Sep 062012
 
Jered Weaver  3

The last time I produced an article for BaseballDo, I received unexpected acclaim and notoriety from a couple of local sports radio talk shows which I have admired for many years. To hear my name had been associated with decent writing was pretty surreal based on my past failures in freshman and sophomore English at Bryan Adams High School.

I received instant popularity and credibility throughout social media as I gained at least 10 new followers the first day. You might think I am being sarcastic, but 10 new followers in a day for me is something which does not occur very often, even on Follow Fridays.

In all honesty, I really do not feel I did spectacular work on my article in regards to Michael Young’s struggles so far in 2012. I felt as if I was just providing the reader with information any person could have found on the internet late at night when one is unable to sleep. I am still very grateful for all the kind words though.

Well, my last article might have gained me some baseball writing credibility, but with this piece, I might be losing every bit of the cred I might have earned.

Presenting Team D BagOne popular phrase or moniker for a certain type of individual in today’s society is douchebag. We all are cognizant of what a douchebag, or doucher for short, really is. Douchebags tend to walk around with this arrogant, pompous sense of entitlement like they are better than you.

The clothes douchebags wear are more than annoying. There are the button-up shirts with crosses stitched on the back, Ed Hardy tees, and blue jeans with dragons printed on them. Douchers even style their hair a certain way.

The most vexatious (thank you Google)trait douchers have is the tendency to brag incessantly about their accomplishments, possessions, or jobs where they make an infinite amount of money more than you do . Douchers will even begin to speak about themselves before one even touches the subject. Yes, humility is not in the cards for the doucher.

Being a douchebag can be advantageous as I have noticed women tend to flock towards the doucher, and also the D-bag tends to have a chiseled physique resembling a Greek God, while we are left to look like Al Bundy in the later years of Married with Children.

The term douchebag has also found its way over into the sports world, in particular, the great game of baseball. For some odd reason, some select baseball players have earned a reputation of being a douchebag, despite the fact many of the fans referring to the player as a doucher do not even know the player personally.

Presenting Team D BagI cannot tell you how often I hear a player is awful because he is a douchebag. Recently, I was engaged in an argument over New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher and whether or not the Texas Rangers should pursue him this offseason when Swisher becomes a free-agent. I asked another writer on Twitter what he thought about pursuing Swish. He responded, and I am paraphrasing, he would be surprised if the team did not try to sign the soon to be free agent.

Immediately, I received all kinds of tweets from fans about what a douche Swisher is, and how he would have this pernicious effect on the clubhouse. My response to these tweets I received was Swisher has produced above average numbers since becoming a Yankee as he has yielded an OPS over .800 4 straight seasons, and is on pace to have a career high in extra base hits in 2012. Well, none of that mattered because many still believed Swisher sucks because he smiles a certain way, or walks to the plate with an overly arrogant stroll with his sunglasses a certain color.

The most controversial perceived douchebag in DFW is former Rangers pitcher CJ Wilson, who now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. As the Rangers ‘ace’ heading into the 2011 postseason, Wilson struggled the entire playoffs and the Rangers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games, a game in which Wilson hit the first batter he faced with the bases loaded in the 5th inning.

When CJ signed with the Angels, many were upset with him (myself included) despite the fact he pitched wonderfully as a starter in two seasons while in Texas. Wilson compiled a 31-15 record with an ERA slightly above 3.00 and a WHIP close to 1.20. Ceej gave the Rangers over 420 innings pitched in two seasons, and earned the contract he was given by LA.

Presenting Team D BagFans are still upset with Wilson for leaving the Rangers to go play with their main rival as they have booed Ceej relentlessly all three times he has pitched in Arlington this season. Fans are angry about last postseason, but most are still annoyed by Wilson’s douchebag like behavior he exhibited while in town. His knife fighting, piloting, and DJing skills are just too much for people in DFW to handle. My belief is the CJ hatred is simply in regards to his incessant boasting, and bragging montages.

While the fans should be showing Wilson appreciation for his years of service in Texas, they boo him because they think he is a douchebag, and they do not even know him personally. Much of what Ceej says can make one roll his or her eyes, but off the field stuff should not matter as long as he produces on the field.

All of this unwarranted douchebag hatred and bashing got me to thinking, “What if all of the perceived MLB douchebags were on one team? How would the team fair against other competition?”

So, I began my research by finding out who in MLB is considered a douchebag by simply asking fans on Twitter. I received a few obvious answers, but had to search the world wide web for a few others. I was even tweeted a picture of the All-Douchebag team someone had taken their time to construct.

After about an hour of research, I had compiled my team of MLB douchebags. I even gave them the moniker ‘Arizona D-Bags,’ using a funny play on words. Without further ado, here is my team of D-Bags based solely on reputation according to baseball fans.

C  – AJ Pierzynski

1B – MarkTeixeira

2B – Ian Kinsler

3B – Alex Rodriguez

SS – Jhonny Peralta

LF – Ryan Braun

CF – Bryce Harper

RF – Nick Swisher

DH – Mike Napoli/Josh Reddick

BN – Johnny Gomes, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Theriot

SP  – CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver, Stephen Strasburg, James Shields, Bronson Arroyo

RP – Brandon League, Chris Perez, Jonathan Papelbon, Brett Myers, Jose Valverde, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Robbie Ross

Yes, I realize I have a 26 man roster, but this is a team full of perceived douchers, someone will get injured. Also, I added Robbie Ross and Ryan Theriot to the team because the team needed a left-handed reliever and utility infielder. While Ross and Theriot do not seem like douchebags, one never knows.

