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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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 072012
 
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Derek Holland to the 15 Day DL, Ogando to Rotation, Scheppers called up

Go get 'em, kid.

As if being shutout by Bartolo Colon 2-0—the team’s first shutout of the year—isn’t bad enough, the Texas Rangers have placed their second starting pitcher of the year on the disabled list.

Derek Holland, whose fastball lost considerable velocity in the fifth and sixth innings of his last start on Tuesday, has been placed on the 15-day DL with what is being described as left shoulder fatigue.

The “diagnosis” of a shoulder issue was unexpected, as it was initially thought that a stomach virus might be what would cause a possible DL stint. Holland has lost 15 pounds over the last two weeks due to the malady.

Derek Holland’s injury creates a broad-range ripple effect throughout the organization.

Alexi Ogando is back in the rotation

I’m a big Alexi Ogando fan, especially as a starter. I was disappointed when he wasn’t given another chance in the rotation out of spring training.

However, he is a damn fine reliever, and I’m all for the Rangers strengthening what aspects of their game they deem necessary—in that case, it was the bullpen that needed some help.

Ogando’s move to the rotation creates a few questions:

• Is he properly “stretched-out” enough? Can he go more than four-innings a start?

•How will his departure impact the bullpen?

Tanner Scheppers is called up from Triple-A

Scheppers was the Texas Rangers’ 44th overall draft pick out of Fresno State in 2009. He has long been on the team’s 40-man roster, but this will be his first time up in “The Show.”

• Scheppers has been healthy this year but has had a history of injuries in the past.
• Anytime a rookie is brought up, you never really know what you’re going to get in terms of success…they don’t always work out as superbly as Robbie Ross.

Koji Uehara’s heightened roll

Right-handed reliever Koji Uehara has been outstanding for the Texas Rangers in 2012. So good has Uehara been that he is no longer my favorite whipping boy for easy laughs.

Hell, it’s not easy to make fun of a 0.54 WHIP. How will Uehara react now that his importance has been increased greatly?

• Can Koji continue to produce at the same level in high-leverage situations?
• Will he be able to work as a “bridge” in Ogando’s absence?
• Can he go multiple innings if the situation dictates?

Scott Feldman remains the team’s number five starter

Feldman has been a hot topic of debate recently. He has yet to earn a win in his spot starts, and has seemingly pitched worse each time he’s run out there.

Most people—especially after his 8-run shellacking on Monday—wanted Feldman’s head on a platter. They wanted him to be left out of the rotation and kicked off the team….if you were one of those fans then the Holland injury is your worst nightmare.

• Feldman will remain the team’s number five starter—and he might even continue in that role when Roy Oswalt makes his debut in a few weeks.

• Believe it or not, Feldman will be missed in the Rangers bullpen. His continued absence could be an additional blow—coupled with Ogando’s loss—that weakens one of the Rangers’ strengths.

Final Analysis

You never want any of your starters to go down with an injury. One of the keys to the 2011 Texas Rangers was their ability to stay on the field (rotation-wise). This year’s squad—now with just two DL stints—hasn’t by any means been “injury prone” but anytime you lose a starting pitcher, much less two, there are negative ramifications.

Honestly, I feel that this might have occurred at the best possible time for the Texas Rangers. Not only is it early in the season, but many felt that a change might be necessitated by their recent struggles against inferior teams.

Well, here’s that change you’ve been hoping for. Ogando’s back in the rotation, and we finally get to see what the fire-balling right-hander Tanner Scheppers can do.

Relax.

Everything is going to be just fine. Yes, I realize that tomorrow we take off to play the San Francisco Giants in a stadium that we have never won a game in. Hey, all this means is that we’re due.

The Texas Rangers are in first place in the AL West by 4 1/2 games. There’s no need placing your finger anywhere remotely near the panic button as long as we are atop our division.

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Apr 162012
 

Some Thoughts on Yu Darvish and Joe NathanThe Texas Rangers are 8-2 (on pace for 129 wins!) and have earned a much-deserved day off. Still, especially with their red-hot start, a day without Texas Rangers baseball is rough.

