Well, despite making this point back in Spring Training, I welcome other media to this side of the tracks…
Cowlishaw wants to trade Teixeira …
Even with Tuesday's win at Oakland, the Rangers need to win the next two just to hit the season's one-third pole on a pace for 99 losses. We have seen some bad teams pass through Arlington, but the Rangers haven't lost that many games since 1985, the year Bobby Valentine replaced Doug Rader as manager after 32 games.
There won't be any firing of Ron Washington 50-odd games into his managerial career, but let's at least dispense with the notion that this team has any hope for the next four months.
It's time for Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels to submit to a full-fledged rebuilding program. And that has to start with a trade of Mark Teixeira.
It doesn't matter that from June through September, Teixeira would be the Rangers' best offensive weapon. What would his hot late summer bat do? Get them down to 95 losses?
Teixeira will be a free agent after the 2008 season. He has never sounded as if he would commit to the Rangers long term if the team was doing less than winning division titles.
When I asked him what he would say to a trade Tuesday, Teixeira replied, "I have no control over those sorts of things. My job is to play as hard as I can and help the Rangers win. If I am traded, I will deal with it and make the best of it."
In other words: Get me out of town now!
OK, those are my words, not his, but look at it this way. Teixeira, being a high pick and a Scott Boras client, made millions straight out of college. He's making millions now. He's going to make lots of millions in the future.
He has been to All-Star games, has won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards.
The thing that's missing from his career is playing in meaningful games.
This team has competed once since he has been here and that was in 2004 when the Rangers finished three games out of first.
Teixeira wants to win. This team isn't going to.
Give him a fresh start and get prospects in here that can make this team competitive in two years.
And then here are the proposed deals thrown out by Grant and Cowlishaw. Incidentally, these packages seem very generous. If the Rangers can get any of these three, I would do it this morning. Especially Detroit. Maybin and Miller are at the very top of the pile of baseball prospects.
Who could the Rangers get for Mark Teixeira? Tim Cowlishaw offers up a few teams who could be willing to trade prospects:
Boston Red Sox
LHP JON LESTER, 23, majors (on 15-day DL): 7-2, 4.76 ERA in 15 career big league starts
OF JACOBY ELLSBURY, 23, Triple-A Pawtucket: Boston's No. 1 prospect hitting .284, solid defensively
OF BRANDON MOSS, 23, Triple-A Pawtucket: Nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 47 games
Los Angeles Dodgers
1B JAMES LONEY, 23, Triple-A Las Vegas: Houston native has 14 doubles and 31 RBIS in 48 games
RHP CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 22, majors: 3-0 with a 4.00 ERA in 18 appearances this season
SS PRESTON MATTINGLY, 19, Class A Great Lakes: Son of Don Mattingly picked 31st overall in '06 draft
LHP ANDREW MILLER, 22, Double-A Erie: Has 12 strikeouts, 0.56 ERA in 16 innings since call-up
OF BRENT CLEVLEN, 23, Triple-A Toledo: Austin native was Florida State League MVP in 2005
OF CAMERON MAYBIN, 20, Class A Lakeland: .430 on-base percentage, 35 runs scored in 46 games
Evan Grant’s summer game plan …
One bat or arm is not going to make a difference. That said, you don't have to tear down the entire club and start from scratch. If the Rangers are smart, they'll take my little checklist here and spend the last four months of the season addressing the items on it.
Here they are:
1. Trade Mark Teixeira. You don't need to waste your time on me. Go read Tim Cowlishaw's column. It lays out all the reasons why the Rangers must trade Teixeira, even if I don't agree that a rebuilding plan must be a complete overhaul. Teixeira can bring pieces. This Rangers team needs pieces.
2. Play Jason Botts. Every day. Get him up here in the next two weeks, so he'll have a good 100 games and 400-plus continual plate appearances to allow the Rangers to really get a feel for if this guy can play in the majors. The club has missed on its own players a number of times over these dreadful eight seasons, and many of those misses can be attributed to the organization not getting enough of a look at a guy at the major league level. Remember Travis Hafner? Craig Monroe?
3. Pitch Brandon McCarthy and Robinson Tejeda every fifth day. Doesn't matter how ugly or bad the numbers are. These guys need 30-start seasons to lay a foundation for success. Don't care if they lose 18 games apiece. If they are worth keeping around, they'll learn from the experience and it will make them significantly better for 2008. If they aren't, well, at least you will have found out in an environment that doesn't scuttle real hopes.
