Mar 192013
 

Jasen and I got a chance to hangout (no pun) with Patrick and Eddie from ShutDownInning.com tonight.  We talked about Mitch Moreland, getting in bed with Elvis Andrus and Bob Bland.

Enjoy!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (3 votes cast)
May 072012
 

The Baltimore Orioles are currently in first place of the AL East. Yeah, I know, it feels weird writing it too.

Equally odd is their impressive 19-9 record, one win (and one loss) better than the Texas Rangers’ current 18-10 mark.

The Baltimore Orioles are playing some good baseball. They’ve won eight of their last ten, enabling them to jump over red-hot Tampa Bay and into first place by a half game.

Baltimore is winning with a hat tip to the Texas Rangers. After all, the Orioles lineup is littered with former Texas Rangers that have contributed—in no small measure—to the O’s early success.

Chris Davis—Big Swinging Time Traveler

Christopher Lyn Davis was moved (along with Tommy Hunter) to the Baltimore Orioles for relief pitcher Koji Uehara during last year’s MLB Trade Deadline.

Once rid of the Rangers red and blue, Davis successfully sutured his very own wrinkle in time.

Yep, Chris Davis has become a seasoned veteran to both the baseball diamond and the world of baseball-induced time travel.

As a first basemen in Texas, Davis was at one time seen as the future of the team. Not long after, he became the present stud; a guy who could defend aptly at both corners while mashing enough home runs to earn the nickname “Crush.”

His presence in the present didn’t last too long.

Davis’ susceptibility to the swing-and-miss made him a part of the Rangers past just as quickly as his promise pointed towards future greatness.

At least in Baltimore Davis is a full-time player. He has started of strong in 2012, batting .299 with 5 home runs and 14 RBI.

He’s also 1-0 with two strikeouts—no joke.

Tommy Hunter—Rick Helling for the 21st Century?

I liked Tommy “Big Game” Hunter. I think we all did, and still do. He’s a very likeable dude, and always an engagingly gregarious interview.

How to put this lightly…Tommy Hunter had a bit of a weight issue. And that’s not a big deal. Hell, we’re Americans. Food is good; and in the US you’re “skinny” if you’re only 10-20% overweight.

Want to make your fries, Coke, and chocolate shake bigger than the national debt for only a nickel more?

Hell yes I do.

It’s not known that Hunter’s weight affected his performance. C.C. Sabathia weighs more than most station wagons, and he’s a true ace.

And, hey, if it hadn’t been for Hunter’s late spring training injury last year, we would never have known that Alexi Ogando can be an excellent starter as well as a lights-out reliever.

I’m found of calling Hunter the Rick Helling of the new millennium. Like Helling, Hunter won’t blow up any radar guns. He relies heavily on contact outs and must have a low BABIP to be effective.

Tommy Hunter would have been the ace of the Texas Rangers’ late-nineties one-and-done playoff teams. Ogando’s success and, once again, overall team depth made the big man movable.

Rick Helling might not have made the 2012 Texas Rangers roster.

Hunter has found a home in Baltimore’s rotation. He looks slimmer—even though his ERA is a rotund 5.00—and he may just be able to fulfill the first-round promise he flashed in Texas.

Pedro Strop—PPTPD

A “PTBNL” or player to be named later is usually a minor league prospect that has seen better days.

In this instance, Pedro Strop was the PTBNL in the Rangers/Orioles trade that brought lefty specialist Mike Gonzalez to Arlington late last August.

Strop was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies as a position player.

Strop was always a tad wild, but clearly had the makings of a solid reliever. The hard-thrower had tons of movement—sometimes too much—on just about everything he threw.

He always showed a knack for piling up the strikeouts. Even while batting. In 2005, while playing for the Rockies’ Low A Tri City team, he somehow managed to whiff 86 times—against just 6 walks—in only 247 plate appearances.

Leading to the whole: “Hey, Pedro, didn’t you say you could pitch a little? How about we give that a go, hmmm?”

With talent oozing from every pore in the organization—from Low A to the bigs—the Rangers viewed Strop’s live arm as expendable last season.

In Baltimore, he’s seen some success and has been used in the closer’s role a time or two.

But as a former Texas Ranger, he’ll always be known as the position-player turned pitcher dumped…or “PPTPD” for short.

Well, at least to me.

