Feb 212012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersSpring Training officially starts tomorrow!
  • Jasen and I wrapped up our Spring Training Special podcast last night and I’ll have it posted up here to the site later today and available on iTunes by tomorrow.
  • My little stroll down Rangers Boulevard yesterday means there is a lot to catch up on today, so I may be brief.
Mike Napoli
  • Mike Napoli was in Surprise over the weekend, starting to test the strength of his ankle, and said he’s coming into Spring Training prepared to compete for the starting role, “I’ve always come into Spring Training trying to win a job.  That’s why I pushed myself to get ready for this spring. I come in here not expecting anything to be given to me. Torrealba is a good catcher. He has been a starter in this league and can start for us.  Hopefully we go out there and make it a competition. I always go out and try to earn a job.”
  • While Napoli’s performance from last year probably guaranteed him the starting spot behind the plate, it’s refreshing to know he has this attitude, and it’ll be interesting to see how it playing time is split up between C, DH and possibly 1B from time to time – it’ll be Ron’s decision.
    Napoli had this to say regarding Ron’s decision, “You don’t know what Wash will do.  We have guys who can play different positions. I love catching. I love being back there working with pitchers. But if I have to play first base, I’m not going to be mad. I want to be in the lineup. If it’s at first base, I’ll grab my glove and get out there.”
  • Finally, Napoli spoke about his recent contract (1 year/$9.4M) from the Rangers saying, “Hopefully we’ll get back to talking again.   We’ll see. I’m not focused on that. If it comes up, my agent will talk about it with them. Right now, I’m focused on getting ready for the season and get[ting] my ankle healthy.  From the raises I got compared to other players, it was right for me.  I really didn’t want to go into a hearing room. Talking to people who have been through it, it’s not a fun situation. I’m glad we got a deal done and hopefully something else will get worked out.”

Matt Harrison

  • Matt Harrison is coming into camp with a similar outlook to Mike Napoli as he prepared to secure a spot in the starting rotation.  While Harrison’s numbers from 2011 (14-9 with a 3.39 ERA) would seem to more than secure him that spot, it speaks to the depth the Rangers have in their rotation heading into 2012.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersHarrison said “It’s the same way as last year: I’m coming in to fight for a spot in the rotation.  Last year was last year. I can’t take anything for granted. I’ve got to show them I’m ready to go. This is an organization that has been to the World Series for the last two years. They are not going to fool around with somebody who is not ready to go.”
  • Jasen and I covered the starting rotation extensively in the podcast last night, and it’s known that the Rangers are going to stretch out Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando.  Harrison will have to earn his spot, but seems to be the favorite headed into the competition.
  • Roy Oswalt still hasn’t signed anywhere…, to which Harrison says “Nobody has said anything to me about that.  I guess he is still waiting around. It keeps me guessing. It keeps me ready and prepared.”

Ian Kinsler

  • Kinsler, who spoke to reporters on Sunday at the Rangers Spring Training complex, spoke vaguely about Josh Hamilton’s recent relapse, “Josh is taking care of it.  He’s doing what he’s always done. He’s being open, up front and honest about it. It’s not my place to talk about it. I know I was there for a certain part of the night.”
    Kinsler added ”I’ve gotten over it.  I’m focused on this season and baseball. I support Josh and will continue to support him. All his teammates and coaches will be there for him. Josh took care of it and said what he needed to say. People can say what they want to say. That’s just outside influences driving something that’s really not there.”
  • Kinsler is in Surprise early to work out with the strength and conditioning coaches, which he is able to do pain free after after receiving a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his right ankle at the end of November.  This is the same right ankle that he injured two years ago in Spring Training.
    Kinsler had to this say regarding the relief he got from the shot and what it’s allowed him to do in his work outs, “Right away, after the soreness went away from the needle, I was 100 percent,” Kinsler said.  End of pain.  It helped everything. Working in the cage, I can take as many swings as I want. I have been able to do a lot more full-body exercises … a lot of jumping and agility. That’s when it hurt the most, but now I haven’t been feeling it at all.”
  • Kinsler, who is signed through 2012 and the Rangers have an option on for 2013 ($10M), spoke briefly about his contract and talks with the Rangers, saying ”I think I’ve been open with my feelings on that.  I want to stay here, but again, a lot of that is up to them. We’ll see how things progress. We’ll see if the conversations get fired up again this spring.  This season hasn’t even started yet.  They have some decisions to make as an organization.”
    Kinsler wrapped it up saying “There might be some things they want to talk about.  I haven’t thought about it. I’m focused on playing second base, winning a Gold Glove and helping this team win. That’s all open for discussion.”

