Mar 152012
 

Rockies beat the Rangers 6-1 yesterday, as Neftali Feliz got his second start of Spring Training under his belt.  Of bigger concern was the injury to Josh Hamilton’s heel that occurred in the second inning.

  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsFeliz struck out 3 over 3 innings, giving up 1 run off of 4 hits and a walk (47 pitches, 32 for strikes).  More importantly, Neftali was able to get himself out of two jams with inning-ending double plays which lessened the damage and showed that the closer-turned-starter was able to buckle down in crunch time.
  • Ron Washington on the start, ”He pitched well.  He went out there once again and used the whole strike zone and used all his pitches.”
  • T.R. Sullivan elaborates further on the start and provides some video here.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPNDallas) provided his take on Feliz here.
  • Hamilton’s injury is not considered serious.  He left the game for precautionary purposes after jamming his heel while chasing down a Todd Helton double.
  • Wash on Hamilton, ”He just said his heel felt sore so we removed him.  We’ll just see how he is tomorrow. If they feel he’s fine, he’ll be back out there. If they feel he needs another day, we’ll give him another day.”
  • Ian Kinsler returned to the Rangers line-up Wednesday after missing three days with stiffness in his back.  He looked good in the game, going 2 for 3.
  • Mike Napoli was still out of the line-up as he nurses his groin.  That’s 5 straight games now that Nap has missed, and the Rangers aren’t really saying anything as to when he will return.  Precaution is key, but it seems the problem is lingering a little longer than they thought.

Quick hits:

  • Craig Gentry sprained his wrist in the Yu Darvish start (remember the diving attempt…).  He’s expected to miss 3-5 days, and had this to say regarding the situation, ”It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game.  When it happens you try to move on, but it’s frustrating not getting at-bats or being able to finish a nine-inning game.”
  • Martin Perez will get his second Spring Training start today at 3:05 against the Swingin’ A’s.  Neil Ramirez, another highly touted Rangers pitching prospect, will also pitch in today’s game.  You can listen to the game on TexasRangers.com.
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsJean-Jacques Taylor (ESPNDallas) wrote a piece on Julio Borbon and his plight to be the full-time CF.  According to Taylor, Ron Washington and others are high on Borbon’s performance so far this spring, and the feeling is that he has surpassed Craig Gentry in the competition for the role.
  • Borbon on his approach this spring, “I’m finally playing my game the way I want to play.  I’m not trying to do what I think the Rangers want me to do.  I’m not trying to impress anybody or overdo anything. Sometimes, you work yourself to exhaustion trying to do everything you can – and then you can’t perform.”
  • Washington on Borbon, “When we showed up to spring training he was ready to play ball because he’d been playing all off-season. He started well and he hasn’t let up.”
  • Ron Washington isn’t going to bail on Joe Nathan after one bad outing in Spring Training, saying ”Once again we’re in spring training.  He has to develop his arm strength. He has to get a feel of what he’s trying to do.”
  • If you missed Wash on with Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN), you can read some details from the interview here.
  • Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) wrote a piece on hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and the praise he is getting from the players.
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Feb 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast   Spring Training Special

We’re back…

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

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

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

Smile folks…it’s time for Baseball!

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Feb 152012
 
  • If you have missed our American League West Position Rankings, check them out and let us hear from you.
Round 4 – Pitching (coming later this week)
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsDerek Holland joined Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) on Monday for an entertaining chat.When asked if he felt like the Cardinals were destined to win the World Series last year – “We didn’t think that, because, to us, we felt like we were once again the underdogs. … It’s been like that for us the whole year. They picked the Red Sox to win the World Series and everybody else to be in front of us. The big thing is, I felt like we’ve been an underdog the whole time, and we’re probably going to do it again next year as well, and that doesn’t bother us. It’s like you said though, we were going up against some crazy odds, but we didn’t think like that though.”

    When asked if he felt like 2011 was a failure – “No, definitely not. First off, we weren’t supposed to be where we were. That’s the first thing. We did a lot with the injuries we went through. … We were proving people wrong, once again. I don’t even think we were picked to win the West. … If this season is a complete failure, that’s bad and I don’t know what’s going on with that. But, to me, I feel like we accomplished a lot. We didn’t get the World Series. That’s a big letdown. We did go back-to-back AL champs, so we obviously did something right.”

    When asked if he felt he could someday be an ace at the major league level – “If we went and closed everything off of this year, I’d say I’m maybe a two or a three. I’m not going to say I’m an ace, but I’m working to get there. … I still feel like there’s more that I need to do. I’m probably going to be the toughest critic on my own self. Some people might sit there and go, ‘You’re ace-ready.’ That’s you guys. I like to think different. I’m a hard worker. I want to make sure I do what I have to do to make sure I can be that ace.”

