By Jared Sandler | @SandlerJ
105.3 THE FAN — Earlier this week, Prince Fielder made a rather shocking admission to Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News): “We’re a better team with [Mitch Moreland] out there. He plays great defense.”
This was important to the Texas Rangers for three reasons.
1. Least importantly, the Rangers can now more frequently put out a better defensive lineup with either Mitch Moreland or Adam Rosales at first base without worrying about a disgruntled superstar.
2. The second most important takeaway from this is the growth of Prince Fielder into a true leader in the clubhouse. It is always better when your better players are your leaders. Last year was tough for Fielder and he never truly established any sort of positive clubhouse presence, but that has been anything but the case this year. He’s been a key voice in the Rangers clubhouse, reportedly a part of the team’s “Leadership Council,” and now his actions are also demonstrating, not only the importance of winning, but also support for first-year manager, Jeff Banister.
3. Which brings us to the most important takeaway from this, which is the clubhouse command Jeff Banister possesses. I’ve maintained that this, more so than X’s and O’s, is most important for a manager because without that command, a manager virtually loses the ability to communicate his messages to his players. Prince Fielder isn’t changing his stance on where he plays for any putz. It is a clear sign of respect in the clubhouse and something that sets a strong tone and precedent for Jeff Banister to operate with in the future when subsequent similar situations arise.
Fielder will get credit for his change in stance–and he definitely deserves credit for his pliable disposition–but Jeff Banister deserves credit as well, even if he doesn’t seek it.
All-in-all, this was a big win for the franchise moving forward because everyone knows that an unhappy or unwilling superstar means bad things in the future.
Playing Pepper (Random Rangers thoughts)
*The Rangers might need to more consistently hit Prince Fielder in front of Adrian Beltre if they want to activate his power. Unless Shin-Soo Choo starts adding some real protection, the Rangers will have to survive with one of those guys hitting without armor. They’re both great hitters, but I’d rather compromise some of Beltre’s power potential than Prince’s.
*I’m not quite sure why Rangers fan are so against Adam Rosales. Maybe those who like him don’t step up on social media nearly as much, but isn’t he the type of player fans love? Versatile, scrappy, hustler (he sprints around the bases on home runs), who looks like a regular Joe but is doing what we’d all love to do. It seems like I’m in the heavy minority in my appreciation for what he offers the club.
*It is going to be tough for this team to rattle off winning streaks with their current starting rotation. There just aren’t going to be too many pitching matchups that favor the Rangers on a game-to-game basis, and that’s hard to consistently overcome.
*Then again, this team has baseball’s 2nd lowest batting average (.211).
*With that said, if you’re looking for an offensive bright spot, it has to get better with the sticks because there is too much talent.
*For all of the negativity sent Leonys Martin’s way, he has reached base in the first inning six out of 11 times. More importantly, he looked like a leadoff against the Mariners, going 6-for-13 with a walk.
*Elvis Andrus really has lost a step. During the homestand, he laid down a near-perfect bunt and not only was he thrown out on the play, but it wasn’t that close, relatively speaking. His successful ground ball pursuits also appear to be more limited than in year’s past.
*In my pre-season primer, I identified Adrian Beltre as a concern. He’s on the wrong side of 35 and, even for Hall of Famers like him, it has to go eventually. And when I say “it has to go,” I’m not talking about an extreme where he hits below .240 with little power, but a noticeable decline in his numbers. He has not looked very good at the plate this year and it is something to follow.
*Ross Detwiler…oh my.
*For those who want to see Chi Chi in the rotation, there’s no point to deviate from the Rangers’ development plan for him. Not saying they have to keep Detwiler in the rotation, but they don’t need to knee-jerk Gonzalez in there for him.
Quote of the Week
“Julie, in the seat next to me, yelled out, ‘Let’s go to Benihana!'”
— Rangers scout, Gary McGraw
A part of the scouting process for all organizations involves getting to know the athlete off-the-field just as much as on-the-field. Gary McGraw was struggling to connect with Kela’s mom, Shannon, in his pursuit to learn more about Keone and his family life. According to McGraw, Shannon was reluctant to meet for dinner, instead preferring a much quicker visit over coffee. While on the way to meeting up for coffee, McGraw’s wife, Julie, yelled out her preferred venue, which struck a cord in Shannon’s ear, prompting her to change her mind. The rest was history after the McGraws and the Kelas hit it off over some hibachi.
Stat of the Week: 55.0 IP
The Texas Rangers’ bullpen has been used at least five innings more than any other team in baseball. Keep in mind, the Yankees played a 19-innning game, too! Opposing hitters are batting .257 against Rangers bullpen arms, the second highest batting average against in the league. Among the team’s relief corps, Anthony Bass, who has arguably been the team’s best reliever, leads MLB in innings pitched out of the pen (14.1) — at least three innings more than everyone else.
Stock Up/Stock Down
Here’s a weekly look at performances of Rangers players
UP: Prince Fielder’s hitting
*The Rangers slugging 1B/DH leads the American League in multi-hit games (8) and leads the Major Leagues in singles (17).
DOWN: Prince Fielder’s power
*The Rangers slugging 1B/DH is still searching for his first home run. Though a small sample, Fielder’s .442 SLG would mark his lowest output in his career, not including last year’s injury-shortened campaign. But this might not be a reflection on him as much as it is a reflection on the way he’s getting pitched and his patience and plate discipline.
Rangers Xtra Innings Postgame Show Call of the Week
On Tuesday, Rangers manager Jeff Banister tried to shake things up in the team’s lineup by inserting Rougned Odor in the leadoff spot. The move was temporary, with Banister quick to identify Martin as his leadoff hitter moving forward and that this was just a break. Well, no big deal, right? Except for the fact that a caller called in the night before with the suggestion that Odor become the team’s leadoff hitter…