Jun 152012
 
YuLyles

Yu Darvish Looks to Lead the Charge in the Final Leg of the Silver Boot SeriesThis is the final leg of the somewhat legendary Lone Star Series—the winners of which receive the magnificently mediocre Silver Boot.

The Texas Rangers want that boot. The Texas Rangers deserve that boot. In order to get it, they’ll have to take two-of-three from the lowly Astros this weekend.

It might not be pretty.

No, not the series…I feel confident the Rangers are going to shellack the Astros, I mean the actual removal of the Silver Boot from the Astros’ a**—where the Rangers stomped Houston until it stuck last month. The excavation, if you will, might not be too pretty.

Tonight, it will be The Yu versus The Who? as Texas looks to lay claim to the Silver Boot and the Lone Star Series for one final time.

A look at The Yu
RH Yu Darvish (7-4, 3.72 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9.5 K/9)

Darvish has never faced the Houston Astros. I think he’s going to enjoy it. After all, The Yu has yet to lose at home during his MLB career. He’s 5-0 with a 3.38 ERA at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Right-handed batters are hitting just .210 against Darvish with lefties batting .254. Darvish is coming off of the worst start of his big league career as he took the loss in Oakland after surrendering 6 earned runs on 6 hits with 6 walks. Yes, those three consecutive sixes were placed there intentionally to further illustrate the devilishly bad time Darvish had in Oaktown.

He was given two extra days of rest and will be looking to right his own ship tonight on seven days of rest.

Checking out The Who?
RH Jordan Lyles 1-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 5.7 K/9)

21-year-old Jordan Lyles will be making just his seventh start of the season tonight. Lyles has already faced the Rangers once before and I’m pretty confident he’s not much looking forward to doing it again.

The Rangers’s slash line against the right-hander is: .391/.464/.565. The Rangers hit Lyles so well last month in Houston that in order to conserve space, I’m going to limit the list of Rangers that hit him well to just those batting over .500 against him…Josh Hamilton*(.571 HR), Colby Lewis**(.667 2 RBI), and David Murhpy (.500 HR).

*Josh Hamilton will not be in tonight’s starting lineup due to an intestinal virus. I’m sure that’s fine with Lyles.

**Yes, that’s right, Colby Lewis, the pitcher. Colyashi went Sgt. Kabuki-man all over Lyle’s ass…no word on if manager Ron Washington plans on sliding Lewis into the DH slot tonight…

Much like Darvish’s dreadful previous start, Lyles had his worst outing of his young major league career last time out. Against the White Sox he surrendered 7 hits, recorded no strikeouts, walked three and lasted just 4 1/3 innings, the shortest start in his career.

As previously mentioned, The Yu has not lost at home, and, that, coupled with the fact that Lyles has never won away from home, seems to favor the Rangers’ odds tonight. Lyles is particularly susceptible to left-handed batters, as they hit .333 off of him on the year. Righties are hitting .256 against the former first round selection from 2008 (38th overall selection).

Keys to a Rangers Victory:

Offensively, just jump on Lyles like last time. That should do it. The real question for the Rangers tonight surrounds Yu Darvish. Will it be “good Yu” or “bad Yu”? And how will he respond to seven days off and his second go-round with Houston?

My hunch is that Darvish will do just fine.

Prediction time:

Darvish strikes out seven, and walks just one. Leonys Martin is an apt temporary replacement for Josh Hamilton and the Rangers roll 7-1—inching that much closer to claiming final dibs on the silver boot.

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May 182012
 

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?A popular Nancy Sinatra song from 1966 speaks of the wonders of boots that are made for walking. After broaching her brogan’s business it’s a letdown to learn that walking—rather than knocking—was all those bad boys were up to way back when.

The Silver Boot is far less ambiguous. It’s the annual award handed out to the winner of the interleague series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers.

This boot exists for one reason, and one reason only:

For kicking the shi@ out of the Houston Astros.
Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

The Texas Rangers travel to Houston today to start a three-game series. Normally, I’d breakdown how each team matches up against the other. However, I’m going to skip that because I couldn’t find any information on the Astros. Turns out MLB.com only lists statistics for major leaguer ball players Bing!

Aw hell, it’s pretty much just Bud Norris, and then the rest will bore us. You can use that if you want to.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the Lone Star Series:

• Despite having 12 opportunities to pitch against the Rangers during his two seasons in Houston, Roger Clemens was always too frightened to toe the rubber against Texas.
• The future demise of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim occurred the very moment that Gary Matthews Jr. made his circus grab against the Astros on July 1, 2006. Had it not been for that spectacular catch, the Halos wouldn’t have started their string of cash whipping outfielders past their prime. See: Wells, Vernon (yes it was a trade but they’re stuck with that contract). Abreu, Bobby. Hunter, Torii. Etc, ad infinitum.
• The Lone Star Series started in 2001, but the Rangers and Astros first played each other in 1997, one year after both the Astros and Rangers retired Nolan Ryan’s number 34.
• The Texas Rangers and Astros have split three Lone Star Series. The Rangers won all three as they outscored the Astros overall.
• The Rangers have won the boot 73% of the time, including the last five years straight.
• The Silver Boot was originally made out of 14-karat solid gold, but Tom Hicks pawned it in 2009.

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Yep, Tom Hicks pawned the Gold Boot here in 2009. What a jerk.

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM, Houston time, which is exactly like DFW time yet smoggier and infinitely more humid.

Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32 ERA) will oppose Wandy Rodriguez (3-1, 1.99 ERA).

Go Rangers!

Texas Rangers and Houston Astros engage in 12th Lone Star Series: Who will win first leg of the Silver Boot?

Walking Boots? No thanks. Knocking Boots? Yes, please.

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Mar 132012
 
Texas Rangers Yu Darvish struggles with command

Yu Darvish, much like his mustache in this picture, struggled. It was his second spring training start.

The Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish was an astounding 49-0 when his Nippon Ham Fighters provided him a four run lead.

This afternoon, at Goodyear Ballpark, the spring training home of the Cleveland Indians, Darvish’s offense handed him four and then some.

It was 7-0 Rangers when Yu Darvish began his third inning of work—the first time in his big league career he’d pitched past the second inning.

Here’s an inning-by-inning recap of Darvish’s second major league start:

First Inning

Darvish—once again pitching exclusively from the stretch—struggled with his command from the get-go.  He walked Indians leadoff hitter Michael Brantley on six pitches, and issued another free pass to Asdrubal Cabrera on five pitches.

The very dangerous Shin-Soo Choo was up next.

Yet rather than face Choo with two on and nobody out, Darvish was able to battle the South Korean slugger with no one on and two out.  Rangers’ catcher Yorvit Torrealba was able to flash his strong-arm as he gunned down both Brantley and Cabrera as they attempted to steal second base.

Darvish started off Choo with a strike—the first batter he’d started off ahead of—before striking him out on a 3-2 pitch to end the first.

Second Inning

Darvish, now pitching with a 1-0 lead, was much sharper in the second inning.

He went after Travis Hafner and had him down 1-2 immediately.  Darvish then induced a lazy pop-out on the next pitch.

Jose Lopez was down 0-2 before he managed a weak, broken-bat single up the middle on the third pitch of the at bat.

Jason Kipnis was up with one out and the tying runner at first base.  Darvish needed only four pitches to retire Kipnis on a strikeout.

Fred Lewis was up next with two outs and a runner on.  Just as he had with Kipnis, Darvish notched a strikeout of Lewis on just four pitches.  The strikeout was Darvish’s third, and it didn’t seem as though it would be his last.

The Texas Rangers’ six-run third inning was highlighted by Yangervis Solarte’s two-run home run, and provided Darvish with a cozy 7-0 lead.

Third Inning

Leading off, Jack Hanrahan worked a 2-2 count and put a good swing on a Darvish fastball that got too much of the plate.  Rangers’ center fielder, Craig Gentry, darted towards the well-hit liner and misjudged it at the last moment and it ricocheted off of his glove at the last moment.

This is when the wheels on the fine-tuned Yu Darvish machine began to wobble.

Darvish’s next seven pitches all missed the strike zone.

He walked both Lou Marsen and Michael Brantley to load the bases for Asdrubal Cabrera with nobody out.

On a 2-2 count, Cabrera drove in the Tribe’s first run with a single through the right side of the infield.

Even with a 7-1 Rangers lead, Darvish was very much in trouble, as he had no outs and the bases jammed.

Shin-Soo Choo helped Darvish out by swinging on a 2-1 pitch that resulted in a 4-6-3 double play.  The groundout forced in the Tribe’s second run and the Rangers lead was cut to 7-2.

Travis Hafner, the sixth batter that Darvish had faced in the inning, lined out to center fielder Engel Beltre to end the threat and Darvish’s second big league start.

Overall performance of Yu Darivsh (1-5 scale): 2.5

 Line: 3 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 3 K’s

Darvish relied on his defense to bail him out of a shaky first inning.  He had a solid second frame, but featured below-average command in his third and final inning of work.

Darvish’s third inning was similar to his first frame.  The first inning was a “best case” scenario (aided by Torrealba) and the third inning wasn’t quite “worst case” but it was certainly poor, based on what we saw of Darvish in his first outing last week.

Had it not been for Torrealba’s arm, Darvish could have easily been knocked around soundly in the first inning.

The type of baseball fans that were ready to anoint Yu Darvish the next coming of Cy Young after last week’s start are the exact type of fans that will label him as a bust on course to be the next Kei Igawa, after today’s outing.

Neither assessment is correct.

The Yu Darvish we saw in the second inning this afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona, is far more indicative of the “normal” Yu.  Sometimes getting roughed up is the best thing that can happen to a young pitcher in his first big league spring training.

It will be interesting to see how Darvish recovers in his next spring start.

I’m willing to bet he’ll be just fine.

Thirsting for more Yu Darvish? Texas Rangers Yu Darvish struggles with commandBaseball Do has got plenty to get your Yu-mania juices flowing. Follow Timothy on Twitter for all of the latest on the Texas Rangers.  

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Mar 122012
 

 

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Could Yu become even better in the eyes of Feliz?

Yu Darvish’s initial spring training start was universally dubbed a galactic success.

Whoops, I just misspelled “success.”  Darvish’s outing was so amazing that the synonym for “conquest” can no longer be spelled without a “Yu.” Literally.

Syuccess.

Spelling the word in this manner not only pleases the eye, it pleasures your computer. My laptop just gave me a high-five! What? You thought Yu-mania was only reserved for human beings?! HA!

As a matter of fact there is only one man—in the entire galaxy, I checked—saddened by Yu Darvish’s unprecedented series of spring training successes. That man is Neftali Feliz.

