Jasen Southward

Apr 052012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsOne more sleep! One more sleep! One more sleep!

It is so close to that day that us Ranger fans have been waiting for, OPENING FREAKING DAY.

It’s also time for bold prediction number four. Get ready to be blown away people.

At the all-star break, Joe Nathan will be in the top five save leaders in Major League baseball.

WOAH, I know that this sounds crazy. Joe Nathan has had a very rough spring and is coming off a major arm surgery. Lets all put that aside for a moment and remember Joe Nathan.

Nathan is a four-time all-star with a career 2.87 ERA and 261 saves in 11 seasons in Major League baseball. In 729 career innings, Nathan has 761 strike outs. That’s not chop liver people.

A 11 year veteran and 37-year-old professional, Nathan has earned the right to use spring training to get back into his closer “zone”. I think with the overall talent on this team Nathan is going to have the opportunity for a lot of saves and I think he deliver like he has done his entire career. Debate me if you dare!

Quick Hits:

  • Yu Darvish started against Double-A Frisco yesterday and showed them why he isn’t in Double-A with them. He pitches 4 scoreless innings and only allowed two singles and two walks while striking out five. Pretty nice tune up for his first start Monday against the Mariners.
  • Pretty great breakdown article by Richard Durrett over on ESPN.  He breaks down the Rangers schedule month by month and makes win loss predictions as well as players to watch and key games.
  • Another great article by the Austin-American-Statesman about the Rangers rise to the top through an incredible farm system and terrific scouting.  They have a terrific quote about the challenges the Rangers face going forward;

That approach will help Texas deal with difficult free-agent decisions over the next two years while not falling off a cliff. Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli and Colby Lewis, among others, all are eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. The payroll will be around $105 million this year, up from $92 million. Keeping all of those potential free agents would put it around $200 million. Some will have to go.

These are decisions we all know the Rangers are going to have to face. In the meantime let’s go get a championship.

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Apr 042012
 

Wednesday Morning CurveballsIts time for another BOLD prediction for the 2012 Texas Rangers season.

Mitch Moreland will remain healthy all year and will hit 30 home runs.

That’s why it’s called ”BOLD” people! I know some people are rolling their eyes at the prospect of a productive Mitch Moreland but I think this is going to be his break out year. In two seasons in the Major Leagues Moreland has only his 25 home runs but hit 16 in an injury plagued season last year. I’m a big believer that a large portion of a player’s ability is related to his mental state of mind. After an off-season filled with rumors of big time free agent first baseman making their way to Arlington the dust has settled and Moreland is the last man standing. With those distractions and the nagging wrist injury in the rear view mirror, Mitch is poised to break out and live up to the expectations the club has for him.  I’m sure there are those out there that believe that spring training stats mean nothing but Moreland has seemingly found his groove in the last couple of weeks. He his .283 and had three impressive home runs in Cactus League games this year. Get ready to see those Mitch Moreland at bats that we have all grown to love a lot more this year at the Temple.

Quick hits:

The Rangers played the Mexico City Red Devils yesterday at the most wonderful place on Earth (the BPiA)

  • Matt Harrison finished off a very impressive spring with another solid outing against “The Yankees of Mexico”.  In his scheduled four innings he struck out five and walked none
  • Ian Kinsler homered…yet again…and his hair was awesomely out of control.
  • Sounds like Tateyama is going to be on the DL to start the season with what the club is calling “back stiffness”. If I went on the DL every time I had back stiffness I wouldn’t have a job.
  • Yu Darvish gets to face some Double-A’ers today in Frisco. It will be the last tune up before the regular season for Yu before he gets to face the Seattle Mariners in his first start on Monday. He is scheduled to go four innings.

There are rumors flying around about the possibility of the Rangers making Ian Kinsler the highest paid second baseman in baseball history. I’ve been of the opinion that if there was one guy that I want the Rangers to lock up LONG term its Ian and it sounds like its close to happening. This makes me very happy. Kinsler had this to say about the possibility;

“Whether that makes me the highest paid second baseman or not, I don’t know, but I want to be here.”

I wanted to give another shout out to our friend Kyle and the Patty Shack Burger family as they were effected by the tornado yesterday and sustained some pretty serious damage. They are going to be down for a little while during the rebuild but I have no doubt that they will be back stronger than ever.

