BOHLS: Rangers could use a bat
Continued from C1 Texas needs to one-up the Angels once more because both could use another stick in their lineup, even with the Rangers comfortably ahead by seven games in the standings after a 6-4 win Sunday night.
The Rangers could use a bat to replace the struggling Chris Davis at first and perhaps give the aging Vladimir Guerrero some rest at designated hitter during this second half. But general manager Jon Daniels playfully denied the club had three scouts in Baltimore on Friday night to check out the Orioles’ expensive first baseman Ty Wigginton. Two, maybe.
Texas would be more likely to go after the more economical Wes Helms for less than $1 million, or a veteran spare part like Mike Lowell, as some have suggested. That said, Texas has to get the approval of president Nolan Ryan, potential owner Chuck Greenberg, bankruptcy judge Michael Lynn, major league baseball and, I think, the mayor of Frisco to work another deal. Former President George W. Bush sat in the front row Sunday night and stayed till the last pitch, but I don’t think he has a vote in this.
When Daniels said the club remains in “the same spot as we’ve been in,” I asked if that meant he didn’t feel hamstrung to make a deal. Replied Daniels, “I didn’t say that.”
So, all bets are off. Anything and everything are in play.
The Angels did land an infielder with some pop in Kansas City’s Alberto Callaspo, but still doesn’t have an offensive answer for the irreplaceable Kendry Morales.
For now, the front-running Yankees in the AL East are the least of these two teams’ worries, but they have to be frustrating the pinstripers, who were interested in both Lee and Haren.
Texas has, if not bigger fish, then earlier fish to fry. The Angels can’t be discounted with two months to go.
“We’ll continue to survey the market,” Daniels said. “If there’s something out there that helps us, we’ll move on it, but that’s the same as it was yesterday. I’m not going to handicap anything. We’ve got some guys coming back that could help us.”
He’s right. Texas is waiting on catcher Matt Treanor to get well, and for both Rich Harden and Derek Holland to mend and take a rotation spot away from the scuffling Scott Feldman, the biggest disappointment in an otherwise spectacular season.
Harden was expected to be Texas’ ace — or no worse than their No. 2 starting pitcher — in April, until another setback in his chronically injured career. He will make his fourth rehab outing at Triple-A Oklahoma City today and could join the big club and throw against these Angels on Saturday.
If he doesn’t return to form — actually, he hasn’t been in form all year — the Rangers’ front office will wait for Holland in mid to late August, after his shoulder inflammation subsides and his sprained knee heals.
The Angels’ move to acquire Haren caught no one in Arlington by surprise. After all, Daniels said, they’ve been the class of the division for quite some time.
He wouldn’t say whether Texas had sought Haren but did insist that Lee had topped his club’s wish list.
In his first three starts with the Rangers, Lee has “done just what you’d hoped for. He gives us a chance to win, saves the bullpen and provided a real energy for our fan base, our club, and set the tone for some of our other pitchers, as well.”
He’s done more than that. As team leader Michael Young said: “He’s been incredible. For one, we get a great pitcher every fifth day, and you’ll see a trickle-down effect for the rest of the staff. He’ll challenge the rest of the staff.”
He probably already has. Undefeated Tommy Hunter won for the eighth time this year Sunday and retired 12 straight at one point, to help give Texas three wins in this four-game series. C.J. Wilson has followed Lee’s last two starts and has come close to matching Lee’s performances.
While most managers would prefer not to use two lefties back to back, Ron Washington would prefer that issue over Los Angeles Manager Mike Scioscia’s dilemma. The Angels traded Joe Saunders to get Haren and won’t have a left-hander in their rotation until Scott Kazmir comes off the disabled list.
At this rate, it doesn’t figure to be a horse race to the finish line. In fact, the Angels may be hard-pressed to keep the Rangers within sight, even though Los Angeles has a much better record against the rugged AL East and potential playoff opponents New York, Tampa Bay and Boston at 10-11 than do the Rangers at 9-16.
So more help would be nice, especially considering Texas has never won a playoff series.
The Rangers and Angels both seriously bolstered their chances by landing pitchers who potentially could top their rotations. But Texas has the clear edge, bringing in Cliff Lee in his prime. He’s as good as any Rangers pitcher ever, from Ryan to Fergie Jenkins to Gaylord Perry to Kevin Brown. Haren’s as good as they come right now, but the 29-year-old right-hander has been in the doldrums all season for the Diamondbacks.
He’s averaged 15 wins in each of the last five seasons but has allowed more hits than any other pitcher in the National League this season. The Angels are wisely betting that Haren will get an extra jolt of adrenaline by exiting a 37-62 Arizona club in favor of a pennant race.
Maybe Haren and Lee will cancel each other out and leave the two pennant contenders in exactly the same position as before: With Texas comfortably in the lead.