Timothy Howell

Jul 222013
 
AAAA

Biogenesis Suspensions: Ryan Braun Struck First, Is Nelson Cruz Next?

Braun is the first to take a trip down suspension lane in 2013.

Just a few days after it was reported that potential suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis accusations weren’t likely to be handed out until next season, the former PED clinic has claimed its first casualty.

2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun has become the latest PED punching bag. He will be suspended without pay for the remainder of the season.

As you may recall, Braun failed a drug test during the 2011/2012 offseason only to have the urine sample mishandled during storage—making it inadmissible.

Braun’s punishment equates to a 65 game suspension—likely less than originally sought by Bud Selig.  In all likelihood, Braun’s willingness to (finally) admit his involvement with PEDs enabled him to minimize the length of his suspension.

Alex Rodriguez is likely next, and since he refused to speak with the powers that be, the-oft injured and chronically overpaid Yankees’ third baseman may be facing a 100 game jaunt or perhaps a lifetime ban…pleasing many (present company included).

The Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz is also a potential for a 50 game jolt, as he was one of 15-20 major-leaguers associated with the Biogenesis sting. Aside from the potential for a plea bargain, first-timers receive a 50 game suspension, second-timers 100 games, and a third time results in a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.

Current players that are on their second offense include Texas Rangers’ minor leaguer, Manny Ramirez, and Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—although Hamilton’s drug issues were those of abuse rather than PEDs.

The Biogenesis news and potential of Cruz’s suspension certainly puts a damper on the exciting prospect of Matt Garza joining the Rangers’ rotation as early as Tuesday.  However, on the bright side, the sooner the better for Cruz’s suspension, as there are currently 63 games left in the season for Texas, and there is a possibility that a suspension would end shortly before the playoffs.

 

@TMurrayHowell

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Jul 192013
 
Matt Garza
Texas Rangers Trade Rumors: Is Matt Garza Headed to Arlington?

A potential trade to the Rangers should be a pleasant surprise for Matt Garza.

As has been reported for the last three years, the Texas Rangers are in apparent hot pursuit of the Chicago Cubs’ Matt Garza.  This comes as no surprise since every time the 29-year-old right hander has been available, the Rangers have been in the mix.  So what’s different this time?

 

First and foremost, mutual need.

 

The Texas Rangers currently have five starting pitchers on the disabled list.  The Chicago Cubs are in full-on rebuilding mode and are looking to replenish their farm system with as many prospects as possible.

 

Secondly, the Chicago Cubs’ asking price might finally suit the Rangers.

The Cubs have been after the Rangers’ 22-year-old left hander, Martin Perez, for just about as long as the Rangers have Garza.  However, just as in times past, the Rangers have put the nix on the inclusion of Perez of any deals. That is, anything short of a “blockbuster” type of deal for the likes of a Giancarlo Stanton or a David Price.

Per T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers are working on getting a deal done with the likes of Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, and Neil Ramirez being bandied about.  Apparently, the Rangers are giving Luke Jackson the “Martin Perez” treatment—at least for this deal—and leaving him out of the Garza trade discussion.

Mike Olt, clearly, is the biggest name involved in the trade rumor.  Coming into this year, he was Baseball America‘s #22 Prospect in all of baseball.

Olt made his major league debut last season, and aside from one exciting walk-off hit, he was largely a letdown.  Olt had a terrible start to the 2013 season, and was placed on the disabled list with some ocular issues.  He had been playing better of late however, so now might be the best time to maximize his trade value.

C.J. Edwards, is a 22-year-old right hander, drafted out of Mid-Carolina in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.  Edwards started this year at Class-A Hickory and is having a fine season—going 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA.

Neil Ramirez was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft.  Ramirez has been a somewhat frustrating prospect. A rapid climber during his first three seasons, Ramirez has been on a yo-yo swing between Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Frisco since the 2012 season.  Ramirez has been with Double-A Frisco all season, and has pitched well, going 9-3 with a 3.33 ERA.

