Mar 202012
 
Tuesday Morning SlidersYu Darvish pitched 4 innings in the Rangers 5 – 3 loss to the Brewers yesterday.  The Rangers were in control of the game when Darvish left, with a 3-1 lead, but Joe Nathan surrendered the lead in the 6th inning.
  • Darvish allowed a run on 1 hit in 4 innings of working, striking out 3 and walking 3.  He also threw a wild pitch and hit a batter, so harnessing the control is still a work in progress which is perfectly fine for  Spring Training.
  • This was his first Spring Training game in which Yu pitched from the wind-up.
  • Darvish on the outing and his delivery, ”The way my body is working, my delivery, I can’t really repeat it all the time right now.  The consistency is not there. That’s why you see some good pitches and some bad ones. And I don’t expect it to be perfect right now anyway. Those are some things I’m going to continue to plan on polishing as we go on.”
  • Darvish on NL MVP Ryan Braun, ”He’s a tremendous hitter, has a tremendous swing.  I’m still new here and I don’t think it’s proper for me to evaluate him yet, but he’s a very good hitter.”
  • Pitching Coach Mike Maddux on Darvish, ”He progressed the way he wanted to today.  We worked two times and skipped a live BP to get more mound time. I was happy with his outing. He commanded the fastball and threw some good breaking balls.”
  • Closer Joe Nathan came on in the 6th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits – should you panic?  No, but should you watch Nathan closely once the regular season gets underway?  Yes.
  • SS Elvis Andrus went 3-4 with a sweet bunt single in the 1st inning.  Both Elvis and Ian are really producing in Spring Training.  Hopefully, they can carry that momentum into the regular season.
  • Prospect Tanner Scheppers got through only 2/3 of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks.

Quick hits:

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers and Derek Holland are on the verge of reaching a 5 year agreement.  No details are known at this time, so stay tuned throughout the week to find out the future of the Dutch Oven.
  • Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com) wrote “A New Start for Feliz; in more ways than one”, which rehashes Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, but also provides a closer look into the mindset of Feliz.  I’m really pulling for Neftali to experience some success in 2012.  His stuff is great, and I think he has the make-up to be a great starting pitcher in this league for a long time.
  • The Rangers optioned 7 pitchers to the minors yeterday:
  1. Neil Ramirez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  2. Miguel De Los Santos (Double-A Frisco)
  3. Jake Brigham (Double-A Frisco)
  4. Justin Miller (Triple-A Round Rock)
  5. Cody Eppley (Triple-A Round Rock)
  6. Roman Mendez (High-A Myrtle Beach)
  7. Martin Perez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  • Yu Darvish will not face the Angels this coming weekend when the Rangers square off with their nemesis in Spring Training, instead he’ll pitch in an intra-squad game.  I like the strategy.  No point in giving the Angels batters an opportunity to see Darvish live from the batter’s box before it really counts.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersMike Napoli is not pleased with C.J. Wilson’s attempt at a Twitter prank, and neither are we.  Jasen and I sounded off on this last night, when we attempted to record the weekly podcast only to find out that the file was corrupted and it was all for not.  Regardless, just know that we think this was a crappy thing for C.J. to do, and if we knew Kung Fu, we’d probably use it on him…
  • Josh Hamilton on potential of free agency after the 2012 season, ”Free agency is free agency.  If they sign me now, it’d probably cost less. If they sign me there (free agency), it’d cost more. So we’ll see.  Obviously, I told the Rangers that they get first shot, and I mean that. I have loyalty to the Rangers. They’ve been good to me and my family, and it’s been a good relationship.”
  • Does this make up for the “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comment?  That’s for you to decide.  For me, I think Josh is over-correcting and probably just needs to let it go.
  • The Rangers meet up with the Cubs today in a split squad match-up in Mesa, AZ at 3:05.  Neftali Feliz will take the ball for the Rangers against Ryan Dempster.
  • Michael Young has now hit in eight consecutive Spring Training games, so watch to see if he can extend that today.
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Feb 272012
 
  • Monday Morning FastballsOver the weekend, Josh Hamilton addressed his comments from Friday’s press conference saying, “If it does go to free agency, the first place I’m coming is here.  If I owe anything, it’s that. My loyalty is here. This is where I’ve been. This is where my family’s been, so obviously I’d love to stay here more than anywhere else. So first of all, they get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here.”