Quick Hits

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersAlbert Pujols and Yu Darvish have already run into each other for the first time!  The meeting was unplanned and the Angels slugger said “He walked in and introduced himself — really nice guy, really humble.  He just said he’s looking forward to the battle. We’re going to be in the same division and it’s going to be fun.”
    Look at Yu already getting in his head…
  • Richard Justice (MLB.com) wrote a column on Nolan Ryan’s feelings about this years Rangers here.
  • The Rangers have signed left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to a Minor League contract.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides a brief update here.
  • Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) is projecting 13 wins and a sub 4 ERA for Yu Darvish this season.
  • MLB Analyst Jim Bowden joined Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) last week and had this to say about ranking the Rangers as the top MLB team for the next 5 years, “The bottom line was the Rangers’ farm system is far beyond what the Yankees’ is, and that to me was really the swing between the two. Texas’ management team is one of the best in the game, but when you look at the entire package, there is no reason why this Texas team can’t be a World Series contender over the next five years. You look at the health of the Rangers compared to every team in baseball, and right now, it’s No. 1 in the industry.”
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 202012
 
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Presidents Day EditionWhen the Texas Rangers opened the 1972 season, their first as the Texas Rangers, Richard Nixon was President.
  • When Jeff Burroughs was awarded the American League MVP at the end of the 1974 season, Gerald Ford was President.
  • When the Rangers put together 3 consecutive seasons with a record greater than .500 in 1077-1979, Jimmy Carter was President.
  • When the Rangers made one of the most unpopular trades in franchise history, dealing catcher Jim Sundberg to the Brewers for Ned Yost, Ronald Reagan was President.
  • WhenBobby Valentine, who would eventually become the Rangers’ longest-serving manager at 1,186 games, was hired, Ronald Reagan was still President
  • In April 1989, when Rangers owner and oil tycoonEddie Chiles, sold the team to an investment group headed by George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush was President.
  • On August 22nd, 1989, when Nolan Ryan became only the 2nd pitcher in MLB history to strike out 5,000 batters in his career by striking out Ricky Henderson, George H. W. Bush was still President.  Following the game, Henderson was quoted as saying, “If he ain’t struck you out, then you ain’t nobody.”
  • In 1990, when Nolan Ryan threw his 6th no-hitter, George H.W. Bush was still President.
  • In 1991, when Nolan Ryan threw his 7th no-hitter, George H.W. Bush was still President.
  • In 1992, when Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez won his first Golden Glove, George H.W. Bush was still President.
  • On August 4th, 1993 when Nolan Ryan put a charging Robin Ventura in a headlock and pummeled him, Bill Clinton was President.
  • In the strike-shortened 1994 season, the first season in Rangers history when they finished the season in 1st place in their division, Bill Clinton was still President.
  • When Johnny Oates took the Rangers to play-offs three times (’96, ’98, ’99) in his 6 year stint as Rangers manager, Bill Clinton was still President.
  • When Juan Gonzalez won his two American League MVP awards (1996 & 1998), Bill Clinton was still President.
  • When Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez won his American League MVP award in 1999, Bill Clinton was still President.
  • In 1998, when venture capital billionaireTom Hicksbought the team for $250 million, Bill Clinton was still President.
  • Prior to the 2001 season, when the Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to one of the most lucrative and expensive contracts in MLB history, former Rangers owner George W. Bush was the President.
  • In 2003, when Alex Rodriguez won the American League MVP, George W. Bush was still President.
  • On October 4, 2005, when the Rangers announced thatJohn Hart would step down as general manager and that Jon Daniels was being promoted from assistant general manager to replace him, George W. Bush was still President. Daniels, at 28 years and one month, would become the youngest general manager in Major League history.
  • In 2006, when the Rangers traded Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and Termel Sledge to the Padres for Adam Eaton and two other spares, George W. Bush was still President.
  • On July 28th, 2006, when the Rangers  acquired outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, and Laynce Nix, George W. Bush was still President.
  • On July 31st, 2007, when the Rangers tradedMark Teixeira and Ron Mahayto the Atlanta Braves in a deal that would eventually bring 5 prospects to the Rangers organization, including four of Atlanta’s top prospects Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz, George W. Bush was still President.
  • Later that same season, when the Rangers dealt Eric Gagne to the Boston Red Sox for David Murphy, Engel Beltre and Kason Gabbard, George W. Bush was still President.
  • On August 19th 2007, when the Minnesota Twins logged 19 strikeouts against the Rangers, one short of the Major League record, George W. Bush was still President.
  • Just three days later, when the Rangers exploded for a modern record for runs by one team, defeating the Baltimore Orioles30–3, George W. Bush was still President.
  • In August 2010, when an investment group headed by Chuck Greenberg, and consisting of Nolan Ryan, Bob Simpson and Ray Davis purchased the Texas Rangers at public auction, Barak Obama was the President.
  • Later in 2010, when the Rangers made it to their first World Series in franchise history, Barak Obama was still President.
  • In 2011, when the Rangers won the American League Championship for the second consecutive year and made it back to the World Series, Barak Obama was still President.

I know I’m missing some key moments in Rangers history here, but wanted to put something together that encapsulated the bigger moments that come to mind for me (and the writers of the Rangers wiki page…thanks ;).

Whats your favorite moment in Rangers history?  Comment below, especially if I’ve missed it…

Back to normal routine tomorrow…

p.s. – This is by no means intended to launch a political debate over former and current Presidents.  Respect.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 182012
 

This is the final round of our American League West Position Rankings.  To see how we got to our current standings/scores, be sure to check out the first three round.