  • The Rangers packed up yesterday and sent the first truck on it’s way to Surprise, AZ for 2012 Spring Training…damn it feels good to type that!  Don’t believe me, watch for yourself.
  • Craig Gentry wants to start in center field and “make stuff happen on the base paths”.  Gentry spoke with reporters yesterday as the trailers were packed for the trip to Surprise.  Regarding the upcoming season, Gentry is excited about his chances, saying ”I’m excited this year because I feel like I have a really solid chance to be an everyday player.  In years past, I’ve been that guy that would scratch to maybe make the team. I’m excited about this year and ready to get it going.”
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) handles up on his inbox and discusses excess depth at catcher, Oswalt, Hamilton, Darvish and more.  Apparently, Baseball Do’s inbox hasn’t been getting as much action as Sullivan’s.  Got a question?  Hit us up and we’ll answer here on the site…
  • Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravech and Tim Kurkjian examine how the Rangers are equipped to deal with the media circus that will surround Yu Darvish and Josh Hamilton this spring.  Check out the video here.
  • We are a baseball blog.  More specifically, we are a Texas Rangers blog.  But, c’mon…

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Feb 142012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Be sure to check out Round 1 (IF and C) and Round 2 (OF & DH) of the 2012 American League West Position Rankings if you missed them.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 35
  2. Angels: 31
  3. Athletics: 15
  4. Mariners: 14

We’ll be ranking the benches and the managers for each of the AL West squads in this round, which will be handled a little differently from how we have handled the individual positions so far.

Bench

For benches, we are looking at the quality, depth and flexibility and we’ll have one rankings for the entire team.  While the bench for a team, in it’s entirety, may not play the equivalent of a full 9 innings every game, I feel that it’s still more valuable than just one player.  Given the flexibility and strategic advantage that a strong bench can provide to a team, we are going to double the points awarded in this section.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Kendry Morales/Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Cesar Izturis, Hank Conger, Mike Trout/Peter Bourjos – LAA
  2. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon/Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe – TEX
  3. Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Adam Moore, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders – SEA
  4. Daric Barton, Eric Sogard, Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue, Collin Cowgill – OAK

This is a close one as both the Angels and Rangers have some flexibility with their bench and some starts, but the Angels take the pole here as they have the best two quality players overall in whoever isn’t starting at DH between and Morales and Trumbo and whoever isn’t starting in CF between Trout and Bourjos.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)The Rangers have flexibilty with their starters at every infield position (Young & Napoli in mix with starters), CF and DH (Napoli and others with Younger considered starter) which amplifies the role that the bench players can play on a day-to-day basis.  They clearly outpace the Mariners and Athletics, but fall short of the Angels primarily based on the quality of the players that would make the most impact off of the bench more often.

Manager

Similar to the bench, I feel like the manager rankings have to account for more than just the equivalent of one starter.  Considering the impact that the manager can have on every game, we will be doubling the scoring in this section as well.

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 3)Ron Washington, TEX
  2. Mike Scioscia, LAA
  3. Eric Wedge, SEA
  4. Bob Melvin, OAK
It’s hard to go against managing a World Series winner (Scioscia in 2002) and twice being named the American League Manager of the Year (Scioscia in 2002 & 2009), but when looking forward to 2012, Ron Washington is the best Manager in the American League West.  Washington has managed his team to the World Series in both the last two seasons and finished in the top three of AL Manager of the Year voting over the last three seasons.

In 2012, both managers go into the season with an increased level of expectations and some new stars/phenoms to work with – Pujols & C.J. in LA and Darvish in TEX.  The ranking comes down to who’s hotter as of late and Washington get’s the nod.  That said, Scioscia is an excellent manager that knows how to use his players to maximize productivity and performance.  There isn’t another division in baseball that has two better managers than Wash and Scioscia.

Score at the end of Round 3:

  1. Rangers: 35 from first two rounds + 8 + 10 = 53
  2. Angels: 31 from first two rounds + 10 + 8 = 49
  3. Mariners: 14 from first two rounds + 6 + 6 = 26
  4. Athletics: 14 from first two rounds + 4 + 4 = 22

Round 4 will cover all facets of pitching (starting rotation, relief and closer) and will be posted by this weekend.  At that time, we’ll crown the winner of the American League West in 2012 and notify commissioner Selig that playing the games won’t be necessary this year.  You picking up what I’m laying down here…my point exactly.

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Feb 102012
 

2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)On to round two…

To catch up on what we’re doing and understand the scoring, check out Part 1.

