Rangers Clobbered In Oakland Opener


On the night of his 2013 debut, Jurickson Profar drove in Texas’s only two runs, a figure nowhere even remotely in the vicinity of what it took to support Josh Lindblom and a depleted Ranger pitching staff on Monday night; the Athletics won 9-2, furthermore shrinking their deficit in the American League West to 5.5 games.

The loss moves the Rangers to 29-16, with Justin Grimm and Yu Darvish rounding out the last of the 7-game home stand.

In his MLB starting pitching debut, Lindblom (0-1) allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings. He walked 2 and forced 4 punch outs.

Ironically, this would have been the ideal night to leverage Derek Lowe in his long relief role, but he was designated for assignment earlier in the day to make room for Lindblom on the 25-man roster. The Rangers’ decision to designate Lowe comes as a mild surprise, for two reasons: (a) The Rangers commited $1.25 million to Lowe before the season started — which didn’t make sense to me — when they could have plugged in virtually any of the upper-level arms to fulfill the same role (while earning the league minimum), and (b) because a pitcher like Joe Ortiz, for example, still has options left. In theory the Rangers could have tucked Ortiz away at Round Rock, thus keeping Derek Lowe on the Major League roster in an attempt to extract some value from his contract.

Instead, they are splitting ties with the veteran right-hander, who, having allowed 13 runs in 13.0 IP in 2013, becomes a sunken $1.25 million cost. Before you wonder why I’m making such a big deal about a million dollars and change, I’m really not;

This isn’t like paying $16 million to watch Michael Young boot ground balls and hit into a double play every other plate appearance. Derek Lowe is a mere footnote pinned side-by-side to Michael Young’s contract.

Reading between the lines, this move also signifies a silent confidence the Rangers have in pitchers like Joe Ortiz, Michael Kirkman, and Cory Burns; it shows the organization believes more in the talent of their respective arms than in whatever veteran presence Derek Lowe brought to the table.

Either way, by August the safe money is on none of the aforementioned pitchers being on the big league roster. With Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz returning from injury at some point along the road, and with the likelihood that Jon Daniels goes out to acquire a high-leverage arm on the trade market, the bullpen will have a completely different complexion by season’s end.

* * *

Lastly, I’d be remiss not to encourage you to keep the victims of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado tragedy in your thoughts. At the current time the death count is at 51, though the rubble is sure to expose dozens more in the coming days.

My good friend Ian, who I co-host the Warning Track Power podcast with, currently lives in Moore; I was incredulous when he gave me the blood-curdling play-by-play after he made it safely into Oklahoma City.

Anyway, hug your loved ones.