Jul 192012
 
MLB: AUG 15 Diamondbacks at Nationals

OK, so this may be the longest of long shots, but it’s also one of the most intriguing in terms of potential trade targets for the Rangers.  While Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and David Murphy are all doing a pretty good job of holding down the third spot in the Rangers outfield with Josh and Nellie, B.J.’s little brother is attractive in more ways than one…

Justin Irvin Upton

Potential Trade Target Profile: Justin Upton

The Player

If Justin Upton is truly on the trading block, he is by far the most talented offensive player available.  The Diamondbacks, after making the playoffs in 2011, are a sub-.500 team this year (44-47) and sitting 7 games back in the NL West of the division leading Giants (and 7 games back in the Wild Card race).  Not too far back to make a second half run, which Upton would have to play a key role in, if it were to happen.

Upton is a 24 year-old 2-time NL All-Star who finished 4th in the NL MVP voting in 2011.  He was the first pick in the 2004 MLB Draft and made his debut in Arizona at the age of 19 in 2007.

Upton has played right field exclusively since coming up to the big leagues, but some speculate that he could play CF or LF effectively.

Upton isn’t having his best season, after strong campaigns over the last four years.  This simply makes it seem even more far-fetched that the D’Backs would consider moving the young star, as it’s definitely not an opportunity to “sell high”.

Upton is also under contract through 2015, which from the Rangers perspective, could serve as an insurance policy against losing Josh Hamilton in free agency after the season.  If Hamilton is resigned by the Rangers, it would facilitate his permanent move to LF if Upton could play CF.  Upton’s contract pays him $6.75M this season and $9.75M, $14.25M, $14.5M over the next three seasons.

So, a young talented player with a limitless ceiling with proven success at the major league level…locked up through 2015…not currently playing up to his full potential…for a team that isn’t completely out of the playoff race in the National League.

Why would Arizona deal him?  While he may not be performing up to his potential so far this season, he’s young and talented enough that it’s not a huge knock on his value.  Sure, the D’Backs wouldn’t be selling him at his true “high”, but there is no question of his long-term value.  Arizona is a team built to contend, and Upton’s age and potential play right into that.

All that said, the D’Backs know the market is better suited for sellers right now.  With the revisions to the Playoffs this year (additional Wild Card team), there are more buyers at the trade deadline than ever before.  Sure Upton is young and talented, but if Arizona could exchange him for a slew of young and talented players that fit the current and future needs of his teams…he’d do it.

“I don’t know whether we’ll trade Justin or not,” Arizona General Manager Kevin Towers said. “We’ll have to see if the right deal presents itself. We’re in the information-gathering business. The information we get now may be useful this winter. We’ll find out what teams have interest in him.”

So, it all comes down to the right deal…

The Measurables

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 19 ARI 43 140 17 31 8 3 2 11 2 11 37 .221 .283 .364 .647
2008 20 ARI 108 356 52 89 19 6 15 42 1 54 121 .250 .353 .463 .816
2009 21 ARI 138 526 84 158 30 7 26 86 20 55 137 .300 .366 .532 .899
2010 22 ARI 133 495 73 135 27 3 17 69 18 64 152 .273 .356 .442 .799
2011 23 ARI 159 592 105 171 39 5 31 88 21 59 126 .289 .369 .529 .898
2012 24 ARI 85 311 55 85 13 2 7 38 11 36 78 .273 .354 .395 .749
6 Yrs 666 2420 386 669 136 26 98 334 73 279 651 .276 .357 .476 .832
162 Game Avg. 162 589 94 163 33 6 24 81 18 68 158 .276 .357 .476 .832
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/19/2012.

If 2008 through 2011 is a true indication of the potential of Justin Upton, there is no doubt that the sky is the limit for this kid.  Keep in mind that he is only 24 this season (turns 25 in late August), so his best years should still be ahead of him.

  • Looking at similar players, Adams Jones, Jay Bruce and our very own Nelson Cruz make the list.  Historically, the most similar player in terms of production through the age of 24 is Ruben Sierra…doesn’t it feel like it was meant to be?
  • Upton’s current WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is a weak 1.1…again, you can’t put too much value on his performance so far this season given his age and what we have seen over the previous 3-4 years.  His WAR in 2011 was 5.7, good for 6th in the National League.
  • Upton’s name is scattered all over the leader boards for offensive performance in 2011 – WAR, Slugging %, Runs, Total Bases, Doubles, Home Runs, Runs Created, etc.

Could Justin be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Justin UptonOK, I’m officially excited about the thought of this guy in a Rangers uniform through 2015.  That said, I view this as the longest of long shots.

Does a trade for Upton fill a need?  Yes, while the offense is already strong (outside of recent performance), Upton provides another dynamic threat to the line-up and provides an everyday OF for the Rangers (Hamilton-Upton-Cruz).

