guy MATT KATA for assignment.

Welcome to the end of Nelson Cruz’s Major League career. Well, not the end, but as a soon-to-be 27-year old who failed a pretty lengthy trial stretching back to last August, he’s almost certainly done as a regular. Sure, there’s talk about him “making adjustments? and whatnot in Oklahoma, but really, he’s done.

That said, I still think the quasi-blockbuster Lee/Cruz for Cordero/Mench/Nix trade holds up. Cordero has pitched brilliantly, of course, but Mench is basically an expensive ($3.4 million) and ineffective (.285/.285/.417; 1 walk all season!) platoon outfielder, and Nix was dead as a prospect before the trade. With this trade, Texas tried, and failed, to make a run for the postseason last year but didn’t get burned too badly in the process. That’s a tolerable outcome.

As for Kata, here’s what I wrote on April 1st: “The surprise, in terms of incoming expectations, is Byrd, who only needed to beat out NRI Matt Kata for a roster spot and could not. Byrd would have made a fine fifth outfielder and 25th man.? And on May 27th, “Byrd ought to make one of Jerry Hairston or Matt Kata superfluous.? So I guess it worked out in the long run. Props to Kata for the hot spring that earned him two months of an MLB salary. The question is why Texas thought that hot spring was more indicative of his future than his career MLB line of .248/.308/.392 in 550 PAs or his line of .286/.325/.430 in 900 AAA appearances.

Posted by Lucas at 06:50 PM

June 04, 2007


Consecutive MLB plate appearances without an unintentional walk for Victor Diaz. He last walked on September 10, 2005.

Posted by Lucas at 12:43 AM

June 01, 2007

New Rundown Feature

The yellow "Rundown" box at upper right links to stats for the entire Rangers minor-league organization. They include all the fun "+" stats (OPS+, ERA+, walk rates, K rates, etc.) that are indexed for each player's league and home park.

I'll probably update them once per month.

Posted by Lucas at 07:14 PM

Millwood Returns

Texas has activated pitcher KEVIN MILLWOOD from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher JOHN KORONKA to AAA.

Ideally, Millwood's stay on the active roster will last longer than an hour.

Posted by Lucas at 06:37 PM

Programming Alert

With the Rangers playing so poorly, my blog has devolved into a litany of wheel-spinning transactions (Koronka! Wood!) and articles placing Texas's awfulness in its proper historical context (the worst team since Nineteen Dickety-Two! We had to say "dickety" because the Kaiser had stolen the word "twenty.").

Fear not, good reader. Here’s what to look forward to this summer from The Rundown:

Pretending the world stopped on September 23, 2004...

Reviews of the hot new video games...

The cultural impact of the Village People’s “New Romantic? look...

Smug, insipid posts about how whatever you’ve done, I did it first, and better..

And irony! Sweet, delicious irony!

Posted by Lucas at 01:40 PM


With Texas down 7-5 in the 8th, two on, one out, and Seattle lefty George Sherrill in to face lefty Ramon Vasquez, manager Ron Washington opted to bring in Matt Kata, a switch hitter. Announcer Josh Lewin noted that Washington was “playing the percentages.?

Kata is a career .245/.304/.387 hitter. Not to pick on Lewin, but there is NO situation involving Matt Kata that can be deemed “playing the percentages.?

That said, it’s not so much what Kata doesn’t do well (hit, regardless of the pitcher’s arm) as what Sherrill does (kill lefties). Sherrill holds lefties to a miniscule line of .161/.212/.281 and struggles against righties, at least in terms of OBP: .282/.406/.365. Thus, Washington’s decision to leave left-handed Kenny Lofton in to face him is, ah, puzzling.

Again, Sherrill eats lefties alive, Lofton doesn’t even start against southpaws and is batting .150 against them this season (plus .214 in ’06), and Texas has two righties on the bench in the form of Nelson Cruz and Victor Diaz. Neither is hitting well against lefties, but at least they eliminate Sherrill’s gigantic platoon advantage. Cruz can play center, and even having Diaz out there for a couple of innings wouldn’t be the end of the world. Why not use one of them?

Someday, when Texas has a good team, decisions like this will really matter.

Posted by Lucas at 12:06 AM