It’s similar to the delight of consuming a delicious chocolate shake—loving it all the way—even down to the torturous final sip, when you know it’s almost gone.

Some might say that Joe Nathan has slipped some form of anti-goodness into our shakes, making that final sip—the ninth inning—bitter; even disgusting at times.

The side effects to Yu Darvish’s two rough starts have been astutely diagnosed as follows: dizziness, then drowsiness, followed by acute nausea and, finally, a full-on, wig-splitting headache.

But hell, he’s only partly to blame, after all he didn’t force me to drink beer by the gallon during his starts…or did he?

Well, just like that syrupy filth that your Mom used to give you when you had a cough, sometimes you’ve got to put up with the bad in order to get to the good.

Rest assured, for the Texas Rangers it’s mainly all good, but let’s shed some light on the bad.

Joe “XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXX” Nathan (nickname withheld…hint: rhymes with ‘cod slam smother tucking’)
0-2, 6.00 ERA, 3 Saves, 1 BS, 8 Ks, 0 BBs, 7 hits, 6 IP

We’ve already established that the Rangers are an impressive 8-2. They could have been 9-1 (maybe even 10-0) had it not been for Mr. Two First Names, and his “amazing” slider that seems to break right into the fat part of the opposition’s bats.

Granted, the one or two-win differential doesn’t matter a whole lot, at least not right now. Besides, if the Angels continue to play as they have, we might not have as close a stretch run as originally thought.

Regardless, Nathan has been pretty bad. It’s especially difficult to witness since his stuff seems to be fine, and he ‘s not walking anybody. Literally, he has yet to surrender a free pass.

Here’s hoping last night’s save in Minnesota is a sign of what is to come. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve already come to grips with Wednesday’s blown-save shellacking. As long as Nathan can stay in a groove, and miss some more bats, he should be fine.

Watching Joe Nathan close games gives me a whole new perspective on former closer, Neftali Feliz. It’s similar to watching Michael Young toil around third base when you’re used to watching Adrian Beltre.

Yu Darvish
1-0, 4.76 ERA, IP: 11.1, Hits: 17, BBs: 8, Ks: 9

Sure, I knew (as we all did) that Darvish wasn’t going to be as good as Justin Verlander immediately. Hell, Justin Verlander wasn’t even Justin Verlander until he had a few starts under his belt.

But, Darvish, in his first two starts has looked more like a young A.J. Burnett.

Ouch. But it’s far too early to close the book on Darvish. Remember, he’s only had two starts, and his second one was much better than his first. He’s also routinely praised for his work ethic, is only 25-years-old and teachable.

And, let’s not forget, that during his most recent start against the Twins, he had to deal with Michael Young playing third base. A folding chair with a Rangers hat would stop more ground balls.

Check out this quote from an unnamed scout on Darvish that appeared in one of Ken Rosenthal’s articles today:

“He’s going to give up a ton of hits,” the scout said. “A lot of his fastballs are very straight. The guy is supposed to throw hard. But he basically pitched at 89 to 92, touching 93-94. That’s pretty good in Japan. It’s not very good here.”
“He has a good cutter, a good curveball. But when he gets in trouble, he turns into a breaking-ball guy – nibble, nibble, he won’t let it go. He reminded me of Dice-K.”

I’m not even a big sabermetrics guy, and this idiotic quote makes me want to agree with the notion that scouts are a bunch of numbskulls.

To me the most angering thing about this quote is that it agrees with so much of the other negative crap that seems to assume that Darvish is a finished product, incapable of adjustment.

Dude, it’s not like we bought a Betamax cassette and we only have a VHS player to watch it on.

Darvish is going to be fine. He’s already good enough to be the Rangers’ number four starter, and he’ll only get better.

Now, as for Joe Nathan…well, the Rangers have plenty of other ninth-inning options should the bed-wetting continue

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