Mar 192012
 

Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersThe Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.

  • Harrison on the outing, ”So far, so good.  Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that.”
  • Manager Ron Washington on the effectiveness of Harrison’s changeup, ”I’ve always thought that was his second-best pitch.  He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he’s continued to work on it and it’s gotten better.”
  • Two of Harrison’s strikeouts came on changeups, which is an encouraging sign from the young starter.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor discusses how the Rangers rotation is starting to take shape.
  • Ron Washington said a few weeks ago that he was going to split Harrison and Holland up in the rotation, which makes perfect sense.  To me, I’ve though the debate was whether they would fall in the second and fourth spots of the rotation or the third and fifth, with Darvish and Feliz taking the other two spots.  After the strong performances from Holland this Spring, I think it’s clear the order looks like this:
  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz
  • Washington on Holland and Harrison expectations, “I don’t want them having 18 or 20 wins on their mind.  If they set out to do what they did last year, they’ll surpass it without even trying. If they repeat the number of wins they had last year, that’s good enough for me – anything else is failure. I don’t want them going backward.”

Quick hits:

  • C.J. Wilson is an idiot.
  • The Rangers have partnered with the Japanese social media company gloops.  The partnership will include a gloops exclusive Japanese backdrop during press conferences, a fixed sign behind home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and signs around Surprise Stadium for the rest of spring training.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDavid Murphy and Brad Hawpe each went yard in the other split-squad game yesterday, before the game was called short in the 4th inning due to rain.
  • Torrealba was removed from the line-up due to stiffness in his back.  He did get some batting practice in, so it looks like his removal was precautionary.
  • Craig Gentry returned yesterday from his wrist injury that he sustained last week.  He went 0 for 2.
  • Prospect Robbie Ross, who is fighting for the bullpen role, started the game against the Brewers yesterday and didn’t fare well, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits across 2 1/3 innings.
  • Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Ross’ outing,  ”He was aggressive, went right after these guys.  He just didn’t have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders.  He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn’t back off from them. He came right at them. I didn’t see any intimidation, and I didn’t see any fear. He just didn’t quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there.”
  • Good article from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) on Johan Yan, who the Rangers are hoping to convert from a poor hitting fielder to a strong armed relief pitcher, just as they did Alexi Ogando.  Another current Ranger who made a similar conversion was Joe Nathan, who was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Giants.

Darvish Day III:

  • Yu Darvish will be on the mound and Mike Napoli will be catching today when the Rangers play the Brewers.  The game will be live on MLB.TV, at 3:05 p.m.  Darvish is making his third start and will be looking to throw 60 pitches across four innings.  Napoli, who has been dealing with a strained groin muscle, will be back behind the plate for the first time since March 8.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDarvish reportedly generated more than $250 million of advertising revenue in January alone.
  • Pitching coach Mike Maddux on Darvish (from Ben & Skin, 103.3FM ESPN), “So far we’ve got five innings to go on. In those five innings, we had some ups, and we had some downs. We had more ups especially the ball being up and down. It’s just something we need to continue to grind at. We’re going to work today and really get that ball going down. He showed us some good breaking stuff, and that’s kind of bailed him out since his fastball command has been erratic. He’s a confident young man. He only knows success. You look at his track record in the Japanese league, and he was dominating. His expectations are to go out there and dominate, but it’s a little different game over here. There is a more concentration of talent so he has to grind it out, and I think he’s learning that.”
  • Maddux on overcoming the language barrier with Yu, “It’s somewhere between broken English, broken Spanish and broken Japanese. Some how, we got it all on the same page. The good news with baseball is that it’s an international language. Whether you’re in Tokyo or Arlington, Texas, it’s fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, change. It’s a strike and a ball. Some of the phrases are universal. There are some phrases that everybody knows whether they be in English or in Japanese or in Spanish. You kind of use those bullet phrases, and we all get on the same page. We’re able to get the communication bridged. When we come to the dugout, we really start getting the communication bridged when we employ the translators.”
  • Darvish’s younger brother, Sho Darvish, was sentenced to a one-year prison term for assaulting a female friend. According to the Japan Times, Sho repeatedly slapped the woman in the face and tried to choke her. The attack reportedly resulted from Sho’s anger over her association with some of her friends.

St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner

  • Thanks to all those that participated!  The winner of the tickets is rauch5s.  We’ll get in touch with the winner and get the tickets out in the mail this week.  Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the season!
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Feb 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast   Spring Training Special

We’re back…

Spring Training is upon and we answer some key questions facing the Rangers as they get to work in Surprise.

  • Center field – Gentry, Borbon, Martin, or….
  • Mitch Moreland
  • Pitching Rotation
  • Yu Darvish Distractions
  • Josh Hamilton Hangover (may be a better way to describe this…)

Be sure to listen carefully for an easy way to win a free “Nolan is my Homeboy” T-Shirt and for a way to participate and contribute to Baseball Do!

Smile folks…it’s time for Baseball!

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Feb 182012
 

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

Score at the end of Round 3:

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

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

Starting Pitching

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

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

The Ace

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

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

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

The #2

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

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

The #3

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

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

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

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

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

The #4

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

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

The #5

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

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

Relief (not including Closer)

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings

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

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

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

‘case that’s the way baseball go…

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

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Dec 212011
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 43rd Base is up for discussion in our weekly off-season position roundup…yo Adrian (greatest pic from last year)!

Jasen and I spend some time talking about the Yu Darvish bid and the potential impact Darvish has on the Ranger’s rotation and bullpen.

And finally, Jasen and I rehash our traumatizing experiences with having to put beloved pets to sleep…forever.

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