Scott Hiler

Sep 042012
 
MixedUp

Baseball Do Game Watching Party   This Saturday at Mixed Up BurgersCome watch the Rangers game with us this Saturday night at Mixed Up Burgers in Grand Prairie.  Enjoy some good grub, adult beverages and fellowship with Rangers fans while Yu Darvish crushes David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Game time is 6:10pm.  Hit us up on Twitter or comment here and  let us know if you’ll make it.  We’re working on stringing together some giveaways (tickets, food,etc.) and will be looking to get you guys involved in our next podcast while we are there.

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Aug 202012
 
Michael Young 8

Podcast Episode 18: The love/hate relationship with Michael Young & our insanely accurate predictionsMichael Young’s performance is not up to par…and with more venues to express opinion than ever before, the fans aren’t holding back.

Is this hate or just tough love?  Does Michael deserve better given his track record in a Rangers uniform?  Is there really someone else to direct the angst at?  The Baseball Do Semi-Professional Podcast team takes a closer look.

Before the season started, the Baseball Do Executive Team sat down and made five bold predictions for the 2012 season.  That same Executive Team checks in on those insanely accurate predictions.

Now, the Baseball Do Marketing team would like for you to:

  • Listen to this podcast (download via iTunes or hit the play button below)
  • Read this article by our boy Dustin Dietz for a closer look at the numbers behind Young’s performance.
  • Hit us up with a tweet or a twat…follow @baseballdo, @TMurrayHowell &  @DustinDietz18 on Twitter for the ride of your lives…or just to talk about the Rangers.
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Podcast Episode 18: The love/hate relationship with Michael Young & our insanely accurate predictions
Aug 192012
 
MichaelYoung5

By: Dustin Dietz

One of the more enjoyable things I remember from my childhood was memorizing statistics on the backs of my favorite baseball player’s baseball cards. I loved being able to tell my friends Cecil Fielder hit 51 bombs in 1990, or Ken Griffey Jr. hit .327 in 1991. I have forgotten most statistics I once knew right off the top of my head (I had to look up Griffey’s batting average in 1991), but I still remember quite a few of the stats I learned from the back of baseball cards I purchased as a 9 and 10 year old.

When one glanced at the statistics of his or her favorite baseball player 20 years ago, one would immediately glance at the player’s batting average, home runs, and RBI’s to determine how good the player really was. Batting average, home runs, and RBI’s are the statistical categories we all grew up on. Baseball game broadcasts would use (and still do) the three categories when a player comes to bat for the first time in a game.  If a player had less than 5 home runs in August, most fans were wise enough to realize the player was struggling.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?Well, in the early 00’s baseball statistics and determining a player’s worth changed drastically thanks to Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. Beane was forced to start playing Moneyball with his Oakland A’s teams of the early 00’s because the Oakland franchise was cash strapped and could not afford to sign players to luxurious deals. After players like Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon signed exorbitant contracts with bigger market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, the A’s had to find cheaper replacements like Scott Hatteberg and Jeremy Giambi not because the players hit more home runs or hit for a higher batting average, but because the cheaper players get on base just as often.

Moneyball became a successful book, and then movie, because of how successful the A’s were with players who on paper looked like nothing more than Triple A players (Except Hudson, Mulder, and Zito). The story is quite fascinating really. Numbers gurus and stat geeks stick their middle finger up at scouts using the eyeball test because their radical formulas proved lesser players can be just as effective as star players. However, Beane did not just discover these statistical formulas and categories one day when throwing balled up sheets of paper into a waste basket.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?What many might not realize, except baseball stat nerds, is the Moneyball craze actually started back in the 1970’s with a man named Bill James. James began writing books devoted to baseball history and statistics and coined his new approach to baseball SABERMETRICS. James can be considered the L. Ron Hubbard of SABERMETRICS, and new approach to determining a baseball player’s worth.

Billy Beane actually began using James statistical approaches for his A’s teams in the 00’s and had significant success doing it. Then, the Red Sox hired Bill James in 2003. Boston won the World Series a year later for the first time since 1918, and the rest they say is history.

Today, the moniker floated around for most baseball sabermetricians is baseball hipster. The problem I found most often early on with the baseball hipster was how condescending he or she was too you because you thought players such as Michael Young were still usable players when the hipster had these numbers few actually used to prove otherwise. The baseball hipster would point out Mike Young slugs this, or has a terrible fWAR, or his BABIP is low, which makes the traditionalist look like a moron.

I must say that I was quite cynical of the sabermetrics for quite a while. I did not see how players with batting averages around .280 could ever be considered useless. However, after giving much thought and opening my mind a little, I have learned to fully accept and appreciate sabermetrics. While I still believe batting average, home runs, and RBI’s are a huge determining factor of a player’s worth, I have learned to admire stats such as WAR (wins above replacement) and UBR (ultimate base running) despite not understanding how in the world to calculate them. I do not think UBR will be on the back of baseball cards for 9 year olds to memorize anytime soon, but I believe the stats have a place in the baseball world.