My experiment included using the player’s current statistics from 2012, and finding out how the overall combined statistics stack up against other current major league teams.

What I first wanted to do was appease the traditionalist and see how the basic offensive numbers compared to other MLB teams. The 13 D-bag hitters have combined to hit 224 home runs so far as of September 2nd, that would rank 1st in MLB. The Yankees would be 2nd with 202.

Then, every traditionalists’ favorite statistic, batting average. The D-Bags are hitting a mediocre .267 so far in 2012. However, the .267 batting average would rank 7th in MLB.

Next, I thought I would compare the advanced offensive numbers because those are the numbers sabermetricians will tell you matter. The D-Bags OBP is .340, tied for 1st in MLB. They’re slugging .457 as a team, and have a collective .797 OPS, both 1st in MLB. When one adds up the runs all of the D-Bags have scored, one will find out the D-Bags have scored 758 runs between 13 offensive players, also 1st in MLB.

As one can tell, douchebags can apparently hit the baseball as they are 1st in MLB in 5 of the 6 major offensive categories. But, can the douchebags pitch and play defense?

Again, I will begin with the baseball traditionalist favorite pitching statistic, the W-L record. The D-Bags starting rotation is a combined 64-33 so far, the 33 losses would be the lowest in MLB.

Now, let’s go to the traditionalists’ next favorite pitching statistic, ERA. The entire D-Bags’ rotation, bullpen included, possesses a 3.24 ERA, which would be the lowest in MLB.

The D-Bags have combined to strike out 1,141 hitters so far, which would be 2nd in MLB only to the Brewers. The D-Bags have a slight problem walking hitters as the 376 free passes given would rank 11th in MLB.

Now, let’s move on to the more exciting advanced pitching statistics. The .231 average batters hit against the D-bags would be the lowest in MLB, and the 1.19 WHIP the D-Bags pitchers possess would be tied for the best in baseball.

The .284 BABIP against the D-Bags as a team is about average, and the 3.39 team FIP is outstanding. Sorry, but, I could not find team rankings for these stats.

Can the D-Bags play defense? Well, the 75 errors the team has committed in the field (not including pitchers) would rank 7th in baseball. So, apparently douchebags can play defense and pitch too.

Finally, I wanted to use the Pythagorean expectation formula created by sabermetrician Bill James to estimate how many games this D-Bags team should win based on their current performance. One will notice the Pythagorean W-L record on baseballreference.com next to the amount of runs a team has allowed and scored. If one so chooses, one can look at any team’s Pythagorean W-L record in baseball history. The formula has been slightly modified since the formula’s genesis, but here is the formula used today on baseballreference.com. Remember, the answer to the formula will be the team’s should be winning percentage.

The D-Bags have scored 758 runs so far this season, and the pitchers have allowed 539. Yes, that is a +219 run differential, which would be far and away 1st in MLB this season. After I entered in the numbers and worked the formula, I arrived at a .651 overall winning percentage for the D-Bags. When I multiplied the .651 winning percentage times the numbers of games the team should have already played (133) the answer was 86.5.

The D-Bags overall record after 133 games should be 87-46, best in MLB by a substantial margin. The D-Bags are on pace to have a final record of 106-56, 50 games over .500, and only 10 off the regular season win record set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners.

What does all of this mean? Well, for one, the perceived douchebag players fans think are horrendous because they might wear an Ed Hardy shirt to a night club can play the game of baseball very well. Also, if a fan considers a player a douchebag, the player is probably a stud the fan secretly wishes were on his or her favorite team.

I realize the numbers do not factor in team chemistry, and whether or not other teammates loathe any of these players personally, but the numbers do not lie. Most of these players are very solid, and are key contributors who will help teams win.

Yes, I have been guilty of name calling in the past, there is proof out there I have done this. However, I have realized my foolish behavior, and you can too. So, before you claim a player sucks because he is a speed reader, or script writer, remember those things have nothing to do with baseball. While the behavior may be annoying, it has nothing to do with what happens on the field. These players are enjoyable to watch. Learn to look past the off the field behavior and appreciate the talent these players display on the field.

Presenting Team D BagFollow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18

 

 

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Aug 152012
 
mlb copy

Feldman Looks to Stop Rangers Skid, Melky Cabrera Suspended for 50 Games, Former Fausto Starts for ClevelandThere have been some interesting developments around the major leagues today. Some are Rangers-centric, others not. Join me as I take you Around the League in 15 Minutes (or faster if you’re a skimmer).

“Melk Man” more manly than most

• Everyone knows that on top of being delicious, a cold glass of milk provides many essential nutrients and vitamins. Milk is always a great call unless it’s a hot day and you’re Ron Burgundy.

• Evidently, San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera—aka the “Melk Man”—had provided a sample that was rich not only in vitamin D and calcium but also testosterone. Melky will be suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games due to abnormally elevated—think Ryan Braun-like—levels of testosterone. With 45 games left in the season and the Giants battling with the Dodgers for first in the N.L. West, you’ve got to wonder if this latest news will sit well with fans of the G-Men.

• Kudos to Major League Baseball for not only being intolerant of all PEDs, but in becoming vehemently lactose intolerant as well.

