Texas Rangers: Cliff Lee

Nowitzki, Witten praise Michael Young

May, 17, 2014
May 17
8:51
PM CT
Michael YoungAP Photo/LM Otero"I learned real quick what a true pro Michael was," Jason Witten said of Saturday honoree Young.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's become a tradition of sorts lately: A Dallas-Fort Worth sports star is honored and other top athletes from the city attend to show their support.

That was the case again Saturday night as Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten were on hand for a ceremony honoring Michael Young's career prior to the Texas Rangers-Toronto Blue Jays game.

"Michael made baseball into something in this town," Nowitzki said. "They weren’t very good when I got here and he stuck with the team and kept playing hard and showing up every night, played his heart out no matter what the standings were. What I appreciated most about him was how he handled himself on and off the field. I can relate to that.

"It was never really about him, even in successful years. It was always about the team. It wasn't about, ‘How do I get in the headlines off the field?’ It was leaving it all out on the field. That’s what I appreciate the most about him. We’ve been friends for years and keep in touch."

Nowitzki, who just returned from vacation, received a loud ovation when he was introduced prior to the event. He congratulated Young after it was over and took pictures with two of Young's sons -- Mateo and Emilio.

Witten, another longtime Dallas athlete, said he loved watching Young play the game.

"I came in '03 and I learned real quick what a true pro Michael was," Witten said. "I think anybody that’s been around him, you know how great he was. It was somebody I looked up to and admired, not just how he played on the field, but how he acted off. I wanted to show my gratitude and respect by being here tonight."

The last time there was similar sports royalty on hand for a big ceremony was the retirement of Mike Modano's No. 9 in March. Nowitzki and Young were both at that event, congratulating Modano just before the No. 9 was raised to the American Airlines Center rafters. Modano couldn't attend Saturday, but left Young a video message that was played on the big screen at Globe Life Park.

"I think it’s very special," Young, 37, said of how area athletes support each other. "I don’t think you see that in many other towns. We all know each other, we keep in touch, we all pull for each other and hit each other up after good games. It’s a special bond and I’m very happy to be a part of it. A lot of these guys, we spend a massive chunk of our careers in the same town playing in front of the same fans. That’s pretty special."

Young was honored with a proclamation from the city of Arlington (making May 17 Michael Young Day), the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation donated $10,000 to the Michael Young Family Foundation, and Young received a four-day trip to Walt Disney World courtesy of his former teammates.

A handful of those former teammates, managers and even those who played against Young for years presented video tributes, including Mark DeRosa, Derek Jeter, Cliff Lee, Don Mattingly, Mike Napoli, Mark Teixeira and David Murphy.

Rapid Reaction: Phillies 14, Rangers 10

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
4:45
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was a strange Opening Day game as neither starter was on his game and the two teams combined for 24 runs on 31 hits as the Philadelphia Phillies took the lead in the fifth and held on for a 14-10 win over the Texas Rangers. Some quick reaction to the game:

Scheppers struggles: You know it's a crazy game when Tanner Scheppers can allow seven earned runs and get a no-decision. But that's what the 27-year-old right-hander did in four innings of work. He could not get his fastball down consistently and his two-seamer didn't have much movement. The Phillies took advantage with eight hits, including a grand slam home run for Jimmy Rollins, who flew into town late after being with his wife, who is due any day with the couple's second child. ... Scheppers' offense got him a 7-6 lead going into the fourth, but he couldn't hold it and gave up the tying run in that frame.

Lee allergic to Arlington?: Cliff Lee came into Monday's game with disappointing numbers at Globe Life Park. That's saying it kindly. He was 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in 94 career innings (14 starts). And, of course, many of those came in a Rangers uniform in 2010. The trend certainly continued on Monday. He gave up eight earned runs in five innings on 11 hits. It was the first time Lee had surrendered eight earned runs since Aug. 21, 2010 pitching for Texas in Baltimore. That ties the most earned runs he's allowed in Arlington in his career. He also allowed eight runs in a start in 2004.

A rare walk: J.P. Arencibia drew a big walk in the second inning as the Rangers were attempting to come back from a 6-0 deficit early. Arencibia's patient, seven-pitch at-bat was an odd one, in that he had just 18 walks in 138 games last season. And Lee only walked 32 batters all of last season. But that walk helped Texas to a four-run inning to get back in the game.