4. Pitch Eric Hurley. At Double-A. Do not rush Hurley to the majors this year. He has dominated Double-A for about half a season. If he keeps it up for another five or 10 starts (until late June, early July), then move him to Oklahoma if you wish. Give him every chance to put together a season in which the numbers look sexy and he can generate some, for lack of a better term, mystique. Ranger pitchers need confidence. Exposing them to the big leagues before they are fully ready to pitch at that level destroys that confidence. See Juan Dominguez and Edinson Volquez. Hurley can come to camp next year as a legitimate contender for the rotation without a handful of major league starts.
These are the basics. Obviously, there is a lot more to be done, like trading veterans such as Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Eric Gagne and perhaps Akinori Otsuka (he may have the most value of the foursome).
What's done is done this year. They have been afforded a rare chance to make real progress towards solving something for 2008.
It's up to them to take it.
And, the Rangers win …
Rangers pitcher Mike Wood will go back to Triple A Oklahoma today, but at least he’ll go back happy.
After Wood battled through five shutout innings in the Rangers’ 4-0 victory over the Athletics, he has every reason to return to the minor leagues with a smile on his face, knowing he did exactly what the major-league club asked of him.
“He did what he normally does,” manager Ron Washington said of Wood, who filled in for the injured Kevin Millwood on Tuesday. “If his stuff is around the plate, he’s going to get ground balls and he’s going to get outs.”
In the first inning, Wood looked like he wouldn’t last long because his stuff wasn’t close to the plate. Like so many Rangers starters have this season, Wood struggled with his control. He walked three consecutive batters to load the bases with two outs, but regained his composure and got a groundout.
“I came out of the chute overthrowing a little bit, I got a little excited, and when I backed off a little it starting sinking too low,” Wood said. “I couldn’t make an adjustment. It was a weird inning. When I got that last out, I came out the next inning, I had to raise my eye level and stuff started working a lot better.”
Wood went on to walk two more hitters, but one was intentional. The bases on balls inflated his pitch count — he threw 95 pitches and only 48 strikes — and ended Wood’s night after only five innings, but they didn’t detract from an excellent start.
Wood struck out three and allowed five hits for his first victory as a Ranger — and the team’s first win in the past seven games. The Rangers earned their third shutout of the season; two have come against the A’s.
“When he seemed to get in some type of trouble,” Washington said of Wood, “he and [catcher] Gerald [Laird] found a way to make the pitches.
Wood, a onetime Athletics pitcher, has a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings at McAfee Coliseum.
The Rangers did their part to help Wood on offense and defense. A fine sliding catch by left fielder Nelson Cruz, on a looping, sinking Shannon Stewart line drive, ended the fourth inning and left two Oakland runners stranded.
Texas also turned three double plays to support Wood and relievers C.J. Wilson, Joaquin Benoit and Eric Gagné, who earned his third save when Michael Young made a stellar play on a ground ball to start a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, John Danks struggles in Minnesota …
Left-handed rookie John Danks' lack of control compounded the pitching woes and Danks was pulled after 3 1/3 innings.
"The only way to describe it is that I just stunk," Danks said inside a quiet clubhouse. "What can you do? You have to move on to the next game."
It marked the shortest outing for a Sox starting pitcher since Mark Buehrle lasted only one inning April 5 after he was hit by a line drive.
But Danks was just the start of the pitching problems.
Reliever Nick Masset gave up three runs after retiring the first two batters in the fifth.
Included was a double steal by the Twins that didn't draw a throw from catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Opponents have scored 15 of their last 21 runs against the Sox after two outs. The bullpen has allowed 45 earned runs in its last 45 1/3 innings.
The offense continued to minimize their opportunities. The Sox loaded the bases with one out in the first but managed only one run, on Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly.
The Sox put only one more runner in scoring position until the seventh, when they scored another run on a bases-loaded walk to Jermaine Dye, whose hitting streak ended at 14 games.
That rally, however, fizzled when reliever Pat Neshek induced Konerko to hit a feeble grounder to the right side of the mound for the final out.
Konerko did make a diving catch at first base to rob Morneau of a hit, but that was the only time the Sox contained the 2006 AL Most Valuable Player.
