Billy Casey

Jul 132013
 
Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus: Swing and a Miss?

This has been a familiar scene in 2013 for Elvis Andrus

The Texas Rangers signed shortstop Elvis Andrus to an eight year $120 million contract extension this past off-season that will begin when his current deal ends in 2015. Elvis will make $15 million a year once his new deal begin and some consider it a good deal while others, not so much for Texas. Why would some consider it a bad deal when he is widely regarding as one of the top two or three shortstops in the game today? While Andrus has great range and can play a gold glove caliber shortstop, his bat is what some people question.

Much was made this off-season about Elvis bulking up and showing some good power to the gaps early in the season. It started off well but has since fallen off. Andrus is coming off a year in which he set career highs with a .286 batting average and a .349 on base percentage and that is coming off career highs in 2011 with .279/.347. Elvis also set career highs last year in games, plate appearances, RBI and slugging percentage. The Rangers are coming off three straight playoff appearances for just the second time in franchise history and Andrus was coming off two of his best years as a pro and is a big part of the Rangers success.

So what’s the fuss over the extension?

So far in 2013, Andrus is having arguably the worst year of his career. Thru 89 games in 2013, he’s hitting just .246 with a .304 OBP but the most troubling stat has to be his dismal .285 slugging percentage. He has just 11 extra base hits this season after career highs last year in doubles (31) and triples (9). Miguel Cabrera has that many in one game. Ok, that’s not entirely true, unless you watch ESPN, then it is true. Anyways, he is on pace to have one of the worst slugging percentages in a single season and by far the worst of his career.

So what gives? Is he falling victim to having his contract and now he’s become comfortable? Is he taking his money and running? Or are pitchers simply pitching him differently? It can’t be that he is hitting second in the lineup because he did that all of 2012 when he set all those career highs. I won’t bore you with a ton of stats, but let’s take a quick look at what I believe to be contributing to his struggles.

Andrus’ numbers are going in the wrong direction. He is striking out at a career high 14.5% and walking at a rate of 7.5% which is the lowest since his rookie season. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a career worst .290. Now that stat would suggest he’s running into some dumb luck. That was the case early on in the season and a little bit here more recently. He’s been hitting the ball on the nose and hard, just right at someone. I attended a game in early April where Elvis went 0-4 but hit four line drives that were just rockets right at people. That happens. Elvis is at his best when he can drive the ball for base hits and force the defense to not play up and expect a bunt.

It’s not all bad luck for Elvis though. Pitchers are even pitching him differently. He is seeing fewer fastballs and more off-speed pitches. His ground ball percentage is the highest of his career so far and his fly ball percentage is the lowest of his career so far. Give credit to opposing pitchers though. They are getting him to chase pitches out of the strike zone (also known as O-Swing %) at a career high 24.3% of the time and he’s is making contact (O-Contact %) at about his career norm so he’s chasing and missing more which would explain the higher strikeout rate. Now check this out, he is swinging at a career high 56.6% of pitches in the strike zone (Z-Swing %) but his 92.6% contact rate (Z-Contact %) is the lowest of his career. As a whole, he is seeing fewer pitches in the zone and swinging at more pitches outside the zone. That’s a bad combination for a hitter.

One could argue that Ian Kinsler is the catalyst that drives this offense. While that notion holds a lot of truth, chew on this: When the Rangers win Andrus’ numbers look like this:

.298/.354/.349/.703 with eight extra base hits, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases

When the Rangers lose, his numbers look like this:
.168/.226/.189/.415 with three extra base hits, four RBI and five stolen bases

As Elvis goes, so do the Rangers? Make your own conclusions.

I’m not a scout and I’m probably wrong more than I’m right, but I do know that whatever is wrong with Elvis, I hope he figures it out soon. The Rangers need him to be 2012 Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have $15 million reason to hope that he returns to that form too.

Oh want some good news? Andrus is hitting .308 in innings 7-9. At least he isn’t giving up.

Will the real Elvis Andrus please stand up?

Until then, critique me and my opinions all you want, I’m going to the beach. See y’all after the All Star Break.


