Here are some baseball thoughts for you:
-The Texas Rangers traded two lower level prospects for Jorge Cantu yesterday. Cantu is Texas’ third major addition of the season with Cliff Lee and Benji Molina being the others. With the Angels tailing off a bit this season, the Rangers seem like a lock to win the AL West at this point and their roster is starting to look pretty post-season friendly. A veteran backstop, an RBI machine at first base (the Ranger’s largest weak spot on offense this season due to a very poor season from Chris Davis, who was sent down to AAA yesterday, and the trading of Justin Smoak to acquire…), and an ace in Cliff Lee that can go out and win any game as long as he is given a run of support.
Tie that in with a core that can score 10 runs on any given night thanks to guys like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero and Michael Young and you get a pretty special offensive club. Molina has already helped out with the staff quite a bit and his presence as well as Vlad’s, the Rangers have a couple of guys who have been through the ups and downs of the league and can provide leadership. Cantu has been having a down season this year but it seems that way for every Marlin. He drove in 100 runs for Florida last season and that’s exactly what Texas got him for.
The Rangers already have a lot of pop in their line-up and their park helps, but as I said before, they haven’t gotten a lot of help from the first base slot. With Cantu batting somewhere in the middle, Texas should see a couple of more runs come across the plate now that they have a proven run producer replacing the likes of the highly touted Chris Davis, who had just three RBI’s in 31 games this season.
As an added bonus, with Ian Kinsler headed to the DL, Cantu can slide over to second base while first base prospect Mitch Moreland, who went two-for-four in his major league debut yesterday, plays first. Assuming Kinsler is back for the post-season, how does a line-up with Andrus and Borbon setting the table for Cantu, Kinsler, Cruz, Guerrero, Molina and Hamilton? Sounds top notch to me. And then you have Michael Young, who is a do-it-all glue guy that is hitting .307 this season with 15 homers and 59 RBI’s while playing excellent defense at the hot corner.
Not bad at all.
Adding Lee to the rotation gave them one of the most dependable starters in the league and their first clear ace in a long, long time. The hole with the staff is that the rest of the starters are unproven and somewhat unreliable. Take Scott Feldman, for example. Feldman earned himself a large and long extension from the Rangers last season with a 17-8 record and a 4.08 ERA (pretty good for that ballpark). His emergence made it looked like the Rangers had found themselves a reliable option and a possible ace going forward. Fast forward to this season and the guy that looked like an ace is boasting a 5.46 ERA and a 5-9 record. Tommy Hunter is this year’s version of Feldman, even better in some regards. He’s 8-0 with a 2.31 ERA. C.J. Wilson is also having a great season in his first yeart as a starter. He’s 10-5 with 100 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA. Will that hold up in the post-season? There is little reason to believe so, considering he’s never pitched more than 75 innings before (he’s at 127.2 IP, now.)
The good part about the Ranger’s pitching staff is that, after their guaranteed good to great outing from Lee in a post-season series, if they get six or seven quality innings out of Feldman, Hunter, Wilson or even Colby Lewis, their bullpen will most likely shut the opposition down. With arms like Darren Oliver, Frank Fransico and Neftali Feliz, the Rangers boast the league’s fourth best bull pen ERA and the second most saves in the majors. Feliz has a high ERA for a closer (3.65) but he’s got 28 saves in 30 opportunities and is an absolute flamethrower.
The Rangers are making a run. And I think its going to be more than a sprint. Continue reading…