Bottom of lineup: It was the bottom three hitters that produced in the second inning as the Rangers made a game of it. Arencibia, Leonys Martin and Josh Wilson were 5-for-8 with a walk and five RBIs.

Manager's pick: Ron Washington surprised many when he took Wilson to start at second base instead of Donnie Murphy, who was picked up off waivers near the end of spring and played well in all three exhibition games. But Washington wanted Wilson's defense and said that he gave Wilson the nod because he's been with the club since February. It paid off as Wilson had two hits and looked good in the field.

Debuts: Besides the debuts of Shin-Soo Choo -- who went hitless -- and Prince Fielder -- a single in his second at-bat -- it was also the debut of Pedro Figueroa. The reliever came in for the fifth inning and showed velocity, but little movement. The Phillies scored four runs (three of them earned) off Figueroa to get the lead back. They were able to keep it from there. ... Alexi Ogando made his 2014 debut and struggled, walking two batters in the sixth and allowing an inherited run and a few of his own. ... Seth Rosin made his big league debut in the ninth inning and gave up a shift-beating double, but also struck out Ryan Howard. He was the only Rangers pitcher to not allow a run.

Hall of Fame pitch: Greg Maddux threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then watched as the two starters combined for 15 earned runs. Maddux, by the way, allowed seven or more earned runs 27 times in his career.

Briefly: Elvis Andrus had a great opportunity to draw the Rangers closer in the seventh, batting with the bases loaded and two outs, but grounded into a force at second base. ... Mitch Moreland started the game as the DH despite a left-handed starter on the mound and was 0-for-3. Michael Choice did pinch-hit for him later and get a hit, his first in a Rangers uniform. ... Alex Rios was the only Rangers player to homer on Monday, hitting a three-run shot in the third to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 Rangers lead. Rios had 18 homers between Texas and Chicago last year.

W2W4: Opening Day (and series)

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
9:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After six weeks of spring training (and more than a few trips to see doctors and surgeons), the Texas Rangers are finally ready to face the Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 p.m. today to start the first three-game series of the season.

Before each series, we'll give you a quick preview of what to watch during the two-, three- or four-game set.

Series: vs. Philadelphia Phillies at Globe Life Park, Monday (1:05 p.m.), Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) and Wednesday (7:05 p.m.)

Lee returns: This is the first time that Cliff Lee has pitched in Arlington since he was wearing a Rangers uniform. That was in 2010, when the blockbuster trade deadline deal to get Lee helped the Rangers get past the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS and eventually get to the franchise's first World Series. ... Lee's numbers against the Rangers aren't impressive. He's 7-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 career starts vs. Texas as the Rangers have hit .269 against him. ... In Arlington, Lee is 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in his career.

Fielder feasts?: Monday is also the first day to see Prince Fielder in a regular-season game for the Rangers. Fielder hit a home run in his first at-bat in a Rangers jersey at Globe Life Park in Thursday's exhibition and is 21-for-85 (.265) with four homers and 15 RBIs and a .965 OPS in his career in Arlington. ... Fielder is 6-for-8 with a homer and six RBIs against Lee in his career. And he doesn't mind facing the Phillies' other two starters in the series -- A.J. Burnett (Fielder is 4-for-14 with two HRs, four RBIs) and Kyle Kendrick (3-for-5, HR, five RBIs).

Choo leading off: New Ranger Shin-Soo Choo will be the club's first batter of the season. He's just 1-for-6 off Lee in his career. ... Choo joins an interesting list of Rangers leadoff batters on Opening Day, taking over for Ian Kinsler, who did it five of the past six seasons. Who was the only non-Kinsler leadoff hitter since 2008? Julio Borbon in 2010.

Scheppers makes history: He's the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to make his first big-league start on Opening Day. ... Scheppers is also the fifth different Ranger to start on Opening Day the past five seasons (Scott Feldman, 2010; C.J. Wilson, 2011; Colby Lewis, 2012; Matt Harrison, 2013). ... Yu Darvish was supposed to make the start, but neck stiffness altered that plan.

First pitch, first anthem: Hall of Famer Greg Maddux will throw out the honorary first pitch Monday. Maddux is a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels. ... The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will perform the National Anthem on Monday, 20 years after they did so to open the stadium with the late Van Cliburn on piano.