Billy is a wannabe contributor to BaseballDo that pretends to know what he’s talking about. Jasen regrets giving him a site password every day.
Follow us on twitter @baseballdo and follow me @bcasey55

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
May 102013
 
cruz2

A LOB City Hit Parade

Have you seen the little girl in the Capital One commercial? Ya know, the one who says “We want more! We want more!” Even a seven year old knows that more is better. We all want more of the good things; money, vacation time, paid days off. It’s just how we are wired, more is better, which is why I believe that the Rangers “problems” with hitting with men in scoring position is not even a problem at all. It’s nothing more than blind perception to the bigger picture. Allow me to explain my reasoning.

How do the Rangers leave so many men on base to begin with? They hit the ball. It’s that simple. The more hits you have, the more chances you have to leave men on base. It’s a very elementary argument really. It’s the same type of argument I use when people tell me that Derek Jeter is a better shortstop than Elvis Andrus because he makes less errors. Elvis has way more range than Jeter ever dreamed of and because of that he gets to more balls, thus giving him more chances to throw runners out and more chances to make errors.

If you believe that teams have to have a very high average with runners in scoring position in order to win ballgames, let me present to you the World Champion San Francisco Giants (twice in three years even). In 2012, the Giants finished 13th in the league with a .259 avg with runners in scoring position compared to the Tigers who finished 1st with a .286 average and yet the Giants defeated the Tigers to win their second title in three years. In 2010 the Giants finished 24th with an average of .248 while the Minnesota Twins finished 1st hitting .285.
So the team that was statistically the best team in the big leagues with men in scoring position was swept out of the first round of the playoffs while one of the worst teams in baseball went on the win the World Series! BLASPHEMY!

The Rangers have a good offense. They hit the ball, they score runs, they steal bases and for the most part, they are consistent. The Rangers get on base. A LOT. It’s a double edged sword. The better you are, the more chances you have at failure. Let us take a look at just how good the Rangers have been over the last three seasons.

2010: 4th-.276 w/RISP, 1st in regular season avg .276, 1st in hits with 1556, 6th.338 OBP

2011: 2nd – .285 w/RISP, 1st in regular season avg .283, 2nd in hits with 1599(one hit short of finishing 1st), 5th .340 OBP

2012: 4th – .275 w/RISP, 3rd in regular season avg .273, tie for 1st with 1526, 4th .334 OBP

As you can see the Rangers have been the best hitting team in baseball the last three years and one of the best in getting on base. It’s simple logic and statistics. The more you get on base, the more you will leave on base. Leaving men on base should be a testament as to how good a team’s offense is, not how poorly they are at driving them in.
The Rangers averaged about 1.06 hits per inning and 4.96 runs per game last season. That means on average that the Rangers will get a hit in every inning and score in about half of those. Remember, that’s just how it all averages out. If they get four hits in one inning and score three runs in that inning but then get one hit in four separate innings but score no runs, then it’s still the same thing. It still averages out. No one complains when the Rangers win but leave eight or nine guys on base. Why? Because they won. Its how you perceive the game.

Did you know that the Kansas City Royals finished 3rd, 5th and 8th respectively over the last three season in average with RISP? The Royals! Did you know that in 2012, six of the top 10 teams in average with RISP didn’t even make the playoffs? In 2011 that number was five of the top 10 and in 2010 it was six of the top 10.

What I’m getting at is that as long as the Rangers continue to lead the league in hits, they will also leave a ton of men on base. It’s just how it is and it’s not going to change. As long as they continue to score runs and win ballgames, what does it even matter? Remember, baseball is a game of failure. If you succeed 30% of the time, you are considered a phenomenal player. When it comes to scoring runs with RISP, you have a one in four chance on average. The odds are not in your favor. They never will be.

It could be worse; they could just not be getting on base at all. It’s a total team effort. If they win 2-0 but leave 10 guys on base, then you have to credit the pitching for tossing a shutout. If they lose 2-0 but leave two guys on base, then everyone complains that they didn’t hit the ball. So which is it Rangers fans? Do you want them to continue to hit the ball, get on base and leave men on base or do you want them to lose games and not leave any men on base?