Cleveland to start “Roberto Hernandez”

• Yes, that’s right, the Tribe is going “Ex Post Fausto.” Right-hander Roberto Hernandez, formerly known to the world as “Fausto Carmona,” has gotten the green light to start tonight. The former Fausto will take on Ervin Santana and the Los Angeles of Anaheim at 9:05 (CST).

• Here’s hoping that the new Roberto Hernandez pitches more like the original Roberto Hernandez rather than the recently-retired Fausto Carmona namesake who was occasionally good, but usually not.

“Not Your Typical Car Guy. Not Your Typical Car Dealership.”

• That’s the slogan for the Mazda dealership that former Rangers lefty (and current Angel) C.J. Wilson purchased recently. Located in Chicago, Wilson’s latest look into life after baseball is only news worthy to me because it is yet another solid reason for Wilson to not retire in Texas.

• And as for the slogan, I’m sure we can all agree that Wilson is definitely not your “typical” kind of guy. As for his dealership, well, I’m sure it will be successful as there is no postseason in the world of car sales.

Yu Darvish is looking to harness his old NPB approach

• Based on Darvish’s unbelievable success in the Japanese professional league, why did his approach ever change? This slightly irks me. Sure I know it’s a far more advanced game in the U.S. and there is no comparison in the talent-level of the hitters, but he’s got plus-everything stuff-wise, so why not attack just as you did in the NPB?

• Also, if Darvish is truly struggling to find his old self, how about straight-up emulating Hiroki Kuroda in the mean time? Kuroda, whose stuff isn’t anywhere near Darvish’s, shutdown the league’s most potent offense and relinquished just two hits last night as the Yankees defeated the Rangers 3-0 in New York…Kuroda’s secret? Getting ahead of hitters and using off-speed out of the zone in pitcher’s counts. If Darvish could somehow pull this off, he’d be nearly unhittable.

Up Next:

Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman (6-7, 4.64 ERA) gets the nod for Texas and will oppose right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-5, 4.85 ERA). Garcia, the all-time winningest Venezuelan-born pitcher, has been doing his thing since Fausto Carmona was probably originally going by “Roberto Hernandez.”

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM (CST)…Go Rangers!

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Aug 062012
 
Scott Feldman 2

By: Dustin Dietz

My debut article with BaseballDo got me to thinking about a player’s Major League debut and how one is judged just by seeing the player perform for the first time. If the player is successful when one first lays eyeballs on the rookie, then one will more than likely think of the player in high regard. If the player fails, then one will probably think the player has no chance of becoming a big league All-Star.

Not only are first impressions relevant in baseball, but are also a major part of society in general, and have been since the beginning of time. Completely unrelated to the great game, what does every human being think when he or she first lays eyes on another attractive human being? Well, some might tell you he or she considers what his or her parents will think of the dreamy eye candy. However, do not believe any person who ever says that. Any person with a modicum of intelligence will tell you he or she first noticed how attractive the other person was. It is only human nature.

In baseball terms, when fans see a player perform for the first time, they will become enamored with a player who does something positive in his first game. For example, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch he witnessed in the major leagues. Instantly, Pirate fans fell in love with the young stud.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second lookLast week, highly touted Ranger prospect Mike Olt made his long awaited big league debut and singled sharply into left field his first at bat against former Ranger hurler C.J. Wilson. While many Ranger fans were already aware of Olt’s potential stardom, after one at bat, fans thought Mike Olt had punched his ticket to Cooperstown.

In that same game against the Angels, newly acquired catcher Geovany Soto went 2-5 with two RBI and Ranger fans already considered him an improvement over Yorvit Torrealba despite the fact Soto is hitting under the Mendoza line.

Basically, what I am trying to say in my interminable spiel is I have a tremendous amount of pressure to provide useful and intriguing content in my first article with BaseballDo, or I might be considered a gigantic failure. After all, fans were questioning Ryan Dempster after his first start with the Rangers last week despite his solid track record.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second lookSo, when pondering what I should write with the pressure squarely on my shoulders to give BaseballDo readers a positive perception of my writing ability and baseball cognizance, I decided to center on what every Ranger fan wants to read about and that is pitcher Scott Feldman. What better way to make a debut than to talk about the greatness that is Scott Feldman.

I am not here to advocate Scooter is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since hot dogs. However, where would the Rangers be without Scott Feldman this season? Since taking the loss on June 14th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Feldman has won six consecutive decisions after losing his first six to improve his record to an even 6-6.

Since the loss to Arizona, Scooter’s ERA has dropped from a pathetic 6.50, to a more reasonable 4.52. Feldman’s ERA is now only 0.14 higher than Japanese import Yu Darvish’s 4.38. Yet, when one reads fan postings on Twitter about Scooter’s upcoming starts, one would think the apocalypse is approaching and Feldman is the worst pitcher in major league history.

The truth is Scott Feldman has been the Texas Rangers most consistent pitcher in the last six weeks. Since he appeared on July 8th in an extra inning win against Minnesota, Feldman is 3-0 with a miniscule 1.09 ERA and has allowed only 3 earned runs. No other Ranger starter is within 2 runs of Feldman’s microscopic ERA. Yu Darvish’s ERA is 7.66 in that same time period. Yet, fans still have a positive perception of Yu and negative perception of Feldman

Scott Feldman was worse than dreadful the first two months of 2012. To put it simply, his sinkers were not sinking, his cutters were not cutting, and his curve ball was not curving. Feldman was leaving far too many pitches up in the zone, and his location was horrendous.

