Hamilton Activated

Josh Hamilton has been called up and will be starting in left field today, batting fifth against the Indians. 

To make room on the 25 man roster, Neftali Feliz has been placed on the DL with an abscess under his right arm, retroactive to May 20.  

I like the idea of Nefti hitting the DL, giving him some time to take a "mental break" and to work on some things when he goes on his rehab assignment.  

As far as Josh's mentality, he seems to be giving the right answers in all press conferences and seems to be happy to once again be in a Rangers uniform, but stay tuned to see how this translates to the field. 

Prince Fielder, Resurrected

The Rangers (21-23) might not be gaining much ground on the first-place Astros (29-16), but they've been playing damn good lately. After taking two of three from the Red Sox in Boston, Texas capped off an impressive 5-1 road trip by sweeping the Yankees on Sunday Night. 

Prince Fielder (.358/.412/.551, 166 wRC+) went 3-5 with a double and two runs driven in, as he continues his absolutely gaudy month of May (.368/.429/.655, 7 HRs, 197 wRC+) heading into the game. For almost an entire calendar month, Prince has looked better than I think anyone could have possibly hoped for. (Possible aside: he's actually been really, really good all season.)

Almost a month ago to the day, after seeing the Rangers up close in Anaheim, I wrote:

It's almost like other teams are pitching to Prince Fielder as if he's a single's hitter until he proves he isn't one. Once he starts popping balls over the fence with more regularity, it's a safe bet to assume his walk numbers will start piling a bit more.

That is what I find so fascinating about Fielder's renaissance in 2015. Although his power has began showing some life over the last month (12 extra-base hits), his approach at the plate runs completely counter to his career norms. His 6.3% walk rate is about half his lifetime average (12.8%), and his 11.1% strikeout rate is six percent less than his very respectable career mean (17.1%). We won't know for sure until we see it over the course of an entire season, but Prince has redefined -- or adapted, I guess -- his game to play up in the modern day baseball climate.

Josh Hamilton to Return to Rangers Lineup vs Indians on Monday

A baseball player needs a baseball town.

An addict seeks refuge in a football state. 

There are two ways to look at the Rangers’ reacquisition of Josh Hamilton and they cannot be more polar opposite.

To one side, Hamilton represents hope filled memories of the glory days of 2010-2011, desiring the culmination of Josh Hamilton’s Disney-esque story of redemption to take place in a Rangers uniform.

On the other side, there is a collection of fans that still feel burned by someone who they put so much trust in, with Hamilton’s remarks on his way out of town providing the fan base with the lingering feeling of deserted ex-wife.

The emotions elicited by Josh Hamilton differ from that of any other professional athlete.  As a collective, Rangers fans have spent the last five years going from the elated joy of a heroic success story to the painful scorn of a coward’s departure.  One man has received both the loudest cheers and the most boisterous boos within the Ballpark.

The divide amongst fans was clear when Hamilton returned as an Angel.  While the boos were the loudest reaction to seeing him step to the batter’s box, a large portion of Rangers faithful chose to applaud him for all he gave the franchise before he left, while a larger portion decided to just act like he was just any other player, refusing to react in any manner as he received at bats (which, knowing Josh, might have been the most difficult reaction for him to handle).

Now things have changed.  Josh is back. 

What on earth do we do now?  How does the fan base react?

Josh Hamilton needs a baseball town.

The best answer to his previous criticism is to show him that is exactly what Arlington, Texas is.

Was Josh Hamilton out of line when he spoke poorly about the Rangers fan base?  100%.  However, he was not that far off when saying the traditional focus of the area has been on the Cowboys.  For years on end I have watched the Rangers play in front of small crowds, but the loyalty of Rangers fans was proven through their support despite years of horrible teams and no real chance at making the playoffs.

Here we are again.

The 2015 Rangers are not a championship team.  As a collective, Rangers fans got a taste of what great baseball looks like and the joy that a playoff appearance can provide.  For the moment, that is gone.  What we have now is a collection of veterans trying to find their legacy (Beltre, Fielder), underachieving players trying to prove their worth (Choo, Andrus), journeymen trying to stick in the bigs (Rosales, Peguero, Blanks), and youth trying to play themselves into an eventual big contract (Martin, Odor, Martinez).  We also have those trying to recover from injury (Profar, Holland, Darvish, too many others) and a boatload of youth waiting in the wings (Gallo, Alfaro, Mazara, Gonzalez).

This is not the Rangers roster from 2010.

But you know what?  That’s ok.

This is a baseball town and better days are in the near future.

Josh Hamilton hurt my feelings when he left.  The things he said, the fact that he went to the arch nemesis; all of it lead to a strong feeling of disappointment.

Josh said and did some idiotic things.  We had a right to be upset.

But it’s time to move past that.  It’s time to forgive and give the man a 6th or 7th second chance. 

The prodigal son is back and as a fanbase, we should embrace it.

He’s our idiot once again. 

Rangers have another big inning in New York

Following last night's 10-9 win over the Yankees which included a 7-run third inning, the Rangers just put up a 10 spot in today's third inning.  

The bats have come alive.  (The bullpen is still a completely different story)

There are a few small things that have really caught my eye so far in this series:

Choo and Fielder are still absolutely crushing the ball.  This month they look like the two players we were expecting last season.   The sound of the ball coming off of Fielder's bat is suddenly different, he has 3 HR so far in the last two days.

DeShields is hitting leadoff and I love it.  He has been an OBP machine and his legs are more of a weapon that Martin's, which is saying something.  When Hamilton comes up next week, the Rangers have got to find a way to keep him in the lineup (I wish Wash was available as a consultant to get him some work at 2B).  DeShields and Blanks (although just placed on the 15-day DL) have both done incredible work since being called up, and I hope to see them stick with the big club.

Andrus has simplified his approach at the plate and is suddenly driving the ball the other way.  He has 4 hits in two games.  Let's hope this focus at the plate carries over to the field. 

It's impossible to not like Adam Rosales.  Seriously, just look at the grin on his face every time he touches the field.  You've got to be in that guys corner. 

The Rangers currently have 15 runs on the board today and do you know how many outs they gave away via the sac bunt?  That's right, zero.  Don't give away your big innings, Banister.

The table is hot. 

Role Play

Some people just fit better in certain roles.

The lack of official roles in the bullpen has been the talk around the Rangers over the last few days, with Neftali Feliz losing his grip on the role as the closer and Shawn Tolleson picking up the save in last night’s 2-1 win over Boston.  Right now, there is not a single “lights out” reliever in the bullpen, so there is no reason to go with anything other than situational relief.

As the Rangers relievers struggle to find their identity and hope step into a role with which they are comfortable, the former Rangers skipper is doing just that. 

Ron Washington has accepted a position to return to the Oakland Athletics as a Major League coach, giving him an opportunity to work with a struggling defense. 

This is where Ron Washington excels.

Wash knows how to motivate and is a wizard when it comes to teaching the game; his experience, his patience, and his ability to communicate to young players is absolutely top notch.  His downfall came with in-game decision making and a few errant off-field decisions. 

I am happy to see Ron Washington get a second chance (although I do wish it was not with the A’s).  I think he will thrive once again being given the opportunity to work through drills and mentor young players, like he did with Elvis and Holland during his time in Texas, without the pressure of managing games. 

Good luck, Wash.  I hope you have righted the ship and are the best position to return to the game you love.