Check back often for the latest in the Matt Garza Saga.

@TMurrayHowell

 

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Jul 102013
 
Yu Darvish
Texas Rangers News: Yu Darvish to the Disabled List

New rookie call up, “Steely Dan” will be the Rangers’ number 5 starter…

Yeah, that is the most painful headline I have ever had to type.

Sadly, it is true.

Yu Darvish is the latest of a seeming slew of Rangers pitchers that are doing time on the disabled list.

According to various sources, Darvish is suffering from a strained right trapezius muscle.

According to the dictionary, the trapezius  is “a broad, flat muscle on each side of the upper and back part of the neck…”

All I know is that the street name of this apparently very- important-to-people-that-throw-things-for-a-living muscle is “trap.” Insider dope, straight from me to your computer.

There is never a good time for your team’s ace to hit the disabled list, but the timing does minimize the impact as with the All-Star Game coming up next week, Darvish will be eligible for reactivation prior to the New York Yankees series that starts on Monday, July 22nd.

No roster moves have been announced of yet, but it is likely that Ross Wolf will slide in to the rotation to to spell Darvish for tomorrow’s scheduled start.  There is a possibility that Neil Ramirez (9-3, 3.33 ERA, 11.1 K/9) may be promoted from Double-A Frisco to spell The Yu.

Should Ramirez be called up, the Texas Rangers starting rotation would consist of—take a deep breath—Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Justin Grimm, One Metal Folding Chair with a Rangers cap, and that kid from the movie Rookie of the Year.

Darvish joins fellow starting pitchers Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and Alexi Ogando on the dreaded disabled list.

Texas Rangers News: Yu Darvish to the Disabled List

Yeah, he’s missing teeth…but can he miss bats?

Be sure to check back here—this is BaseballDo, foo—for all relevant updates on the Yu Darvish situation (unless they are too depressing for me to write about).

@TMurrayHowell

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Mar 132013
 

Texas Rangers Spring Training Questions, Answered! (Sort of)Well, the 2013 Major League Baseball season is just about upon us.

How close you ask?
Consider that in just over three weeks, the 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip will become a reality! And by that time, the Rangers will be four games deep into the 2013 regular season.

And, since the lowly Houston Astros represent three of those first four games, the Rangers should be sitting pretty at 4-0.  But talk of the 2013 Rangers season, and even Astros-bashing, seems a tad premature since there are still so many Spring Training questions left unanswered.

Can Alexi Ogando hold down the fourth spot in the rotation?  Can Lance Berkman’s body make it back from Surprise in one piece? Who will be the Rangers’ fifth starter, and when will the butcher and candle maker join Jeff Baker?

For Goodness Saker, What’s a Jeff Baker?

Last year in Surprise, Robbie Ross was the feel-good story of the spring.  Considered a long-shot to make the roster, Ross not only made the squad, but became a crucial part of the big league bullpen.

So far this spring, major league journeyman Jeff Baker has been all the talk.  The Baker Hype has been much deserved as he has put up a triple-slash line of .529/.568/.735 over 34 ABs thus far.

As of right now, it looks as if Baker has the inside track on being the Rangers’ go-to utility infielder, an area of concern since Andres Blanco departed prior to the 2012 season.

Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland has never really had a chance to prove his value to the team.  He has had some injury issues (2011 his wrist bothered him, and last season it was a hamstring) and when he has been healthy he was either trumped to make room for Mike Napoli/Michael Young, or was flat-out benched against lefties.

Hitting against left-handers had proved to be difficult for the big man from Mississippi. However, not so this spring.  Moreland has been thumping southpaws to the tune of: .500/.600/1.00 with one long ball and four RBI thus far…If Moreland can stay healthy, look for him to have a big season in 2013.

