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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Jan 142013
 

The all-time obscure Texas Rangers starting lineup.

By: Dustin Dietz

Texas Rangers Fan Fest will be held this weekend to pay reverence to the wonderful and supportive Rangers fan base. Many of our favorite current Ranger players will be signing autographs and some fans will even have the prerogative of being able to meet a few of them. I am certain the fans which are fortunate enough to shoot the breeze with the ballplayers will be quite excited. Who would not want to chat with heroes on the diamond such as Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Craig Gentry? However, what if former Ranger great Kevin Reimer was in attendance and signing autographs? Would you as a Ranger fan be able to recognize him?

We have all played the game with our friends where we say an obscure former Ranger great’s name to elicit laughter, or compared a buddy to Butch Davis because he dropped an easy can of corn during practice one afternoon. Due to the many years of incredibly poor baseball, the Rangers have many players one can use for comedic purposes.

So, to pay homage to the forgotten former Ranger greats, I compiled a list of the all-time most obscure former Ranger players. This is not a list of worst players to wear a Rangers uniform (Well, these players were admittedly bad here). Rather, this is a list of former Rangers so irrelevant and lapsed, fans would be unable to recognize him if he or she was standing directly next to him at Fan Fest.

Enjoy Fan Fest, and remember to savor every bit of success the franchise is experiencing. Things have been, and could be much worse.

Catcher – Einar Diaz

Diaz was blessed with having the honor of replacing future hall of fame catcher Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez in 2003 after the front office decided the 31 year old catcher was not worth resigning due to the fact they felt Pudge would begin declining. Diaz did not exactly perform at a level which made fans forget Pudge. Einar’s line of .257/.294/.341/.635 was well below Pudge’s line of .297/.369/.474/.843 in ‘03, and Pudge also was a key contributor to the Marlins 2003 World Series victory over the New York Yankees.

First Base – Ben Broussard

Broussard had been an average player for six seasons before being traded to the Rangers in December of 2007 as the Rangers tried to fill a gaping hole at first base. Broussard was an utter disaster as he yielded a line of .159/.225/.268/.493 with an OPS+ of 30. He was released after playing only 26 games on May 16th, 2008 and never played another game in the majors. Broussard is known mainly for his musical dexterity and the fact the Mariners traded Shin-Soo Choo for him. Something else I found ironic was to compare Broussard’s age 26 season to Mitch Moreland’s.

Second Base – Wayne Tolleson

Tolleson played with the Rangers before I gained sports consciousness. So, I remember absolutely nothing about him. However, how incredibly spare must he have played based on the fact he played five seasons with Texas (1981-1985) and no fan ever mentions him today. If one looks at his .251/.305/.301/.607 line while averaging one home run and 10 RBIs per season, I assume that is the reason he is never discussed. Tolleson later played for the New York Yankees where he became the second to last player to wear the number 2 before Derek Jeter began donning the now sacred number.

Shortstop – Jeff Kunkel

Kunkel was the Rangers first pick (3rd overall) in the 1983 amateur draft, and to say he did not quite live up to expectations is actually a huge understatement. Kunkel might have liked his gig as a major leaguer, but the Rangers wished he had never a job (Ticket humor). How I remember Jeff Kunkel is a certain former high school teammate of mine would refer to you as Jeff Kunkel if you missed a ground ball during practice. Ranger fans might remember the Kunkelnator for his average of 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, and 1 stolen base per season over seven years.

Third Base – Mike Pagliarulo

Dean Palmer’s season ending arm injury in early 1995 forced Pags into full time duty at third base. Pagliarulo’s 6 errors in 86 games were not horrendous, but his bWAR of -0.1 and OPS+ of 60 certainly were. Pagliarulo actually led the New York Yankees in 1987 with 32 home runs, ahead of players such as Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. Pags four bombs in 86 games in 1995 were tied with the potent basher Jeff Frye, and were also five less than Palmer’s nine in 36 games before he was injured.

Left Field – Monty Fariss

Fariss was the 6th pick overall in the 1988 amateur draft out of Oklahoma State. I vaguely remember seeing much of Fariss in the field, but I do recall my cousin attempting to convince me Fariss would become a superstar after I pulled a Fariss rookie card in a pack of 1991 Score. Fariss lasted two seasons in Texas after generating a line of .223/.314/.335/.649. The Marlins decided to select Fariss in the 1992 expansion draft, and he continued to underwhelm in Florida’s first year in 1993. Fariss’ career was over in 1993, and the statistic I find incredulous about his three seasons in the majors was he did not steal one base in his career.

