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Thursday night linkaliciousness

Games like this make me want to obsess even more about baseball.  Particularly the Rangers.

Jayson Stark's latest Rumblings and Grumblings is chock full of stuff of interest to the Rangers fan, including some substantive quotes from a couple of scouts:

Meanwhile, across the state, scouts who have followed the Rangers have a completely different vision of where Texas' other team might be headed.

"I think they've got a chance to steal that division," one scout said. "What I'd love to see them do is reach down, call up that kid Neftali Feliz and say, 'We're going to give it a run in September.' I know they don't want to push him. But this kid has electric stuff. It's about the easiest 100 [mph] you'll ever see. It's like he's having a catch, except it's 100 miles an hour."

A second scout sang the same song, saying, "I'd like to see them do what Colorado did a couple of years ago with [Ubaldo] Jimenez and [Franklin] Morales -- put Feliz and [Derek] Holland in the rotation and go for it. I think they could pull it off.

"People haven't noticed, but their pitchers have pitched a lot better. Nolan [Ryan] has brought a different philosophy, and Mike Maddux is as good a pitching coach as it gets. They're pitching more aggressively with their fastballs, and they're pitching inside a lot better. Look at [Vicente] Padilla and [Kevin] Millwood. They were given up for dead a year ago. Right now, they're pitching their butts off. I'm starting to think that team could be one of the nice little stories of the year."

One reason the Rangers can't think about calling up Feliz any time soon: He's been out for the last week and a half with a sore shoulder.

I think the first scout must be 80, because I don't think anyone under the age of 80 says "having a catch."

The "across the state" reference is because this segment came after a discussion of what the Astros are going to do, and whether they'd trade off some vets, including Roy Oswalt, to rebuild.  The Rangers, I'm sure, would be highly interested if Oswalt were to end up on the market, but before you start suggesting a deal based around, say, Smoak or Davis + Teagarden or Max, remember that the Astros are set at first base with Lance Berkman, and just used a 1st rounder on catcher Jason Castro.  I suspect they'd want MIFs and high-ceiling arms for Oswalt.

There's also talk about Jake Peavy...and while he's said he would only waive his no-trade clause to go to the Cubs or the Dodgers, I wonder if a few months of the Padres sucking, plus the Rangers being contenders in, say, July, would convince him to come to Texas.  Because, as with Oswalt, I'm betting the Rangers would be motivated to bring him here, and they have the pieces to get a deal done.

I was listening to Ben and Skin on 105.3 on the drive back to Houston (it was awesome to actually hear a couple of hours of Rangers talk after a big win, even if it was interspersed with the occasional "we'd be better if we still had Young, Danks, Volquez and Galarraga" calls), and they and the callers talked at great length about the improved pitching and the impact Mike Maddux and Nolan Ryan have had with the Rangers, and the improved pitching is leading to more wins. 

But Dave Cameron at FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe at BP, and Rob Neyer at ESPN all have articles up today that make the same point I made earlier this week...the pitching isn't really any better so far this season than it was last year.  The improved Ranger run prevention is a result of better defense, not better pitching.

Will Carroll has a chat session up at BP, with a Derek Holland question and a smackdown on someone comparing Chris Davis to Russ Branyan and suggesting Justin Smoak should be brought up to replace him.

You know that inside-the-park-home-run Howie Kendrick hit, when Jose Guillen completely whiffed on an easy fly and Kendrick made it all the way around to home?  Well, has been changed to a four-base error, after the Royals appealed the scoring decision.  Tells you quite a bit about what the Royals' think of Guillen, I think...

Everyone who was worried about Neftali Feliz?  You can breathe a little easier...