Very nice win yesterday. Home runs are good. After the way the team reacted to their last series-opening homer-binge, though, I'm going to be somewhat muted in my enthusiasm, at least until I see how the offense does this afternoon.
The Rangers are now a half-game behind Oakland, a game-and-a-half up on Anaheim. Folks nationally continue to write the Rangers off in the A.L. West race, treating it as a two-team battle between Oakland and Anaheim, but Texas is now 5-4 after 9 games of the team's grueling 11 game post-ASB road trip. I said that I'd be okay with a 7-7 record in the first 14 games after the break (this road trip and three at home against the Yankees), and that is still well in range.
Still, this sort of highlights a problem the Rangers have had this season in terms of connecting with the fans. This team has been, over the course of the season, pretty average, and not real exciting to boot. Folks have talked about how the Metroplex hasn't connected with the team, haven't gotten fired up about a playoff contender.
The Mavs' playoff run was a factor, of course, as was an awful start that had many folks writing them off from the outset. But part of the problem, as well, I think, is that there hasn't been a big run, a 10-2 homestand, a hot streak that has galvanized the fans, gotten folks excited and thinking that the team can actually be something other than a slightly-above-.500 team.
The Rangers have done a great job of bouncing back after big losses...but they've done a lousy job of stringing together wins (which, of course, is why they are still right around .500). Combine that with a team that isn't scoring runs like it has in the past, and whose best players have been a rookie who missed a fair chunk of time at the beginning of the season and two guys expected to be backups, while the "core", the guys folks identify with the Rangers, have by and large been disappointments, and I think that goes a long way towards explaining the apathy.
Thankfully, Shea Hillenbrand has been traded, and not to the Rangers. The Giants gave up Jeremy Accardo for Hillenbrand and Vinnie Chulk...the Rangers' equivalent of Accardo would probably have been something like a healthy Kam Loe. There has been some buzz about Hillenbrand being unhappy being a DH, which is yet another reason he probably wouldn't have been the best fit in Texas, aside from the fact that platooning Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson to make room for Hillenbrand is a bad idea.
Evan Grant says Adam Eaton is back Tuesday, but Eaton issues this warning:
"I'm not a savior; I'm only going to be Adam Eaton," he said.
The problem with that, of course, is that Adam Eaton hasn't been a real good pitcher over the course of his career. What the Rangers need is a new-and-improved Adam Eaton.
Jim Reeves, on the other hand, is pitching the Adam-Eaton-as-savior meme...
He also reiterates the Eaton-as-#2-starter line which has been peddled around here since Eaton was acquired, which I don't get...Padilla has been a better pitcher than Eaton throughout their careers, and Eaton is a sub-100 ERA+ guy. That's not a #2 starter. You'd call him a league-average innings-eater, except he doesn't stay healthy enough to eat many innings.
It also looks like a savior isn't available via trade...Kat O'Brien says that Jon Daniels has "small" trades available to him, but he doesn't want to waste resources on a small deal if he can save them for a bigger one closer to the deadline. T.R. Sullivan says such possibilities are starting to "crystallize," and has this from Daniels:
"We're trying to prioritize our opportunities and we haven't been presented with anything that we want to strike on," said Daniels. "I'm protective of our talent and resources. I don't want to part with any resources that could potentially be used for a more impactive trade.
"My preference would be to do something earlier than later, but given the races, the Wild Card and the market, it hasn't been there."
Kam Loe could also be back next week, although Grant says it is still up in the air as to whether he'll be returning as a starter or reliever.
Tim Cowlishaw says ARod has has worn out his welcome in New York, although he does seem to acknowledge that a lot of the media animosity towards him is due to his contract.
Richard Durrett says that Thomas Diamond, who is on the d.l. for the RoughRiders right now, is not expected to miss more than one start.