After all, the accolade-overdose thrust upon The Yu, was supposed to be dumped on Neftali too.

Regardless, Feliz made his spring training debut last Thursday, and BaseballDo sent me there for a quick interview.

Well, sort of.

 *****

My first question for Neftali Feliz was of the hard-hitting journalistic style. Hey, I didn’t spend a decade in hard-hitting journalism school for nothing!

“So Feliz, in your opinion, is there any way that Yu Darvish could possibly become any better than he already is?”

Booya! Hard…Hitting!

After a moment of deep reflection, Feliz explained to me in his native tongue that he needed more time to consider his answer to this question.

My initial question would prove to be my only query, as Feliz proceeded to conduct the entire interview solomente. And for those of you that aren’t bilingue, “solomente” meant that he conducted the entire interview by himself.  Yep, he asked  himself the questions, and then answered them. Out loud. Yeah, it was weird.  It made my job pretty easy though, I just kicked back and wrote it all down. I have provided the necessary translations in italics.

“En mis propias palabras.  Las palabras que fueron inventadas por otra persona.”

I am now talking, and in doing so, I am speaking out-loud in a manner that is similar to an interview, especially an interview that is conducted by only one person, the person that is doing the interview.

“By Neftali Feliz.”

By Neftali Feliz. And yes, he actually said the words out loud.  Again this is odd. But hey, he’s the former rookie of the year not me!

“En mi primero estrada.”

My first inning of work.

“No fue bien.  Obscenidad. Rendí un jonrón al hombre gordo grande llamó pinche puto ‘Asno’. Obscenidad”

It was poor.  Expletive. A really fat “Donkey-man” took me deep on my fastball. Expletive.

“Esto me hizo enojado. El año pasado personas lo baten tirando secretamente. Obscenidad. Me recordó del Diablo Supermo, pinche jota de los Cardinales del sexto juego. Obscenidad.”

I was angered by this unexpected turn of events. Last year, you could get him out by throwing underhand. Expletive. Donkey-man had the happy look in his eye of Freese from game six. Expletive.

“Como mirando los tetas grandes de Asno zangolotean me audaron me calmo. Jajaja. ¡Entonces jogoso! Jajaja.”

The large Donkey-man’s jiggling breasts as he rounded the bases helped to calm my frazzled nerves. Hahaha. So juicy! Hahaha.

“Sólo en los Estados Unidos hace tienen a hombres con tetas grandes como eso.  ¡Sólo mujeres están como eso en el Dominicano¡ Podría cambiar…cosas.”

Large jiggling breasts on men are a product of the United States of America only.  Only women have such wonderful devices in the Dominican. Large breasted men could…change things.

Hahaha…

NOTE: The laugh included was my own. Feliz did not laugh, and for a moment things became awkward as he stared my way.

Suddenly, my decision to wear an Under Armor compression shirt went from a comfortably cool idea into a misguided mistake.  Those things really cling to the old man-boobs. For the first time in my life, I felt that the room was a tad too cold.

I briefly explained to Neftali that my eyes were “up here” which seemed to shatter the spell.

For the next several moments we cleared our throats—while making assorted manly noises—and talked about how much more attractive women are than men.

Yes, even the large breasted men were not nearly as attractive as women.

Feliz suddenly had the look of a man that had discovered a simple solution to a difficult problem.  For the first time in a few minutes, the former closer spoke:

“Dibujaré para usted la respuesta a su pregunta.”

I will draw for you the question to my answer.

He proceeded to grab a large sketchbook from under his chair. He immediately began to draw, pausing only to to put on a painter’s beret with matching turtleneck. More than once, he laughed maniacally. It was unsettling.

Finally, he tore off a page and carefully folded it once before handing it my way.  He then decided to conclude his interview of himself.

“En el Segundo entrada, Washington permitó que tire mi queso grande y yo dominé. Aquí permita que le muestre algo.”

In the second inning, the capital of the United States of America allowed me to throw my fastball, which smelled of cheese.  I dominated.

“Siga. Eche una Mirada a eso. ¡Eso es lo que deseo hablo de ahora! Jajajaja.”

Go Ahead. Take a look at that. That picture I drew is answer to your first question! Hahahaha.

I unfolded the paper and discovered that he had drawn a picture of Yu Darvish.  Something was very different about him, though.  It was probably the enormous knockers drawn on Darvish’s body that marked the biggest difference.

Neftali Feliz gave me a sly smile, followed by a thumbs-up sign. Then in English, he said:

 ”That is the only way Yu Darvish could be become any better!”

¡Las tetas grandes son las únicas maneras Yu Darvish podría conseguir mejor!

As I left the interview room and closed the door, I could still faintly make out the crazy cackle of Neftali Feliz. I feel certain that he continued to laugh (in Spanish) long after I had made my way into the hard-hitting journalistic style parking spot that had been reserved for yours truly.

Hell, he may still be laughing right now.

¡Jajajajajajaja!

Hahahahahahaha!

Find Timothy on Twitter.

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Perhaps he is not staring at anything. Perhaps he is staring at something. And perhaps what he stares at is jiggly.

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Feb 242012
 

Josh may not owe the Rangers, but...“I love Texas. I love my fans. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it. But I’m not going to sit here and say that I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers.”

If you’re reading this, you’re more than than  likely a Rangers fan.  If you’re not, you can still relate – imagine your favorite team’s biggest star saying these words.  How does that statement make you feel?

