Your 2nd place Texas Rangers, at least for now. We could be back in third place by 6 p.m. tonight, but I'm going to enjoy being in 2nd place while it lasts.
Evan Grant points out that the Rangers haven't finished above third place since 1999, making finishing in second this year a more meaningful goal than it otherwise might be. I do think that part of what has the Rangers reluctant to just deal everyone -- and particularly meaningful bullpen arms like Eddie Guardado and Jamey Wright -- is that they want to finish the season strong, try to end up with 85 wins (if not more) and a second place finish, to give them something solid to build on for next year.
Plus, from the business side, a second place finish and 85 wins is going to mean more tickets sold in 2009 than a third place finish and 78 wins would.
Jeff Wilson says the Rangers fed off of Vicente Padilla's strong performance after a rough third inning. This is one of those games where Padilla pitched better than the line indicates...that five run third inning included an infield single that should have been an error, and a couple of other bloop hits. The A's should have scored just a run, maybe two, in that inning.
On the injury front...Gerald Laird will be back today, and is supposed to start tomorrow. However, Kevin Millwood is apparently going back on the d.l. with his groin problem, and German Duran is having to have thumb surgery that will cost him 6-8 weeks.
Evan Grant quotes Ron Washington as saying that Laird will be the starting catcher when he returns. That doesn't bode well for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who didn't exactly seize the opportunity when Laird went down.
Of course, Laird may not be here much longer...the Reds had a scout at Friday's game in Salt Lake City to watch Laird, and T.R. Sullivan says the Reds "covet" Laird. Sullivan says at least 20 teams have called the Rangers about one of their 4 major league ready catchers, and that the Mets have some interest in Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz.
Hank Blalock has drawn some interest from the Twins, Dodgers and Giants, although the Twins apparently would prefer a righty-hitting third baseman. Adrian Beltre is mentioned, but Blalock is much cheaper than Beltre, which would seem to be a factor for a team like the Twins.