Since Feldman’s first win in San Diego on June 19th, Feldman’s curve ball has more bite, and his sinker is beginning to resemble the pitch which helped him win 17 games in 2009. Feldman has also learned to effectively throw a split-finger changeup he first developed during a rehab assignment last season. Scooter’s last three starts are prime examples of his recent improvement (22 1/3 innings pitched, 3 earned runs allowed, and a 14/1 K/BB ratio.)

The Rangers have been hit with a myriad of injuries to the pitching staff this year, and Scott Feldman has helped pick up the slack as he has started 13 games and given the club a total 77 2/3 innings. While the innings have not always been outstanding, Feldman has taken the ball whenever manager Ron Washington has asked him too.

Scott Feldman is nothing close to a Cy Young Award Winner, and never will be, but he has been a valuable member of the Texas Rangers in 2012. I am not saying fans should become smitten with the bearded Ranger player man, but it is about time fans start giving Feldman some reverence as he has been the most efficient Ranger starter in the second half.

It feels like the first time...giving Scooter a second look

I hope I have made a positive first impression with all the loyal BaseballDo readers. While a Scott Feldman article certainly is not slugging a first pitch home run far into the bleachers in his first major league at bat, it is at least comparable to a seeing eye single.

By: Dustin Dietz

Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18

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Aug 022012
 
Elvis

Walk Off Rangers Win so Huge it Overshadows Dempster/Olt DebutsHad the Rangers lost last night, you’d better believe that this post would be all about Ryan Dempster and Mike Olt’s Texas Ranger debuts.

Only problem with that is the Rangers did not lose. Quite the opposite, as they won in thrilling fashion, 11-10.

And oh boy was that a much needed “w.”

So bad have the Rangers bats been, and so woeful the starting pitching, I feel it’s best we bathe in the glory of last night’s throat punch to the second-place Los Angles Angels of blah-blah-blah.

Stay down, Angels. Save yourself further embarrassment. Should you rise, we’ll just lay you out again, each time more forcefully than the last. This Division, this League, it’s ours. We’ve got this sh**.

That’s how Texas Rangers baseball suddenly feels again—and it’s fantastic.

It’s a win that will be fondly remembered as summer’s heat recedes while the regular season gradually gains intensity before blooming into postseason play.

Man, that Rangers’ tenth inning…A half frame that functioned as snake oil for the soul, capable of healing all ailments, while restoring plummeting batting averages and halting the rise of our chief A.L. West combatants.

Hell, it might even halt Roy Oswalt’s regression and fix Josh Hamilton’s inexplicable batting misadventures.

Some thoughts from last night’s tenth inning Angels-beat down:

Joe Nathan

• In the top of the tenth inning, in a 7-7 tie—in a game that the Rangers had trailed by as much as six runs, closer Joe Nathan immediately delivers his best Koji Uehara impersonation. Eight-hole hitter, Chris Ianetta, promptly whistles a go-ahead home run into the left field seats for an 8-7 advantage.

Then, after two quick outs, Nathan plunks Torii Hunter, and here comes Albert Pujols. Yep. Two-run rocket shot to left field, Rangers down 10-7. I’m not sure what left quicker, Pujols’ homer, or the crowd’s feel-good vibe.

But, so magical was last night, that Joe Nathan not only gets to stay in town unharmed, he gets the win!

Michael Young

• Sure, we all know Michael Young is having a down season. No need to delve deeper than that. Young seemingly grounds out to Angels’ shortstop Andrew Romine, only to reach on an error. He’d eventually score the run that brought the Rangers within one, 10-9.

Mitch Moreland

• Injured for over a month, Mitch Moreland has hit safely in all three of his games since being reactivated from the disabled list on Monday. No hit was bigger than his line-drive single that tied the game up 10-10.

Moreland could provide the stretch run offense the Rangers have so sorely lacked.

Ian Kinsler

• Yes, Kinsler was the only out recorded by the Angels in the tenth inning. Yes, it was a meekly hit weak pop-up that didn’t leave the infield…but his game-tying, leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning more than makes up for any of his shoulder-dropping, groan-inducing games of pepper with second baseman the league over.

Nelson Cruz

• Nelson Cruz’s laser beam solo shot should have been for the walk-off win. But that doesn’t matter. What does is that The Boomstick is heating up baby…and Nellie goes nuclear, he can carry the team almost solomente.

Mike Napoli

• Quietly—it’s hard to make much of a racket after last year’s slash line—Mike Napoli is starting to show signs of life—as well as pop. Naps has hit five home runs in his last 10 games and was an almost-overlooked 3-for-4 last night with 2 RBI.

Elvis Andrus

• Despite Ian Kinsler’s big game last night, there will be plenty that feel Elvis Andrus should be the Texas Rangers’ leadoff hitter. I’m beginning to be one of them. It’s not that Kinsler sucks, but it seems his skill-set might be better suited lower in the batting order.

Regardless, Elvis made a case for not only batting leadoff, but for team MVP last night. One of the few Rangers that has stayed consistent at the plate all season long, Elvis’ ringing, walk-off double still induces goose bumps nearly 14-hours later.

Ryan Dempster

• Arguably the happiest Ranger of all, Dempster toes the rubber for his Texas debut tonight. Why so happy? It’s hard enough switching teams, but how about having to be your team’s ace and losing streak stopper all at the same time?

Mike Olt

• If Olt takes to the big leagues as he has at every level of the minors, the Rangers might have their own version of Mike Trout. Okay that’s a bit far-fetched, but Olt has flashed prodigious power, a plus-glove and a knack for drawings walks throughout his minor league career.

