Oct 102012
 
JoshRon

How quickly the last three years have flown by for Texas Rangers fans.  How quickly expectations change for a team.

Time for changes in Arlington?Just three years ago, the Texas Rangers were a week or so removed from the end of a strong 2009 campaign (85-77) in which they finished 10 games back of the Angels in the AL West and well short of the Wild Card clinching Boston Red Sox (8 games back) (Note: the Rangers would have made the playoffs as the 2nd Wild Card in ’09 if current layout had been in place).

Something special was on tap for this young and exciting team.  Behind the talented core of Josh Hamilton, Ians Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers were going to be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future.

Fast forward three years and the Rangers have accomplished what many franchises haven’t accomplished in a lifetime; both on and off the field.

Here’s a quick look at some of key moments along the way (to be read with banjos playing along):

  • Ownership change - Welcome back Nolan
  • Time for changes in Arlington?Cliff Lee
  • Hambone win’s the MVP
  • 2010 AL West Champs
  • First Postseason series victory
  • Nefti stuck out A-Rod
  • First World Series birth
  • So long Cliff
  • Time for changes in Arlington?Welcome aboard Adrian
  • Napoli Ever After
  • 2011 AL West Champs
  • One strike away…twice
  • David Freese
  • So long C.J.
  • Yu
  • The collapse of 2012

Over the course of the last three years the Texas Rangers have broken new ground and have been labeled as a “model” franchise – the ground work for such was being laid several years prior by team management and franchise leadership.

From the fan’s perspective, the Rangers have gone from mediocrity on the brink -> to one step from the mountaintop -> to crashing back down with great disappointment. Such devastating disappointment is often met head-on with change – something we can expect from the Rangers over the course of the coming off-season.

Baseball history is littered with examples of this, most recently the collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox which resulted in the firing of manager Terry Francona and the eventual trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

So, what change could be in store for the Rangers this off-season?  How different could this team look by Opening Day 2013?  Let’s examine some of the potential changes in Arlington:

Managerial Change?

Time for changes in Arlington?While Wash has opened himself up for plenty of criticism, I don’t think this is very likely.

The heat could be on if the Rangers don’t bounce back from their poor finish in 2012 and they continue to play uninspired baseball in 2013, but I think the team’s ownership and front office still believe in Wash.

While the manager is ALWAYS part of the problem when a team is playing poorly, I think Wash get’s some leniency due to his success over the last 3 years.

Besides Wash, the coaching staff could take a hit if Mike Maddux is lured out of Texas for a managerial role somewhere else (Boston perhaps).

Let Josh walk…

Time for changes in Arlington? Josh was widely seen as a big part of the problem over the last 1-2 months of the season.  While he wasn’t the only player that demonstrated a lackadaisical approach as the season came to a close, none seemed less interested than Josh.

While I have no inside scoop on what went wrong, my theory is that the team revisited an extension with Josh and his agent at some point in June or July which left Josh feeling bitter.  My guess would be that the contract negotiations weren’t real close in terms of length and Josh felt unappreciated.  Whether it was intentional or not, Josh let his feelings regarding the negotiations impact him on the field and in the clubhouse.

Is it likely that Josh is playing his home games somewhere other than Arlington next season?  I think it’s a foregone conclusion.

How big of an impact is Josh leaving on the team and the line-up?  Well, when Josh is playing up to his potential, he has the ability to carry a team on his back as we have seen many times during his time here in Arlington, but…when Josh is frustrated and uninterested, he can become a distraction that can poison a clubhouse.

Plan and simple, this is very well a situation where both parties will benefit from a change.  Something has clearly gone awry in the relationship.

Dustin Dietz will have a article up in the next few days that analyzes Hamilton’s potential contract situation and sheds some light on the risks involved with giving a hefty contract to a player north of 30 years of age.

Hamilton isn’t the only Ranger entering free agency, but will be the biggest story.  Tim Howell is taking a closer look at each of the free agents from the 2012 Rangers squad to determine who the Rangers should make a push for and who they should just let walk away (Hamilton here, Napoli here, more to come).

Shake-up via trade

Time for changes in Arlington?The possibilities here are endless.  Just a few names that could be mentioned this off-season and into the 2013 season:

  • Ian Kinsler – Kinsler is the most polarizing player on the Rangers, according to Jasen and the rest of Twitter.  With the arrival of Jurickson Profar, Kinsler could be moved to make room at second base.  The 30 year-old plays a offensively scarce position, can hit anywhere from 1st to 5th in a line-up and is under team control through 2018 (option in ’18) – so there would be plenty of interest from around the league.
  • Elvis Andrus – For the same reason cited above for Kinsler, Elvis is a little more expendable now if the front office truly believes that Profar can be a transcendent player.  Andrus’ age (24), position and talent ceiling would make him more valuable than Kinsler to any potential suitors.  He’s under contract through 2014, so he’ll never have more trade value than he has right now coming off season in which he posted career high in almost every offensive category.
  • Nelson Cruz – Again, the Profar factor is a part of this as the Rangers would more than likely need to make room in the outfield if Kinsler were to be relocated. Nellie is signed through next season, so if the Rangers felt they weren’t going to be in position to resign him – or – felt the interest wouldn’t be there after 2013 due to the youth movement, now would be the time to move him for maximum value.
  • Jurickson Profar – This is the least likely to happen.  According to multiple reports, it would take something to the tune of Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw to pry the young phenom away from the Rangers.
  • David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Mike Olt – You never know.
  • I don’t think there is anyway the Rangers would or could deal Michal Young heading into the final year of his contract.  Young will be 36 later this month and is due $16M.
  • Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando….and them – Current value isn’t equal to potential for all of these guys, so I doubt we’ll see Dutch moved.  Really aren’t too many Rangers pitchers in general that would have good value and make sense from the Rangers standpoint.

