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Sunday reading: The Rangers, the NLCS, Bud Selig, Francisco Rodriguez and Ted Lilly

Off ALCS Game 2, and with this series tied at 1-1, I wrote a column stating that the only thing we know for sure is that the Rangers are better than the Twins. It's hard to draw many more conclusions than that.

After all, as I wrote in the column, we all thought the Rangers would be devastated after their crushing Game 1 loss. And even the Yankees bought into the notion that Phil Hughes' brief history in Texas - a total of 15.1 IP - could help Hughes.

It's dangerous to assume those psychological narratives. More often than not, guys just go out and play baseball. That's why I'm not ready to declare a crisis situation for the Yankees.

Instead, Hughes had no command, the Rangers were aggressive on the basepaths and the Yankees hit some hard balls right at Texas fielders. So it goes sometimes.

--Here's the rest of our coverage. I particularly enjoyed Jim Baumbach's breakdown of the Rangers' first-inning double steal.

--I admittedly am a fan of Jon Daniels' work in building the Rangers, and if you look at some of the key Texas players yesterday, you see the creativity and boldness of Daniels and his staff at play.

The winning pitcher, Colby Lewis, signed a two-year, $5-million deal with the Rangers last winter, after spending the prior two seasons in Japan. David Murphy, who slammed a second-inning homer off Hughes, came in 2007, as part of the package Texas received from Boston for Eric Gagne

Elvis Andrus, the man who stole home on the delayed double-steal, came to the Rangers in the Mark Teixeira trade. Nelson Cruz, the All-Star outfielder, came as a secondary piece in the deal that sent Carlos Lee from Milwaukee to Texas. 

Mitch Moreland, the first baseman who can work counts and field capably, was the Rangers' 17th-round pick in the 2007 amateur draft.

Pretty good work by Daniels and his crew. Texas' roster depth on a budget reminds me of Tampa Bay's.

--Over in the National League, the Giants jumped ahead of the Phillies. I got to see only bits and pieces of this game, due to my work at the Yankees game, but this series gets interesting now, too. How creepy is it that Phillies fans were whistling at Tim Lincecum?

--For my Sunday Insider, I wrote about Bud Selig and his influence on individual team hires at the management level. I don't have a problem when Selig offers advice or endorsements - it happens in other sports - but there are people in the industry who object to Selig offering such input. In the case of the Mets, principal owner Fred Wilpon reached out to Selig to request his counsel.

The Insider also features thoughts on Bobby Valentine, Hisanori Takahashi and Darren Oliver.

--Francisco Rodriguez and the Mets are close to settling K-Rod's grievance against the Mets, and as David Lennon reports, the most likely resolution will call for Rodriguez giving up some of his 2010 salary (as an acknowledgement that he suffered his season-ending hand injury in the same incident with his children's grandfather that got him arrested) but having his overall deal converted back from non-guaranteed to guaranteed.

With some fresh blood coming into the lead the Mets, I wouldn't prioritize a trade of K-Rod this winter. Whereas Carlos Beltran has a right to feel wronged by the Mets, I think Rodriguez should, if anything, feel indebted to the Mets for supporting him as they did. As we've discussed here previously, the Mets can afford to overpay a capable closer. Their downfall has resulted from overpaying incapable players.

--Ted Lilly is close to re-signing with the Dodgers, and that shows just how different a bird Lilly is. He's less than a month away from free agency, and with Cliff Lee being sold in the Tiffany aisle of free agency, Lilly surely could have generated a nice bidding war among a number of different teams not looking to pay Lee. Instead, however, he committed to a team for which he played just two months.

--Live chat at noon tomorrow.

--Have a great day.



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