Score at the end of Round 3:

    1. Rangers: 53
    2. Angels: 49
    3. Mariners: 26
    4. Athletics: 22

The primary reason for doing a full review of the American League West, rather than a Rangers vs. Angels review, was to provide a better reference point for how a player truly stacks up against his peers.  That said, the Rangers and the Angels have dominated the top two spot at most positions (exceptions being DH and CF).  The final round will consist of all facets of each team’s pitching, including 5 rotation spots, relief and the closer position.  Similar to the adjustments we made to the scoring for Manager and DH, we’re going to increase the weighting for the relief position since that is made up of a handful of pitchers and not just one.

Starting Pitching

We’re going to go through the starting 5 for each team’s rotation and stack them up against each other.  In order to avoid making assumptions around the rotation order, I’m going to be the using the depth charts for each team that they have posted on their team’s website.  They seem to be pretty accurate as to what most would think, with the exception of a few.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The Ace

  1. Jered Weaver, LAA
    1.  Felix Hernandez, SEA
  2. Colby Lewis, TEX
  3. Brandon McCarthy, OAK

Only real debate lies between the top two here, and I’ve gone back and forth on the order of these two guys quite a bit over the last few days.  It’s very close, but I give Weaver the slight edge, no I give it to Felix, no Weaver…you get the point.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresYou could debate for days over who will have a better year in 2012, and in the end, I think they will both have dominating years where they finish in the top 8 in Cy Young voting.  With that said, I’m going to give them both the top spot from a points perspective, and I’m going to give them both the bonus point.  It’s not a knock on Colby Lewis, it’s just how good these two guys are.

The #2

  1. Dan Haren, LAA
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Dallas Braden, OAK
  4. Jason Vargas, SEA
2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresI’d love to give Yu the nod here, and this is one where I could dispute the order of the rotation, as I envision Darvish being the 3rd starter and Holland pitching 2nd, but it wouldn’t really matter, as Haren has an edge on both of them given the unknowns around Darvish and the need for continued development with Holland. While I think Darvish is capable of putting up similar numbers to what Haren delivered in 2011 (16 W’s, low 3 ERA, low WHIP), Haren has proven what he can do at the MLB level and takes the top spot here.Darvish takes the second spot in the rankings over a rehabbing Dallas Braden and a mediocre Jason Vargas.

You could make an argument for putting Vargas in the third spot, but I think Braden is the better pitcher if he can bounce back from injury successfully (and word is he is ahead of schedule).

The #3

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresC.J. Wilson, LAA
  2. Derek Holland, TEX
  3. Brett Anderson, OAK
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA

This is another close race between the top two, and I know my fellow Ranger fans are throwing their hands up in the air as they look at the ranking, but if I put my bias aside and look at the two  pitchers, I lean towards C.J. having a slightly better campaign in 2012.

Baseball Do followers probably don’t want to hear this, but I think C.J. is going to improve slightly in 2012, primarily due to his new ballpark and being closer to home – which you could argue that his pitching ability isn’t really improving, but rather his conditions are.

I also believe that Holland is going to take the next step in his progression towards being a front-line MLB starter.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year down the stretch and of course in showing us all that he could one day be an Ace with his performance in Game 4 of the World Series.  All that said, he needs to prove that he can put a full season together, avoiding a slow start and showing more consistency.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #4

  1. Neftali Feliz, TEX
  2. Ervin Santana, LAA
  3. Blake Beavan, SEA
  4. Brad Peacock, OAK
Not going to spend a ton of time on these next two spots.  If you don’t already know how we feel about Feliz and what we expect from him production-wise in 2012, check out “The Other New Guy”.  Santana is a very good #4, but I think Feliz will have a better year.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #5

  1. Matt Harrison, TEX
  2. Jarrod Parker, OAK
  3. Jerome Williams, LAA
  4. Charlie Furbush, SEA
We all know how good of a pitcher Matt Harrison is, primarily because his case has been stated so often as a reason for not signing Roy Oswalt.  For many teams, he is easily a mid-rotation guy, and far outpaces the other three pitchers on this list, and for that get’s the bonus point.
I give Parker the edge over Williams on speculation of what Parker could become vs. what we know of Jerome Williams.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

Relief (not including Closer)

Given the importance of the bullpen and the fact the bullpen is generally made up of 6-8 pitchers, we are going to adjust the scoring for this position by multiplying it by two.

Keep in mind, that the names representing each team’s bullpen could change between now and Opening Day, and obviously by mid-season or season’s end.  That said, I’m going to try to avoid too much speculation with prospects and trades.