The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is, there will be change.  Hopefully this change will bring some renewed life to a team that sputtered down the stretch, but only time can tell.

What do you think?

Looking at the potential trade bait above, give me a realistic trade that you’d like to see the Rangers pursue.  Do you want to see Josh back with the Rangers in 2013?  Do you think it’s time for a managerial change?  Use the comments section below.

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Oct 062012
 
FailurePic2

That’s the way baseball go.

Baseball is a game of failure...Baseball is a game of failure.  Baseball is a game that the majority of us played all the time growing up, whether it was on an organized team or whiffle ball in the backyard with our siblings.  We love baseball, but it’s a game that can break your heart, and as Rangers fans, we’ve become all too familiar with that feeling over the past three years.

Twenty twelve was a no-win situation for this team as far as the part the fans would play.  The expectation of a World Series title and nothing less was rooted in the brains of fans since the devastating loss in Game Six last year.  Our team has been set up to fail since the beginning.

Fans were never happy.  If we are winning, someone is slumping and not contributing.  If we are losing, so-and-so sucks and we need to trade for new players or put in the rookies.  The Twitter-verse is plagued by negativity and full of what I’ve deemed “couch coaches” that feel they have all the answers.  That it’s all so simple.

Baseball is a game of failure...Nothing is ever that simple.  Otherwise, every team would be capable of winning a World Series title EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  I realize my upbringing and my profession enable me to carry a different viewpoint of the sports world, and for that I am thankful.  I constantly deal with unhappy parents that feel they would be so much better at my job than I am.  These parents have coached their kids in little league or their select team and they know the formula for success.  I say the same to them that I’d say to a lot of the critical, negative, angry Rangers fans:  Critics are plentiful in this world, but professionals are scarce.  Take it for what it’s worth.

The loss last night was painful for me.  It’s disheartening, frustrating, disappointing, sad…the list could go on and on.  But for me, the worst part wasn’t the loss.  The worst part was that I made the mistake of opening up my Twitter account and reading the posts from “fans” of this team that I love so much.

It’s fine to be upset, even angry I suppose, but the end of this season did not come because of something one person did, not because of something two people did, but because as a TEAM, the Rangers simply did not get it done this year.  The heart, the drive, the camaraderie, the hunger for success was non-existent.  We aren’t used to that.  And clearly, we as fans don’t know how to handle it.

Sure, it’s easy to play the blame game.  I’d be lying if I said these thoughts didn’t creep through my mind toward the end of the season.  “Josh Hamilton gave up…Hamilton isn’t trying anymore…Josh just doesn’t care…”  So let’s boo him.  Let’s all give him the finger on what was most likely his last at-bat ever in the Ballpark in a Rangers uniform.  And let’s do it in front of a young team filled with ex-Rangers that looked up to him while they were here.  How disgraceful, tasteless and embarrassing for those of us who truly care about this team.

Baseball is a game of failure...

Was this farewell?

I will readily admit to being biased toward Josh Hamilton over the past five years.  I think his story is amazing, and having close ties to people with drug and alcohol problems I’m astounded by the mere fact that he was able to turn his life around and accomplish something extraordinary.  That being said, I’m not naive enough to believe something hasn’t changed with him this year.

Josh is different.  Something is not right.  Knowing that, and hating that, he’s still a member of the Texas Rangers Organization and he has busted his ass for this team for the past 5 years.  He’s contributed in ways that some guys will only ever dream about.  Remember the 4 home run game?  Nobody was booing him then.  Everybody LOVED him.

Josh Hamilton has been a primary factor in helping this team reach milestones of success over the past 3 years.

To boo him because we didn’t get our way?  To boo him because we believe we’ve “earned that right” based on the amount of money we spend to watch this team play and fail?  To boo him because you think he’s not trying?

Once again, it’s a game of failure.  We would not have been in the position we were in without his 128 RBI and 43 home runs   How easily we forget the good things when the game turns and is no longer going our way.

Booing is fair-weather fans at their best.  A fair-weather fan loves the team when they’re doing well and throws them to the wolves when they’re not.

Baseball is a game of failure...That sense of entitlement some people have as “fans” to ridicule and criticize these athletes because they’re unable to always perform at their highest potential is astounding.  I said the same thing when “fans” booed CJ while he wore a Rangers uniform.  Did I like him?  Um, no.  Did I support him because he was a member of this TEAM?  Absolutely.  Was it always easy?  NO.  But that’s the beauty of being a fan.  Win or lose, my friends, good times and the bad.

The expense we take on as fans shouldn’t be because we expect something in return.  Those of you calling yourselves “true fans” because of all the money you spend on tickets and beer and parking need to stop spending all that money on those things if you’re going to “retaliate” when the team doesn’t succeed at the highest level.

