Jul 222013
 
AAAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

@TMurrayHowell

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

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

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

 

First and foremost, mutual need.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@TMurrayHowell

 

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Jul 162013
 
59700385

Rangers Trade News Wrap Up

Its one of the most magical times of the year, no not the All-Star snooze fest. It’s blockbuster trade season. Here are some of the rumors flying around today involving your Texas Rangers

David Kaplan of CSNCHICAGO is reporting that the asking price for Matt Garza remains to be high but he expects him to be traded before the start of the 2nd half of the season.

Multiple sources told me Monday afternoon the Rangers and the Blue Jays are both deciding how far they want to go to acquire Garza with one personnel executive saying, “Look Texas has come so close to winning it all and they may not have many more opportunities to win a ring. And Toronto paid big in the offseason and this may be their best shot to win if they can add another solid arm and Garza certainly fits that big time.”

http://www.csnchicago.com/kapman/kaplan-suitors-plenty-cubs-asking-price-garza-remains-high

Richard Durrett of ESPNDALLAS.com talks about the Rangers interest in Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios and what he would be willing to part with to get him.

I’d part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we’ll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I’d do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.

http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/texas-rangers/post/_/id/4902077/trade-target-alex-rios

Joel Sherman reports in the New York Post that the Rangers are the most likely suitors to get the top pitcher currently available on the trade market.

1. They have always liked him and with four starters — Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis — on the disabled list, they have need. Texas is expecting Darvish and Ogando back. Things are more uncertain with Harrison and Lewis. The Rangers would love to have Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland fronting their rotation down the stretch and possibly lining up 1-2-3 for the playoffs.

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/mets/garza_cream_of_crop_yMDlfcSHQD7TMXTriJITGJ

Isn’t this fun!!!

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Jul 132013
 
Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus: Swing and a Miss?

This has been a familiar scene in 2013 for Elvis Andrus

The Texas Rangers signed shortstop Elvis Andrus to an eight year $120 million contract extension this past off-season that will begin when his current deal ends in 2015. Elvis will make $15 million a year once his new deal begin and some consider it a good deal while others, not so much for Texas. Why would some consider it a bad deal when he is widely regarding as one of the top two or three shortstops in the game today? While Andrus has great range and can play a gold glove caliber shortstop, his bat is what some people question.

Much was made this off-season about Elvis bulking up and showing some good power to the gaps early in the season. It started off well but has since fallen off. Andrus is coming off a year in which he set career highs with a .286 batting average and a .349 on base percentage and that is coming off career highs in 2011 with .279/.347. Elvis also set career highs last year in games, plate appearances, RBI and slugging percentage. The Rangers are coming off three straight playoff appearances for just the second time in franchise history and Andrus was coming off two of his best years as a pro and is a big part of the Rangers success.

So what’s the fuss over the extension?

So far in 2013, Andrus is having arguably the worst year of his career. Thru 89 games in 2013, he’s hitting just .246 with a .304 OBP but the most troubling stat has to be his dismal .285 slugging percentage. He has just 11 extra base hits this season after career highs last year in doubles (31) and triples (9). Miguel Cabrera has that many in one game. Ok, that’s not entirely true, unless you watch ESPN, then it is true. Anyways, he is on pace to have one of the worst slugging percentages in a single season and by far the worst of his career.

So what gives? Is he falling victim to having his contract and now he’s become comfortable? Is he taking his money and running? Or are pitchers simply pitching him differently? It can’t be that he is hitting second in the lineup because he did that all of 2012 when he set all those career highs. I won’t bore you with a ton of stats, but let’s take a quick look at what I believe to be contributing to his struggles.

Andrus’ numbers are going in the wrong direction. He is striking out at a career high 14.5% and walking at a rate of 7.5% which is the lowest since his rookie season. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a career worst .290. Now that stat would suggest he’s running into some dumb luck. That was the case early on in the season and a little bit here more recently. He’s been hitting the ball on the nose and hard, just right at someone. I attended a game in early April where Elvis went 0-4 but hit four line drives that were just rockets right at people. That happens. Elvis is at his best when he can drive the ball for base hits and force the defense to not play up and expect a bunt.