 

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Mar 292012
 

Thursday Morning Changeups- Hi Ranger fans, the first thing you should ask yourself this morning is “Shouldn’t I hurry and get a spot on the Baseballdo field trip before they are all gone?” Go here and sign up ASAP to meet a bunch of other Ranger fanatics like yourself, have a delicious Patty Shack lunch, go to a Rangers game, and get a ”Nolan is my Homeboy” t-shirt. ALL FOR 34.99!!!!!

- The great Bob Nightengale wrote a preview story about the Rangers for USAToday Sports. Want to get chills? Read the quote from Ron Washington.

Point out that Los Angeles’ star-studded rotation now includes Texas’ former ace, C.J. Wilson. Bring up how the Angels lineup got $240 million better with the signing of three-time National League MVP first baseman Albert Pujols.

“They’re good; we all know that,” Rangers manager Ron Washington says. “But I’ll tell you what, the Texas Rangers are damn good, too. I’m not worried about nothing.

This Rangers team is developing some major swagger which is what a championship team needs. The beauty of the swagger that the Rangers have is that it has developed from success not hype…

-  Josh Hamilton was asked yesterday if there was any new news on the contract front and he said he thought it would be highly unlikely anything would get done before the season. He did mention that he wouldn’t be opposed to signing an extension during the season as long as it wasn’t a distraction to baseball.

- Speaking of Josh Hamilton, talking to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Hamilton felt satisfied with the work he’s put in during spring this year. Check out the story here.

The 2010 AL MVP said he didn’t have the “whip” in his swing when spring began.

“But I found it last week,” Hamilton said. “I know I struck out three times [Tuesday], but that was trying to swing too hard. I kept seeing those balls outside and felt like I could drive it. That was a learning moment for me.”

- The Rangers beat the Royals yesterday in Surprise led by a serviceable (in his opinion) Derek Holland start. He gave up six runs in five innings but still had some nice takeaways.

“I thought I had command of all my off-speed pitches and that’s the main thing. I’ve been throwing my sinker a lot this whole spring, just trying to make sure I get the feel for it both inside and outside. That was the pitch Butler got, wrong situation. That’s what he’s here for. They get paid for that.”

- Nelson Cruz had to leave the game in the third inning after he was hit by a pitch in the right hand. Early indication is that it’s just a bruise and he is listed as day-to-day.

- Yu Darvish held a bullpen session yesterday and threw 47 pitches. He is scheduled to start against the Rockies tomorrow.

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Mar 272012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersThere isn’t much better than doing a morning update after the Rangers win a spring training game 12-2.

My pick to click this season Scott Feldman looked awesome last night, he went six innings, gave up no runs, and struck out nine Reds. Scott Feldman has showed in spring training that he is a viable option for the starting rotation in case of injury or someone who fails to produce. In 20 spring training innings Feldman has a 3.15 ERA, 20 strikeouts and only two walks. Stellar.

As is evident from the score the Rangers offense certainly clicked last night. Rather than naming those who contributed just know that the hitters are officially locked in and appear ready for spring training to end. Its always been said that at this point of spring training the hitters are typically ready to face real games but the pitchers still have some work to do. Looks like that might be the case with this team.

Quick hits

  • Craig Gentry’s strange spring training continues after he left Sunday’s game with dehydration. It certainly wasn’t an overly hot day in Arizona. I think the skipper summed up his feelings on Gentry with a straight to the point quote.

“He’s got to get on the field and play,” Ron Washington said.

  • Robbie Ross has all but locked up his spot as the lefty in the bullpen with a strong spring and the lack of competition from Michael Kirkman or Neal Cotts. The 22 year old lefty split time between Myrtle Beach and Frisco last year and has been impressive.
  • Neftali Feliz will pitch in an “A’ game on Tuesday after experiencing shoulder tightness in his last start. By all accounts he hasn’t had any trouble since but this will be a big start for him either way.

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Mar 222012
 

Thursday Morning ChangeupsAfter the slowest day in Rangers news in months, welcome to your source for all things Rangers.