Its perception. Look at the big picture. Think about it. It’s not as bad as you think it is.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Apr 042013
 
RangersAstrosOpeningDay

Baseball, Beer and a Babe? An Opening Night Excursion

So, as some of you know by now there was a large group of people that went down to Houston to watch our Texas Rangers take on the newest AL West Rival, the Houston Astros. Of those people, three of them are from right here at Baseballdo; Jasen Southward (the man), Dustin Dietz (the bunting advocate) and myself (the pretend writer) and since the three of us ended up hanging together most of the weekend, I’d like to give you a brief rundown of our weekend so that you can see how much fun the trip really was. That way, you’ll know what you need to do to make it to our next trip!

The Beginning

It was back towards the beginning of Spring Training 2013 when a friend approached me about an idea to get a group together to head down to Houston for Opening Night. It started out as one of those “wouldn’t it be cool if… “ moments and then it quickly came to fruition.

Jennifer C. Brown told me that she knew a ticket rep in Houston and could probably hook us up, so I said, “What the hell, let’s do it, I’m down.”

It started out as a simple 20 tickets because we were unsure of who we could get to go being on Easter Sunday and having to travel and get hotel arrangements made. We had 20 tickets gone within the hour. It jumped to 40, then 60 and before we knew it, we had 100 tickets reserved and paid for. We even had shirts made so that we could rule our entire section once we got there. After adding a few more tickets here and there, we ended up with 114 people strong. We definitely represented the Rangers very well.

Saturday – The Pre Game

A couple of other buddies and myself arrived in Houston around 5pm on Saturday evening, got checked into the hotel and decided to go grab some grub before an organized group meet up. Right off the bat, the first place we look up and walk to, is nowhere to be found. It just doesn’t even exist. So we scramble to find a new place, walk there…. Closed. Really? It’s a Saturday Night Houston! Why are you a restaurant in downtown Houston, closed on a Saturday Night? Come to find out, EVERYTHING was closed for the ENTIRE WEEKEND due to it being Easter. Hey, I can understand being closed on Easter Sunday but come on! The Clippers were in town as well as the Rangers. Houston failed big time in this aspect, at least to me anyways.

We finally find an overpriced Mexican Restaurant to eat at. Naturally, being the only thing open, it’s pretty busy. After dinner, as we are getting ready to get up and leave, I look up and standing right in front of the booth next to us is Rangers Pitching Coach Mike Maddux with his wife and who I assume to be his daughter. I mean, it could be some party chick for all I know, I don’t know what the guy does in his spare time. Anyway, being that he is with his family I didn’t really want to disturb him and be “that guy” so I decided that while we were waiting for our check that I would start talking Ranger baseball a little too loud in hopes that I could distract his mind from the menu and engage us instead. Yea, that didn’t work. Dude was a like fat kid in a candy store; oblivious to his surroundings.

Meanwhile, back at the Four Seasons Hotel, Dustin and some of the others have already met up at the hotel bar and started to pre-game. About the same time that Maddux sits down, I start seeing pictures surface on twitter from Dustin’s brother, Austin, which show the players walking in. Beltre, Wash, Gentry and even Jon Blake. At this point, I know it’s time to go. So we pay the check and off we go to the hotel.

Once there, I start to get introduced to the people that I don’t yet know. Then I was introduced to this girl. A pretty girl even but at this moment, I had Rangers on my mind. One by one they start to appear. Andy Hawkins, Gary Pettis (who later becomes our best friend), Josh Frazier, David Murphy, Joe Nathan, Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis, Wash and even Nolan Ryan all appear at some point albeit brief.

A couple of the folks in our group decided to talk to some of the players/coaches and one person decided it would be a good idea to invite Gary Pettis out to the Flying Saucer with us a little later on that evening. Clearly the invite was a joke because Pettis would never take us up on that right?

So after about an hour of staring down Joe Nathan and Derek Holland having dinner, I started to feel like a dirty groupie outside a rock bands dressing room in hopes of catching a sweat bead off their hair. We decided to bounce and head over to the Flying Saucer.

The place is packed. I run upstairs to try and find a table big enough to fit the 20 people we have going on this excursion. There was plenty of room in an area in the back but “Jeff” was having a birthday party. Problem is, “Jeff” reserved a spot for about 40 people and only had about 10 friends. So we crammed into two small tables since it was all that was left.

