The Blue Jays start a 9-game road trip with a 3 game series in Texas. The Rangers have started the season 3-5.
I sent off some questions to Adam J. Morris, long time manager of Lone Star Ball.
A couple of years back it looked like Rougned Odor was going to be a decent hitter, but last year he was wasn’t and he’s off to a bad start this year. How long is his rope? Is there anyone likely to take his job? Not that I’m hoping bad things happen to Odor. No no not me.
Given that the Rangers gave him a 6 year, $49.5 million extension prior to 2017 that has him locked up through, at a minimum, 2022, Rougned Odor is going to be given a lot of time to get the ship righted. There’s a school of thought that suggests that Odor should be sent down, and Jurickson Profar, the former top prospect whose career was derailed by injuries, and who is now a utility infielder stuck on the major league roster because he’s out of options, should get a chance to play second base every day. But the organization has faith in Odor, and he’s had success in the past, so I think he’s going to get at least the first few months of 2018 to get back on track.
Joey Gallo has been a favorite prospect of mine for a while. Last year he hit a lot of homers, took a lot of walks but then struck out a ton. Is this who he is, or do you expect him to better?
Joey Gallo is always going to strike out a bunch, and is always going to hit some really long home runs. Even hitting barely above .200 last season, he was a solid major leaguer. Gallo has said he’s working to improve his contact rate in order to cut the strikeouts back and get on base more often, and I think he can get to where he’s hitting .240 or so, which would make him an All Star caliber player, given his walks and power. If the 2017 version of Gallo is what we get going forward, that’s a good player, but I’m betting he improves on that going forward.
Can you give us a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we are likely to see?
Matt Moore starts for Texas on Friday. He’s a lefthander who, like Profar, is a former top prospect whose career was derailed by injuries. Tampa Bay traded him to the Giants in 2016, when it appeared he was close to being all the way back from Tommy John surgery, but he regressed in 2017, and was acquired by Texas in the offseason in what was effectively a salary dump. Moore gives you flashes of the stuff that made him a coveted pitcher once upon a time, but mixes that in with location issues that make him hittable.
Mike Minor starts for Texas on Saturday. Another former top prospect whose career was hampered by injuries, Minor went from being a stud Braves starting pitcher to missing two seasons before revitalizing his career in the Kansas City bullpen in 2017. Minor throws hard and has the stuff to be a quality mid-rotation starter, but there’s still concerns about his durability, given his history of shoulder issues, and the Rangers are going to be cautious with his workload.
Cole Hamels goes on Sunday. This is not the Cole Hamels of old...the changeup is still deadly, but he’s struggled to command his fastball in the last year, and his velocity is down to where his fastball is around 90 mph. He’s generated a bunch of Ks in his first two starts of the season -- the first 8 batters he retired in his last start against Oakland were via strikeout -- but he’s got a much smaller margin for error than in past seasons, given he’s working a lot with a four-seamer that doesn’t have a ton of velocity and that ends up too often being up in the zone.
The Rangers have several players on the DL, including Tim Lincecum who I’m curious to see, could you give us a rundown the injuries and when they will be back?
The Rangers went into the season with Delino DeShields as Plan A in center field, and with no Plan B, so of course DeShields broke his hand in the first week of the season. He’s on the d.l. and won’t be back until May. Tony Barnette is on a rehab assignment after dealing with some back issues, and could be activated on Sunday. Lincecum got a late start to the spring and also was waylaid by a blister last week, but is expected to be ready to go at the beginning of May. The other players on the d.l. are Clayton Blackburn, Ronald Herrera, Ricky Rodriguez, and Joe Palumbo, all of whom are on the 60 day d.l. and were slated to be in the minors this year as depth.
Adrian Beltre turns 39 during this series. How much longer can he keep going? Do you think he’ll play after this season? Is he a Hall of Famer?’
I’m going to assume the question about whether he’s a Hall of Famer was asked facetiously -- he’s one of the top five third basemen in the history of MLB, and is a no-doubt first ballot guy. I thought, when the Rangers signed him to a 6 year deal after the 2010 season, that they overpaid, that Beltre would be good the first few years of the deal, but would be a non-factor by 2015 or so. Instead, he’s defied the aging curve, and continues to be a well above average performer, an instrumental force in the clubhouse, and one of the most entertaining players to watch in the game. I have no idea how long Beltre will be able to keep going, but I’d wager he’ll play in 2019, and I’m sure the Rangers (and many other teams) would want to have him around as long as he can still play.
What is your guess on how the Rangers will finish do this season? You are in a pretty tough division with the Astros and Angels.
I think Texas probably is a tad below .500, and ends up vying with Seattle and Oakland for third place. The organization’s offseason moves appear to have targeted high-variability pitchers who, if things go right, can help them contend this year, but who aren’t going to handcuff the team as far as moves down the road. They aren’t in a rebuilding mode, but I think they expect to be better situated to compete in 2020, when the new stadium opens.
You guys aren’t really getting a new stadium, are you? Maybe I’m showing my age but I think of current one as a new park. Why do they need a new one?
If you ever attended a 3+ hour 2:05 p.m. August game in the 100 degree heat, you’d know why the Rangers are getting a new stadium with climate control and a retractable roof.
Right now 100 degree heat sounds pretty good, he says since the first thing he saw this morning was a notice that Calgary set a record for ‘windchill’ this morning.