Lots to Talk About

Wow, kind of a lot to discuss going into tonight’s game with the Red Sox.  The Rangers are still 5 games ahead in the AL West even after blowing two games this weekend against the Angels.  However, the Oakland A’s have turned it on in the second half and are now just a half game behind the Angels.  The A’s have won 9 of their last 10 and are making a legitimate run at second place in the West.

The Rangers put Colby Lewis back on the disabled list today and reports are that he is probably out for the season with a ligament tear.  That is going to lead the Rangers to push even harder to acquire a starting pitcher before the trade deadline.  So, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, or even Cliff Lee may be on the table.  And, with the Mariners trading Ichiro (YES THE MARINERS TRADED ICHIRO) to the Yankees today, who knows, Felix Hernandez might be available for the right price.

Roy Oswalt was scratched from his start tonight with back stiffness. He’s in Houston being evaluated, so Brother Feldman gets the start.  He’s been ok in his last few outings, winning 3 of his last 4 starts and lowering his ERA from 7.01, at the beginning of June, to 5.89.

After the Rangers lost 2 out of 3 to the Angels this weekend, I think there are a few things that need to be addressed.  First off, something has to be done about Josh Hamilton.  In those 3 games he was 2 for 14 and in his last 10 games he’s 6 for 41 with a whopping .146 batting average.  He went 0 for 5 Sunday night and struck out swinging with a chance to tie the game in the 9th.  There was a time where Ranger fans could count on Josh to get that key hit when they needed it, but those times are apparently behind us.  On Saturday, Ron Washington had this to say,

They are getting Josh out because they are not throwing him strikes.  It’s hard for a manager to tell a guy like that to stop swinging so much. He can make the adjustments and he has, but it seems like it’s boring to him.

I think it’s pretty clear that Josh hasn’t made the adjustments, and for the manager to say that “it’s boring” for Josh to try to do what’s necessary to make him a better player and by extension make the team better, is just incredible.  If that’s the case, then Hamilton is being selfish; showing a complete lack of concern for the overall performance of the team.  I would argue it’s time to let him sit.   Craig Gentry is as good defensively as Hamilton and is contributing far more at the plate than Josh has in weeks.  Gentry is hitting .344 on the season, and in his last ten games is batting .324.

Mike Napoli showed signs of improvement.  He went 5 for 11 against his former team with 2 homeruns.  He was 0 for 3 in the finale, though, with 2 more strike outs.  So, it’s not clear yet whether he’s coming out of his slump.

Derek Holland looked awful Friday night giving up 6 runs in 6 2/3 innings without striking out a single batter.  In contrast, Yu Darvish put together a great night against Ervin Santana on Saturday.  He struck out 11 in 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs in a 9-2 win.  Matt Harrison wasn’t horrible Sunday night, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings.  But the Ranger bullpen gave up 3 more runs and the Ranger offense was simply absent for another game in July, getting just 5 hits total.  The Rangers are now hitting .239 as a team for July, good enough for 25th in the league.  Alexi Ogando got knocked around for 4 hits and 2 runs in just 1/3 of an inning raising questions as to whether he’s got it all together after coming back from the DL.
So, the Rangers are going to have to make some decisions.  First and foremost, they need to figure out if they are going to seriously go after a pitcher before the trade deadline.  Second, as I said, I think they need to give Hamilton a wake up call.  But, we know that Ron Washington won’t do it.  He refuses to bench the big guys like Hamilton, Young, and Cruz even when it’s to the detriment of the team.  Instead he just says, “We’ve got to let this run it’s course, tonight might be the night he comes out of it.”  Sometimes that works Wash, but eventually, you’ve got to suck it up and do what’s best for the team, even if that means sitting one of your best players so he can get his head straight.  Hamilton knows what he’s supposed to do, but he refuses to do it.  That’s a poor attitude and a poor approach to the game.  It needs to change, and change soon.

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