On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2012 season.
The Opponent: You might look at the Astros' 17-21 record and think that the season has gotten off to a rough start. You'd only be half right, though. The record isn't impressive in the least, but it's not as bad as most people seemed to think it would be when they were predicting the Astros would be the worst team in baseball.
Past 2012 Meetings: It's the start of interleague play, which means there haven't been any games in this year's battle for the Silver Boot. It also means that this is the start of the final battle for said boot since the Astros and Rangers will be in the same division starting next year.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (3-3, 1.99); Saturday - Derek Holland (3-2, 3.78) vs. Lucas Harrell (2-3, 4.40); Sunday - Colby Lewis (3-3, 3.63) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.00)
What's Hot: It wouldn't qualify as a hot week for Josh Hamilton, but Nelson Cruz hasn't been doing too bad for himself of late. It's been a very slow start for Cruz so any signs of real life in his bat are going to met with great excitement. If he builds on this and goes on a serious tear, the Rangers will actually become an even more dangerous team.
One of the more surprising developments of the last few years has been the fact that Wandy Rodriguez remained with the Astros. Quality left-handed starting pitching is in short supply around the league so it's something of a mystery to understand why no one made a big enough offer to tempt the Astros, who desperately need talent everywhere, to pull the trigger on a trade.
Those of us who love baseball tend to spend a lot of time on Baseball Reference looking up old teams. Some of the most interesting ones aren't big winners or big losers, but teams like the 2012 Astros who had their era's versions of Brian Bogusevic, J.D. Martinez and Travis Buck piling up more at-bats than you ever imagined possible.
What's Not: Fun as it might be to look back at the Astros in 2025 or so, they are a pretty bad team right now. Jose Altuve is the one hitter with serious upside and the pitching staff isn't much longer on future stars. The change in ownership and leagues will propel the team in a new direction, but there's much work to be done.
It's hard to really understand the criticism for Ron Washington's decision to pinch hit Brandon Snyder for Mitch Moreland on Thursday. Yes, Moreland had two homers but that doesn't change the overall strategy that a team has in place. Having said that, at some point the team has to sink or swim with Moreland.
Any attempt to treat the end of the Astros-Rangers as being worth anything more than a shrug of the shoulder will be met with extreme displeasure. No one, except Tom Hicks perhaps, cared about it before and no one should care about it now.
Familiar Faces: Carlos Lee wasn't a Ranger for very long and he wasn't missed all that much once he left, although he played fairly well for the team. If he's remembered for anything in Rangers history, it will be for being the other guy in the trade that brought Cruz over from Milwaukee.