The OTHER Martin

I’ve decided to be upbeat.  So let’s not talk about the Martin Perez broken arm thing. Whoops, I guess I just did.  That is the last time I will mention that Martin Perez may miss up to two months. Promise.  Okay, anyhoo, let’s move on to the other Martin. Leonys Martin.

All indications are that Leonys Martin may be ready to become the Rangers’ full-time center fielder.  Martin has had some issues defensively, but it is hard even for Ron Washington to ignore Martin’s .394/.447/.576 slash line.  Now is the time for the Rangers to see if their $15 million investment in the Cuban defector was worth the, um, investment.

The only negative I can see with Martin getting the nod to start every day in center is that it moves Baseball Do-fave Craig Gentry back to the bench.  Gentry is having one sweet spring too and has proved that he can hit right-handers to boot, thanks to his .294/.455/.529 thus far.

Although I’d love to see Gentry start on a regular basis, he is a nifty security blanket just in case Martin should falter.  Look for Gentry to be a late-innings defensive replacement this season much like last season.

Lance Berkman Not Yet Broken

So far Lance Berkman has not been injured.  However, he has been sporting a full-on beard. How does this matter in terms of injury? Well, should Berkman decide to ditch the face-do, do not be surprised if he blows out a wheel in the process.

Seriously, if you can tear an ACL playing first base, what makes you think you are safe in the shower?

What do I Think-o about Starter Numero Cinco?

It is a good thing that right-hander Alexi Ogando has looked solid over his recent outings. There is already a mini-controversy surrounding the Rangers’ future fifth starter, and you certainly don’t want any questions marks surrounding the fourth spot thrown in the mix too.

And therein lays the problem with the Martin Perez situation.  Whoops, I mentioned him again.  The aforementioned Robbie Ross has been quite sharp in his starts, but should he make the rotation, who would take over the role of left-handed go-to reliever?

Fellow southpaw Michael Kirkman, should he not make the rotation, is a likely candidate to replace Ross in the ‘pen.  Free Agent pickup Kyle McClellan is a possibility in the fifth spot as is Justin Grimm.  Grimm has struggled mightily this spring as his north-of-twelve ERA can attest.

Ross is in a similar situation to CJ Wilson three years ago, minus the whole being an incredible d-bag thing.

Essentially Ross will have to be so good as a starter that it is worth it to the club to create a lefty deficit in the pen.  This is one of those roster decisions that is going to be right down to the wire.

Regardless of the eventual roster shakedown, the 2013 season is just around the corner and I am super-stoked!

@TmurrayHowell

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Dec 022012
 

Josh Hamiltons Free Agent Purgatory: Alternative Landing SpotOver one full month has passed since the Detroit Tigers hit the snooze button on the 2012 Major League Baseball season. Thirty days throttled passed without Josh Hamilton finding a new suitor for his services.

Yes, only 21 days left for X-mas shopping and no Hamilton news. Yep, the Mayan Apocalypse might occur with Hamilton still a RangerWhatever, I have credit cards that won’t expire until 2014 so I call BS on the whole Mayan thing.

Regardless, it looks like we’re going to have to be patient before plotting the destination for Hamilton’s next venture. You’ve got to love learning a lesson about patience from the dude that swings at the first pitch like his bat is on fire.

Heads up on the front row, bro.

So where will Hamilton finally land for 2013 and beyond? Some think it will be here in Texas. I would have been excited about that possibility in, say, mid-May. Now I’m ready to cash-whip Zack Greinke and give Craig Gentry or Leonys Martin a shot at center.

I feel that a viable suitor has been right under our noses this whole time and yet I haven’t read one single character—not even a full word, brah!—about this completely obvious scenario.

So which team is it? Here’s a hint: it’s not the Texas Rangers. Pittsburgh Pirates? Yeah, right man. Brewers? Ha! Dodgers? Huh-uh. Hanshin Tigers? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

Nope. Josh Hamilton is going to sign a contract with the…

Harlem Globetrotters.