There she is again, that pretty girl from the hotel that I was introduced to. Now she’s sitting next to me at this bar. Now that the Rangers aren’t on my mind, I start to make some small talk, nothing to extravagant. About the time we get our drinks, “Jeff” decides that no one likes him and his party is lame and he and his group leave. We immediately take over the entire area and fill out the whole section that was supposed to be for “Jeff.” Now, as new seating arrangements are happening, I don’t want to be the creepy guy that comes in and sits directly next to the pretty girl I’ve only known for a couple of hours, so I sit across from her.

The night is progressing, lots of fun is being had and even more than just small talk with the pretty girl.
Then it happens. The improbable. In walks Gary Pettis. NO WAY! Gary freaking Pettis is actually joining us at a bar?! How freaking cool is this?! Houston patrons have no clue what’s going on. They are wondering who we are all clamoring over. Shut up and go root for the Dynamo.

While everyone decides to hit up Pettis right away, I hang back until everyone gets their turn before I swoop in. When I finally do get my shot, I figure I’m going to drop some straight hardcore knowledge bombs on Pettis and tell him how to run that third base line this year. Well, unbeknownst to me, Pettis is clearly the superior baseball mind. I did ask him one question and his answer I thought was very interesting. I told him that a lot of fans think that since we lost Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, that the team would regress this year and asked him what he thought about it…

“So?..”

He says this while looking at me like I was crazy. He further elaborated saying that we are a better team now because we are a more versatile team and bring a different type of game to the field instead of just a power, swing for the fences game.

My night has been made. I couldn’t have asked for a better answer.

Pettis decides that he’s had enough of everyone buying him drinks and decides to call it a night. Or he was drunk, one of the two, probably the latter. A few more side conversations with group members and people start to call it a night. Me? I find myself still chatting with that pretty girl from the hotel. I hear her say to her friend that she’s not ready to go yet because she hasn’t found a date to the game.

Challenge accepted.

I jump in and immediately suggest that I’m available, jokingly of course, because if she says no then I need a way to save face right? RIGHT?

“Oh really? Ok then it’s a date.”

Yea I figured you’d say no, I was totally kidding any…. I’m sorry what? You were being serious? And you said yes? Well then I was totally being serious.

So finally, Jasen, Dustin, Dustin’s Wife, his sister in law (the pretty girl who is now my date for the game), myself and a few others decide to wrap it up and we all walk together back to our separate hotels. While walking, I find myself talking with; yup you guessed it, the pretty girl. I mean after all, she is my date now. I have to put forth some sort of effort. We all go our separate ways for the evening and decide to meet up again in the AM for some more pre gaming.

Sunday – More Pre Game

After wondering around downtown so my buddy could find an ATM that clearly didn’t exist, (second time something we looked up didn’t exist) we find a pizza place open and sit down for some lunch. I call up Dustin and the gang and invite them over and we all enjoy some pizza that was a cross between Indian food and Italian food. It was pretty good too.

We decided to mosey on down to the “Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park Opening Day Festival” and see what all it had to offer.

The $26 Boomstick hotdog at Rangers Ballpark was bigger than their “Festival.”

Sunday – The Game

The game sucked. We got our asses handed to us on a silver platter on National Television by the worst team in the Major Leagues and that’s all I’m going to say about the game. Justin Maxwell made it pretty high up my “I can’t tolerate you” list by the end of the night too.

The Astros fans really took me off guard and honestly, I’ve got to say that I lost a little respect for them. I mean you are the worst team in baseball coming off back to back 100+ loss seasons. Hey, I understand you want to defend your turf and represent your team and all but to tell us that the Rangers suck and that we wasted our money coming to Houston just to see them lose and we all needed to shut up and go back to Dallas is a little backwards to me. Maybe it’s not what they said, maybe it’s how the said it. Maybe it stung more because they really did whip our butts.

Not all was lost at the game though, being is that I had an extra ticket; I invited the pretty girl to come and sit by me for a portion of the game. (I didn’t want her to abandon her sister and brother in law). She obliged and joined me for about 2-3 innings on two separate occasions. After the game was over, we all moved down to enjoy some fireworks, which are my favorite. Fireworks, baseball AND a pretty girl?

