Feb 172012
 
  • Friday Morning Knuckleballs

    Gary Carter celebrating after winning the 1986 World Series over the Boston Red Sox. R.I.P. "Kid"

    Gary Carter passed yesterday at the age of 57.  Carter was a big part of my initial baseball consciousness.  He was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, which he was fighting, but in January it was revealed that his doctors had found several more tumors on his brain.

  • Carter’s daughter, Kimmy Bloumers updated the family’s website yesterday afternoon with ”I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know.
    It’s a sad day anytime we lose someone that has made an impact on any facet of our lives.  Carter was one of those people for many.  R.I.P. Gary.
  • ESPNNewYork.com has a good column about Carter and a video about Carter here.
  • CNNSI also has a great column on Carter here.
  • Tom Verducci (CNNSI.com) wrote a great tribute in “Gary Carter, the light of the Mets”.  That season was magical and provides the moments in time for which I’ll always remember Gary Carter.
  • Pitcher & Catchers report Wednesday.
  • Round 4 of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings is in the works and I hope to have it out this evening.  Check out the first three rounds if you need to catch up.
    Round 1 – Infielders and Catcher
    Round 2 – Outfielders and DH
    Round 3 – Bench and Manager
    Round 4 will cover all pitching including starting rotation, relief and closer.
  • Bryan Dolgin (ESPNDallas) wrote a short piece about Conor Jackson, and his approach with the Rangers.
    Jackson says ““They’re a pretty left-handed hitting team. First of all, I’ve got to make the squad. That’s the biggest thing for me.  I can’t have a usual slow spring training. I’ve got to come out bangin’ and show ’em I can still play. I’m just looking forward to an opportunity.”
  • Richard Durrent (ESPNDallas) wrote a brief column on Jon Daniels continued support of Josh Hamilton.
    Daniels said “There will be some additional steps that we’ll take as a club, along with Josh, just to continue to support him and to insure to the best of our abilities that this doesn’t happen again.  We have more ability to help with that during the season.”
  • Durrett also provides a look at ESPN’s Future Power Rankings for MLB, in which the Rangers took the top spot here (with a brief video).  The full article is available to those that have ESPN Insider access, so thanks to Durrett for at least extracting the Rangers portion of the article for those that don’t have that access.
  • The Rangers are ready to settle in for a productive and calm Spring Training after a busy off-season.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides a good summary of the off-season with an eye towards Spring Training here.  The link also includes a video interview of Thad Levine from MLBTV’s Clubhouse Confidential.
    A great statement from JD, ”You name it and this team has dealt with it and thrived on it.  That’s a direct reflection on Wash and the leadership in the clubhouse, the players and the staff. These guys come to Spring Training ready to play and don’t let anything distract them.  We want to embrace and celebrate what was accomplished and reward the people that made it possible, but you need to turn the page at some point. What I have been encouraged by is in talking to people and the meetings we’ve had, our players and staff are hungry. They are as hungry and as motivated as ever. If we can keep that mentality, we can keep this going.”
  • Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) wrote an article on the Rangers confidence level heading into Spring Training.
    Wash says “I think we head into camp pretty strong.  I think the key going in there is for everyone to stay healthy.”
  • On Yesterday’s episode of Sports Day on Fox Sports Southwest, Evan Grant and Anthony Andro shared their expectations of how Neftali Feliz will perform in 2012.
    Grant warns to not expect an Ogando type of performance, saying “Well, it depends on what you consider a successful starter. He’s not going to be Alexi Ogando from last year; he’s not going to be C.J. from two years ago. It’s going to be tough to have the conversion continue for the third consecutive year. He was really good last year when he was mixing up his pitches, but when he went back to the bullpen it was fastball, fastball, fastball. He can’t do that again. If he can win 11 or 12 games and be a starter for the entire year, that would be a successful year depending on where he’s come from.”
    Andro likes how the Rangers have prepped Feliz and the team for the move, saying “I think the Rangers took all the right steps in trying to create an environment where there is a closer in place with Nathan and they could move him early. I think what’s important between Neftali and the guys from the last two years is that those two made it clear from the start they wanted to be starters; they asked and did whatever it took to get there. I think the Rangers want to see the Rangers put a lot more into and as the spring goes on. They know he has a lot of work to do, and they know he has work to do with the breaking ball, but they think that’s all there.”
  • Wanna know what Baseball Do thinks about Neftali’s upcoming debut season in the starting rotation, check out “The Other New Guy”.
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Feb 072012
 