Recycled refuse: Endy Chavez, and Darren O’Day

The Texas Rangers put O’Day and Chavez—former dregs of multiple major league teams—to good use during their tour of Texas.

Left for dead by the New York Mets in the spring of 2009, Darren O’Day ended up being arguably the Texas Rangers’ most reliable reliever during their initial World Series run in 2010.

In 2009, the submarine-style right-hander posted a sparkling 1.94 ERA in 64 appearances, and a 2.03 ERA in 2010.

Injuries (specifically a bad hip) led to mechanical issues (or vice versa) and O’Day was unable to recapture the magic for a third-straight season in 2011.

O’Day was claimed off of waivers by the Orioles in November. He’s been healthy in Baltimore, and the numbers back it up: he is currently 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 12 appearances.

Endy Chavez played a crucial role for the Texas Rangers during their most recent World Series run, in 2011.

Chavez became their starting center fielder when Borbon was sent down for good. Players such as him are what give the Rangers such exceptional depth.

After batting .301 for the Rangers in 2011, Chavez has struggled during his time in Baltimore, currently batting just .127.

Buck Showalter

A dose of his Draconian dealings can only be stomached for so long.

Showalter has earned the reputation for growing tiresome after three or four years for any given team.

It happened in New York with the Yankees after four seasons, and in Arizona with the Diamondbacks after three.

Buck lasted four full seasons in Texas, from 2003-2006, his longest tenure of any major league team. But whispers of him losing his team’s confidence had turned to screams mid-way through his final season in Arlington.

In all likelihood, Buck—currently in his third season with Baltimore—will lose the Orioles too.

But for now, Baltimore is buying what Buck is selling and their surprisingly great record reflects it.

The upcoming Baltimore Orioles series presents a great opportunity for the Texas Rangers to re-ignite last month’s winning ways. It will also present a glimpse at how prospects and players of old compare against this year’s squad head-to-head.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
May 022012
 
The Texas Rangers Have Lost Consecutive Series—No need to panic

Sure, he gave up the game winner on Monday to Brett Lawrie, but hey, it's not like that was our finest game of the year or anything.

Last night, for what seemed like the first time in a decade, the Texas Rangers lost a baseball game on the very same day that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won.

Okay, technically, the Angels won during the wee hours of today. But hey, they won, and I’m sure they’re thrilled—it hasn’t happened that often this year.

Sure, we’re 0-2 after our first two Mayday May games. But not to worry, historically the Blue Jays have always been a tough matchup—we were 4-6 against them last year and 3-7 in 2010.

Plus, we knew Jose Bautista would heat up eventually. A-hole that he is.

It’s not all doom and gloom, Rangers fans—there are plenty of positives to be taken from the Rays/Jays-our-first-consecutive-series-losses-of-2012-thing.

Here are some thoughts from the last few games:

Craig Gentry has morphed into Josh Hamilton…

Craig Gentry is an absolute mad man. He’s faster than the mortgage bill when you’re broke and is only slowed by immovable cement structures.

He also has some pop.

That was a pretty sweet moment Monday night when Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry went back-to-back. But, for the love of God, Gentry, take it easy in the outfield man! It’s not spring training, you’re on the big league roster for crying out loud!

Seriously dude, the freaking outfield wall had to be taken out of the game…that’s how hard you hit it! Had Hamilton hit the wall that hard, we’d still be super-gluing the pieces back together (of both the wall and Hami)!

Ron Washington gets no respect, not even on his birthday

Okay, this one was messed up. On Sunday, Ron Washington celebrated his 60th birthday. There is no better way to celebrate getting a year older than at a Texas Rangers game.

Yes, even if they lose.

I’m sure Washington wasn’t expecting a gift from anyone. He definitely wasn’t expecting Old Dutch to wrap up the game with a pretty ribbon and hand it to the Rays.

But as is a theme for the Rangers this year, even during their losses they’re still just a break or two from winning. In the 5-2 loss, the Rangers left the bases loaded after a hard lineout from Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the ninth.

The Texas Rangers are 0-5 on Wash’s birthday—with a rainout—in his six seasons with the club.

At least Washington was able to enjoy his birthday cake a little early…he was ejected in the seventh inning by home plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing balls and strikes—replays showed that Wash was in the right.

The word “gay” used to mean happy

Yeah. Now “gay” is just a word that rhymes with teams we seem to have trouble with. What gives?

