Jasen Southward

May 102012
 

Lets keep this simple today. 

Quick hits:

- Everything appears to still be on track for a CJ vs Yu matchup on Friday even with the rain delay. There is a good chance that Scott Feldman will make a spot start next week.

- Talks are ongoing with the Rangers and Josh Hamilton. Jon Daniels spoke about it to ESPNDALLAS

“There’s nothing new to say about the situation,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday.

“We want Josh to remain a Ranger for a long time, and he’s expressed that the feeling is mutual. Beyond that, we are not going to discuss any potential negotiations, with Josh or other players.”

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May 082012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersThey call him Snyder…Brandon Snyder.

The Rangers flew into Baltimore coming off of their third consecutive series loss on Monday. Although the pitching hasn’t been as good as it was the first month of the season the real glaring weakness lately has been the lack of production from what is normally a potent offense. The gang was all together again on Monday night when the Rangers were able to insert Adrian Beltre and his injured hamstring back into the lineup as a DH against those first place Baltimore Orioles. Naturally with the offense back together with guys like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler the hero of the night was…Brandon Snyder?

In 2005 Brandon Snyder was drafted by these same Orioles and last night he decided to repay their faith in him by driving in a career high 6 RBIs including a smash 3 run home run to right center field which gave the Rangers the separation they needed. Love hearing some of the quotes after the game from BSnyd (made up nickname).

“I’m probably going to have to wake up tomorrow and read something to make sure it happened, It’s a special night, being back in Baltimore, but the biggest thing is having my family there.”

Ron Washington was pleased with Snyd Bomb’s (I’m trying different nicknames out here)  production last night.

“He got us a big two-out RBI hit. We certainly needed that,” Washington said. “Then he gave us a three-run bomb that gave us a cushion, and then he drove in another one. He gave us what we needed.”

JJ Hardy thinks that little 17 game inning yesterday may have had something to do with the Orioles performance. Excuses, excuses…

“No one here is going to make excuses, they’ve got a good lineup it’s no secret,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had three of the Orioles’ six hits. “Were we tired? Possibly. Possibly. I mean, we played six hours and seven minutes yesterday than a flight back. I’m not saying that’s what happened is, we were tired, but maybe.”

Lost in all the Snyd Machine’s performance was the 1oth home run for Josh Hamilton in the 9th inning. I think its safe to say that Josh is trying to impress baseball this contract year.

Quick Hits:

- The Rangers will continue the tail end of this road trip tonight against the Orioles with Neftali Feliz taking on Plano East and TCU Alum Jake Arrieta.

- Only SRO and obstructed view seats available for Friday night’s uber-matchup of CJ Wilson and Yu Darvish. While we are all so excited for this matchup, lets not forget that the two teams closest to the Rangers in the standings are the A’s and Mariners. Just keep an eye out.

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May 032012
 

Thursday Morning Changeups

OH NO THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, yes the Rangers lost their 2nd consecutive series to a what seems to be a pretty good Blue Jays team. This continues a strange streak of the Rangers not winning a series in Canada since 2008.  I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for the rough patch because it happened primarily due to bad starting pitching.

The Rangers did however play without arguably their two best offensive players in Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. If you think that the Rangers are feeling sorry for themselves or are questioning this teams ability, think again. Mike Napoli:

“They flat out beat us today,” the Rangers’ Mike Napoli said. “We’ll just move on to the next. We’ll forget about it. Our team is good at that.”

“We’re not worried about it, We still have a good ballclub. We’ve already forgot about this. We’ll enjoy the off day and move on to the next one.”

Ron Washington felt like Matt Harrison didn’t have full control over all his pitches:

“He just wasn’t able to get his secondary stuff across, Just couldn’t get his changeup working, which is his bread and butter. He didn’t have his sinker going, which is his bread and butter…. Next time he gets the ball I expect him to be better.”

Although it sucks for us Ranger fans, the Rangers have a much-needed off day today before taking on the Indians in a weekend series. Should be a good time for Beltre to rest his ailing hamstring and Hamilton his back. With this team back at full strength things should start looking up.