  • Hamilton further clarified his “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comments saying, ”What I owe is 100 percent on the field.  My employee-employer relationship is to give 100 percent in the clubhouse, to the fans, everything I’ve done while I’ve been here. That’s what I owe to the Rangers. I’ve done those things and I’m going to continue to do those things. That’s what I mean by it.”
  • Again, I know it’s a business, but you just hate to hear a star player have to use the “employee-employer relationship” line.  If you missed our take on his statement from Friday, check it out here.
  • Josh went on to comment on the potential of negotiations during the season, saying ”If it’s during the season, I’m not going to know about them because I’ve asked not to know about them.  I trust my agent. He’s not just my agent, but a close friend and mentor of mine, somebody I go to for advice and I really trust. I leave that up to him. I just say call me when there is something worth talking about.  I’m just going to leave it up to him. If they approach him and he feels like it is something to go forward with, I’ll leave it up to him. It’s not going to be something I’m focusing on, concentrating on.”
  • Monday Morning FastballsJoe Nathan addressed the team during a team meeting yesterday which was intended to be a chance for the team, coaches and staff to air all of their feelings about how the World Series ended.  The veteran newcomer said “I talked about what it looks like from the outside looking in.  For me, watching that, they were the better team. What happened is baseball. Stuff happens in this game is sometimes unexplainable, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t the better team and I’m excited to be here and that they had nothing to be ashamed about.”
  • Nathan went on to talk about the current state of the team, saying ”I don’t think anybody is hanging their heads about last year.  I don’t think there’s a reason to hang your heads about last year. They’ve got a lot of things to be proud of about what they did last year. Even though it’s tough and you want to win and had a chance to win, you’ve still got to be excited about where this team is and where this team has been and 28 other teams wanted to be in their spot even though it was a tough way to go down.”
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) covers the team meeting in more detail here.
  • Monday Morning FastballsElvis Andrus is listed as day-to-day after having a Plantar’s wart removed from his heel.  Shouldn’t have any long-term impact on the young shortstop.
  • Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) shared his thoughts on the Rangers batting order: “I’d move Michael Youngto second and Elvis down to the lower third, but only if Young could be more of a situational hitter. His track record suggests he’s been prone to too many double play balls. I’d rather have Elvis hitting eighth or ninth with speed around him there, than to dropMitch Morelandto the 8th spot. Think the Rangers could do some manufacturing from bottom third of order that way.”
  • Evan isn’t alone in his thoughts above.  Elvis makes more sense hitting 2nd in terms of small-ball, while Young brings better numbers all-around.  It’ll be interesting to see if this changes in 2012.  If I had to guess, I’d say that it won’t change, only because I think Elvis will take another step forward in his offensive development in 2012, and you can tell that Ron loves having him in the 2 hole.
  • Grant also discussed the pitching staff, saying “I’m a little concerned. There is a lot of talent, but little track record. Both Holland and Harrison have only one half season each of real success. Lewis gave up 35 homers last year and I don’t expect that number is going to go down markedly. While Feliz and Darvish have limitless potential, neither has started a major league game. If everything goes right, it’s a dominant rotation, maybe the best and youngest in the league. But how often do things fall just right?”
    ROTATION: Lewis, Holland, Darvish, Harrison, Oswalt.
    BULLPEN: Feliz or Nathan (closer), Feliz or Nathan (setup), Ogando (setup), Mike Adams (middle/setup),Scott Feldman (long), a lefty TBA and one spot open for a Tateyama or someone of that level.
  • Jasen and I provided our thoughts on the pitching staff in last Monday’s podcast.  While it would be shocking to see Feliz not have a spot in the rotation after the signing of Nathan and the way things ended in 2011, I understand Grant’s position in that Oswalt brings more of a track record.  With the improvements that the Angels made, this is not a season where the Rangers will be able to risk losses due to experimentation – Feliz needs to prove he can be in this rotation during Spring Training.
  • As far as the “lefty TBA” mentioned above, watch out for phenom prospect Martin Perez.  Both minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark and manager Ron Washington have talked about his limited performance so far this Spring and have been impressed.