Josh Hamilton sat down with media earlier today and issued the statement above (video below).  To level set here, this wasn’t all Josh said, nor was it the only topic that he discussed…rather just a snippet, but one that many fans and media members clung to.  Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) details the full press conference here if interested.

When you get right down to it, this is a business, and Josh is right – he doesn’t owe the Rangers anything.  They have a contract that both parties agreed to.  Josh is being paid to play baseball.  The Rangers are paying for his services.  In the same vein, you could say that the Rangers don’t owe Josh anything.

So, while the statement isn’t false, it’s not easy to hear for Rangers fans.  Clearly this statement was Josh’s counter to the opinion that he should give the Rangers a “friendly discount” for standing by his side during his relapses, which has been written and talked about often by local media and fans.

It’s just not the right thing to say.

Josh is under a ton of pressure right now, and should be thankful for Yu Darvish’s presence in Spring Training, as it’s diverting some of the media attention.  If there were no Yu, the media at Spring Training would certainly be following Josh’s every move and clamoring to get anything and everything out of him regarding his recent relapse and personal life.

All we know about the night of his relapse is what he has shared with us – the rest is just word of mouth or rumors.  I say this to point out that we don’t really know about the stress which the events of that night truly put on his life and the relationships in his life.  Josh is probably feeling like he is under attack to some degree right now, which could explain this defensive statement.

In addition, as he has pointed out in the past, Josh doesn’t script his press conferences or interviews, which can lead to off-the-cuff statements like this one.  I’m sure it seemed harmless at the time.  I’m sure as Josh thought about the statement for that brief second before he actually uttered the words, he saw nothing wrong with it.  I don’t mind that Josh is thinking that statement.  The realist in me understands that it’s a business, but I don’t want to hear it come out of his mouth.

Does this statement have any impact on the Rangers’ front office and their potential contract offer to Josh, whenever that may occur?  No.  While I think Jon Daniels would strongly agree that this was a poor choice of words and a potentially damning statement, he’ll separate the statement from the players ability to contribute to the team.

But, what about the court of public opinion?  In my opinion, this statement makes it a little easier for the Rangers to allow Josh Hamilton to leave in free agency after 2012.  This is a statement that could linger.

So am I defending Josh or slamming Josh?  Neither really.  At first, the statement upset me and to be completely honest, pissed me off a little.  I understand that Josh doesn’t owe the Rangers, but what about fans?  The fans the are the ones that are impacted by a statement like this.  For the Rangers and the players, it’s a business, but for the fans, it’s much more.

It’s acceptable to dislike what you heard Josh say today, and I’m not trying to sway you one way or another.  More than anything, I’m interested to hear what you think about Josh’s statement.  Leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (Baseball Do Fanpage) and let us know.

———————————————————————————————————

Here is the video (from the Star-Telegram’s Foul Territory Rangers Blog).  If  you haven’t seen it yet,  let’s do a little exercise.

Step 1 – Watch the video, be sure to have your speakers or headphones on.

Step 2 – Play the video again, but this time instead of watching it, just listen to it and look at the picture below.

Josh may not owe the Rangers, but...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Ask yourself, would you have felt differently if C.J. Wilson would have made this same statement last year in Spring Training, heading into the final year of his contract?

 

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Feb 222012
 

A Closer Look at the CobraThere was some interesting banter earlier today on Twitter regarding Colby Lewis and his importance and value to this year’s rotation.  Lewis, barring injury, is more than likely going to be the Opening Day starter for the back-to-back defending American League champs, and the discussion was calling him out as possibly the most replaceable pitcher on the staff.  From time to time, the opening day honors don’t go to the most talented pitcher on the staff, but rather that honor can be granted to a pitcher with more tenure within the organization or one that has displayed some leadership.  Lewis is a perfect example of this. The fact that he was being brought up in the discussion has to do with the other options in the rotation than with Lewis himself, but it was enough to make me want to take closer look.

In 2011, Colby Lewis topped the 200 inning plateau for the second consecutive season, posting a 14-10 record with a 4.40 ERA.  For the most part, Colby’s numbers took a dip from 2010 across the board.

A Closer Look at the Cobra

Increased ERA and WHIP, with decreased strikeouts outweigh the benefits of decreased BB/9 and increased wins.  A helpful measurement to look at when comparing the two seasons is WAR (wins above replacement), which provides a measurement of value the player has to his team above a replacement level player (AAA).  In 2010, Lewis posted a 4.6 WAR, which dipped to 2.3 in 2011.  To put that into perspective, here is the 2011 WAR rating for a few of his peers:

  • C.J. Wilson – 5.9
  • Matt Harrison – 4.2
  • Derek Holland – 3.6
  • Colby Lewis – 2.3

While it’s always nice to see an increase in wins, the stat is too dependent upon the offense’s ability to provide run support.  When you take a closer look at Colby’s run support, it’s pretty clear he benefited greatly from the Rangers strong offensive performance.  In games started by Lewis where the Rangers scored 6 or more runs, Lewis had a 10-2 record with a 4.91 ERA.  In other words, he was still giving up too many runs in those games, but the Rangers bats had his back.

Another key stat to look at when reviewing Lewis’ performance in 2011 is FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a give time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.  FIP is a better way to assess a pitcher’s talent level, by looking at things a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches, and homeruns. In looking at 2011 stats, Lewis once again falls short of his peers:

  • C.J. Wilson – 3.24
  • Matt Harrison – 3.52
  • Derek Holland – 3.94
  • Colby Lewis – 4.54 (3.55 in 2010)

While I think we can expect the Rangers offense to provide ample run support again in 2012 and I don’t expect a big change in facets of the game that are outside of the pitcher’s control, Lewis needs to improve on the mound and return to some semblance of his 2010 form.