Center Field – Donald Harris

Harris was the Rangers first round pick (5th overall) in 1989 out of Texas Tech, which meant in a seven year span, the club drafted Jeff Kunkel, Monty Fariss, and Donald Harris in the top ten of the amateur draft. Harris was a failure in every phase of the game. He committed four errors in only 90 chances in the outfield, stole only two bases, hit .205, and had an OPS+ of 47 in three seasons. To put Harris career 2 HRs and 11 RBIs in 82 career games into perspective, Hard-Hittin’ Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals once hit 4 HRs and drove in 12 runs in one game.

Right Field – Chris James

James’ brother Craig became the more well-known athlete in their family, but Chris did yield a decent line of .274/.370/.561/.931 with an OPS+ of 140 during his short two year tenure in Texas. However, the only thing more affable than Chris’s 10 year playing career in the major leagues was his brother’s senatorial campaign last season. Kudos to you if you remember one at bat during James time in Texas. Chris made his major league debut on my third birthday. So, he has that claim to fame should he decide to use it.

Designated Hitter – Brad Fullmer

Fullmer put together a decent career in Canada with the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays before being traded to the Anaheim Angels before the 2002 season. Fullmer would contribute to an Angels World Series victory in 2002, but injuries would derail his career afterward. After playing only 63 games in 2003 with the Halos, the Rangers signed him in December ’03 hoping he would recover. He didn’t, and after going 0 for his last 15 on July 24th, Fullmer was placed on the disabled list, and he never played again. Fullmer’s line of .233/.310/.442/.752 in 76 games in ’04 did not exactly make the Rangers hurry him back from injury during the unexpected pennant chase.

Position player honorable mentions – Benji Gil and Brian Jordan

Starting pitcher – Rob Bell

Bell’s Ranger career should be remembered for two reasons. One, he was the only pitcher during his time in Texas to wear a number in the single digits (He would later change his number from 6 to 30). And, two, the Rangers traded former untouchable prospect Ruben Mateo and some other player named Edwin Encarnacion to acquire him. What Bell should not be remembered for is his putrid ERA of 6.73, WHIP of 1.630, and his horrendous 11.0 H/9 while with Texas.

Starting pitcher honorable mention – Pedro Astacio

Relief pitcher – Reggie Cleveland

Cleveland was the Rangers closer in 1978, but is mainly forgotten based on the fact the following year his replacement Jim Kern was voted as the American League’s top reliever. Cleveland did lead the club with 12 saves. However, nine other Ranger pitchers recorded saves in 1978, with reliever Danny Darwin being the only reliever not to actually record one. Cleveland did have a decent ERA of 3.09, and solid WHIP of 1.163 in 1978, but few remember he even played in Texas. An amazing number I found in regards to the 1978 team was the fact they pitched 54 complete games, 4 by relief pitchers. The Rangers had only 7 complete games by pitchers in 2012. One other note on Reggie Cleveland, noted sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with a list titled “The Reggie Cleveland All-Stars.” The list is based on athletes who appear nothing like what their name suggests they look like. If you say you were able to use the context clues, and come to the conclusion Reggie Cleveland was a Caucasian man with shaggy hair and glasses, I know you are not being truthful.

Relief pitcher honorable mention – Mike Henneman

Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18 and enjoy Fan Fest ya knuckleheads.

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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 122012
 
Josh Hamilton 14

The 2012 Texas Rangers season came to an abrupt, and disappointing end on Friday night as the club lost the first annual one game Wild Card playoff at home to the Baltimore Orioles 5-1.

The $100 Million Dollar ManTo say the club struggled down the stretch is quite the understatement as they finished the season 2-8 in their final 10 games, including losing a 5 game division lead over the Oakland A’s with 9 games left to play. After winning the second game of a double header last Sunday night over the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers lost their final four games of the season by a combined score of 24-10. The team went into an extended cold slump at the absolute worst possible time.

How did this team many picked to win the World Series wet the bed in the home stretch? Well, one can argue it was due to a variety of factors. The club quite simply stopped getting the clutch hits the A’s got seemingly every day towards the end of the regular season. Mainly, the Rangers just looked completely mentally and physically exhausted towards the end of the year.

Playing as much baseball as this team has played the last three years can take their toll on the body. Remember, the Rangers played six postseason series the last two years, three more than any other team in baseball. I expect Texas to recover and continue to compete in the American League West, but nothing is guaranteed in the great game of baseball.

Jon Daniels and the front office are faced with some very important personnel decisions in the next few months, none more important than what to do with the enigmatic superstar Josh Hamilton.

