Feb 212013
 

Weekly preview of each of the Rangers’ American League West rivals for the 2013 season – from the bottom up.

  1. Houston Astros

Breaking Down the West   Houston Astros: Will a move to the AL get them out of the cellar?

The Rangers’ cross-state inter-league rival is making the move to the American League West starting in the 2013 season to become a more frequent opponent on the Rangers’ schedule and potentially bring more intrigue and consequence to each match-up.

Breaking Down the West   Houston Astros: Will a move to the AL get them out of the cellar?

New Manager Bo Porter hopes to get things turned around in Houston.

The Astros are a young team who will struggle to really build their identity in the American League in 2013.  However, with new manager Bo Porter in place, a respected front-office and a strong farm system (4th on Keith Law’s organizational rankings),they hope to get out of the cellar in the next 2-3 seasons.

Unfortunately, with the move to the AL West (Hello DH!), the limited experience of many key players (youth) and the anticipated improvement in Seattle, it’s not likely that they will finish anywhere but last this season.  The question is, how many games will this team lose?

After finishing last in the National League Central in 2011 and 2012, with 106 and 107 losses respectively, the win’s won’t come any easier in 2013.  Is another 100+ loss season on tap for the Lastros (sorry, couldn’t resist)?  Uhhhh…yes.

The Bats & Gloves

As stated earlier, the Astros have some young talent at the Major League level and the large majority of that, if not all, falls to the position players.  With some moving parts and flexibility in the line-up, it could easily change, but…

Projected Lineup (from Chip Bailey, Ultimate Astros blog)

  1. Breaking Down the West   Houston Astros: Will a move to the AL get them out of the cellar?

    Jose Altuve will set the tone for the Astros’ lineup in 2013.

    Jose Altuve, 2B

  2. Tyler Greene, SS
  3. Brett Wallace, 1B
  4. Chris Carter, LF
  5. Justin Maxwell, CF
  6. J.D. Martinez, RF
  7. Carlos Pena, DH
  8. Jason Castro, C
  9. Matt Dominguez, 3B

There are many potential variations out there for the Astros’ lineup, but the players are pretty set with the exception of OF Fernando Martinez who should crack the lineup regularly throughout the season.

The 5’5″ Altuve is a solid lead-off option, but beyond that the Astros have a number of question marks with inexperience and inconsistency being the big culprits.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some players here, but I don’t think the Astros can count on the offense to improve enough to avoid 100 losses again.

If a couple of the youngsters (Martinez, Martinez, Wallace, Castro & Dominguez) can break out and if they can get some consistency from the veterans (Pena, Maxwell), they could help win 7+ more games in 2013, but….

The Arms

Breaking Down the West   Houston Astros: Will a move to the AL get them out of the cellar?

Can the Rocket improve this pitching staff?

A few key figures from 2012:

  • .270 Batting Average Against – 27th in the Majors
  • .337 Opponents On-Base Percentage – 28th in Majors
  • .427 Opponents Slugging Percentage – 25th in Majors
  • 2.17 K/BB – 25th in Majors
  • 1.43 WHIP – 29th in Majors
  • Only blew 19 saves…but that was on only 50 save opportunities, so good enough for a 62% Save Rate – 26th in Majors

With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun and Joey Votto…it’s not going to get any easier in the American League West.

The Astros brought former Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens in to help, but that’s not going to help unless he brought Brian McNamee along.

The Rotation

There are as many as 10 pitchers in the mix, vying for a spot in the starting rotation, but here’s what’s likely:

  1. Bud Norris
  2. Lucas Harrell
  3. Phillip Humber
  4. Jordan Lyles
  5. Erik Bedard

Brad Peacock, Alex White, Jared Cosart and John Ely are all talented young pitchers who will very likely get a shot at some point during the season as well.

The Pen

Looking at this bunch, I would say there are no clearly defined roles with setup and closing duties open for competition in Spring Training – and the possibility of some of the youngsters mentioned above (Peacock, White, Cosart and Ely) fighting for spots in the bullpen (ala Robbie Ross).

More than likely, Jose Veras will be the closer at least to start the season.

The Manager

First year rookie manager Bo Porter has his hands full, but barring a cluster of unforgivable mistakes, expect the Astros front office to have some patience with him.  I, for one, think Porter was an excellent hire and if given time can be a good major league manager.