It’s not all bad luck for Elvis though. Pitchers are even pitching him differently. He is seeing fewer fastballs and more off-speed pitches. His ground ball percentage is the highest of his career so far and his fly ball percentage is the lowest of his career so far. Give credit to opposing pitchers though. They are getting him to chase pitches out of the strike zone (also known as O-Swing %) at a career high 24.3% of the time and he’s is making contact (O-Contact %) at about his career norm so he’s chasing and missing more which would explain the higher strikeout rate. Now check this out, he is swinging at a career high 56.6% of pitches in the strike zone (Z-Swing %) but his 92.6% contact rate (Z-Contact %) is the lowest of his career. As a whole, he is seeing fewer pitches in the zone and swinging at more pitches outside the zone. That’s a bad combination for a hitter.

One could argue that Ian Kinsler is the catalyst that drives this offense. While that notion holds a lot of truth, chew on this: When the Rangers win Andrus’ numbers look like this:

.298/.354/.349/.703 with eight extra base hits, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases

When the Rangers lose, his numbers look like this:
.168/.226/.189/.415 with three extra base hits, four RBI and five stolen bases

As Elvis goes, so do the Rangers? Make your own conclusions.

I’m not a scout and I’m probably wrong more than I’m right, but I do know that whatever is wrong with Elvis, I hope he figures it out soon. The Rangers need him to be 2012 Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have $15 million reason to hope that he returns to that form too.

Oh want some good news? Andrus is hitting .308 in innings 7-9. At least he isn’t giving up.

Will the real Elvis Andrus please stand up?

Until then, critique me and my opinions all you want, I’m going to the beach. See y’all after the All Star Break.


Billy is a wannabe contributor to BaseballDo that pretends to know what he’s talking about. Jasen regrets giving him a site password every day.
Follow us on twitter @baseballdo and follow me @bcasey55

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

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

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

Sadly, it is true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Rangers News: Yu Darvish to the Disabled List

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

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

@TMurrayHowell

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Jul 102013
 
cruz

Plan B   Nelson Cruz

Early yesterday morning it was reported that MLB had decided to suspend Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and rehabbing Yankee Alex Rodriguez for as many as 100 games next week. Braun and Arod were among 20 players identified in a Miami Biogenesis steroid probe during the off-season. One of the players reportedly involved was our very own All-Star Nelson Cruz. Cruz has been a beast this year with an .864 OPS and 22 home runs before the all star break but most certainly the Rangers front office has been preparing for losing the handsome incredibly eyebrow-ed slugger. Lets take a closer look at a couple of options the Rangers have in the outfield.

Leonys/Beltre/Murphy Outfeld

This is my personal preference. Leonys Martin has been nothing short of electrifying in his first full season in the big leagues. The Cuban Lion has not only been hitting .292/.342/.440 he’s been a terrific defensive center fielder. Let’s move him to right field shall we?? Why would you move a terrific center fielder to right field you ask? Because you have an even better defensive center fielder in your organization who is dying to prove his mettle. Engel Beltre has only played in 7 games this year but has shown flashes of awesomeness. He’s a pest. He gets on base and once he’s there, he makes things happen. Before being called up Beltre was hitting .300/.360/.406 in AAA Round Rock, his most productive minor league year to date. Murphy, well he’s Murphy. One of the absolutely nicest guys on the team who struggles at the beginning of every year and then ramps up at the end of the year. He’s done it his whole career and it appears he’s starting to do it again raising his batting average and is now projected to finish the season a respectable .281/.350/.437.

Plan B   Nelson Cruz

Trade

Other than Engel Beltre, there aren’t many big league ready outfielders in the Rangers farm system. No, not even Joey Gallo. The Rangers may look to trade some of those valuable prospects in a deep system for a proven outfielder ready to step in and play in Cruz’s spot now. One of the names I’ve heard in rumors is that of Chicago White Sox OFer Alex Rios. Rios is hitting .281 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI so far this year. While its unknown what the Sox would want in return, he is under control through 2014 and would fit nicely in his natural RF spot in Texas. In the “its a pipe dream” department, the equally handsome Giancarlo “don’t call me Mike” Stanton would be an even nicer fit but is unlikely to come to Texas without costing you the Chosen One, Profar.

