If you can name this former Ranger, you have all my admiration and respect.
Its one of the most magical times of the year, no not the All-Star snooze fest. It’s blockbuster trade season. Here are some of the rumors flying around today involving your Texas Rangers
David Kaplan of CSNCHICAGO is reporting that the asking price for Matt Garza remains to be high but he expects him to be traded before the start of the 2nd half of the season.
Multiple sources told me Monday afternoon the Rangers and the Blue Jays are both deciding how far they want to go to acquire Garza with one personnel executive saying, “Look Texas has come so close to winning it all and they may not have many more opportunities to win a ring. And Toronto paid big in the offseason and this may be their best shot to win if they can add another solid arm and Garza certainly fits that big time.”
Richard Durrett of ESPNDALLAS.com talks about the Rangers interest in Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios and what he would be willing to part with to get him.
I’d part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we’ll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I’d do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.
Joel Sherman reports in the New York Post that the Rangers are the most likely suitors to get the top pitcher currently available on the trade market.
1. They have always liked him and with four starters — Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis — on the disabled list, they have need. Texas is expecting Darvish and Ogando back. Things are more uncertain with Harrison and Lewis. The Rangers would love to have Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland fronting their rotation down the stretch and possibly lining up 1-2-3 for the playoffs.
Isn’t this fun!!!
Early yesterday morning it was reported that MLB had decided to suspend Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and rehabbing Yankee Alex Rodriguez for as many as 100 games next week. Braun and Arod were among 20 players identified in a Miami Biogenesis steroid probe during the off-season. One of the players reportedly involved was our very own All-Star Nelson Cruz. Cruz has been a beast this year with an .864 OPS and 22 home runs before the all star break but most certainly the Rangers front office has been preparing for losing the
handsome incredibly eyebrow-ed slugger. Lets take a closer look at a couple of options the Rangers have in the outfield.
This is my personal preference. Leonys Martin has been nothing short of electrifying in his first full season in the big leagues. The Cuban Lion has not only been hitting .292/.342/.440 he’s been a terrific defensive center fielder. Let’s move him to right field shall we?? Why would you move a terrific center fielder to right field you ask? Because you have an even better defensive center fielder in your organization who is dying to prove his mettle. Engel Beltre has only played in 7 games this year but has shown flashes of awesomeness. He’s a pest. He gets on base and once he’s there, he makes things happen. Before being called up Beltre was hitting .300/.360/.406 in AAA Round Rock, his most productive minor league year to date. Murphy, well he’s Murphy. One of the absolutely nicest guys on the team who struggles at the beginning of every year and then ramps up at the end of the year. He’s done it his whole career and it appears he’s starting to do it again raising his batting average and is now projected to finish the season a respectable .281/.350/.437.
Other than Engel Beltre, there aren’t many big league ready outfielders in the Rangers farm system. No, not even Joey Gallo. The Rangers may look to trade some of those valuable prospects in a deep system for a proven outfielder ready to step in and play in Cruz’s spot now. One of the names I’ve heard in rumors is that of Chicago White Sox OFer Alex Rios. Rios is hitting .281 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI so far this year. While its unknown what the Sox would want in return, he is under control through 2014 and would fit nicely in his natural RF spot in Texas. In the “its a pipe dream” department, the equally handsome Giancarlo “don’t call me Mike” Stanton would be an even nicer fit but is unlikely to come to Texas without costing you the Chosen One, Profar.
I don’t want Nelson Cruz to be suspended, and he very well might not be, but its time to start preparing for the worst. Hold me.
Yes, we’ve been slacking. We’ve had site issues, organizational changes, DL stints and drug suspensions within the BaseballDo ranks. Don’t worry we’re about to be back with new ground breaking analysis (copying other site’s articles) and podcasts (drunk conversations between Scott and I). Stay TUNED!!!!!!!!!!!!
By Sean P. Bloodgood
As we made our way into the long baseball off-season following a disastrous end to the 2012 campaign, the Texas Rangers organization faced a plethora of tough decisions to make. That is to say, they had options.
What to do about Josh’s impending free agency? Publicly, they said all the right things. “Of course we’d love to resign Josh”. But we can easily deduce that they had privately grown tired of his act. His performance following a supposed energy drink-induced fiasco, the fumbled lazy fly ball at O.co., and the 0-4 performance while seeing only 8 pitches in the one-game wildcard round created a hatred unseen here since the days of Adrian Dantley. Their options were to overpay to keep him here, or to let him go. So far, it looks like they made the right choice with regards to God’s Gift to Baseball.