From “The Legend of Bo Porter” on RantSports.com:

Porter studied all 162 games of the Astros season last year. He believes the Astros could have won 35 more games than the 55 that the Astros did actually win. If you do the math, that is 90 win season for the Astros and would have ultimately propelled the Astros into the playoffs as the second Wild Card. Porter said those 35 games were lost at the “breaking point”. He also went on to say all the Astros need was mental toughness, and of course, a little motivation.

Maybe a little much, but shows the enthusiasm and confidence.

The Bottom Line

Breaking Down the West   Houston Astros: Will a move to the AL get them out of the cellar?

Astros’ prospect Delino Deshields Jr.

The facts:

  • New rookie manager
  • Move to the American League
  • Lots of unproven young talent
  • Very shaky (at best) pitching staff
  • Highly regarded front office
  • More young talent in the minor league system

Not working this game by game, but here are my predictions:

  • Best case: 77-95 – Altuve solidifies himself as an up-and-coming MLB star, a couple of the young bats really break out and Brad Peacock and Alex White save the pitching staff.
  • Worst case: 52-110 – Altuve regresses and Porter can’t find the right mix offensively or with his staff all season.

Up next…stay tuned.

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Feb 182013
 

2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip Updated   T Shirt Design

The artwork for the 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip T-Shirt is complete (pictured below).

If you haven’t already purchased your tickets to the Field Trip, we still have tickets available.

Game is Saturday, April 6th against the Angels.  Second home game of the season!  We’ll meet up at Mixed Up Burgers around 11:30 to hang out, enjoy a good pre-game meal and give away some door prizes.  We’ll head to the ballpark around 2pm (3:05 first pitch) and watch the Rangers beat the Angels.

Should be a great time!

2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip Updated   T Shirt Design

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Feb 172013
 

Baseball Do Episode 24   3rd base, booze and 3 keys to success for 2013Is there a position that you feel better about on this Rangers squad right now than 3rd base?  Adrian Beltre has become a fan favorite, a leader and a fixture at the position for the Rangers (and the American League All-Star team) over the last two years and will man the position for the Rangers through 2015 (possibly 2016).  It just so happens that the Rangers have a pretty salty young prospect in Mike Olt at the position as well, so what’s his future?

To break up the baseball talk, we decided to talk about the exciting topic of alcohol.  We discuss preferences, current favorites, drunken states, friends and most importantly – responsibility.

To wrap up, we go back to the “Dear Baseball Do…” question bag and Jasen provides his 3 keys to success for the Rangers in 2013.

The 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip will be here before you know it.  What are you waiting on?

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Feb 152013
 

Why The Rangers Can Be Better Than Last Year

The sky is falling! The Rangers suck! Why did they trade Michael Young and let Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli leave in free agency? The Rangers will lose 100 games this year!

These are all things I’ve heard Rangers fan say this off-season. Yes, a “Fan” said they would lose 100 games. They won’t. I guarantee you that. Everyone says that the replacement guys, Lance Berkman, AJ Pierzynski and Leonys Martin cannot and will not replace the offense that the outgoing guys had. I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true.

I was watching Clubhouse Confidential on MLB Network earlier this week and they had an interesting saber metrics breakdown called linear weights where a home run was worth x amount of runs on average and so on down the list. I thought this was very interesting so I did some research, some math (god help us) and came up some very interesting numbers. Now, I don’t know the formula for wRC+ (weighted runs created) because that takes into account park factors and league played in.

What I did was simply add up all the linear weighted numbers and came up with a runs created number and then I divided that number by 162 and came out with an average number per game. I did this for Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Berkman and Pierzynski. Since Martin only has 24 career games, I used his stats for those games and averaged it out to a 155 games played season. So let’s take a look at the linear weights, which again is what each of these results are worth as far as runs are concerned: (remember these numbers are ON AVERAGE numbers)

Home Run – 1.39
Triple – 1.09
Double – .77
Single – .47
Walk – .32
Stolen Base – .16
Caught Stealing – (-.45)
Groundout – (-.24)
Strikeout – (.30)

We’ve all heard the saying “a walk is a good as a hit”, well we can clearly see here that that is not true. You would think that a double would simply be worth half of what a homerun would be right? It’s in fact worth a little more than half. What really caught my eye though is the fact that a caught stealing is worth nearly as much as a single. You have to think that if major league clubs use these saber metrics that these numbers would have some kind of effect on when and if a team attempts a stolen base.