True fans do it for the love of the game, and for the love of their team, win or lose.  This is baseball.  It’s unpredictable.  That’s why it’s called a game, and that’s why it has to be played.  As my dad always says, “anything can happen on any given day.”  Remember when the Mariners beat us 21-8?  What are the odds something like that would happen to the (at the time) number one team in the division by the last place team?  Unpredictable.  Wash says it best: That’s the way baseball go.

Baseball is a game of failure...Yes, losing sucks.  Getting beat by a team chock-full of ex-Rangers that were shipped off in an effort to get something “better” in return REALLY sucks.  Things don’t always go as planned.  It’s life.  But as supporters of this team, we need to be the “true fans” we claim to be.  That means SUPPORTING our players, managers, coaches, front office staff, and everyone else involved in the organization.

You don’t always have to agree with every decision that is made, but just as we all have jobs, their job is baseball.  They are qualified to do what they’re doing.  We are fans, bystanders, excited on-lookers that this team needs in order to find success.

And next year, I hope our fans are better at just being fans.

by Jennifer Cobb
www.rangerstalkers.com 

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Sep 212012
 
MPHI

Perez vs. Iwakumi, A Rangers/Mariners Game 1 PreviewI must apologize for my recent absence and reluctance to post. I have been suffering from acute “papercut-itis.” For those of you that have suffered through this daunting dilemma, it is far more painful than the equally dreaded malady, “keyboard abrasion.”

Seriously though, if Josh Hamilton can sit out a few games with a sinus infection minus the infection, I should be able to skirt a few posts due to a paper cut that didn’t actually break the skin.

Adrian Beltre: Texas Rangers’ MVP?

• Adrian Beltre’s legend continues to grow. Home run number 34 couldn’t have come at a better time. His two-run blast supplied the necessary runs Texas needed to seal the deal on the LAA series, 3-1.

• Beltre’s 34 homers are the most he’s had since he knocked out 48 in 2005 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which led the National League in long balls that year.

Yu Darvish Continues to Dazzle

• For the seventh-consecutive start, The Yu surrendered three earned runs or less while pitching at least 6 2/3 innings. Over that span, he’s seen his ERA drop from 4.54 to 3.90. Since August 24, Darvish has the second-lowest ERA (1.47) in the American League.

• With 214 strikeouts on the season, Darvish now has sole-possession of second place on the all-time list for rookies.

Michael Young: Stringing Together Consistent Excellence

• Over his last 10 games, Michael Young is batting a robust .429. In last night’s dramatic 3-1 win that sealed the series for Texas, MY set the stage for Adrian Beltre’s heroics by doubling off of Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri.

Scott Feldman is out, Martin Perez is in

• After being the Rangers’ best starter for the entire month of July, right-hander Scott Feldman has fallen back to earth with a resounding thud. After riding a six-game winning streak, Feldman hasn’t ended up on the right side of the win/loss column since way back on August 4 in Kansas City.

• His starts have ranged from average to atrocious and his worst start of his current bad stretch occurred in his most recent start. Scooter lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners while he surrendered six earned runs on seven hits.

• Left-handed rookie Martin Perez came on in relief in the aforementioned Scooter start, and had no problems at all with the Mariners, as he surrendered no hits over his 4 1/3 innings of work. That outing impressed the powers that be enough to place Feldman back in the bullpen and to give Perez the fifth-starter slot for the remainder of the regular season.

Up Next:

LHP Martin Perez (1-1, 3.38 ERA) has replaced Scott Feldman as the Rangers’ fifth starter for what is likely the remainder of the season. Perez will oppose Seattle’s RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-5, 3.39 ERA).

The first pitch is scheduled for 9:05 PM (CT) and is the first game of a three-game series with fellow A.L. West “rivals,” the Seattle Mariners.

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Sep 132012
 
DutchMcAlli

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

This is not Derek Holland. But that is a fine mustache, young lady.

No one likes to beat a dead horse. However, the Texas Rangers have had no problems in whipping-up on the nearly-lifeless Cleveland Indians.

After out-scoring the Tribe 11-6 in the first two games of this three-game set, the Rangers are going for the sweep tonight, and will turn to certified Cleveland-killer Derek Holland to get the job done.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Cleveland Indians (59-84)

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

Shin-Soo was 2-for-4 against the Rangers last night, but is riding the pine this evening.


SS Brent Lillibridge
2B Jason Kipnis
DH Carlos Santana
CF Michael Brantley
LF Vinny Rottino
1B Matt LaPorta
RF Thomas Neal
C Lou Marson
3B Jack Hannahan

VS

LHP Derek Holland (10-6, 4.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9)

Derek Holland has won three of his last four decisions, and certainly pitched well enough to earn the victory in his last start, in Tampa Bay.

To find the victims in Holland’s most recent win, you need look no further than the opposing team’s dugout. Holland, an Ohio native, picked up his tenth win on the year by pitching seven stellar innings against tonight’s foe, the Cleveland Indians, on September 2. All told, the Dutch Oven struck out five, walked just two and scattered five hits.

For Holland to succeed in notching his eleventh victory on the year, it will be crucial for him to have success against Carlos Santana (.385/.467/.923, 2 HRs) as well as Brent Lillibridge (.429/.556/.857, HR), both of whom have hit him well.