Mound Matchups:

Monday vs. Philadelphia: RHP Tanner Scheppers vs. LHP Cliff Lee, 1:05 p.m., FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540
Tuesday vs. Philadelphia: LHP Martin Perez vs. RHP A.J. Burnett, 7:05 p.m., FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540
Wednesday vs. Philadelphia: LHP Robbie Ross vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick, 7:05 p.m., FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540

Opening Day: Yu Darvish vs. Cliff Lee

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
12:56
PM CT
Yu Darvish and Cliff LeeUSA Today SportsRangers ace Yu Darvish will face off against Cliff Lee and the Phillies on Opening Day.
Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg announced today that Cliff Lee will get the Opening Day start in Texas. That means he'll go up against Yu Darvish, who was officially named the Rangers' Opening Day starter a few weeks ago by manager Ron Washington.

So baseball fans get a real treat with two aces going at it to start the season. For Lee, it's his first start in Texas since he left following the 2010 season. Lee is 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in his career at Globe Life Park, but was 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA in seven regular-season starts in Arlington wearing a Rangers uniform. The trade-deadline deal in July of 2010 that brought Lee to Texas was critical in helping the Rangers get past Tampa Bay for the franchise's first playoff series win and eventually earning the first World Series berth in the organization's history.

The Rangers would have made the postseason without the Lee trade. But I don't think they would have beaten the Rays without Lee. He was brilliant in the decisive Game 5 against David Price and the Rays, allowing one run on six hits in the complete-game victory. Lee's presence was felt early in the ALCS against the Yankees, too, even though he only pitched in Game 3. It put pressure on New York to win two in Arlington or feel like they could be down 2-1 in the series. And that's what happened. The Rangers eventually won in six games. Lee didn't fare as well in the World Series against the Giants, allowing nine runs in 11 2/3 innings in losses in Games 1 and 5.

But he has not pitched in Arlington since that Game 5 of the World Series.

Darvish gets his first Opening Day assignment after a season in which he was runner-up in the Cy Young balloting. Darvish's first start in 2013 came in the second game of the season in Houston, where he had a perfect game through 8 2/3 innings, only to have Marwin Gonzalez break it up with a single up the middle.

Opening Day's game starts at 1:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. That's two weeks away, folks. I know you're ready.

Lobby Talk: Choo price too high for Texas?

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
1:05
PM CT
Note: Periodically during the winter meetings, we'll post some of the chatter going on in the lobby in regards to players the Texas Rangers may be interested in this week at Disney World.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It appears the price for Shin-Soo Choo, at least right now, is in the Jacoby Ellsbury range (in terms of years and salary) and that's not a price the Rangers want to pay, according to sources. Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the New York Yankees this offseason.

One source said it wouldn't be fair to say Texas was "out" on Choo, but they aren't "in" on him at the current rate. His price would have to drop for Texas to get more aggressive. The club is leaning toward Nelson Cruz, if a deal can be worked out. It's possible Cruz could end up in a position of choosing from a slightly longer-term deal with one club or taking a little less to stay with Texas. But we'll see.

The Rangers still want a power bat and Cruz fits in nicely to that plan. They know him and are comfortable with him. The question is whether Cruz's comfort with the Rangers is enough to get him to Texas in a deal that works for both sides.

Other notes:

* Whenever Cliff Lee's name is floated, it's difficult not to think of the Rangers. But beyond the pieces it might take to get him is the $25 million he's owed in 2014, the $25 million he gets in 2015 and the $27.5 vesting option for 2016 (or a $12.5 million buyout). That's a lot of money to pay a 35-year-old pitcher. It doesn't seem very likely at this point.

* The Rangers have "some" interest in Corey Hart as they canvas bats in case the bigger names fall through.

* The club has discussed Michael Morse as well. That's something we detailed in our "Hot Stove Talk" series yesterday. Read that here.

* Lots of chatter about a proposed three-way deal between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks. Our buddy Keith Law reports that the deal would send Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks with Adam Eaton going to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs ending up with the Angels.