Given the fact that this is his final year under contract with the Rangers and the plethora of young talented pitchers he is competing with, Lewis needs to prove that he is not only the big-game, reliable, work-horse veteran (deserving of the 2012 Opening Day nod), but that he is also one of the best pitchers on this staff from a talent perspective.  If not, 2012 could very likely be the last season we see the Cobra in a Rangers uniform.

Baseball Do Prediction: Colby bounces back and improves upon his 2011 numbers, while not quite performing at his 2010 level.  We think Colby will maintain a spot in the rotation throughout 2012 and, barring injury, will once again be a dependable option down the stretch and in the postseason.

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Feb 182012
 

This is the final round of our American League West Position Rankings.  To see how we got to our current standings/scores, be sure to check out the first three round.

Score at the end of Round 3:

    1. Rangers: 53
    2. Angels: 49
    3. Mariners: 26
    4. Athletics: 22

The primary reason for doing a full review of the American League West, rather than a Rangers vs. Angels review, was to provide a better reference point for how a player truly stacks up against his peers.  That said, the Rangers and the Angels have dominated the top two spot at most positions (exceptions being DH and CF).  The final round will consist of all facets of each team’s pitching, including 5 rotation spots, relief and the closer position.  Similar to the adjustments we made to the scoring for Manager and DH, we’re going to increase the weighting for the relief position since that is made up of a handful of pitchers and not just one.

Starting Pitching

We’re going to go through the starting 5 for each team’s rotation and stack them up against each other.  In order to avoid making assumptions around the rotation order, I’m going to be the using the depth charts for each team that they have posted on their team’s website.  They seem to be pretty accurate as to what most would think, with the exception of a few.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The Ace

  1. Jered Weaver, LAA
    1.  Felix Hernandez, SEA
  2. Colby Lewis, TEX
  3. Brandon McCarthy, OAK

Only real debate lies between the top two here, and I’ve gone back and forth on the order of these two guys quite a bit over the last few days.  It’s very close, but I give Weaver the slight edge, no I give it to Felix, no Weaver…you get the point.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresYou could debate for days over who will have a better year in 2012, and in the end, I think they will both have dominating years where they finish in the top 8 in Cy Young voting.  With that said, I’m going to give them both the top spot from a points perspective, and I’m going to give them both the bonus point.  It’s not a knock on Colby Lewis, it’s just how good these two guys are.

The #2

  1. Dan Haren, LAA
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Dallas Braden, OAK
  4. Jason Vargas, SEA
2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresI’d love to give Yu the nod here, and this is one where I could dispute the order of the rotation, as I envision Darvish being the 3rd starter and Holland pitching 2nd, but it wouldn’t really matter, as Haren has an edge on both of them given the unknowns around Darvish and the need for continued development with Holland. While I think Darvish is capable of putting up similar numbers to what Haren delivered in 2011 (16 W’s, low 3 ERA, low WHIP), Haren has proven what he can do at the MLB level and takes the top spot here.Darvish takes the second spot in the rankings over a rehabbing Dallas Braden and a mediocre Jason Vargas.

You could make an argument for putting Vargas in the third spot, but I think Braden is the better pitcher if he can bounce back from injury successfully (and word is he is ahead of schedule).

The #3

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresC.J. Wilson, LAA
  2. Derek Holland, TEX
  3. Brett Anderson, OAK
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA

This is another close race between the top two, and I know my fellow Ranger fans are throwing their hands up in the air as they look at the ranking, but if I put my bias aside and look at the two  pitchers, I lean towards C.J. having a slightly better campaign in 2012.

Baseball Do followers probably don’t want to hear this, but I think C.J. is going to improve slightly in 2012, primarily due to his new ballpark and being closer to home – which you could argue that his pitching ability isn’t really improving, but rather his conditions are.

I also believe that Holland is going to take the next step in his progression towards being a front-line MLB starter.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year down the stretch and of course in showing us all that he could one day be an Ace with his performance in Game 4 of the World Series.  All that said, he needs to prove that he can put a full season together, avoiding a slow start and showing more consistency.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #4

  1. Neftali Feliz, TEX
  2. Ervin Santana, LAA
  3. Blake Beavan, SEA
  4. Brad Peacock, OAK
Not going to spend a ton of time on these next two spots.  If you don’t already know how we feel about Feliz and what we expect from him production-wise in 2012, check out “The Other New Guy”.  Santana is a very good #4, but I think Feliz will have a better year.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #5

  1. Matt Harrison, TEX
  2. Jarrod Parker, OAK
  3. Jerome Williams, LAA
  4. Charlie Furbush, SEA
We all know how good of a pitcher Matt Harrison is, primarily because his case has been stated so often as a reason for not signing Roy Oswalt.  For many teams, he is easily a mid-rotation guy, and far outpaces the other three pitchers on this list, and for that get’s the bonus point.
I give Parker the edge over Williams on speculation of what Parker could become vs. what we know of Jerome Williams.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

Relief (not including Closer)

Given the importance of the bullpen and the fact the bullpen is generally made up of 6-8 pitchers, we are going to adjust the scoring for this position by multiplying it by two.

