The Rangers are off to an 8-16 start this season, and GM Jon Daniels says that while some minor changes could be made this week, the team is “not going to going to wait too much longer before we consider mixing it up further,” writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Daniels didn’t specify what would constitute a more significant shakeup, but Grant speculates on three scenarios: demoting second baseman Rougned Odor, benching a struggling “core” player (i.e. Elvis Andrus) and/or replacing hitting instructor Dave Magadan.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- The Mariners last night announced the demotions of righty Yoervis Medina and lefty Tyler Olson to Triple-A Tacoma, and while no official word has been released on the corresponding roster moves that will follow, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that signs point to Chris Taylor and Joe Beimel joining the club. Taylor was batting Brad Miller for the everyday shortstop role in Spring Training before a fractured wrist sidelined him for four to six weeks. He’s hitting .313/.385/.475 in Triple-A this season and could either serve as a platoon partner for the lefty-swinging Miller or eventually push him for more regular playing time. Beimel inked a Minor League pact in April after unsuccessfully holding out for a more lucrative big league deal this winter. Beimel isn’t on the 40-man roster, so a 40-man move will need to be made, though I’d imagine that could entail simply moving southpaw Edgar Olmos to the 60-day DL, as he’s already been on the 15-day DL since March 30.
- In the latest edition of his 10 Degrees column, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan notes that Angels righty Jered Weaver’s fastball is averaging an alarming 83-84 mph (depending on whether one uses Baseball Info Solutions’ data or Brooks Baseball). Either way, the concern over his fastball is justified, as Passan points out that 120 of the 122 pitchers that throw four-seam fastballs have an average velocity higher than Weaver’s peak velocity of 87.81 mph this year. Weaver is averaging just 3.9 K/9 and has whiffed three or fewer hitters in all but one of his starts this season, en route to a 6.29 ERA. “Reinvention is the only way to save Weaver,” Passan opines, unless he, like righties Mike Pelfrey and Chris Young before him, is experiencing such a precipitous decline due to injury. (Young, like Weaver, never threw particularly hard in the first place and may be a more apt comparison.)
- Struggles in the Athletics’ bullpen have the team pondering roster moves, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. One option is switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, who has performed well at Triple-A since signing a Minor League deal this offseason. However, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and space is tight after claiming Alex Hassan off waivers for a staggering third time in the past several months. Slusser writes that when first baseman Nate Freiman is activated from the DL later this month, the team may try to sneak him through waivers to remove him from the 40-man but keep him in the organization. She also notes that southpaw Drew Pomeranz could be bullpen-bound when Jarrod Parker is activated from the DL and reinserted into the rotation.
- I’ll add a note on the surprising division leaders — the 18-7 Astros. Houston is the only club in the AL West with a record above .500 and, as the Chronicle’s Evan Drellich pointed out (Twitter link), they now rank as probables to make the playoffs looking at both Fangraphs’ and Baseball Prospectus’ postseason odds. However, outside of the excellent work provided by Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel, the team has received a collective 5.05 ERA from Scott Feldman, Sam Deduno, Brad Peacock, Asher Wojciechowski and Roberto Hernandez in the final three spots in the rotation. Given the club’s early lead, Brett Oberholtzer’s health and the struggles of Dan Straily at Triple-A, I’d wonder if the ’Stros would be open to pursuing an early rotation upgrade in an attempt to make their grip on the division more sustainable. Few teams are actively selling pieces this early in the season, but the Brewers are reportedly open to trade proposals, and Houston could look to clubs that have more serviceable arms than slots in the rotation. Given the lack of quality innings at the back of the Astros’ rotation, the team needn’t add an elite arm in order to acquire a significant upgrade. While this is all speculation, history has shown GM Jeff Luhnow to be aggressive on the trade market. Names like Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Dillon Gee have all been floated on the rumor mill lately, and it’s not hard to envision the Rays soon having a surplus of arms once Alex Cobb and, eventually, Matt Moore are healthy. For Astros fans that really want to dream big, the argument could be made that there is in Houston both the need and the means (in terms of prospects and finances) to take on a significant portion of Cole Hamels’ contract, though the asking price could very well exceed Houston’s comfort level.