Jul 042012
 
Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox

Hamilton Hits 26th, But Rangers Get Youked As They Fall to ChiSox 5 4 in 10

Ah whatever, he’s still regressing.

If there’s anything worse than getting curb-stomped, 19-2, it’s losing the next game 5-4, via an extra-inning walk-off.

Texas Rangers’ starter Scott Feldman survived a sordid second inning and kept the Rangers within striking distance Chicago over his six innings of work. Alas, Scooter was stuck with the no-decision as the Rangers’ bats became quiet after the third inning.

Cheer up, Rangers fans. It’s going to be all right.

Tomorrow is another day, America is still the best country in the world and losing streaks—especially meager three gamers—are always just one win away from extinction.

And, oh yes, the “Loss” (ha) Angeles Angels of Anaheim fell to the Tribe 12-3…that should rub some neosporin onto that extra-inning sting.

Thoughts on the 5-4 loss:

Rangers blew their Axelrod

• Yeah it’s not as sexual or horrifying—nor horrifyingly sexual—as it sounds. The Rangers had White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod on the brink of combustion after a three-run first inning. Yet they could muster just one more run off of him—Hamilton’s third-inning solo shot—and zero off of the ChiSox bevy of relievers.

From seeking an eighth to hoping for one

• The loss stops the Rangers’ bid for an eighth-straight series win. Now they’ll just try to get out of Chicago without getting swept.

3-2, 9-9

• Texas is now 3-2 in extra inning games this year, and is playing .500 ball during one run games.

The Face can now regain eye contact

• Mired in an 0-for-13 slump, Michael Young had a big night last night, as he went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI.

His biggest hit came in the first inning off of Axelrod, with two outs. It was a vintage MY rifle shot into the left-field gap. Certainly a good sign for a man having a rough go of 2012.

3-4-5 doing it right

• The Rangers’ 3-4-5 hitters—Hamilton, Beltre, and Young—were 6-for-14 (.429) with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored.

Mini-streak has left the building…

• After, quite literally, supplying ALL of the offense during that 19-2 shellacking, Elvis Andrus’ modest 10-game hitting streak came to a close as the All-Star shortstop finished 0-for-5.

Less than the loneliest number

• Robbie Ross was once again fantastic in relief. Called on in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out and the go-ahead run aboard, the 23-year-old left-hander induced a groundout from Alejandro De Aza for the second out. After an intentional walk of Kevin Youkilis, Ross squelched the White Sox rally as he retired slugger Adam Dunn with a strikeout looking.

Then in the eighth inning it was business as usual for Ross, as he sent the heart of the White Sox order down 1-2-3. Ross’ ERA is now less than one on the season (0.99).

The best and worst of Mike Adams

• Mike Adams came on in the ninth inning and made quick work of the White Sox, producing a very Robbie Ross-like 1-2-3 inning.

• The tenth inning didn’t go so well for the eighth inning specialist from Sinton, Texas. After getting ahead in the count against Alejandro De Aza—and apparently almost killing him as he fouled a pitch off of his leg—Adams walked him on a full count.

De Aza quickly stole second base—thanks to Adams’ blink-and-you-won’t-miss-it delivery—enabling Youkilis to record a walk-off win via a single.

Vote for the Yu! And then, vote for anyone besides David Freese

• As of this writing, Yu Darvish leads the balloting for the final American League All-Star spot. Also, David “it’ll always be too soon to talk about” Freese is leading the N.L. ballot…Let’s get Yu in and keep Freese out? What do you say?

Up Next:

LHP Matt Harrison (11-3, 3.17 ERA) will try to become just the second Texas Ranger to record his twelfth win before the All-Star Break. Fellow LHP Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19 ERA) toes the rubber for the ChiSox. The first pitch of the final game of this three game set is scheduled for 1:05 (CT).

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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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Apr 232012
 

When I was a 10 year old playing 3rd base in Little League, the last out of a big game came down to me beating a runner to the bag.  The runner didn’t tag up, on a soft line drive hit right to me, and it was a race.  I dove head and glove first for the bag, and the timing of our arrivals couldn’t have been more in sync.  The umpire emphatically called the runner out and the game was over…we won…even though I never touched the base.  Even worse, this happened right in front of the opposing team’s dugout and the opposing team’s 3rd base coach, who got into a heated argument with the umpire as I darted back to my dugout.

Monday Morning FastballsSo there…Alberto Gonzalez and myself are very similar…or at least have something quite minuscule in common.

It’s part of the game.  It’s the human element, and while the play that scored the winning run for Texas yesterday has once again brought the argument for instant reply back to the forefront of the sports talk universe, it’s a beautiful thing when it works out in your favor.

