- Jeff Wilson (Star-Telegram) wrote a column on Colby Lewis and how he likes the pressure that comes with being the Opening Day Starter.
- Derek Holland’s thoughts on Lewis’ approach, ”He’s been there and done it all. He might not throw 98, but he shows he’s not scared to go inside. His motto is, like, ‘Here it is. Go after it.’ We know we can do those types of things, too, if we focus like he does and carry ourselves like he does.”
- Ron Washington and Michael Young are both in favor of the revisions to the playoff system which would add a second wild-card team in each league. Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) covers the story here.
- Washington’s rationale, ”It does create an extra hurdle, but I’d rather have that extra hurdle than be sitting at home. Getting to the playoffs, I’m never going to look at it as a negative no matter how we got there. You want to win the division, but I wouldn’t complain if I end up winning 94 ballgames and end up being that second wild card. If you’d rather go home, go home.”
- Gil Lebreton (Star-Telegram) wrote a good column on the important role that David Murphy plays on this team.
- C.J. Wilson spoke with The Mason & Ireland show (710AM in LA) recently. When asked how difficult it was to choose the Angels, “I have told everybody it was a totally unpredictable process. You have this idea in July and you think okay it is going to shape out like this. Then October rolls around and November rolls around and you realize you have no idea because there are 30 different general managers, who have 30 different ideas about what’s going on. That could be everything from some teams are interested and other teams weren’t interested at all that I was for sure planning on visiting. It’s a very weird process, but in the end I think I made a good decision for the next 5 years at least to be an Angel too and I am really happy about it.”
- Yu Darvish will face big league hitters for the first time today when he pitches in the intra-squad game. He’ll head to the mound following Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison.
- Evan Grant (Sports Day DFW) shared his thoughts regarding Yu Darvish on SportsDay (Fox Sports SW) yesterday.
- His thoughts on Yu’s first Spring Start (next Wed.), “ I think what you’ll see is a lot of media showing up. The Japanese media has been very excited. There were about 120 people here the day he reported to camp for his first workout. Since then, because the only hitters that Yu has faced are all minor leaguers, I think everybody has grown restless evermore to see him face big league hitters. When he does so on Wendesday in San Diego, I think there’s going to be a postseason atmosphere to it because I think a lot of people are really excited about what this guy may or may not bring to the mound.”
- His thoughts on what the Rangers expect from Yu in 2012, “That’s been the typical question of the Japanese media. “How many games will he win?” And I think what the Rangers are looking for is not wins. I think what they’re looking for is that he can go six or seven innings every time out, not exhaust the bullpen like a lot of young starters do — especially given the fact that you’ve got another young starter in the mix — and that he can get through this adjustment to the five-man rotation. He’s got a lot of things that he’s got to learn this year. He may not give you the complete return that you expect for whatever the investment is over the course this year, but I think he’s going to set himself a very good base for long-term success. He’s got to adjust to the baseball, to the hitters, to the rotation — it’s a lot to try to take on in one year.”
- Rich Gosselin on the three things that must happen for the Rangers to make it to a third consecutive World Series, “Derek Holland emerges as an ace, putting up the numbers C.J. Wilson posted last year.Yu Darvish winning 15 games and the middle of the order – Nelson Cruz , Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli – performing this summer like they did last October. The Angels are going to be stalking the Rangers every step of the way this season so the defending American League champions must play better than in 2011 to reclaim the division.”
- Mike Napoli will test the free agent market after 2012, “I’d love to be here, but I’ll test the market. Every player plays to get to free agency. But it’s not something I’m going to worry about. That’s why I have my agent.”
- Napoli’s ankle feels good after a week of workouts and he plans to catch 3-4 innings in tomorrow’s intrasquad game.
- Yu Darvish put all 7 of his pitches on display yesterday during his BP session. Mike Napoli, who got to catch the session, said “He has great movement. He was throwing the sinker and it moved and he threw a couple of splits where the bottom just dropped out of it. He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He knows how to manipulate the ball.”