Yep, those guys.

Oh whatever, you’ve got to give the Globetrotters their propers, man. Without them there’d be no And One; there’d also be far too few ironic nicknames—a bald dude named Curly! Get it?  A fat guy named Slim? Oh, you crazy sons of guns, you!!

Seriously though, Hamilton could play a mean power forward in Harlem, I’m willing to bet. Still not convinced? Here goes.

Why Josh Hamilton Would Be a Great Globetrotter

No walls 

Yep, in the wonderful world of professional basketball, there are no pesky walls to run into, lest your crack-ravaged body splinter and explode like a stone tossed through a glass house.

BONUS: No greedy third base coaches to make you run when you don’t want to. It’s pretty much “Hamiltopia.”

• Superglue for the Splintered Ego

It became quite obvious at times this year that the big man’s fragile ego was put to the  test. Or maybe it was the nicotine withdrawal. Whatever. Anyhow, sometimes all you need to get you out of a mild depression is a sweet nickname. And, according to the White Boys That Play Hoops Act of 1994, all caucasian men that play professional basketball, must be nicknamed “Professor.” Why? Because Vanilla Ice was already taken and nobody wants to go by Snow (not even the Canadiens.)

• Minimal Effort Means Wins

Much like Hamilton is always trying to hit two home runs with one swing, the Globetrotters skirt the easy layup for the backboard-bruising dunk.

Besides, Washington Generals have about as much chance of winning as the Baltimore Orioles do in a one game playoff…wait a minute…

• No Sherlock’s in Harlem

Yep, as far as I know, there is no Sherlock’s in Harlem. This is good because it will help to keep Hamilton’s bathroom love affairs in check. A successful offseason is predicated by keeping the Toilet Bowl Betties to a bare minimum.

• All Games Indoors

Did you hear that, Hambone? All games are inside! Yep, no more weird contacts or half-assed excuses about why you can’t hit during the day.

• No Need to Worry About a Big Contract

No need to fret about a fat contract when you’re playing for the Harlem Globetrotters…mainly because, well, you won’t be getting one! Seriously; I’m pretty sure those dudes work for 2.13 an hour plus tips.

• No Spring Training in Arizona…

Or anywhere else for that matter. Come on, we all know that Hami doesn’t want to actually put in any extra work! Plus, all that whip cream on the nipples—not to mention crotch shots at local Arizona watering holes—well, it’s damn hard on the skin.

Josh Hamiltons Free Agent Purgatory: Alternative Landing Spot

@TMurrayHowell

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Oct 302012
 
YoshiFeldy copy

Thanks to the San Francisco Giants making quick work of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, we can all plop our buns down onto the MLB Hot Stove that much faster.

Sadly, since Major League Baseball free agents have a five-day window until they truly set sail for financially greener pastures, there is painful little news on the free agency front.

Thus, here are some notes on some quasi-newsworthy Texas Rangers stuff:

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to Undergo Changes

So, there is going to be an opening added behind home plate. I suppose this is to subdue the infamous “jet stream” that supposedly prevents the Rangers from signing premiere starting pitchers.

Isn’t the jet stream effectively neutralized by the fact that the Rangers get to pitch against the Houston Astros more than ever next season?

And isn’t the eradication of said jet stream also a bad thing for Rangers’ hitters?

The Rangers also announced that foul territory will be minimized to make room for more “premium” seating. Okay, sure, this one makes sense on a monetary level at least.

However, fans beware: David Murphy and Nelson Cruz might be flying into the stands with greater regularity than a Josh Hamilton bat. Dodging a bat is one thing, but skirting a Boomstick is an entirely different matter…

It could get ugly.

Texas Rangers Offseason News: Feldman Flees; Sayonora Tateyama

Less foul territory could result in Boomstick “Cruzing” into your Boomstick.

