Texas Rangers

Colon pitching, Calhoun sitting in September not biggest Rangers dilemmas

Mike Minor improved to 11-7 and solidified his front-runner status to be the Rangers’ Opening Day starter in 2019.
Mike Minor improved to 11-7 and solidified his front-runner status to be the Rangers’ Opening Day starter in 2019. The Associated Press

Anyone out there who thought that the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was tough to watch, try listening to it on the radio.

Rangers Reaction was way, way, way too early for Orangetheory on Tuesday morning, so listening to the hearing became a way to pass the time in the parking lot.

It sounded like a catastrophe, but there was much to be learned.

The Democrats sure can follow a script. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris are gearing up for 2020 presidential runs. Richard Blumenthal likes to hear himself speak. Chuck Grassley could use a drink. Ted Cruz and all of the Republican senators spoke like they already know the final score.

They do. Kavanaugh, a big baseball fan, will be confirmed. What happened Tuesday and will happen the next couple days is just a show to sway voters in November and in 2020.

Don’t read too much into that. Rangers Reaction is calling things down the middle, which is the least crowded political ground these days.

It’s not even as crowded as the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse these days.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-2 victory over Los Angeles Angels.

1. Bartolo Colon was announced as the Rangers’ starter for Wednesday, and that sparked a question on Twitter: Why is the 45-year-old starting when the starts could go to a younger pitcher who has a chance to be part of the Rangers’ future?

It’s a reasonable question. Colon won’t be part of the 2019 Rangers even though they will need starters. As of this moment, only Mike Minor has a rotation spot secured for next season.

Please note the word secured. It’s not a guaranteed spot because he has pitched well enough and has such a friendly contract that it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Rangers trade him in the off-season.

But the reason Colon is starting is simple: The Rangers aren’t exactly teeming with young starters who deserve a look. That’s the bigger issue.

The front office determined that Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernandez and Joe Palumbo don’t need to pitch any more this season, though Palumbo will throw some in the low-pressure instructional league.

Adrian Sampson, recalled Tuesday from Triple A Round Rock, might get a start in Colon’s spot later in the month, but he pitched six innings Saturday and isn’t ready to start Wednesday.

Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado are already getting starts, and they will pitch this weekend at Oakland. Manager Jeff Banister said that he could use an opener for both, or one, or neither.

Banister implemented The Opener on Monday as Jeffrey Springs pitched ahead of Juardo.

So, Colon is starting out of necessity. Maybe it will be his final start. Maybe it won’t. But for those looking for young starters to evaluate, there aren’t many to take a look take a look at this month who aren’t already in the rotation.

2. Willie Calhoun was also back with the Rangers after the end of the Round Rock season, and the outfielder was on the bench while Shin-Soo Choo served as the designated hitter and Joey Gallo was the left fielder.

And thus started a dilemma the Rangers will have to solve in the off-season.

They have four left-handed-hitting corner outfielders on their roster. Choo isn’t going to be benched this month for Calhoun, not with the season he’s having and the money he’s making and the respect his teammates have for him.

Maybe Gallo gets a few days off, though the Rangers need to give him a chance to finish the season on a high note. The same goes for Nomar Mazara, who is the Rangers’ hottest hitter right now and also needs at-bats after missing a month with a sprained thumb.

They can all sit after Sept. 30, when the season mercifully comes to an end. At that point, it’s up to the front office to take care of the glut.

Choo would be the front-runner to be dealt. Though his contract will have only two years remaining, they are two years at $21 million a pop.

General manager Jon Daniels will have to decide the value of having an open roster spot for a young outfield for the next two seasons. Is it worth eating half of Choo’s remaining contract? At that point, how good of a package would the Rangers receive in return?

But even a trade of Choo wouldn’t automatically result in playing time for Calhoun if Adrian Beltre returns for one final season. Beltre would split time between third base and DH, meaning the Rangers would have to find a spot for Jurickson Profar when Beltre is at third.

Here’s something else to consider: Choo is really good player and a veteran who has impacted many of his teammates, namely Rougned Odor. If Beltre retires, the Rangers might want to keep Choo around to go with Elvis Andrus as a team leader.

That’s if Andrus doesn’t opt out of his contract.

It’s a dilemma, isn’t it?

3. Minor was good again Tuesday night, allowing two runs in five-plus innings. The leash remains tightly around his neck.

But, as was predicted by Rangers Reaction last week, he’s the front-runner to be the Opening Day starter based solely on what the Rangers have now and without knowing any off-season moves.

Much has changed since the last time this space was used to predict the 2019 rotation, namely that Martin Perez doesn’t appear likely to be back next season and if he is it will be as a reliever.

Mendez also took a big step forward Sunday.

So, let’s try this new-and-improved prediction: Minor, Edinson Volquez, Jurado, Mendez, Eddie Butler.

The thought on Butler, who hasn’t been all that good in long relief, is that the Rangers didn’t just acquire him in the Cole Hamels trade to be a long reliever in 2019. Maybe he gets moved to another team in the off-season, moved off the roster or finds a team in Japan that wants him.

If not, he’s going to get a chance to start in spring training.

Hamels, by the way, was the Rangers nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award even though he no longer plays for them. The Clemente Award goes to the MLB player who performs on the field and in the community, and Hamels has a heck of a chance to win it this year.

He’s also pitching so well since the trade that it might be difficult for the Cubs to turn down his $20 million club option and make him a free agent. That would eliminate him as an off-season target for the Rangers, but save them from paying the $6 million buyout.

Maybe they could use that money to help pay down the portion of Choo’s contract they’d have to eat in a trade.

This off-season has the potential to be pretty interesting.

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