Okay, after being in transit, I'm back home and able to resume blogging...
I wanted to mention a couple of things in regards to the Rangers' plan for the rest of the season. I know Norm Hitzges was advocating wholesale callups from AAA this morning, but even though the season is, essentially, over at this point, I have to respectfully disagree...
Here's the problem...at this point, there are five Rangers players who you can say definitively should be in the lineup every day: Teixeira, Soriano, Young, Blalock, and Mench. That takes care of the infield and a corner outfield spot.
However, the addition of Phil Nevin in the Chan Ho Park trade presents an interesting opportunity. Nevin, prior to this season, has been a solid middle-of-the-order bat. If getting out of San Diego -- which had been trying to deal him for a while, and where he hated the new, extremely pitcher friendly park -- snaps him out of this funk, if Nevin can perform over the last two months like he did the previous half-decade, then the Rangers have a very valuable asset on their hands, a 1B/DH that they could either deal in the offseason (admittedly, they'd likely have to eat some of his salary, but still...) or plug into the DH spot for 2006.
Of course, in order to figure out what they have in Nevin, they'll have to play him regularly the rest of the way, probably at DH. So that makes six spots where the Rangers already have guys who should be playing there every day, leaving three positions -- CF, a corner OF spot, and catcher.
Gerald Laird, of course, should be back in the majors and playing regularly once his hamstring is healed, although B&H's loyalty to Barajas and Alomar will likely mean Laird stays in AAA until September.
But as for the other slots...Ian Kinsler, whom I still think will be the Rangers' starting second baseman next season, doesn't have a spot in the lineup unless Soriano gets hurt or is dealt in a post-waiver-deadline deal, and Adrian Gonzalez can't play the outfield.
That leaves Jason Botts as the only other AAA positional prospect who would be a legitimate candidate to step in and play regularly. Although putting him in left field, with Mench in right, makes for a pretty bad defensive outfield, at this point, it would probably be worth it to take an early look at Botts. It would also mean relegating Dellucci to a 4th outfielder role, which Buck may be reluctant to do, but a fourth outfielder role is what Dellucci is best suited for, and should be relegated to in 2006.
The other alternative would be to put either Nevin or Teixeira in the outfield, allowing Gonzalez or Botts to play first base or 1B regularly. However, Nevin has played only 29 games in the outfield since 2000, and the Rangers seem very reluctant to move Teixeira off of first base mid-season, so it seems like Botts to left is the most realistic scenario.
There's no reason to pull up Kinsler or Gonzalez in August just to sit on the bench and play twice a week. While I'd like to see Laird and Botts brought up now and plugged into the starting lineup immediately, Kinsler and Gonzalez should stay in AAA until after Oklahoma's season is over.