By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
If not for injuries to veteran starters, the Rangers would've never relied upon refreshing rookie pitchers Harrison and Eric Hurley. Injuries to Hank Blalock (replaced by Ramon Vazquez) and Gerald Laird (Max Ramirez) and the flameout of Broussard (Chris Davis) inadvertently gave young players opportunities and presented fans with a glimpse of an enticing future that doesn't look half bad as the present.
Which brings us to my reality casserole. I hate to spoil a picnic that has seen the Rangers on the cover of Sports Illustrated and engaging in mosh-pit celebrations after game-winning homers, but this team isn't yet a legit contender.
Even with 20 of 26 games at home starting July 28, you'd have to be dopey enough to peer into John Wiley Price's version of a black hole to believe this pitching can hold up. Despite being baseball's best-hitting outfit, the Rangers can't survive into September with a current, crappy pitching staff whose combined ERA soars well above gas prices.
Trotting out starters like Harrison and Hurley and Scott Feldman and Warner Madrigal—who?—and the second coming of Mitch Williams (C.J. Wilson) as the closer, the Rangers would have to keep scoring 10 runs a game to catch the Angels. That's not realistic.
Which is why, like it or not, the Rangers should again be sellers come the July 31 trading deadline. This isn't the year. It's the year before the year.
Daniels should part with veterans such as Bradley, Guardado, Vicente Padilla and Blalock, guys who won't be a part of the pennant-chase proceedings come 2010. After considering Ramirez's clutch hitting and his "Double Play of the Year" against Anaheim in which he survived a violent home-plate collision and recovered to throw out a runner at third, the Rangers should commence an auction on either Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Not that the rest of this season won't be captivating. That Washington still has his job, that the Rangers are above .500 and that this town will be talking baseball into August is remarkable.
Planned or not.