The All-Star break is a good thing for the players, but it’s not for me. As a general rule, I don’t really watch the All-Star game, and certainly not the Home Run Derby. the game is usually on, simply because there’s nothing else on tv at this time of year, but my attention is usually elsewhere. If I happen to know that a Ranger is about to hit, or pitch (yeah, when was the last time the Rangers had a pitcher in the All-Star game?), then I’ll watch, but otherwise not. So really what it ends up is being a few days without baseball, and I begin to get antsy on Wednesday, needing my fix to keep going. This year it’s even worse, as the Rangers have an extra day off before going to Anaheim on Thursday. It’s not like the off-season, because at that point you know the season is over and there’s a few months without baseball. In this case, it’s the middle of the season, you’ve watched almost every day for three months, and you want it to not stop. The bad part is also that there are no other sports going on anywhere. I think I read once that the Wednesday after the All-Star game is the only day of the year when there is not a major professional sport playing that day. Even Arsenal are on their summer holidays, and although some transfer news trickles through over there, it’s still just hot stove time for them (hmm, should you call it hot stove when it’s the middle of the summer?). So the next few days are kind of blah days, where I might try and catch up on some of those things that get put off from April to September because there’s a ballgame to watch.
One of the things I am going to do over the next couple of days are take a look at Kam Loe and Kevin Millwood. After pitching horribly for so long, they’ve both turned it around recently (Loe much better than Millwood of course), and I’d like to look at the Gameday stuff and see if there is anything there to pinpoint what they might have changed. Unfortunately for both of them, their starts since turning good have mostly been out of town, in non-Enhanced Gameday ballparks, so there’s no data to look at. But what I think I will do is look at their two home starts each in those five games, and compare them to the two prior EG starts, and see what is what, if there is anything to see. I know Loe had mentioned that he had raised his arm angle, and that had helped, and of course Millwood had spent a lot of time on the DL, so we shall see what we can find.
The other thing is to take a look at the Angels games from last week, and see if we can find anything interesting there, in terms of the batter-pitcher matchups. I want to look at it this week, because at the end of the week the Rangers go to Anaheim, and it would be neat to be able to have some data on hand to compare to what is happening in the games. In particular, I was randomly perusing a couple of the starts from last week, and started breaking down what the Rangers pitchers were throwing to the Anaheim batters. There were definite signs of scouting reports showing up in the data, where for example one batter was getting all fastballs and another batter was getting all breaking balls. I’d love to be able to sit down and watch the games next week with that data in hand, knowing that batter X is coming up so all he will get is fastballs, listening to what the commentators might say and seeing what actually happens. Hopefully I’ll get that done in the next day or two, for both the Rangers and Anaheim batters.
Reportedly Tex told the Rangers that he didn’t want to go on a rehab assignment, and eventually relented to just one game in Frisco on Wednesday, and he will fly with the team to Anaheim and be activated on Friday before the game. I said just a couple of days ago that I was resigning myself to losing him, and every word about him now just emphasizes that thought. Doing what he wants, not what management wants, is a big sign. Will he be traded by the end of the month? I don’t know about that now, after the injury. I think he certainly lost a little value that a couple of weeks of hitting will not bring back. The Rangers website pointed out today that he is a notoriously slow starter in April, and after over a month off he is almost starting the season again. If he starts slowly and doesn’t hit much for the next few weeks, his trade value will drop even further, and the Rangers may as well hold on to him until the end of the year, when he ought to have proven himself again.
Finally, with a couple of days to think about it, what are the Rangers going to do for the second half? Are any trades going to happen? Will Jason Botts ever get brought up (he was the Rangers minor league player of the month for June, by the way)? Will we come storming back to win the division, or stumble and bumble our way to about a 70-92 record (actually to reach that we’ll have to improve a little). And spare a thought for the Phillies, currently sitting at 9,999 losses all-time, about to become the first franchise to lose 10,000. For what it’s worth, after today’s win, the Rangers are 3,454-3,939 all-time (including the Washington years), for a winning percentage of .467. Their next milestone will be 3,500 wins or 4,000 losses, but it’s unlikely to be this year, unless they can go 46-28 in the second half, and even if they manage that they’ll still be about five games out of the wildcard.