I apologize for the 700 word spiel so far, but I promise I will get to my point very quickly. One of the favorite statistics baseball hispters like to use today is WAR. The stat, according to Fan Graphs, encapsulates a player’s total value to their team in one stat. There are two different versions of WAR, rWAR (used by baseballreference.com) and fWAR (used by fangraphs.com). The formulas for both are slightly different as fWAR uses a few distinct statistics I will choose not to explain because I will more than likely cause mass confusion for most readers. Basically, rWAR usually is lower than fWAR, but both are usable.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?All of this brings me to Texas Rangers primary designated hitter Michael Young. For much of the season, all we have heard from sabermetric gurus and baseball hispters is how horrendous Young has been because his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage)is low and he has one of the worst WAR’s of all time, and an endless amount of other numbers which proves Young is the worst player in MLB history.

While Michael Young has had his unusual moments off of the field with the Rangers, he still has over 2100 hits and a career batting average over .300. I thought to myself, “He cannot be this bad. Can he? The man was just voted the most underrated player in baseball. That has to stand for something. He is a team leader and well liked in the clubhouse.”

Well, with my newfound appreciation of sabermetrics and my love for the Rangers, I thought I would do a little research to find out how atrocious Michael Young has been. My findings, a line of .269/.300/.342 with an OPS of .642, all pathetic numbers based on what we are used to seeing from MY.

Face has hit 3 home runs, and has only 24 extra base hits. While MY is near the top of the league in singles, his extra base power appears to have completely vanished after 58 extra base hits in 2011. Young also rarely walks as he has only drawn a free pass 22 times. Here is the most concerning stat, Young’s rWAR is -2.1 and fWAR is -1.6. Yes, Young is actually costing his team wins when he plays games.

So, my findings are simple, Michael Young is indeed having an extremely dreadful year at the plate. Yet, manager Ron Washington continues to put him in the lineup and play him over younger players like Mike Olt. While many of us do not understand continuing to play Young, benching Young might cause chaos and mutiny in the locker room because of Young’s leadership status. Wash really has little choice. What we are left with is an interminable amount of Michael Young jokes on Twitter after viewing the Rangers lineup every day.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?Okay, we have established Young sucks this year, and Wash will continue to play him despite Face putting up dead ball era numbers. Well, my next thought was, “How many World Series champions in the last 20 years have had everyday players/major contributors on their team statistically worse than Mike Young?” Well, I decided to research and find out if any everyday player/major contributor worse than Mike Young in 2012 has played on a World Series champion.

Note: I decided to use rWAR instead of fWAR. I realize many use fWAR, and if you choose to not read any further because I used rWAR, you have that prerogative.

Starting with the 1991 Twins, through the 2011 Cardinals (Remember, there was no World Series in 1994), the worst everyday player/major contributor for a World Series champion in the hallowed rWAR stat was Ruben Sierra with the 1996 Yankees who had a -1.1 rWAR. Yes, Michael Young is a full point below that total. Scott Brosius with the 2000 Yankees had the second lowest with a -0.6 rWAR.

I then wanted to look at the last 20 World Series champions worst OPS among everyday player/major contributors and see how Michael Young’s OPS compared to those players, and found the following: Michael Young’s current .642 OPS is higher than only 4 of the worst player’s OPS on World Series champions out of the past 20 winners. Here is the list of everyday players/major contributors with a worse OPS than Michael Young currently has:

1. Yadier Molina – .595 (2006 Cardinals)

2. Bengie Molina – .596 (2002 LA Angels)

3. Carlos Ruiz – .620 (2008 Phillies)

4. Kelly Gruber – .627 (1992 Blue Jays)

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?The three worst OPS belong to catchers, and Kelly Gruber was at the least a serviceable 3rd Baseman in 1992, which makes all four of the players usable every day. Young is now primarily a DH relied upon to generate respectable offensive numbers, while the others were not expected to produce much offensively and were in the lineup every day for their gloves. If Young is going to yield such miniscule numbers, he better be able to play defense, which he cannot very well at this point in his career. So, since MY cannot play the field like the 4 everyday players with worse OPS’s, I think we can say MY is still having a worse year than all four of the players mentioned above (None had near as low a rWAR as MY currently has).

After discovering this, I determined if the Rangers are going to win the World Series this year, Michael Young will have been the worst everyday player in the last 20 years on any championship team. However, I then thought to myself, “Which teams have won the World Series in any year with an everyday player/major contributor worse than Michael Young?”

So, at this point, I decided to begin with the 1990 Reds and search Baseball Reference to find out how many everyday players on World Series winners had an everyday player/major contributor with a rWAR lower than Michael Young’s current rWAR. I was going to stop searching when I found a player with a worse rWAR.

Right off the bat, I discovered Todd Benzinger with the 1990 Reds had a rWAR of -1.8. However, the number is still not lower than Mike Young’s rWAR, and Benzinger was mainly used for his defensive prowess at 1st Base. I thought I would find a player very quickly worse than Face.

Then, I searched through the champions of the 80’s. Not one rWAR lower.

Then, the 70’s. No lower rWAR.

The 60’s, the 50’s, and finally into the 40’s I made a startling discovery.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?In 1941, a 1st Baseman for the New York Yankees named Johnny Sturm played in 124 out of 154 games, enough to be considered an everyday player or major contributor, and posted a rWAR of -2.3.

Here is Sturm’s line: .239/.293/.300 with an OPS of .592. Sturm had only 23 XBH’s, 3 home runs, 36 RBI, and 37 walks in 568 plate appearances. Sturm also committed 12 errors in the field.

