Monday, June 15, 2009

An inkling that Chris Davis is breaking out of his slump

b/c he hit a line drive the opposite way: down the left field line for a double.

However, what if Davis is not breaking out of his slump? He's been the easiest out in baseball, and therefore he ought go to AAA.

2 months ago, I was saying start the season with Davis in OKC and Blalock at 1B. However, Blalock has been bad at the plate and mediocre to average at 1B.

1 month ago, I was saying send Davis to OKC and start Andruw Jones at 1B. However, since, I've noticed Davis making outstanding diving plays which save runs. Andruw Jones is unlikely to make those plays.

So, who can play 1B and give the Rangers 1) defense and 2) more competitive offense than Chris Davis?

Normally, I would say Joaquin Arias. He played at least 1 game at 1B during Sept 08, and he is a career .300 hitter as a professional. However, Arias is mired in the first serious slump of his professional career, and is hitting .215 without many bases on balls. Arias is star crossed. Every time the Rangers need him, he is suffering from either an injury or a freak first ever batting slump.

What is the solution?

Elvis Andrus, First Baseman. It won't hurt Elvis to watch Omar Vizquel for six weeks. It would be like watching Baryshnikov. The Rangers need Vizquel, now. And Andruw Jones. Both are tanned, rested, and ready.

How good is that infield?

Young 3B * Vizquel SS * Kinsler 2B * Andrus 1B

There's also the matter of Kinsler and the entire Arlington offense's massive lack of production. Last week, the Rangers scored 1 run or less in 3 out of 4 games or in 4 out of 6 games, depending on how you want to calculate. Vizquel can solve this, b/c Vizquel can lead off. This allows a shake up of the line up:

1. Vizquel SS
2. Young 3B
3. Kinsler 2B
4. Cruz RF
5. Andruw Jones DH
6. Murphy LF
7. Byrd CF
8. Saltalamacchia C
9. Elvis 1B

That's a winning defense and a competitive small ball offense. With continued excellent pitching from Millwood, Padilla, Feldman, and Matt Harrison (and El Duque?), the Rangers could stay competitive with that line-up.

If Rangers shake the line-up and trade for Roy Oswalt (who either is or ought to be on the market), then the Rangers ought to compete and survive until the All Star Break. After the All Star Break: Hamilton, Francisco, and McCarthy return from injury; Ben Sheets is signed; maybe Neftali Feliz joins the bullpen, and the Rangers are in business for the pennant drive. The starting pitching: Oswalt, Millwood, Sheets, Padilla, is suddenly capable of winning a Playoffs Series.

It could happen. A trade for Oswalt could easily happen. Sheets could sign in Arlington(he already signed once, but couldn't pass the physical).

However, the Rangers need to survive the next 2 weeks, and then the 3 weeks after that until the All Star Break. The way the team is playing, they could be in 3rd place by next Wednesday, with no relief in sight. They could be fighting for last place by July 1. And it's not the pitching. It's the hitting. I've been saying for a while: it's the hitting. Specifically, it's the lack of discipline at the plate. The Rangers are free swinging fools. Even when the Rangers were still scoring runs, you could see trouble coming. It. Is. The. Hitting.


Separate issue:

The treatment of Holland shows 1) the Rangers have extreme confidence in Holland, and 2) the Rangers have desperate need for Holland. I mean this:
  • 3 of Holland's first 5 major league appearances began with him being summoned to face bases loaded situations. That's unheard of for a rookie.
  • Holland's first 4 starting appearances looked like this: Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers might be the three best teams in baseball. The Yankees probably have the best offense in baseball, and Holland faced them in his second start ever.
Holland has been beat around. His control is the one thing he can count on, and it has to some degree deserted him. He is, to some extent, lost. He is, to some extent, showing the thousand yard stare. The same stare happened to another good competitor: Tommy Hunter, when he was rushed to the majors and beaten around a couple of times(including once by the Yankees).

The Rangers had too much confidence in Holland, and had too much desperation to win. They ought not have exposed him to the situations they did. It was a classic baseball mistake; so classic I can't believe the Rangers made it.

Whatever is done with Holland over the next couple of months: he must be coddled and protected. He must be allowed some easy shots, in hopes he can regain his confidence. That might mean OKC; or it might mean continuing to start in Arlington, yet always being relieved before getting himself into any serious jams. Until the All Star Break, the Rangers ought not force Holland to pitch through a 5th or 6th inning jam against the heart of a line-up. Get the relief pitching in. Get Holland out before he faces a serious jam in the middle innings, or maybe even before he faces a serious jam in the 3rd inning. Protect the kid; protect the investment.

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