Morneau ignited a four-run rally in the second by launching a two-run home run off Danks that struck a scoreboard panel just below the upper deck and traveled an estimated 428 feet. Morneau hit a pair of doubles in his next two at-bats to cap a four-RBI performance.
Danks has allowed 10 home runs in 51 innings, and his four walks were a season-high. It was his shortest outing since lasting 4 2/3 innings in Detroit on April 20.
Bron, Bron! Cavaliers tie the series at 2-2 …
The fourth quarter, when LeBron James had been deemed wanting, was when he went to the place where only the great ones go Tuesday night.
The fourth quarter, the incubator for legends in the playoffs, had been when things went wrong in Michigan in the first two games of the battle with Detroit for Eastern supremacy and went right at The Q in the third game, when the Cavaliers got back in the series.
They got even Tuesday night in the fourth game, beating Detroit, 91-87, when James scored 13 of his 25 points in the final period. The Cavs wasted a 12-point lead in the first half, fell behind as late as 77-74, then rallied because James elevated his game to a state of all-around excellence most players only dream about.
"I said to my teammates, 'Just get me to the fourth quarter,' " said James, who was scoreless in the third quarter and missed all of his six shots.
It sounds somewhat like former Clemson coach Tates Locke saying, "Just get me to the last 2 minutes, and I'll outcoach this guy."
But in the last 12, James did outplay everyone.
He drove through the defense in the fourth quarter, hitting a driving layup on which he beat both of Detroit's erasers, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace, absorbing the hit from Wallace (which knocked off his headband) and then sank the foul shot.
James once said to have his headband ripped off was like Superman losing his cape. But he has no super powers, just a narrow focus he has sometimes lacked on his way to global icon status, a work ethic reflected in his new, long pregame workouts, and a sense his time is coming the way gossip runs through a small town - in a hurry.
James also had a cold-hearted, step-back 2-pointer as Prince clawed at him, and he set up his teammates because everyone on the other team watches LeBron then.
Along with the suddenly invaluable Daniel Gibson, who chipped in 21 points, James got the Cavs, gasping and frazzled, to the wire.
So, which Longhorn PG would you invest in?
I might buy Gibson stock.
True Hoops Game Notes for Cavs-Pistons …
Game 2 in the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight. And the LA Times tells the Dany Heatley story …
Traded to Ottawa in 2005, Heatley has enjoyed back-to-back 50-goal seasons and is a fixture with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson on one of the NHL's most dazzling and productive lines. Although they played poorly in the Senators' 3-2 loss to the Ducks on Monday, they will get a chance to correct their mistakes tonight.
But there's one mistake for which Heatley can never atone, the one that divides his life into Before and After.
Dan Snyder, a center who wasn't drafted by an NHL team but won a job because of his tireless grit, was a passenger in Heatley's Ferrari after a team function one night in Atlanta, where both played for the Thrashers. Investigators determined Heatley was driving from 63 to 81 mph in a 35 mph zone when he lost control of the car and it crashed into a brick pillar and iron fence, shearing in half and throwing both men out of the vehicle.
A supremely skilled winger and potential franchise player, Heatley broke his jaw and seriously injured his knee. Snyder, 25, suffered brain trauma and died after six days in a coma.
Heatley, who had consumed some alcohol but had a blood-alcohol level well below Georgia's legal limit of .08%, did not go to jail. That was largely because Graham Snyder and his oldest son, Jake, testified on Heatley's behalf at his hearing.
It was bad enough, they said, that Dan lost his life. It would only compound the tragedy if Heatley were to lose his life and livelihood too.
A remorseful Heatley pleaded guilty to four charges and the only felony charge against him was dropped. The judge gave weight to the Snyders' forgiveness and sentenced Heatley to three years' probation, limited his driving to work- or medical-related matters and ordered him to deliver 150 speeches about the dangers of speeding.
Graham Snyder said his family wholeheartedly forgives Heatley but clearly, it's not always easy. Especially during the playoffs. Dan played on championship teams in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League and it jolts his family anew each spring that he was robbed of the chance to play for an NHL title, too.
"It's not that you don't have your moments," Graham Snyder said. "It's not all positive moments that have come out of it, but we've tried to take as many positives as we could.
Tom Green plays soccer bully