Quick hits:

Josh Hamilton won the AL player of the Month for April and Yu Darvish won the AL Rookie of the Month. Pretty awesome.

It appears that the Friday May 11th matchup will be Yu Darvish vs CJ Wilson after all. Neat.

Fans can vote for the 40th anniversary all Texas Rangers team here. There are some seriously tough decisions to make…

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May 012012
 

I had a chance to go see a Rangers’ game, live and in-person. As though there is a difference. Anyway, this was my first time at Rangers Ballpark since the rather unceremonious ending to last season.  What follows is a loose account of what I saw and everything falls into one of three categories; amused, concerned, or impressed. 

-Impressed- by the look of the park, post renovations.  It’s nice, ya’ll.  I have no idea if all of the people I saw sitting in the center field pavilion area had seats somewhere in the stadium, but they all looked to be damn comfortable “reclining” in the metal-framed patio style furniture out there. The food looked great, but since I tailgate like an M-Fer, I was too full to sample. Next time, though, smokehouse BBQ place, next time me and you is gonna get ‘quainted. 

-Concerned- by the fact that all of those folks were locked in to a HUGE television that was showing a broadcast of an event that they’d have been able to see live by walking about 30 feet to the left or right.  Either way people, left or right. The game is actually being played just on the other side of the TV. I promise. 

-Amused- by the new sports bar named after the liquor company named after the guy who used to take people’s booty. I spent about 4 minutes in there before I began looking for my boarding pass.  This thing is so generic, it could be in Terminal D. Not sure what they were going for, but if “homogenous” was the desired design aesthetic, huge success.  Avoid. 

-Impressed- ‘cause I feel like I saw a true (very soon) Ace.  I capitalized it on purpose. I think there’s about 8-10 of ‘em. I’m not alone in this estimate. People who know way more about baseball than myself have surmised a similar number.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t wearing a Rangers jersey. Working the whole zone, tremendous off-speed pitches, great sequencing, evident competitiveness.  Only a year older than his opposing pitcher tonight, but in my opinion, on a different level. 

-Concerned- by the crazy number of “Boomstick” hot dogs I saw.  I was under the impression that this was a bit of a marketing gag. A “look at this man-vs-food/stupid thing we created and sell for $26” style of marketing gag. If attention was the intention, it worked.  Lots of local and even some national media turned their focus to this monstrosity during the first homestand.  But it never occurred to me, or frankly (see what I did there?) anyone I know, that this many people would be ordering and attempting to eat the damn thing.  Holy shit this hot dog is ridiculous and you look pretty ridiculous holding, buying, and eating it.  Two regular jumbo dogs, add mustard for me please.  No carry case other than the ones at the end of my arms needed. 

-Impressed- by 80 grade arm strength in right field AND concerned by the fact that Tampa’s third base coach didn’t know it was out there…looming…lurking…waiting to do that thing it does.  Arm cannons are awesome. 

-Amused- by the growing and vocal faction of anti-wave fans.  A guy in our section literally stood up and instructed everyone NOT to do the wave ‘cause it was distracting to the players. While he had his back to the field, telling us how distracting the wave was, the Rangers turned a triple play. Not really, but he wouldn’t have seen it if they had and he probably would have been mega-pissed if he’d missed that!  (side note, he was wearing the only Cliff Lee t-shirt I saw all night) 

-Impressed- by the fight in the Rangers.  I don’t know why this surprises me, oh, wait yes I do, its called 1972-2009 Rangers Baseball. Seriously though, Fernando Rodney has guzzled from the fountain of youth and he is back to bringing some nasty filth to the bump, to, which the Rangers said, “piss off, get us out three more times and we’ll let you leave”. 