Does dealing for Upton fill the team’s top need?  That’s debatable, but my thought is if you have an opportunity to get a player of this caliber for a price that you deem fair, you pull the trigger.

As far as what Arizona would require in return for Upton…the price tag is going to be higher than that of say Cole Hamels or another other player who is eligible for free agency after the season.  Again, Upton is locked up through 2015.  I think it will require a group of top level prospects (2-4 of them) along with a current major league player (if only to provide the Arizona fans with something new for this season).

So, what is the “right deal”?  You know Jon Daniels has a different idea from Kevin Towers as to what the “right deal” is.  Hence, the reason this deal more than likely won’t happen.

If you consider Jurickson Profar to be untouchable, the deal would more than likely center around Mike Olt and Martin Perez (or a pitching prospect of similar value), and could include a 1-2 more minor league players from a notch or two below these two…possibly someone like a Julio Borbon.

So, would you (yes, you) make that move?  Olt and Perez represent a big part of what is considered the future (near future is more like it) of this team.  The difference with a deal like this, as opposed to Cole Hamels or a soon-to-be free agent, is Justin Upton would also be considered the future of this team…as well as be more impactful this season.

If JD could find a way to make this deal happen while not dealing away Profar and Olt, I’d be on board.  I like Perez, but we have good pitching depth at the Major League level as well as down on the farm.  I’m sure the Rangers will do their due diligence and see what’s here, but a deal for Upton just seems unlikely…but it’s fun to ponder.

Regardless of what happens, this type of deal, whether the Rangers are the D’Backs’ trading partner or not, would likely occur at the 11th hour.  Should be fun to watch!

For your entertainment:

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Jun 142012
 
Harri6.13.12

Matt Cain was Perfect; Matt Harrison was pretty good too as Rangers win 1 0

Matt Harrison—once again—was terrific.

Last night, the Texas Rangers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 for their third-straight win and their fourth in the last five games.

The Rangers did it—once again—with great starting pitching. We won’t focus on the sputtering offense as that takes away from the eye-popping performances of Matt Harrison and Wade Miley…plus, last night—across the big leagues—it was all about pitching.

June 13th 2012 is going to go down as one great day for pitchers. Former Ranger R.A. Dickey threw a remarkable complete game, one-hitter for his 10th win—and he did it with an 80-plus MPH knuckleball. Amazing.

Matt Cain threw a no-hitter against the Houston Astros. Yeah I know technically it was the 22nd perfect game in Major League Baseball history… I’m down grading it to a no-hitter though. After all it was thrown against the Houston Astros.

I’m kidding.

The Houston Astros’ offense isn’t really that bad. They’re hitting .250 as a team, and that’s good for 18th in baseball. No it’s not great but there are 12 teams more offensively inept—like the Seattle Mariners—and we all know what even the Mariners are capable of when the stars are aligned.

So, in a nutshell…

Kudos to Matt Cain!
Emphatic smooching should be heaped upon his hindquarters.

Yes, even more than has already graced him where the good Lord split him—he deserves it.

But let’s not forget about Matt Harrison.

Awash in a wave terrible “Abel/Able” puns will be lefty Matt Harrison’s 7 1/3 from the very same night as that dude from San Fran’s successful stab at perfection.

On a side note, aren’t you glad we missed Matt Cain’s turn in the rotation last week?

Harrison’s line was far from perfect. He walked more than knuckleballer Dickey (2) and surrendered more hits (6) as well. Heck, he wasn’t even as awesome as the “other guy”—Arizona’s Wade Miley (7 2/3, 3 hits, 8 Ks, 1 ER).

But, against a team that had clobbered him the only other time he’d ever faced them, and on a night where Arizona’s Miley was near unhittable—Harrison kept his team in a position to win.

In a perfect bit of baseball irony the Texas Rangers’ Matt Harrison proved to the world that he’s a winner—even if all he earned was a no-decision.

Up Next:

The series finale between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks is scheduled for a 7:05 (CST) first pitch. RH Scott Feldman (0-5, 6.39 ERA) and RH Daniel Hudson (2-1, 6.06 ERA) get the starts on the hill, in the battle of the six-plus ERA.

Make sure to check back here tomorrow for the BaseballDo Game 3 Preview!

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Jun 132012
 
HarriWade

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 PreviewEverybody loves home cooking, and in last night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Colby Lewis served up every fans favorite dish: a 9-1 win.

Tonight it will be up to Matt Harrison to keep the good times rolling as the Rangers seek to push their modest win streak to three, while securing their fourth win in five games.

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

Texas Rangers (36-26)

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 Preview

Kinsler went 3-for-5 with an RBI in last night's 9-1 Rangers win.

