When the Texas Rangers return Friday from the All-Star break, the man who could have transformed their season will be in Arlington … in a Baltimore Orioles uniform.
Chris Davis, native Texan and former Ranger, arrives as baseball’s home run leader with 37 and second in RBIs with 93. How do you like me now, Rangers fans?
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One glance comparing the 2012 and 2013 Texas Rangers at the break shows the difference is all in the offense. (MLB ranks in parentheses):
2012; Category; 2013
52-34 (2nd); Record; 54-41 (6th)
5.2 (1st); Scoring; 4.3 (13th)
.280 (1st); Batting avg.; .260 (10th)
.449 (2nd); Slugging; .418 (7th)
4.2 (13th); Runs allowed; 4.1 (10th)
3.72 (8th); ERA; 3.74 (9th)
.985 (8th); Fielding; .985 (18th)
The Rangers come out of the blocks with 10 games against contenders — the Orioles, Yankees and Indians. A look at the most interesting series the rest of the way:
July 19-21 vs. Baltimore: MLB home-run leader Chris Davis return to his old stomping grounds, playing for the Orioles. Baltimore leads the majors in home runs and slugging percentage.
Aug. 2-4 at Oakland: The first-place Athletics are still thriving on their pitching, with an American League-best 3.62 ERA. Forty-year-old Bartolo Colon (12-3, 2.70) has joined the talented kids on this staff.
Sept. 2-4 at Oakland: This is the Rangers’ last trip to face their Bay Area nemesis, where they endured a nightmarish finish to the 2012 regular season. Home Run Derby champ Yoenis Cespedes could be carrying the A’s offense by then.
Sept. 9-11 vs. Pittsburgh: Back in April, who could have imagined this would be a difficult series? But the surprising Pirates have the No. 1 ERA in the majors and the second-best record in the big leagues.
Sept. 13-15 vs. Oakland: The Rangers’ last home shot at the A’s. By then they might have traded for a second strong starting pitcher to join Yu Darvish. But will they have improved the offense?
Sept. 26-29 vs. L.A. Angels: The Angels have fallen flat on their faces, but Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson would like nothing better than to wreck the Rangers’ hopes in the four-game, season-ender.
The Rangers remain bent on finally winning a World Series. To that end, they are likely to pursue a strong starting pitcher and a right-handed hitting outfielder. Here are some possibilities:
P Matt Garza (Cubs): A free agent after the season, Garza is on a rolle, going 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last five starts. Plus, he has a history of pitching well in Arlington when he was with Tampa Bay. The Rangers reportedly aren’t willing to part with Jurickson Profar or Martin Perez for a rental.
P Cliff Lee (Phillies): There’s probably too many bad vibes from Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies in 2011, but the lefty (10-3, 2.86) would be exactly what the Rangers need. Wouldn’t that be an interesting 360?
P Jake Peavy (White Sox): If the rehabbing Peavy (rib fracture) can prove he’s healthy, he’d look pretty good in Arlington. His 2014 contract is for $14.5 million. The White Sox would want a prospect package headlined by third basemen Mike Olt or Joey Gallo.
OF Alfonso Soriano (Cubs): The streaky former Ranger is heating up, as always, this summer. He’s got 16 homers and 49 RBIs, and the Cubs are looking to deal.
OF Michael Cuddyer (Rockies): Colorado only will deal the All-Star (16 HR, 55 RBIs, .330 BA) if it is overwhelmed, but Texas has the ammo. Jurickson Profar could play next to Troy Tulowitzki in the infield.
OF Alex Rios (White Sox): Interest is cooling in Rios (11 HR, 40 RBIs, .270), who’s been in a prolonged slump and has a $13 million contract for 2014. But he wouldn’t cost all that much in terms of prospects.
Round Rock (54-44, two games out of first) returns Thursday night from the Triple-A All-Star break to start a four-game series with the Iowa Cubs (48-50) at Dell Diamond. Game time is 7:05.