Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Short Term Stops: The All-Rangers Team

Much like the last Short Term Stops franchise I featured -- the Phillies -- I have almost no feelings towards the Texas Rangers whatsoever.

I don't root for the Rangers. I don't root against them. They don't seem to have many players who I feel strongly about one way or another (save my adoration of Adrian Beltre). For the most part, I don't keep up with the general goings-on in Arlington.

With 30 big-league clubs, a few are bound to fall into that pit of apathy, and the Rangers are one of those franchises for me.

They do, however, have a solid Short Term Stops roster filled with stars and fan favorites alike, so let's get to it.


1986 Donruss #300 Burt Hooton

"Short Term Stops" Rangers Accolades:

Burt Hooton (1985 Rangers, 29 games, sunset season)

We begin with the man they called "Happy," a man whose lone season in Texas was anything but.

After several successful years with the Dodgers, Hooton signed as a free agent with the Rangers for the 1985 season. In what would turn out to be his swan song, Happy limped to a 5-8 record with a 5.23 ERA in his 29 Texas appearances.

Hooton was released by the Rangers at the end of spring training the following year and, seeing the writing on the wall, decided to call it a career.

1991 Studio #125 Goose Gossage 

Goose Gossage (1991 Rangers, 44 games)

After spending the 1990 season with Japan's Fukuoka Daiei Hawks -- a stint I didn't know about until recently -- Goose Gossage returned to America as a Texas Ranger.

Gossage's lone season in Texas was a fairly bland one: he posted a 3.57 ERA in 44 games with the club before moving onto the A's and eventually the Mariners over the final three seasons of his career.

If nothing else, Goose's brief tenure as a Ranger produced this odd '91 Studio card, which will start to probe your soul if you stare at it for too long.

2007 Upper Deck #979 Eric Gagne

Eric Gagne (2007 Rangers, 34 games, half-year stint)

Eric Gagne might've been the most feared pitcher in the game for a few years there: I mean, the guy's nickname was "Game Over."

By the time 2007 came around, however, Gagne was an injury-prone reliever looking for a job, and the Rangers gave him one by signing him as a free agent prior to the '07 season. He briefly put himself back on the map by posting a 2.16 ERA and 16 saves in Texas, stellar numbers that earned him a trade to the contending Red Sox that July.

Unfortunately, Gagne crashed and burned during his brief stint in Boston, and would do the same as a Brewer the following year before fading into an afterthought...that is, until he announced his desire to make a comeback in 2017. It's easy to write off that kind of talk from an over-the-hill 41-year-old reliever, but then again, who knows? Maybe a team will take a chance on him.

I'm kind of hoping someone does. 


2005 Topps Total #326 Sandy Alomar Jr.

Sandy Alomar Jr. (2005 Rangers, 46 games)

A one-time superstar in Cleveland, Sandy Alomar Jr. jumped around quite a bit in the later stages of his career. 

The 2005 season saw him suit up as a backup catcher with the Rangers, where he'd hit a respectable .273 in 46 games with the club. He'd latch on with the Dodgers and White Sox the following year and retire after a quick eight-game stint with the 2007 Mets.

This is, as far as I know, the only card depicting Alomar as a Ranger, and it comes from -- who else? -- Topps Total.

First Base

1981 Fleer #629 Rusty Staub

Rusty Staub (1980 Rangers, 109 games)

This is a messy card when it comes to my sorting system.

My cards are filed by position within my individual team binders, and while it usually keeps things organized for me, it can backfire from time to time. Take this card, for instance: Rusty Staub is listed here as an outfielder...and a DH...while clearly featuring a photo of him playing first base. Thanks, Fleer. Thanks a lot.

So where does it go? I defer to the photo, which gives the nod to first base. Rusty did play first during the majority of his short time in Texas, which saw him hit an even .300 in 109 games. (He also took 39 walks while striking out just 18 times, a stat line we'll probably never see the likes of again.)

Despite the confusion, Rusty Staub deserves to man first base for this Rangers squad.

Second Base

2011 Topps #327 Cristian Guzman

Cristian Guzman (2010 Rangers, 15 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

Here's a semi-obscure one because I didn't have anyone better to fill the second base slot.

Cristian Guzman posted some decent seasons with the Twins and Nationals (though I'm shocked to now discover he was a two-time All-Star) before being dealt to the Rangers in 2010, where he'd hit an anemic .152 in the final 15 games of his career.

It wasn't a memorable stint, but Topps rewarded Guzman with a fine double play shot to send him into the sunset.


2010 Topps #143 Omar Vizquel

Omar Vizquel (2009 Rangers, 62 games)

Omar Vizquel will be a Hall of Famer one day, and that Cooperstown plaque will forever document Vizquel's brief time in Texas.

The perennial Gold Glover appeared in just 62 games during his lone season as a Ranger, hitting .266 while holding down the fort at shortstop.

Though he was 42 at the time, Vizquel looks mighty spry on this terrific double dip from 2010 Topps, easily his best card as a Ranger.