All told,  I guess a little change is good. And, hey, if making RBIA less hitter-friendly is what it takes to get Zack Greinke in the house, then I’m all for it.

Rangers Decline Option on Yoshinori “Human Jet Stream” Tateyama; and Scooter McPooter

Goodness, what with the aforementioned solutions to the jet stream problem and the Rangers subsequent dismissal of Yoshi Tateyama, have we seen the last of the long ball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington?

Now that Scott Feldman will fly the coup, let the debate begin: “Who will be the Rangers sixth starter heading into Spring Training 2013?” Goosebumps. I got ‘em.

On a side note, I knew buying 100 tee shirts with “Hottie Tate…yama that is!” might not have been the best business investment.

No biggie, I’ve still got my “Roy Oswalt MVP” shirts to fall back on…

Will the Rangers Go After the Young Japanese HS Phenom?

Japanese High School right-hander, Shohei Otani, made it public that he intends to enter the Major League Baseball Draft rather than play baseball professionally in Japan.

The Texas Rangers have been rumored to be very interested in drafting the pitching prospect, whose fastball has been registered as fast as 200 Nautical Miles an Hour, or something like that.

Numerous quotes from inside sources have also linked the Rangers to Otani, but since I don’t speak Japanese, I have no freaking idea what was said.

In all seriousness, I think the Rangers stand a very solid chance of landing Otani. After all, what Japanese teenager wouldn’t want the opportunity to play alongside Yu Darvish?

@TMurrayHowell

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Oct 252012
 
Barry Zito, yep Barry Zito, did it with his arm and his bat last night.
Thoughts on Game One of the 2012 World Series

Yeah, you don’t let this guy beat you. You just don’t.

And just like that, the first World Series game that has not included the Texas Rangers since 2009 has come and gone.

Plain and simple, it just feels weird to watch the Fall Classic without our favorite team in the mix. I’m not the only one that’s upset. Famed denizen of the Texas State Fair, “Big Tex” was so bereaved by the Rangers’ late-season collapse and subsequent postseason exit that he set himself on fire…presumably in protest.

Or something like that. Personally, I always thought of Big Tex as more of a football fan, but I guess the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really done too much to keep the flame from the flesh either, so to speak.

Here’re some notes/observations from last night’s San Francisco Giants thrashing of the seemingly hapless Detroit Tigers:

• My first thought after the conclusion of the San Francisco Giants’ 8-3 game one win was that: “Former Ranger Joaquin Arias is going to get a freaking World Series ring before any current Ranger.” This initial notion led me to consume beer number nine whilst moving on to my second thought on the matter which was: “$hit.”

• I realize that some of this was necessitated by days of rest and what not, but by using Barry Zito in game one—and unbelievably getting a win out of him—the G-men have effectively reversed their rotation. Zito last night, Madison Bumgarner tonight, Ryan Vogelsong for game three, and ace Matt Cain for game four…if you’re a Giants fan you’ve got to like this; especially if Bumgarner can put together a strong start.

• Last night was the first time this postseason that the Giants have won a game one. I don’t think the Tigers are the type of team to rally from being down 2-0 or 3-0 like San Francisco has done. In other words…

Doug Fister needs to pitch well tonight. He needs to find an answer to the 37-year-old riddle named “Marco Scutaro.” He’s got to keep Pablo Sandoval in the park and off of the base paths. Fister needs to avoid the big inning; he doesn’t need to dominate but he does need to keep the San Fran offense to a minimum.

• So, at what point last night did I realize that the Tigers were going to lose game one? The exact moment that Barry Zito went “oppo” for an RBI single.

• Last night’s big third-inning gained steam for San Fran with two outs when Angel Pagan—”Pagan Angel” for those with dyslexia or Tigers fans—hit a double right off of third base. Literally. His hit immediately brought back memories from last year’s ALCS when Miguel Cabrera ripped a shot off of third base in Detroit against the Rangers. I’d go on about karma but thinking of last year’s ALCS—since the Rangers were not only a part of it but the eventual victors—makes me sad.