  1. Adams, Uehara (or maybe Mike Gonzalez…), Feldman, Ogando, Tateyama, Lowe – TEX
  2. Downs, Hawkins, Takahashi, Thompson, Cassevah, Bell, Mills, Jepsen – LAA
  3. Devine, Balfour, Fuentes, Wagner, Blevins, Carignan, Godfrey, De Los Santos – OAK
  4. Kelley, Wilhelmsen, Ruffin, Delabar, Sherrill, Jimenez – SEA
You could write an entire article breaking down the bullpens, but this is not the place.  The Rangers take the top spot primarily based on depth.  Downs and Adams are both top-notch set-up men, from there I think the depth of the Ranger bullpen gives them the edge.  They still need another left-handed specialist to replace Darren Oliver, which could be Mike Gonzalez, whom they are rumored to sign after they deal Koji Uehara.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresCloser

  1. Brandon League, SEA
  2. Jordan Walden, LAA
  3. Joe Nathan, TEX
  4. Whoever, OAK
Three years ago, JoeNathan is the clear cut leader on this list and easily gets the bonus point.  That was then.  Now Nathan has something to prove, and while I’m fairly optimistic that Nathan will serve as a strong closer, I think Walden and League rank higher until Nathan proves it.I went back and forth between League and Walden for the top spot here.  League was better last year, and while I think Walden will get more saves than him in 2012, it’s going to be based on the fact that he will be presented with many more opportunities.  The better number to look at here is Save% (Saves/Opportunities), where League (88%) outshines Walden (76%) and I think he’ll continue to do so in 2012.

Final Score of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings

  1. Rangers: Score After 3 Rounds of 53 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 8 + 2 = 80
  2. Angels: Score After 3 Rounds of 49  + 5 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 6 + 3 = 76
  3. Mariners: Score After 3 Rounds of 26 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 42
  4. Athletics: Score After 3 Rounds of 22 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 36
There you have it.  On paper, according to Baseball Do, the Rangers should win the American League West in 2012.  And while I’m always on board with victory for the Rangers, the best part of all the time and work that went into these rankings and write-ups is that the games still have to be played on the field.

Keep in mind as well, that all four of these teams could look different by the trade deadline, with the Rangers and Angels both of some attractive pieces they could move in order improve, and the Mariners and Athletics have some attractive veterans they could deal in an effort to add youth.

My honest belief is that this is going to be one hell of a season for the Rangers and the Angels, which will come down to the final week, if the not the final 2-3 games.  The final series between the two is here in Arlington, September 28th through 30th, so get your tickets for those games now, as the entire season could hinge on those three games.  As fans, let’s just enjoy the ride.  A ride which will hopefully continue into the post-season for the Rangers and end with the ultimate reward…

‘case that’s the way baseball go…

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 172012
 
  • Friday Morning Knuckleballs

    Gary Carter celebrating after winning the 1986 World Series over the Boston Red Sox. R.I.P. "Kid"

    Gary Carter passed yesterday at the age of 57.  Carter was a big part of my initial baseball consciousness.  He was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, which he was fighting, but in January it was revealed that his doctors had found several more tumors on his brain.

  • Carter’s daughter, Kimmy Bloumers updated the family’s website yesterday afternoon with ”I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know.
    It’s a sad day anytime we lose someone that has made an impact on any facet of our lives.  Carter was one of those people for many.  R.I.P. Gary.
  • ESPNNewYork.com has a good column about Carter and a video about Carter here.
  • CNNSI also has a great column on Carter here.
  • Tom Verducci (CNNSI.com) wrote a great tribute in “Gary Carter, the light of the Mets”.  That season was magical and provides the moments in time for which I’ll always remember Gary Carter.
  • Pitcher & Catchers report Wednesday.
  • Round 4 of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings is in the works and I hope to have it out this evening.  Check out the first three rounds if you need to catch up.
    Round 1 – Infielders and Catcher
    Round 2 – Outfielders and DH
    Round 3 – Bench and Manager
    Round 4 will cover all pitching including starting rotation, relief and closer.
  • Bryan Dolgin (ESPNDallas) wrote a short piece about Conor Jackson, and his approach with the Rangers.
    Jackson says ““They’re a pretty left-handed hitting team. First of all, I’ve got to make the squad. That’s the biggest thing for me.  I can’t have a usual slow spring training. I’ve got to come out bangin’ and show ’em I can still play. I’m just looking forward to an opportunity.”
  • Richard Durrent (ESPNDallas) wrote a brief column on Jon Daniels continued support of Josh Hamilton.
    Daniels said “There will be some additional steps that we’ll take as a club, along with Josh, just to continue to support him and to insure to the best of our abilities that this doesn’t happen again.  We have more ability to help with that during the season.”
  • Durrett also provides a look at ESPN’s Future Power Rankings for MLB, in which the Rangers took the top spot here (with a brief video).  The full article is available to those that have ESPN Insider access, so thanks to Durrett for at least extracting the Rangers portion of the article for those that don’t have that access.
  • The Rangers are ready to settle in for a productive and calm Spring Training after a busy off-season.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides a good summary of the off-season with an eye towards Spring Training here.  The link also includes a video interview of Thad Levine from MLBTV’s Clubhouse Confidential.
    A great statement from JD, ”You name it and this team has dealt with it and thrived on it.  That’s a direct reflection on Wash and the leadership in the clubhouse, the players and the staff. These guys come to Spring Training ready to play and don’t let anything distract them.  We want to embrace and celebrate what was accomplished and reward the people that made it possible, but you need to turn the page at some point. What I have been encouraged by is in talking to people and the meetings we’ve had, our players and staff are hungry. They are as hungry and as motivated as ever. If we can keep that mentality, we can keep this going.”
  • Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) wrote an article on the Rangers confidence level heading into Spring Training.
    Wash says “I think we head into camp pretty strong.  I think the key going in there is for everyone to stay healthy.”
  • On Yesterday’s episode of Sports Day on Fox Sports Southwest, Evan Grant and Anthony Andro shared their expectations of how Neftali Feliz will perform in 2012.
    Grant warns to not expect an Ogando type of performance, saying “Well, it depends on what you consider a successful starter. He’s not going to be Alexi Ogando from last year; he’s not going to be C.J. from two years ago. It’s going to be tough to have the conversion continue for the third consecutive year. He was really good last year when he was mixing up his pitches, but when he went back to the bullpen it was fastball, fastball, fastball. He can’t do that again. If he can win 11 or 12 games and be a starter for the entire year, that would be a successful year depending on where he’s come from.”
    Andro likes how the Rangers have prepped Feliz and the team for the move, saying “I think the Rangers took all the right steps in trying to create an environment where there is a closer in place with Nathan and they could move him early. I think what’s important between Neftali and the guys from the last two years is that those two made it clear from the start they wanted to be starters; they asked and did whatever it took to get there. I think the Rangers want to see the Rangers put a lot more into and as the spring goes on. They know he has a lot of work to do, and they know he has work to do with the breaking ball, but they think that’s all there.”
  • Wanna know what Baseball Do thinks about Neftali’s upcoming debut season in the starting rotation, check out “The Other New Guy”.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 162012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsJosh Hamilton is back at the top of the Rangers headlines as he gave his first interview since his relapse yesterday.  He was interviewed by his LIFE Outreach pastor, Dr. James Robinson, on the Glenn Beck show on GBTV.com.
  • Josh didn’t really get into any specifics in the interview, but talked more about his commitment to becoming a better person.  He seemed to have some genuine excitement over the progress he has made so far since the incident occurred two weeks ago and talks about the improvement in communications between he and Katie.
  • Here is the full interview, compliments of GBTV.com:

