Off to the Races

By Dave Ervin

We Have Ourselves a Race

This time ten days ago, the Texas Rangers had a sizable lead in the AL West – a comfortable 6.5 games. At the time it was not only the largest lead in baseball, but larger than all of the other division leads combined.  How quickly things can turn around. One 3-game losing streak and a few key turns-of-event (sorry for the made up word) later and on Sunday afternoon Texas found themselves clinging to the division lead by a mere two games.

How did this happen?

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Texas and Oakland – looks like 2013 will be another close call

The turning point came in an extra innings loss to the Mariners. After tying the game late, Texas went ahead in the 11th only to have Joe Nathan blow the save by giving up a homerun to Raul Ibanez that tied the game. Two innings later and the Rangers had not only lost a heart-breaker, but they did so in a game that lasted well over four hours and beleaguered their bullpen the day before a doubleheader against the first place Diamondbacks.

The doubleheader resulted in the Rangers finding themselves on the wrong end of a sweep, but could anything else be expected after the loss in Seattle? Couple those three losses with an off day, a rainout and six straight Oakland wins and suddenly, the AL West is competitive again.

Not that the Rangers thought they had this wrapped up. Every comment aimed at Ron Washington and company about division leads and overall record has been quickly met with some form of the “it’s still early” joy-killer. And indeed, it was and is still early. So the A’s are for real. Again. And they’re putting pressure on the Rangers. Again.

Oh, and did I mention that the Angels have gained four games on the Rangers as well and recently got Jered Weaver back from injury?

Four months to go. Should be fun.

What’s Better Than an Ace? Two Aces!

Thanks to an article by Ranger’s beat writer Evan Grant, there’s been some buzz building around Texas trading for Cliff Lee before the July trade deadline. Hmm, this sounds familiar. The deal makes sense on a lot of levels, unless of course the Phillies find themselves in contention over the next six weeks.

Personally, I think the Rangers could use a big bat more than another arm, but we all know pitching wins championships, and inserting Cliff Lee into a Texas rotation that already includes Yu Darvish and Derek Holland (and will include a bevy of quality options once half of the staff returns from injury) could put Texas over the top as the favorites to come out of the AL.

If such a deal were to take place, it’s likely it wouldn’t even require Jurickson Profar. And It wouldn’t be a rent-a-pitcher deal, as Lee has three more years left on his contract. Here’s to hoping the Phillies aren’t contenders come July.

Starless Contenders?

As the all-star game nears, Texas finds itself in the unfamiliar position of contending without any clear cut All-Stars to make the AL squad.

Of course Yu Darvish should make the cut, but with a boatload of awesome American League starters, even Yu isn’t a sure thing. Ian Kinsler was having a great year prior to his injury, but missing 20 plus games will surely hurt his chances. And of course losing Josh Hamilton takes away from the number of midsummer classic reps the Rangers might otherwise boast.

The Ranger’s best position player, Adrian Beltre, is in the unfortunate position of finding himself among a group of third basemen that includes Miguel Cabrera (shoo-in), Evan Longoria (likely), Manny Machado (hot new star) and the A’s Josh Donaldson (maybe the best of the lot).

Outside of Yu and maybe Beltre, the only real chance any Rangers currently have at making the All-Star team would probably go to Joe Nathan and Nelson Cruz, both dark horses.

The A’s won the division last year with only one all-star – a testament to team baseball. Maybe Texas matches that feat in 2013.

Wow. I just reminded myself the A’s won the division last year. Weird.

Sorry for the late post this week. A pregnant wife and the end of the school year will do that. As always thanks for reading and go Rangers!

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Posted on June 3, 2013, in 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I hate that term, “it’s still early” also. But your right these two are at it again, as it appears the A’s and Rangers are going to duke it out for the AL West. By the way congratulations Dave to you and your wife on the anticipated arrival of the new baby. Understand the part about the end of the school year, we still have a young guy at home, and we still have a week to go, but he is getting into baseball right now so that’s pretty cool. Late or not, love your stuff Dave. Have a great week.

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