Texas Rangers (85-57)

Rangers, Derek Holland, Eye Sweep of Indians

After hitting his 32nd homer of the year last night, Beltre was pulled due to a shoulder issue. He has been cleared to DH this evening, so it’s all good.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF David Murphy
DH Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
3B Michael Young
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
CF Leonys Martin

VS

RHP Zach McAllister (5-7, 4.31 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9)

McAllister, a 6’6″ right-hander from Chillicothe, Illinois, is most likely not very excited about getting the start tonight against the Texas Rangers.

A mere 11 days ago, McAllister was “greeted” by a Texas Rangers’ offense that pounded-out four home runs and recorded seven earned runs over his five innings of work. Remember Jurickson Profar’s first big league homer? Yep, that was off of McAllister. Josh Hamilton found him to his liking too, as he took the righty deep as well.

Sure, Hamilton and Profar are getting the day off today, but it’s not like they were the only Rangers to shellack McAllister. In fact, the only Ranger starting tonight who hasn’t record at least one hit off of him is Mitch Moreland, and, hey, there’s no time like the present, Mitchy!

McAllister is currently riding a five-game losing streak.

So close, yet Profar away

• Rangers’ rookie—and number one prospect—Jurickson Profar was originally slated to start at second base and bat in the nine-hole. However, an MRI of Adrian Beltre’s left shoulder showed no structural damage, and Washington decided to give him the start at designated hitter. Thus, Profar was the odd-man out.

Texas Rangers’ injury news

• Adrian Beltre left yesterday’s game in the fifth inning with a sore left wing, but, as noted earlier, his MRI was negative and he was a late edition to tonight’s starting lineup.

• Josh Hamilton had an injection in his left knee after last night’s game. His injury is not considered serious, but he is getting the night off and is listed as day to day.

• Rangers’ rookie, Mike Olt, was called on to replace Adrian Beltre at third base last night. Olt would leave the game as well as he re-aggravated a plantar fasciitis issue while beating out an infield single. Olt will be sidelined 10-14 days and is set to see a podiatrist in the near future.

• Everyone’s favorite extra-toothy Texas Ranger, Robbie Ross, is scheduled to throw another bullpen tomorrow. He has been sidelined with left forearm tightness, so any throwing not met with subsequent pain is great news for the young lefty.

• Rangers’ reluctant bullpen-specialist, Roy Oswalt, is scheduled to attempt to throw today. He lasted just two innings in his last spot-start and noted that it felt like “something bit his elbow.” No word on if he cast an embittered gaze to all parties involved upon discussing said injury; but, yeah, I’m pretty sure he did.

All Quiet on the A.L. West front?

• Sadly, no, no it is not. The Oakland Athletics continue their quest to become the most-unlikely—according to most pre-season rankings, at least—team to make a playoff splash. They are currently just three games behind the Texas Rangers, which is astounding considering the Rangers own the American League’s best record.

• For the A’s, it’s almost as if shedding the weight of Bartolo Colon—both literally and figuratively—has propelled their ascent all the more. Every time I check the standings, there they are, that much closer to an improbable Wild Card playoff berth.

• The only good thing about the A’s winning, is that three of their last four wins have come at the expense of the Angels.

• The Rangers currently hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the A’s and an 8-game lead over the increasingly lowly LA Angels of A-holedom (if that’s not a word, it should be.)

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Sep 112012
 
HarriUbaldo

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians PreviewAfter a series such as the one that took place over the weekend in Tampa Bay, an off-day is always welcome.

In case you were fortunate enough to miss the aforementioned three game series—that saw the Texas Rangers score just five runs over thirty innings against the Tampa Bay Rays—here’s a quick recap:

Derek Holland was great. Yu Darvish was terrific. Roy Oswalt was absolutely horrific, and B.J. Upton is an a-hole.

Tonight the Texas Rangers return home for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, while the Tampa Bay Rays take off for Baltimore to battle the Orioles. With the Orioles just one game out of the A.L. East’s top spot, and the Cleveland Indians a mere five games from elimination…well…take that, Tampa!

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Cleveland Indians (59-82, L10: 4-6)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Since being moved to the leadoff spot, the Tribe’s Shin-Soo Choo has really taken off at the plate.


RF Shin-Soo Choo
2B Jason Kipnis
C Carlos Santana
1B Russ Canzler
DH Matt LaPorta
SS Brent Lillibridge
3B Jason Donald
LF Thomas Neal
CF Ezequiel Carrera

VS

LHP Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Texas Rangers’ left-hander, Matt Harrison will be pitching tonight on two extra days of rest. The Durham, North Carolina native is coming off of back-to-back losses against Tampa Bay and the Royals that saw him average just five innings in each start.

Prior to his two-game skid, Harrison had been masterful as he picked up consecutive wins against Toronto and Minnesota, averaging eight innings pitched in each start.

Over his four-year career, Harrison has been great when working on six-plus days of rest. All told, he’s 8-3 with a 3.56 ERA.

Harrison has gone 1-2 against the Cleveland Indians since 2008, while posting a 5.17 ERA with ten strikeouts. Cleveland’s leadoff batter, Shin-Soo Choo is 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and 3 RBI off of Harri. Catcher/DH Carlos Santana has also had success against Harrison, as he is 2-for-3 with a double and home run as well. All told, the Indians versus Harrison have produced a slash-line of: .277/.333/.489.

