ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton is hardly the focus this time around as the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels renew acquaintances in Arlington.
No, this time it's about an anemic Rangers offense. The trade deadline. Albert Pujols.
And then maybe Hamilton's second return to Arlington.
Here's what to watch for as two rivals who were supposed to be closer to first place in the American League West at this point in the season meet up:
|Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline.
2. Trade deadline: Will the Rangers acquire a bat or two? Are the Angels sellers? The backdrop to this series will be Wednesday's trade deadline. Media reports over the weekend had the Angels being "open for business," with shortstop Erick Aybar, second baseman Howie Kendrick and others available to be discussed. Left-handed reliever Scott Downs, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is an attractive trade piece. Obviously, young superstar Mike Trout will not be dealt. But how about Hamilton's mega contract? Surely the Angels would discuss getting out from under that bad contract. Kendrick, a reliable hitter, is an interesting trade piece making $9 million in 2014 and 2105. The Rangers are rumored to be looking for one or two hitters to add to their slumping offense, but now six games back of Oakland after a rotten week, general manager Jon Daniels and company may decide to hold on to prospects and try to win with the players currently on the roster. Engel Beltre anyone?
3. Rangers offense: The numbers during the Rangers' ugly 2-13 stretch are depressing. They've scored 2.4 runs, the lowest average in the majors. There's a .232 batting average, 26th in baseball, and a .621 OPS (which combines on-base and slugging percentages), which is third-worst in the majors. Don't let the starting rotation off the hook -- they have a 5.18 ERA in the last 15 games, also third-worst. The bullpen has a 2.31 ERA during the span -- seventh-best in baseball -- but Joe Nathan's blown save last Tuesday against the Yankees gets worse with each passing day.
4. Now to Hamilton: Hamilton the fourth storyline? Actually, yes. Mostly because he's having a season to forget, one that got off to a brutal start and has now included minor injuries that have forced him to miss seven games. Hamilton enters Monday batting .223 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. He appeared to be getting out of a slump, but July has suddenly turned into a bad month. He's hitting .205 with a .234 on-base percentage. His strikeout percentage of 29.9 is his worst of any month this season. He's also chasing more pitches than ever -- 44.7 percent for July.
5. C.J. on a roll: C.J. Wilson will start Tuesday night for the Angels. The former Ranger has been very good for the struggling Halos. He is 7-1 in his last eight starts with a 1.96 ERA. Wilson has gotten control of his pitches -- he hasn't walked more than three batters in any of the eight starts after struggling with his command early in the season.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.