- The Rangers are at the center of a international signing controversy with the signing of Dominican teenager Jairo Beras. Beras, who according to Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) “the club believes is 17 years old and eligible to sign with any organization now. But according to reports, other rival executives believe Beras is 16 years old and would not be eligible to sign until July 2. If Beras is 16, he falls under the new rules governing international signings as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams will have a cap of $2.9 million in bonuses it can hand out to international players for one year, starting July 2. After that, the bonus money will be based on record, giving the teams that finish lower in the standings more money to spend. “
- Are you a bobble-head junkie? Beltre, Kins and Wash will be the bobble-heads of choice in 2012 according to the 2012 Promotions schedule.
- Ron Washington and Bobby Valentine are disagreeing on one of the all-time great defensive plays – Jeter’s “flip” during the 2001 ALCS. Valentine argues that Jeremy Giambi would have been out regardless of the flip, and Washington says Jeter makes the out with the flip. I agree with Wash and wonder if Valentine is getting vocal on this simply because he’s in Jeter’s division now. I hate the Yanks just as much as all of you, but respect Jeter – that was one of the greatest defensive plays I’ve ever seen.
- T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a column on Michael Young embracing his current role. Michael is simply a class-act, and I’m so glad he didn’t end up getting shipped to Colorado a year ago for some spare part…
- Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) on David Murphy and his focus for 2012. Murph is going into 2012 hoping for more playing time, but not at the expense of his teammates health, ”I have a positive mindset for my teammates. I know that the last few years I’ve gotten my 400 at-bats because there’s been a lot of injuries and I don’t want Nelson to get hurt or Josh to get hurt. If Nelson gets 150 or 160 games, he’s an MVP candidate. I don’t want him on the bench.
All the same, there’s no reason I need to stress out about anything. Things always seem to happen. I always am able to play some sort of role and that’s something that can’t be predicted and I guess there’s almost no reason to talk about it until the end of the season when it’s all said and done and the games and at-bats columns are final.”
- Murph bring a ton of value to this team as a quality left-handed bat off the bench and a solid 4th outfielder. Would he start for other teams?
Score at the end of Round 2:
- Rangers: 35
- Angels: 31
- Athletics: 15
- 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.
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.
- Kendry Morales/Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Cesar Izturis, Hank Conger, Mike Trout/Peter Bourjos – LAA
- Craig Gentry/Julio Borbon/Leonys Martin, David Murphy, Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe – TEX
- Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Adam Moore, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders – SEA
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Rangers: 35 from first two rounds + 8 + 10 = 53
- Angels: 31 from first two rounds + 10 + 8 = 49
- Mariners: 14 from first two rounds + 6 + 6 = 26
- 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.
- It’s Yu Deadline Day! We’ll know by 4pm today if the Rangers and Darvish were able to reach an agreement. Richard Durrett & David Schoenfield face off on ESPN’s Hot Button explaining why they feel the Rangers should sign (Durrett) or pass (Schoenfield). That link also displays a Jim Bowden video that provides nothing new, but if you’re wanting to drown yourself in Yu Darvish today, give it a watch.
- Tim Kirkjian feels that “one way or another, Yu Darvish is going to sign with the Rangers”, and that seems to be the general sentiment of much of the MLB Media.
- David Murphy, Matt Harrison, Mark Lowe and Mike Adams reach deals with the Rangers to avoid arbitration yesterday. This leaves Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus as the three remaining players that could go to arbitration if a deal is not reached. T. R. Sullivan provides some more details on this matter here.
- Would you want the Rangers to sign Prince Fielder, if it meant that they would not be able to resign Josh Hamilton after the 2012 season? Jasen posted a good article last night examining the scenario, and Jean-Jacques Taylor sided with Hamilton in an article posted on ESPN Dallas this morning. Decide for yourself, and leave a comment below.