Texas Rangers (83-57, L10: 6-4)

Matt Harrison vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: A Rangers/Indians Preview

Martin gets the start tonight to rest Nelson Cruz.

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF David Murphy
DH Michael Young
1B Mitch Moreland
C Geovany Soto
CF Leonys Martin

• Nelson Cruz get the night off to rest his presumably aching legs. Hamilton slides to the less labor-intensive side of the outfield and top prospect Leonys Martin gets the rare start in center field.

VS

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-15, 5.58 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 4.7 BB/9)

As mentioned earlier, Rangers’ lefty Matt Harrison has been less effective over his last two starts. Ubaldo Jimenez, on the other hand, hasn’t been nearly as sharp since, well, the second half of 2010.

The 6’5″ native of Nagua, Dominican Republic, has clearly lost some velocity in the last two years. However, Jimenez still possesses swing-and-miss stuff, which is evidenced by his above average strikeout per-nine rate of 7.5.

What has gotten Jimenez into trouble this season is his propensity to surrender the free pass. His walks per-nine rate of 4.7 is his highest since his first full season in the big leagues with Colorado back in 2008.

Against the Rangers over his career he has is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, but tends to get shelled mightily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At RBIA, he has surrendered seven home runs, and Texas has teed-off to the tune of: .318/.400/.591.

The annoying Angels and those pesky Athletics:

• In a rematch from last week—that saw the Angels sweep the Athletics—the A’s held on for a 3-1 win last night. Oakland is now just a mere three games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West race.

• Even though they lost their series-opener to the Athletics last night, the Angels are still the hottest team in the American League. They’ve won eight of their last ten games, and now are just 3 1/2 games out of the A.L. Wild Card race, and just 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 072012
 
Mike Napoli 3

Which Naps coming back?According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Mike Napoli continues to make strides in his recovery from an injury to his left quad.  While it sounds like Nap just needs to get more comfort in his running, Rangers fans hold out hope that we get the 2011 version of Nap upon his return, rather than what we saw during the first 4+ months of the 2012 season.

Want the 2011 version of Nap back for the final month of the season and the playoff run?  I have the answer!!  Read on…

A look at the numbers…

Napoli, who has not played in a game since August 10th (DET), was making it clear that 2011′s performance was the outlier in his career and not the norm.  Here is a quick look at Nap’s career numbers:

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 24 LAA 99 268 47 61 13 0 16 42 51 90 .228 .360 .455 .815 110
2007 25 LAA 75 219 40 54 11 1 10 34 33 63 .247 .351 .443 .794 107
2008 26 LAA 78 227 39 62 9 1 20 49 35 70 .273 .374 .586 .960 148
2009 27 LAA 114 382 60 104 22 1 20 56 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842 120
2010 28 LAA 140 453 60 108 24 1 26 68 42 137 .238 .316 .468 .784 115
2011 29 TEX 113 369 72 118 25 0 30 75 58 85 .320 .414 .631 1.046 173
2012 30 TEX 92 301 45 67 7 2 17 40 50 108 .223 .343 .429 .771 101
7 Yrs 711 2219 363 574 111 6 139 364 309 656 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
162 Game Avg. 162 506 83 131 25 1 32 83 70 149 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
LAA (5 yrs) 506 1549 246 389 79 4 92 249 201 463 .251 .346 .485 .831 119
TEX (2 yrs) 205 670 117 185 32 2 47 115 108 193 .276 .382 .540 .922 140
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

As you can see, Napoli’s 2012 performance is down across the board from that magical 2011 season.

  • .223 batting average is actually the lowest of his career.  He’ll have a limited number of games upon his return to try to bring that up over .228 he hit in his 2006 rookie season in Anaheim.
  • 108 whiffs in 92 games YTD exceeds the respectable 85 (for a slugger) he accumulated in 2011 in 113 games played.
  • Walks is really the only thing that doesn’t seem to have gotten worse (50 YTD compared to 58 in 2011).
  • Check that – he has 2 triples!

You could go on and on, and I won’t, but the point is that it looks like Nap was playing well above himself in 2011 and his performance has regressed to the mean.

Could we get Nap v.11 for the stretch run?

Taking a closer look at 2011, we see the cycle of Nap’s season, and there is hope:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 17 45 12 12 3 0 6 12 13 8 .267 .431 .733 1.164
May 21 63 9 13 3 0 4 13 10 17 .206 .320 .444 .764
June 8 28 3 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 .179 .233 .214 .448
July 18 61 16 27 8 0 5 14 7 12 .443 .500 .820 1.320
August 28 102 20 31 5 0 7 17 13 23 .304 .388 .559 .947
Sept/Oct 21 70 12 30 5 0 8 19 14 16 .429 .518 .843 1.361
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

Started the season off with a bang, slid back into mediocrity in the early summer months and finished the season and post-season at a ridiculous All-Star level.