One can easily look at Sturm’s numbers and determine he had an absolutely terrible year playing a position which requires decent power numbers, and the Yankees still won the World Series. Keep in mind, there were much less teams in MLB back then, and that Michael Young’s rWAR is only .2 higher than Sturm’s. So, we have to go back 71 years to find an everyday player/major contributor for a World Series champion worse than Michael Young.

Since I had gone back to 1941, I decided to check every other World Series winner and see if there was any other everyday player/major contributor with a worse rWAR than Michael Young. Well, I am sad to report I did not find one.

Unfortunately Ranger fans, take it for what it is worth, but one team in over 100 years of the World Series has won a World Series with an everyday player possessing a lower rWAR than Michael Young currently has.

I did find a few everyday players on championship teams who had really putrid years, but with higher rWAR’s than Michael Young. Here is the list of players who come close to Mike Young’s forgettable 2012 season thus far.

1990. Todd Benzinger – Cincinnati Reds – 118 games, .253/.291/.340 with an OPS of .631. 5 HR’s, 46 RBI, 21 XBH in 376 AB’s. -1.8 rWAR.

1985. Onix Concepcion – Kansas City Royals – 131 games, .204/.255/.245 with an OPS of .500. 2 HR’s, 20 RBI, 8 XBH in 314 AB’s. -.9 rWAR.

1961. Bobby Richardson – New York Yankees – 162 games, .261/.295/.316 with an OPS of .610. 3 HR’s, 49 RBI, 25 XBH, and committed 18 errors.-.9 rWAR.

1945. Skeeter Webb – Detroit Tigers – 118 games, .199/.254/.238 with .492 OPS. 0 HR’s, 21 RBI, 14 XBH, and committed 25 errors. -.9 rWAR

1920. Bill Wambsganss – Cleveland Indians – 153 games, .244/.316/.317 with an OPS of .633. 1 HR, 55 RBI, 28 XBH, 54 BB, and committed 38 errors. -1.0 rWAR

Obviously, every player on this list including Sturm had miserable years. Richardson and Wambsganss probably had the worst years based on the fact they played in essentially every game (Wambsganss missed one game and Richardson played in every game). At least Sturm only played in 124 games despite posting the -2.3 rWAR.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?The scary thing is Young has missed only 3 of the Rangers 116 games. One only knows what his rWAR might be towards the end of the season if he does not begin to turn things around.

Now, I am not trying to say I know more about baseball than the average fan like baseball hipsters have the propensity to do. All of the numbers I found are on the internet for one to look up if one chooses too.

However, what I do know is this, if Michael Young does not begin to perform better at the plate, the Rangers will have a difficult time of winning the World Series this year. Teams do not win championships with major contributors performing as poorly as Michael Young currently is. One might be dubious of sabermetrics, but the numbers do not lie, and the numbers appear to be an ominous cloud on what has already been a bizarre season of Rangers baseball. While Michael Young deserves all the respect and admiration from fans for his many years of service in Arlington, all the criticism he is receiving is deserved. If he does not begin to snap out of the season long funk he is in, according to over 100 years of baseball history, the Rangers are in big trouble come October.

Can the Rangers overcome Michael Young?

By Dustin Dietz

Follow Dustin on Twitter @DustinDietz18

 

 

 

 

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Aug 062012
 
Scott Feldman 2

By: Dustin Dietz

My debut article with BaseballDo got me to thinking about a player’s Major League debut and how one is judged just by seeing the player perform for the first time. If the player is successful when one first lays eyeballs on the rookie, then one will more than likely think of the player in high regard. If the player fails, then one will probably think the player has no chance of becoming a big league All-Star.

Not only are first impressions relevant in baseball, but are also a major part of society in general, and have been since the beginning of time. Completely unrelated to the great game, what does every human being think when he or she first lays eyes on another attractive human being? Well, some might tell you he or she considers what his or her parents will think of the dreamy eye candy. However, do not believe any person who ever says that. Any person with a modicum of intelligence will tell you he or she first noticed how attractive the other person was. It is only human nature.

In baseball terms, when fans see a player perform for the first time, they will become enamored with a player who does something positive in his first game. For example, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch he witnessed in the major leagues. Instantly, Pirate fans fell in love with the young stud.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second lookLast week, highly touted Ranger prospect Mike Olt made his long awaited big league debut and singled sharply into left field his first at bat against former Ranger hurler C.J. Wilson. While many Ranger fans were already aware of Olt’s potential stardom, after one at bat, fans thought Mike Olt had punched his ticket to Cooperstown.

In that same game against the Angels, newly acquired catcher Geovany Soto went 2-5 with two RBI and Ranger fans already considered him an improvement over Yorvit Torrealba despite the fact Soto is hitting under the Mendoza line.

Basically, what I am trying to say in my interminable spiel is I have a tremendous amount of pressure to provide useful and intriguing content in my first article with BaseballDo, or I might be considered a gigantic failure. After all, fans were questioning Ryan Dempster after his first start with the Rangers last week despite his solid track record.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second lookSo, when pondering what I should write with the pressure squarely on my shoulders to give BaseballDo readers a positive perception of my writing ability and baseball cognizance, I decided to center on what every Ranger fan wants to read about and that is pitcher Scott Feldman. What better way to make a debut than to talk about the greatness that is Scott Feldman.