  • Mac Engel wrote “Is Josh Hamilton being forgiven because of his color?”  It’s worth the read, as Engel poses some interesting questions and challenges those that have forgiven Josh to ask why.  The color of his skin doesn’t matter to me, but I understand where Mac’s coming from here.  I honestly want to believe that it’s the sincerity with which Josh talks about life, struggles and experiences that leads to his forgiveness by his fans.  At the core of it, everyone’s different and everyone probably has slightly different feelings towards why they forgive Josh, if they indeed do forgive Josh.
  • If your not interested in watching the entire video, you can see a short excerpt from the video, plus get a summary from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) here.
  • Details related to Nelson Cruz’s contract have been released.  Here is how it is structured:
    2012: $5 million
    2013: $10.5 million
    Cruz can add up to $500k in 2013 based on the number of plate appearances he reaches.  He get’s $100k at each of the following level of plate appearances: 500, 525, 550, 575, 600.
    He can also earn an extra $50k if he makes the All-Star team and an extra $75k if he is the ALCS MVP, an award which he won in 2011.
  • Mike Napoli threw down the gauntlet to  former teammate C.J. Wilson on the  Ben & Skin Show (103.3FM, ESPN) yesterday.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but Napoli expressed his allegiance to his current team by saying, “I don’t like them anymore; I’m not a part of them, and I’m a Texas Ranger now. [When I see C.J. Wilson], I’m going to do what I try to do to any other pitcher. I might give C.J. a head nod, but I’m still going to try and take him deep.”
  • When asked about Josh Hamilton’s current situation, Napoli told Ben & Skin “I thought it was pretty crazy. I mean, it was sad … you never want to have something like that happen to him, but it was pretty crazy and a sad couple of days for me. I hope he’s getting better and I want him to know I’ll be there if he needs.”
  • And finally, Napoli’s thought on catching Yu Darvish in 2012, “Yeah, it’s going to be pretty crazy. Hopefully he can learn a little English and I can learn a little Japanese so we can yell at each other. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to work something out during Spring Training, whether it’s hand signals or something.”
  • The Rangers are spiffing up the outfield plaza for the fans.  Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) covers the changes here, saying “Last off-season, a new video board and sound system highlighted approximately $13 million in upgrades. This off-season, the team is spending about $12 million to renovate its Vandergriff Plaza in the center field area with a Batter’s Eye Club, a two-story restaurant/sports bar, more concession stands, a new visiting bullpen and an indoor area for kids.”
    Be sure to check out the photos in that article to get a look at the changes.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 152012
 
  • If you have missed our American League West Position Rankings, check them out and let us hear from you.
Round 4 – Pitching (coming later this week)
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsDerek Holland joined Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) on Monday for an entertaining chat.When asked if he felt like the Cardinals were destined to win the World Series last year – “We didn’t think that, because, to us, we felt like we were once again the underdogs. … It’s been like that for us the whole year. They picked the Red Sox to win the World Series and everybody else to be in front of us. The big thing is, I felt like we’ve been an underdog the whole time, and we’re probably going to do it again next year as well, and that doesn’t bother us. It’s like you said though, we were going up against some crazy odds, but we didn’t think like that though.”