Baseball, Beer and a Babe? An Opening Night Excursion

The night is still young so we decided to go get more beer and head on back to my hotel room to drink it up and chat the night way. And by we, I mean about 10 of us including Dustin and Jasen. I notice that the pretty girl decides to cuddle up next to me. Who am I to tell a pretty girl not to do that?

So after several hours of talking and drinking, we decide to order some late night pizza, and by late night I mean 2am. Flakey’s Pizza was the place and it was the best damn pizza I’ve ever had on a Saturday night at 3am.

Oh and they offered a $10 Ho. Don’t ask.

The night comes to an end and everyone goes their separate ways. Oh the pretty girl you ask? Well I guess what happened when I walked her out will have to stay between her and me now wont it?

Overall I would have to say that the trip was a gigantic success. I had more fun than I had had in a long time. Everything from the people, to the game made this trip a fun and memorable trip. It was my first time seeing my Rangers play on the road so I didn’t know what to expect. If I get to give advice to Gary Pettis every road trip, then I’ll quit my job and do it again! It was so much fun and such a huge success that we are already planning another trip. I can’t wait to go again.

And then there was this pretty girl.



Follow me on twitter @bcasey55

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
Feb 152013
 

Why The Rangers Can Be Better Than Last Year

The sky is falling! The Rangers suck! Why did they trade Michael Young and let Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli leave in free agency? The Rangers will lose 100 games this year!

These are all things I’ve heard Rangers fan say this off-season. Yes, a “Fan” said they would lose 100 games. They won’t. I guarantee you that. Everyone says that the replacement guys, Lance Berkman, AJ Pierzynski and Leonys Martin cannot and will not replace the offense that the outgoing guys had. I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true.

I was watching Clubhouse Confidential on MLB Network earlier this week and they had an interesting saber metrics breakdown called linear weights where a home run was worth x amount of runs on average and so on down the list. I thought this was very interesting so I did some research, some math (god help us) and came up some very interesting numbers. Now, I don’t know the formula for wRC+ (weighted runs created) because that takes into account park factors and league played in.

What I did was simply add up all the linear weighted numbers and came up with a runs created number and then I divided that number by 162 and came out with an average number per game. I did this for Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Berkman and Pierzynski. Since Martin only has 24 career games, I used his stats for those games and averaged it out to a 155 games played season. So let’s take a look at the linear weights, which again is what each of these results are worth as far as runs are concerned: (remember these numbers are ON AVERAGE numbers)

Home Run – 1.39
Triple – 1.09
Double – .77
Single – .47
Walk – .32
Stolen Base – .16
Caught Stealing – (-.45)
Groundout – (-.24)
Strikeout – (.30)

We’ve all heard the saying “a walk is a good as a hit”, well we can clearly see here that that is not true. You would think that a double would simply be worth half of what a homerun would be right? It’s in fact worth a little more than half. What really caught my eye though is the fact that a caught stealing is worth nearly as much as a single. You have to think that if major league clubs use these saber metrics that these numbers would have some kind of effect on when and if a team attempts a stolen base.

So how bad will the Rangers offense be now that those three guys are gone? Let’s take a look:

Hamilton
HR- 59.77
3B- 2.18
2B- 23.87
1B- 39.48
BB- 19.20
SB- 1.12
CS- (-1.80)
GO- (-36.96)
SO- (-48.60)
58.26 RC

Young
HR- 11.12
3B- 3.27
2B- 20.79
1B- 61.57
BB- 10.56
SB- .32
CS- (-.90)
GO- (-69.84)
SO- (-2.10)
15.89 RC

Napoli
HR- 33.36
3B- 2.18
2B- 6.93
1B- 21.15
BB- 17.92
SB- .16
CS- .00
GO- (-21.84)
SO- (-37.50)
22.36 RC

These three combined to create 96.51 runs last year for the Rangers. That comes out to .60 runs per game (in 162 games). As you can see Hamilton and Napoli were really hurt by their strikeout numbers and Young was hammered by the ground ball out. These numbers all make sense since every Rangers fan last year was complaining about Hamilton and Nap striking out so much and Young being a ground ball machine. There is no denying the fact that 97 runs over the course of the year from three players is a lot. It’s easy to look at the RBI and Runs Scored stats and say they were worth that much. That doesn’t take into account everything else, all the runners they left on base, strikeouts with runners on and the grounded into double plays. This gives a look into the runs they created and takes away the runs that they cost their team. I feel like it’s a more accurate assessment as to how much a player is actually worth.