-Amused- by the in-game production and entertainment elements that have changed over the last few years. The place sounds great, the scoreboards are conveniently placed and easy to navigate, the ribbon boards are only mildly annoying, and all the gimmicks are fun.  I even like the “Texas Legends” race. I know the race is derivative, and it’s going on in every park now, but outside of a Nationals game who else has characters that can lay claim to being 100% tougher than you’ll ever be? 

-Concerned- by the fact that when Big #32 went out, the Rangers lack of a right handed, bench bat meant that David Murphy was going to come in and spend three at bats reminding everyone why lefty-lefty matchups favor the pitcher and they especially favor a really good pitcher. 

I watch a lot of Rangers baseball, so I didn’t really see a lot tonight  a Rangers’ fan doesn’t see on most nights.  I tweeted this week that these are the halcyon days for this organization and I truly mean that.  I don’t know if this team is going to reach the ultimate prize, but I know what good, daily baseball looks like and it looks like the 2012 Texas Rangers.  They lost tonight, to an Ace on what I feel is currently the second best team in the AL, but they show more in losses these days than you were likely to see in the wins of the past.  They have a freakishly good third baseman, they have a great #2 lefty starter, they are patient yet explosive, they run well, and field even better.  They play in a beautiful park filled with energetic, engaged fans decked out head-to-toe in team gear. The organization doesn’t always hit home runs.  They sell an obnoxious hot dog and built a huge sports bar that would be more at home in the cozy, friendly confines of Chicago O’Hare. But make no doubt about it, from the product on the field, to the products around the field, the group that has been steering this ship for a few years now is good.  Damn good.  This is good baseball. 

Thanks for reading and enjoy your baseball.

 

Your Friend,

Tepid Participation

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May 012012
 

Tuesday Morning Sliders

The Rangers started a 10 game road trip yesterday in Toronto and what better way to start a road trip than with a win.

Yu Darvish took the mound yesterday against the Blue Jays and got the win to move to 4-0 on the season and he was again dominate. 

The Darvish line:

7IP, 4 Hits, 1 ER (on a solo home run – his first of the season), 2 Walks, 9 Strike Outs (all swinging)

Needless to say, the Blue Jays are impressed.

From the Jays manager John Farrell:

“We had a fairly thorough scouting report on him, But the fact is, he can throw his fastball both sides of the plate. As we saw, he doesn’t settle into any one pattern. He’s got a split he can attack left-handers with, back-door breaking balls as well.”

Darvish remains humble :

“The biggest thing is just getting used to the atmosphere of being in the major leagues,” Darvish said, remaining unimpressed with what he has accomplished. “Whether it’s four, six or five days’ rest, it’s no difference. Right now I’m not thinking about any of that other stuff, about whether I’m satisfied with my progress. Teams are seeing me for the first time and it’s only April.”

His skipper had some nice things to say about him and his potential:

“He’s a quality kid. I’ve been impressed with his stuff. He can run it, he can hop it, he can slow it down, he can make it quick, he can cut it, split it. He can do everything with the baseball. It’s just a matter of using that stuff at the proper time.”

The Rangers offense showed a nice ability to get a big hit when they needed it last night without their hottest hitter in Josh Hamilton who sat out the game with a sore back caused by muscle spasms.

Texas Rangers video of the day

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Apr 192012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsSWEEP SWEEP SWEEP!

The Rangers finished off the sweep of the Boston Red Sox on the road last night with a 6-3 win.  Derek Holland pitched through a two run homer in the second inning and blanked the Red Sox the rest of the way. The Rangers offense continued to rake as it seems that Mike Napoli is getting his timing back as he hit his fourth home run in three games. Youk is feeling Nap’s presence.

“The guy seems like he hits .700 against us lifetime,” Youkilis said.

Ron Washington was impressed with the Rangers starters.

“They’ve been outstanding, They worked hard in spring training to do what they’re doing. We’re playing good baseball and we’re doing it in different ways.”

