Jan 192012
 
  • Thursday Morning Changeups   Yu Gotta Believe!If Yu ever had a doubt, Yu failed to trust in JD…6 years, $60M.  Yu Darvish is a Texas Ranger.
  • This is a monumental signing for the Rangers, representing well more than, but most importantly, bringing on board the potential ace of the pitching staff.  It’s about the Rangers taking the next step…which was a Texas-sized step…in solidifying themselves as an aggressive organization willing to spend smart money to compete and put a winning team on the field.
  • Jon Daniels - ”We saw a guy that we felt was built to pitch innings. It’s a classic pitcher’s build. He has a real commitment to his conditioning and work ethic and a lot of intangibles that lend him to pitch a lot of innings at a high caliber for a long period of time.”
  • Nolan Ryan - ”There’s a lot of unique things about Darvish.  Obviously his body type, his size, his durability, I think his feel for the baseball, the fact that he’s as comfortable throwing his breaking ball as well as his fastball and to me that he has several really quality pitches. I think, when you look at him, you realize pretty quick that he is special.”
  • Arn Tellem (one of Yu’s agents) – “The Rangers, more so than any other club, showed not only a scouting interest in Yu but also really developed a relationship with him.  There was an intimate connection between Yu, his family and the Rangers organization that was a positive going forward. It’s also a great team that is intent on taking the next step, and with Yu, hopefully they can achieve that goal. Yu is excited about helping them get there.”
  • Farsad Darvish (Yu’s Dad) - ”You are talking about [a] different culture. It would be nice to give it a little time and don’t judge things so fast. I know Yu will find his way. I think the fans are looking forward to the team getting another chance at the World Series, and I really hope Yu can be a member when they get there.”
  • Keith Law of ESPN – “The Rangers’ fallback options weren’t quite as dire, but I’d rather pay Darvish whatever it takes to get him under contract than sign the best remaining starting pitching option, Edwin Jackson, for four years and $40-odd million.”
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas – “It took years of scouting, a gaggle of frequent flier miles, a face-to-face meeting in Arlington between Darvish and Rangers personnel a few weeks ago, a recruiting video and gallons of coffee. Oh, and a willingness by ownership to send a check for $51.7 million to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to go along with the $60 million they’ll be sending to Darvish.  The Rangers need to be right about his one.”
  • Thursday Morning Changeups   Yu Gotta Believe!

    Matsuzaka & Darvish Stats from Japan

    Joe LeMire of CNNSI – “Perhaps most compelling is that Darvish’s career ERA (1.99) is better than best single-season ERA (2.13) Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka had in Japan before coming to the major leagues in 2007.  There is too much hang-up on the recent failures and middling successes of recent Japanese starters in the majors — Matsuzka with the Red Sox and Kei Igawa with the Yankees, to name two recent examples — as Darvish is a very different pitcher.”

  • Evan Grant did a good Q&A related to the Yu signing here.

In non-Yu news, if there is such a thing today:

  • Several sources have reported that it’s doubtful that the Rangers will pursue free-agent slugger Prince Fielder at this point and Jon Daniels’ comments from yesterday’s press conference were in line with this belief – “After going through this process, I’m intimately familiar with our budget.  It’s very unlikely.”
    Just keep in mind that JD has an excellent poker face, and even if the Rangers were wrapping things up with Prince at that moment, he wasn’t going to tip his hand.
  • Rangers SS Prospect Jurickson Profar was ranked as the #2 SS prospect by MLB.com for 2012.  Profar just continues to get better and has some loft expectations in terms of his potential.  He represents a strong trade chip or the future at the shortstop position for the Texas Rangers.  We’ll track his progress closely in 2012.
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Jan 182012
 
