Date: Friday, July 14th, 2017
Rangers’ Record: 43-45 (T-2nd, 16.5 games behind Houston)
Wild Card Position: (3.0 games behind TBR. Also trailing MIN, KC, Tied with LAA)
Tonight’s Opponent: Kansas City Royals (44-43)
Tonight’s Starters: Martin Perez (4-6, 4.60) vs. Jason Hammel (4-8, 5.04)
For a column titled the “Daily”, this space has been pretty silent for awhile. In fact, this is the first Daily since June 30th. I’ve been working on a video that started as a silly little thing and grew into an 8+ minute short film. It will be out on Monday, but there is a trailer. (I told you it was silly).
Meanwhile, the Rangers finished the first half at two games under .500, and have thus far careened headfirst into the darkest timeline. Of course, there’s still a fortnight-plus left before the trade deadline, so there is still time for them to go something like 15-2 or 2-15 and clearly define the end game for the 2017 season. Conversely, perhaps being on the brink makes it easier for GMs to leverage that position in a trade negotiation… “We’re still within range of the Wild Card, so this slightly-used Mike Napoli is going to cost you a liiiiittle extra.”
We’ve made it through the least-surprising (but most entertaining) Home Run Derby in recent memory, one of the most exciting All-Star games in a very long time, and a celebrity softball game that… I think did happen? Now it’s time to take one last deep breath, shake out our vacation sleep, and dive into the second half of the season. Here we go…
It’s the July 14th Baseball Texas Daily!
1. Martin Perez takes the hill tonight against Jason Hammel. Despite the Royals’ abysmal start to the season, they still lead the Rangers in the Wild Card race by 1.5 games. As much as anything, this illustrates why the decision to buy or sell is so difficult for Texas this season. On one hand, yeah, they’re 16.5 games back in the division, and it’s starting to look like not even the Astros can Astro a lead of that size in the second half. On the other hand, the teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race are the Angels, the Royals, the Twins, and the Rays. Not a daunting gauntlet of dynasties, to be sure.
If you’re wondering the organization’s mindset on it, T.R. Sullivan tweeted on Friday afternoon that Jon Daniels expects the Rangers to contend and will “act accordingly”.
But you can’t pass ‘em til you catch ‘em, so let’s see what Martin Perez has in store for us.
2. The Rangers’ lineup against the right-handed Hammel–in their first game back from the All-Star break, with everyone rested and ready to go–is pretty telling. Here, let’s show you the lineup first, then we’ll come back and analyze it:
Shin-Soo Choo - DH
Elvis Andrus - SS
Nomar Mazara - RF
Adrian Beltre - 3B
Rougned Odor - 2B
Robinson Chirinos - C
Drew Robinson - LF
Carlos Gomez - CF
Joey Gallo - 1B
This seems like a borderline-platoon situation beginning to develop at more than one position. First of all, Chirinos–not Lucroy–is catching Perez. Secondly, there’s no Mike Napoli. And lastly, Delino DeShields finds himself on the bench in favor of Drew Robinson, who has done enough to earn some more playing time.
It doesn’t feel like a “desperation” move–Banister is on record as wanting to win every game, starting with the first one of the season–but he does often take the long view of such things, believing that sticking with a guy who is in a slump will pay dividends in the long run. But today, with the team coming off a four-day break, it is a curious development to see the lack of Lucroy and Napoli, and the presence of Robinson. It should be an interesting week or so to see how this develops.
3. Prince Fielder seems to be doing well. Evan Grant of the DMN has written a very well-done profile of the (technically-still-current) Ranger, and you can read it here.
4. Matt Fisher takes the optimist’s seat and tells us what Texas needs to do to make the postseason.
5. Alex Bregman–he of the #BTSOOTR hashtag and the “act like you’ve been there” tweet about Rougned Odor during the World Baseball Classic–is at it again. I would have posted links to those tweets, but alas: Bregman has deleted his Twitter account. The problems for Bregman started when he name-searched himself and found a blogger who had suggested trading him to bring in a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Bregman then proceeded to hop into the DMs and go wild.
I used my break to–among other things–catch up on “This Is Us”, a show I had been meaning to watch since it first came out. First off: Yes. Watch it. It’s so good. But secondly, one scene features a song called “Blues Run the Game” that was most famously recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. But this wasn’t S&G. I looked it up, and it was the original version, written and recorded by Jackson C. Frank. Having never heard the name, and being naturally curious, I looked him up. His story is both devastating, and reminiscent of more artists and songwriters than we would like to admit. Knowing the story makes the song even more compelling. The rest of the album is good also, but “Blues Run the Game” is the standout track.
During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail email@example.com or a tweet here.
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!