Quick Hits

  • The Rangers start a four game series with a tough Detroit team tonight on the road. It will be Yu Darvish vs Adam Wilk
  • Sources are indicating that Pudge Rodriguez will retire as a Texas Ranger on Monday at the Ballpark in Arlington. More on this because Pudge is worth way more than a quick hit.
  • Michael Young sat out yesterdays game again with a stiff back. Ron Washington says it’s no big deal and he should be in the lineup tonight.
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Apr 172012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersWe made it Ranger fans. We made it through the torture of an early season off-day. Let’s take a short look at how the Rangers made news yesterday.

- The first week of MLB Power Rankings came out in the last couple of days. As expected the Rangers are at the top of most of those lists including the ESPN Power Rankings where they are 1st in baseball.  In SI.com’s new WAR rankings the Rangers are 2nd behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

- Jeff Wilson has a very good article over at the Fort Worth Star Telegram about the tough stretch that awaits the Rangers. When talking about the fact that these types of games coming up used to be a measuring stick, Ian Kinsler had this to say:

“They’re chasing us,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “The AL championship goes through us. I think everyone understands that.
“You expect the best from your opponent every day. When you have a target on your back, when you’re the two-time defending AL champions, the focus of the other team might be raised. It just makes it harder for us.”

Ron Washington chimed in as well:

“Our game plan is not going to change,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to pitch; we’re going to play defense, and we’re going to see what happens after nine innings.”

The Rangers start with an annoying two game series with the Red Sox followed by a tough four game series against an improved Detroit Tigers team.

- In the Sporting News there is a quick comparison about how the Rangers should be able to maintain a successful season easier than the Dodgers can. Part of that is a note about what could slow the Rangers down.

The schedule gets plenty tougher through the rest of the month. The general consensus is that there are six very good teams in the AL, including the Rangers, and over their next four series they’ll play three of them—on the road starting Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers before returning home to host the New York Yankees. They’ll finish the month against an improved Toronto Blue Jays team, then play Cleveland after that.
 
GO RANGERS!
 
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Apr 122012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsWell…That sucked.

As I woke up from a restful nights sleep, the first thing to enter my brain was “Dang, they lost last night”.  I’m going to do my best to give you an even, non knee-jerking reaction to what happened last night.

The Rangers were three outs away from win number five in six games this season. With a two run lead, Ron Washington calls for his closer Joe Nathan. Nathan pitched very well the night before to secure the win for the Rangers and other than one bad pitch that was responsible for the lone loss in the Chicago White Sox series, he has pitches pretty well. It was very clear early on when Nathan took the mound last night that he didn’t have “it”. He wasn’t locating his pitches and when he was missing it was up in the zone. After it was all said and done, the Rangers couldn’t rally back in the bottom half of the 9th and fell to 4-2 on the season.

This one was tough. It was tough because Colby Lewis deserved much better after a masterful 6 2/3 inning 6 SO no ER performance. It was tough because the Rangers are clearly a Championship contender and a Championship contender MUST have a reliable closer. It was tough because losses like that linger. With all that being said, it’s not time to jump ship. The Rangers will stick by Joe Nathan, Wash will most certainly stick by his veteran closer.

Joe Nathan didn’t seem too concerned after the game.

“The only thing that I could see is they hit a lot of sliders, not terrible sliders. I think they’re looking for that pitch and waiting for it,” Nathan said. “A lot of those pitches were sliders down that they served into right and found outfield turf. Credit to them putting good swings on.”

That’s what you want your closer to say after blowing a save.

His teammates were equally unfazed like Colby Lewis

“He’s 30-something saves away from 300 saves,” Lewis said. “It’s nothing he can’t bounce back from, nothing we can’t bounce back from.”

Michael Young:

“He’ll be fine, We have all the confidence in the world in Joe. We look forward to getting another lead and getting him back out there.”

Wash:

“I thought he was throwing the ball well,” Washington said. “Once again, maybe location just had something to do with it. I thought he was throwing the ball well. It was 93, 94 mph. It’s a big league club over there. I don’t know how many innings we had them shut down, but right there in the ninth inning they put some runs on the board.”