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Jun 022012
 

Out with the Old and in with the Yu: Darvish and C.J. Wilson set to Battle for AL West SupremacyIt is often said that the truly great baseball players have an ability to “slow the game down.” They don’t get too far ahead of themselves, they take things pitch-by-pitch and inning-by-inning.

I feel that the same can be said of great baseball teams.

And for the Texas Rangers (31-21), currently mired in a three-game skid, perhaps this day-by-day philosophy is exactly what they need. Carpe Diem, Texas Rangers.

Even after last night’s gut-wrenching loss to the Los Angeles Angels (27-26), the Rangers are still sitting pretty atop the AL West, 4 1/2 games up.

That being said, tonight’s game can easily be viewed as the most important game of the season thus far. It’s fitting that the Rangers will turn to their team leader in wins, electric young right-hander Yu Darvish.

Tonight’s Matchup:

RH Yu Darvish (7-2, 3.45 ERA, WHIP: 1.46 K/9: 9.7 ) vs. LH C.J. Wilson (6-4, 2.77 ERA, WHIP: 1.11 K/9: 8.2 )

Darvish

Despite a touch of the stomach flu, Darvish pitched well enough to earn his seventh victory of the season in his last start. He held the Blue Jays to three runs on seven hits during his five innings of work. Darvish struck out three and walked three.

Against the Angels, Darvish has a 5.06 ERA despite allowing just a .158 batting average. Much of the damage in his initial meeting with the Angels in Arlington last month was due to the two home runs (Trout and Hunter) he surrendered.

Tonight’s game in Anaheim will be Darvish’s first time to pitch in the “Big A.”

Loves to face: Mark Trumbo (.000, 2 Ks), Maicer Izturis, Albert Pujols, Erik Aybar and Howie Kendrick are a combined 1-for-10 (.100 BA) against Darvish.

He has yet to face Peter Bourjos, Alberto Callaspo, John Hester, or Kendrys Morales.

Hates to face: Mike Trout. Don’t we all? Against Darvish, Trout is batting .500 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

Torii Hunter has only managed one hit against Darvish, but it was of the long ball variety.

Wilson

C.J.’s most recent start came against the Seattle Mariners. He was able to earn his sixth win of the season despite battling a blister on his throwing hand. He surrendered just two hits over his six innings of work—complemented by five strikeouts. Wilson walked two.

Against the Texas Rangers last month, Wilson had the dubious distinction of starting two consecutive games.

Thanks to inclement weather coupled with an inability to get more than one out, Wilson lasted just 1/3 of an inning and surrendered four runs, all of which were earned. The loss dropped him to 4-3.

The very next night he pitched better, going 5 2/3 innings, striking out four while walking three.

The Texas Rangers are batting .333 against Wilson. He has a 5-5 career mark with a 3.57 ERA while pitching in Anaheim.

Loves to face: Mike Napoli (.211, 5 Ks), Ian Kinsler (.000, 2 Ks).

Hates to face: Adrain Beltre (.391, 1 HR, 4 RBI). Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Craig Gentry, and Brandon Snyder are a combined 6-for-11 (.545) against “Ceej.”

He has never faced David Murphy or Mitch Moreland. Due to their ineffectiveness against left-handers, Wilson will probably not see them tonight either.

Keys to victory for the Rangers:

Although the Angels and Rangers are very different in terms of personnel, they are quite close in regards to talent. Tonight’s game will be largely dictated by the effectiveness of each starter.

Both teams have the ability to shorten the game due to a strong bullpen. The Angels’ newest closer, Frieri, has yet to surrender a hit over 13 innings of work this season.

The Rangers’ Joe Nathan has been nearly invincible since some early-season hiccups.

Of key importance for the Rangers will be for Yu Darvish to establish command by getting ahead in the count. This will be dictated by his fastball command. Also, the defense needs to tighten up. At times over the last few weeks it seems as though the team has lost focus—particularly in the field.

Prediction time:

It almost seems that when Darvish doesn’t have his best stuff he is more effective. Regardless, he needs to establish command early. If he can stay ahead in the count then the rest will take care of itself.

I look for the Rangers to roll tonight, stop their skid, and boost their lead back up to 5 1/2 games over the Angels in the AL West.

Rangers win 6-3.

Go Rangers!

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May 112012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsThe Colbra gives up 5 jacks…but strikes out 12!?!?

“When I came out of the game, I didn’t even feel like I had thrown,” Lewis said. “I felt like I had some of my best stuff all year. It was just a weird game. I don’t know how to justify that game.”

In one of the more puzzling starts of the 2012 season, by any Rangers starter for that matter, Colby Lewis was both dominant and weak, both baffling and predictable, both great and below average.  As he said, “It was just a weird game.”

Lewis got the loss in yesterday’s game, giving up 6 runs on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 12 over 7 innings of work.  The 12 strikeouts is a new career high for Lewis…as is the 5 home runs that he surrendered.   Colby gave up 3 consecutive home runs in the 1st inning, and 2 in the 7th…in between he managed to retire all 18 batters he faced.

“The first inning, you still have to keep your team in the game,” Lewis said. “Of course you want a clean inning, but if it doesn’t you still try to go as long as you can and keep your team in the game. You keep making pitches and not worry, eventually somebody was going to get out.”