Keep in mind, that the names representing each team’s bullpen could change between now and Opening Day, and obviously by mid-season or season’s end.  That said, I’m going to try to avoid too much speculation with prospects and trades.

  1. Adams, Uehara (or maybe Mike Gonzalez…), Feldman, Ogando, Tateyama, Lowe – TEX
  2. Downs, Hawkins, Takahashi, Thompson, Cassevah, Bell, Mills, Jepsen – LAA
  3. Devine, Balfour, Fuentes, Wagner, Blevins, Carignan, Godfrey, De Los Santos – OAK
  4. Kelley, Wilhelmsen, Ruffin, Delabar, Sherrill, Jimenez – SEA
You could write an entire article breaking down the bullpens, but this is not the place.  The Rangers take the top spot primarily based on depth.  Downs and Adams are both top-notch set-up men, from there I think the depth of the Ranger bullpen gives them the edge.  They still need another left-handed specialist to replace Darren Oliver, which could be Mike Gonzalez, whom they are rumored to sign after they deal Koji Uehara.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresCloser

  1. Brandon League, SEA
  2. Jordan Walden, LAA
  3. Joe Nathan, TEX
  4. Whoever, OAK
Three years ago, JoeNathan is the clear cut leader on this list and easily gets the bonus point.  That was then.  Now Nathan has something to prove, and while I’m fairly optimistic that Nathan will serve as a strong closer, I think Walden and League rank higher until Nathan proves it.I went back and forth between League and Walden for the top spot here.  League was better last year, and while I think Walden will get more saves than him in 2012, it’s going to be based on the fact that he will be presented with many more opportunities.  The better number to look at here is Save% (Saves/Opportunities), where League (88%) outshines Walden (76%) and I think he’ll continue to do so in 2012.

Final Score of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings

  1. Rangers: Score After 3 Rounds of 53 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 8 + 2 = 80
  2. Angels: Score After 3 Rounds of 49  + 5 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 6 + 3 = 76
  3. Mariners: Score After 3 Rounds of 26 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 42
  4. Athletics: Score After 3 Rounds of 22 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 36
There you have it.  On paper, according to Baseball Do, the Rangers should win the American League West in 2012.  And while I’m always on board with victory for the Rangers, the best part of all the time and work that went into these rankings and write-ups is that the games still have to be played on the field.

Keep in mind as well, that all four of these teams could look different by the trade deadline, with the Rangers and Angels both of some attractive pieces they could move in order improve, and the Mariners and Athletics have some attractive veterans they could deal in an effort to add youth.

My honest belief is that this is going to be one hell of a season for the Rangers and the Angels, which will come down to the final week, if the not the final 2-3 games.  The final series between the two is here in Arlington, September 28th through 30th, so get your tickets for those games now, as the entire season could hinge on those three games.  As fans, let’s just enjoy the ride.  A ride which will hopefully continue into the post-season for the Rangers and end with the ultimate reward…

‘case that’s the way baseball go…

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

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Feb 142012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Be sure to check out Round 1 (IF and C) and Round 2 (OF & DH) of the 2012 American League West Position Rankings if you missed them.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 35
  2. Angels: 31
  3. Athletics: 15
  4. Mariners: 14

We’ll be ranking the benches and the managers for each of the AL West squads in this round, which will be handled a little differently from how we have handled the individual positions so far.

Bench

For benches, we are looking at the quality, depth and flexibility and we’ll have one rankings for the entire team.  While the bench for a team, in it’s entirety, may not play the equivalent of a full 9 innings every game, I feel that it’s still more valuable than just one player.  Given the flexibility and strategic advantage that a strong bench can provide to a team, we are going to double the points awarded in this section.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Kendry Morales/Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Cesar Izturis, Hank Conger, Mike Trout/Peter Bourjos – LAA
  2. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon/Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe – TEX
  3. Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Adam Moore, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders – SEA
  4. Daric Barton, Eric Sogard, Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue, Collin Cowgill – OAK

This is a close one as both the Angels and Rangers have some flexibility with their bench and some starts, but the Angels take the pole here as they have the best two quality players overall in whoever isn’t starting at DH between and Morales and Trumbo and whoever isn’t starting in CF between Trout and Bourjos.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)The Rangers have flexibilty with their starters at every infield position (Young & Napoli in mix with starters), CF and DH (Napoli and others with Younger considered starter) which amplifies the role that the bench players can play on a day-to-day basis.  They clearly outpace the Mariners and Athletics, but fall short of the Angels primarily based on the quality of the players that would make the most impact off of the bench more often.

Manager

Similar to the bench, I feel like the manager rankings have to account for more than just the equivalent of one starter.  Considering the impact that the manager can have on every game, we will be doubling the scoring in this section as well.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Ron Washington, TEX
  2. Mike Scioscia, LAA
  3. Eric Wedge, SEA
  4. Bob Melvin, OAK
It’s hard to go against managing a World Series winner (Scioscia in 2002) and twice being named the American League Manager of the Year (Scioscia in 2002 & 2009), but when looking forward to 2012, Ron Washington is the best Manager in the American League West.  Washington has managed his team to the World Series in both the last two seasons and finished in the top three of AL Manager of the Year voting over the last three seasons.

In 2012, both managers go into the season with an increased level of expectations and some new stars/phenoms to work with – Pujols & C.J. in LA and Darvish in TEX.  The ranking comes down to who’s hotter as of late and Washington get’s the nod.  That said, Scioscia is an excellent manager that knows how to use his players to maximize productivity and performance.  There isn’t another division in baseball that has two better managers than Wash and Scioscia.