I am not here to advocate Scooter is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since hot dogs. However, where would the Rangers be without Scott Feldman this season? Since taking the loss on June 14th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Feldman has won six consecutive decisions after losing his first six to improve his record to an even 6-6.

Since the loss to Arizona, Scooter’s ERA has dropped from a pathetic 6.50, to a more reasonable 4.52. Feldman’s ERA is now only 0.14 higher than Japanese import Yu Darvish’s 4.38. Yet, when one reads fan postings on Twitter about Scooter’s upcoming starts, one would think the apocalypse is approaching and Feldman is the worst pitcher in major league history.

The truth is Scott Feldman has been the Texas Rangers most consistent pitcher in the last six weeks. Since he appeared on July 8th in an extra inning win against Minnesota, Feldman is 3-0 with a miniscule 1.09 ERA and has allowed only 3 earned runs. No other Ranger starter is within 2 runs of Feldman’s microscopic ERA. Yu Darvish’s ERA is 7.66 in that same time period. Yet, fans still have a positive perception of Yu and negative perception of Feldman

Scott Feldman was worse than dreadful the first two months of 2012. To put it simply, his sinkers were not sinking, his cutters were not cutting, and his curve ball was not curving. Feldman was leaving far too many pitches up in the zone, and his location was horrendous.

Since Feldman’s first win in San Diego on June 19th, Feldman’s curve ball has more bite, and his sinker is beginning to resemble the pitch which helped him win 17 games in 2009. Feldman has also learned to effectively throw a split-finger changeup he first developed during a rehab assignment last season. Scooter’s last three starts are prime examples of his recent improvement (22 1/3 innings pitched, 3 earned runs allowed, and a 14/1 K/BB ratio.)

The Rangers have been hit with a myriad of injuries to the pitching staff this year, and Scott Feldman has helped pick up the slack as he has started 13 games and given the club a total 77 2/3 innings. While the innings have not always been outstanding, Feldman has taken the ball whenever manager Ron Washington has asked him too.

Scott Feldman is nothing close to a Cy Young Award Winner, and never will be, but he has been a valuable member of the Texas Rangers in 2012. I am not saying fans should become smitten with the bearded Ranger player man, but it is about time fans start giving Feldman some reverence as he has been the most efficient Ranger starter in the second half.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second look

I hope I have made a positive first impression with all the loyal BaseballDo readers. While a Scott Feldman article certainly is not slugging a first pitch home run far into the bleachers in his first major league at bat, it is at least comparable to a seeing eye single.

By: Dustin Dietz

Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18

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Jul 282012
 
Josh Hamilton 13

Podcast Episode 17: Trade Deadline Part 2 & Slumping Josh

The trade deadline is fast approaching…Scott & Jasen discuss some recent developments, the Rangers next move and the slump of Hambone.

The Angels landed the first blow yesterday in dealing for Zack Greinke to add to an already salty starting rotation, but did they mortgage too much  of there future for a rental player?

Will the Rangers answer with a deal of there own?  Josh Johnson or James Shields?

Do the Rangers need to add some offensive help?  Could we see a big bat that could eventually serve as the replacement of Josh Hamilton – someone like Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Upton?  Or, are we simply looking for depth form the likes of Alfonso Soriano or Jeff Francouer?

Speaking of Hamilton, he is currently in the midst of the biggest slump in his career and he’s starting to hear the boo-birds at Rangers Ballpark. What does this mean long-term? Can Hambone turn it around this year when we need him the most – September & October?

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Podcast Episode 17: Trade Deadline Part 2 & Slumping Josh
Jul 272012
 
Josh Johnson 2

Continuing the Trade Target Profiles today with Josh Johnson, who has peaked the interest of many Rangers fans over the last couple of days.  With Cole Hamels off the market and the unsavory thought of Greinke being nothing more than a 3 month rental, Johnson’s attractiveness shot up the charts quickly.

Joshua Michael Johnson

The Player

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonJohnson has long been a player of desire for Rangers fans, primarily due to the fact that the Marlins are always a volatile team when it comes to the trade market – either buying or selling big every season.

The 28 year-old Johnson grew up in Oklahoma, which has been  used in the media recently as a reason why he would be a logical trade target for the Rangers – being closer to home would make him happier.  Also floated out there for the media to gobble up is that his wife wouldn’t mind being closer to her family…in Orange County.  Seems the Marlins are pandering to the Rangers and Angels…bidding war anyone?

Johnson is a two-time All-Star and finished fifth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting.  Since his first full season in 2006, he hasn’t necessarily been the model of consistency in regards to playing time and health, only surpassing the 20 games pitched mark three times in his career (2006, 2009, 2010).

After a successful rookie campaign in 2006, Johnson had issues early in 2007 and was eventually shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

Similar to Greinke, he has one season (2010) that stands out on paper as a season of dominance, but his 2009 numbers were very strong as well and  he was well on his way to a dominant 2011 before being shut down early due to inflammation in his right shoulder.

All that said, this dude is a stud and I don’t view him as any more of an injury risk than any other alternative.

As noted, the contact situation is attractive here because we’re not dealing with a 3-month rental.  Johnson’s contract pays him $13.75M this year and the same in 2013.

