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Saturday morning things

Very nice outing by Kevin Millwood last night, although yesterday's game was a reminder of why I think the insistence that the Rangers have to get pitching back in trades this summer is misguided...this is not a real good offensive team right now, and two of the Rangers best offensive players -- Mark Teixeira and Kenny Lofton -- are about to be shipped out.

Meanwhile, Evan Grant talks about the elephant in the room -- Sammy Sosa's playing time:

Here is what the return of Mark Teixeira may mean to the Rangers: It could mean the slow demise of Sammy Sosa.

Late in a tie game Friday night, the Angels elected to pitch around the rusty Teixeira and face Sosa. It paid off with a big out in Los Angeles' 2-1 walkoff win.

The game ended with Casey Kotchman singling home Gary Matthews Jr. with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but it came down to the Rangers watching their best late-inning chance die with the Angels' decision to face Sosa instead of Teixeira with the game on the line.

With two outs in the eighth and Kenny Lofton on third, these were the options Angels manager Mike Scioscia faced:

  • Face Teixeira: He had four rehab plate appearances after missing five weeks and three more at-bats earlier in Friday's game. He'd scorched balls in two of them, doubling to start the fourth and lining out to second to start the sixth.
  • Face Sosa: He had failed to reach base in his first three at-bats, extending his July slump to three singles in 26 at-bats. Sosa did not have an extra-base hit, a walk or an RBI in those 26 at-bats.
"There are going to be times when they don't want to mess with [Teixeira]," manager Ron Washington said. "The way he hit the ball tonight, I wouldn't have messed with him either. I expect Sammy will thrive in those situations."

Scioscia chose to go after Sosa.

Starter Kelvim Escobar missed with his first two pitches, then Sosa popped up a high fastball to right field to end the inning. Sosa's season batting average fell to .241.

"Every time they walk somebody to pitch to me, I want to be the hero," Sosa said. "I prepare myself to do it, and I've done a pretty good job. Today, he got me. What can I say? Escobar got everybody. He pitched awesome."

With Teixeira back in the lineup, the Rangers now have five outfielder/DH candidates for four spots: Sosa, Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto, Kenny Lofton and Brad Wilkerson. On Friday, manager Ron Washington opted to sit Wilkerson against Escobar. But, Washington said, all of the players involved will see their playing time impacted.

They also have a prospect, soon-to-be 27-year-old Jason Botts, pushing for a promotion from Triple-A Oklahoma. Botts, 1-for-3 Friday with four walks, is hitting .320 with a .430 on-base percentage.

And they are facing the possibility of having to change the look of the team after the July 31 trading deadline.

Sosa, at 38, could eventually face the most dramatic cut of them all. He could see his playing time dramatically reduced if the slump continues or, if no trade partners step up, he could ultimately be the odd man out after the trade deadline.

"I think he was a little bit fatigued at the end of the first half," Washington said. "But I look for him to rebound. They can keep on walking Mark to get to Sammy and I think he will get it done."

Sosa was 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position Friday. He popped up to second after Teixeira led off the fourth with a double. Though he has been the Rangers' best clutch hitter for most of the season, Sosa, who is now hitting .330 with runners in scoring position, is hitless in his last seven chances.

Sosa is now at .241/.292/.445 on the season.

Wilkerson expressed some frustration over being sent to the bench yesterday, given how well he's been swinging the bat.

Dave Sessions talks about the return of Mark Teixeira, with quotes from him, and Michael Young, about how they want to win now, not rebuild.

The Toronto Sun suggests that the Dodgers might be willing to deal James Loney or Matt Kemp, plus Chad Billingsley, for Mark Teixeira. I'd be surprised if that deal was out there, but if it was, I'd be all over that.