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Feb 142012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersHappy Valentines Day to all our ex and current lovers.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote yesterday that Mike Napoli’s ankle injury continues to progress.  Regarding the ankle, Napoli says, ”I think I’m close.  I’m not really going to know until I get into the wear and tear of spring training and catching all the time. But I’ve been feeling good and getting better day by day.”
    And it looks like Nap is eager to get back, ”I can’t wait to get back there and see all those boys and get back into it again.  I wish I was leaving now. I’m ready to do baseball stuff and not just working out.”
  • Gerry Fraley (SportsDay DFW) writes “Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty indicated on Monday that he believes free-agent righthander Roy Oswalt eventually will land with the Texas Rangers.”  Jocketty spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer recently and said that he believes Oswalt is “waiting for Texas to clear money.”
    This has been in the back of my mind all along.  We have asked the question many times of why is Oswalt waiting so long to sign somewhere.  Given that he’s a veteran that knows where he wants to be and probably values that more than money, he is either waiting for the Rangers to clear up some room to pay him or he’s waiting for the Cardinals to increase their offer to a respectable level.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article summarizing some key questions, off-season moves, and leaders from 2011.  Check it out here. Jasen and I will be discussing the questions that the Rangers need to answer on an upcoming podcast.
  • Rangers Senior Director of Play Development (and former Astros GM), Tim Purpura, sat down with Rangers Magazine to discuss a number of hot topics.  Bryan Dolgin covers everything here.  Some highlighs:On Oswalt, “The fact of the matter is, I think, in any offseason other than this one, it might have been something that made a whole lot of sense. Given the fact that we already have six starters, adding another one to the mix and changing the dynamics of where we’re at … that’s something that I think has been part of the thought process.  Is that the right step? The right move for the Texas Rangers right now?”On JD, “He’s a very patient person. He’s a very analytical person. He looks at all sides of the issue which I think you absolutely have to as a general manager. He solicits opinions extremely well.  He’s got a very talented group surrounding him with Thad Levine, AJ Preller and Don Welke. And, he listens to everyone and then he makes his decision as to which course he wants to take which is exactly a way a general manager should operate.”

    On Rangers Pitching Prospect Martin Perez coming up to the big leagues this season as a closer, “Those are tough decisions from the point of view of this is a guy who probably is at the top of the list of our starting pitchers in the minor leagues as being a number one starter down the line. You have to balance the development process with the need to win at the major league level.  It’s a delicate balance.”

  • The A’s and Cuban free-agent Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a 4 year $36M contract yesterday.  The Marlins were considered the heavy favorites to sign Cuban mega-prospect.
    David Schoenfield (ESPN.com) asks three good questions now that Cespedes has signed.
  • Big Papi (David Ortiz) and the Red Sox avoided their arbitration hearing just hours before it was scheduled by agreeing to a contract for 2012 that will pay the slugger $14.575M.  Someone on Twitter pointed out yesterday that our DH makes more.  Not sure if this was a pride-point or said in jest, but a strong argument can be made for Young over Ortiz,  starting with he can play anywhere in the infield in a pinch (didn’t say he would be a gold glover…).
  • Dirk…
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Feb 102012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsThe Rangers and Nelson Cruz reached an agreement on a contract yesterday, avoid arbitration and locking the slugger up for the next two seasons.  Sources say the contact is ~$16.5M after incentives.
    Cruz is looking forward to a big 2012, saying “I feel like I’m in better shape right now than in the past.  I expect a big performance of myself and nothing less than going back to the World Series.”
  • Cruz was in the Dominican Republic dealing with a stomach bacterial infection over the off-season that hampered him for a couple of months.  Since returning to the U.S. for treatment, he has started working out at the same gym as Mike Napoli in Miami.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote a short column on Cruz moving on from Game 6.  Cruz had this to say concerning Game 6, “You always want to complete a goal, especially back-to-back years and not making it.  You’ve got to get over it. You don’t always get what you want. The whole team, the coaching staff, we have to make sure we get better, whatever we need to do to get better to make sure we get back to the World Series and win it all.”
  • Keith Law (ESPN.com) has published his prospect rankings and four Rangers made it into the top 100.
    #7. Jurickson Profar
    #20. Martin Perez
    #75. Michael Olt
    #99. Neil Ramirez
    You can read a small write up about each prospect here.