We are all used to the mandatory home run that Colby gives up in each start, and while it can be frustrating from the fan’s perspective, we put up with it because he often allows that home run in the middle of a above average performance.  However, you could see the patience of the Rangers fan wearing very thin on Twitter during yesterday’s start.  With such a heralded group of pitching prospects and Feldman and Ogando looming in the bullpen just waiting for their opportunity to move back into the rotation, it’s easy to quickly call for a change…but Colby’s not going anywhere.

“He still kept us in the ballgame,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Five home runs, usually a lot of damage is done and you can’t come back from that. But we almost did.”

The Rangers bats gave it valiant effort in the 9th, down 6-2, when David Murphy hit a 3 run bomb off of O’s closer Jim Johnson, but couldn’t muster another run and fell just short.

Luckily, this was just the first game of a double header (due to Wednesday’s rain out) and the Rangers would have a chance for redemption in the night cap.

Baltimore glad to see Josh go…

Friday Morning KnuckleballsJosh got the tweeters tweeting early last night with a first inning 2-run shot off of Tommy Hunter, as many wondered if we might be in store for another historic night.  But that was all Josh had to offer, and it was all that was needed as the Rangers took the final game of the series in Baltimore, 7-3.  This gave the Rangers a series win after three consecutive series losses.

“I’m tired … hungry … it will be nice to get home,” Hamilton said. “You never know what will happen in this game, that’s why you play the games. I’m excited I had a good series, but the series is over. We can go back home and get ready for Anaheim. We’re ready to get home.”

Tommy “Big Game” Hunter may have summed it  up best…

“He hit a baseball,” Hunter said. “The dude is on fire. What do you want me to say? He is, he’s a freak.”

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

Hamilton’s home run was a big moment, but Mike Napoli’s first triple in over 2 years was key in the win, as was a very productive night at the plate by Elvis Andrus (2-3, 2 RBI, 2 R).  Beltre and Young also both contributed with a RBI a piece.

All  the offense was nice, given the defensive woes from the night, as the Rangers committed three errors…but hey, it’s the 10th game on the road.

The Dutch Oven  gave up three unearned runs in the 2nd inning, but bounced back and got the win. Holland pitched six innings, giving up the 3 unearned on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out five, moving his record to 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

It’s time…

The series we have all been waiting for…the game of the season…Yu Darvish (4-1, 2.54 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (4-1, 2.61 ERA).

For those of you going to the game, C.J. is prepared for boos:

“I think the biggest thing will just be that we’ll be playing in front of a huge crowd in a stadium that’s relatively hostile to our team — and I’m sure will be fairly hostile to me,” he said. “I think a lot of people will boo me and stuff.  The main objective is just focusing on the baseball aspect of it and preparing to get their guys out.”

Ian is downplaying it here, and you can’t blame him.  This is the perspective that players have to have.

“It will be fun, a chance to face somebody you know, but other than that it’s just another game,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

But fans don’t have to have that same perspective…to us, this is BIG.  I’ve heard the plan is to give him the silent treatment when he is announced.  I’ve also read plenty of tweets from fans that will be at the game saying they are going to boo the hell out of him.  Regardless what you do, make sure you put far more effort into cheering for Yu and chanting “NA-PO-LI” every time Nap comes to the plate.

The ESPN Baseball Tonight guys give a preview of the series here.

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

“It’s fun to play in front of packed houses and we’ve had that almost every game,” Michael Young said. “When our park gets going, it’s the loudest ballpark in the big leagues. I’ve played in the World Series twice and played in other parks. It’s the loudest. The Cardinals said the same thing to us last year in those games in Arlington. Lots of parks don’t seat 40,000 and we’ve got close to 50,000 and the just the way the ballpark is structured, it makes for a very loud place. We’ve been spoiled this year. We’ve had big crowds nearly every night. We feed off of it. We love it.”

I’m so pumped for this series.  I can honestly say that this feels like playoff baseball…

Quick Hits

  • One of the more bizarre story lines from yesterday’s double-header came in the second game when Robbie Ross was warming up in the bullpen…in the wrong colored uniform.  The Rangers were wearing their blue uniforms, but Robbie had on the road grays.
  • Angels catcher Chris Ianetta will be out tonight as he will undergo surgery on his right wrist today that will keep him out of action an estimated 6-8 weeks.  Everytime I hear or read the words “Angels” and “catcher” together I snicker and chant “NA-PO-LI” under my breath and give a silent shout-out to Frankie Francisco and the Blue Jays…
  • If you missed it last night, we are doing a Twitter Ticket Giveaway.  Be sure to check it out, follow us on Twitter and retweet one of our tweets about the giveaway and you’ll  be eligible…easy as that.  4 front row Lexus Club level seats for next Tuesday’s game!

Enough said…GAME ON!

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Apr 032012
 

We recorded our 2012 Season Preview podcast last night and will have it up on the site later today.

Tuesday Morning SlidersBold Prediction #2 – Elvis Andrus will be the starting short-stop for the 2012 American League All-Star team.

This builds on yesterday’s prediction of Ian Kinsler winning the 2012 AL MVP.  As I wrote yesterday, I think one of the keys for Kinsler is going to be the improvement of Andrus’ offensive performance in 2012 which would help provide Kinsler with more line-up protection – aka, can’t pitch around Kinsler if Elvis is hitting the ball well.  Elvis worked to build his upper body and core strength during the off-season and that, along with his experience, athleticism and advancing maturity and discipline a the plate are going to make him a threat in the 2-hole for the Rangers all season.