  • Wednesday Morning Curves   Darvish Deadline DayIt’s Yu Deadline Day!  We’ll know by 4pm today if the Rangers and Darvish were able to reach an agreement.  Richard Durrett & David Schoenfield face off on ESPN’s Hot Button explaining why they feel the Rangers should sign (Durrett) or pass (Schoenfield).  That link also displays a Jim Bowden video that provides nothing new, but if you’re wanting to drown yourself in Yu Darvish today, give it a watch.
  • Tim Kirkjian feels that “one way or another, Yu Darvish is going to sign with the Rangers”, and that seems to be the general sentiment of much of the MLB Media.
  • David Murphy, Matt Harrison, Mark Lowe and Mike Adams reach deals with the Rangers to avoid arbitration yesterday.  This leaves Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus as the three remaining players that could go to arbitration if a deal is not reached.  T. R. Sullivan provides some more details on this matter here.
  • Would you want the Rangers to sign Prince Fielder, if it meant that they would not be able to resign Josh Hamilton after the 2012 season?  Jasen posted a good article last night examining the scenario, and Jean-Jacques Taylor sided with Hamilton in an article posted on ESPN Dallas this morning.  Decide for yourself, and leave a comment below.
  • Greg Maddux kicked-off his career as a Ranger yesterday getting up to speed with some of the minor-league pitching talent within the organization.  According to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram, “While Greg Maddux will familiarize himself with the pitching prospects this week, one area that he will surely be involved with throughout spring training is the pitchers’ fielding technique.  The Rangers’ pitching staff combined for 16 errors last season, including four each by Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis and three by Derek Holland. Greg Maddux, on the other hand, won 18 Gold Gloves during his career, committing 53 errors over 23 seasons.”
  • Former Ranger Curtis Wilkerson is coming back to DFW.  This time as a manager, as he’ll oversee the Ft. Worth Cats in the 2012 season.
  • The Tigers took a serious shot to their line-up yesterday as news broke that Victor Martinez would likely be out for the 2012 season after tearing his ACL during off-season winter workouts.  Doesn’t seem likely the Tigers would jump in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes as Prince said he has no interest in being a full-time DH.
  • Cole Hamels and the Phillies reached a 1 year agreement yesterday ($15M) to avoid arbitration.  The Phillies are said to still be working on a long-term deal with the lefty.  If a deal is not reached, Hamels would surely be one of the top free agents next off-season.
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Jan 172012
 

The Prince Fielder and The PauperOn Friday, news broke that the biggest free agent left on the market, Prince Fielder, was having dinner and meeting with Ranger brass in a Dallas hotel. Although most saw (and still see) Prince as a pipe dream it’s becoming more apparent that there is some mutual interest between the Rangers and Fielder.

Prince Fielder is far from an unknown commodity even having spent his career in Milwaukee. He’s a mammoth 27-year-old left-handed power hitter of the highest order. A career .282 hitter that hit a career high 50 home runs in 2007.  While some have claimed that Prince will wear down with such a large frame he has been very durable. He played in every game last season and showed no signs of slowing down. The guy has some of the most incredible pull power in baseball and would be a beast in The Ballpark. Whether you are an advanced STAT person (better WAR than that Albert guy) or an “Eye test” person (2011 All-Star MVP and Silver Slugger) he is a top 3 1st baseman in MLB. While it’s still unknown what Prince will get in free agency, he should be able to get somewhere in the range of $20M a year.

That’s a huge investment for any team, especially one that is on the verge of signing a player they paid $50m just to negotiate with in hopes of signing a contract. This opportunity is one that doesn’t happen often. It’s also become even more important that the Rangers get better this year with the interdivision rival Angels signing two of the top free agents available this year.

The question that has to be asked is, is Prince Fielder that much better than Mitch Moreland when Mitch is making $500,000 a year? Mitch had a breakout 2010 postseason when he had some of the best at bats of the playoffs against great pitchers like Mariano Rivera. Hopes were high last year that Moreland would improve on a promising first year in the big leagues. Unfortunately he didn’t live up to those expectations. He managed a .259 average and struck out 92 times in 464 ABs.  Those signature Mitch ABs where he battled pitchers and got on base were farther and fewer between.

Although Mitch had a setback in 2011, does that mean its time to give up and invest big money in Prince Fielder? Well it’s not that simple. Signing Prince Fielder almost certainly means that you will have to lose Josh Hamilton in free agency as well. Josh is arbitration eligible this year and has a huge contract waiting for him after next year. Texas has several players they need to lock up and Prince and Hamilton contracts wouldn’t allow the team to keep the majority of the core together. In my opinion, a choice between a long-term Hamilton and a long-term Fielder is a no brainer. I love Josh Hamilton but the stress his body has been through and the durability issues he has experienced make it a much bigger risk to lock him up long-term.

The next month is going to be very telling about where the Rangers see the future of this team. It’s a great time to be a Ranger fan. Now, let’s go ahead and get that Yu thing done and let the chips fall where they may.