    When asked if he felt like 2011 was a failure – “No, definitely not. First off, we weren’t supposed to be where we were. That’s the first thing. We did a lot with the injuries we went through. … We were proving people wrong, once again. I don’t even think we were picked to win the West. … If this season is a complete failure, that’s bad and I don’t know what’s going on with that. But, to me, I feel like we accomplished a lot. We didn’t get the World Series. That’s a big letdown. We did go back-to-back AL champs, so we obviously did something right.”

    When asked if he felt he could someday be an ace at the major league level – “If we went and closed everything off of this year, I’d say I’m maybe a two or a three. I’m not going to say I’m an ace, but I’m working to get there. … I still feel like there’s more that I need to do. I’m probably going to be the toughest critic on my own self. Some people might sit there and go, ‘You’re ace-ready.’ That’s you guys. I like to think different. I’m a hard worker. I want to make sure I do what I have to do to make sure I can be that ace.”

  • The Rangers packed up yesterday and sent the first truck on it’s way to Surprise, AZ for 2012 Spring Training…damn it feels good to type that!  Don’t believe me, watch for yourself.
  • Craig Gentry wants to start in center field and “make stuff happen on the base paths”.  Gentry spoke with reporters yesterday as the trailers were packed for the trip to Surprise.  Regarding the upcoming season, Gentry is excited about his chances, saying ”I’m excited this year because I feel like I have a really solid chance to be an everyday player.  In years past, I’ve been that guy that would scratch to maybe make the team. I’m excited about this year and ready to get it going.”
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) handles up on his inbox and discusses excess depth at catcher, Oswalt, Hamilton, Darvish and more.  Apparently, Baseball Do’s inbox hasn’t been getting as much action as Sullivan’s.  Got a question?  Hit us up and we’ll answer here on the site…
  • Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravech and Tim Kurkjian examine how the Rangers are equipped to deal with the media circus that will surround Yu Darvish and Josh Hamilton this spring.  Check out the video here.
  • We are a baseball blog.  More specifically, we are a Texas Rangers blog.  But, c’mon…

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 142012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Be sure to check out Round 1 (IF and C) and Round 2 (OF & DH) of the 2012 American League West Position Rankings if you missed them.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 35
  2. Angels: 31
  3. Athletics: 15
  4. Mariners: 14

We’ll be ranking the benches and the managers for each of the AL West squads in this round, which will be handled a little differently from how we have handled the individual positions so far.

Bench

For benches, we are looking at the quality, depth and flexibility and we’ll have one rankings for the entire team.  While the bench for a team, in it’s entirety, may not play the equivalent of a full 9 innings every game, I feel that it’s still more valuable than just one player.  Given the flexibility and strategic advantage that a strong bench can provide to a team, we are going to double the points awarded in this section.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Kendry Morales/Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Cesar Izturis, Hank Conger, Mike Trout/Peter Bourjos – LAA
  2. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon/Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe – TEX
  3. Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Adam Moore, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders – SEA
  4. Daric Barton, Eric Sogard, Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue, Collin Cowgill – OAK

This is a close one as both the Angels and Rangers have some flexibility with their bench and some starts, but the Angels take the pole here as they have the best two quality players overall in whoever isn’t starting at DH between and Morales and Trumbo and whoever isn’t starting in CF between Trout and Bourjos.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)The Rangers have flexibilty with their starters at every infield position (Young & Napoli in mix with starters), CF and DH (Napoli and others with Younger considered starter) which amplifies the role that the bench players can play on a day-to-day basis.  They clearly outpace the Mariners and Athletics, but fall short of the Angels primarily based on the quality of the players that would make the most impact off of the bench more often.

Manager

Similar to the bench, I feel like the manager rankings have to account for more than just the equivalent of one starter.  Considering the impact that the manager can have on every game, we will be doubling the scoring in this section as well.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Ron Washington, TEX
  2. Mike Scioscia, LAA
  3. Eric Wedge, SEA
  4. Bob Melvin, OAK
It’s hard to go against managing a World Series winner (Scioscia in 2002) and twice being named the American League Manager of the Year (Scioscia in 2002 & 2009), but when looking forward to 2012, Ron Washington is the best Manager in the American League West.  Washington has managed his team to the World Series in both the last two seasons and finished in the top three of AL Manager of the Year voting over the last three seasons.

In 2012, both managers go into the season with an increased level of expectations and some new stars/phenoms to work with – Pujols & C.J. in LA and Darvish in TEX.  The ranking comes down to who’s hotter as of late and Washington get’s the nod.  That said, Scioscia is an excellent manager that knows how to use his players to maximize productivity and performance.  There isn’t another division in baseball that has two better managers than Wash and Scioscia.