So how bad will the Rangers offense be now that those three guys are gone? Let’s take a look:

Hamilton
HR- 59.77
3B- 2.18
2B- 23.87
1B- 39.48
BB- 19.20
SB- 1.12
CS- (-1.80)
GO- (-36.96)
SO- (-48.60)
58.26 RC

Young
HR- 11.12
3B- 3.27
2B- 20.79
1B- 61.57
BB- 10.56
SB- .32
CS- (-.90)
GO- (-69.84)
SO- (-2.10)
15.89 RC

Napoli
HR- 33.36
3B- 2.18
2B- 6.93
1B- 21.15
BB- 17.92
SB- .16
CS- .00
GO- (-21.84)
SO- (-37.50)
22.36 RC

These three combined to create 96.51 runs last year for the Rangers. That comes out to .60 runs per game (in 162 games). As you can see Hamilton and Napoli were really hurt by their strikeout numbers and Young was hammered by the ground ball out. These numbers all make sense since every Rangers fan last year was complaining about Hamilton and Nap striking out so much and Young being a ground ball machine. There is no denying the fact that 97 runs over the course of the year from three players is a lot. It’s easy to look at the RBI and Runs Scored stats and say they were worth that much. That doesn’t take into account everything else, all the runners they left on base, strikeouts with runners on and the grounded into double plays. This gives a look into the runs they created and takes away the runs that they cost their team. I feel like it’s a more accurate assessment as to how much a player is actually worth.

Now, for the three replacements, I used Berkmans 2011 season in St. Louis since it was his last full season and since Martin has never played a full season in the bigs, I took his numbers and averaged them out over a 155 games played season. Seeing is how he hasn’t really performed yet, anything he does this year better than what he has shown us so far, is nothing but a bonus. In all fairness, I have Berkmans numbers from 2012 as well and I did the same thing with those numbers as I did with Martins.

Berkman
HR- 43.09
3B- 2.18
2B- 17.71
1B- 42.77
BB- 29.44
SB- .32
CS (-2.70)
GO- (.27.90)
SO- (.36.96)
67.95 (2011)

Pierzynski
HR- 37.53
3B- 4.36
2B- 13.86
1B- 39.48
BB- 8.96
SB- 0.00
CS- 0.00
GO- (-23.40)
SO (-40.80)
39.99 RC

Martin
HR- 0.00
3B- 5.45
2B- 4.62
1B- 1.41
BB- 1.28
SB- .48
CS- 0.00
GO- (-3.9)
SO- (-4.8)
4.51 (21.70 avg)

These three guys have a combined Runs Created number of 129.64! That is an astonishing 33.14 runs MORE per season that Hamilton/Young/Napoli! That comes out to .80 per game which is .20 runs more than the three guys leaving. Bet you didn’t expect that result did ya?

Now remember, this is assuming that Berkman stays healthy and if he doesn’t, like he didn’t in 2012, than we can expect about half of his performance which would make the numbers between each set of mean, nearly identical. That still isn’t as bad as everyone is making it out to be. That is basically equal production! However, if Leonys Martin produces even as an average major leaguer, that makes up for Berkmans slack. Anything Martin does is a bonus. Berkman and AJ are going to strikeout, not as much as Napoli and Hamilton but it will be close, close enough that it will feel like the same. The biggest thing I see out of this is the ground ball outs. The new three COMBINED didn’t ground out as much as Michael Young did last year by himself. Young REALLY was a rally killer last year as some called him the grounded into double play master.

All of this is contingent on everyone staying healthy and being a shadow of their self from last season. It’s baseball, anything can happen. Berkman may get hurt the first week and this is all moot. What I’m trying to convey to you all is that the future isn’t as bleak as you once thought. These guys can perform as good as or better than the big three that left. It may not be as flashy with long home runs but it will be exciting. There will be a more controlled running game and more situational hitting. I expect a running game similar to 2010 when the Rangers would literally steal a run.

33 runs more per season can translate to roughly six more wins based on a five runs per game average. SIX MORE WINS! Remind me, how many games did the Rangers lose the AL West by?

Game on Anaheim.

Follow me on twitter @bcasey55. Follow the site on twitter @baseballdo.

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Feb 142013
 

The 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip is all set.  Who would have thought that we’d ever make it to the 2nd one of these things…?

If you didn’t get to go last year, you missed out on a great time.  The food at Mixed Up Burgers was excellent (as always) and everyone enjoyed hanging out there before heading over to the Ballpark to see the Rangers beat Oakland.  If we learned a lesson from last year, it was that it’s hot on June 30th.