So step off the ledge for a second, it isn’t time to panic and move Joe Nathan out of the closer role but its ok to be a little nervous. If it makes you feel any better, the Rangers aren’t nervous.

Quick Hits:

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Apr 102012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersYesterday marked a potentially huge day in Texas Rangers history.

The evening started off with the first Major League start for the Rangers prized off-season acquisition Yu Darvish. There was a massive amount of anticipation from both the media and the Rangers fans. The stadium was buzzing as Yu ran from the dugout to the mound in the first inning to a rousing standing ovation, something I’ve never seen before in my many years of Rangers fandom. There were Darvish jerseys scattered all over the crowd of 42,003.  Believe it or not, the actual pitching wasn’t nearly important. Darvish would get off to a very rough start fueled by a combination of nerves and adrenaline and then settle down for a respectable 5 2/3 inning outing. He did what every Ranger pitcher is expected to do, he kept his team in the game long enough to let the offense do what it does. Last night was the beginning of what could be a very long and special career for the talented righty. He struggled, he battled, he got the support he needed from his teammates. It was a special atmosphere last night and Scott and I were pumped to be there.

The Rangers didn’t let the buzz of a Yu Darvish start linger long as they replaced it with the excitement of the news of an Ian Kinsler extension. The details of the deal as reported by several Dallas/Fort Worth newspaper writers are five years and 75 million with a club option.  We’ve been teased with the possibility of an extension for the past couple of weeks and it looked like hope was lost when opening day arrived with no deal.  The Rangers front office continued to work with Kinsler’s agent while the season began and got it done. The deal is a rare example of where it’s really good for both sides and I think that will be even more evident when the Yankees finalize and announce the extension for their second baseman Robinson Cano who I would imagine will sign a deal worth 18-20 million dollars a year.  Kinsler is truly a commodity as a 30-year-old (he turns 30 in June) with the potential to have a 30 home run and 30 stolen base season every year. Even more than home runs or stolen bases, Kinsler has become a team leader and that was never more evident than last night. After his young pitcher struggled through a 42 pitch first inning he came in as the leadoff hitter. Instead of swinging at a very hittable 2-0 pitch straight down the middle, he took. He knew that he had to give his pitcher a chance to catch his breath, a chance to decompress. Kinsler took and worked a walk that would start a bounce back inning for the Rangers cutting the lead in half. That is baseball IQ.

Congrats Ian, well deserved. Can I borrow some money?

Quick Hits:

  • The offense appears to be clicking. Josh Hamilton hit his second home run of the season last night and brought his average to .500
  • Kinsler hit another home run. Ho hum.
  • Nelly Cruz seems to be getting his timing back. He looked lost at the plate at time during the first three games but last night looked like the Nelly of old. Even making a nice defensive play in right field. Wish he could have done that in game 6 last year. Sorry…still bitter.
  • Fun game tonight as Neftali Feliz starts his career as a starting pitcher against former Rangers prospect Blake Beavan.
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Apr 062012
 

Opening Day Rapid ReactionRangers beat the Chicago White Sox today 3-2 in the first game of the Rangers season

  • Colby Lewis looked fantastic after a mediocre spring. He had great control of his off speed pitches and it set up a well placed fastball all game long. He did give up his customary home run ball but there was no one on base.
  • SIGN IAN KINSLER NOW! Kinsler reminded the Rangers why it might be a good idea to continue to negotiate with his agent and get an extension done. 2-4 with a home run and a double. MVP MVP MVP
  • Josh Hamilton went 2-3 and looks like he is continuing the progress he made at the end of spring training.
  • The Ranger fans were impressive today. They were out in full force tailgating before the game and were LOUD during the game. There is no doubt that they are making a run at the best fans in baseball. Really cool to see
  • The ballpark looks awesome. The newly redesigned centerfield looks really cool on TV and from what I’ve read, people love it.
  • JOE EFFING NATHAN. So great to see him ace his first test of the season. Should help him continue to build confidence and if that continues the Rangers will have a stout bullpen.
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