The Measurables

Year Age Tm W L ERA G CG IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2005 21 FLA 0 0 3.65 4 0 12.1 11 0 10 10 112 1.703 1.00
2006 22 FLA 12 7 3.10 31 0 157.0 136 14 68 133 140 1.299 1.96
2007 23 FLA 0 3 7.47 4 0 15.2 26 1 12 14 60 2.426 1.17
2008 24 FLA 7 1 3.61 14 1 87.1 91 7 27 77 121 1.351 2.85
2009 25 FLA 15 5 3.23 33 2 209.0 184 14 58 191 133 1.158 3.29
2010 26 FLA 11 6 2.30 28 1 183.2 155 7 48 186 180 1.105 3.88
2011 27 FLA 3 1 1.64 9 0 60.1 39 2 20 56 239 0.978 2.80
2012 28 MIA 6 7 4.14 20 0 119.2 125 7 35 105 99 1.337 3.00
8 Yrs 54 30 3.14 143 4 845.0 767 52 278 772 134 1.237 2.78
162 Game Avg. 13 7 3.14 35 1 208 189 13 68 190 134 1.237 2.78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Exceeded 200 innings only once in his young career (2009)
  • Current WAR is 1.7, which is lower than Harrison, Darvish and Colby Lewis (R.I.P. Colbra), but a 6.4 in 2009 and a 6.8 in 2012 far surpass the high-marks of any current Rangers starting pitchers.
  • Similar players of note in terms of performance (according to Baseball-Reference.com) are:
    • Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens & Adam Wainwright for career
    • David Cone, Adam Wainwright and Orel Hershiser  for similarity thorugh age 27 (2011 season for Johnson)
  • While his career has been brief and subject to time away for recovery, Johnson has been a better first half pitcher, posting second half marks of 3.83 ERA (compared to 2.71 in first half) a 1.318 WHIP (compared to 1.186 in first half)
I Split W L ERA G CG SHO IP H HR BB SO WHIP SO/BB
April/March 8 6 2.88 28 2 0 147.0 121 6 47 140 1.143 2.98
May 11 4 2.66 27 0 0 169.1 144 8 51 140 1.152 2.75
June 11 7 2.62 22 1 0 144.1 128 7 53 135 1.254 2.55
July 9 4 3.20 25 0 0 151.2 145 16 43 140 1.240 3.26
August 10 5 3.71 22 1 0 138.1 127 8 42 122 1.222 2.90
Sept/Oct 5 4 4.29 19 0 0 94.1 102 7 42 95 1.527 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Johnson has faced the Rangers only once in his career, shutting down the Rangers offense in 2010 by pitching seven strong innings, striking out 7 and giving up only one run on 1 walk and 4 hits…in a no-decision.
  • Johnson has never faced the Angels, A’s or Mariners.

Could Josh be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonMost prefer Johnson to Greinke at this point.  Neither player is having a career year by any standards, but both have the make-up and ability to be dominant aces on the mound.

The Marlins have put the word out that there is only a 5% chance that Johnson is dealt away this season.  They have already made to big trades this season as their fire sale is well under way – sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers and sending Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.

It’s also well known that the Marlins current asking price for Johnson is very steep.  While this may be posturing on there part, you have to figure it’s higher than what could be expected for Greinke (rental).

What would the Rangers have to give up to land Johnson?  Given the Marlins dealt away there third baseman (Ramirez), you have to assume that Mike Olt (recurring theme of these trade discussions) would be involved in any package.  Beyond Olt, I could see another lower-tiered prospect or two being involved.  An interesting scenario that I have only seen discussed once (so it’s probably not going to happen) would have the Marlins including super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio in a deal to the Rangers, with the Rangers increasing their package beyond Olt to  include a more highly rated pitching prospect.

Just gonna float this out there:

  • Rangers give Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and a player to be named (marginal prospect at best)
  • Marlins give Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio – with no help on Johnson’s contract.

***Bonifacio would be under the Rangers control through 2015 and has good value as a switch hitter that can play just about any where in the field.

While many are putting better odds on a deal for Greinke occurring (lower asking price, history with Doug Melvin), I think a deal for Josh Johnson is possible.  The Marlins are in a complete rebuilding phase now and know that the return they could net for Johnson will never see a higher point.

Who’s next?  James Shields is on deck unless I get another request…

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Jul 262012
 
greinke_brewers

Rangers Trade Market Update: Zack GreinkeJust days away from the trade deadline…rumors continue to swirl around the Rangers.  Below is a compilation of what’s being said regarding Zack Greinke – so that you don’t have to wander aimlessly around the internets and accidentally stumble across something dirty…

If you missed our initial Profile of Greinke, check it out.

Zack Greinke

  • Josh Cohen (Bleacher Report):

All indications point to Texas reloading its rotation through a trade. The team’s website reports the Rangers want to add a “difference-maker” to the rotation, with Greinke and Hamels leading their wish list. Texas has coveted prospects in Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, and it would not hesitate to move them for a pitcher like Greinke.

  • Timothy Rapp (Bleacher Report):

The Rangers are already (arguably) the best team in baseball. With Greinke, I think that argument would have to be put to rest. And perhaps finally—after two seasons coming up just short—the Rangers would finally get a World Series title for a team in its prime.

