With the Tigers in Arlington to play the Rangers, we're playing "Five Questions" with Richard Durrett of the Dallas Morning News' Rangers Blog to learn a little bit about the opposition. Of course, you might remember the Rangers as the team that's lost 11 straight in Detroit.
Actually, Richard e-mailed me last night with questions about the Tigers, which I was more than happy to occupy myself with once Rick Porcello gave the White Sox a 4-0 lead. So I asked him for some Q&A in return. That should be up later this afternoon, and I'll provide a link.
Bless You Boys: The Rangers' starting pitchers for this series don't look very familiar. (At least two of the three.) But it looks like they've been pitching well. How much of a priority is making a deal for a pitcher before Friday's trade deadline?
Richard Durrett: It is a priority. The question is if the Rangers will go after one of the top-level guys on the market (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee) or attempt to get a guy that’s more suited at the backend of the rotation. I think they’ll try to do that latter. They don’t want to part with top prospects like Justin Smoak, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Martin Perez. And that’s part of what it would take to get Halladay. So they might try to add a starting pitcher that won’t cost that price. They could also use another bat. The offense has really struggled the last 6 weeks (or more). But the club also can’t afford to get a big-money guy, so I’m not sure you’ll see any blockbusters from Texas this week.
BYB: In Detroit, there have often been questions about whether to move Curtis Granderson lower in the batting order, but the Tigers don't have anyone else suited to hit leadoff. Is it a similar situation with Ian Kinsler, or do the Rangers like him at the top of the lineup?
RD: He grew into the leadoff spot last season and played well in April in 2009. But he’s struggled since then. And he’s not getting on base or working counts deep enough on a consistent basis right now for a leadoff hitter. The question the Rangers have to ask is if moving him out of the leadoff spot would make a difference. And who would they put in that spot? I think David Murphy and Elvis Andrus are possibilities, but at this point, it appears the Rangers will leave Kinsler at the top of the order and see if he can figure it out.
BYB: Former Tiger Jason Grilli has been pitching great for the Rangers since coming over from the Rockies, where he wasn't doing very well. What did the Rangers see in him to want to make that deal and what sort of changes has he made in his game since arriving in Texas?
RD: Sometimes players just need a change of scenery. I think Grilli got a fresh start here. His role is middle/late inning relief and he’s done a nice job with it. Grilli doesn’t do anything fancy. But he’s aggressive with hitters and isn’t afraid to let his defense help him. I see a guy pitching with a lot of confidence and someone who’s personality really fits in with the Rangers’ bullpen. He’s been a great addition.
BYB: Is Vicente Padilla still expected to make his start on Tuesday, after being diagnosed with swine flu? And have other Rangers shown symptoms?
RD: Padilla is expected to make his start. He’s not contagious anymore, so as long as he feels OK, he’s a go. Other players did show symptoms (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Murphy, and a few others), but it appears the club is getting over that. Frank Francisco went on the DL with walking pneumonia. He should return this week, though it may not be during the Tigers series. That means C.J. Wilson will close.
BYB: How badly do the Rangers want to win some games from the Tigers, in light of Detroit's 11-game winning streak vs. Texas at Comerica Park? Or does that sort of thing not really come up?
RD: Oh, it comes up from fans. And I’m sure the players are aware of it. The team has to know its lost 7 straight games to Detroit. It helps that this series isn’t at Comerica Park (what is up with the Rangers’ inability to win there?).
Thanks once again to Richard for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out his blog at DallasNews.com over the next three days to get the opposing view on this series. Richard is also on Twitter, if you'd like to follow him there.