• Well, at least the St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated, huh?

I’d like to know your World Series predictions and thoughts. Before last night, I had the Tigers winning it all in six games. What do you think? Just use our comments section below to let us know how you see the 2012 Fall Classic playing out.

Thoughts on Game One of the 2012 World Series

And to think, had the Rangers made it past the Orioles, the Big Tex tragedy could have been avoided.

@TMurrayHowell

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Oct 182012
 
Rangers' rookies Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, and Wilmer Font could be viable options to replace Mike Adams.
MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Rangers’ rookies Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, and Wilmer Font could be viable options to replace Mike Adams.

Like most of us, I’m still smarting from the fact that Major League Baseball decided to continue its postseason even after the Texas Rangers were eliminated.

Seems kind of rude, doesn’t it?

So I guess It’s time to move on. And move on we shall. The Texas Rangers are going to be an excellent team for many years to come, even if Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli end up signing elsewhere.

Today we take a look at yet another Texas Rangers free agent, right-handed reliever Mike Adams.

Mike Adams—2012 stats: (5-3, 3.27 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9)

Due to injury, Adams wasn’t going to pitch for the Rangers this past postseason. As it turned out, he didn’t miss much. Adams, like fellow free agent reliever Koji Uehara, was acquired at the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline.

The Rangers decision whether or not to re-sign Adams seems easy considering that he was recently diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, or “TOS.”

If you’re like me, your first thought was: “What’s the big deal? Just head on down to the local Thoracic Outlet Mall and grab homeboy another thoracic…”

Evidently it just doesn’t work that way, and TOS is a serious issue that can end careers.

Yikes!

MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Need a new thoracic, friend? Last season’s thoracics have got to go!

So, why waste your office downtime reading about any attempts to re-sign a dude who may never recover from his current injury? I mean after all, you could be watching Kate Upton’s Cat Daddy in slow-mo for the hundredth time, right?

Author’s note: no link provided for the aforementioned Upton dance. Trust me, you follow that link and there is no chance you’ll finish this article, and, well, I couldn’t blame you.

Look, it’s easy to forget, but Adams was one of the best relievers in MLB over a two-year period, and TOS is extremely treatable. Plus, this condition might mean the Rangers could re-sign him on the cheap.

The Sinton, Texas, native earned $4.4M last season, but he could be inked for significantly less should the Rangers make an offer. However, if the Rangers decide to let Adams and his bad wing fly free, all is not lost. Texas does have a bevy of in-house options that could make for a 2013 bullpen enhancement, minus the dinero advancement.

Replacement Options: Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font

Tanner Scheppers (1-1, 4.45 ERA, 8.4 K/9), at age 25, is eight years younger than Adams, and flashed a good deal of potential during his first taste of the bigs in 2012. All told, the 6’4” former first rounder (2009, 44th overall) showed a plus-fastball that touches triple digits and a decent feel for an off-speed pitch.

Justin Grimm (1-1, 9.00 ERA, 8.4 K/9) burst onto the seen during the Rangers’ June Swoon of pitching problems—when seemingly every pitcher was headed to the dreaded disabled list.

Grimm, a fifth round pick of the Rangers’ in 2010, won his major league debut—albeit against the Houston Astros—and compiled an excellent strikeout to walk ratio of 4.33 over his 14 big league innings of work. Just 24 years old, Grimm’s future is all but, and he has an outside chance of cracking the Rangers’ bullpen (or possibly rotation) in spring training.

Wilmer Font has been in the Rangers’ organization since 2006. So he should be like 34 years old, right? Wrong. Font was signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela at the tender young age of 16.

MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Jamie Moyer was 47 when Font was born, and Brian Wilson is looking pretty old these days.