Score at the end of Round 3:

  1. Rangers: 35 from first two rounds + 8 + 10 = 53
  2. Angels: 31 from first two rounds + 10 + 8 = 49
  3. Mariners: 14 from first two rounds + 6 + 6 = 26
  4. Athletics: 14 from first two rounds + 4 + 4 = 22

Round 4 will cover all facets of pitching (starting rotation, relief and closer) and will be posted by this weekend.  At that time, we’ll crown the winner of the American League West in 2012 and notify commissioner Selig that playing the games won’t be necessary this year.  You picking up what I’m laying down here…my point exactly.

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Feb 102012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)On to round two…

To catch up on what we’re doing and understand the scoring, check out Part 1.

Score at the end of Round 1:

  1. Rangers: 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 = 21
  2. Angels: 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 17
  3. Athletics: 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2 = 8
  4. Mariners: 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 7

Left Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Josh Hamilton, TEX
  2. Vernon Wells, LAA
  3. Seth Smith, OAK
  4. Trayvon Robinson, SEA

Let’s break this down.  Vernon Wells is a better player than what we saw in 2011.  Josh Hamilton is as well.  Josh Hamilton is a better player than Vernon Wells.  Is he so much better that he deserves the bonus point here?  I think so.  If we go by 2011 alone, Josh would easily get the bonus, posting a 4.2 WAR, with Wells at 0.3 (Seth Smith was actually better than Wells with a 1.9).

I’m willing to look beyond just 2011 as I do really think Wells will improve upon his first season with the Angels, in which he only played in 131 games.  That said, I think you could say the same thing about Josh.  While his 2011 numbers look good, they were accomplished in only 121 games due to injuries.  Hamilton posted a .882 OPS, compared to the 1.044 OPS he posted in 2010 (MVP season).

In addition to the superior 2011, Josh is also the superior player.

Center Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Peter Bourjos/Mike Trout, LAA
  2. Coco Crisp, OAK
  3. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon, TEX
  4. Franklin Gutierrez, SEA

This was the weakest position across the board in 2011, with Bourjos putting together the best year without question.  There are rumors swirling that the Angels may look to deal Bourjos to make room for phenom Mike Trout.  While I like the idea of Bourjos leaving the American League West, I don’t know if I like the idea of Trout getting more playing time.  Whether it’s Bourjos or Trout or a combination of both (worst case), they lead the pack.  In fact, I’m giving the Angels duo the bonus here, which can base on speculation or Bourjos’ production last year (4.2 WAR) compared to the others on the list.

The battle for 2nd here was very close in my mind, and while I think Gentry can continue to improve (if he wins the job outright), I think Crisp is a better player in 2012.  This is definitely one to watch.

You could make an argument to put Gutierrez in the 3rd spot here, but he’s too far removed from his best season (2009) to think he’s going to be able to bounce back enough to outperform whoever mans center for the Rangers.

Right Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Torii Hunter, LAA
  2. Nelson Cruz, TEX
  3. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
  4. Josh Reddick, OAK

This was the toughest ranking of the outfield positions by far.  Let’s start at the bottom.

Reddick put together a nice season, but needs to prove he can do it again, which I don’t think he’ll do in 2012 as he’ll be in  much weaker line-up.

Ichiro is a Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest hitters of my lifetime.   Ichiro is also going to turn 39 later this year, and while it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down (40 SBs in 2011), his offensive production is on the decline.

So, it comes down to Nellie and Torii for the top spot.  I know many of my fellow Ranger fans are going to gripe about this one, but I have to give Hunter the top spot for 2012.

Cruz had the higher OPS in 2011, and is the better offensive player at this point.  Hunter is the better defensive player and has proven to be more durable and reliable.  It’s very close, but 150 games from Hunter edges out 125 games from Cruz.  Prove me wrong Nellie…

Designated Hitter

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Michael Young, TEX
  2. Jesus Montero, SEA
  3. Mark Trumbo/Kendry Morales, LAA
  4. Jonny Gomes, OAK

Jesus Montero has the ability to be #1 on this list, as does Mark Trumbo, but they won’t in 2012.

Montero was a very highly regarded prospect that came up in the Yankees farm system and debuted last year with the big league team.  He was recently dealt to Seattle in exchange for Michael Pineda.  While he’s well on his way to becoming a productive big league hitter, he’s still developing and has moved to a weaker line-up.  If we’re talking long-term, Montero is easily #1 on this list, as he has more upside than just about anyone on any of these lists. With that, I feel good about slotting him 2nd.

At first glace, I had the Angels in the 2nd spot here, but The Angels, like the Rangers, have some flexibility (though not as much) with the guys that are going to DH this year in that Trumbo and Morales can also play first base.

The soon-to-be 38 year-old Bobby Abreu struggled in 2011, and is becoming more of a situation hitter as opposed to a full-time DH, so I’ve removed him here.  It’s going to be interesting to see who get the bulk of at-bats at the DH position for LA in 2012.  I’m leaning towards it being split pretty evening, with Morales seeing a few more at-bats if he’s healthy, primarily because he’s a switch hitter.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 21 from Round 1 + 5 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 35
  2. Angels: 17 from Round 1 + 3 + 5 + 4 + 2 = 31
  3. Athletics: 8 from Round 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 1 = 15
  4. Mariners: 7 from Round 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 14

Round 3 will be posted early next week and will cover the bench and the manager.

