From Sunday's report:
Big week ahead, both in the short term and the long term. All that Texas has before returning to town Friday for a nine-game homestand is a three-game series in Boston, but after that quick set with the Red Sox the Rangers will be anywhere from three games back in the Wild Card race to 10 games back. Obviously a massive difference.
Texas sits 10 games back.
The season as a whole is not a disappointment - except from the standpoint that every season is a disappointment for 22 teams, if not 29 - but the way things went from Wild Card contention to the dog days, both in the abruptness of the fall and in the manner in which the games in Boston were lost, there's a demoralizing snapshot feel right now, though I keep reminding myself that there's been serious progress in 2008:
• A new identity not seen on this club in years - a tough, resilient, confident attitude, with lots of fight and lots of heart
• A strong, young core offensively
• A spectacular year in player development, particularly on the mound
• An absolutely crystal-clear picture of what needs to be fixed at the big league level to take the next step
Texas now comes home for a series with Tampa Bay, with some really cool Alumni Legacy Weekend events as a backdrop, but as Kevin Millwood and Matt Garza tee it up for the series opener tonight, Jon Daniels will likely be otherwise occupied.
There are just over 12 hours remaining before Texas and first-round pick Justin Smoak (and a few other key draftees) must bridge negotations and come to terms. Otherwise, the Rangers lose their rights to Smoak and will be awarded pick 11A in next June's draft.
While you won't see me invoke the name of Matt LaPorta ("Wow, how could the Brewers draft that kid when they're all set with Prince Fielder??") quite as incessantly as I drilled you with "Glaus vs. Grilli" leading up to the Mark Teixeira draft in 2001, I am on record: I will be very disappointed if talks break down and the Rangers are unable to sign Smoak today and add him to this vertically and horizontally deep farm system.
Because that's how you add impact pitching here.
Stay tuned for updates as the situation develops.