Font had had to grow up fast. Only 22, he’s already had Tommy John surgery and made his big league debut with Texas. Granted, his command was bad—he walked four in his two total innings of work—but his solid stuff was evident. With further refinement, Font could be a key piece in the Rangers’ bullpen for many years to come.

Should the Texas Rangers Make Adams An Offer?

We here at Baseball Do would love to hear what you think about the Texas Rangers’ chances of re-signing this year’s crop of free agents. So, should the Rangers make Mike Adams an offer, or are they just fine moving forward thanks to a deep farm system? Let us know what you think in our comments section below.

Yep, that’s it! Now back to “reading” about Kate Upton…

Follow Timothy @TMurrayHowell

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Oct 092012
 
Will Napoli be back in Texas in 2013?

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?The Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton is the biggest name in this winter’s MLB Free Agent sweepstakes. So big a name is Hamilton, that another key offensive weapon in Texas is often overlooked. Mike Napoli, despite a precipitous decline from the previous season’s offensive production, provided 24 home runs and has been the team’s most productive catcher since Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

And like Hamilton, Napoli could seek a new suitor this winter. Should Napoli follow Hamilton, the Rangers could find themselves scrambling to replace a combined 67 HRs and 184 RBI from last season.

It’s funny to think that the Rangers wouldn’t re-sign Mike Napoli. After all, 2011—Napoli’s first season in Texas—might be best remembered as “The Year of the Napoli.”

For the better part of 2011, Napoli crushed every offering headed his way. His second-half frenzy and subsequent postseason romp—coupled with Nelson Cruz’s October power surge—helped drive the Rangers towards their second-straight American League Pennant. Tampa Bay’s manager, Joe Maddon—whose team was the first victim of Napoli and company—coined 2011 as “The Year of the Napoli,” a catchphrase that reverberated throughout the postseason as Rangers fans fervently chanted his name: “Nap-O-Li!! Nap-O-Li!!!” Few were the times that Napoli didn’t capitalize on his fan’s chants or the opposition’s pitches. However, as 2012 would attest, it was a good thing the Rangers were patient in signing him to a long-term deal.

The Rangers’ Patience Paid Off

By signing Napoli to a one-year $9.4M deal last February, the Rangers avoided arbitration and skirted a long-term commitment. Granted, there were those—present company included—that clamored to extend Napoli on a multi-year deal. 2011’s magical run proved a strong spell. As it turned out, not committing to Napoli long-term was a shrewd move. Since the Rangers decided to wait it out, they now have tangible proof that 2011 was more hot streak than a sustainable run of promised potential. Granted, since Napoli is one of  the premier power-hitting catchers in baseball, his average annual salary should exceed last year’s one-year deal. A three-year, $36M contract would probably land “Nap-O-Li!!!” back in Arlington for the remaining years of his prime.

Despite last season’s statistical letdown, Mike Napoli—who has averaged 27 HRs per season while in Texas—has been the Rangers’ best offensive catcher since the iconic Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Down on the Farm: Help at Catcher?

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?

If there is a glaring weakness in the Texas Rangers’ farm system—a system  ranked as one of MLB’s finest—then it is a lack of depth at the catching position. Former 2010 first round pick, Kellin Deglan is an intriguing prospect. Deglan flashed some power with Hickory of the South Atlantic League (SAL) in 2012, as he hit 12 home runs. Deglan, a career .225 hitter in the bush leagues, is athletic, but raw. Fangraph’s Mike Newman ranks fellow SAL luminary Jorge Alfaro slightly ahead of Deglan, with a high-ceiling and nearly non-existent floor. Like Deglan, the 19-year-old Alfaro is at least three years away from the big leagues.