The best part about this prediction is that my fellow Rangers fans can help me make it come true by voting for Elvis when the voting commences this season.  No doubt the Yankees and Indians fans will vote in droves to try to get their short stop the starting role, but Elvis will prevail…and it won’t be because Rangers fans have stuffed the ballot boxes because Elvis is simply a Ranger.  It will be because Elvis has deserved and proven he is the top player at his position.

Nolan Ryan spoke with media yesterday before the Rangers and the AAA Round Rock Express played.  Ryan addressed a number of hot topics including the Angels, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.

“The Angels have stepped up and helped themselves,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a tough division for us. They are very competitive, and it will come down to who stays healthiest. They have real strong pitching, so we know we have our work cut out for us.  It should make it interesting. It should make it a good rivalry. I’m looking forward to it. I still think we have the best ballclub.”

When asked if the Rangers-Angels rivalry compares to the Red Sox-Yankees, Ryan said “Are we the West Coast version of it?  I don’t know. I don’t think a lot about it. Obviously, the fact that we’ve won the division the last two years and they felt like they had a lock on that. [Angels owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it.  It will be good for our division and baseball, and it’s going to stimulate more interest, obviously, with Pujols and C.J. over there.”

“[Center field is] where he wants to be,” Ryan said about Josh Hamilton. “It’s where he is happiest. It’s where his focus is. He’ll be fine there.”

“He has a good feel for pitching,” Ryan said about Yu Darvish. “He tried to make some adjustments. Each start he had he worked on things. I saw improvement. I thought that was a positive.  We don’t have any numbers we’re putting with him.  We think he’ll pitch in the rotation and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he’s at the point in his career where he’s accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings. Somewhere in that neighborhood, I think, would be the expectations.”

Quick hits:

  • Josh Hamilton hit his first homer of the Spring yesterday against Round Rock, blasting a 426 foot 2-run 3rd inning home run to center field.
  • Derek Holland started the game and threw 78 pitches, giving up a 2-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.  Holland felt good after the start, despite the long ball.

“I’m ready to go for sure, despite the home runs,” Holland said. “I thought everything was good. I left a couple of pitches up for strikes. That’s part of getting ready for the season.”

  • Matt Harrison pitches tonight at the Ballpark against Mexico City, 7:05pm first pitch.
  • The Rangers have rounded out their roster, sending Julio Borbon to AAA to start the season.  Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder and Craig Gentry all secured the final bench spots on the team.  Snyder gives the team a lot of flexibility as the 3rd catcher, 3rd baseman and corner outfielder.
  • Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will be starting for the Frisco Rough Riders to start the season.  Maybe the next Field Trip will be to Frisco to see these two budding stars.
  • 2012 opening MLB Power Rankings have the Rangers in 2nd.
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Mar 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 11   Big news for us and Dutch!  C.J. sucks!Jasen and I talk about:

  • Our new partnership with Patty Shack Burgers!
  • Derek Holland’s new contract
  • Neftali’s stiff shoulder
  • The closer role
  • C.J. Wilson’s failed attempt at a prank on Mike Napoli
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Mar 202012
 
Tuesday Morning SlidersYu Darvish pitched 4 innings in the Rangers 5 – 3 loss to the Brewers yesterday.  The Rangers were in control of the game when Darvish left, with a 3-1 lead, but Joe Nathan surrendered the lead in the 6th inning.
  • Darvish allowed a run on 1 hit in 4 innings of working, striking out 3 and walking 3.  He also threw a wild pitch and hit a batter, so harnessing the control is still a work in progress which is perfectly fine for  Spring Training.
  • This was his first Spring Training game in which Yu pitched from the wind-up.
  • Darvish on the outing and his delivery, ”The way my body is working, my delivery, I can’t really repeat it all the time right now.  The consistency is not there. That’s why you see some good pitches and some bad ones. And I don’t expect it to be perfect right now anyway. Those are some things I’m going to continue to plan on polishing as we go on.”
  • Darvish on NL MVP Ryan Braun, ”He’s a tremendous hitter, has a tremendous swing.  I’m still new here and I don’t think it’s proper for me to evaluate him yet, but he’s a very good hitter.”
  • Pitching Coach Mike Maddux on Darvish, ”He progressed the way he wanted to today.  We worked two times and skipped a live BP to get more mound time. I was happy with his outing. He commanded the fastball and threw some good breaking balls.”
  • Closer Joe Nathan came on in the 6th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits – should you panic?  No, but should you watch Nathan closely once the regular season gets underway?  Yes.
  • SS Elvis Andrus went 3-4 with a sweet bunt single in the 1st inning.  Both Elvis and Ian are really producing in Spring Training.  Hopefully, they can carry that momentum into the regular season.
  • Prospect Tanner Scheppers got through only 2/3 of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks.

