Poor Toby's Almanac…June 3 – Ode to Billy Joe and Great Catchers
The Week Ahead: Kenny Rogers is still on the disabled list but plenty of ex-Rangers will be arriving in town this week when the Detroit Tigers and the Milwaukee Brewers show up at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Outfielders Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames and catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be here with the Tigers for a three-game series that starts on Tuesday. The Milwaukee Brewers bring outfielder Kevin Mench and relievers Francisco Cordero and Brian Shouse this weekend for a three-game series. Cordero is 20-for-20 in save opportunities with a 0.40 ERA while Mench is hitting .270 with two home runs, 16 RBI and one walk in 122 at-bats.
The One and Only: Fifty years from now baseball historians will look back at the Rangers and – promise you on this – say:
* Ivan Rodriguez was the greatest player who ever played for the Rangers.
* How did they ever let him walk away.
Dog Night: The Rangers are holding Dog Night on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Click on the Rangers promotional schedule to see how you can bring your dog to the game on Sunday.
Yes, Toby will be there.
The Draft: The 2007 First-Year Player Draft will be held on Thursday and Friday in Orlando and the Rangers will have five of the first 54 picks of the draft. This is a crucial draft for the Rangers and they’ve had mixed results over the years.
Jim Sundberg will announce the Rangers first pick. Sundberg was drafted three times: He was a sixth round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 1969, an eighth round pick by the Rangers in 1972 and, finally, a first round pick (second overall) in the January secondary phase in 1973. That’s when he finally signed. Whether you consider him an eighth round pick or a first round pick, he was one of the best for the Rangers. Then there was:
Ten good picks
Mike Hargrove 25th round 1972
Pete O’Brien 15th round 1979
Kenny Rogers 39th round 1982
Rusty Greer 10th round 1990
Hank Blalock 3rd round 1999
Dean Palmer 3rd round 1986
Billy Sample 10th round 1976
Darren Oliver 3rd round 1988
Ian Kinsler 17th round 2003
Steve Buechele 5th round 1982
1. Mark Teixeira 2001
2. Kevin Brown 1986
3. Rick Helling 1992
4. Bobby Witt 1985
5. Oddibe McDowell 1984
Good pick but…
Travis Hafner 31st round 1996
Mike Stanley 16th round 1985
Walt Terrell 33rd round 1980
Danny Kolb 6th round 1995
Robb Nen 32nd round 1987
Doug Davis 10th round 1996
Jeff Frye 30th round 1988
Mike Lamb 7th round 1997
Ron Darling 1st round 1981
Dave Righetti 1st round 1977
New pitch for Eyre: Rangers reliever Willie Eyre has held left-handed hitters to a .205 batting average so far this season. They hit .379 off him as a reliever for the Twins last year.
The difference? A split-fingered fastball that he started throwing in Spring Training at the suggestion of pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.
"It gives me something slow so that left-handers can’t sit on my fastball," Eyre said. "It keeps hitters off-balance. I didn’t realize how good it was until the other day in Oakland when they kept hitting it on the ground."
Said Connor: "He made me look smart for the first time this year."
Birthdays: It’s a slow week but Thurman Munson’s 60th birthday is on Thursday. Munson was the former New York Yankees catcher who was killed in a plane crash on Aug. 2, 1979. He was a seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who was 32 when he died. It’s surprising that he didn’t get more support for the Hall of Fame.
Munson won three Gold Gloves in 1974-76. Then Jim Sundberg took over and won six straight.
Anybody remember the end to Bull Durham where they show the shrine dedicated to Munson in Annie Savoy’s house? A classic ending to a great movie.
Byrd’s eye view: Marlon Byrd is hitting .333 (10-for-30) with the Rangers after hitting .358 at Triple A Oklahoma. Why is he swinging the bat so well? His explanation:
"I got hit twice in the (left) elbow and it made me use my (right) top hand more," Byrd said. "If I tried to extend with my (left) bottom hand, it really hurt. Now I have to let the ball travel to me more. It makes me stay back on the ball. If not, it killed me to swing."
Last Call: " My swing is getting better but I can’t show it if I’m not playing." Outfielder Nelson Cruz.