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
RF Brandon Snyder *
CF Craig Gentry

LH Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)

This is Harrison’s first time to face the D-Backs at home in Arlington. He pitched against them once at Arizona’s Chase Field, and it didn’t go so well—he only lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs, all earned while walking four and striking out just two…thus he’s 0-1 with an obnoxious 17.18 ERA versus Arizona.

Hey, it’s a small sample size.

Harrison is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA at home this year as opposed to 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA on the road. His road ERA is helped out considerably by his masterful performance against the San Francisco Giants last week—Harri pitched a complete game shutout while scattering just five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

As is the case with most southpaws, Harrison prefers facing left-handed batters. Lefties on the year are batting a paltry .151 off of him whereas righties are hitting .309.

Harrison has won his last four straight games and a win tonight would give him the team lead with 9.

* This is Brandon Snyder’s first start of 2012 in right field for the Rangers. Nelson Cruz is still under the weather and Washington prefers to sit 1B Mitch Moreland against left-handed starters.

Arizona Diamondbacks (30-31)

Matt Harrison vs. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks and Rangers, a Game 2 Preview

Aaron Hill was the only D-Back with multiple hits last night.

SS Willie Bloomquist (.400 BA against Harrison)
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton (.500 1 HR 2 RBI)
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State)
DH Jason Kubel (.250, 1 RBI)
CF Chris Young
C Miguel Montero
3B Ryan Roberts (L.D. Bell HS)
LF Gerrardo Parra

LH Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)

This is Miley’s first time pitching at RBIA and the only current Rangers player he’s ever faced is utility man Alberto Gonzalez, who is 1-for-1 with an RBI against him.

Miley was a first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2008 (43rd overall pick) and has been quite a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this season. He’s pitched like an ace at times, and has filled in nicely for Daniel Hudson who has had been injured most of the year.

Whether on the road or at home, Miley’s splits are quite consistent. He’s 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA at Chase Field and 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA when pitching para llevar.

Much like Harrison’s excellent previous start, Miley had a fine outing against the Rockies last week. He surrendered one run and little else, as he went the distance scattering just three hits while waling none and striking out five.

When Miley is on, he’s exactly the type of pitcher that can give the Rangers fits. He has great command of his off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance, and Texas has traditionally had trouble with southpaws in general.

Keys to a Rangers win:

In last night’s win, it took the Rangers a few times through the order to figure out Ian Kennedy. Once they started to lay off of his changeup, they forced him to throw more fastballs in the zone, which they subsequently pounded.

Look for a similar approach tonight from the Rangers against Miley. Miley isn’t exactly a soft-tosser, but if he gets too many heaters in the zone the Rangers should be able to jump all over him—granted they don’t let him get ahead in the count.

Likewise for Matt Harrison, it will be important for him to minimize the damage that Ryan Roberts (.279/.338/.471, 3 HRs) and Paul Goldschmidt (.379/.440/.712, 4 HRs) can impart on left-handers that get behind in the count.

Prediction time:

I think the Rangers bats are close to getting back into a consistent groove. I also feel that Miley might not like the unforgiving alleys—not to mention the infamous jet stream—that RBIA a true hitter’s paradise …Rangers win 6-3.

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Jun 132012
 
Sure, my photoshop skills need some work. But dude is a wizard.

Colby Lewis Continues his Wizardry as Rangers Silence D backs Rattle, 9 1

Sure, my photoshop skills need some work. But dude is a wizard.

Through the first five innings of last night’s 9-1 Rangers win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, both starters were putting on a pitching clinic.

The Rangers’ Colby Lewis was perfect through his first 5 1/3 innings pitched and the Diamondbacks’ Ian Kennedy was nearly as good, as he had allowed only one run—in the first inning—during his first 5 2/3.

For both Lewis and Kennedy, the sixth inning was critical.

With one out, Arizona’s second basemen, Aaron Hill, lined a single to left field to break up Lewis’ attempt at perfection. Lewis quickly induced a groundball double play to get out of the inning.

The sixth inning would be Kennedy’s last. With two outs, Kennedy surrendered five-straight hits and a one-run deficit became an insurmountable six-run disadvantage.

Well, as good ‘ole Ron Washington would say: “that’s the way baseball go”—and isn’t it wonderful when it “go” that way for the Texas Rangers?

Numbers of Note:

19-3

• Cumulative score in the Rangers’ last three wins.

16

• Number of hits the Rangers had last night. It’s the most knocks they’ve managed since putting up 14 in a 7-3 win over the Angels on June 3rd.

.363

• Batting average with RISP last night.

0

• Number of errors by Texas—always a welcome sight.