Now, for the three replacements, I used Berkmans 2011 season in St. Louis since it was his last full season and since Martin has never played a full season in the bigs, I took his numbers and averaged them out over a 155 games played season. Seeing is how he hasn’t really performed yet, anything he does this year better than what he has shown us so far, is nothing but a bonus. In all fairness, I have Berkmans numbers from 2012 as well and I did the same thing with those numbers as I did with Martins.

Berkman
HR- 43.09
3B- 2.18
2B- 17.71
1B- 42.77
BB- 29.44
SB- .32
CS (-2.70)
GO- (.27.90)
SO- (.36.96)
67.95 (2011)

Pierzynski
HR- 37.53
3B- 4.36
2B- 13.86
1B- 39.48
BB- 8.96
SB- 0.00
CS- 0.00
GO- (-23.40)
SO (-40.80)
39.99 RC

Martin
HR- 0.00
3B- 5.45
2B- 4.62
1B- 1.41
BB- 1.28
SB- .48
CS- 0.00
GO- (-3.9)
SO- (-4.8)
4.51 (21.70 avg)

These three guys have a combined Runs Created number of 129.64! That is an astonishing 33.14 runs MORE per season that Hamilton/Young/Napoli! That comes out to .80 per game which is .20 runs more than the three guys leaving. Bet you didn’t expect that result did ya?

Now remember, this is assuming that Berkman stays healthy and if he doesn’t, like he didn’t in 2012, than we can expect about half of his performance which would make the numbers between each set of mean, nearly identical. That still isn’t as bad as everyone is making it out to be. That is basically equal production! However, if Leonys Martin produces even as an average major leaguer, that makes up for Berkmans slack. Anything Martin does is a bonus. Berkman and AJ are going to strikeout, not as much as Napoli and Hamilton but it will be close, close enough that it will feel like the same. The biggest thing I see out of this is the ground ball outs. The new three COMBINED didn’t ground out as much as Michael Young did last year by himself. Young REALLY was a rally killer last year as some called him the grounded into double play master.

All of this is contingent on everyone staying healthy and being a shadow of their self from last season. It’s baseball, anything can happen. Berkman may get hurt the first week and this is all moot. What I’m trying to convey to you all is that the future isn’t as bleak as you once thought. These guys can perform as good as or better than the big three that left. It may not be as flashy with long home runs but it will be exciting. There will be a more controlled running game and more situational hitting. I expect a running game similar to 2010 when the Rangers would literally steal a run.

33 runs more per season can translate to roughly six more wins based on a five runs per game average. SIX MORE WINS! Remind me, how many games did the Rangers lose the AL West by?

Game on Anaheim.

Follow me on twitter @bcasey55. Follow the site on twitter @baseballdo.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.4/10 (10 votes cast)
Feb 082013
 

The 5th Element
The offseason for the Rangers has been dominated by the talk of whose going and who’s staying. Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two names that come up the most when it comes to potential trades. We all know that both of these young men could be the face of the franchise soon. Elvis has already shown he is an elite shortstop and Profar homered in his first ever big league at bat showing why he is the Rangers and all of baseballs #1 prospect.

But I don’t want to talk about them right now. I want to talk about what I feel will be the most intriguing matchup and competition in spring training.

The 5th spot in the Rangers rotation.

It’s a foregone conclusion that the Rangers top four pitchers will be right handed starters Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando and left handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. That leaves the fifth spot open for competition. The candidates are said to be lefties Robbie Ross and Marin Perez and right hander Justin Grimm among others.

