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Tuesday newsletter time: AL West not at best as Rangers, Mariners open series

(Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports)

 

At 12-11, the Rangers are sitting atop the American League West and have had at least a share of first place every day this season. The big bad AL West is, well, bad right now.

The only other team at .500 is the Mariners, who come to Globe Life Field tonight to kick off a three-game series and a nine-game homestand. The Astros are in last place at 7-16, though four of those wins were against the Rangers.

In a way, the West’s struggles are a good thing for the Rangers. They haven’t fallen into an early hole while battling injuries that might make things more difficult in their defense of the World Series title. The four other teams are chasing them, and the Astros are already five games back.

The flip side is that no team has been able to bury any club. If the Rangers were, say, five games above .500 as they were last season at the 23-game mark, the Astros would be 8 1/2 games back.

The expectation is that the Rangers, Mariners and Astros will be the three best teams and in contention when September rolls around. Seattle can really pitch, and the Astros are going to get healthier.

So are the Rangers, and the AL West will get better.

Behind the plate

Sam Huff is on the 40-man roster, which makes him an easy call-up whenever the Rangers need help at catcher or a bat. He joined the club Saturday as Jonah Heim went on the bereavement list.

Heim can stay on that list only 72 hours, which come to an end today. He will rejoin the active roster, and Huff is likely headed back to Triple A Round Rock. He caught two innings Saturday and did not have a plate appearance.

That’s more of the same for Huff, who was recalled four times last season but made only 10 starts. Only three of those were at catcher.

When the Rangers looked at his 2023 season, they loved what he did offensively at Round Rock and in his 43 big-league at-bats. But he didn’t catch enough, which wasn’t his fault.

The Rangers didn’t play him enough at catcher when he was with them.

Huff was granted an extra option year, which was a blessing for the club but not for him, and the Rangers signed Andrew Knizner and sent Huff to Round Rock to get more experience behind the plate.

He should be in line to be on the 2025 roster all season. Hopefully the long wait will be worth it.

 

Ump show

The best umpire is the one no one notices during the course of the game. That means he did his job.

But too many umpires aren’t doing their jobs — and not just in Rangers games.

Take, for instance, the actions Monday of Hunter Wendelstedt, who ejected Yankees manager Aaron Boone after warning Boone that his next word would lead to his heave. The problem is that Boone didn’t say a word.

Cameras captured it.

Rather than admit his mistake, Wendelstedt said that he didn’t care if Boone didn’t say a word. After the game, he told a pool reporter essentially the same thing.

“Apparently what he said was there was a fan right above the dugout,” Wendelstedt said. “This isn’t my first ejection. In the entirety of my career, I have never ejected a player or a manager for something a fan has said. I understand that’s going to be part of the story or something like that because that’s what Aaron was portraying. I heard something come from the far end of the dugout, had nothing to do with his area, but he’s the manager of the Yankees. So he’s the one that had to go.”

Clearly, he had no idea who said what. The cameras didn’t show anyone from the dugout saying a word.

Wendelstedt was wrong. Everyone except him knows he was wrong. That includes whoever it is that evaluates umpires and the head of their union.

The kicker is that Wendelstedt won’t face any discipline. None of them ever does.

The umpire system has been broken by umpires not being held accountable, and it needs to be fixed.

If MLB wants fans to enjoy the game, which is why the pitch clock was implemented, umpires who foul up need to be punished or fired.  Angel Hernandez, of course, needs to go, but CB Bucknor, Laz Diaz and Wendelstedt aren’t any good either.

Actually, the list of subpar umpires is pretty long.

Doggy video

Who could use some of this energy? Enjoy.

 

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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