Plan B   Nelson Cruz

I don’t want Nelson Cruz to be suspended, and he very well might not be, but its time to start preparing for the worst. Hold me.

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Jul 092013
 
black-sports-online-ron-washington-smokes-in-dugout

Yes, we’ve been slacking. We’ve had site issues, organizational changes, DL stints and drug suspensions within the BaseballDo ranks. Don’t worry we’re about to be back with new ground breaking analysis (copying other site’s articles) and podcasts (drunk conversations between Scott and I). Stay TUNED!!!!!!!!!!!!

WERE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

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May 122013
 
iankinsler

By: Dustin Dietz

After receiving a sizable contract extension shortly after the season began, Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler yielded a disappointing slash line of .256/.326/.423, along with a bWAR of 2.1 in 2012. Based on the above average production Kinsler produced in previous years, which led to him earning the extension, fans and pundits expected more out of Kinsler. Kinsler’s cavalier body language and slumped shoulders after pop outs only exacerbated the angst among the masses last season.

Kinsler was not much better in the field as he generated a negative UZR for the first time since 2008. During the offseason, there was speculation Kinsler might be moved to first base to make room for mega prospect Jurickson Profar at second base. Kinsler felt he was more valuable to the club at second base, and after the team signed Lance Berkman to be the primary designated hitter in January, Kinsler’s spot in the middle of the diamond was safe for the time being.

The Rangers hired renowned former Boston Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan in the offseason with aspirations Magadan would be able to improve the approach and mechanics of Ranger hitters, including Kinsler. So far, the results have been outstanding with Kinsler as he has produced a slash line of .324/.387/.544 with 7 home runs and a wRC+ of 149 in 2013.

Kinsler has played at an elite, MVP level the first six weeks of ’12. The biggest difference so far in Kinsler’s game has been his approach at the plate. According to PITCHf/x, Kinsler is swinging at fewer pitches as his O-Swing, Z-Swing, and Swing percentages are all lower than they were in ’12. I realize we are looking at a small sample size here, but early season plate discipline numbers are typically trends which last the rest of the season. When Kinsler does swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, he is making contact with 80.3 percent of them, a substantial increase from the 71.5 O-Contact percentage Kinsler yielded in ’12.

Kinsler’s early season success can also be attributed to the fact he has destroyed right handed pitching, something he has not done historically. The Rangers second baseman has yielded an outstanding slash line of .348/.414/.652 against right handed pitching in ’13, while his career line is .262/.340/.440 against north paws. The .652 slugging percentage is second in all of baseball behind only Shin-soo Choo’s .739. One can expect Kins’ numbers against righties to regress towards his career average, but his ability to hit to right handed pitching early on in the year is an encouraging sign.

Kinsler is winning battles.

The headline might be somewhat perplexing, but it will make sense in a moment. Many fans and writers are cynical of the WAR (wins above replacement) statistic because many misinterpret what the meaning is. For example, baseball writer Jon Heyman tweeted a couple of weeks ago his disbelief that phenomenal second year outfielder Bryce Harper had the same WAR as Pittsburgh outfielder Starling Marte. The number is not meant to represent how a player with a 5 WAR is better than a player with a 4 WAR. Rather, the WAR statistic represents the overall value the player provides for his team, and while Harper is a fantastic player, Marte and his superior defensive skills had supplied the same amount of wins for his team as Harper at that time.

Now that I have explained WAR for the baseball illiterate who refuses to accept the statistic’s validity, or the fact the earth is round, I will mention Kinsler is currently second in MLB among position players with 2.2 bWAR, behind only Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez’s 2.8. To put Kinsler’s stellar play into perspective, he has already surpassed the bWAR of 2.1 from last season. Quite simply, Kinsler has been the most valuable player to the Rangers. While Profar is probably ready to contribute at the big league level right now, there is little chance he would be producing the way Kinsler is from the second base position.

While Kinsler’ nonchalant demeanor in the batter’s box and in the field can indeed be vexing, I hope many realize how great he has played up to this point. Kinsler still does have the propensity to pop out rather often. However, if he continues to play at the level he currently is, he will not only be a bargain at the $13 million dollars he is being paid in ’13, but he also will be in MVP consideration at season’s end and helping lead the Rangers to a third American League West crown in four years.

