Date: Tuesday, September 5th, 2017
Opponent: Atlanta Braves (60-76)
Starters: Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.31) vs. Luiz Gohara (MLB Debut)
Wild Card Situation: 2.0 games behind Twins
Still Behind: Angels, Orioles
Welcome back to another version of the Baseball Texas Daily, which we publish, on average, about five times a week, and usually in the evening. We did not think this through.
1. Yohander Mendez and Jared Hoying were recalled from Round Rock yesterday. Hoying, as we saw last night, provides the Rangers with a late-innings defensive upgrade over, at very least, Shin-Soo Choo or Nomar Mazara. Mendez is left-handed, and with the Rangers having only Alex Claudio and Jake Diekman throwing from the left side in the bullpen (more on that later), it only made sense to bring him up. Late yesterday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Phil Gosselin was expected to be recalled today. John Blake confirmed that with a Tweet this afternoon. These names are interesting if you’re a hard-core fan. But not quite as interesting as the four names we haven’t seen: let’s take them in order of least-to-most surprising (to me, anyway)
2. Willie Calhoun. The primary return in the Yu Darvish trade, Calhoun has hit .310 with 8 home runs, 26 RBI, and an OPS of .911 In 29 games since joining Round Rock. Between Oklahoma City and Round Rock, Calhoun hit .300 with 31 homers, an OPS of .927 and just 61 strikeouts (42 walks) in 534 plate appearances. That would scream “call up” if he were already on the 40-man roster, or if Delino DeShields wasn’t playing so well. You could argue that the Rangers could remove someone like Phil Gosselin or Paolo Espino from the 40-man roster and give Calhoun the chance to hang out in a big-league clubhouse for the last month of the season, especially now that the Round Rock season is over, and I wouldn’t argue with you–that’s why he’s on this list. But of the four, he’s the one I’m the least surprised about.
I have heard some bring up the idea that if you’re going to add Calhoun to the 40-man this winter to avoid exposing him to the Rule Five draft, you might as well do it now. That’s not a problem: Calhoun was drafted in 2015 at age 20, so he wouldn’t be exposed to the Rule Five draft until after next season (for a more detailed breakdown on Calhoun–and the Rule Five draft–see yesterday’s Newberg Report).
3. Ronald Guzman. Mike Napoli has 28 home runs, this is true. He also has 155 strikeouts in 468 plate appearances and a .193 batting average. With Guzman poised to be the Rangers’ first baseman of the future, why not bring him up and see what he’s got? Guzman hit .298 for Round Rock in 2017, and while his power numbers were lower than expected (12 home runs in 527 PAs, .434 slugging), a .372 on-base percentage is nearly 100 points higher–albeit one level lower–than Napoli.
There are two things I can see holding Guzman back this season. The first is that the Rangers are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, and I can’t with any conviction say that I believe that’s the best time to bring up a minor leaguer, put him in the lineup every day, and see what happens. Especially when it comes at the cost of one of the most beloved guys in the clubhouse. The other agrument–one that I’m not sure I buy–is that he’s left-handed. The Rangers already feature left-handed-hitting everyday regulars in Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Shin-Soo Choo (Drew Robinson and Brett Nicholas can also both play first base if needed). That leaves Delino DeShields, Carlos Gomez, Elvis Andrus, Robinson Chirinos, and Mike Napoli as your right-handed regulars.
Does Ronald Guzman give you a better chance, right now, to make the playoffs than Mike Napoli? Maybe. Is it enough of a slam-dunk that it’s worth upsetting the clubhouse to find out? Probably not. Would you trust Guzman over perpetual-postseason-veteran Napoli in a postseason role, if it comes to that? If not, you don’t make the move.
Still, I’m surprised that he’s not at least with the club.
4. Ryan Rua. He has had a disappointing 2017, to be sure. In his time with the big-league club, he hit just .208 with a .622 OPS. He was worth -0.2 WAR in the 49 games he played. Those numbers tick up a little if you only look at his at-bats against left-handers, but not a ton. But it’s still surprising to me that Rua isn’t with the big-league club, not because his performance has forced the issue, but because he has spent enough time at the big-league level that it seems like a slight not to. “Are we a better team with you as a late-innings pinch-hitting or defensive replacement option?” If the answer to that is yes–and I think it is, not only at first base, but perhaps in left and right field as well–you’d have to think Rua is at least available. But as of the time of writing this, he’s not with the team.
5. Jurickson Profar. If Rua’s absence seems like a slight, Profar’s absence seems downright insulting. The switch-hitting former #1 prospect in all of baseball, Profar can play (at least) seven positions, and while he only hit .172 in 22 games at the big league level this season, he hit .287 (on-base percentage of .383) in AAA, and has enough big-league experience that there’s no question as to whether the bright lights would affect his performance.
I don’t mean this as any disrespect to Phil Gosselin, but if you have the option between these 2017 stats:
Gosselin: 43 PA - .146 / .186 / .171, 0 HR, 0 3B, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BBs, 9 Ks
Profar: 70 PA - .172 / .294 / .207, 0 HR, 0 3B, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 9 BBs, 14Ks
...and one of them was a waiver-wire claim from Pittsburgh, and the other was–recent disappointments notwithstanding–Jurickson Profar, how do you justify recalling the former and not the latter?
According to one source who has talked to scouts with multiple teams, the thought around the league is that the Rangers are declining to recall Profar because doing so would suppress his big-league service time, giving the organization one more year of team control, making him more valuable in trade talks in the coming off-season.
I don’t know–and have no way of knowing–if that’s true. But if it is true, it’s unfortunate. I’m certainly not arguing that Profar’s performance has warranted playing time in September, especially with the team still within closing distance of a playoff spot. But it is surprising that he isn’t even being considered as an option, especially with Drew Robinson and Phil Gosselin as your immediate backups at shortstop in the event of an emergency. The writing on the wall here is that the relationship between the player and the club is probably irreversibly damaged at this point, and we can expect to see Jurickson Profar in another team’s colors in March.
Speaking of relationships with players…
6. Derek Holland was released from the White Sox today. Holland had a dismal 2017 in Chicago, going 7-14 with a 6.20 ERA and 1.711 WHIP. Holland was always one of the most likable and community-minded of the Rangers in his eight seasons with the Rangers, so perhaps I am being sentimental when I suggest this, but given that the Texas bullpen currently only has three left-handers (Jake Diekman, de facto closer Alex Claudio, and recent call-up Yohander Mendez), it strikes me as an interesting possibility to bring Holland back as a one-inning guy.
He wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason; that ship sailed on August 31st, and honestly, it’s kind of crappy for the White Sox to have waited until just five days later to release him But it would be interesting to see if his velocity–down to just 91-92 as a starter–might tick back up a little if he were limited to one-inning use. The White Sox did put him in the bullpen this season, with mixed results (one good outing, one horrific outing, and one middling outing) and he didn’t thrive in the role in his previous tenure with Texas. And I don’t expect Holland to land back in Texas long-term: a rebuilding Tigers team in his home state makes much more sense for a starter trying to prove that he can still pitch at the Major League level. But for the remainder of this season, it does seem like it could be a low-risk / high-reward flyer for a team low on southpaws.
Still listening to “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine. I’ll leave the description the same as well: Not recommended for children. Recommended for people who are out of coffee.
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
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.
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