Overheard and Understood: Rangers Primed to Call in Cavalry
The Rangers have won eight straight to go 3 1/2 games up in the AL West, and a couple of factors put Texas in position to bolster itself significantly down the stretch.
One is a stacked farm system. The other is the impending change in ownership that could lead to a quantum jump in payroll room.
A Rangers source said the organization is hoping that the transition goes through by mid-July and that the new owners -- led by Chuck Greenberg (on left, above) and Nolan Ryan -- already have a increased budget in place that will allow Texas to bump up its spending on players.
General manager Jon Daniels told FanHouse he doesn't have exact dollar figures but said, "Conceptually, that's the idea. The new ownership group would be prepared to come in and support us and try to add to the club."
The Rangers are 15-4 this month and over their past 13 games have a 2.62 ERA. But pitching is still an obvious target.
Rich Harden and Derek Holland are on the disabled list. Harden (gluteus) is a couple of weeks from returning, and Holland's shoulder is better but he tweaked a knee while rehabilitating.
Also, while Texas knows it might be able to win the division as constructed, the Rangers also feel that to make noise in the playoffs they could use an ace.
And Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt are out there.
"We're going to look into the starters' market," Daniels said.
A person with ties to the Seattle organization guessed the Mariners would not be opposed to dealing Lee within the division.
Now, would Seattle -- or anyone else -- wait until the latter part of July to deal a pitcher to keep Texas in the mix?
The Rangers have trade chips. A scout who recently watched Triple-A Oklahoma said the club had "big arms" and "some position players that are OK."
"Like anybody, we have a couple of guys we don't want to move, obviously," Daniels said.
(One is probably Tanner Scheppers, who has a 1.91 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.)
A bankruptcy court ruling is scheduled today, and the Rangers are optimistic it will allow the sale of the franchise to proceed and the team to get out from under spending constraints.
But even if the transfer isn't completed by the July 31 trade deadline, Daniels said, the present budget has a small amount of room to add payroll.
With 16 of their next 19 games at home, the Rangers could pad their lead. But they won't get fooled by the schedule and back off their needs, knowing that from July 30 to Sept. 9, they play 26 of 38 on the road.
Around the Majors
• There is some belief the Orioles would like to have their next manager start his job this season, in part so someone can share the heat with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. But Baltimore's choice to take over might prefer to spend the rest of the season evaluating the team and the organization before actually getting into uniform -- and absorbing more losses on his record.
• Has anyone noticed that Toronto's Ricky Romero is on pace to break a 105-year-old record? Romero has 15 wild pitches; the modern-day high is 30, set by Red Ames of the 1905 New York Giants. The AL record is 26, by Juan Guzman of the 1993 Blue Jays.
Romero is averaging a wild pitch every 6.4 innings. No pitcher who qualified for the ERA title has ever averaged a wild pitch more than every 8.3 innings (Jack Hamilton, 1962 Phillies).
• The Dodgers have begun scouting starting pitchers "aggressively" in preparation for a possible trade, according to a major-league source. Chad Billingsley and Carlos Monasterios are on the disabled list, and in games not started by Hiroki Kuroda or Clayton Kershaw, L.A. is 19-22.
• If Atlanta's Jason Heyward starts the All-Star Game, he will be 20 years, 338 days old at the time. Three 20-year-old position players have started an All-Star Game: Al Kaline (1955), Ken Griffey Jr. (1990) and Frank Robinson (1956).
• Meanwhile, another young player is overlooked -- because of where he plays. But Andrew McCutchen, 23, reached 200 career hits in 171 games, faster than any Pirates player since Arky Vaughn in 1933.
• A scout from another organization raved about the talent at Philadelphia's Class A Lakewood (N.J.) team. He cited Jarred Cosart, a 20-year-old right-hander with a 98 mph fastball and A.J. Burnett-like delivery, and Jonathan Singleton, an 18-year-old, left-handed first baseman with power and speed.
Cosart, signed away from Missouri for $550,000 as a 38th-round pick in 2008, is 7-2 with a 3.44 ERA, 77 strikeouts and 15 walks in 70 2/3 innings. Singleton, an eighth-rounder last year, has nine homers, a .373 average and .460 on-base percentage.
• Arizona's Mark Reynolds has 62 career games with three strikeouts, including 12 four-strikeout games. In the past 90 years -- and probably ever -- the only other player to reach those totals before playing in 500 games was Bo Jackson.
• Could Daniel Nava, the former college equipment manager and independent-league player, really stick with the Red Sox? One scout said yes: "That swing works in the big leagues."
• If Robinson Cano and Martin Prado hold on, a middle infielder would win the batting title in both leagues for the first time since 1960 (Pittsburgh's Dick Groat and Boston's Pete Runnels).
• Over the past 12 months, Tyler Clippard has the most wins (12) of any Nationals pitcher, even though he has not made a start. No other Washington pitcher has more than seven wins in the past year. And Clippard has more wins in that span than Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, Joe Blanton, Oswalt, Billingsley or Johan Santana.
• Tampa Bay on Saturday became the first team in four years to use nine pitchers in a game of less than 12 innings (not including expanded-roster September games). Long man Andy Sonnanstine got the save, the first of his career and the first in more than nine years by a pitcher who had thrown 50 pitches the previous day.
• Carl Pavano's nine-inning, complete-game win Sunday for Minnesota was just the second in the history of Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park by a visiting pitcher. The other was also this year, by Florida's Ricky Nolasco in April.
• San Francisco's Tim Lincecum faces Oswalt tonight for the sixth time in their careers. Lincecum is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in the first five matchups.
• Kansas City's game at Washington on Monday was the Royals' first in D.C. since a doubleheader on Aug. 12, 1971. In the second game, rookie Lou Piniella hit into a double play as a pinch hitter and the Senators, managed by Ted Williams, won 2-1.
• With Heath Bell, Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams, the Padres are on pace to become the fourth team to have three relievers make 68 or more appearances and an ERA better than 2.50. The others are the 2009 Twins (Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan); 2003 Dodgers (Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota, Paul Quantrill); and 1968 White Sox (Bob Locker, Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilbur Wood).
• This is just the third season in the past 35 years that three pitchers 25 or younger have reached 10 wins by their team's 71st game: Phil Hughes of the Yankees, David Price of the Rays and Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox. It also happened in 1991 (Scott Erickson, Tom Glavine, Ramon Martinez) and 1988 (Greg Maddux, Greg Swindell, Mark Gubicza and Dwight Gooden).
• Barring rainouts, the Cubs on Saturday will become the first franchise to have played 20,000 regular-season games. Only 15,880 of those have come since the team's last World Series title, in 1908.