For an infinite amount of baseball wisdom, follow me on Twitter @DustinDietz18 , or email me at ddietz2004@yahoo.com

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May 102013
 
cruz2

A LOB City Hit Parade

Have you seen the little girl in the Capital One commercial? Ya know, the one who says “We want more! We want more!” Even a seven year old knows that more is better. We all want more of the good things; money, vacation time, paid days off. It’s just how we are wired, more is better, which is why I believe that the Rangers “problems” with hitting with men in scoring position is not even a problem at all. It’s nothing more than blind perception to the bigger picture. Allow me to explain my reasoning.

How do the Rangers leave so many men on base to begin with? They hit the ball. It’s that simple. The more hits you have, the more chances you have to leave men on base. It’s a very elementary argument really. It’s the same type of argument I use when people tell me that Derek Jeter is a better shortstop than Elvis Andrus because he makes less errors. Elvis has way more range than Jeter ever dreamed of and because of that he gets to more balls, thus giving him more chances to throw runners out and more chances to make errors.

If you believe that teams have to have a very high average with runners in scoring position in order to win ballgames, let me present to you the World Champion San Francisco Giants (twice in three years even). In 2012, the Giants finished 13th in the league with a .259 avg with runners in scoring position compared to the Tigers who finished 1st with a .286 average and yet the Giants defeated the Tigers to win their second title in three years. In 2010 the Giants finished 24th with an average of .248 while the Minnesota Twins finished 1st hitting .285.
So the team that was statistically the best team in the big leagues with men in scoring position was swept out of the first round of the playoffs while one of the worst teams in baseball went on the win the World Series! BLASPHEMY!

The Rangers have a good offense. They hit the ball, they score runs, they steal bases and for the most part, they are consistent. The Rangers get on base. A LOT. It’s a double edged sword. The better you are, the more chances you have at failure. Let us take a look at just how good the Rangers have been over the last three seasons.

2010: 4th-.276 w/RISP, 1st in regular season avg .276, 1st in hits with 1556, 6th.338 OBP

2011: 2nd – .285 w/RISP, 1st in regular season avg .283, 2nd in hits with 1599(one hit short of finishing 1st), 5th .340 OBP

2012: 4th – .275 w/RISP, 3rd in regular season avg .273, tie for 1st with 1526, 4th .334 OBP

As you can see the Rangers have been the best hitting team in baseball the last three years and one of the best in getting on base. It’s simple logic and statistics. The more you get on base, the more you will leave on base. Leaving men on base should be a testament as to how good a team’s offense is, not how poorly they are at driving them in.
The Rangers averaged about 1.06 hits per inning and 4.96 runs per game last season. That means on average that the Rangers will get a hit in every inning and score in about half of those. Remember, that’s just how it all averages out. If they get four hits in one inning and score three runs in that inning but then get one hit in four separate innings but score no runs, then it’s still the same thing. It still averages out. No one complains when the Rangers win but leave eight or nine guys on base. Why? Because they won. Its how you perceive the game.

Did you know that the Kansas City Royals finished 3rd, 5th and 8th respectively over the last three season in average with RISP? The Royals! Did you know that in 2012, six of the top 10 teams in average with RISP didn’t even make the playoffs? In 2011 that number was five of the top 10 and in 2010 it was six of the top 10.

What I’m getting at is that as long as the Rangers continue to lead the league in hits, they will also leave a ton of men on base. It’s just how it is and it’s not going to change. As long as they continue to score runs and win ballgames, what does it even matter? Remember, baseball is a game of failure. If you succeed 30% of the time, you are considered a phenomenal player. When it comes to scoring runs with RISP, you have a one in four chance on average. The odds are not in your favor. They never will be.

It could be worse; they could just not be getting on base at all. It’s a total team effort. If they win 2-0 but leave 10 guys on base, then you have to credit the pitching for tossing a shutout. If they lose 2-0 but leave two guys on base, then everyone complains that they didn’t hit the ball. So which is it Rangers fans? Do you want them to continue to hit the ball, get on base and leave men on base or do you want them to lose games and not leave any men on base?

Its perception. Look at the big picture. Think about it. It’s not as bad as you think it is.

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