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Rangers Series Preview: Q&A with Adam J Morris of Lone Star Ball

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With the A's and Rangers squaring off for three games, I asked Adam J Morris of Lone Star Ball a few questions about his favorite team. Here's what he had to say!

He's baaaaack.
He's baaaaack.
Ed Zurga

The Oakland Athletics exorcised a couple of enormous demons last weekend -- they beat Felix Hernandez for the first time in 2014, and Brandon Moss homered for the first time since July 24. After teetering on the brink of full-on collapse, the A's won the series in Seattle and retained their spot atop the Wild Card standings, one game ahead of the Kansas City Royals and three games ahead of the Mariners. Now they return to Oakland for their final homestand of the regular season.

These are the expected pitching matchups for the series:

Tue: Scott Kazmir vs. Nick Tepesch
Wed: Jeff Samardzija vs. Derek Holland
Thu: Sonny Gray vs. Nick Martinez

So here's the thing about the Rangers. We've seen some weak opponents come through lately and have their way with the A's. The Astros played tough and won some contests, and the White Sox took three out of four. But Texas is on another level of bad. In a world that includes the Astros and the Cubs and the Rockies, the Rangers have the worst record in MLB at 57-92 (.383). Although they just swept the struggling Atlanta Braves in three games, they lost 11 of 12 heading into that series. Of course, the reason for that poor record is obvious. Here is a list of Texas' 60-day disabled list:

Yu Darvish
Martin Perez
Matt Harrison
Alexi Ogando
Tanner Scheppers
Prince Fielder
Shin-Soo Choo
Jurickson Profar
Mitch Moreland
(Also, Pedro Figueroa and KOOOOOOUZ)

That's an entire top-of-the-line starting rotation and half of a powerful lineup. If you gave a general manager those players as a starting point, it would be really tough to end up with a bad team. And those are the guys the Rangers lost, with only Harrison and Ogando seeming like particular injury risks heading into the season. Geovany Soto was hurt for most of the year, and when he got healthy he was traded to Oakland. Alex Rios also hasn't played since Sept. 4, due to what Baseball Prospectus lists as a "thumb infection." I just ... what? The baseball gods are just making up injuries for the Rangers now. Oh, and manager Ron Washington resigned, for private reasons that I hope/assume can be summed up as "Nope nope nope screw this team I'm out before I break a bone myself."

The loss of their entire team has left the Rangers with a downright depressing lineup. Let me paint you a picture. At first base, nearly every day, they have Adam Rosales. Yes, that Adam Rosales. At first base. With that position taken care of, they're free to plug J.P. Arencibia into the No. 3 spot as the designated hitter. Rosales and Arencibia are the first baseman and DH. Pretend you're a Rangers fan, and see if you can roll that around in your mouth for a while without vomiting. Arencibia has a line of .172/.233/.354 (62 OPS+) in 210 plate appearances -- there are enough PA's available that, even with that line, he's gotten over 200 of them. Michael Choice is playing every day again, and he's batting .182/.250/.320 with nine home runs in 280 PA's. Oh, a kitten, a kitten, my kingdom for a kitten. (Wait, no, Choice is out for the year with a strained hamstring. Sheesh.)

On the bright side, Adrian Beltre is raking and Leonys Martin is working on a five-win season thanks to stellar defense in center and league-average hitting. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are both healthy, even though neither is doing anything of value. Baby steps, people. At least they're on the field. Robinson Chirinos is still providing some production from behind the plate. But perhaps most importantly, starter Derek Holland is back, and he's dealing. The lefty has allowed just two runs over 21 innings in his three starts since returning from offseason knee surgery. Neftali Feliz is back closing games after the trade of Joakim Soria, though Feliz has lost a significant amount of velocity and has seen his strikeouts fall accordingly. So, it's not all bad news for the Rangers. Just mostly bad.

1. With all the injuries on the Rangers this year, there are some new names in the lineup. Can you give us a quick intro to Ryan Rua, Luis Sardinas, and Tomas Telis, all of whom are 24 or younger?

AJM: A quick report on each guy:

Ryan Rua -- Rua is a bat-first utility-type who had a breakout season at Low-A Hickory last year. I've suggested that he is someone who could end up profiling like Jeff Baker, a right-handed bench bat who can play several positions without embarrassing himself, and his upside is probably something along the lines of Dan Uggla (the Marlins days, not the Braves days). He's getting regular playing time at several spots right now, and will likely be fighting for a bench job next year.

Luis Sardinas -- Sardinas is a shortstop who was signed in the same J-2 class as Jurickson Profar, with some people at the time liking Sardinas more than Profar. Sardinas' career hit a speed bump when he missed much of a two-year span with shoulder issues, but he's back now and healthy. He's a glove-first shortstop who might be a starting SS if his bat develops, but at a minimum he should have a career as a utility infielder.

Tomas Telis -- Telis is a catcher who took a big step forward this season, and has gotten a look as a backup this year. He's a guy who was a fringe prospect, at best, before the season, but who took a step forward both offensively and defensively. He's a switch hitter with some bat-to-ball ability, though he won't walk much or hit many home runs, and he profiles as a potential backup catcher down the road.

2. Which pitcher instills more confidence in you, both now and in the future: Nick Tepesch (Tue starter), or Nick Martinez (Thu starter)?

AJM: I feel better about Nick Tepesch right now ... he's simply more developed and has more time in the major leagues. However, I think Nick Martinez has more of an upside -- he didn't start pitching regularly until he was drafted in 2011, and there is more room for growth with him. They are both similar pitchers, and probably back-end starters if they pan out.

3. Can you please write us a haiku or a limerick about Adam Rosales, who is playing a lot of first base in Texas?

AJM: No. We try not to think about the fact that Adam Rosales is hitting third and playing first base for us right now.

(Editor's note: That's fair enough. Instead, I have prepared a haiku with some important life advice for Rosey.)

Run, Rosey, run fast.
Get out before you get hurt.
Don't mess with Texas.

***

Thank you, Adam, for participating in the Q&A!

The series starts tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., Kazmir vs. Tepesch. Forget the Wild Card for a moment, A's. Win this series for simple self-respect.