- Cool article in the Washington post today about how the Rangers aren’t defined by the Yu Darvish signing in their quest for the World Series title this year. I discussed on the podcast my concern for Joe Nathan but there is no denying that he is a great veteran to have helping develop your young pitchers.

“Obviously the team has been where we all want to be, and it’s pretty much the same group of guys here,” Nathan said. “I think they’re very hungry to get back where they were and be so close, so obviously they’re going to be extremely hungry to get back there. That puts me right where I need to be because I know I’m hungry to get a chance to be in that situation.”

- Jeff Wilson does a great article on his spring training assessment of the Rangers thus far. He breaks it down into several categories and one of them is Best Impressions.

RHP Yu Darvish: His new teammates have made him feel at ease while transitioning from Japan, and he’s doing his part to make them feel comfortable with him. Not only is Darvish trying to master English, he’s giving Spanish a shot, too. On the mound, he’s got the right stuff.
3B Mike Olt: It’s clear that Olt is a quality player, even though he has never played above High A. Just as impressive as his talent has been the way he has handled himself in his first big league camp. Olt watches each play of each game, and hasn’t been afraid to ask veterans for advice.
LHP Robbie Ross: He has been the best left-handed reliever in camp and is now getting a closer look. The Rangers are weighing whether sticking him in the bullpen is more important than continuing to let him develop in the minor leagues as a starting pitcher.

Robbie Ross has been on my radar for a while and I’m excited at the possibility that he could fill the void of a left-handed specialist in the bullpen.

The Rangers and Angels rivalry has clearly been heating up after the past couple of years and its clear that both teams view each other as dangerous. The Rangers decided to hold Yu Darvish out of his normal starting spot which would have been against the Angels and shortly after the Angels did the same with CJ Wilson. I see why the Rangers would want to keep the Angels from seeing Darvish in person but I’m not sure about the CJ thing. Pretty sure the Rangers are familiar with his douchiness pitching.

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Mar 212012
 

Wednesday Morning CurveballsGood Morning Rangers Fans, 15 days until Opening Day. To be more specific, 23,253 minutes.

- In case you missed it yesterday, Scott and I spent most of the day high fiving each other over and over again because we joined forces with the delicious Grand Praire eatery and drinkery Patty Shack Burgers. Check out the announcement here.

- The Rangers took care of Derek Holland yesterday by inking him to a five-year $28 million dollar extension. Texas now has control over the rights to Derek through 2016 with 2017 and ’18 being option years. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a guy like Derek Holland get locked up like this especially when he appears to be putting it all together. Would you be upset with the next five years of your rotation being anchored by Dutch and Yu Darvish? Me either.

- The Rangers played the Cubs yesterday and won, some notables for your reading pleasure:

  • Neftali Feliz threw three innings and gave up no runs. What started out as a great sign that Feliz was putting things together turned scary when he had to leave with what the club is calling “shoulder stiffness”. All signs point to this being more precautionary than anything but you hate to see your young, brand new starter, being forced out of a game with an injury.
  • Young center fielder Leonys Martin hit a two-run homer. Upside.

C.J. Wilson yet again shows his out of control douchiness yesterday. From ESPNLA yesterday when asked about the Napoli prank:

  • Wilson had no further comment on the matter, but when he was talking about working with a new set of Angels catchers, he named each of the six Texas Rangers catchers he had worked with over the previous few years, omitting one. When a reporter suggested it was Napoli, he replied, “Oh yeah, Napoli.”

Read more here http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/angels/post/_/id/5012/c-j-wilson-takes-a-twitter-vacation

 

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Mar 162012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsGood Morning Rangers Fans, we are one work day away from the weekend. Start your day off with some customized Rangers news from your old friends Baseballdo.

Read a great article from the Fort Worth Star Telegram on Mike Maddux and what he sees out of his pitchers so far in spring training including the surprising breakout of Robbie Ross.

  • “Robbie went out there and threw a good inning, then threw another good inning and another good inning,” Maddux said. “We were like, ‘That’s pretty good.’ But we’ve got to remember now that we do want to stretch him out.”
  • Check out the rest of the article here including some quotes about Yu Darvish and Mike Adams.