Score at the end of Round 1:

  1. Rangers: 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 = 21
  2. Angels: 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 17
  3. Athletics: 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2 = 8
  4. Mariners: 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 7

Left Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Josh Hamilton, TEX
  2. Vernon Wells, LAA
  3. Seth Smith, OAK
  4. Trayvon Robinson, SEA

Let’s break this down.  Vernon Wells is a better player than what we saw in 2011.  Josh Hamilton is as well.  Josh Hamilton is a better player than Vernon Wells.  Is he so much better that he deserves the bonus point here?  I think so.  If we go by 2011 alone, Josh would easily get the bonus, posting a 4.2 WAR, with Wells at 0.3 (Seth Smith was actually better than Wells with a 1.9).

I’m willing to look beyond just 2011 as I do really think Wells will improve upon his first season with the Angels, in which he only played in 131 games.  That said, I think you could say the same thing about Josh.  While his 2011 numbers look good, they were accomplished in only 121 games due to injuries.  Hamilton posted a .882 OPS, compared to the 1.044 OPS he posted in 2010 (MVP season).

In addition to the superior 2011, Josh is also the superior player.

Center Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Peter Bourjos/Mike Trout, LAA
  2. Coco Crisp, OAK
  3. Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon, TEX
  4. Franklin Gutierrez, SEA

This was the weakest position across the board in 2011, with Bourjos putting together the best year without question.  There are rumors swirling that the Angels may look to deal Bourjos to make room for phenom Mike Trout.  While I like the idea of Bourjos leaving the American League West, I don’t know if I like the idea of Trout getting more playing time.  Whether it’s Bourjos or Trout or a combination of both (worst case), they lead the pack.  In fact, I’m giving the Angels duo the bonus here, which can base on speculation or Bourjos’ production last year (4.2 WAR) compared to the others on the list.

The battle for 2nd here was very close in my mind, and while I think Gentry can continue to improve (if he wins the job outright), I think Crisp is a better player in 2012.  This is definitely one to watch.

You could make an argument to put Gutierrez in the 3rd spot here, but he’s too far removed from his best season (2009) to think he’s going to be able to bounce back enough to outperform whoever mans center for the Rangers.

Right Field

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Torii Hunter, LAA
  2. Nelson Cruz, TEX
  3. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
  4. Josh Reddick, OAK

This was the toughest ranking of the outfield positions by far.  Let’s start at the bottom.

Reddick put together a nice season, but needs to prove he can do it again, which I don’t think he’ll do in 2012 as he’ll be in  much weaker line-up.

Ichiro is a Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest hitters of my lifetime.   Ichiro is also going to turn 39 later this year, and while it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down (40 SBs in 2011), his offensive production is on the decline.

So, it comes down to Nellie and Torii for the top spot.  I know many of my fellow Ranger fans are going to gripe about this one, but I have to give Hunter the top spot for 2012.

Cruz had the higher OPS in 2011, and is the better offensive player at this point.  Hunter is the better defensive player and has proven to be more durable and reliable.  It’s very close, but 150 games from Hunter edges out 125 games from Cruz.  Prove me wrong Nellie…

Designated Hitter

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 2)Michael Young, TEX
  2. Jesus Montero, SEA
  3. Mark Trumbo/Kendry Morales, LAA
  4. Jonny Gomes, OAK

Jesus Montero has the ability to be #1 on this list, as does Mark Trumbo, but they won’t in 2012.

Montero was a very highly regarded prospect that came up in the Yankees farm system and debuted last year with the big league team.  He was recently dealt to Seattle in exchange for Michael Pineda.  While he’s well on his way to becoming a productive big league hitter, he’s still developing and has moved to a weaker line-up.  If we’re talking long-term, Montero is easily #1 on this list, as he has more upside than just about anyone on any of these lists. With that, I feel good about slotting him 2nd.

At first glace, I had the Angels in the 2nd spot here, but The Angels, like the Rangers, have some flexibility (though not as much) with the guys that are going to DH this year in that Trumbo and Morales can also play first base.

The soon-to-be 38 year-old Bobby Abreu struggled in 2011, and is becoming more of a situation hitter as opposed to a full-time DH, so I’ve removed him here.  It’s going to be interesting to see who get the bulk of at-bats at the DH position for LA in 2012.  I’m leaning towards it being split pretty evening, with Morales seeing a few more at-bats if he’s healthy, primarily because he’s a switch hitter.

Score at the end of Round 2:

  1. Rangers: 21 from Round 1 + 5 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 35
  2. Angels: 17 from Round 1 + 3 + 5 + 4 + 2 = 31
  3. Athletics: 8 from Round 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 1 = 15
  4. Mariners: 7 from Round 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 14

Round 3 will be posted early next week and will cover the bench and the manager.

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