The $100 Million Dollar ManDespite Josh Hamilton’s late season struggles, some team will pay Josh Hamilton an exorbitant amount of money to play baseball for them next season. While many Ranger fans feel signing Josh is foolish after he dropped a can of corn in a crucial situation in a do or die game against the Oakland A’s last week, or the fact Hamilton struck out 162 times this season, or the fact Hamilton hit .233 in the final ten games, Josh did produce monster numbers during his tenure in Texas.

According to MLB baseball writer Jon Heyman, he believes Hamilton will sign a contract in the neighborhood of 5 years for $150 million dollars. If Hamilton signs a contract similar to the one Heyman suggested, Hamilton would earn the highest annual salary in Major League Baseball at $30 million dollars per season.

Reading about what will soon become baseball’s newest $100 million player got me to thinking about the history of the $100 million dollar player in baseball (The list is quite fascinating). Would signing Josh Hamilton to a $100 million dollar plus deal be a wise decision for not only the Rangers, but any other MLB team? I decided to do a little research, and I think the results may be a little surprising.

Keep in mind, I realize Josh has rubbed many the wrong way in this area towards the end of his time here.

The $100 Million Dollar ManThere have been 34 $100 million dollar contracts signed in the history of baseball. Many fans have probably forgotten the first player to ever sign a $100 million dollar contract was former Ranger great Kevin Brown in 1999 when he signed a 7 year $105 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1999 season.

The Rangers have signed one player to a contract exceeding $100 million, and that was Alex Rodriguez back in December of 2000 for a then astronomical 10 year deal totaling $252 million dollars. While Rodriguez played exceptionally during his time in Texas, the club faltered because A-Rod had little talent around him and was traded to the Yankees shortly after winning the AL MVP in 2003.

The average age of the player to sign these mega deals is 28.3. Out of the 34 players to have signed $100 million dollar contracts, only 11 of them have been over the age of 30 at the time they signed their new lucrative contract. 8 of the 11 were position players, and since Josh Hamilton is a position player who will be 31 this offseason when he signs his new deal, I decided to focus solely on these 8 players and crunch their numbers to determine if signing Josh makes sense fiscally.

Here is the list of position players to have signed a $100 million dollar contract over the age of 30:

Ken Griffey Jr. – 9 year deal worth $116,500,000 with the Cincinnati Reds

The $100 Million Dollar ManJason Giambi – 7 year deal worth $120,000,000 with the New York Yankees

Alfonso Soriano – 8 year deal worth $136,000,000 with the Chicago Cubs

Carlos Lee – 6 year deal worth $100,000,000 with the Houston Astros

Alex Rodriguez – 10 year deal worth $275,000,000 with the New York Yankees

Ryan Howard – 5 year extension worth $125,000,000 with the Philadelphia Phillies

Jayson Werth – 7 year deal worth $126,000,000 with the Washington Nationals

Albert Pujols – 10 year deal worth $240,000,000 with the Los Angeles Angels

The first thing I have done is I have averaged each of these eight players final season before they were given their huge pay days, and have compared them to Josh Hamilton’s 2012. By doing this study, we can determine if Josh will receive a similar payday, and it should help predict what type of production we can expect from Josh in the future based on his age. If you want to check out each player’s season for yourself, I am sure you are cognizant of the sites to help you do that. I am just simply providing the averages.

8 players final season before mega deal:

157 games played, 114 runs scored, 176 hits, 80 XBH, 42 HR, 118 RBI, .299/.388/.579/.966, 5.5 rWAR

As one can tell, these players produced huge seasons as these numbers are just the averages between the 8 players. In 2007, A-Rod led the league in 5 major offensive categories and won AL MVP. Jason Giambi led the AL in 3 offensive categories, including an incredible 1.137 OPS in 2001. Ryan Howard knocked in 141 runs in 2009 before signing his extension the following April. Now, let’s look at what Hamilton did this year and compare the numbers to the 8 players.

Josh Hamilton’s 2012 season:

148 games played, 103 runs scored, 160 hits, 76 XBH, 43 HR, 128 RBI, .285/.354/.577/.930, 3.4 rWAR

As one again can easily determine, Josh’s 2012 numbers are very similar to the other final seasons. What does this mean? Well, if Josh’s numbers are similar to the average final seasons of the 8 $100 million dollar players over the age of 30, one is led to believe Josh will produce similar numbers beginning in the first year of his new deal and beyond. Just to be sure, I thought I would perform another test. Since Albert Pujols was the most recent player to sign a $100 million dollar deal, I decided to average the first years of the 7 other $100 million dollar player’s contracts, and compare them to Pujols to find out if the numbers also look similar.