While this is never a true deterrent from going to the Ballpark for most of us, we decided that if we could get out to the Ballpark earlier or later in the season for some cooler weather, we would do it. That said, we moved the Field Trip up earlier in the season this year to enjoy the nice 2-3 weeks of Spring time that we get to enjoy here in Texas in early April.

Let’s get to the details:

  • Saturday, April 6th, 2013 – Angels at Rangers, 3:05pm first pitch – 2nd home game of the season!
  • Field Trip starts at 11am at Mixed Up Burgers in Grand Prairie, just a short 5 minute drive to the Ballpark.  Your Field Trip ticket includes a burger, fries and soft drink or tea at Mixed Up Burgers.  They have plenty of adult beverages as well (cold bear on tap, margaritas and the infamous $0.50 Beer Thirty), but those will be on your own dime.
  • 2013 Field Trip   Burgers, Baseball and a One of a Kind Rangers ShirtField Trip includes a world famous “2nd Annual Field Trip” t-shirt (artwork coming soon).  Please provide your shirt size(s) in the note section when you purchase your Field Trip though Paypal.
  • We’ll hang out at Mixed Up Burgers, enjoy a great meal and give out some door prizes and then head over to the Ballpark around 2pm.  Each Field Trip includes one Lexus Club ticket to the game.  We have an entire Lexus Club section reserved for this, so we’ll all be seated together.   You will receive your ticket to the game at Mixed Up Burgers.
  • All this for $60!

This is gonna be a great time!  Beautiful early-April day game against the dreaded Angels, and the former love of our lives, Josh Hamilton.  Throw in the t-shirt, great food and fellowship with other Rangers fans – it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Click here to purchase your tickets to the 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip today!  We have a limited number of tickets, so don’t wait too long.  Tickets to this game will be in the high demand.

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Feb 092013
 

Episode 23   Focus on the catchers, TV Talk and Dear Baseball Do...

Are the Rangers better or worse at the catcher position than they were in 2012?  How do A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto stack up when compared to their peers in the American League?

Jasen and I break down the catcher position for the Rangers in the first of their preseason position-by-position review.

We also rank their top 5 current TV shows.  Spoiler alert – Breaking Bad makes the cut, but is it in the top spot?

Last, but not least, we introduce our newest segment – “Dear Baseball Do…” in which we field questions from our Twitter friends.  If you want to have your question on a future podcast, hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (facebook.com/baseballdo) with your questions.  They don’t have to be Rangers related, or even baseball related for that matter.  Jasen and I are both experts in pretty much everything with the one exception of Jasen’s lack of knowledge in the area of the adult film industry.

Do you agree with our take on the catchers?  Got a great TV show that we missed or wanna share your top 5?  What do you think of the new intro and outro?

Leave us your comments below.

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Feb 082013
 

The 5th Element
The offseason for the Rangers has been dominated by the talk of whose going and who’s staying. Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two names that come up the most when it comes to potential trades. We all know that both of these young men could be the face of the franchise soon. Elvis has already shown he is an elite shortstop and Profar homered in his first ever big league at bat showing why he is the Rangers and all of baseballs #1 prospect.

But I don’t want to talk about them right now. I want to talk about what I feel will be the most intriguing matchup and competition in spring training.

The 5th spot in the Rangers rotation.

It’s a foregone conclusion that the Rangers top four pitchers will be right handed starters Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando and left handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. That leaves the fifth spot open for competition. The candidates are said to be lefties Robbie Ross and Marin Perez and right hander Justin Grimm among others.

Ross spent the entire 2012 campaign in the big leagues as a reliever and quickly became a fan favorite. The Rangers even named some nachos after him, calling them the “Totally Rossome Nachos”. He even signed an autograph for my cousin as he was leaving the stadium in his truck one night. (My cousin is a creeper for waiting at the players exit for him but that’s neither here nor there). He made 69 starts in the minors before surprising everyone, including the Rangers, and making the big league club out of spring training. The knock on Ross is that he only has two pitches but so did Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Ogando was an all-star as a starter in 2011 and Feliz was having a great first half in 2012 before blowing out his elbow.

