Man, the Rangers needed that win yesterday. They had scored 3 runs in their previous 43 innings before that 8th inning outburst. And with the drought that followed the 15 run explosion last Thursday, I'm not predicting that the slump has been busted, or anything...but that was good to see...
Lots of trade rumor stuff out there today. On the "buyer" side, the Baltimore Sun says the Rangers are interested in Rodrigo Lopez, and the Detroit Free-Press says that the Rangers are interested in Todd Walker. They tried to sign Walker before last season, and while on the surface, Walker wouldn't have a place to play here, my guess is that the Rangers have feelers out on Walker as a potential DH if they end up trading Kevin Mench.
The suggestion? Texas' Kevin Mench, currently in Buck Showalter's doghouse and very available. Mench is very much like Damon -- loose, easygoing, and the kind of player that drives Showalter crazy. When he gets the chance to play, the right-handed-hitting Mench averages 25 home runs a year and could serve as the short-term bridge to Matsui and Sheffield.
And the Journal News vaguely references "reports" that the Yankees are interested in Mench.
Jennifer Floyd Engel says the Rangers should do nothing, because they need a bat and a starting pitcher, and will hopefully get the real Mark Teixeira and Adam Eaton shortly. She also complains about the Soriano trade a little bit, although again, I think it is very premature to assume that playoff contenders are going to be giving up a mint to get him.
Another thing to think about...Floyd says that it "would just make you sick" to wonder what the Rangers could be getting for Soriano right now, if they'd made him play the outfield. But if Soriano is here, the Rangers are probably still on the cusp of the playoff race, and thus wouldn't be trading him...
Speaking of Wilkerson...Kat O'Brien talks about his shoulder, and him wanting to play against lefties:
Brad Wilkerson was back in the starting lineup Tuesday after sitting out the previous game with a left-hander pitching.
Wilkerson would prefer to play against lefties, because he began the year with a higher career batting average against them (.275) than right-handers (.250). He thought the virtual platoon was going to change, based on a talk with manager Buck Showalter just before the All-Star break.
"I just felt he wanted to get more consistent with it," Wilkerson said. "I like to get in there. I feel like I can do a very good job against lefties. I don't know what the deal is. I've faced Randy Johnson. I've faced them all."
Showalter said he plans to start Wilkerson some against left-handers the remainder of the season. Wilkerson said he hopes that happens, but will stay positive if not. He entered Tuesday hitting .224 in limited action off lefties (11-of-49) compared with .241 against right-handers (51-of-212).
Wilkerson said his right shoulder is not a major concern, though off-and-on pain did cause him to need another cortisone shot just before the break. He does not think it has affected him in the field, since he is left-handed , but it may have sapped some of his strength at the plate.
After the season ends, Wilkerson expects to have surgery on the shoulder to get him back to top form.
"Probably, I would say so," Wilkerson said. "I don't think it's a complete tear or anything. I just want to get back to 100 percent. I can tell the difference."
He does not expect surgery to keep him out of spring training.
My feelings about Wilkerson sitting so Jerry Hairston, Jr., can play against lefties are on the record, I think...
On the subject of bad trades, Bill Conlin rips Pat Gillick for giving away Vicente Padilla:
Speaking of Gillick, he has caught deserved flak for some of his moves - Ryan Franklin, Sal Fasano and Abe Nunez are three. But he's not catching nearly enough hell for the Vicente Padilla blunder.
Yes, it's a blunder when your organization is too inept to deal with personality and social issues of the kind that come up in any disparate group of 25 young men and, consequently, lose a valuable starting pitcher.
It appears Gillick was sold a bill of goods on Padilla's off-field habits, his uncoachability and the large financial hit an arbitrator would surely inflict on them last winter. Pat himself tossed out the ubiquitous "sometimes you add by subtracting" line to explain not getting more from the Rangers than the worthless Ricardo Rodriguez they released during spring training.
I have watched Padilla on TV in a half-dozen starts and the worst he did in any of them was eat innings and give the Rangers a chance to win the game. His 10-5 record is better than any Phillies starter.
And the enigmatic Nicaraguan is 5-1 in his last seven starts with a pristine 2.57 ERA. Padilla was reunited in Arlington with Mark Connor, his pitching coach with the Diamondbacks. Connor didn't like the way Vicente was nibbling with the once-nasty fastball that was his trademark here. He ordered Padilla to start going after hitters with a little more intensity.
"We've blown some saves for him. He could easily have 12 wins," Connor told MLB.com. The Iguana's 121 1/3 innings pitched are more than any Phils starter. Padilla's 96 strikeouts are more than any Phillies starter (Brett Myers has 89) and his league-leading 11 hit batsmen are testimony that Padilla is pitching inside once again. And don't forget, his 4.15 ERA translates to about a 3.50 in the non-DH National League.
The Rangers are paying Padilla $4.1 million on a 1-year contract. Somebody's got to tell me that a guy heading for 15-plus victories would not have been worth that kind of money on this starter-starved ballclub. By comparison, Jon Lieber's salary this season is $7.2 million and change. For that the Phillies have gotten a 3-7 record with a 5.56 ERA and an inability to cover first base following a long DL stint.
Did I mention the Rangers are a game out of first place in the madcap AL West?
Maybe it is time for Pat Gillick to do the gentlemanly thing and complete a Texas hat trick by shipping Lieber to the Rangers. There is probably a lot more nothing where Ricardo Rodriguez came from.
The new DMN Rangers newsletter is up, and has reference that indicates Evan Grant is reading what folks post in the comments here and at the NMLR forums...not that that should put any pressure on y'all to make good comments or anything...