Over on the ESPN Dallas blog there is a blurb about Robin Ventura’s thoughts on the Nolan Ryan fight not being shown on the jumbotron anymore. I’ll give you the meat of his thoughts

  • “I don’t care,” Ventura said. “It’s not like I haven’t seen it.”

My favorite part of this story is the Paul Konerko recollection as he was a 17-year-old playing for the U.S. Junior National team. He actually drove to Arlington and was in the house for that particular game.

  • “The story you hear is that the Rangers had hit some of the White Sox guys, and Robin stood up in the clubhouse and said, ‘If this guy hits me. I’m going out there. Be ready.’ That’s a pretty gutsy thing to say with Nolan Ryan. Sure enough, Robin got hit, and there he went,” Paul Konerkosays.”Two hours later, it was a riot,” Konerko says. “People were chanting ‘Nolan! Nolan!’ for about five innings. It was awesome.”

Great stuff, read the rest of the story here.

The Rangers played the Oakland Billy Beanes yesterday and lost another spring training game 11-7. Game notes:

  • Two of the Rangers top prospects struggles pitching yesterday. Martin Perez gave up a home run to start the game and then 4 of the next 5 got on base. He actually did a good job of limiting the damage by only giving up one run in the 1st and one in the second. Seeing young pitchers struggle in spring training isn’t a big surprise and shouldn’t be looked at as an indication of talent.
  • Neil Ramirez also struggled giving up four runs on five hits and after the game he felt like he was up in the zone the entire game.
  • It was nice to see some of the guys that will be playing opening day make an impact. Ian Kinsler went 2 for 3 with a home run and Nelson Cruz had a bases loaded double. I can’t wait to see that in April.

The Rangers will be in Las Vegas this weekend playing the Cubs. I wonder if they will go out at all…

 

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Mar 152012
 

A Lighter Look at The Five Biggest Games of 2012Spring Training is really starting to heat up  the excitement of opening day is getting closer and closer. I wanted to use this opportunity to make some predictions for the five biggest games of the season.

Game 1 - Chicago White Sox at (YOUR) Texas Rangers April 6th, 2012

After “the games that shall not be named” the ballpark will be in a frenzy trying to forget what happened last year.  Colby Lewis will be itching to prove who has better facial hair vs John “I’m better than Diamond and Volquez combined” Danks.  Before the game while watching the intro video Nolan Ryan will get so fired up he will run over to the White Sox dugout, put new Chicago manager Robin Ventura in a headlock, and give him old man noogies. They will shake hands afterwards and the Rangers win 8-5. Colby will give up 5 solo home runs.

Game 2 Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers April 20th, 2012

Just for fun we are going to call this game a matchup of Neftali Feliz and Justin Verlander. The buildup to this game will be incredible and the Rangers will be riding high on a 13 game winning streak to start the season. It will be a pitchers duel until the 7th inning when Mitch Moreland hits a line drive off of Prince Fielders stomach which turns into an inside the park home run as Prince lies on the ground giggling. As Moreland rounds first he will stare at Prince and say “First Base is mine homey” The city of Detroit loses again. Rangers 1-0

Game 3 Anaheim Angels at Texas Rangers May 11th, 2012

This will be the first meeting of the year for the Rangers and Angels and will be quite the spectacle. Jared Weaver will be opposing Derek Holland in a match up of complete opposite personalities. Jared Weaver will give up a 5th inning grand slam to Mike Napoli and as Nap rounds the bases he will high-five Mike Soscia for giving him the opportunity to play for a winner. Weaver will go into the dugout and intimidate the bat boy to make himself feel better. Dutch will throw a gem and after the game do stand-up outside of the stadium. Rangers win 5-2.

Game 4 Texas Rangers at New York Yankees August 13th 2012

The Rangers will throw Matt Harrison out against CC Sabathia in this pivotal August game. This will be one of the few times that Matt will crumble under the pressure of Yankee Stadium. He will give up 4 runs in the first inning when A-Rod hits another meaningless regular season home run in preparation for disappearing in the playoffs. The Rangers will make a furious comeback when someone tricks Josh Hamilton into believing this is the home run derby and he will hit 5 home runs in 4 at bats (do the math).  Rangers win 14-5

Game 5 Anaheim Angels at Texas Rangers September 30th

Last game against the Angels of the year. Incredible build up as Yu Darvish pitches against CJ Wilson with a trip to the playoffs on the line. This will be a pitchers duel through the first three innings as Yu blows away every hitter he sees. In the middle of the 4th innings CJ will realize that he is missing his fencing class and will walk off the mound mid inning. Yu will pitch all nine innings and get the win propelling the Rangers into the playoffs and toward their first World Series title ever.