- Greg Maddux kicked-off his career as a Ranger yesterday getting up to speed with some of the minor-league pitching talent within the organization. According to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram, “While Greg Maddux will familiarize himself with the pitching prospects this week, one area that he will surely be involved with throughout spring training is the pitchers’ fielding technique. The Rangers’ pitching staff combined for 16 errors last season, including four each by Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis and three by Derek Holland. Greg Maddux, on the other hand, won 18 Gold Gloves during his career, committing 53 errors over 23 seasons.”
- Former Ranger Curtis Wilkerson is coming back to DFW. This time as a manager, as he’ll oversee the Ft. Worth Cats in the 2012 season.
- The Tigers took a serious shot to their line-up yesterday as news broke that Victor Martinez would likely be out for the 2012 season after tearing his ACL during off-season winter workouts. Doesn’t seem likely the Tigers would jump in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes as Prince said he has no interest in being a full-time DH.
- Cole Hamels and the Phillies reached a 1 year agreement yesterday ($15M) to avoid arbitration. The Phillies are said to still be working on a long-term deal with the lefty. If a deal is not reached, Hamels would surely be one of the top free agents next off-season.
This time of year it always fun! The speculation sometimes can be overwhelming, yet exhilarating at the same time. And it’s nice when your team is involved in so much of the speculation, as the Rangers are.
With all the Hot Stove talk, I’m going to put my own plan/scenario out there for the 2012 Rangers.
- Extend Mike Napoli – Arbitration eligible this year, and free to walk after 2012. This guy became a fan favorite over the course of 4 months, and his development (at the plate and behind it) has been astounding. Nap should be the full-time catcher (as discussed in Episode 1), and locking him up now might bring some savings rather than waiting until the end of 2012 when the Rangers would have to deal with signing him in free agency.
- Extend Josh Hamilton – No need to elaborate on this one. The guy has been a huge part of the resurgence and like Nap, is a fan favorite. He needs to remain in a Ranger uniform throughout the remainder of his career for more reasons than production.
- Sign Prince Fielder – I’d love to see $147MM – $160MM over 7 years, but given Prince’s agent and the competition in the bidding, it may require upwards of $190 over 8 years. Prince will turn 28 this season, so that would lock him up through age 34-35, which should be right on the backslide of his prime years.
I think this move makes sense long-term as Prince will be ready to slide to DH right around the time that Michael Young is ready to retire (3-4 seasons?), which could allow Nap to transition to 1B permanently at the age of 33-34, which should help preserve him offensively.
- Trade David Murphy to Oakland for Andrew Bailey – may very well take a little more to make this happen, but I’d think it’d be a marginal prospect at best. Oakland has said that they want an OF in return for Bailey, and while it you don’t see inter-divisional trades that often, I think this make sense for both clubs (given the moves above). Bailey is another right handed arm in the bullpen (along with Adams and new closer Nathan), but gives you some insurance for Nathan and is someone that can close, so he could transition back into that role after 2013 when Nathan’s contract is up.
This move would mean that Mitch Moreland needs to work as an OF more frequently to maintain his usefulness with the big league squad. I think he’s capable.
- Let the current starting pitching rotation ride…for now – I want to see how Feliz is going to work out in the rotation and how Holland, Harrison, Ogando and company are going to continue to develop before throwing a big contract at CJ Wilson or Mark Buerhle. If we could get either of those guys at a good rate, I’d be all over it, but I think both are going to get contracts that are bigger than what the Rangers would be comfortable with.
If Feliz is not working out or injuries decimate the staff, then make a bold move before the trade deadline. The one thing the Rangers have a surplus of is strong prospects, which are better than money during mid-season deals.
I know this increases the payroll, but the time to strike is now, and the revenue generated over the last two seasons (playoff runs, increased fanbase) should be able to finance this.
Thoughts? Post comments and let me know what you think.