Geovany Soto and Other FA Catchers (Been there, done that)

Geovany Soto is one option to replace Mike Napoli. Soto was acquired in the trade that netted the Rangers his former Chicago Cubs battery mate, Ryan Dempster, to boot. While with Texas, Soto, the 2008 NL ROY, flashed moments of greatness but was largely a letdown. Ironically enough, most of the free agent catchers available are former Rangers. Gerald Laird, Rod Barajas, Matt Treanor, and Yorvit Torrealba have all played in Arlington with varying degrees of success and failure. Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz, and Atlanta’s Brian McCann, are technically free agents, but both have 2013 club options that their teams are likely to exercise.

So, What do you think? Should the Texas Rangers re-sign Mike Napoli? I’d love to hear your feedback, just respond with your thoughts in our comments section below.

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?

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Oct 082012
 
Josh Hamilton is an awesome baseball player, when he wants to be.

Replacing Josh Hamilton: Do The Texas Rangers Have In House Options?Today is the first Monday of the Texas Rangers off-season. Once the 2012 postseason has come to an end, Josh Hamilton will likely saunter off from Arlington and make a beeline towards financially greener pastures. With him, Hamilton will take his immeasurable baseball talents, as well as his various psychological, ocular, and assorted addiction issues.

But not to worry, Josh Hamilton has said that he’ll give the Rangers first crack at re-signing him…Well aw-shucks, and gosh golly all-to-pieces, that sure is mighty kind of you, Josh.

All personal cynicism aside, what this really means is that the Texas Rangers have first shot to politely decline the offer he and his agent deem necessary. If you are a Texas Rangers fan—not solely a Josh Hamilton fan—then you understand that not giving him the contract he wants is best for the team. Hami wants a lengthy deal. When discussing a long-term contract—in this case, longer than four years—you have to consider: age, injury-issues, and, with Hamilton, a history of alcohol abuse, caffeine dependency, severe dry eye, and, oh yeah, an apparent lack of focus during the most important game of 2012.

Unless Hambone decides to sign a four-year (better yet, three-year) deal, then the Rangers are no longer a viable option. Besides, Hamilton and his wife, Katie, have far too many impoverished people to help for the measly makings of such a short-term deal.

In-House Options: Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin?

Replacing 43 home runs and 128 RBI is even more difficult than it sounds. Neither Craig Gentry nor Leonys Martin is ever going to be a three-hole hitter. However, Gentry supplies plus-defensive and explosive speed, whereas Martin has an upside high enough that the Rangers were willing to dish out the dough to harangue the Cuban into coming to Texas in May of 2011.

Replacing Josh Hamilton: Do The Texas Rangers Have In House Options?

More Craig Gentry. It’s what the people want.

The Problem: Defensively, Gentry and Martin are HUGE improvements over Hamilton. Offensively, not so much. Despite Gentry’s breakout 2012 campaign, he is best suited as a fourth outfielder; speed off the bench if you will. Martin, who will be just 25-years-old at the start of 2013, needs to prove that he can hit at the big league level, and thusly might be a click behind Gentry on the depth chart.

How To Fill the Offensive Void—Rookies to the Rescue?

Prized prospects Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar now have a few major league at-bats under their belts, and could plug the Hami-hole in 2013, should they ascend to their sky-high ceilings offensively.

The problem: The Rangers’ best player, Adrian Beltre, blocks Olt, a natural third baseman. Jurickson Profar has Elvis Andrus well ahead of him at shortstop, and the recently re-upped Ian Kinsler at second. Although Olt has seen some big league time in right, Profar’s skill set is more suitable for the outfield, should the Rangers decide to re-position the two.

The Free Agent Market

Naturally, the Texas Rangers will be looking at other available free agent talent. B.J. Upton and Nick Swisher come to mind. Although Swisher is better suited for right field, both he and Upton would provide an immediate offensive upgrade over Gentry and Martin. An Upton or Swisher signing would also provide the Rangers time to let Profar and Olt get consistent playing time in Triple-A for the 2013 season.

@TMurrayHowell

Replacing Josh Hamilton: Do The Texas Rangers Have In House Options?

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