Justin Grimm was called up in June of 2012 to make his debut against the now division rival Houston Astros. He got the win in his debut going six innings allowing six hits, three runs and recording seven strikeouts. Considering he had never pitched above the AA level, most considered his debut a huge success despite it being against one the worst teams in all of baseball. He split the rest of the year between AAA Round Rock and the big leagues. Grimm went on to make one more start and three relief appearances and compiled a 9.00 era over 14 IP at the big league level. He has above average velocity with a fastball that routinely touches 95 and a sharp curve. According to Rangers scouts, he lacks command in his mechanics that would allow him to repeat his delivery the same each time which could ultimately be what holds him back.

Martin Perez was another guy who split time between the Rangers and the minors. Perez has plus stuff across the board with his fastball, curve and changeup. The biggest issue with Perez, just like Grimm, is his command. He walked 15 big leaguers in just 38 IP which comes out to just a little over four per nine innings. Any baseball fan will tell you, walks equal runs and that’s not a good thing. The bright side? He’s only 21.

So who will take the 5th spot in the rotation? Robbie Ross clearly has the most big league experience and Martin Perez has the most starting experience. Without boring you to death with stats and who pitches better within the division, I believe that Martin Perez will win the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

WHAT? MARTIN PEREZ??

Yup. I’m just as surprised as you are. When I originally started writing this article I was going to go with Robbie Ross as winning the spot but the more I thought about it, the more I believe that Perez will win it. The Rangers only have one left handed reliever out of the bullpen right now in Michael Kirkman and I wouldn’t consider him a lefty specialist. You are going to need more than one lefty to battle the likes of Josh Hamilton, Josh Reddick and Raul Ibanez and that’s just in your division! Ross fits that reliever role much better than Perez does. He’s used to it, he’s accustomed to it and he thrived in it last season. Perez, despite being owned by the Oakland Athletics, has so much more room to grow and excel. It’s almost as if I’m saying Perez will win the spot by default over Ross and maybe I am but I believe that Martin Perez will come out on top.

Robbie Ross was nothing short of brilliant in his rookie season and much like Neftali Feliz, I think the Rangers see his assets being utilized the best out of the bullpen. Perez doesn’t fit the bullpen mantra like Ross does. As long as the 5th spot avoids the Oakland A’s all season, Perez will do fine! Remember, whoever wins this final spot in the rotation will likely be replaced mid-season when Colby Lewis returns from his elbow injury. The battle will certainly be an intriguing one to watch. If Ross pitches in spring training like he did last year, he will push Perez either to the bullpen or back to AAA. It would not surprise me to see Ross win in but I’m sticking with Perez as my winner.

My sleeper pick to surprise everyone is Cody Buckel. Even deeper sleeper, Neil Ramirez. Write it down.
I’ve been wrong before.

And I will probably be wrong again.

Follow me on twitter @bcasey55

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Feb 072013
 

Podcast Episode 22   Top 2 questions for Rangers offense and Field Trip time!Scott and Jasen dig into a couple of questions the Rangers face heading into Spring Training – first base and center field.

  • Will Gentry and Martin platoon or can someone emerge as the full-time center fielder?
  • Is Mitch the answer at first base?  Can he stay healthy and gain the trust of Wash to become a full-time player?

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below!

The 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip is right around the corner as well.  We discuss details of this year’s Field Trip as well as come highlights from last year.

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Jan 142013
 

The all-time obscure Texas Rangers starting lineup.

By: Dustin Dietz

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

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

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

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

Catcher – Einar Diaz

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

First Base – Ben Broussard

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

Second Base – Wayne Tolleson

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

Shortstop – Jeff Kunkel

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

Third Base – Mike Pagliarulo

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

Left Field – Monty Fariss

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

Center Field – Donald Harris

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

Right Field – Chris James

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

Designated Hitter – Brad Fullmer

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

Position player honorable mentions – Benji Gil and Brian Jordan

Starting pitcher – Rob Bell

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

Starting pitcher honorable mention – Pedro Astacio

Relief pitcher – Reggie Cleveland

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

Relief pitcher honorable mention – Mike Henneman

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

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Jan 052013
 

Lance Berkman: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Earlier today the Texas Rangers inked free agent first basemen/designated hitter and Texas native Lance Berkman to a one year $11 million deal with a vesting option if he reaches 550 plate appearances. Berkman will assume the role as full-time DH and may occasionally play first base during interleague games or when the occasional lefty starts. (We’ll discuss this later) Is this a good fit for Texas or not? Let me know what you think at the end of the article.