Nap and the hole at the 2-spot
A beloved teammate and fan favorite, Nap-Oh-Lee headed into the off-season with major questions about his physical condition. The Rangers chose not to make him a qualifying offer, which after the news of his failed physical with the Red Sox, looked like the correct move yet again. He verbally agreed to a 3 year, 39 million dollar offer, but ultimately signed for just 1 year, 5 million. He had made his proverbial bed with Boston. Barring an extension, Napoli, who’s playing at a torrid pace in 2013, will be a free agent at the close of the season. Unless Mitch Moreland consistently proves himself against left handed pitching this season, Nap would be an interesting option for the Rangers at first base. Mike’s days behind the plate are likely over, and while AJP provides a level of attitude this team hasn’t seen in a while, the condition of Nap’s hips relegate him to being strictly a first baseman or DH. What this team will do at catcher remains to be seen, but they have options. Jorge Alfaro is several years away, but by all accounts, he’s been anointed as the catcher of the future by none other than Mr. Catcher himself.
Robinson Chirinos, acquired from Tampa on April 8 just after the start of this season, is playing really well in AAA thus far, so if Pierzynski continues to showcase his age, fragility, and weak arm, don’t be surprised to see Chirinos behind the plate at RBiA within the next few months.
The Golden Child
Speaking of anointed, towards the end of the 2012 season Jurickson Profar homered in his first ever at-bat at the tender age of 19 years and 195 days. He joined a list of only two other teenagers to do so – Whitey Lockman in 1945 at 18 years and 345 days, and Ted Tappe in 1950 at 19 years and 224 days. It’s feat that hadn’t been done in 62 years. I know most of us have tried to forget the end of 2012, but he was one of the bright spots. The Rangers have plenty of options with the phenom. They could have traded him (or Andrus or Olt depending on the source) for @JUP_8TL. Right now, Upton is tearing it up for the Braves. But there’s one question you have to ask yourself – why were the Dbacks so damned eager to get rid of him? The Rangers just let one head case move on to a real baseball town, but they had the option of adding Upton. In the long run, is he really worth Profar? Most folks, including me, don’t think so. Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) is younger and has more years of control remaining (through 2016) than Upton did at the time when the Braves finally acquired and extended him. David Price would be a magnificent addition to this rotation, and those rumors will keep growing as we move towards the July trade deadline.
Keeping Profar provides the Rangers with mouth-watering options. You’ll need plenty of towels.
President of Baseball Operations
Nolan Ryan is the face of the Rangers. No one argues that undeniable fact. If they did, they would deserve to be placed into a Texas-sized headlock on the mound in Arlington and repeatedly punched in the face. But Nolan is not the brains of the Rangers. I know. It seems blasphemous for me to even write that sentence. However, that distinction belongs to Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, AJ Preller and company. The Rangers sustained success has led to a raised awareness around the league of the cyphering abilities of the young front office personnel. What could the organization do to ensure they had options when and if some rebuilding franchise comes lustily calling on one or more of the young protégé Jedi knights? The option they went with was to promote JD and create room for advancement. It was a brilliant move. Was it handled in the best of ways? Obviously not. The promotion led to a consideration of options for Nolan. Would he leave? Would he stay? If he stayed, what would his role be?
In the end, obviously he stayed, thanks be to whatever higher power you choose to believe in. Losing Nolan would have been a public relations blow to this team, no doubt. But ask yourself this – Would the Rangers still be averaging the highest attendance in the AL if the Ryan Express has decided to take his talents elsewhere? Probably so. Ownership stepped up and reassured him of his importance. Good. He belongs here. But so do the young baseball minds who have helped shape this team into a perennial contender – arguably the best franchise in MLB. JD is the head of what happens on the field, while Nolan is the face and the embodiment of The Texas Rangers as a whole – Mr. CEO. They both are vital to this thing.
The Rangers have plenty of it. They don’t owe Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, or C.J. Wilson nearly half a billion dollars, although they had the in-your-face options to sign at least two of the three. I’ve read where a few fans are starting to call the front office “cheap”. Stop. But while that opinion might be up for debate, you can’t argue with the added fiscal freedom they have because of the options they chose with the Head & Shoulders boys. Off subject, but Ceej and Josh do both have magnificent heads-of-hair. I do not. Just ask my daughters.