Last year was truly “The Year of the Napoli”:

Now, a closer look at 2012 YTD:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 20 70 11 18 1 0 7 14 6 27 .257 .338 .571 .909
May 25 77 14 17 2 2 2 11 11 27 .221 .322 .377 .699
June 23 76 11 18 3 0 3 5 12 26 .237 .356 .395 .750
July 19 60 7 11 0 0 5 8 17 19 .183 .364 .433 .797
August 5 18 2 3 1 0 0 2 4 9 .167 .318 .222 .540
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

May and June brought similar levels of mediocrity after a strong start in April, but we started to see a bit of an uptick in July with Nap’s OPS creeping up closer to the .800 range, which would be considered above average – especially at the catcher position.  Disregard August numbers given the injury.

A closer look at July shows us that his batting average was at the lowest level it’s been all year, but his walks and power numbers were up.

  • 5 home runs in 60 July at-bats (HR/12.5 AB) vs. 5 home runs in 153 May/June at-bats (HR/30.6 AB)
  • 17 walks in 19 July games vs. 23 walks in 48 May/June games

By no means was this July in line with what Nap did to close out his 2011 campaign, but as mentioned above, it gives us a glimmer of hope.  As good as this current team is, it could use Napoli v.2011.

Theories on Nap’s decreased production

OK, full disclosure before we go any further…I’m the same guy that was ready to fork over the bank to Nap before the season started.  I thought we had seen the breakout in 2011 rather than just a prolonged hot streak from an above average MLB hitter – and I’m not fully convinced I’m wrong (proven by this article), but his 2012 performance is like mud in my face at this point.

Clearly, when you look at the career stats above, 2011 was the outlier, so perhaps the real question is – Where in the hell did 2011 come from, and how do we get it back for the next two months?  Let’s first examine the top 5 theories behind why his 2012 performance hasn’t matched what he did last year (with odds since I gamble on everything):

  1. Which Naps coming back?He’s misses C.J. Wilson – while they had a little off-season friction over C.J. tweeting out Nap’s cell phone number, could it be that they really were buds?  They both made Dustin Dietz’s “Team D-Bag”, so might they have more in common than we actually realize?  Nap has dismissed a friendship, much a relationship that could cause a funk like he’s been in much of 2012.
    “You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season,” Napoli said after the so-called prant. “We don’t have that type of relationship.”
    ODDS – 75:1 
  2. Which Naps coming back?He misses Jered Weaver and the rest of the Halos – Let’s face it, Nap’s first season here in Texas was the honeymoon, and the honeymoon is always fun!  Well, maybe the honeymoon is over.  Napoli was drafted by the Angels organization in 2000.  It’s natural for a little homegrown loyalty to develop in players that come up through the ranks and experience their first success all with one organization.  The theory calls out Weaver specifically because they clearly have a friendship (suck on that C.J.), which we were all reminded of at the 2012 All Star Game (here and here) – and there’s nothing wrong with that…as long as Nap’s longing for quality time with his former homies isn’t the reason for his decreased production.
    He’s a professional.  He has the off-season to rekindle the flames.  Seems like a long shot.
    ODDS – 60:1 
  3. Which Naps coming back?The Ankle of Steel – Look at that picture!  Zoom in on it, crop it, posterize it, make it black and white, rotate it, make it look like a Zombie, do whatever you want to it…it’ll still makes you a little queasy.
    Physically, he’s over it, proven by this ability to effectively run the bases and play the catcher position during the first four months of the season.  But mentally?  Emotionally?  Could he be addicted to the pain?  Addicted the baboon ankle transplant be affecting his other senses and abilities?  Doubt.  Seems like another long shot.
    ODDS – 45:1
  4. Too much nookie -
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?  Yes it’s them again…
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?
    Sorry…that one got mixed in accidentally.
    No need for further examination of this one.  Nookie makes us stronger.  Theory trashed.
    ODDS – 1,000,000:1
  5. Which Naps coming back?The Evan Grant Pizza Curse –  It would be a first…that we know of, so I’m not 100% sure I can label it as a curse already, but maybe this will dissuade Mr. Grant from naming a pizza after a player ever again.  So far, every time Grant’s done this, the player follow’s it up with a decrease in production the following season.  It’s groundbreaking, but a strong contender.
    ODDS – 15:1

The Odds On Favorite

Overuse of the “NA-PO-LI” chant by Ranger fans -

Last season, the chants started in early October and carried through the playoffs and World Series – fans called out with the chant in key situations and were usually answered with clutch performances from the overnight fan favorite.

This season, fans were half-heatedly chanting “NA-PO-LI” with the bases empty and 2 outs in the 5th inning of a game the Rangers already had in the bag.

Can you see how it would lose a little power?

ODDS – 2:1

There you have it.  Vegas Odds say that we, the fans, can bring back Napoli v.2011.  It has nothing to do with C.J. or Weaver, his baboon ankle or nookie consumption, or even that damn pizza.  It’s about respecting the power of the chant.

I move that we reserve the “NA-PO-LI” chant for those times when we need it most.  For those times when we need some magic and when a situation calls for Super Nap (formerly known as Napoli v. 2011).

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Sep 062012
 
greatthursday copy

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Adrian Beltre continues his offensive assault, as he swatted home run number 29 last night.

If you are a resident of the greater DFW Metroplex, undoubtedly, today you had a pretty solid day. That’s just the way it is in the DF-dub when both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys win on the same night.

The Cowboys, as you may recall, defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants a night ago, much like the Rangers nipped the 1985 World Series Champion KC Royals.