Every Rangers fan seems to be conflicted by this move and argue why it’s a great move or why it’s a terrible move. There are so many different scenarios that could happen now that this signing has taken place. Many bloggers/insiders/sources think that this move is setting up an even bigger move. I would have to agree with that. But who is leaving? Someone has to either be demoted or traded because the Rangers 40 man roster is full. It will likely be someone being taken off the 40 man and then someone will probably be traded. Let’s take a minute or ten to review all the scenarios that could happen with Berkman landing in Texas.

Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a Justin Upton Trade

Let’s face it; Mike Olt is the odd man out here. He’s been the odd man out since Adrian Beltre was signed. He’s a corner infielder/outfielder with good power the MVP type potential but there’s just nowhere to play him. He’s not playing third base and the only way he plays first base is if Moreland is gone and I don’t see that happening. If prospect Joey Gallo lives up to expectations and matures on time, he will presumably take over for Beltre once Beltre’s contract expires in 2015. There is no reason to waste Olt while he is in his prime, so it makes sense to move him and that’s why I believe he will be the centerpiece in an attempt to get outfielder Justin Upton from Arizona.

Jurickson Profar starts the year at AAA or wastes a year of control

The number one prospect in all of baseball SS/2B Jurickson Profar has been heavily rumored to be starting the year with the Rangers at some capacity. The most heated rumor was that he would move over from his customary SS spot to play second base and current second basemen Ian Kinsler would slide over and man first base. Doing that though would leave Mitch Moreland out to dry and I honestly don’t think Ron Washington or Jon Daniels is ready to give up on Moreland just yet. Moreland could be packaged with Olt if they were to move him which would clear the way for Profar, however, I just don’t see that happening.

If Moreland were to stay in Texas like I assume he will, Profar will suffer at some capacity. If the Rangers kept him at the big league level, they would essentially be wasting a year of control on him because he would play sparingly off the bench and an occasional start against lefties when Moreland would sit and Kinsler would slide to first base. But why even do that? That to me makes no sense to have Profar play part time and Kinsler to play part time first base. I say either move Kinsler and Profar, or don’t do it at all. Now if Moreland gets traded, this scenario could very well be moot because Profar could start every day at second base. I say could because there is still no guarantee that he even starts the year at the big league level and could still play at AAA all year. After all, he is only 19.

The Elvis Andrus conundrum

What to do with Elvis Andrus is the big question. As the Rangers sit RIGHT NOW, I don’t like the Berkman signing. Why? Because that is $10 million that could have been allocated towards a long term extension for Andrus. If Moreland is traded, Kinsler moves to first base and Profar moves to second base then you HAVE to re-sign Elvis for the long term. It does not make sense or help Kinsler or Profar to move positions for a year or two only to have them move back to their original positions once Elvis leaves as a free agent or gets traded because he can’t be re-signed. If there is any inclination that you cannot re-sign Andrus, then move him now. It pains me to say that but makes the most sense. He would bring a huge return. Package him with a couple of prospects to Tampa Bay for David Price.

If you sign Andrus to a long term extension than it almost guarantees that Profar will spend most of the year at AAA Round Rock. I’m ok with that and I’m not. He’s 19; it makes sense to leave him down there a year. I want the kid here though! Andrus and Profar could easily be the most formidable double play duo in the majors for many years to come.

Mitch Moreland
We’ve discussed most of the scenarios involving Moreland already so I will keep this one short. I believe that the Rangers will keep Moreland for one reason. He is there only true bon a fide first basemen. Are you ready to go through the entire season without a true first basemen? What if Kinsler gets hurt and misses significant time? Berkman is not an everyday first basemen even for a short amount of time anymore. Is Ian Kinsler a good enough athlete to learn first base and play there an entire season and be equal to the same production offensively and defensively as Moreland? If the Rangers think that Kinsler can be that guy, then by all means, package Moreland and Olt to Arizona for Justin Upton, at least use that as a start. I think that Moreland stays in Texas though because of a lack of depth at the position.

So you see, it’s entirely too early to really tell whether or not this was a good deal by Texas. We really won’t know how this turns out until spring training. My prediction is that Moreland will be used off the bench, Kinsler starts at first base and Profar at second base. Mike Olt is the centerpiece for a deal that brings back Justin Upton which would slide Nelson Cruz over to left field and regulate David Murphy back to the bench as the fourth outfielder or traded. Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will platoon centerfield for the time being. Who knows, Cruz could be traded as well leaving Murphy as a full time left fielder, we all know he’s earned it.

What do YOU think? I’d love to hear your scenarios and/or predictions.

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