Crystal ball: Second-half predictions

July, 18, 2013
7/18/13
9:00
AM CT


With the second half of the season about to begin, let's look into our crystal ball and predict what could happen in the final 2 1/2 months of the season for the Texas Rangers:

Biggest boost from the disabled list: The Rangers have a gaggle of folks who are coming back from injuries and -- outside of Yu Darvish, who was on there more as a precaution than anything else -- I'm going to surprise some and take Alexi Ogando as my biggest boost. Don't get me wrong: It would be big if Colby Lewis or Matt Harrison can give this rotation something. But Ogando will be the first to return, and the Rangers need him to stay healthy and give them innings. If they had more depth, perhaps he could slide over to the bullpen. But the Rangers don't have that luxury. They need Ogando to pitch better and be a stalwart in that rotation this half. I think he will be.

One player the Rangers need at trade deadline: For me, even more than an impact bat, it's a starting pitcher. And I still can't get the thought of Cliff Lee out of my mind. The Phillies sit at .500 and are 6 1/2 games back of the Braves in the NL East and 5 1/2 back in the wild-card race, so they need to figure out if they will be buyers, sellers or just stand pat at the deadline. But if there's a slip and they inch toward sellers, might the Phillies dangle Lee? He'd cost not only big money (there's a bundle left on that contract), but some prospects as well. He'd be worth it. Just think of how good it would look to have Darvish and Lee on top of the Rangers' rotation down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Where the AL West will be won: Against the Angels. Yep. The Rangers have 13 games left against the Angels. And if the Rangers are going to catch the A's, they need to beat the Angels. Two big division stretches stick out on the schedule. They go on the road for 10 games against the A's, Angels and Astros in August and they finish the season against the Astros and Angels in the final seven games in Arlington. Those two stretches could decide the AL West.

Second-half Rangers MVP: Ian Kinsler. He was playing well going into the break and has been steady all season. The Rangers missed him earlier this season and they need him to do his thing at the top of the lineup in the second half. Look for him to have a good final run this season.

Second half surprise: Elvis Andrus. It's been a terrible first half for Andrus. He's hitting .242, ninth among qualified AL shortstops (there's only 12 of them). He has no homers and 31 RBIs and just a .300 on-base percentage. That can't continue. So I'm going with Andrus to snap out of this funk and play better in the second half, which would be a surprise given his first half.

Total wins: 94. And that's good enough for the Rangers to sneak by the A's (who will earn a wild card spot) and win the AL West. I think with the return of some injured players and a move or two at the deadline, this team will have enough to win the division and get ready for a playoff run.

What are you predicting for the second half?

Jon Daniels discusses best/worst trades

July, 10, 2013
7/10/13
2:42
PM CT


Yankees GM Brian Cashman, Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Rays GM Andrew Friedman share the best and worst trades they've made.

Bowden: Some trade proposals for Texas

June, 20, 2013
6/20/13
3:33
PM CT
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, a weekly guest on Fitzsimmons & Durrett on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, has a couple of trade proposals involving the Texas Rangers. You can read his post here (insider). He mentioned one of them on the air. Here's that proposal:

PODCAST
ESPN Insider and senior baseball analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss some interesting trade ideas for the Rangers.

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Justin Grimm, Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson and Jorge Alfaro for Jake Peavy and Alex Rios. Bowden's thought is that the Rangers get a piece for their rotation in Peavy, who isn't just a half-season rental and should return soon from a rib injury, and they get Rios to plug in to the outfield (especially important should MLB end up suspending Nelson Cruz, which is still a big unknown).

I can't see this ever happening simply because from a Ranger perspective it's way too much to give up for those two players, even though both are under contract next season too. We're talking about three of the club's top lower-level prospects. That's not going to happen. But as Bowden points out, consider it more of a starting point in that the White Sox want to rebuild and could use the Rangers' farm system to do it with a package that might not include all of those players, but some of them. If you're Chicago, you're trying to get as much as you can. It just won't be all four of those players.

Bowden also mentions the possibility of Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee. As we've talked about on this blog and on Fitzsimmons & Durrett, the Rangers should be able to make a strong play for Lee without giving up Profar. And there's no way they're making that deal if it means trading Profar. Not for a 34-year-old pitcher on the back end of a large contract. How good the prospect package is to Philadelphia is probably based on how much of the $25 million a year the Rangers have to absorb of Lee's deal. He's got two more years on the deal plus another season that can vest. He doesn't come cheap, even before you talk prospects.

Your thoughts? Any interest in Peavy or Rios? What package would you put together to get them?

Surprise position outlook: Third base

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
11:30
PM CT
Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in our spring training preview series.