Score at the end of Round 3:

  1. Rangers: 35 from first two rounds + 8 + 10 = 53
  2. Angels: 31 from first two rounds + 10 + 8 = 49
  3. Mariners: 14 from first two rounds + 6 + 6 = 26
  4. Athletics: 14 from first two rounds + 4 + 4 = 22

Round 4 will cover all facets of pitching (starting rotation, relief and closer) and will be posted by this weekend.  At that time, we’ll crown the winner of the American League West in 2012 and notify commissioner Selig that playing the games won’t be necessary this year.  You picking up what I’m laying down here…my point exactly.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 142012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersHappy Valentines Day to all our ex and current lovers.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote yesterday that Mike Napoli’s ankle injury continues to progress.  Regarding the ankle, Napoli says, ”I think I’m close.  I’m not really going to know until I get into the wear and tear of spring training and catching all the time. But I’ve been feeling good and getting better day by day.”
    And it looks like Nap is eager to get back, ”I can’t wait to get back there and see all those boys and get back into it again.  I wish I was leaving now. I’m ready to do baseball stuff and not just working out.”
  • Gerry Fraley (SportsDay DFW) writes “Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty indicated on Monday that he believes free-agent righthander Roy Oswalt eventually will land with the Texas Rangers.”  Jocketty spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer recently and said that he believes Oswalt is “waiting for Texas to clear money.”
    This has been in the back of my mind all along.  We have asked the question many times of why is Oswalt waiting so long to sign somewhere.  Given that he’s a veteran that knows where he wants to be and probably values that more than money, he is either waiting for the Rangers to clear up some room to pay him or he’s waiting for the Cardinals to increase their offer to a respectable level.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article summarizing some key questions, off-season moves, and leaders from 2011.  Check it out here. Jasen and I will be discussing the questions that the Rangers need to answer on an upcoming podcast.
  • Rangers Senior Director of Play Development (and former Astros GM), Tim Purpura, sat down with Rangers Magazine to discuss a number of hot topics.  Bryan Dolgin covers everything here.  Some highlighs:On Oswalt, “The fact of the matter is, I think, in any offseason other than this one, it might have been something that made a whole lot of sense. Given the fact that we already have six starters, adding another one to the mix and changing the dynamics of where we’re at … that’s something that I think has been part of the thought process.  Is that the right step? The right move for the Texas Rangers right now?”On JD, “He’s a very patient person. He’s a very analytical person. He looks at all sides of the issue which I think you absolutely have to as a general manager. He solicits opinions extremely well.  He’s got a very talented group surrounding him with Thad Levine, AJ Preller and Don Welke. And, he listens to everyone and then he makes his decision as to which course he wants to take which is exactly a way a general manager should operate.”

    On Rangers Pitching Prospect Martin Perez coming up to the big leagues this season as a closer, “Those are tough decisions from the point of view of this is a guy who probably is at the top of the list of our starting pitchers in the minor leagues as being a number one starter down the line. You have to balance the development process with the need to win at the major league level.  It’s a delicate balance.”

  • The A’s and Cuban free-agent Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a 4 year $36M contract yesterday.  The Marlins were considered the heavy favorites to sign Cuban mega-prospect.
    David Schoenfield (ESPN.com) asks three good questions now that Cespedes has signed.
  • Big Papi (David Ortiz) and the Red Sox avoided their arbitration hearing just hours before it was scheduled by agreeing to a contract for 2012 that will pay the slugger $14.575M.  Someone on Twitter pointed out yesterday that our DH makes more.  Not sure if this was a pride-point or said in jest, but a strong argument can be made for Young over Ortiz,  starting with he can play anywhere in the infield in a pinch (didn’t say he would be a gold glover…).
  • Dirk…
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 132012
 

NAPOLI!

Monday Morning Fastballs

  • The Rangers agreed to a one year deal with Mike Napoli over the weekend.  The contract will pay the slugging catcher $9.4M for the 2012 season, after which Napoli will be a free agent.  While the agreement is nice in that it helps the Rangers and Napoli avoid an arbitration hearing, we were hoping the Rangers would lock Nap up long-term (3-4 years with options).  If you ever missed our case for extending Napoli beyond 2012, click here.
  • Looks like Josh Hamilton contract extension talks are still on hold.  Jon Daniels had this to say yesterday, “The contract is not really the priority with Josh right now — his health and family are.  We’re not going to preempt that for anything about a contract. Given how close we are, I don’t anticipate that happening before spring training. We all agreed to table things before we got to spring training.”
    The relapse has really put a damper on getting Josh locked up beyond 2012.  Similar to Nap, Hamilton will hit the free agent market next off-season barring a new contract between now and then.  While many feel that DFW is Josh’s home, the open market can often convince players otherwise.  Potential suitors will make every attempt to cater to Josh’s needs, both financially with his on-the-field performance and socially/spiritually/emotionally with his off-the-fields needs.
  • Jon Daniels also commented on the Rangers putting their wallets away over the weekend.  When asked if the Rangers were finished with their off-season spending, JD said “More than likely, yes.  I never want to shut the door and there’s always ways to be creative and things of that nature.   We can sign non-roster guys. But handicapping anything else as we sit here, there’s nothing imminent.”
    When asked about free-agents Roy Oswalt and Mike Gonzalez, JD said “Nothing has changed on either front.  There’s a level of interest in the players, but as far as a fit on the team and payroll-wise, it’s not as easy as otherwise.”
  • While I think Oswalt is not going to happen, which we are good with (see here), I think there is still a chance that Gonzalez ends up with the Rangers if they can move Koji Uehara via trade, freeing up his 2012 salary ($4M).
  • Jonathon Mayo (MLB.com) has published his Rangers Top 20 Prospects list.  Top 5:
  1. Jurickson Profar
  2. Martin Perez
  3. Mike Olt
  4. Leonys Martin
  5. Robbie Ross
  • Vegas road trip?  Tickets on sale today…
  • If you missed, more Dutch Oven genius below…

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Feb 102012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)On to round two…

To catch up on what we’re doing and understand the scoring, check out Part 1.