  • Tom Haudricourt (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Rangers’ primary target was Hamels, and now that he is off the market they will have even more interest in Greinke. Their top prospect is shortstop Jurickson Profar, whom the Brewers would love to have, but Texas considers him an untouchable. Third baseman Mike Olt is another coveted prospect, but the Brewers have a three-year commitment to Ramirez, who would have to be moved to make room. The Brewers would be very interested in obtaining left-hander Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect, and also have scouted right-hander Justin Grimm.

  • Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune)

Zack Greinke needs important innings to pitch, and the Texas Rangers need a splash. Given the track record that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have of getting their men, it will be a surprise if Greinke isn’t traded to the Rangers. The Brewers not only scouted a start by Rangers’ prospect Martin Perezon Tuesday against Boston but also had a scout watchingNeftali Feliz in a minor-league rehab appearance.

  • Austin Lyon (Orlando Sentinel)

Texas executed a similar trade in 2010 when it acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle and that move helped the Rangers reach the World Series. With a loaded farm system, Texas has more than enough pieces to make an attractive offer to Milwaukee, which appears poised to start rebuilding. With the Angels and suddenly surging Athletics right on the Rangers’ heels, it’s imperative they make a move for the stretch run and I believe they’ll add Greinke.

Greinke seems to be the hot topic right now and more teams are jumping into the mix (White Sox and Nationals to go with standard Braves, Red Sox, Angels & Rangers).  How serious are these other teams?  Who knows, but we do know that the Rangers have the young talent to best any of them if necessary – let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.  Keep in mind that Greinke is just a rental, but don’t forget that he could put this team over the top…

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Jul 252012
 
Cliff Lee 2

Just the thought of Cliff Lee back in a Rangers uniform brings chills.  Cliff was at the heart of what was the most magical season in franchise history.  Many years from now, even if the Rangers have multiple World Champion flags flying in the Ballpark, we’ll always think back on 2010 as the turning point – and what a vital role Cliff Lee played in that season.

Could the Rangers really bring Lee back just two seasons later?  Who’s the Smoak and Beavan of 2012 that could lure Lee away from his current squad?

With the Phillies and Cole Hamels finally reaching a long-term agreement, the Phillies may look to move Lee to free up some funds and plug some holes with young talent.

Clifton Phifer Lee

The Player

Potential Trade Target Profile: Cliff Lee

While it’s not even certain that the Phillies are shopping the left handed veteran pitcher, it makes sense that they would at least field offers given their positioning in the NL East race (as noted in the Hamels profile).  With Hamels garnering a larger contract than Lee, and the hopes of much good coming out of 2012, the Phillies could deal Lee in hopes of refocusing those funds during the off-season and adding some young talent to prepare for the future.

Unlike both Hamels and Greinke, Lee would not be merely a rental since he is under contract through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016.  So, one could assume that the asking price, similar to the Justin Upton scenario, would be higher.

Lee is a three-time All-Star and has finished in the top seven of Cy Young voting four times in his career (2005, 2008, 2010, 2011).  He was also the 2008 AL Comeback Player of the Year after bouncing back from sub-par campaigns in both 2006 & 2007.

Lee is making $21.5M in 2012 and will be paid $25M/year between 2013 and 2015. The 2016 vesting option would pay Lee $27.5M.  Lee is 33 years-old now, so the contact carries him through age 36 unless the vesting option is picked up, in which case it would take him through age 37.

Lee has been involved in four big trades in his career, three of which he was the prized centerpiece.

  • June 27, 2002: Traded by the Montreal Expos with Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens to the Cleveland Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.
  • July 29, 2009: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with Ben Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.
  • December 16, 2009: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Seattle Mariners for J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.
  • July 9, 2010: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with Mark Lowe and cash to the Texas Rangers for Matthew Lawson, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak.

Cliff Lee is an “Ace” and would fit the bill as the front line starter that the Rangers desire.

The Measurables

 

Year Age Tm W L ERA G CG IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2002 23 CLE 0 1 1.74 2 0 10.1 6 0 8 6 260 1.355 0.75
2003 24 CLE 3 3 3.61 9 0 52.1 41 7 20 44 122 1.166 2.20
2004 25 CLE 14 8 5.43 33 0 179.0 188 30 81 161 80 1.503 1.99
2005 26 CLE 18 5 3.79 32 1 202.0 194 22 52 143 111 1.218 2.75
2006 27 CLE 14 11 4.40 33 1 200.2 224 29 58 129 102 1.405 2.22
2007 28 CLE 5 8 6.29 20 1 97.1 112 17 36 66 72 1.521 1.83
2008 29 CLE 22 3 2.54 31 4 223.1 214 12 34 170 167 1.110 5.00
2009 30 TOT 14 13 3.22 34 6 231.2 245 17 43 181 131 1.243 4.21
2009 30 CLE 7 9 3.14 22 3 152.0 165 10 33 107 135 1.303 3.24
2009 30 PHI 7 4 3.39 12 3 79.2 80 7 10 74 124 1.130 7.40
2010 31 TOT 12 9 3.18 28 7 212.1 195 16 18 185 133 1.003 10.28
2010 31 SEA 8 3 2.34 13 5 103.2 92 5 6 89 168 0.945 14.83
2010 31 TEX 4 6 3.98 15 2 108.2 103 11 12 96 113 1.058 8.00
2011 32 PHI 17 8 2.40 32 6 232.2 197 18 42 238 160 1.027 5.67
2012 33 PHI 1 6 3.72 16 0 111.1 107 11 22 106 107 1.159 4.82
11 Yrs 120 75 3.65 270 26 1753.0 1723 179 414 1429 116 1.219 3.45
162 Game Avg. 15 10 3.65 34 3 222 219 23 53 181 116 1.219 3.45
CLE (8 yrs) 83 48 4.01 182 10 1117.0 1144 127 322 826 108 1.312 2.57
PHI (3 yrs) 25 18 2.93 60 9 423.2 384 36 74 418 134 1.081 5.65
TEX (1 yr) 4 6 3.98 15 2 108.2 103 11 12 96 113 1.058 8.00
SEA (1 yr) 8 3 2.34 13 5 103.2 92 5 6 89 168 0.945 14.83
AL (9 yrs) 95 57 3.88 210 17 1329.1 1339 143 340 1011 111 1.263 2.97
NL (3 yrs) 25 18 2.93 60 9 423.2 384 36 74 418 134 1.081 5.65
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/25/2012.