Today's position: Third base

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Rick Yeatts/Getty ImagesThe Rangers have many worries headed into spring training, but third base isn't one of them with Adrian Beltre at the hot corner.
When the Texas Rangers weren't able to sign Cliff Lee after the 2010 season, they decided to spend some of that money on shoring up the left side of the infield and adding a big bat to the lineup. How does that five-year, $80 million investment with a vesting option for a sixth year for Adrian Beltre look so far?

Beltre has exceeded expectations -- and they were high when he signed. He hit .296 in 2011 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs and played in just 124 games. Think if he hadn't missed five weeks because of a hamstring strain. Last season, Beltre was even better. He batted .321 with 36 homers and 102 RBIs in 156 games. He had a WAR of 6.5, second only to Miguel Cabrera (7.1) among AL third baseman.

Beltre batted cleanup in the order, offering protection for Josh Hamilton. He played with pain at times and showed his toughness. He was an important leader in the clubhouse. And, once again, he played phenomenal defense at third base. Beltre won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award. He had 13 defensive runs saved (third among AL third baseman).

Beltre, who turns 34 in April, gives the Rangers a steady, consistent option at third base. It means prospect Mike Olt is busy trying to learn other positions so that he can get on the field (and it allows the club to discuss Olt in trade talks because Beltre is the long-term option).

While the Rangers have questions they need to answer at spring training, third base isn't one of them. Beltre's mission for 2013 is to stay healthy and continue to play the way he has the last three years. Few players work harder, something that's always fun to watch at spring training as he takes a ton of grounders at third base to keep his skills up.

Beltre, along with Elvis Andrus, gives the Rangers to top left side of the infield in the big leagues. And in terms of the total package, I don't think there's a better third baseman in the league. Add in that Olt is one of the top prospects in the organization and third base is a position of true strength for the Rangers.

ESPN.com's hypothetical trade for Cliff Lee

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
7:36
AM CT
ESPN.com's David Schoenfield proposes some blockbuster deals and includes Cliff Lee going back to Texas among them. You'll have to click here to read his entire post, but here's his hypothetical Rangers-Phillies deal:
Philadelphia trades LHP Cliff Lee, OF Nate Schierholtz and LHP Antonio Bastardo to the Texas Rangers for 3B Mike Olt, LHP Martin Perez, OF Leonys Martin and RHP Cody Buckel.

Schoenfield notes Lee's success in the postseason as a big motivator for the Rangers to get him (not to mention their familiarity with him from the four months he was with Texas in 2010). And adds this:
For the Rangers, Schierholtz is a solid platoon outfielder and gives them flexibility to move Nelson Cruz to DH. Bastardo is a nice lefty arm for a bullpen that had only one southpaw (Robbie Ross) most of the season.

Again, he has much more on it, and you can click here to read all about it.

This is a fun time of year to throw trades out and see if you can fill needs. No question, a big-time starter to add to a rotation fronted by Yu Darvish in on the Rangers' shopping list. This is a lot to give up, with Olt and Buckel two of the club's top prospects. But it's the kind of deal that would be necessary if you're looking at a top-flight starting pitcher in a trade, so it's interesting to discuss.

What do you think of Schoenfield's proposed deal? Do you want Lee back? Would either team do the deal as Schoenfield has structured it?

Bowden: Deals that should have happened

August, 4, 2012
8/04/12
10:06
AM CT
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden put together the deals he believes should have happened at the trade deadline and includes Cliff Lee. The trade he proposed: Mike Olt and Cody Buckel for Lee. Part of what Bowden wrote:
With Felix Hernandez not on the trade market, the only No. 1 starter that could be had is Lee of the Phillies. Mike Olt would solve the Phillies’ third base position and fifth spot in the lineup for the next decade while Buckel should develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter. With a revised rotation of Lee, Dempster, Harrison, Darvish and Holland, the Rangers would be poised for a third chance at a World Series championship.

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Despite a five-game lead in the AL West, Randy Galloway doesn't feel confident about the Rangers. Are they in jeopardy of losing the division?

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We now know that Lee was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was then pulled back. But what Bowden doesn't mention in his analysis is the money. And the money is a big deal.

Not only would the Rangers have had to be willing to deal a top prospect like Olt, but the Phillies, according to reports, weren't willing to take on much of Lee's remaining contract. Sure, the Rangers have an ownership group willing to spend. But the Rangers are in position for another run at a World Series because they've spent smartly (for the most part). Lee has three more years at $25 million each on his deal and an option year at $27.5 million for 2016 (with a $12.5 million buyout).