Score at the end of Round 1:

  1. Rangers: 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 = 21
  2. Angels: 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 17
  3. Athletics: 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2 = 8
  4. Mariners: 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 7

Left Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Josh Hamilton, TEX
  2. Vernon Wells, LAA
  3. Seth Smith, OAK
  4. Trayvon Robinson, SEA

Let’s break this down.  Vernon Wells is a better player than what we saw in 2011.  Josh Hamilton is as well.  Josh Hamilton is a better player than Vernon Wells.  Is he so much better that he deserves the bonus point here?  I think so.  If we go by 2011 alone, Josh would easily get the bonus, posting a 4.2 WAR, with Wells at 0.3 (Seth Smith was actually better than Wells with a 1.9).

I’m willing to look beyond just 2011 as I do really think Wells will improve upon his first season with the Angels, in which he only played in 131 games.  That said, I think you could say the same thing about Josh.  While his 2011 numbers look good, they were accomplished in only 121 games due to injuries.  Hamilton posted a .882 OPS, compared to the 1.044 OPS he posted in 2010 (MVP season).

In addition to the superior 2011, Josh is also the superior player.

Center Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Peter Bourjos/Mike Trout, LAA
  2. Coco Crisp, OAK
  3. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon, TEX
  4. Franklin Gutierrez, SEA

This was the weakest position across the board in 2011, with Bourjos putting together the best year without question.  There are rumors swirling that the Angels may look to deal Bourjos to make room for phenom Mike Trout.  While I like the idea of Bourjos leaving the American League West, I don’t know if I like the idea of Trout getting more playing time.  Whether it’s Bourjos or Trout or a combination of both (worst case), they lead the pack.  In fact, I’m giving the Angels duo the bonus here, which can base on speculation or Bourjos’ production last year (4.2 WAR) compared to the others on the list.

The battle for 2nd here was very close in my mind, and while I think Gentry can continue to improve (if he wins the job outright), I think Crisp is a better player in 2012.  This is definitely one to watch.

You could make an argument to put Gutierrez in the 3rd spot here, but he’s too far removed from his best season (2009) to think he’s going to be able to bounce back enough to outperform whoever mans center for the Rangers.

Right Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Torii Hunter, LAA
  2. Nelson Cruz, TEX
  3. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
  4. Josh Reddick, OAK

This was the toughest ranking of the outfield positions by far.  Let’s start at the bottom.

Reddick put together a nice season, but needs to prove he can do it again, which I don’t think he’ll do in 2012 as he’ll be in  much weaker line-up.

Ichiro is a Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest hitters of my lifetime.   Ichiro is also going to turn 39 later this year, and while it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down (40 SBs in 2011), his offensive production is on the decline.

So, it comes down to Nellie and Torii for the top spot.  I know many of my fellow Ranger fans are going to gripe about this one, but I have to give Hunter the top spot for 2012.

Cruz had the higher OPS in 2011, and is the better offensive player at this point.  Hunter is the better defensive player and has proven to be more durable and reliable.  It’s very close, but 150 games from Hunter edges out 125 games from Cruz.  Prove me wrong Nellie…

Designated Hitter

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Michael Young, TEX
  2. Jesus Montero, SEA
  3. Mark Trumbo/Kendry Morales, LAA
  4. Jonny Gomes, OAK

Jesus Montero has the ability to be #1 on this list, as does Mark Trumbo, but they won’t in 2012.

Montero was a very highly regarded prospect that came up in the Yankees farm system and debuted last year with the big league team.  He was recently dealt to Seattle in exchange for Michael Pineda.  While he’s well on his way to becoming a productive big league hitter, he’s still developing and has moved to a weaker line-up.  If we’re talking long-term, Montero is easily #1 on this list, as he has more upside than just about anyone on any of these lists. With that, I feel good about slotting him 2nd.

At first glace, I had the Angels in the 2nd spot here, but The Angels, like the Rangers, have some flexibility (though not as much) with the guys that are going to DH this year in that Trumbo and Morales can also play first base.

The soon-to-be 38 year-old Bobby Abreu struggled in 2011, and is becoming more of a situation hitter as opposed to a full-time DH, so I’ve removed him here.  It’s going to be interesting to see who get the bulk of at-bats at the DH position for LA in 2012.  I’m leaning towards it being split pretty evening, with Morales seeing a few more at-bats if he’s healthy, primarily because he’s a switch hitter.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 21 from Round 1 + 5 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 35
  2. Angels: 17 from Round 1 + 3 + 5 + 4 + 2 = 31
  3. Athletics: 8 from Round 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 1 = 15
  4. Mariners: 7 from Round 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 14

Round 3 will be posted early next week and will cover the bench and the manager.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Login