  • Law also put together a top 10 for each Organization.  Here is the Rangers:
    1. Jurickson Profar, SS (7)
    2. Martin Perez, LHP (20)
    3. Mike Olt, 3B (75)
    4. Neil Ramirez, RHP (99)
    5. Robbie Ross, LHP
    6. Rougned Odor, 2B
    7. Leonys Martin, CF
    8. Cody Buckel, RHP
    9. Leury Garcia, SS
    10. Jorge Alfaro, C
  • Randy Galloway (Star-Telegram) wrote a good article on the continuing battle that Josh Hamilton faces as an addict.  This story feels like it wants to run it’s course, but the looming thought of a video that could surface at any moment is a little disturbing.
  • Derek Holland was on with Ben and Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) recently, and spoke about leaning of Hamilton’s relapse, “First I didn’t even know anything was going on. I was out and surprised, so I had no clue what was going on. Once I had found out me as a person I wanted to give Josh all the support I can. He’s one of my teammates. He is like a brother to me. Those guys are people we look up to. It’s like Washington said he is one of those people that when we are on the road I played Xbox with him and stuff. We interact with him, so he doesn’t feel like he is left out. We make him a part of this team because he is. He is a key member to this team, but at the same time it is all about supporting him. This is a tough thing for him to go through and it’s our job to be behind him and show that we care about him and that we are there for him.”
  • If you missed Round 1 of our Position-by-Position American League West Battle, check it out here.  Round 2 will be posted today.
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Feb 022012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsGerry Fraley (SportsDay DFW) reports that Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton will both be switching to Louisville Sluggers for the 2012 season.
    “This is not a minor item. Most players are picky about their bats. A change in bats represents a major step that can be caused by reasons ranging from a desire to get better wood to a company’s willingness to meet special specifications. Kinsler had been plagued by a rash of broken bats from his previous supplier.  Hamilton has worked with Louisville Slugger in search of an ideal bat for several years. As part of an exclusive deal with Hamilton, the market the H359 in his honor. Hamilton won the American League batting title in 2010 at .359.”
  • Jim Bowden (ESPN) recently wrote an article proposing trades for 5 contenders.  Here is his proposal for the Rangers:
    “Trade LHP Martin Perez to the Minnesota Twins for CF Denard Span
    The Twins are desperate to rebuild their rotation, and Perez should develop into a front-line starter. The Twins could then move Ben Revere to center field and put free-agent signee Josh Willingham in left.
    From the Rangers’ perspective, this would allow them to move Josh Hamilton to left field and improve their defense in center. Span also would give them a legitimate leadoff hitter and a better chance to win the World Series now than if they waited for Leonys Martin to develop.
    As an added bonus, Span is signed at a reasonable cost through 2015, which makes him far more valuable to a contender than he is to the Twins, a club that is in a bit of a rebuilding period. The Rangers are deep in rotation candidates, so Perez is expendable.”
    While many Rangers aren’t in favor of moving Perez, I’d be willing to move the left-handed pitching prospect for the right player, and I don’t think Span is that player.  My major hesitation with Span is the head injury (concussion) that he experienced last season – it’s not something to be taken lightly (see Span’s teammate Justin Morneau.
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsChuck Morgan, Rangers Senior Vice President of Ballpark Entertainment, represented the Rangers last night on Baseball I.Q. on the MLB Network.  He faced off against some dude from the Angel’s organization.  Unfortunately, the Angels won the first showdown of 2012, but they won’t win the last.  Great show!
  • Nothing new on the Roy Oswalt front.  Looks like Roy is in no hurry to sign with any of the teams that have already made him an offer.  Could last week’s meeting really have been Nolan and JD asking Roy for some time to see what they could get in return for Matt Harrison (or one of the other starters)?  Time will tell….
  • Gordon Edes (ESPN) posted “A Red Sox source confirmed Wednesday that the team had not abandoned hopes of signing Oswalt, indicating that the 34-year-old right-hander may have a better chance at a regular turn starting with the Sox than with the other two clubs, both of whom appear to have filled their rotations. The Cardinals and Rangers, however, have the advantage of being closer to Oswalt’s Mississippi home, the Red Sox source said. Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, had been quoted Saturday as saying that Oswalt would not take a bullpen job.”
  • My prediction – Oswalt signs with the Charros tomorrow.
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