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Mar 142012
 

Wednesday Morning CurveballsGood Morning Ranger Fans, today is one day closer to Opening Day.  So we have that going for us…which is nice.

Some very interesting articles on the Rangers floating around out there so let me recap.

“We’re going to keep running the bases, but I want them to be more careful late in the game,” Washington said. “You can still be aggressive, but after the sixth inning you have to be 100 percent sure you can make it.

“Otherwise, you’re taking the bat out of the hands of Hamilton. Or Beltre. Or Young. Or Cruz. Or Napoli. Early in the game, we can live with it. Late in the game we can’t because we don’t want pitchers to be able to run from our guys.”

I think the Rangers are at their absolute best when they are aggressive on the basepads. The key is not to take away run opportunities from the big guns.

  • The Rangers reached an agreement with the Tom Hicks owned Ballpark Real Estate for BPiA parking lot rental. Last year the Rangers actually sued them because they were overcharging for rent. Shocking that Tom Hicks is trying to screw the Rangers like he did his entire tenure as owner. Still bitter. Nonetheless they are locked up for the next two years.

Yu Darvish started the Rangers Spring Training game yesterday against the Indians. Instead of breaking it down, go read Baseballdo’s own Tim Howell who broke down the entire start here.

I found the Indians quotes about impressions of Yu Darvish interesting. These are from www.therepublic.com.

  • “He has very good stuff,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “But he’s just getting in shape, so it’s not really fair to judge him.”

  • “I only saw him for six pitches, one at-bat,” said Jack Hannahan, who doubled off Darvish in the second inning. “I don’t care how hard you throw, if your fastball is straight, it’s going to get hit.”

  • “He’s got good life on his fastball, and he looked comfortable out there,” Kipnis said. “It doesn’t seem like he’s bothered by any situation.”

  • “I had two at-bats against him and struck out,” Choo said. “But I’m not going to hit a 95 mile-an-hour fastball in February.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see players get sick of being asked about Darvish very quickly.

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Mar 132012
 

Tuesday Morning SlidersToday marks the second start for prized off-season acquisition Yu Darvish, more on that later.

  • Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram writes a great article on Adrian Beltre this morning. Lots of good quotes from Adrian but this one was my favorite by far.

“There’s no doubt, signing with the Rangers is the best decision so far in my career,” Beltre said. “Coming to a good ballclub that’s committed to winning, and being in a clubhouse that everyone pulls for each other and has fun, I can’t ask for more.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/03/12/3804496/beltre-hopes-second-season-with.html#storylink=cpy

It is so incredibly awesome to have a team full of players that want to be here. This team has some really special chemistry and I think that’s the reason the fans feel so connected to this team. Awesome.

  • Mike Bauman of MLB.com writes about how even without CJ Wilson the Rangers pitching rotation may be even better than last year. His contention is that the incredible depth makes up for losing the team “ace” from last year.

“Add it all up and, even without Wilson, this does not appear to be a group that is suffering a collective decline. In fact, there is an argument that could be made on the other side of the issue. With continued improvement from the young pitchers, maybe the Texas rotation could even be better in 2012.”

There aren’t many times where a team can say they are better after one of their best players leaves the team but this might be one of them. Credit to the scouting department and JD for taking the risk with Yu and developing young pitching allowing them to be in this position.

  • The Rangers lost another spring training game yesterday (who cares?). Here were my big takeaways:

- Matt Harrison was solid yet again. Only gave up one run in three innings of work. Love to see Matt Harrison continue to improve on his breakout season last year.

- Leonys Martin started his first game in CF yesterday and went 1-2 with a single. Love to see him getting some action in the outfield. I think he will get play full-time in the minors this year.

  • Yu Darvish starts today. MLB Network and FSSW will televise the game. 3:05 CST. Yu should throw about 50 pitches. Today is awesome.

 

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