Speculating on a Roy Oswalt-to-Texas deal

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Craig thinks the pieces are in places, but he doesn’t know what those pieces may be. So let’s speculate on some of the possibilities to be shipped from Texas to Houston in return for Roy Oswalt.
Too good to include:
Neftali Feliz (RHP – Age 22) – Feliz is 15-of-17 in save chances since replacing Frank Francisco in the closer’s role for the Rangers, and he’s been particularly good over the last six weeks, allowing runs in just two of 18 appearances. He has a ridiculous ceiling as a starting pitcher, as well, and he probably qualifies as one of the game’s 20 or 30 most valuable properties at the moment.
Justin Smoak (1B – Age 23) – Smoak has stepped up of late, hitting .317/.429/.537 so far in June to improve his overall line to .213/.328/.374 in 155 at-bats since he replaced Chris Davis as the Rangers’ first baseman. Since he’s contributing right now and he’s going to be a great bargain these next few years, the Rangers shouldn’t be willing to part with him.
Martin Perez (LHP – Age 19) – With a 5.32 ERA in 11 starts, Perez isn’t exactly dominating Texas League hitters. However, he just turned 19 a month ago and many of the guys he’s facing are three and four years older than he is. With a stellar fastball-curveball combination, he ranks as one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.
Tanner Scheppers (RHP – age 23) – Scheppers has missed some time of late with a hamstring injury, but he has a 1.32 ERA and a 48/10 K/BB ratio in 34 innings as a reliever between Double- and Triple-A. The big concern here is his history of shoulder problems. However, he currently appears poised to make the same kind of impact Feliz did last August. Also, t’d be problematic to deal him anyway. Since he signed late last year, he’s not eligible to be traded until mid-September.
More likely possibilities:
Michael Kirkland (LHP – Age 23) – If acquired, he’d be an obvious choice to step right into Oswalt’s rotation spot. The southpaw is 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’s been rather wild this year, walking 38 in 65 1/3 innings, but he has a legitimate low-90s fastball and a four-pitch arsenal that could make him a No. 3 starter.
Robbie Ross (LHP – Age 20) – Ross is a bit on the small side and he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet, but with his fastball-slider combo, he should be able to avoid a move to the pen. He’s allowed just one homer while amassing a 2.12 ERA and a 52/16 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings for low Single-A Hickory this season.
Chris Davis (1B-3B – Age 24) – Davis hasn’t come close to matching his success from his rookie year in 2008 (.285/.331/.549 in 295 games), but he’s still just 24 and he still has 35-homer power. The Astros could pick him up and shift him back to third base, where he’s adequate defensively if a bit error-prone. Let him and Chris Johnson battle it out for a spot in the team’s future plans.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C – Age 25) – The Astros have their catcher of the future in 2008 first-rounder Jason Castro, but Salty could be a perfect buy-low candidate. He’s shown plenty of offensive potential in the past, and he hasn’t hit his prime seasons yet. Freed from the responsibilities of catching, his career might take off as a first baseman or left fielder. The Astros certainly need some bats with upside, and while Salty’s stock is well down, he qualifies.
Alexi Ogando (RHP – Age 26) – The Rangers just added the hard-throwing Ogando to their pen after he opened the season with a 2.05 ERA and a 42/11 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. His age is practically irrelevant, since he was one of the Texas prospects to miss four seasons because of his involvement in a human trafficking ring. He has the potential to turn into a closer down the line.
My guess is that it will take two from second group and then maybe a lesser name or two to get a deal done. The Rangers shouldn’t have to part with anyone from the top group unless they want the Astros to eat some salary in a trade.

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

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Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

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Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.