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Feb 072012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)I recently got into an argument with a fellow Rangers fan regarding how much the Angels improved though their off-season acquisitions.  As we talked through Pujols and C.J., it lead to a position-by-position comparison of the Rangers and Angels for the 2012 season.  I’ve taken the next step here to bring the Mariners and Athletics into the argument.  While they look to have no reasonable chance to contend in the division, there are two reason to include them here:

  1. You never know.
  2. Allows us to rank 1-4 for each position.  So, even if you are primarily interested in Rangers vs. Angels, you can get an understanding of where the players actually stack up against other peers to give you a frame of reference.
We’ll break this up into four pieces to be posted over the next couple of weeks.  Feel free to chime in with your comments!
  • Catcher & Infield
  • Outfield & DH
  • Bench & Manager
  • Starting Rotation, Relievers & Closer
We’ll track inverse points (ex. Napoli is #1 catcher, so he get’s 4 points), and award a bonus point in situations where the top player has an extreme advantage over the rest of the players at that position.  We’ll define extreme advantage as a WAR (wins above replacement) variance of 2 or more in 2011.  WAR can be a bit inconsistent depending on the source, so we’ll be using fangraphs.com.

Catcher

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)Mike Napoli, TEX
  2. Chris Ianetta, LAA
  3. Kurt Suzuki, OAK
  4. Miguel Olivo, SEA

Nap takes the top spot here easily and get’s the +1 with a 2011 WAR of 5.6, compared to Ianetta who was at 3.3.  Even with Napoli’s season being a bit of an outlier when you look at his career, I don’t see Ianetta or Suzuki closing the gap enought in 2012 to argue against it.

The biggest debate here is between 2nd and 3rd place, primarily because Ianetta is changing leagues and may be in adjustment mode during the first part of 2012.  That said, Ianetta had a better WAR and OPS in 2011, and will be managed by a former catcher that can certainly help in improve even further behind the plate.

1st Base

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)Albert Pujols, LAA
  2. Mitch Moreland, TEX
  3. Justin Smoak, SEA
  4. Brandon Allen/Daric Barton/Chris Carter, OAK

Similar to catcher, you can’t argue with number one, as Pujols not only takes the prize, but also takes the bonus point with relative ease.  Pujols put up a 5.4 WAR last year in the National League with the Cardinals and a .906 OPS, which was a down year for him, compared to a .733 OPS for Moreland and .717 for Smoak.

The battle for 2nd and 3rd is a lot closer than most Rangers fans would like to think, as you can tell by the OPS stats above.  Statistically, Moreland and Smoak had  very similar years in 2011, with Moreland producing at a slightly higher level than Smoak in almost all categories.  Both are still young players that should improve even further in 2012.

I give the edge to Mitch here in a close one.  Smoak was the more highly touted prospect, so you might expect him to progress at a more accelerated rate than Moreland, but I don’t think you’ll see that in this case, primarily because of the teams that surround them.  Mitch faces far less pressure and will face many more bullpen caliber pitchers because of the extremely productive lineup that he is playing in.  Switch their situations, I would lean the other way.

2nd Base

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)Ian Kinsler, TEX
  2. Howie Kendrick, LAA
  3. Dustin Ackley, SEA
  4. Jemile Weeks, OAK

This is by far the best position across the board.  Kinsler had the strongest campaign in 2011 and should be the most productive in 2012, but the divide between he and Kendrick is not big enough for the bonus here.

I think the rankings are clear cut, but we could see both Ackley and Weeks close the gap even further during 2012.

All three players had an OPS in 2011 above .761, with Ian leading the pack at .832.  There is no weak player in this bunch.

3rd Base

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)Adrian Beltre, TEX
  2. Alberto Callaspo, LAA
  3. Scott Sizemore, OAK
  4. Kyle Seager, SEA

Clear cut number one at the hot corner, as Beltre dominated the group statistically.  Beltre’s dominance is enough to get him the bonus point here as well, outpacing Callaspo’s 2011 WAR ranking by 2.1 (5.7 for Beltre to 3.6 for Callaspo).

Callaspo get the nod for 2nd place here, but again, it could be closer than you think, and rumors of Mark Trumbo making the switch to 3rd base cloud the ranking a bit.  That said, if Callaspo is the starting 3rd basemen for the Angels in 2012, he’ll be hitting in the much more productive line-up and is better defensively.

Shortstop

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 1)Elvis Andrus, TEX
  2. Erik Aybar, LAA
  3. Cliff Pennington, OAK
  4. Brendan Ryan, SEA
Close race for the top spot between Andrus and Aybar here, but Elvis takes 1st place by a small margin.  Statistically, the two are very close, with Aybar posting a higher OPS in 2011 at .743 compared to Elvis at .708.  Elvis is superior defensively and is the younger player.  Both stand to improve in 2012 as Elvis continues to mature and Aybar welcomes a much needed bat to the Angel’s line-up (Mr. Pujols).

This is my biggest decision in the rankings so far, and I have to lean towards Elvis here.  Even factoring out my bias, if that’s possible, I see Elvis improving at the plate in 2012 to an equal level of Aybar, and far outplaying Aybar defensively.

Score at the end of Round 1:

  1. Rangers: 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 = 21
  2. Angels: 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 17
  3. Athletics: 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2 = 8
  4. Mariners: 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 7
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