Quick hits:

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers and Derek Holland are on the verge of reaching a 5 year agreement.  No details are known at this time, so stay tuned throughout the week to find out the future of the Dutch Oven.
  • Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com) wrote “A New Start for Feliz; in more ways than one”, which rehashes Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, but also provides a closer look into the mindset of Feliz.  I’m really pulling for Neftali to experience some success in 2012.  His stuff is great, and I think he has the make-up to be a great starting pitcher in this league for a long time.
  • The Rangers optioned 7 pitchers to the minors yeterday:
  1. Neil Ramirez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  2. Miguel De Los Santos (Double-A Frisco)
  3. Jake Brigham (Double-A Frisco)
  4. Justin Miller (Triple-A Round Rock)
  5. Cody Eppley (Triple-A Round Rock)
  6. Roman Mendez (High-A Myrtle Beach)
  7. Martin Perez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  • Yu Darvish will not face the Angels this coming weekend when the Rangers square off with their nemesis in Spring Training, instead he’ll pitch in an intra-squad game.  I like the strategy.  No point in giving the Angels batters an opportunity to see Darvish live from the batter’s box before it really counts.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersMike Napoli is not pleased with C.J. Wilson’s attempt at a Twitter prank, and neither are we.  Jasen and I sounded off on this last night, when we attempted to record the weekly podcast only to find out that the file was corrupted and it was all for not.  Regardless, just know that we think this was a crappy thing for C.J. to do, and if we knew Kung Fu, we’d probably use it on him…
  • Josh Hamilton on potential of free agency after the 2012 season, ”Free agency is free agency.  If they sign me now, it’d probably cost less. If they sign me there (free agency), it’d cost more. So we’ll see.  Obviously, I told the Rangers that they get first shot, and I mean that. I have loyalty to the Rangers. They’ve been good to me and my family, and it’s been a good relationship.”
  • Does this make up for the “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comment?  That’s for you to decide.  For me, I think Josh is over-correcting and probably just needs to let it go.
  • The Rangers meet up with the Cubs today in a split squad match-up in Mesa, AZ at 3:05.  Neftali Feliz will take the ball for the Rangers against Ryan Dempster.
  • Michael Young has now hit in eight consecutive Spring Training games, so watch to see if he can extend that today.
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Mar 122012
 

Monday Morning FastballsOne of the Rangers over-shadowed acquisitions of this off-season was the signing of closer Joe Nathan who, Joey Nowak (MLB.com) writes, is confident that he’ll return to form after missing a season and a half after Tommy John surgery.

  • Nathan on the injury and surgery, ”Obviously, the surgery, being two years behind me now, has allowed my arm to heal and do everything I need to do.  It’s not a concern, I’m not thinking about that anymore. I’m just concentrating on what’s important and that’s getting guys out.”
  • Ron Washington on Nathan and the acquisition, ”Last spring, we experimented with Neftali starting, but we weren’t protected in the back end of the bullpen.  And the first thing [general manager Jon Daniels] did this winter was go get us some protection in the back end of the bullpen so we could go make this move with Neftali. I think he made a great choice in Joe Nathan. More than that, Joe Nathan wanted to be in Texas.”
  • Catcher Yorvit Torrealba on Nathan, ”Not to take anything away from Neftali, but Nathan is one of the best closers in the game, and it’s a plus to have a guy like that to bring in.  With Neftali moving to the rotation, we need a guy like that, and to have him here is great.”
  • Nice to hear Joe’s confidence in himself and that the injury is behind him completely.  This was a move that not only netted the Rangers a potential stud closer, but also with a potential top of the rotation starter with the transition of Feliz.

Minus C.J., plus Yu, and more…  Mike Bauman (MLB.com) think that the 2012 Rangers Pitching may be better than last year’s.

  • Bauman on the depth, “And there is admirable depth here. Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, appears to be all the way back after knee surgery. Hard-throwing Alexi Ogando proved his worth as a reliever in 2010, then demonstrated that he was a Major League starter in 2011.”
  • Overview from Wash, ”If our young kids continue to grow — it’s important that they continue to grow and don’t go backwards — we will certainly hold our own.  Name-wise, you put them up against some of those rotations out there, maybe we don’t compare. But result-wise, I think we will be fine. I’m certainly looking forward to them continuing their growth. And the addition of Darvish will certainly help. That will replace what we lost in C.J.  We should continue to move forward. We don’t doubt that. Colby showed that he’s coming around [with four perfect innings on Saturday]. Feldman has got his sink back and his cut back on his fastball, and he’s getting his ground balls. Neftali is moving along. Holland and Harrison have shown that they haven’t missed a beat, yet. And Darvish had a very good first outing. So we’re certainly very positive about what we have to go into the season with. And we’ve just got to hope that we stay healthy.”
  • Ron Washington on the young guys on the staff, ”The Harrisons, the Hollands, the Ogandos, the Neftalis, they were young, and they had a chance to pitch into the postseason two years, back to back, and understand what it’s like to compete.  And I think that’s a good advantage for us to have. They’ve been there and done that.”
  • Say what you want about C.J. (super douche), but his loss from the rotation did leave a gap…a gap that has been filled by Yu Darvish, who has more potential than C.J.  You couple that with the development of the younger guys on the staff, as Wash talks to above, and I think this year’s staff will out-produce last year’s staff.  A lot depends on what Yu can do…

Quick hits:

  • Rangers split their two Spring Training games over the weekend, losing Saturday to the White Sox and beating Cleveland yesterday.
  • Derek Holland had an effective outing in the win yesterday, giving up 1 ER on 3 hits over 3 innings of work, striking out 4.
  • The Rangers play the Mariners today at 3:05pm.  Matt Harrison faces off with former Ranger prospect Blake Beavan.
  • Scooter Feldman (Jasen’s pick for Surprise Player of the Year) understands the starting pitching depth that this team has, ”I’m just trying to get my focus where it needs to be at the beginning of the season.  I’d like to know what I was doing, but I’m a fortunate guy to be on this team. I just go about my business and do what I can control. I can’t control the decisions they’re gonna make.”
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN) compares the current Rangers squad to the dominant Cowboys of the mid-90′s.
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