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Jan 172012
 

Baseball Do Episode 7   Yu, Prince & Fan FestWe discuss:

  • The looming deadline for Yu Darvish and the Rangers to come to a contract agreement.
  • Prince’s recent visit to DFW to meet with the Rangers
  • Fan Fest
  • Scott’s radio experience with Greggo
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Jan 172012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersContrary to the belief of Jasen and many others, T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers will not be in the hunt for Prince Fielder if they reach an agreement with Yu Darvish before Wednesday’s deadline.
  • Sullivan also mentions in the same update that Josh Hamilton’s father-in-law, Michael Dean Chadwick, has decided not to accept the position of Josh’s “accountability partner” due to family considerations.  Josh – I’m available, hit me up if interested.
  • Bison Messink wrote a short article for CNNSI writing off the Fielder visit as nothing more than a leverage-play in negotiations with Yu.  Stating “It’s a shrewd move by Nolan Ryan and the Rangers. No matter how ambitious they are seeking to be, there’s no way in hell the Rangers can afford to sign both Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish.”  I don’t like Bison Messink, because I think there is a way the Rangers could make it happen, and it doesn’t involve hell or Jon Daniels selling his soul to the Devil.  Might impact Josh Hamilton’s future with the club, but there IS a way…
  • I had my facts wrong on the podcast we recorded last night (which will be posted to the site later this morning) concerning the scenariofor Yu Darvish if he fails to come to an agreement with the Rangers before tomorrow’s 4pm deadline.  From Richard Durrett’s update, “Darvish could go through the posting process again after the 2012 season (no earlier than Nov. 1). His other option is to wait until after the 2013 season, when he’ll have enough years of professional baseball in Japan to come to the Major Leagues as a free agent, without going through the posting process. ”  I was under the impression that Darvish would be an outright free agent next off-season.
  • Durrett posted a good quandary yesterday over who would lose their spot in the rotation if/when Darvish signs.  I think it comes down to Ogando and Harrison, and I think Ogando’s value in the bullpen trumps everything else, so I’ll say he makes the transition with Harrison getting the 5th spot in the rotation.
  • Fan Fest was a good time last weekend.  For those that didn’t make it out, I would highly recommend it next year.
  • Cliff Corcoran wrote a good column for CNNSI about the Yankees snatching up Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda on Friday night.  Corcoran compares the Pineda-Montero swap to the Rays sending Delmon Young to the Twins for Matt Garza.  Not the best comparison, but that’s partly what he’s getting at in that it’s pretty rare for two young players with such potential to be swapped liked this.  Looks like a win-win, but only time will tell.
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Jan 142012
 
  • Rangers Fan Fest Weekend UpdateJasen and I both made it out to Fan Fest last night and had a great time.  The featured Rangers last night were Ron Washington, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis.
  • Nice crowd made it out to the Arlington Convention Center for a Friday night (I’m sure the crowd today is double if not more), and the event ran really smoothly with autographs, photo stages, fun activities for adults and youth, as well as some good vendors.
  • Highlight of my evening came when I was presented with the opportunity to ask Ron Washington a question during his Q&A.  We’ll get the video of that posted up on the site as soon as possible – let’s just say I got Ron up out of his seat!
  • Bob Nightengale of USA Today broke the news yesterday that Prince Fielder was in town meeting with the Rangers at a DFW hotel.  Could be just checking in…could be simply leverage in negotiations with Yu…could be the Rangers letting the big fella know that they are interested and working towards making something happen.  Follow us on Twitter (@baseballdo) and we’ll keep you updated with what we hear.
  • The Yankees made a little splash yesterday by improving their starting rotation.  They dealt hitting phenom Jesus Montero to Seattle for SP Michael Pineda and signed free-agent Hiroki Kuroda.  This is a major improvement to their rotation, which was relatively weak after Sabathia.  While giving up a great bat in Montero, they filled their biggest void.
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Jan 132012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsJosh Hamilton shared the extent of his injuries that were evident during the post-season, which required off-season surgery.  He had three detached adductors and a torn abdominal muscle.  While Hamilton acknowledged that he was in a great deal of pain during the post-season, he is now fully recovered after surgery and participating in full workouts in preparation for the 2012 season.  More from Josh on the injuries as well as his father-in-law, Michael Chadwick,  joining the Rangers staff in this article by Richard Durrett.
    It was no secret that Hamilton was suffering during the post-season in 2011, but it’s encouraging to hear that he’s healthy now.  It’s been relatively quiet on the contract-extension front for Hamilton, but I think Josh is a guy that wants to be in Texas, so possibly understands that waiting for the dust to settle around Darvish and any other free-agent deals (Prince??) should be the primary focus for the team.
  • Nolan Ryan expects Yu Darvish and the Rangers to reach an agreement.  So c’mon, if Nolan feels good about it, you should too!  Is Nolan your Homeboy?  Durrett’s article provides a little more detail, and my quote of the day from Michael Young – “Very good players are always welcome here.”  Sounds like a man beaten down by questions about Yu…
  • Gerry Fraley reported that the Rangers have inquired about Roy Oswalt.  I would have to believe that Oswalt would be a short-term option for the Rangers if a deal isn’t reached with Darvish.  I can’t imagine them signing both as the starting rotation will have plenty of strong competition for the 5 spots with Darvish included.
  • Michael Young received the Rangers’ Player of the Year award last night at the Rangers Awards Show. If you think about all that Young has gone through over the last few years, what he means to this team/organization, and his performance, I think it was a no-brainer – and that’s taking into account how many great players were on this team last year.  Young received the award in ’04, ’05, ’07 & ’09 as well.
    Jeff Wilson provides some more detail here, and notes that C.J. Wilson didn’t make it to the show even though he won Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year…go figure.
  • Fan Fest starts tonight and we’ll be there.  We’ll have updates from Fan Fest here on the site, as well as on Twitter (@baseballdo)  and Facebook.  Should be a good time as Jasen has guaranteed that he will astonish us all with his speed on the timed “3rd Base to Home Dash”!
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Jan 122012
 
