Thank goodness that road trip is done with. That was ugly.
Tommy Hunter got shelled, and is apparently heading back to the minors today to make room for Kevin Millwood, who is being activated from the disabled list to make tonight's start. Hunter, of course, shouldn't be in the majors right now. Neither should Luis Mendoza, Matt Harrison, or Warner Madrigal.
But the expected Opening Day rotation has combined to make exactly half of the Rangers' starts this season -- 61 of 122 games -- which has resulted in guys like Scott Feldman pitching more innings than the team would like, and guys like Hunter being rushed up here before they are probably ready.
Jeff Wilson notes that Hunter started the season in A ball, Feldman and Harrison in AA, and Mendoza in AAA:
Harrison, a left-hander, tossed a no-hitter for Frisco this year and also found success at Oklahoma. His first big-league start was his best of the season, but he’s only matched that effort once.
Hunter, who has pitched at four levels this season, made his third start Thursday. He has impressed because he throws strikes no matter how hard his pitches are being hit.
Mendoza was a Double A success last year and a spring-training star, but injuries and an inability to get ahead of hitters have resulted in a season without progress.
Each has shown he can get outs in the big leagues, but not consistently.
"It’s asking a lot," Washington said. "They’ve had flashes. But the next time, you see inexperience. You want consistency. That’s what we’ve strived for."
There's no news on the Justin Smoak and Robbie Ross fronts...they are still negotiating, and if deals are reached, it will probably be late today, as both sides play chicken.
Evan Grant says it is okay to play hardball with Justin Smoak, and let him walk if need be, because 1) the Rangers have Chris Davis now at first base, which wasn't the case when Smoak was taken, and 2) the Rangers need pitching, and they could take a pitcher instead of Smoak with the replacement pick next year.
I couldn't disagree with Grant more on this. Smoak was the best player on the board, and there isn't likely to be a better player than him available with the replacement pick next year. You take the best player available, even if he isn't a pitcher, and even if you have a good player who plays that position in the majors. And if your replacement pick next year doesn't sign, you get nothing, which means you have a lot less leverage next year than this year.
Which isn't to say, give Smoak whatever he wants. But taking a hard-line position with a guy regarded as a top talent in the draft, who the Rangers were fortunate dropped to them, because you have a first baseman and need pitching doesn't make sense, to me.
UPDATE -- Evan Grant offers a response to several comments about his Smoak post here.