It’s the kind of day that your coffee costs $4.14, and the dude at Starbucks waves you on as you plummet into your pockets unsuccessfully searching for the 14 cents.

A mockingbird might just land on your shoulder, and that good-looking person you’ve been oggling at the office actually laughs with you rather than at you.

On a day like today, your skinny pants actually make you feel skinny.

All told, it’s a red-letter, 22-font, all CAPS kind of Thursday.

How could this day get any better? Well, that’s easy, friends. A win tonight for the Texas Rangers would not only get Scooter back on track, but would also claim the season series against the increasingly pesky KC Royals.

Here’s a look at tonight’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals (61-75)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Butler went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored an an RBI in last night’s game.


CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Tony Abreu

VS

RHP Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9)

How many pitchers can you recall have had two six-game losing streaks in the same season? Yeah, I’m stumped too. Well, a loss tonight and Scooter Feldman will hold that ignominious distinction. It’s hard to believe that sandwiched in between his two aforementioned skids, he had a six-game winning streak, too.

Truth be told, over his current five-game skid, Feldman truly hasn’t been that bad; he’s just fallen prey to one really bad inning in each of those losses. Feldman is definitely the type of pitcher that keeps you on your toes, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Ironically, during Scooter’s six-game winning streak, it was these same KC Royals that he defeated 4-2 on August 4. The 6’6″ Hawaiian-born righty has not recorded a win since…so, beating the Royals tonight would just make a strange kind of cosmic sense, right?

Right.

Texas Rangers (81-55)

Rangers turn to Feldman to Capture Royals Series

Michael Young hit his sixth home run of the season, and his second of the series in last night’s 7-6 Rangers win.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
DH Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry

VS

RHP Luke Hochevar (7-13, 5.34 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9)

Hochevar, a former number on pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, has occasionally shown flashes of greatness over his career. For example, on June 25 of this year, Hochevar pitched a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays while collecting eight strikeouts and surrendering just seven hits.

Then, of course, you have the 2 1/3 inning outing against the Yankees on May 6 where Hochevar was undressed to the tune of seven earned runs on seven hits. He didn’t strike out anyone and surrendered two long balls.

The 6’5″, 220-pound Denver, Colorado, native’s career arc is somewhere in between those two vastly different starts. In other words, Hochevar is a solid back-of-the-rotation type of starter.

The Texas Rangers have produced the triple-slash line of: .247/.309/.447 against Hochevar. Michael Young, who is batting second tonight and starting at shortstop, is the only Ranger (aside from catcher Geovany Soto) to have hit a home run off of Hochevar.

News around the A.L. West

• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace, Jered Weaver, has been scratched from his next start due to right biceps tendinitis. Although this might not have any long-term implications, it’s never a good thing for your ace to be dealing with any kind of injury issue.

• The Oakland Athletics, currently five games behind Texas, travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners tomorrow, while the Los Angeles Angels welcome the Detroit Tigers to the “Big A.” The Angels are 2 1/2 games behind the A’s and 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West.

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Sep 052012
 
MLB: Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers

Word on the street is that some other Texas team that plays some other type of sport has a game tonight or something. I doubt seriously that anyone will pay much attention to this bizarre type of “ball” that evidently requires a “foot.”

After all, the Texas Rangers are looking to take their second game of the four game series with the Kansas City Royals this evening. A win tonight would even up the season series with four wins apiece.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Kansas City Royals (61-74)

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Per Fangraphs’ WAR, Francouer is having the worst season of any MLB regular, with his -2.0.


CF David Lough
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francouer
1B Eric Hosmer
2B Johnny Giavotella

VS

RHP Ryan Dempster (9-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP,7.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)

Over his last three starts, Dempster is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 20 strikeouts. Tonight he’ll be looking for his fourth-straight win and might have an advantage over the Royals in that they are largely unfamiliar with him.

Of current Royals players, only Alcides Escobar (.154/.267/.154) and Jeff Francouer (.400/.400/.800, 1 HR, 4 RBI) have faced Dempster in more than four plate appearances.

Texas Rangers (80-55)

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Elvis flashed some pop yesterday, as he launched his third homer of the year in the first inning.


DH Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
2B Michael Young
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mike Olt

VS

LHP Everett Teaford (1-3, 4.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9)

This will be Teaford’s first appearance against the Rangers this season. He pitched in relief against Texas on three occasions last season, and did not allow a run in his 1 2/3 innings of work.

Teaford will be making just the eighth start of his big league career, and it was borne out of necessity due to last Saturday’s double header against the Minnesota Twins.

Royals’ skipper Ned Yost, has dubbed tonight’s game as “‘pen day,” due to the fact that Teaford—despite a solid 5 1/3 inning outing last week—is still considered a part of the KC bullpen rather than its rotation.

Regardelss, Teaford profiles as the type of pitcher than can challenge the mighty Rangers’ offense. He’s a soft-tossing port-sider that is largely unknown to the Rangers. He’s only faced David Murphy and Mitch Moreland, and they have gone a combined 0-for-3 against him.

Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals, a Dempster/Teaford Game 3 Preview

Teaford (left) and Tim Collins (right), found the recently departed Johnathan Broxton’s pants mighty hard to fill.

Oakland Athletics Watch

• After tonight, the A’s will play 17 of their next 20 games on the road, and hopefully, will lose the vast majority of those games.