  • Tuesday Morning Sliders15 days folks…
  • The Rangers are still working to avoid arbitration with Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus.  Elvis is the nearest to going to arbitration, as his hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, with Cruz on the 15th and Nap on the 17th.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides more information here.
    “The Rangers will likely reach a settlement with Andrus before the hearing. Andrus, who is represented by Scott Boras, is asking for $3.6 million; the Rangers are offering $2.65 million.
    Napoli has the largest spread — asking for $11.5 million, with the Rangers offering $8.3 million — and could be the most likely to end up in a hearing. Napoli is coming off the best year of his career, setting personal bests with a .320 batting average, 30 home runs, 72 runs scored and 75 RBIs.
    Cruz, who hit .263 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in 2011, is asking for $7.5 million, whereas the Rangers are offering $5.5 million.
    Contract negotiations with all three are ongoing.” 
  • Here’s hoping the Rangers can get something done and avoid arbitration with all three players.  It’s a business…but arbitration can make it personal sometimes as the team is essentially laying out a case for why the player isn’t’ worth what he thinks he is.
  • The Rangers have signed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel and right-handed hitting 1B/OF Conor Jackson to Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training.  T.R. Sullivan provides an update on both players and their roles here.
    “Jackson, 29, played in 114 games for the Athletics and the Red Sox last season and hit .244 with five home runs and 43 RBIs in 352 at-bats. He had a .310 on-base percentage and a .341 slugging percentage. He has a career .283 batting average, .381 on-base percentage and .436 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.”
    “Beimel, 34, pitched in 35 games for the Pirates in 2011 and was 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA while being sidelined from May 28 to July 15 with inflammation in his left elbow. Opponents hit .321 off him, including .302 by left-handed hitters.”
  • The additions of Jackson and Beimel bring the Spring Training count up to 58 .

A few thoughts on Josh Hamilton from Evan Grant (DallasNews):

  • On Hamilton’s reliability moving forward:
    “ If you listen to Josh’s apology, it’s like he’s talking directly to you. The guy is earnest, the guy is convincing, the guy has a really humble approach in dealing with adversity. And somebody else will listen to that and say, “He’s over it, he’ll deal with it, everything will be fine.” But it is two slip-ups in three years.”
  • On if Hamilton’s relapse will cause the Rangers to lose him:
    “ If he walks away from the Rangers after this year, I don’t think that the Rangers will have “lost” him. I think the Rangers will be OK with that at this point in time because he will have kind of come to the end of the road here. I think if Josh sits back, looks at everything, goes through this year with all the support that the Rangers give him and he chooses to go somewhere else, I think that the best will have been behind Josh Hamilton.”
  • On how Hamilton’s relapse will affect his contract negotiations with the Rangers:
    “This plays out that Josh plays a year as a potential free agent because they’re not going to negotiate any time before the season starts. And I think the Rangers now are going to take the approach that they’re not even going to approach him. With most players, they don’t talk during the season and I think right now, there’s no reason for them to talk. People want to talk about leverage in this situation, but leverage is a moot point at this point. It’s gone from this: the Rangers were asking Josh previously to give them a hometown discount. I think now the Rangers will be discussing whether or not they want to put up with this burden long-term.  But with Josh, the question is not just .320 average versus a guy dealing with alcohol abuse. With Josh, it’s a guy who is now 31 years old, as opposed to most free agents who may be a year or two younger. It’s a guy who annually misses at least 30 games a year. There are other factors involved in that burden.”
  • On the type of contract Hamilton could get as a free agent:
    “If he goes out there this year and hits .320 with 35 bombs, plays 150 games and wins another MVP, there will be plenty of clubs that sit there and say, “Josh Hamilton is a risk. Over a six-year contract, it’s a risk that’s not going to pay off, but over the next two years, we’ll take that and pay the extra freight.” It only takes one team to think that way.”
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