But, back on topic, if you look at where the Rangers are and then compared them with any other team in MLB as far as talent on the MLB roster, minor league system, revenue and cash flow, fan base, from the front office down to the parking lot attendants, which team would you choose above the Rangers? I dare you to name one. If you said the Angels, your headlock and face punches await you.
The Rangers, for good and bad, have had to make many other tough choices in recent years. Wash used cocaine. Chuck Greenberg versus Nolan Ryan. Michael Young was the center of many options the Rangers have been faced with. Cliff Lee. But through it all, this team has come out on top more than it hasn’t. I’ll never forget the Newberg Report night at the ballpark in 2010. When JD was announced to a standing ovation, he reminded the crowd, “I’m still the guy who traded away Adrian Gonzalez.” He gets it. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time when presented with options. We can’t predict the future. When we fail, it’s all about how we deal with those failures. This organization learns from right and wrong decisions and moves on. They, and we as a fan base, are better off because of it. There’s no crying in baseball. (Until we win the World Series.)
Now and Later
Options are a good thing, and this team has more than most, if not all. The Rangers at times seem to hesitate. I don’t think that’s really the case though. We as fans, want to see the big splash. We want to see Sports Center lead with a story involving the team that Chris Berman once referred to as “The Strangers”. I was 14 years old in 1984 when I first heard that. I’ve held that grudge for a long, long time. I still do. The Rangers aren’t a joke anymore and they won’t be moving forward. They have too many options available. Keeping your options open is what you do when you are certain better things are or will be available. When Colby Lewis and Martin Perez return from the DL, what will JD do? When Profar’s play demands his arrival, what will JD do? This farm system is rich with talent. I’m reminded of The History of the World when Dom Deluise decided to take a Treasure Bath. Google it. Google it now. You won’t regret it.
When the stupid amount of talent, so #wanted by many is ready, what will JD do? The talent, money, farm system, front office, and ownership and fan base alike provide this team with all the parts, pieces, and options needed to rise to the pinnacle of not just baseball, but all of sports. World Series Champions. I trust JD and Nolan and the rest of the front office and ownership and Wash and this team and its fans. How could you not? It’s all about options, buddy.
BaseballDo Guest Contributor Michael A. Morales
In a 3-1 count, David “Big Papi” Ortiz stands in his arrogant, intimidating way awaiting what he knows is coming. If memory serves me, Steve Busby described it as a cutter that got a little too much of the plate. MLB.com called it a 4 seam fastball for some reason. Whatever it was, Ortiz was happy to see it coming, and happier to see it leaving. His blindingly fast bat made short work of it. And because it wasn’t enough to hit the ball so hard it apparently knocked a fan for a loop, Ortiz felt the need to watch Yu’s reaction before tossing his bat toward the third base dugout to start his triumphant trot. It’s not surprising that Ortiz hit that ball hard enough to make it seem to disappear (honestly, my first reaction was that he had swung through it). It’s not even surprising that he hit it off Yu Darvish, who has made a mistake here and there, and especially in the first inning. What was surprising was the sequence of pitches to Mike Napoli that followed Ortiz’s at bat. He got a 4-seamer for a ball, followed by three methodically placed and tightly twirling sliders, only one of which made any contact with Napoli’s bat.
Those four pitches seemed to come from a confident pitcher with a good feel for his filthy slider, not from a guy who just gave up a two-run shot. The slider had a ton of bite, and was breaking well into and out of the zone at Yu’s will. Any viewer who missed the first three batters (namely, me) would have wondered why in the world Yu didn’t throw a single slider to Ortiz rather than trying to get the hitter with the longest hit streak and the strength of two men to chase fastballs out of the zone. That viewer (again, me) might also have wondered why Yu didn’t go to the slider when the fastball plan failed. Even if Ortiz dropped the barrel and golfed one out, Yu would have had good hitting to blame, and not his own 89 MPH batting practice pitch in the heart of the zone.
A glance at MLB.com’s play by play of the previous three batters explains things somewhat, but questions still linger. Ellsbury grounded out on a cutter after watching two 4-seams go by, and Nava fouled off two sliders before becoming the first strikeout victim on a 96 MPH fastball. Pedroia then singled on a slider that Yu was obviously trying as his out pitch in a 2-2 count. Maybe that explains why Yu seems to have given up on his slider by the time Ortiz came to the plate, but Pedroia’s single was a complete fluke. It was an infield roller that was so slow Yu couldn’t cleanly field it and make the throw to first. In other words, the slider did its job, and Yu was just a victim of the BABIP gods. So why no sliders to Ortiz? I have a thought or two, though I imagine some people will think I’m crazy.