Third Base

2001 Upper Deck #336 Ken Caminiti

Ken Caminiti (2001 Rangers, 54 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

The tale of Ken Caminiti is a sad one.

An All-Star third sacker with the Astros and Padres, Caminiti split his final season between the Rangers and Braves in 2001. He hit just .232 with nine homers in 54 games in Texas before being released and picked up by Atlanta.

Caminiti, however, is better remembered for being one of the game's first stars to acknowledge his steroid use -- which he admitted was in large part responsible for his 1996 NL MVP campaign. Worse yet, Caminiti died of a drug overdose in 2004 at the age of 41, just three years after his playing career came to an end.

Sad, sad.


1973 Topps #435 Rico Carty

Rico Carty (1973 Rangers, 86 games, third-of-a-year stint)

I've heard several baseball people say that Rico Carty could've been one of baseball's all-time greats had he not been so prone to injury.

Carty routinely hit in the mid-.300s during his time in Atlanta before injuries started to take their toll (including losing the entire 1968 campaign to tuberculosis and all of '71 to a torn knee). The Rangers took a chance on Rico by acquiring him from the Braves prior to the '73 season.

Carty hit just .232 in 86 games with the Rangers before being purchased by the Cubs. He'd spend 22 games in Chicago before being purchased once again, this time by the A's, to cap off the rare feat of playing for three teams in one year.

It was such a crazy season that Carty didn't appear at all in the '74 Topps checklist, and while injuries continued to play a role in his career, he hung around in the bigs until 1979.

1990 Topps Debut #120 Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa (1989, '07 Rangers, 139 games, half-year stint in '89, sunset season in '07)

I usually go out of my way to omit Sammy Sosa from this blog, but he deserves mention here. 

As a young collector, it was a huge deal to find a card of Sammy Sosa as a Ranger, a stint which almost seemed like a fable. Sosa would hit the first of his 609 career homers in Texas before the Rangers infamously shipped the (then) toothpick-sized outfielder to the White Sox after just 25 games in Arlington. Sosa would, of course, soon become a Chicago icon, albeit on the North Side of the city.

Though Sosa kind of ruined his prime Short Term Stop status by returning to the Rangers for his final season in 2007, I still look back on that initial stint with a begrudging amount of nostalgia for my early collecting days.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #134 Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero (2010 Rangers, 152 games)

Let's move from one of my least favorite players in baseball history to one of the coolest.

Vlad Guerrero signed with the Rangers as somewhat of an afterthought prior to the 2010 season, and I think he surprised a lot of people by becoming an All-Star in what would be his only season in Texas, posting a .300-29-115 line in 152 games for the playoff-bound club. Vlad wasn't a Ranger for very long, but he certainly left a mark on the franchise.

He parlayed his success into a contract with the Orioles the following offseason, and he'd call it quits after a single year in Baltimore, putting an end to the career of a man who -- gosh darn it, baseball writers -- deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Designated Hitter

2013 Topps #480 Lance Berkman

Lance Berkman (2013 Rangers, 73 games, sunset season)

The Rangers are an American League club, so they get a bonus slot on this Short Term Stops roster (although I'm still in favor of abolishing the DH).

Once a member of the "Killer B's" in Houston, Lance Berkman was plagued by injuries by the time he arrived in Texas for the 2013 season. He hit just .242 in 73 games as a Ranger, smacking the final six of his 366 lifetime homers in the process.

Like so many others before him, Berkman's once-great career went out with a whimper, although it does earn him prominence in the glorious world of Short Term Stops.

That about does it for this edition.

Thanks for tuning in.


defgav said...

Always love these posts!

I coincidentally just recently printed up a Rangers custom card that might be worth an honorable mention: Bill Madlock.

Metallattorney said...

Great post as always. There is actually an MLB Showdown card of Sandy Alomar Jr. with the Rangers.

Hackenbush said...

Great research. I generally don't care about them but I was pulling for them in the World Series, particularly against the hated Cardinals in 2011, because of my admiration for Nolan Ryan.

madding said...

For some reason I don't remember Sosa going back to the Rangers in '07. I bet he would tell you he doesn't remember corking his bat.

Mike said...

Nice Vlad card..he's always smiling in posed shots!

Trevor P said...

I love these posts. And the fact that you just ended with a T.S. Eliot allusion makes this one in particular superb.

Adam Sanders said...

I'm with you, I don't really have any feeling one way or the other towards the Rangers. There were some very interesting names on this list though, most of which I had no clue ever played for the Rangers. Great work as always.

Fuji said...

Great post Nick! Not sure how I missed that Omar card, but it's fantastic!

Brian said...

Guzman's card has a cameo from former teammate Torii Hunter! Guzman was one of my favorite players in the early 2000s. He was a Triples machine!

Great post!

Julie Owens said...

Though I went to probably a hundred games while living in Dallas, the Rangers weren't my favorite team. I did have some fave players there: Rusty Greer, Frank Catalanotto, Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez.