Oct 302012
 
YoshiFeldy copy

Thanks to the San Francisco Giants making quick work of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, we can all plop our buns down onto the MLB Hot Stove that much faster.

Sadly, since Major League Baseball free agents have a five-day window until they truly set sail for financially greener pastures, there is painful little news on the free agency front.

Thus, here are some notes on some quasi-newsworthy Texas Rangers stuff:

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to Undergo Changes

So, there is going to be an opening added behind home plate. I suppose this is to subdue the infamous “jet stream” that supposedly prevents the Rangers from signing premiere starting pitchers.

Isn’t the jet stream effectively neutralized by the fact that the Rangers get to pitch against the Houston Astros more than ever next season?

And isn’t the eradication of said jet stream also a bad thing for Rangers’ hitters?

The Rangers also announced that foul territory will be minimized to make room for more “premium” seating. Okay, sure, this one makes sense on a monetary level at least.

However, fans beware: David Murphy and Nelson Cruz might be flying into the stands with greater regularity than a Josh Hamilton bat. Dodging a bat is one thing, but skirting a Boomstick is an entirely different matter…

It could get ugly.

Texas Rangers Offseason News: Feldman Flees; Sayonora Tateyama

Less foul territory could result in Boomstick “Cruzing” into your Boomstick.

All told,  I guess a little change is good. And, hey, if making RBIA less hitter-friendly is what it takes to get Zack Greinke in the house, then I’m all for it.

Rangers Decline Option on Yoshinori “Human Jet Stream” Tateyama; and Scooter McPooter

Goodness, what with the aforementioned solutions to the jet stream problem and the Rangers subsequent dismissal of Yoshi Tateyama, have we seen the last of the long ball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington?

Now that Scott Feldman will fly the coup, let the debate begin: “Who will be the Rangers sixth starter heading into Spring Training 2013?” Goosebumps. I got ‘em.

On a side note, I knew buying 100 tee shirts with “Hottie Tate…yama that is!” might not have been the best business investment.

No biggie, I’ve still got my “Roy Oswalt MVP” shirts to fall back on…

Will the Rangers Go After the Young Japanese HS Phenom?

Japanese High School right-hander, Shohei Otani, made it public that he intends to enter the Major League Baseball Draft rather than play baseball professionally in Japan.

The Texas Rangers have been rumored to be very interested in drafting the pitching prospect, whose fastball has been registered as fast as 200 Nautical Miles an Hour, or something like that.

Numerous quotes from inside sources have also linked the Rangers to Otani, but since I don’t speak Japanese, I have no freaking idea what was said.

In all seriousness, I think the Rangers stand a very solid chance of landing Otani. After all, what Japanese teenager wouldn’t want the opportunity to play alongside Yu Darvish?

@TMurrayHowell

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Sep 032012
 
Yu2

Chen Music: Rangers Rough up Royals, 8 4Well, that was a very satisfying win…one that was almost a true “KC Masterpiece.” Yu Darvish was outstanding. He retired the first 17 batters he faced—and almost made it 18—before allowing his first baserunner.

All told, Darvish lost the perfecto, no-hitter and shutout in that three-run sixth inning but still managed one of his better starts of the season.

Normally it’s hard to top a possible perfecto, but the way the Rangers’ offense has been swinging it of late, that’s exactly what happened.

Here’s a look at some numbers of note and notes on those numbers…

87

• The number of pitches Yu Darvish threw over his seven innings. It’s the fewest he’s pitched in a game all season and the lowest total pitch count since he threw 93 back on May 27 against the Blue Jays.

• Today marked the eleventh time Darvish has worked at least seven innings in a game, and it was the third consecutive time he’s done so.

1 and 1 equals 2

• Number of times Nelson Cruz was plunked in today’s game. Also the number of pitches it took for Michael Young to connect for a two-run home run immediately after Cruz’s beaning in the ninth inning.

9

• Number of points David Murphy—currently in third place in the A.L. batting race—trails leader Mike Trout (.333).

• Murphy qualified for the batting title yesterday after obtaining the necessary number of plate appearances. A player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game played.

80

• Current Rangers win total. It’s the third-fastest time the Rangers have reached that mark in the franchise’s 40-year history. Just like the 1999 Texas Rangers, they landed win number 80 in game number 134. They also share an identical record with their 20th Century predecessors up to this point (80-54). The ’99 club finished at 95-67, a team record for wins that stood until last year, when the Rangers notched 96 regular season wins.

507

• Career wins for Rangers’ manager Ron Washington. Today’s 8-4 win pushed him past Johnny Oates (506) for second place on the all-time list. Current Boston Red Sox skipper, Bobby Valentine, had 581 wins during his tenure as the Rangers’ manager, from 1985-1992.

11

• Number of home runs Adrian Beltre has hit in his last ten games. He’d hit 17 in his previous 120 games…

Up Next:

LHP Matt Harrison (15-8, 3.30 ERA) toes the rubber for the Rangers tomorrow and will oppose Royals’ RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-12, 5.48 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (CST).

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Jul 212012
 
Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels

Scott attempts to trade Jasen to an Oakland Athletics blog and podcast, which leads to discussion about the trade deadline and what we think the Rangers should do.

  • What are the top 2 needs for the current Rangers squad?
  • Who are some of the trade targets?
  • Who would the Rangers have to give up in return?  Profar?  Olt?  Perez?

Podcast Episode 16   Rangers Trade Deadline Talk (Part 1)Unfortunately, the Philly pictured here has not been put on the trading block.

We’ll have part 2 of the Trade Deadline podcast up next Saturday, as the rumors continue to heat up through the week leading up to the deadline at 4pm on July 31st.

Be sure to check out our Trade Target Profiles on Justin Upton and Cole Hamels…we’ll have more of these coming through the deadline as well.

Stay tuned for details on a game watching party at Mixed Up Burgers!

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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 292012
 
feldman

Feldman Good Enough as Rangers Bats Stay Hot in 7 6 Win Over OaklandSeriously, how often does a starting pitcher’s ERA begin at 6.00, actually increase by 0.13 over the course of the game, and he earns the win? Probably not too often.

Scott Feldman, much like Roy Oswalt two nights ago, lived dangerously but still escaped with the victory as the Rangers held off the A’s 7-6.

Feldman’s main issue was the long ball—as he surrendered three over his five innings of work. Oswalt basically threw BP against Detroit, coughing up 13 hits over his six innings the night before last.

But hey, both Scooter and the Whiz have now won their last two starts. Hey, for Roy Oswalt this is still spring training. For Feldman, it’s always spring training.

Regardless, it’s good to be on the right side of Texas’ potent offense—especially when you don’t have your best stuff. Just make it through five or six, and let the sticks get your back.

Cliff Lee might be 10-0 right now—rather than winless—had he decided to stay in Arlington. I’m sure he’ll cry himself to sleep on a pillow stuffed with money.

Notes from last night:

• Adrian Beltre remains en fuego. You’re know you’re going well when you go 0-for-3, but still manage to drive in two runs.

• David Murphy continues to tear it up. Murphy went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI last night, and combined with his 4-for-5, 5 RBI night prior, he’s now raised his batting average 20 points. Murphy is not one of the flashiest players on the team, but he has a real knack for turning up his game at the most opportune times.

• Just when the criticism surrounding the Rangers’ leadoff hitter seems to reach a crescendo, Ian Kinsler catches fire. The Rangers’ second baseman is now batting .571 with 6 runs scored over his last three games. Kinsler leads the major leagues in runs scored, and his double last night pushes him into the American League lead, with 25.

• Texas Rangers super-utility man, Michael Young, may have turned the corner on a disappointing start to the season. After going 2-for-4 last night, Young is batting .370 during his current six-game hitting streak.

• Josh Hamilton went 2-for-3 last night with 2 RBI. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hamilton’s showing last night was his ability to grind-out two walks.

Prior to last night, he’d walked just three times in ten games. Seems he’s seeing the ball better now, and if that’s the case, the Oakland Athletics—as well as the American League as a whole—might be in trouble.

Up Next:

Lefty Matt Harrison (10-3, 3.24) will oppose Oakland’s right-hander A.J. Griffin (0-0, 3.00 ERA). The first pitch scheduled for 7:05 (CT).

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Jun 252012
 

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

The Rangers are now finished with their summer fling—aka the N.L. West.

Much like that wonderful summer camp fling, interleague play has come to a close.

Yes, the National League—as well as that young lady that believed you were “All-State in two different states”—will be greatly missed.

The Texas Rangers went 14-4 against the National League this year—a success rate (77%) that wouldn’t be believed even during beer-fueled boasts around the campfire.

Granted, the N.L.—especially the N.L. West—didn’t present the toughest of challenges, but hey, for every girl that gives you the cold shoulder, there’s always that naïve new girl—usually from Beaumont—that buys your BS.

So let’s not denigrate the Rangers’ accomplishments against inferior foes. Hey, they’ve won 12 of 15 as well as 8 of their last 10—so who cares if the contestants speak with a stammer or make their own clothes?

You’ve still got to win, baby.

Tonight the Rangers will have to raise their game—having a car isn’t enough to make the ladies swoon anymore, and plating four runs won’t do it against the A.L.—with the Detroit Tigers landing in Arlington for a three-game series.

Regardless of their standings (third in the A.L. Central), the Tigers represent the toughest lineup the Rangers have faced in quite some time. It will be fun to see if the team with the best record in the bigs—the Rangers!—can continue their dominance against non-N.L. foes.

Tonight’s Lineup:

Detroit Tigers (35-37)

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

Miggy mashes Texas: .379/.415/.568 with 8 HRs.


CF Austin Jackson
LF Quintin Berry
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
DH Delmon Young
RF Brennan Boesch
SS Jhonny Peralta
2B Ramon Santiago
C Gerald Laird

VS

RHP Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.5 K/9)

Grimm made his major league debut in his last start, and pitched well despite getting into trouble almost immediately, surrendering a first inning home run to Houston’s shortstop, Jed Lawrie.

Grimm ducked and dodged danger effectively, allowing three runs on six hits with zero walks and seven strikeouts over his six innings of work.

A very solid debut, no doubt.

Tonight he’ll have his work cutout for him as he looks to subdue a Tigers offense that is MUCH stronger than the Houston Astros’. Detroit has the seventh-best offense in MLB: .262/.327/.408.

Grimm—in the ultimate example of a small sample, one game—dominated right-handed batters: .167/.167/.333. On the flip-side, southpaws mauled him: .364/.364/..727 with one home run (Lawrie).

This will be the first time Grimm will face an American League team during his brief big league career.

Texas Rangers (45-28)

Justin Grimm vs. Rick Porcello, a Rangers/Tigers Game 1 Preview

Murphy has been stellar against Detroit: .310/.347/.483 with 3 HRs over his career.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
DH David Murphy
C Mike Napoli
CF Leonys Martin

VS

RHP Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 5.9 K/9)

Porcello has had a rough go of it since finishing third in the Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2009. Since that promising rookie campaign that saw Porcello go 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA, he’s gone 24-21 with a 4.83 ERA (excluding his 2012 numbers).

It’s safe to say that the opposition has figured him out.

And if any team has mastered Porcello, it is the Texas Rangers. On April 21, of this year, the Rangers absolutely crushed the 6’5” right-hander.

How bad was it?

Well, let’s just say he wasn’t just manhandled, he was “Feld-manhandled
Porcello lasted one inning, surrendering nine runs (eight earned) while allowing 10 hits and one home run. He did, somehow, manage one strikeout with one free pass sprinkled in for good measure.

The Texas Rangers own a .377 batting average against Porcello. In terms of splits this year, Porcello has been remarkably mediocre whether it be at home (2-3, 4.70 ERA), on the road (2-2, 5.29 ERA); against left-handed batters (.330/.375/.511, 5 HRs) or right-handed batters (.308/.349/.442, 3 HRs).

David Murphy (.800, 2 RBI), Ian Kinsler (.667, 5 RBI) and Michael Young (.500, 6 RBI) will be particularly pleased to see Porcello this evening.

Prediction time:

I think the Rangers will pound on Porcello once again. As is usually the case with my predictions, I could be as wrong as skinny pants and hipsters, so I offer no guarantees on my often misguided attempts at clairvoyance.

Regardless:

Rangers roll 9-3 as Grimm picks up his second win in as many chances and Josh Hamilton goes yard for the first time since June 8, and not one damn summer camp ex-girlfriend follows me back on Twitter.

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Jun 012012
 

Rangers head to Los Angeles of Anaheim

Friday Morning Knuckleballs5 1/2 games separate the Rangers and Angels.  By the end of the weekend, that margin could be as small as 2 1/2 or as large as 8 1/2.  It’s hard to label this series as “pivotal” given the separation between the two teams and the fact that it’s still early June, but we know how good the Angels could be, and we were all expecting that this would be a season long battle for the American League West.

Three weeks ago, the Rangers and Angels met at the Ballpark, with the Rangers taking 2 of 3.  Since then, the Angels have gone 11-6, including an 8 game winning streak.  During that same stretch, Albert Pujols has started showing signs of life (7 home runs) and former Ranger C.J. Wilson has been nothing short of spectacular…still a douche…but spectacular (1.05 ERA in last 3 starts).

“It’s not surprising,” Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. “They’re basically playing how we and everyone else in the world expected them to play. When you spend as much money in free agency as they did and when you get off to as bad of a start as they did, you’re bound to draw some negative attention. They’re back on track.”

During that same stretch, the Rangers have put together an uninspiring 8-8 record.  The pitching staff has continued it’s descent back to earth and the offense has been sporadic at best.  That said, the Rangers are good enough to display a level of dominance that could beat an all-star team at any moment, and it’s this that makes us feel good heading into this weekend…that and the fact that Jerome Williams can’t continue to pitch as well as he has (5-2, 3.81 ERA).

“Beyond the fact that they’re the defending AL West champions and a pretty good ballclub, we have to approach them like any other team,” Angels slugger Mark Trumbo said. “If we treat them like Goliaths, I think we’re going to be defeated going into the series. I don’t think you’re ever going to hear anybody in this room say they’re fearful of that team or think that they’re a better ballclub because that’s just not the case.”

Quick Hits

  • Rangers closed out the month of May with a .500 record at 14-14.
  • New Ranger Roy Oswalt will make his first start of the season tomorrow for Round Rock.  Oswalt spoke with media yesterday, and sounds eager to contribute.

“Looking at the team as a whole, one through nine, it’s probably the best lineup in the game,” Oswalt said. “I was thinking that if I could get over here and help the team out, as far as eating up some innings and take a little pressure off the bullpen, that maybe it would push them over the top.”

  • Oswalt also shared his wait-and-see approach to this season.

“This is the team to beat,” Oswalt said. “I made the decision to wait until the season started. It gave me a little bit of an opportunity to evaluate the teams and see just who I thought would be the best team going into it. A lot of times, you look good on paper at the beginning of the season, and then things can change here and there.”

Take me to the Card Shop

Friday Morning Knuckleballs

Larry Cox sporting the sweet beard…before they were uncool and then cool again.

 

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Apr 112012
 

Wednesday Morning CurvesLast night felt good.  There wasn’t a player on this team I wanted to see succeed more than Neftali Feliz, and not just because of the bold prediction that I made in my preseason article about him, “The Other New Guy”.   Last night Neftali Feliz put together the best performance of any starting pitcher on this rotation the first time through.  The 7 inning gem was also his longest performance in his professional career (including in the Minors where max was 6 1/3).

Believe me, I know the season is still very young, and he’s got a long way to go to get to my prediction of 16 wins…but you have to be excited about what you saw last night.  Feliz proved that he is more than just a flame-throwing closer and that he does indeed have an effective changeup and a pretty salty slider that compliment his fastball – which really never reached the velocity that we’re used to seeing from Feliz, whether by design or simply because his arm strength is still ramping up.

Feliz gave up only four hits and two walks over 7 innings while striking out four – all on 108 pitches…and all in a game that seemed to be over in the blink of an eye due to his rapid pace and control.  He is only the third Rangers pitcher to ever throw at least seven scoreless innings in his first big league start.

“I was trying to throw all my pitches and keep them low and I did that,” Feliz said. “There is a big difference between being a closer and being a starter. As a starter you have to think and be calm and execute. The first inning I had to make a little adjustment. I had a little pressure on me and I had to work out of it and make my pitches.”

“Awesome,” catcher Mike Napoli said. “He did a great job. We kind of noticed his changeup was on and we were going with it and it was good pitch for him tonight. That can change from night to night. He had that going and we used it a lot. That’s what you’ve got to do as a starter. You can’t go out there and throw fastballs every single time through the lineup. You’ve got to be able mix it up and he did that.”

“Everybody knows he can throw 100, but he was mixing in a lot of pitches tonight,” Mariners DH Jesus Montero said. “He struck me out on an off-speed pitch the first time, so I kind of forgot about the fastball for a little bit. Then I got base hits on a slider and changeup. He was unbelievable tonight. Amazing.”

“He just did a really good job of pitching,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “What’s impressive is that wasn’t his routine as a closer. As a closer he would come in the ninth and throw bullets. Tonight was all pitching.”