If you’ve seen the gif of Brett Wallace striking out on a slider from Yu in his start against the Astros, and you like good pitching as much as I do, you probably also get goosebumps every time you see it. Wallace took a hack at a pitch he thought would end up in the zone, while AJ had to catch the ball behind Wallace’s back leg. Let me reiterate that Wallace swung at a pitch that ended up BEHIND HIM. No one is accusing Brett Wallace of being an all-star hitter that pitchers fear, but he is a MLB hitter with the skill and talent to make a big league team. He has been involved in trades for such players as Matt Holiday and Roy Halladay, and was called up to replace Lance Berkman after Berkman was traded to the Yankees in 2010. Yu Darvish is good at throwing baseballs, and he’s even better at making them spin. So what was he thinking in that Ortiz at bat?
If I had to guess, and that’s exactly what I have to do, I would say that Yu has a penchant for experimentation. I can’t speak to the type of personality he has, and I don’t have much authority on his routine or patterns, but it seems like patterns are exactly what he is trying to avoid. Those who have watched him this season have no doubt seen that his slider has been the go-to pitch, and the pitch that is most effective. A recent article on Yahoo Sports famously quoted a scout as saying that Yu had the best slider he had ever seen. Is it possible that Yu doesn’t want to be known that well? Is he trying to stay out of patterns and use different pitches in different situations so that batters won’t learn that he goes to the slider when looking for the third strike? Does he want to be a guy who can’t be scouted? That Ortiz at bat has me baffled and looking for answers.
That same Yahoo article referenced the observation of another scout, a veteran with two decades of seniority on the previous guy, who claimed that there was not another pitcher in existence with the combination of repertoire and command of Yu Darvish. That unusually large mix of pitches may have an unintended consequence: it may leave Yu with the desire to break out some of his lesser used stuff now and then. For what reason, I have no way of knowing, and all of this is just speculation anyway. But if Yu is experimenting with what he throws in certain counts in the first inning rather than relying on what has worked in the past, that may be the reason that he seems to be vulnerable in the beginning of every game. If he was able to use every pitch he has available effectively at all times, and no batter ever knew what was coming, he would be a phenomenon like no one has ever seen. Oh, wait…
I’m no expert, but I would love to have seen Ortiz react to the slider in that at bat. Maybe he walks, and Mike Napoli strikes out anyway. The score is still 0-0 in that scenario. If Ortiz wins the battle, at least it’s not on a meat pitch that looks like a gimme. I know Yu isn’t the kind of guy who gives up, but that pitch was ugly. But in the end, a win’s a win, and a sweep’s a sweep. I’ll take it. Hopefully, Yu learned something from that first inning.
Tanner Holubar – Guest Baseballdo.com contributor
Following his second 14 strikeout performance of the season, Yu Darvish has shown nearly enough for the righty to be considered one of the top pitchers in the American League.
Darvish owns a record of 5-1, with an ERA of 2.56 and leads the major leagues with 72 strikeouts; in only 45.2 innings.
Yu keeps the Rangers in every game, and with Ron Washington letting him throw 127 pitches today, the Rangers’ skipper showed his confidence in the 6’5 Darvish.
It is arguable Wash would have pulled anybody else who had thrown so many pitches in the seventh inning, and any other pitcher would not still have been hitting 94 on the gun.
These are the traits of a top flight pitcher. With the manager leaving his guy in the late innings with the game tied, and with the pitcher being able to keep his normal velocity.
Darvish proved both of these to be true in today’s game, and if he can keep this up he can be considered the long awaited ace the Rangers and us fans have been waiting for.
Most pitchers in their second season would not be looked at as a top pitcher in baseball. With Darvish it is a different story, not only because he leads all of baseball in strikeouts, but because he holds a lower ERA than most would hold in a hitter’s haven like The Ballpark.
Darvish fools hitters like few pitchers can. He can throw high 90s heat or fool a hitter with a 60 mph curve that takes longer to get to the plate than Benjie Molina getting to first base. Darvish also throws about five other pitches that make him so unhittable at times, batters need not bring a bat to the plate.