Some of you asked me why the money was such a big deal when the Rangers offered Lee such a large contract after the 2010 season. But part of the point of that kind of deal would be to get the benefit of the first two seasons of the agreement, when Lee would be at his youngest in the life of the contract. So in no way would you give Lee the deal that was on the table nearly two years ago. And paying Lee's entire remaining contract could hamstring the club from signing other players in future years.

So it didn't come together and it looks like Lee will be with Philadelphia for the rest of the season. It should be interesting to see what the Phillies do in the offseason.

C.J. Wilson talks AL West, Zack Greinke

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Perhaps now that we've hit August, the idea of C.J. Wilson pitching against the Texas Rangers isn't all that unusual. And the red-glove lefty will face his old team once again on Thursday. It's now the beginning of the stretch run in the baseball season and the AL West race is shaping up the way most figured it would.

"Everybody on both teams probably counted on a tighter race than there was in April," Wilson said. "The Rangers got off to a great start. It wasn't very pretty for us. But we've turned it around in May, June and July and played a little bit better and August is another month and you move forward. The season is really long and you can't have a rearview mirror. You can't be sitting there thinking about what happened in April and what work you have to go through. You come in to each game with a new plan and start from scratch."

Wilson said the trade deadline deal to bring Zack Greinke to the Angels gave the club a big boost and reminded him of when Cliff Lee showed up in the Rangers' clubhouse in early July 2010.

"Everybody is really excited," Wilson said. "For me as a pitcher as well, not just as a teammate, I view him as someone I can learn from. He does some things better than I do. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is off the charts. Maybe Cliff is one of the only guys ahead of him the last couple of years. There's some stuff I can pick up from him. I threw with him (Wednesday)."

Wilson is 9-7 with a 2.88 ERA this season, but is winless in his last six starts despite four of his last five being quality starts. He's 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA (six earned runs in 12 innings) this season against the Rangers.

BTW, Wilson now owns a Mazda dealership in the Chicago area (C.J. Wilson Mazda) and the dealership sponsors the postgame show for the White Sox games.

Club adds pitching, but keeps top prospects

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
9:22
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says he wishes deals didn't happen at the last minute.

I'm not sure I believe him. He seems to find a way to pull something together, even while clocks are ticking loudly around him.

Daniels pulled one off Tuesday, sending a couple of Class A prospects to the Chicago Cubs for Ryan Dempster just before the buzzer sounded at 4 p.m. ET.

Dempster is not Zack Greinke. He's certainly not Cliff Lee. But he is healthy and productive, and provides depth to a rotation ravaged by injuries and inconsistencies. And of the remaining options on the market, he was one of the best. Would he start Game 1 of the playoffs if they began tomorrow? Perhaps. But the club has two months to sort all that out -- and another trade deadline at the end of August.

"What I like is he's got savvy," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's got tremendous pitchability. He's a competitor. He has one of the best ERAs in the NL. He's a veteran. I think he can be exactly what we were looking for to lead our young pitching staff forward."

Before discussing Dempster with the media, Daniels was left to share the news that Neftali Feliz will have Tommy John surgery Wednesday. That, combined with Colby Lewis' season-ending surgery last week, left a gaping hole in the rotation. It was clear Monday that Roy Oswalt isn't quite ready to fill it, either.

So Dempster's arrival means an alteration in the Oswalt experiment, sending the struggling veteran to the bullpen, at least for now. At the rate things have been going for Texas, another injury could pop up at any time. But Tuesday's move at least gives the club a pitcher who is throwing with confidence and can eat innings.

Read the rest here.

Trade deadline talk: Still making calls

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
11:43
AM CT
The Texas Rangers continue to work the phones in hopes of improving the club by the deadline, but indications are they may not be able to get the impact starting pitcher they wanted. A few things:

PODCAST
ESPN MLB insider Jim Bowden on potential trade partners for the Rangers, how Mike Olt can help the team this year and more.