Neftali’s next start will come this Sunday at 1:05 in Minnesota against the Twins.

Quick Hits:

  • Wednesday Morning CurvesDavid Murphy continues to perform at the plate, as he was 3-3 with two doubles and the games lone RBI last night.

“I want to stay the course,” Murphy said. “I feel like in the past if I had a start like this, I might start swinging hard and thinking in my mind that I’m playing with house money and getting outside myself. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s just five games and there’s a lot of baseball to be played.”

  • Neftali was amazing last night, and the opposing pitcher, former Rangers 1st round pick Blake Beavan was pretty salty as well.
  • Gotta love the smart base running by Adrian Beltre last night to keep a rundown going long enough for Michael Young to advance to second base.  If you missed it, T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) broke it down and there is video.

“That’s baserunning 101 right there,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You get caught in a rundown, you have to stay alive as long as you can to let the guy get the extra base. That’s exactly what he did.”

  • The Ian Kinsler extension is expected to be made official later today, after Kinsler completed the physical yesterday.  The Rangers fully expect the young second baseman to be declared “healthy” later today and will announce the contract shortly thereafter.

“Well deserved,” outfielder David Murphy said. “He is as complete of a player as you’ll see in the big leagues and has the best instincts of any player I’ve ever played with. He loves the game. He’s the ultimate competitor.”

Washington on Ian Kinsler as a clubhouse leader: “He’s matured into a lieutenant. We have a couple of generals and a couple of captains, he was a sergeant, now he’s a lieutenant. Kinsler has gained his respect every year, not only in our clubhouse but around the league.”

  • Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Opening Day starter Colby Lewis are among the players who could still become free agents after the 2012 season.  Kinsler told Napoli that he was next yesterday in the locker room, and while I know it would be nice to get both Napoli and Hamilton locked up during the season, the lpossibility of a deal with Napoli in the near future seems more likely.

“I guess we’ll see,” Napoli said. “I don’t know, but I hope we can get something done. The bottom line is I want to be here, but I really don’t know how it is going to work out.”

  • Utility infielder Albert Gonzalez got into the game in the 9th inning last night, meaning that Brandon Snyder is the last man to get on the field.
  • The Rangers face off with former Ranger Kevin Millwood tonight, first pitch 7:05pm.  Colby Lewis will take the mound for Texas.
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Apr 092012
 

Monday Morning FastballsA couple of months ago when the Rangers were rumored to be interested in free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt, he was the guy who was thought to lose his spot in the rotation.

For the last 2-3 years when writers/fans praise Jon Daniels for the quality bounty he got in return for Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves, he isn’t mentioned first…or even second.

When (most of) you think of the breakout left-handed starter on the Texas Rangers, he’s not the first name that comes to mind.

Last night…he was brilliant, and we all took notice.

Matt Harrison was dominant throughout Spring Training, and he brought that same command and presence into the regular season last night in front of 45,368 cheering Rangers fans and possibly more importantly, in front of baseball fans worldwide on the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game.  Harrison pitched six scoreless frames against the Chicago White Sox to give the Rangers the 2-1 series win.

“I was able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes early in the game,” Harrison said. “It gave them something to swing at besides my fastball. They fouled a lot of pitches off early, but I just kept pounding the strike zone and making them put the ball in play.”

“Harrison pitched great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is one of those where you tip your hat to him.”

“Outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “Harrison had a good sinker working, he was moving the ball up and down, in and out, good breaking ball. Early in the game they fouled off so many pitches it put him in a bad way at the end, but he gave us what we needed tonight.”

  • Harrison gave up 4 hits and allowed 2 walks while striking out 3 across his six innings of work.
  • Hamilton, Beltre & Murph all went yard in this game, with Hamilton’s being a ridiculous 441 foot blast that initially looked like it was going to exit the stadium.
  • Hamilton also made two nice snags in center field.

Quick Hits:

  • Tonight is the debut of Yu.  Tickets are still available from the Rangers and on StubHub.  Why aren’t you going?
  • Robbie Ross was impressive last night in his Major League debut, working a scoreless 8th inning, striking out Paul Konerko and walking one.
  • Jasen and I will be at the game tonight, so hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo).
  • We will be recording this weeks podcast tomorrow night.  If you’d like to submit a question or topic, please comment on this post or sent it via the Contact Us page.
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Mar 192012
 

Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersThe Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.

  • Harrison on the outing, ”So far, so good.  Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that.”
  • Manager Ron Washington on the effectiveness of Harrison’s changeup, ”I’ve always thought that was his second-best pitch.  He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he’s continued to work on it and it’s gotten better.”
  • Two of Harrison’s strikeouts came on changeups, which is an encouraging sign from the young starter.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor discusses how the Rangers rotation is starting to take shape.
  • Ron Washington said a few weeks ago that he was going to split Harrison and Holland up in the rotation, which makes perfect sense.  To me, I’ve though the debate was whether they would fall in the second and fourth spots of the rotation or the third and fifth, with Darvish and Feliz taking the other two spots.  After the strong performances from Holland this Spring, I think it’s clear the order looks like this:
  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz
  • Washington on Holland and Harrison expectations, “I don’t want them having 18 or 20 wins on their mind.  If they set out to do what they did last year, they’ll surpass it without even trying. If they repeat the number of wins they had last year, that’s good enough for me – anything else is failure. I don’t want them going backward.”

Quick hits:

  • C.J. Wilson is an idiot.
  • The Rangers have partnered with the Japanese social media company gloops.  The partnership will include a gloops exclusive Japanese backdrop during press conferences, a fixed sign behind home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and signs around Surprise Stadium for the rest of spring training.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDavid Murphy and Brad Hawpe each went yard in the other split-squad game yesterday, before the game was called short in the 4th inning due to rain.
  • Torrealba was removed from the line-up due to stiffness in his back.  He did get some batting practice in, so it looks like his removal was precautionary.
  • Craig Gentry returned yesterday from his wrist injury that he sustained last week.  He went 0 for 2.
  • Prospect Robbie Ross, who is fighting for the bullpen role, started the game against the Brewers yesterday and didn’t fare well, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits across 2 1/3 innings.
  • Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Ross’ outing,  ”He was aggressive, went right after these guys.  He just didn’t have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders.  He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn’t back off from them. He came right at them. I didn’t see any intimidation, and I didn’t see any fear. He just didn’t quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there.”
  • Good article from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) on Johan Yan, who the Rangers are hoping to convert from a poor hitting fielder to a strong armed relief pitcher, just as they did Alexi Ogando.  Another current Ranger who made a similar conversion was Joe Nathan, who was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Giants.

Darvish Day III:

  • Yu Darvish will be on the mound and Mike Napoli will be catching today when the Rangers play the Brewers.  The game will be live on MLB.TV, at 3:05 p.m.  Darvish is making his third start and will be looking to throw 60 pitches across four innings.  Napoli, who has been dealing with a strained groin muscle, will be back behind the plate for the first time since March 8.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDarvish reportedly generated more than $250 million of advertising revenue in January alone.
  • Pitching coach Mike Maddux on Darvish (from Ben & Skin, 103.3FM ESPN), “So far we’ve got five innings to go on. In those five innings, we had some ups, and we had some downs. We had more ups especially the ball being up and down. It’s just something we need to continue to grind at. We’re going to work today and really get that ball going down. He showed us some good breaking stuff, and that’s kind of bailed him out since his fastball command has been erratic. He’s a confident young man. He only knows success. You look at his track record in the Japanese league, and he was dominating. His expectations are to go out there and dominate, but it’s a little different game over here. There is a more concentration of talent so he has to grind it out, and I think he’s learning that.”
  • Maddux on overcoming the language barrier with Yu, “It’s somewhere between broken English, broken Spanish and broken Japanese. Some how, we got it all on the same page. The good news with baseball is that it’s an international language. Whether you’re in Tokyo or Arlington, Texas, it’s fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, change. It’s a strike and a ball. Some of the phrases are universal. There are some phrases that everybody knows whether they be in English or in Japanese or in Spanish. You kind of use those bullet phrases, and we all get on the same page. We’re able to get the communication bridged. When we come to the dugout, we really start getting the communication bridged when we employ the translators.”
  • Darvish’s younger brother, Sho Darvish, was sentenced to a one-year prison term for assaulting a female friend. According to the Japan Times, Sho repeatedly slapped the woman in the face and tried to choke her. The attack reportedly resulted from Sho’s anger over her association with some of her friends.

St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner

  • Thanks to all those that participated!  The winner of the tickets is rauch5s.  We’ll get in touch with the winner and get the tickets out in the mail this week.  Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the season!
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