7 players other than Pujols 1st year of new contract:

146 games played, 96 runs scored, 159 hits, 67 XBH, 33 HR, 100 RBI, .285/.370/.530/.900, 3.8 rWAR.

The most eye opening thing one will notice is the decline in all major offensive categories. Jayson Werth’s 2011 season with Washington skewed these numbers slightly, but Giambi and Griffey pushed them up as they were the only players to hit more than 40 HR. Carlos Lee was the only player to appear in all 162 games for his team in the first year of his $100 million dollar contract., which is also the only 162 game season of any player who has ever signed a $100 million dollar contract over the age of 30. And, with Josh Hamilton’s well known inability to stay healthy, he will more than likely play less games than many of these other players who did not have health issues before signing their enormous contracts. Now, let’s compare the numbers to Pujols 1st year.

Pujols 2012 season:

154 games played, 85 runs scored, 173 hits, 80 XBH, 30 HR, 105 RBI, .285/.343/.516/.859, 4.6 rWAR

Again, the numbers are very similar. Based on the similar numbers, I believe we have enough statistical evidence to more or less provide ball park figures of what one can expect from Josh next season, and beyond, wherever he, his wife, and God decide is the best place to play baseball for the next five years.

I will now provide what type of production a team can expect out of Josh Hamilton if they were to sign him to a 5 year $150 million dollar contract which Jon Heyman believes he will sign. Again, all I did was average the 7 player’s years, not including Pujols,  by very simply adding up the total amount, and dividing the total by the number of players. Werth drops off in Year 3 from the equation, and Howard drops off in Year 4 because each has not played in that particular year of his contract yet. Year 1 was already provided.

Year 2:

119 games played, 70 runs scored, 121 hits, 51 XBH, 27 HR, 84 RBI, .281/.376/.517/.893, 2.3 rWAR

The numbers are continuing to decline as the players are beginning to experience injury problems because they are aging. Only 4 of the 7 players played more than 125 games in his second season of his deal. The rWAR has dropped 3 wins in two years.

Year 3:

105 games played, 46 runs scored, 100 hits, 38 XBH, 18 HR, 67 RBI, .252/.332/.443/.774, .3 rWAR

The third year is the worst statistical year as three of the players (Griffey, Soriano, and Giambi) all finish with negative rWARs. Lee played 160 games, but the next most in games played is Rodriguez with 137. Batting average, OBP, Slugging, and OPS has fallen for the third straight year.

Year 4:

119 games played, 62 runs scored, 107 hits, 46 XBH, 22 HR, 69 RBI, .260/.357/.495/.852, 1.5 rWAR

The numbers improve slightly, but not by very much. Lee actually had a rWAR of -2.4 in his 4th year of his deal. Michael Young was everyone’s favorite whipping boy this year, and even he had 38 XBH’s in his horrendous 2012.

Year 5:

126 games played, 65 runs scored, 117 hits, 50 XBH, 24 HR, 82 RBI, .259/.350/.484/.833, 1.7 rWAR

Giambi had the most productive 5th year as he had an OPS of .971. However, no player had a rWAR above 3.7.

5 Season average:

123 games played, 68 runs scored, 121 hits, 50 XBH, 25 HR, 80 RBI, .267/.357/.494/.850, 1.9 rWAR

Yes, this would be the average season one team is paying $30 million dollars a year if they choose to pony up the money and sign Josh. While these numbers are not exact, they give a good prediction of what is probable.

The most shocking number is a total of 9.6 total rWAR in 5 seasons. Meaning, if a team paid Josh Hamilton $150 million dollars over 5 seasons, the team would be paying $15,625,000 per win. Fans admire Josh for his incredible power, but only Jason Giambi averaged 30 home runs per season through the life of his contract. Chances are greater than zero that Josh would not hit as many home runs as he did in Texas.

Also, with Josh already being well known for his injury problems, including his caffeine issue in late September, signing Josh to a massive contract might not be wise based on the injury problems of the previous 30+ year old $100 million dollar players.

The $100 Million Dollar ManThe numbers I have provided are only numbers, but they do speak of what Hamilton will more than likely become later in his career because the numbers I have provided are what the players averaged during their expensive contracts. Essentially, the deal will be for one highly productive first season, two mediocre seasons, and two very disappointing seasons. Signing players to a long term deal for one to three decent seasons is just not wise, just ask the Los Angeles Angels.

I am sure Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan, and the front office has done their due diligence in relations to the Josh Hamilton matter. However, based on past history, signing Josh Hamilton to a $100 million dollar deal would be a colossal mistake.