So, looking at what he’s done so far in 2012, throw the wins and losses out the window – the Phillies have been extremely inconsistent offensively and have been without many of their big bats due to injury.

Focusing on more of the individual pitching metrics, we see that his ERA and WHIP are both elevated compared to recent performance and his K/BB ratio is down.  Again, this is only over half a season – half a season in which not much has gone right for anyone wearing a Phillies uniform.

  • Lee’s current WAR 1.9, which is down from a career high of 8.3 in 2011 and below that of Darvish, Harrison and Greinke (just to name just a few).
  • On the list of players with similar performance to Lee are Dan Haren, Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett – pretty salty.
  • Historically, Lee has pitched slightly better in the second half of the season.
  • Lee has started 14 games at Rangers Ballpark in his career, accumulating a mark of 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA  and a 1.149 WHIP.
  • Lee has started against the Angels 12 times in his career, going 7-4 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.042 WHIP – lowest ERA against any AL opponent that doesn’t play their home games in Oakland.

Could Cliff be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Cliff LeeSo, will the Phillies put Cliff on the trading block?  I don’t know that they’ll come out and publicly announce they are looking to move him, but I would never expect Phillies GM Ruben Amaro to do something like that – he’s been known to have ninja like qualities like our beloved JD.  I would think that if the right offer for Lee comes along, the Phillies will jump on it.

What would the Rangers have to give up for Cliff?  Mike Olt…plus.  Given Lee’s contract situation (locked up through 2015), a package for Lee would include Olt and two additional strong prospects (think Martin Perez caliber).  There is some thought that the Phillies could also have some strong interest in Leonys Martin, given the potential of losing center fielder Shane Victorino after the season.

Cliff is a long-shot, primarily because of his contract situation.  If the Phillies are willing to listen, I’m sure the Rangers could put forward the best offer over the other contenders in the trade market (Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, Reds, etc.) because of the depth they have in their farm system.

I’d put better odds on a deal for Greinke or Marlins starter Josh Johnson occurring.

Speaking of Johnson, his profile is on deck, so stay tuned.

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Jul 232012
 
Zack Greinke 2

So, for those of you that have listened to Episode 16 of the Baseball Do Podcast, you know we are focusing first on some of the bigger names with the Trade Target Profiles.  I was tempted to jump to Cliff Lee today (as we dedicated a good amount of time on the podcast to a Lee-Rangers reunion), but decided instead to opt for Greinke in the off chance that we hear any news related to a Cole Hamels extension (which impacts Lee’s availability).

Donald Zachary Greinke

The Player

Potential Trade Target Profile: Zack GreinkeFirst things first, if Greinke ever dons a Rangers jersey, I think we should all agree right now to call him “Donald”.  Just has a good ring to it…

Greinke, like the previously profiled Cole Hamels, is a free agent after the 2012 season, so should be viewed as a rental.  The Rangers would obviously have an opportunity to negotiate with Greinke for an extension if he were traded to the team, but it’s likely that the young (age 28) pitcher will hit the open market this winter.

Greinke won the 2009 American League Cy Young award, which was also his only All-Star season.   As you can see below in the “Measurable’, Greinke was nothing short of dominant in 2009 but has failed receive a single Cy Young vote in any other season.

Part of what makes Greinke so attractive is his potential.  Don’t get me wrong, he is a front line starter now, but at the age of 28 (turns 29 in October), he should have his best years still ahead of him and has shown that he has the talent and make-up to be something special.

That said, the price tag for Greinke should be lower than Hamels and much lower than a player who is locked up beyond 2012 (Lee & Upton).

In a poll conducted by MLBTradeRumors.com, Greinke is currently the runner up to Hamels in terms of which starter rumored to be on the market would provide the biggest boost.  Hamels has dominated the results, garnering 59% of the total to Greinke’s 19% (note: Cliff Lee is not included in poll).

One final note on Greinke…he has a history of mental illness as he was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder a few years ago.  He momentarily gave up on baseball, but returned to the game after getting diagnosed and treated for his illness.  This isn’t a joking matter and not something that should be taken lightly…by Greinke or the Rangers.