Are the Texas Rangers “homophonic?”

Yu Darvish is getting better while Albert Pujols continues to suck

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, so I’ll just make them up: Albert Pujols hasn’t hit a home run since he really was 32-years-old…in 2001…Craig Gentry has more homers than “The Poo”!

And Yu Darvish. Whoa boy! Don’t worry, I’ll speak of his greatness plenty in the future, but for now, let’s just enjoy the ride.

He’s gotten better every start—especially the last three—and the crazy thing is, the team’s he’s beaten have actually improved too! Sure, the Blue Jays aren’t quite as potent as the Tigers or Yankees, but if you need proof of how viable the crazy Canadians can be, just take a look at how our other starters fared against them this series…

Upcoming goodness to look forward to:

Koji versus old team

Here’s hoping that Koji can continue his recent string of not sucking too bad. Even better, maybe he’s turned the corner and is back to his pre-trade level, which was awesome.

Worst-case scenario, maybe we can swap him for Chris Davis or just duct tape him to an empty locker in Baltimore and “accidentally” leave him behind.

Mitch Moreland versus Chris Davis

Remember when Chris Davis was “Crush” and he was the Texas Rangers’ first baseman of the future?

Well, to jog your memory, Justin Smoak was still the hotshot prospect, and Mitch Moreland was a dude that the powers that be thought might have more value as a middle-reliever.

True story.

Hey speaking of Chris Davis, he’s been hitting the ball pretty well. Batting .333 with 5 home runs. It’s no secret that I have a huge man crush on Chris Davis, and, sadly, there is photographic proof:

The Texas Rangers Have Lost Consecutive Series—No need to panic

I hadn't been that nervous since Prom.

Anyways, it will be fun to watch how Davis hits against us and how Moreland does against the Orioles. For a franchise (Rangers) famous for creating excellent first baseman (and some not so good—cough—Jason Botts). Should be an entertaining head-to-head showdown.

Also of note, the Rangers’ right-handed bench bat, Brandon Snyder, was a former first round pick of the Baltimore Orioles. He’s also a first basemen that is versatile enough to play in the outfield, like Mitch…of course, Snyder was the only first rounder of the three, and he’s the only one not a starter; that’s the way baseball go…

Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson…?

Yeah, it could happen. If the Rangers’ rotation (as well as the Angels’) stays in the same order, on Friday May 11th, it would be Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Whoa. That’d be awesome! “The Young Buck vs. Mr. Playoff Suck”

Now, granted, it’s not a playoff game, so C.J. Wilson won’t be guaranteed to lose…Bing!

I’m intentionally overlooking the next series, with the Cleveland Indians

Yeah, the Cleveland Indians are the Rangers’ next opponent, right before the Orioles. I don’t know, the Indians don’t really scare me much. Maybe it’s because we’re 13-3 against them over the last two seasons combined.

Perhaps it’s because those poor suckers will have to face Yu Darvish.

Anyways, I’m looking past the Indians, in the same vane that we don’t even consider the Oakland Athletics or Seattle Mariners as serious threats, even though they are only 5, and 6 games, respectively, behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Because it’s always fun to say, the Angels are 8 games out of first place and in the cellar—right next to the rusty plumbing and high school yearbooks that you don’t look at, but are too sentimental to get rid of.

Final Diagnosis

Yeah, I know, we’re mired in a losing streak. It sucks. And even though it’s our first of the year, this team is so good it seems like we’ll win every single game.

Not possible.

We were outscored by the Jays 19-12, in the month. And yes, we’ve lost consecutive games on the road. But it’s no time to push the panic button.

Josh Hamilton will be coming back full-strength, as will Adrian Beltre.

We are going to be just fine.

The major tests have been passed—can we beat the playoff caliber teams? Absolutely. Can Yu Darvish harness his command? You’d better believe it…can we score runs without Beltre and Hamilton in our lineup? Affirmative.

Plus, the way Yu Darvish continues to improve every start, he’ll probably close out the month with consecutive perfect games.

And I believe that will be a record…and speaking of records, 17-8 ain’t so bad.

UPDATE!!! Jered Weaver just threw a no-hitter against the Twins! Yes, I checked, it does count even if thrown against Minnesota…Too bad they only gain a half game, huh? Pujols was 1-5, but I’m sure we already guessed that.

Peace out, and Go Rangers!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
Login