The Blue Jays start off the post-All Star break section of the season playing the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 38-57, last in the AL West (yes even trailing their fellow Texans, the Houston Astros. They have been hit with more injuries than even our Jays. I really don't think they are as bad as their record, but missing as many guys as they are, they are having a tough time of it. Unfortunately, we will be seeing Yu Darvish in the opening game of the series.
I sent off some questions to Adam J. Morris, the longtime manager of Lone Star Ball, SB Nations very popular Rangers blog. Thanks Adam.
The J.P. Arencibia being called up to first base thing is just some joke to make long suffering Blue Jays fans smile again, right? They can't be serious?
Yes, they are serious. But let's recap...Prince Fielder was supposed to be Plan A at 1B. He's out for the year with neck surgery. Mitch Moreland was Plan B. He's out for the year with ankle surgery. Kevin Kouzmanoff was Plan C. He's out until at least September, and probably the year, with back surgery. Jim Adduci was Plan D. He's been on the d.l. for a while with a broken finger, and when he returns, he'll probably be playing more OF. Plan E was Donnie Murphy, a second baseman claimed on waivers from the Cubs, splitting time with Adam Rosales, a shortstop claimed on waivers from the A's. They were replaced by Plan F, Brad Snyder -- a career minor league outfielder who was given a crash course at first base, got in a couple of games there at AAA, then was brought up to the majors. Snyder was replaced by Plan G, Carlos Pena, who was released by the Astros last season. He was fine defensively, but he hit poorly -- in fact, he had almost the exact same slash line as Arencibia. So now, the Rangers are rolling with Plan H at 1B -- Arencibia and Chris Gimenez (a catcher claimed on waivers from the Rays this spring) splitting time there.
Was the Jason Frasor trade the first of several trades? Who else do you expect the Rangers to sell off? Is there a middle infielder or third baseman they would like to send the Blue Jays' way?
There will probably be some more moves coming. Neal Cotts is a free agent after the season, so I expect him to be dealt. The Rangers are carrying four catchers on the 25 man roster, so if someone wants to give up something for Geovany Soto, that's a possibility. While people have speculated that Adrian Beltre could (or should) be dealt, that probably isn't happening. Alex Rios and Joakim Soria are both trade candidates, but they both have reasonable team options for 2015, and the Rangers are not punting next year, so they'd need a significant return to make that work. As far as middle infielders go, there's been speculation the Rangers could part with Elvis Andrus, but I don't see that happening. And while Rougned Odor could end up getting dealt (given that Jurickson Profar will be back next year), I can't imagine Toronto would be acquiring him now as a trade deadline shot-in-the-arm.
Who has been your favorite Ranger to watch this year?
Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre. Its not even close. When Yu Darvish is on, there is no pitcher I can think of who is more fun to watch. And Beltre is one of those guys who, to borrow a cliche, you have to see every day to appreciate. He's a special, unique player, unlike any other I've watched. Normally I would include Elvis Andrus on this list, but he's really scuffled this season, and hasn't had the same joie de vivre we're used to.
Who is the biggest disappointment?
Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo are neck and neck for biggest disappointment. The Rangers gave up Ian Kinsler for Prince, thinking they'd open up the second base job for Profar while getting an impact middle-of-the-order bat for Fielder. Profar has missed the whole season, Fielder was awful and now is out for the year, and to rub salt in the wound, Kinsler has been one of the best players in the A.L. Choo, the other big-dollar offseason acquisition, started off great, sprained his ankle, missed a week, and hasn't been the same since. I'm hoping the offensive falloff is due to injury. Oh, and to top it off, Choo has been brutal with the glove.
Are there any prospects likely to come up this season that you are looking forward to seeing?
The prospects who generate the most excitement are guys who aren't getting called up this year -- Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara. But Luke Jackson a nice right-handed pitching prospect who should get a look in August or September, and Ryan Rua is someone who had a breakout year in 2013, and who will likely get a cup of coffee in September. There are also a number of relief arms who could get looks -- guys like Phil Klein, Alex Claudio, Will Lamb. But really, if there's a prospect who warrants a late season callup, he's probably already up.
Can you give us updates on some the several injured Rangers? Prince Fielder, Geovany Soto, Jurickson Profar, Alexi Ogando, Mitch Moreland, Derek Holland. I thought we have a lot of guys on the DL....do you guys play on articficial turf too?
Soto is back as of the start of this series. Nick Martinez should be back in August. Holland is targeting an August return. Ogando and Scheppers are probably not back until September. Fielder, Perez, Profar, Moreland and Kouzmanoff are done for the year, and Harrison is not only done for the year, his career may be over. Yeah, its been a ridiculous season, injury-wise.
Why doesn't Yu Darvish get the respect he deserves from sports writers and fans?
Good question. I think part of the problem is that, when he's on, he's so good that, when he struggles, people don't understand why. One of the Rangers broadcasters is former major league pitcher Steve Busby, and when listening to him talk about Yu when Yu isn't "on," I get the feeling he's saying during the breaks, "If I had his stuff I would have never given up a hit!"