The arrival of Darvish in Arlington shows the brilliance of what Jon Daniels has been able to keep up since he learned from the mistake of trading Adrian Gonzalez for another starter who was so disappointing the name Adam Eaton sounds like getting offered a Natural Light rather than a Shiner Bok.
Darvish also gives fans something to cheer about more than the YUUUUUUUUUUU birds that echo around Rangers Ballpark. He gives Rangers fans the joy of watching the most dominate starter the team has had since The Ryan Express was striking out hitters in his late 40s.
Darvish is now a proven commodity in the MLB, and he now only needs to win some playoff games before he takes his perch as a top five pitcher in the game.
Its no secret that I am not a fan of the platoon at any position in baseball. It’s also no surprise that I prescribe to the theory that baseball can’t be explained or dissected with statistics and spreadsheets alone. Certainly if you do believe that everything is just a percentage of potential success with each batter a platoon makes a lot of sense. My biggest problem with the concept is the affect it has on a hitters timing. I’ve talked to former players (add that to my bragging montage) and I get the sense that there is something to the idea of “being in the zone”. I’m not going to try and convince you that this is some magical place where hitters are more focused than usual but I do think that it has something to do with muscle memory. Precisely why I hate the idea of Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin sharing time evenly in center field this year.
I really like Craig Gentry. He’s proved in 2012 during his 260+ plate appearances that he can be a productive hitter when he hit .304 and had an OBP of .367. Very solid numbers for a guy who wasn’t blessed with incredible physical gifts. All that being said, the odds are not in Gentry’s favor that the 29 year old can be repeat his solid 2012 season.
On the other hand, you have a guy in Leonys Martin that has a ceiling higher than the screeches from women when Craig Gentry is introduced (He’s handsome). Martin is a 25 year old outfielder who defected from Cuba 2010 and after being allowed to become a free agent by MLB was signed by the Rangers to a five-year 15.5 Million dollar contract including a five million dollar signing bonus. The Rangers made a significant investment in an unknown commodity because of his potential which he showed off in 2012 prior to being called up in June. He hit .344 in Round Rock with a .414 OBP. He’s a terrific defensive center fielder with a 70 grade arm. Keep in mind this year that he’s learning, he’s being exposed to things as a MLB player that he’s never been exposed to before. Growing pains and struggles are to be expected. They can’t all be Mike Trout.
I want Leonys to get the opportunity to struggle and learn in the big leagues and if he’s splitting time with Gentry its going to extend the learning curve for a guy that has the potential to be a much bigger difference-maker than Gentry.
Here’s hoping Wash see’s things my way.
My drive into work today started the way it normally does. The blurry-eyed walk to the car only to realize I should have worn a coat but too lazy to walk back into the house to grab one. The radio always tuned to The Ticket from the drive home the afternoon before. I chuckle listening to Gordo’s Corner and the impeccable timing of Jeremy on the board. Today though, I found myself getting worked up over the segment right after Muse in the News. Jub and Junes were discussing an article Rob Neyer recently wrote naming every current major league franchise’s Mister.
Some of these are no-brainer choices. Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, Mr. Tiger is Ty Cobb, Mr. Brave Hank Aaron and Mr. Ranger is Jim Sundberg?
The fact that this bothered me was more than a little confusing. I love Sunny, he’s one of my all-time favorite Rangers. He was a fan favorite, albeit a little before my time, and at the time the best catcher the Rangers had ever employed. I just think the choice was short sighted. Here are 2 choices I think would have been more prudent.
Pudge – The fact that I can refer to him by one name should say a lot. Pudge is arguably the most dominant player at any position the Rangers have ever had. Hell, he might be the best catcher in baseball history, although its a little more debatable. In his 12+ years with Texas he was Rookie of the Year, a 10 time gold glove winner, a 10 time all star, a 6 time silver slugger, and the AL MVP in 1999. Not to mention probably the best defensive catcher of his era.
Michael Young – Say what you want about PADMY but in 12 full seasons with Texas he was often the lone bright spot of some pretty bad teams. I don’t want that to sound like a reduction because in those 12 years he had 2230 hits and that’s nothing to laugh about. He was a seven time all star who was widely considered the “Face” of the franchise. He represented himself, the organization, and baseball with dignity and respect. Had he retired after 2011 I think this would have been a much easier sell. Had they won a World Series in 2011, I might have put him in front of Pudge.
Just one cold and tired guy’s opinion. I’d love to hear your Mr. Ranger choices. Argue in the comments section.