• As of this post, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were ahead of the A’s 4-1 in the top of the ninth inning. If the Angels hold on for the win, they will have swept the A’s, which, ultimately, helps the Texas Rangers.

• Should the Angels hold on for the victory, the Athletics would drop to 4 1/2 games behind Texas, while the Angels would climb to “just” seven games behind the Rangers.

Notes:

• There was speculation that Jurickson might get the start at second base since Kinsler was manning the DH spot tonight. Alas, it will be MY that gets the nod at his “natural” position.

• Keep your eyes peeled for a possible Profar sighting for tomorrow’s “gettaway” game against he Royals.

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Sep 032012
 
Yu2

Chen Music: Rangers Rough up Royals, 8 4Well, that was a very satisfying win…one that was almost a true “KC Masterpiece.” Yu Darvish was outstanding. He retired the first 17 batters he faced—and almost made it 18—before allowing his first baserunner.

All told, Darvish lost the perfecto, no-hitter and shutout in that three-run sixth inning but still managed one of his better starts of the season.

Normally it’s hard to top a possible perfecto, but the way the Rangers’ offense has been swinging it of late, that’s exactly what happened.

Here’s a look at some numbers of note and notes on those numbers…

87

• The number of pitches Yu Darvish threw over his seven innings. It’s the fewest he’s pitched in a game all season and the lowest total pitch count since he threw 93 back on May 27 against the Blue Jays.

• Today marked the eleventh time Darvish has worked at least seven innings in a game, and it was the third consecutive time he’s done so.

1 and 1 equals 2

• Number of times Nelson Cruz was plunked in today’s game. Also the number of pitches it took for Michael Young to connect for a two-run home run immediately after Cruz’s beaning in the ninth inning.

9

• Number of points David Murphy—currently in third place in the A.L. batting race—trails leader Mike Trout (.333).

• Murphy qualified for the batting title yesterday after obtaining the necessary number of plate appearances. A player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game played.

80

• Current Rangers win total. It’s the third-fastest time the Rangers have reached that mark in the franchise’s 40-year history. Just like the 1999 Texas Rangers, they landed win number 80 in game number 134. They also share an identical record with their 20th Century predecessors up to this point (80-54). The ’99 club finished at 95-67, a team record for wins that stood until last year, when the Rangers notched 96 regular season wins.

507

• Career wins for Rangers’ manager Ron Washington. Today’s 8-4 win pushed him past Johnny Oates (506) for second place on the all-time list. Current Boston Red Sox skipper, Bobby Valentine, had 581 wins during his tenure as the Rangers’ manager, from 1985-1992.

11

• Number of home runs Adrian Beltre has hit in his last ten games. He’d hit 17 in his previous 120 games…

Up Next:

LHP Matt Harrison (15-8, 3.30 ERA) toes the rubber for the Rangers tomorrow and will oppose Royals’ RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-12, 5.48 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (CST).

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Sep 022012
 
Texas Rangers v Cleveland Indians

Feldman Falters in the First, Rangers Cant Recover as Tribe triumphs 4 3Scott Feldman is beginning to develop a pattern.

No, I’m not just talking about his current five-game losing streak. Feldman is having—quite consistently over his last six starts—one bad inning.

Every start.

Last month against the Detroit Tigers, it was the four-spot he surrendered in the sixth inning that was his ultimate undoing. In his next start, against the Yankees, it was a three-run third. The Orioles jumped on him for four in the fifth during his next go-around…then the Twinkies dropped a deuce on Feldy in the fifth inning (once again.) And, last night, the Tribe gave Texas a Scooter-scalping for four earned runs in the first inning.

If you’re keeping score at home, he need only surrender a big second-inning to close out the first six frames, dart-style.

Last night’s 4-3 loss had the makings of an extremely short outing for Feldman, as Oswalt was beginning to get loose in the bullpen with just one out in the first inning.

Feldman recovered nicely, and stellar relief from Alexi Ogando and even gasp! Koji Uehara, kept the Indians to only four runs, total. Unfortunately, Adrian Beltre can’t do it all himself and the first-frame four-spot proved insurmountable.

Here in a few hours the Rangers will turn to Derek Holland to try and take their fourth-straight series, so hey, pound a few coldies and go get ‘em tomorrow…

Oakland Athletics Watch

• I don’t know about you, but I still find myself scoreboard watching—without even looking at Oakland’s box scores. I just don’t consider them a threat. But I think that it’s high time to start giving them more than a cursory glance.

They are currently a measly three games out of first place with a 75-57 record. Think about that for a moment. The Texas Rangers are having their best season in the franchise’s history…and the stupid Oakland A’s are only three games behind them.

With their current record, the A’s would be in sole possession of first place in the A.L. Central as well as the N.L. West…it’s definitely time to circle our calendars for September 24—September 27, when the A’s arrive for a four game series in Arlington that might just have some playoff implications…

Up Next:

LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 4.90 ERA) is currently riding a modest two-game winning streak. For HollandO, a native of Newark Ohio, there is truly no place like home. The 25-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA against the Tribe over his career.

For the Indians, it’ll be RHP Zach McAllister (5-5, 3.82). Like the Indians, McAllister has struggled over the last couple of months. He’ll be vying for just his third win since July.

The first pitch is scheduled for 12:05 (CST).

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