The safer and more intelligent move is to pursue a player like B.J. Upton who just turned 28, and is believed by Jon Heyman to be signed to a deal in the ballpark of 5 years and $60 million dollars. Upton is three years younger than Hamilton, strikes out a lot and has a lower OPS, but will cost $18 million dollars a year less that Hamilton will. Players such as Nick Swisher and AJ Pierzynski will also be available to fill the LH power bat void. Swisher can also hit from the right side of the plate as well. The Rangers could even use the extra money on a top of the rotation pitcher like Zack Greinke, or a solid #2 or #3 starter like Hiroki Kuroda.

While we do not know what will become of Josh Hamilton and the Rangers, one thing is certain, and that is the Hot Stove League is one of the most entertaining times of the year. The 2012 season might have ended in disappointing fashion for the Rangers, but things can turn around quickly with a great offseason. Fans should have complete faith in the organization based on their excellent track record that they will make the best decision for Texas Rangers in regards to Josh, and other players.

Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18

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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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Oct 052012
 
Bud Selig's Frankenstein's monster, the additional wild card game, debuts tonight.

The Yu Darvish Ace Audition: Baltimore/Texas “Playoff” Matchup Bud Selig’s bouncing baby—the “extra” Wild Card Game—springs to life tonight for the Texas Rangers at 7:30 PM CDT. Here are some thoughts prior to the Rangers’ possible pilgrimage to the ALDS for a third-consecutive season.

The Yu Darvish Factor

Yu Darvish essentially has his “ace” test tonight. If he wins, he’s an ace, end of story. Should the Rangers win, and he pitches poorly, he’s still a number one. Should he pitch poorly and the Rangers lose, well, he’s still a helluva lot better than the Ceej.

• This is the first time that Yu Darvish will face the Baltimore Orioles. In first-time starts, The Yu is 11-3 with a 3.12 ERA. Pretty impressive, more so if you consider that the majority of those decisions came prior to Darvish’s return-to-Japanese-League-Super-Awesome-Pitcher-of-Extraordinary-Magnitude-form.

• If Wednesday’s nearly-unmentionable 12-5 O-town debacle has left you skeptical not only about the Rangers, but of Yu Darvish as well, then consider this, cynical Sally: The Baltimore Orioles are a team that succumbs to strikeouts, and Yu Darvish is their worst freaking nightmare. Also, Captain contempt, C.J. Wilson ain’t starting tonight.

Joe Saunders “Factor”

• The greatness of The Yu is matched only by the awfulness of Joe Saunders. Joe freaking Saunders, man! My only concern: Joe Saunders pitches from the port side and can’t break glass with his heater. Two things the Rangers’ bats tend to struggle with.

Playoff Or Game 163?

• It’s goofy, but tonight’s game actually would have gone down even without the new Wild Card format since the Rangers and Orioles have identical records, it makes it hard to get too excited. In many ways, it’s just game 163, the baseball game equivalent of going to junior college right out of high school, and enjoying the heck out of a “bonus year.” Or what I used to enthusiastically refer to as “12th Grade Redux.” I mean, isn’t that exactly what the Orioles are—our JV discards?

Buck Showalter

• He could never consistently win as a Texas Rangers manager so why should he now? Sure, that’s an irrational thought. The Baltimore Orioles are essentially built from a Rangers’ scrapheap of prospects, pitchers, and Adam “Not Pacman” Jones. Personally, I think that says far more about the level of talent that the Rangers possess than the excellent job Showalter has done in Baltimore. Regardless, the 2012 Orioles are a far better team than anything that Buck Showalter had to work with during his Texas tenure.

If/Then

Wednesday’s collapse sent me hurtling into a fetal position that only the promise of cheap beer and discount chicken wings could usher me out of. Yes, I was trapped in a childlike daze for hours after that 12-5 gut punch. So, in lieu of that, let’s take a trip into the excellent pre-adolescent game of “If/Then.” Why? Because it’s fun, and I’m sure as hades not going to “predict” anything…here goes:

If the Texas Rangers jump on the Baltimore Orioles early, and Yu Darvish continues to pitch the way he has, while once again destroying a first-time opponent, Then the Texas Rangers will win, and face the New York Yankees this Sunday in the ALDS.

If said Rangers win occurs, then I will still not buy this silly hat:

The Yu Darvish Ace Audition: Baltimore/Texas “Playoff” Matchup

However, if said hat should happen to come adorned with another particular logo—hint: the same one that’s been on there since 2010—then I will most definitely purchase one—and still bitch about the $38.99 price tag.

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