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* The club is interested in Matt Garza, but nothing much has happened on that front to this point. Of course, there's still time. Garza is obviously a bit of a risk with the triceps issue that forced the Cubs to back up his next start until after the deadline. But he's under club control in 2013 through arbitration (likely to make around $12 million next year), which is something the club prefers to rental players. And he would give the club some depth. However, like any deal, everything has to matchup in terms of prospects. Clearly, it's not a deal that involves Mike Olt. Is there a package that works to get him? Is he worth the risk? Those are things that GM Jon Daniels and his staff are working through.

* Cliff Lee is fun to talk about, but that remains a big-time longshot for a gaggle of reasons. ESPN.com's Jim Bowden told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin that no deal with the Phillies for Lee will happen without Mike Olt. And we've seen how reluctant the Rangers are to move Olt. But beyond that, Lee is owed $25 million per season for the next three years and has a $27.5 million option for 2016 that includes a $12.5 million buyout (that option could vest depending on the innings pitched in the final years of the deal). The Rangers would want the Phillies to eat a large chunk of that. But if you're Philadelphia, part of the point of dealing Lee would be to shed some of that money. It just seems to make more sense for the Phillies to wait and reassess things at the offseason or beyond.

* Will things change as the clock ticks? You never know. Sometimes prices can drop and maybe that paves the way for something that wasn't a possibility the past few days, whether that's Garza or a deal that's been discussed or a deal that hasn't been talked about.

* The club still wants a reliever and is checking around on that. The names most commonly heard the past week: Jonathan Broxton and Rafael Betancourt. Broxton has rebounded from an injury and shown that he can get big outs late. Reports out of Kansas City indicate they like Justin Grimm. Is that too high a price to pay for what would be a setup man if that, in fact, is something that's being discussed? Betancourt is signed through next year, something we know the Rangers like. Last year, they traded for two relievers and a big reason they were willing to part with some prospects in those deals was because Koji Uehara and Mike Adams were under contract for 2012, not just rentals.

Stay tuned. The clock continues to tick.

Deadline talk: Final day is upon us

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
7:48
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- We are now counting down the final hours until Tuesday's 3 p.m. central time deadline as everyone in baseball will be burning up battery power in their cell phones trying to make some deals before the afternoon ends. A few things to watch for as we race toward the finish line:

* The Rangers already made one move, acquiring Geovany Soto and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Jacob Brigham. Soto gives them a backup catcher option, someone who plays solid defense and he's under club control for another year. It could mean Yorvit Torrealba is designated for assignment to make room for Soto, who is hitting .199. But this appears to be more a move to get a good defensive catcher as a backup to Mike Napoli. And don't discount the fact that Soto is under control in 2013. Both Napoli and Torrealba are free agents after this year.

* ESPNChicago.com reports the Rangers have interest in Matt Garza. That may sound a bit surprising in that Garza's start was pushed back because of fluid in his triceps area. But if the medical reports check out, he could add some depth to a thinned rotation. And maybe he can be plucked at a decent price. The Rangers had some interest in Garza at the Winter Meetings this offseason, but a deal never materialized. Perhaps Garza is the type of starter the Rangers can get without feeling like they've mortgaged the future or dealt away any of their biggest minor-league prizes.

* The Garza story also notes that the Blue Jays are very interested as well. It could be interesting to see what happens as we get closer to 3 p.m. in regards to Garza. One other important note on Garza: He's under club control through 2013, his final year of arbitration. That has to make him more appealing to the Rangers in that he's not a two-month rental.

* Word broke Monday that Cliff Lee was being shopped by the Phillies and the Rangers, naturally, had some interest. But a source said Monday that it was "very doubtful" a deal could be reached with Texas. The Rangers would need the Phillies to pay for a good chunk of the remaining salary on Lee's contract -- and it's hefty at $25 million for the next three seasons and a $27.5 million club option that vests based on innings pitched (or a $12.5 million buyout). Plus, the Phillies will want a big haul on prospects. At Lee's age and the fact that he's not quite the same pitcher he was when the Rangers got him in 2010, it likely isn't going to happen. But we put in this trade deadline disclaimer: Sometimes prices drop as the deadline gets closer.

* One thing about the Rangers: They will toss many balls in the air and see if they can catch any of them as the deadline approaches. A right-handed bat off the bench wouldn't be a bad thing for this club. The question is whether there's one that's affordable and makes sense.

* What about the unexpected? With this club, it can happen. There may be a name not mentioned on the rumor mill that pops up. And if there's a player that could be a fit being shopped, you can bet the Rangers have at least inquired.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182