9

• The most runs the Rangers have scored since they plated 8 against Seattle in that game we still don’t talk about… 21-8 loss…whatever, Holland was sick with a nasty virus or that s*** would’ve never happened.

6

• Number of two-out RBI by the Rangers. Craig Gentry, Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland each had 2.

10

• The Rangers are 10 games over .500 for the first time in 10 days.

And the most important number of all…:

3.5

• The Rangers’ lead in the AL West, thanks to the 9-1 win over the D-backs combined with the late game heroics by the Dodgers to beat the Angels, 5-2.

Muchos gracias, Juan Rivera!

Up Next:

It’s game two of the best-of-three series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, as Rangers’ LHP Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA) opposes fellow southpaw, Arizona’s LHP Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53 ERA).

Make sure to check back this afternoon for BaseballDo’s pregame preview.

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Jun 122012
 
Colby Lewis Texas Rangers

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks PreviewTonight the Texas Rangers welcome the National League West’s third place team, the Arizona Diamondbacks (30-30) for a three-game interleague showdown.

So far so good for the Rangers against the NL West, as they are fresh off a series sealing win over the second place San Francisco Giants.

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

Texas Rangers (35-26)

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre (.333 BA against IPK)
DH Michael Young
RF David Murphy
C Yorvit Torrealba (.000 BA)
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry*

RH Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.5 K/9)

Lewis has never faced the Arizona Diamondbacks before. Current members of the D-Backs that have faced Lewis before are batting just .138 with 11 strikeouts.

“Colbyashi” is currently mired in a tough-luck two game losing streak. Over those two games, his ERA was 2.45 and he struck out a combined 8 batters. His last start, against the Oakland Athletics, was especially frustrating. He pitched 8 innings, surrendered no walks, struck out three, and took the loss as the Rangers fell to Bartolo Colon, 2-0.

This season, right-handed batters are hitting just .233 off of him, whereas lefties are hitting him at a .261 clip. Even though Lewis can be home run prone, he has given up just 4 of his 14 homers at home this season—he’s 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA and 9.1 K/9 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

* Nelson Cruz was scratched from tonight’s starting lineup due to illness. This moved Craig Gentry into the starting lineup and shifted Hamilton to left field and Murphy to right field.

Arizona Diamondbacks (30-30)

LF Gerardo Parra
SS Willie Bloomquist (.333 BA against Lewis)
RF Justin Upton
DH Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State University)
C Miguel Montero
CF Chris Young
2B Aaron Hill (0-for-9, 5 Ks)
3B Josh Bell

RH Ian Kennedy (5-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.4 K/9)

This will be Kennedy’s first time to pitch in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has never faced the Texas Rangers, but current members of the team are batting .286 against him.

Kennedy is coming off of a breakthrough 2011 campaign where he went 21-4 and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Over his career, left-handed batter have hit just .235 off of him but so far this year they are hitting .279. Right-handed batters are hitting .258 off of Kennedy in 2012.

Kennedy has a better won/loss record at home (3-2) than on the road (2-3). However, his road ERA (3.13) is far superior to his home ERA (4.70)—this of course could change if the Rangers are able to elevate some of his offerings into the Ballpark’s world famous “jet stream.”

Kennedy is coming off of his best start of the season, as he beat Colorado on June 5th with a masterful 12-strikeout performance over six innings of five-hit ball.

Keys to a Rangers win:

Keep Paul Goldschmidt in the park. After hitting just four home runs during the first two months of the season, “Goldy” has hit four in his last eight games. Goldschmidt is the team’s leader in home runs, with 8.

The Diamondbacks are 18th in the league with 53 home runs so they might not have what it takes to take advantage of homer-friendly RBIA as well as Colby Lewis.

If Lewis can continue to pitch as effectively as he has in his last two starts while keeping the ball in the yard—and the offense can solve Ian Kennedy—the Rangers should be able to win tonight.

On the downside, Ian Kennedy is a far better pitcher than Ryan Vogelsong of San Francisco, who shut down the Rangers’ offense last Saturday. If Kennedy is on his game, it might not matter how well Lewis pitches.

Prediction time:

I look for the Rangers’ bats to heat up thanks to a much-needed return home. There’s nothing like playing in front of a sold-out home crowd…Rangers knock Kennedy around and win 6-2.

Battle of the “pitch face”

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks Preview

Kennedy's pitch face is what I like to call the "Dizzy Gillespie."

Colby Lewis and Rangers vs. Ian Kennedy and Diamondbacks Preview

Two words on Lewis' pitch face: Rugged Determination, okay maybe three words: Need to Dump.

Who has the best “pitch face?” Is it Colby Lewis or Ian Kennedy? Feel free to post your answer and why in the forum, or just drop it down in the comments section.

Go Rangers!

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