  • Rangers Awards Show is tonight at the Arlington Convention Center.  If you are thinking about going and looking for details, click here.Thursday Morning Changeups
  • Rangers Fan Fest begins tomorrow night.  Click here for the schedule of events and details around who is going to be there for autographs/photographs and when.  Jasen and I will be there on Friday night and we’ll be posting updates to the site, Twitter and Facebook detailing our conquests and adventures.
  • Last night, Dirk did what we have come to expect him to do.  Unbelievable.  I don’t think I’m taking it for granted, but I’m in no hurry to find out.
  • A source has told Bill Ladson of MLB.com, that there is a 99% chance that Nationals don’t sign free agent Prince Fielder.  Do I dare suggest that the evil Scott Boras is not going to get what he is demanding this time?  I still feel that the Rangers could be a player here, and this sentiment is starting to gain more steam with some of the baseball media.  Last night on the MLB network’s Hot Stove, 3 of 3 analysts/former players felt that Prince would end up signing a contract of less than 5 years in length.
  • Randy Galloway did a good article around the key that trust plays in what the Rangers are accomplishing and working towards.  I think Randy hit this one right on the head – as much as it pains me to agree with him or give him any praise whatsoever.
  • Richard Durrett wrote a short piece around the impression that Yu Darvish has made on both Ron Washington and Colby Lewis.  Nothing new related to getting Darvish signed at this point.  6 days until the deadline.  It’s natural to start feeling a little anxious about this whole situation, but I’m confident the Rangers and Darvish will get a deal done.  The more video I watch/articles I read/people I talk to, I’m truly excited about Yu’s likely presence on this pitching staff.  As a guy who was originally on the fence back in November, I’ve been fully converted.
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Jan 112012
 
  • Wednesday Morning CurvesRyan Madson, who the Rangers were rumored to have some interested in, is off the table as he came to a 1 year agreement with the Cincinnati Reds that will pay him 8.5M.
  • Rangers have invited 8 Minor Leaguers to their Major League Spring Training camp including Mike Olt, Tommy Mendonca, Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross.   This and more is covered in a minor league update from T.R. Sullivan here.
  • Sullivan also writes about the possibility of prospects Ross and Martin Perez earning a spot in the bullpen due to the need for a left-handed reliever after the departure of Darren Oliver.
  • And lastly from the same update – Jurickson Profar receives the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year and Robbie Ross receives the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  Profar (pictured) is the Rangers top prospect according to MLB.com.
  • In case you missed Evan Grant’s article regarding Prince Fielder, be sure to give it a read.  The general attitude from many baseball people seems to be that the longer Prince is available, the more sense it makes for the Rangers to be a major player and make an offer.  While 10 years, which is what Scott Boras wants for his client, would still have to be out of the question, Grant poses some good compromises in his article.
  • “Sources” have told CBS Sports that the Rangers and Darvish aren’t close on a deal.  It’s believed that the Rangers offered something similar to what Dice-K got from the Red Sox 5 years ago.  Darvish’s camp see Yu as younger and more talented and is looking for more – don’t hit the panic button – it’s all part of the process.
  • MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to receive a contract offer that would extend him 2 more years (Buster Olney article)
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