Ross spent the entire 2012 campaign in the big leagues as a reliever and quickly became a fan favorite. The Rangers even named some nachos after him, calling them the “Totally Rossome Nachos”. He even signed an autograph for my cousin as he was leaving the stadium in his truck one night. (My cousin is a creeper for waiting at the players exit for him but that’s neither here nor there). He made 69 starts in the minors before surprising everyone, including the Rangers, and making the big league club out of spring training. The knock on Ross is that he only has two pitches but so did Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Ogando was an all-star as a starter in 2011 and Feliz was having a great first half in 2012 before blowing out his elbow.

Justin Grimm was called up in June of 2012 to make his debut against the now division rival Houston Astros. He got the win in his debut going six innings allowing six hits, three runs and recording seven strikeouts. Considering he had never pitched above the AA level, most considered his debut a huge success despite it being against one the worst teams in all of baseball. He split the rest of the year between AAA Round Rock and the big leagues. Grimm went on to make one more start and three relief appearances and compiled a 9.00 era over 14 IP at the big league level. He has above average velocity with a fastball that routinely touches 95 and a sharp curve. According to Rangers scouts, he lacks command in his mechanics that would allow him to repeat his delivery the same each time which could ultimately be what holds him back.

Martin Perez was another guy who split time between the Rangers and the minors. Perez has plus stuff across the board with his fastball, curve and changeup. The biggest issue with Perez, just like Grimm, is his command. He walked 15 big leaguers in just 38 IP which comes out to just a little over four per nine innings. Any baseball fan will tell you, walks equal runs and that’s not a good thing. The bright side? He’s only 21.

So who will take the 5th spot in the rotation? Robbie Ross clearly has the most big league experience and Martin Perez has the most starting experience. Without boring you to death with stats and who pitches better within the division, I believe that Martin Perez will win the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

WHAT? MARTIN PEREZ??

Yup. I’m just as surprised as you are. When I originally started writing this article I was going to go with Robbie Ross as winning the spot but the more I thought about it, the more I believe that Perez will win it. The Rangers only have one left handed reliever out of the bullpen right now in Michael Kirkman and I wouldn’t consider him a lefty specialist. You are going to need more than one lefty to battle the likes of Josh Hamilton, Josh Reddick and Raul Ibanez and that’s just in your division! Ross fits that reliever role much better than Perez does. He’s used to it, he’s accustomed to it and he thrived in it last season. Perez, despite being owned by the Oakland Athletics, has so much more room to grow and excel. It’s almost as if I’m saying Perez will win the spot by default over Ross and maybe I am but I believe that Martin Perez will come out on top.

Robbie Ross was nothing short of brilliant in his rookie season and much like Neftali Feliz, I think the Rangers see his assets being utilized the best out of the bullpen. Perez doesn’t fit the bullpen mantra like Ross does. As long as the 5th spot avoids the Oakland A’s all season, Perez will do fine! Remember, whoever wins this final spot in the rotation will likely be replaced mid-season when Colby Lewis returns from his elbow injury. The battle will certainly be an intriguing one to watch. If Ross pitches in spring training like he did last year, he will push Perez either to the bullpen or back to AAA. It would not surprise me to see Ross win in but I’m sticking with Perez as my winner.

My sleeper pick to surprise everyone is Cody Buckel. Even deeper sleeper, Neil Ramirez. Write it down.
I’ve been wrong before.

And I will probably be wrong again.

Follow me on twitter @bcasey55

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.7/10 (3 votes cast)
Jan 052013
 

Lance Berkman: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Earlier today the Texas Rangers inked free agent first basemen/designated hitter and Texas native Lance Berkman to a one year $11 million deal with a vesting option if he reaches 550 plate appearances. Berkman will assume the role as full-time DH and may occasionally play first base during interleague games or when the occasional lefty starts. (We’ll discuss this later) Is this a good fit for Texas or not? Let me know what you think at the end of the article.

Every Rangers fan seems to be conflicted by this move and argue why it’s a great move or why it’s a terrible move. There are so many different scenarios that could happen now that this signing has taken place. Many bloggers/insiders/sources think that this move is setting up an even bigger move. I would have to agree with that. But who is leaving? Someone has to either be demoted or traded because the Rangers 40 man roster is full. It will likely be someone being taken off the 40 man and then someone will probably be traded. Let’s take a minute or ten to review all the scenarios that could happen with Berkman landing in Texas.

Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a Justin Upton Trade

Let’s face it; Mike Olt is the odd man out here. He’s been the odd man out since Adrian Beltre was signed. He’s a corner infielder/outfielder with good power the MVP type potential but there’s just nowhere to play him. He’s not playing third base and the only way he plays first base is if Moreland is gone and I don’t see that happening. If prospect Joey Gallo lives up to expectations and matures on time, he will presumably take over for Beltre once Beltre’s contract expires in 2015. There is no reason to waste Olt while he is in his prime, so it makes sense to move him and that’s why I believe he will be the centerpiece in an attempt to get outfielder Justin Upton from Arizona.

Jurickson Profar starts the year at AAA or wastes a year of control

The number one prospect in all of baseball SS/2B Jurickson Profar has been heavily rumored to be starting the year with the Rangers at some capacity. The most heated rumor was that he would move over from his customary SS spot to play second base and current second basemen Ian Kinsler would slide over and man first base. Doing that though would leave Mitch Moreland out to dry and I honestly don’t think Ron Washington or Jon Daniels is ready to give up on Moreland just yet. Moreland could be packaged with Olt if they were to move him which would clear the way for Profar, however, I just don’t see that happening.

If Moreland were to stay in Texas like I assume he will, Profar will suffer at some capacity. If the Rangers kept him at the big league level, they would essentially be wasting a year of control on him because he would play sparingly off the bench and an occasional start against lefties when Moreland would sit and Kinsler would slide to first base. But why even do that? That to me makes no sense to have Profar play part time and Kinsler to play part time first base. I say either move Kinsler and Profar, or don’t do it at all. Now if Moreland gets traded, this scenario could very well be moot because Profar could start every day at second base. I say could because there is still no guarantee that he even starts the year at the big league level and could still play at AAA all year. After all, he is only 19.

The Elvis Andrus conundrum

What to do with Elvis Andrus is the big question. As the Rangers sit RIGHT NOW, I don’t like the Berkman signing. Why? Because that is $10 million that could have been allocated towards a long term extension for Andrus. If Moreland is traded, Kinsler moves to first base and Profar moves to second base then you HAVE to re-sign Elvis for the long term. It does not make sense or help Kinsler or Profar to move positions for a year or two only to have them move back to their original positions once Elvis leaves as a free agent or gets traded because he can’t be re-signed. If there is any inclination that you cannot re-sign Andrus, then move him now. It pains me to say that but makes the most sense. He would bring a huge return. Package him with a couple of prospects to Tampa Bay for David Price.

If you sign Andrus to a long term extension than it almost guarantees that Profar will spend most of the year at AAA Round Rock. I’m ok with that and I’m not. He’s 19; it makes sense to leave him down there a year. I want the kid here though! Andrus and Profar could easily be the most formidable double play duo in the majors for many years to come.

Mitch Moreland
We’ve discussed most of the scenarios involving Moreland already so I will keep this one short. I believe that the Rangers will keep Moreland for one reason. He is there only true bon a fide first basemen. Are you ready to go through the entire season without a true first basemen? What if Kinsler gets hurt and misses significant time? Berkman is not an everyday first basemen even for a short amount of time anymore. Is Ian Kinsler a good enough athlete to learn first base and play there an entire season and be equal to the same production offensively and defensively as Moreland? If the Rangers think that Kinsler can be that guy, then by all means, package Moreland and Olt to Arizona for Justin Upton, at least use that as a start. I think that Moreland stays in Texas though because of a lack of depth at the position.

So you see, it’s entirely too early to really tell whether or not this was a good deal by Texas. We really won’t know how this turns out until spring training. My prediction is that Moreland will be used off the bench, Kinsler starts at first base and Profar at second base. Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a deal that brings back Justin Upton which would slide Nelson Cruz over to left field and regulate David Murphy back to the bench as the fourth outfielder or traded. Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will platoon centerfield for the time being. Who knows, Cruz could be traded as well leaving Murphy as a full time left fielder, we all know he’s earned it.

What do YOU think? I’d love to hear your scenarios and/or predictions.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (10 votes cast)
Login