The Measurables

Year Age Tm W L ERA G CG IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2004 20 KCR 8 11 3.97 24 0 145.0 143 26 26 100 120 1.166 3.85
2005 21 KCR 5 17 5.80 33 2 183.0 233 23 53 114 76 1.563 2.15
2006 22 KCR 1 0 4.26 3 0 6.1 7 1 3 5 116 1.579 1.67
2007 23 KCR 7 7 3.69 52 0 122.0 122 12 36 106 124 1.295 2.94
2008 24 KCR 13 10 3.47 32 1 202.1 202 21 56 183 125 1.275 3.27
2009 25 KCR 16 8 2.16 33 6 229.1 195 11 51 242 205 1.073 4.75
2010 26 KCR 10 14 4.17 33 3 220.0 219 18 55 181 100 1.245 3.29
2011 27 MIL 16 6 3.83 28 0 171.2 161 19 45 201 104 1.200 4.47
2012 28 MIL 9 3 3.57 20 0 116.0 117 7 28 117 117 1.250 4.18
9 Yrs 85 76 3.80 258 12 1395.2 1399 138 353 1249 114 1.255 3.54
162 Game Avg. 12 11 3.80 37 2 200 200 20 51 179 114 1.255 3.54
KCR (7 yrs) 60 67 3.82 210 12 1108.0 1121 112 280 931 116 1.264 3.33
MIL (2 yrs) 25 9 3.72 48 0 287.2 278 26 73 318 109 1.220 4.36
AL (7 yrs) 60 67 3.82 210 12 1108.0 1121 112 280 931 116 1.264 3.33
NL (2 yrs) 25 9 3.72 48 0 287.2 278 26 73 318 109 1.220 4.36
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2012.

As noted, Greinke’s 2009 season stands out when you look at his full career – almost to the point where you could easily argue that 2009 is the outlier and some blend of 2008 and 2010 are much more likely from a results standpoint.

  • Greinke’s current WAR for 2012 is 2.0, which is the exact same as that of Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish, which begs the question as to how big of an improvement he is over our current starters.
  • Greinke has pitched at Rangers Ballpark 6 times in his career (5 of which were starts), and has a record of 2-3 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.029 WHIP – for whatever that’s worth.
  • Greinke’s salary is $13.5M (same in 2011).
  • Among the list of most comparable players to Greinke (in terms of performance), both James Shields and Oil Can Boyd are top comparisons – now that’s a party.

Could Donald (aka Greinke) be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Zack Greinke

First order of business required is that the Brewers officially start shopping the young pitcher.  While they haven’t fully declared themselves as sellers, getting swept by the division leading Reds over the weekend got them one step closer to doing just that.  It’s strongly believed that the Brewers will indeed try to trade Greinke…assuming they don’t make a push to extend his contract, as the Phillies are doing with Hamels now.

In the last podcast, Jasen and I talked briefly about Zack Greinke as a trade target for the Rangers and explored the idea of his status as an “Ace”.  Whether you want to classify him as that or not, you can’t argue that he is one of the top 3 (if not 2) starters on the trade market right now.  Whether or not he would be a Game 1 starter in a playoff series may not be as important as if he would be one of our four starters in a playoff series – in other words, does he improve our starting rotation?

I’m of the belief that he does.  While he may not provide as big of an impact as Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee (debatable), he would definitely be an upgrade in the rotation.

What would it take to get Greinke to Texas?  Via trade, the Brewers would have interest in Mike Olt (as everyone does) as well as a number of the Rangers young pitching prospects – most notably Martin Perez.  Given Greinke is only a 3 month rental, I would envision the deal consisting of Perez and another mid-level prospect headed to Milwaukee in return for his services.  Via free agency after the season, I’d guess 6 years/$110M.

Remember, unless the Brewers and Greinke reach a long-term agreement, Greinke will be on the free agent market after the season.  So, while the Rangers may have some interest in Greinke long-term, they don’t have to make the move now via trade. However, if the goal is to add a front line starter to the rotation in 2012 (and the Rangers believe Greinke is indeed a front line starter), then they’ll have to reach a deal and give up on some young talent.

In the end, I’d give better odds to a deal for Greinke happening than I would for Hamels, Lee or Upton.

Got a request for who we profile next?  Leave a comment.

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Jul 212012
 
Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels

Scott attempts to trade Jasen to an Oakland Athletics blog and podcast, which leads to discussion about the trade deadline and what we think the Rangers should do.

  • What are the top 2 needs for the current Rangers squad?
  • Who are some of the trade targets?
  • Who would the Rangers have to give up in return?  Profar?  Olt?  Perez?

Podcast Episode 16   Rangers Trade Deadline Talk (Part 1)Unfortunately, the Philly pictured here has not been put on the trading block.

We’ll have part 2 of the Trade Deadline podcast up next Saturday, as the rumors continue to heat up through the week leading up to the deadline at 4pm on July 31st.

Be sure to check out our Trade Target Profiles on Justin Upton and Cole Hamels…we’ll have more of these coming through the deadline as well.

Stay tuned for details on a game watching party at Mixed Up Burgers!

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Podcast Episode 16   Rangers Trade Deadline Talk (Part 1)
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