For a breakdown of the play, with slow motion reply, check out Jason Beck’s article.  Lot’s of good reaction from both sides:

Monday Morning Fastballs“I’m not going to get upset, if that’s what you’re trying to do, get me upset at the umpires,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. “You all saw it. You don’t need a quote from me. You all saw it. I’m not going to sit here and blast the umpires. I’m not going to do that.  You asked the question originally, what I saw: The ball hit him in the back knee. There’s no question about that.”

“I saw it go down, and I heard a thud,” Inge said. “And I know the difference between a thud and [hitting] the ground. And it kicked off different. My first reaction was, yeah, it hit. I thought it hit his foot. I knew it hit something, because I was close.”

“As soon as I hit it, I just kept running,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not going to stay and see what [the umpire] says. I was going to run and see if the umpire called it.”

“I couldn’t tell,” Avila said. “I was trying to catch the ball and get in a position to get the guy out at the plate. I couldn’t tell right away, which is probably why the home umpire couldn’t tell, because at that point he’s trying to watch the pitch and stuff like that. At the same time, that’s what the other umpires were for. I haven’t seen the replays or anything, though.”

Home plate umpire Tim Welke said “We called what we saw, and we didn’t see him get hit.”

“This is a pretty good crew,” Inge said. “The thing is, it’s hard doing what they do. I’m not going to say it’s easy. And I understand they were going with inconclusive evidence.”

“I think you can open up a can of worms with too much replay,” Leyland said when asked about instant reply in baseball. “I mean, where do you stop it? … To be honest with you, normally somebody sees that [live]. One of the umpires sees that normally, in fairness to them. For whatever reason, they just didn’t see it.”

“I probably would have lost my mind,” Washington said when asked for his reaction if they play had been overturned. “I would have sprinted out of the dugout and lost my mind, then called and apologized if the replay showed it hit him.”

Monday Morning FastballsWith the win, the Rangers closed out a 9 game road trip with a record of 8-1, and have the best record in baseball.  Colby Lewis put forth a good effort to limit a potent Tigers lineup to only 2 runs, and Josh Hamilton hit a first inning line drive home run to right.

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are back in Texas for 6-game home stand, which will include a day off between New York and Tampa Bay.
  • Derek Holland (2-0, 3.10 ERA) faces off with C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.59 ERA) tonight..and Michael Young thinks the Yanks are a good team…not tremendous, but good.

“They’re a good team,” Texas’ Michael Young said of the Yankees. “We’ve played a lot of good teams lately. The Tigers are a tremendous team. Now we’re playing the Yankees, and they’re a good team. They’re playing well. It will be a challenge. We’re looking forward to it.”

  • Tonight will also mark the retirement of Pudge Rodriguez from baseball.  There will be a ceremony at the ballpark prior to the start of the game, and Pudge will throw out the first pitch to Michael Young.

“I’m happy to do it,” Young said. “I was here during part of his first stint with the team and he was a great teammate and a great player. It should be a big day for him.”

  • Jim Reeves (ESPNDallas) argues Pudge as the best ever all-around Ranger.
  • Overview of his statistical accomplishments.
  • Monday April, 23, 2012 – vs. New York Yankees – 6:05 p.m. – ESPN nationally; FSSW-HD locally
    * Ivan Rodriguez Retirement Ceremony
    * Ceremonial first pitch by Ivan Rodriguez
    * Game ball delivery by John Burkett
  • Adrian Beltre will undergo a MRI today and will more than likely be out tonight against the Yankees and possibly miss the entire series.  Beltre strained his left hamstring on Saturday (hence Alberto Gonzalez’s presence in the lineup), but hopes to avoid the DL.

“But I don’t think it will be a big deal,” Beltre said. “It will be a couple of days. I’ll get an MRI tomorrow and go from there.”

  • Michael Young is batting .30456, which is now the highest batting average in Rangers history for a player with at least 3,000 plate appearances.  He has surpassed Ranger great Rusty Greer…for now.

We’ll be recording our weekly podcast tonight after the Pudge retirement ceremony and during the game.  We’ll get it up on the site as quickly as possible, so give it a listen – Jasen intends to “shock everyone’s pants off” with a prediction.  His words, not mine…

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Apr 182012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“The ball was carrying pretty good tonight.” – Josh Hamilton

At some point last night, I just laughed.  I wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox, but rather it was a joyful laugh…an emotion that could only come from pride in just how good this team is.  I just laughed….at how ridiculously talented this line-up is from top to bottom, even with it’s interchangeable parts.  I just laughed…as Colby settled in after giving up a first inning 2-run shot to Dustin Pedroia.  I just laughed…as Ranger Nation was in full force on Twitter, watching an offensive explosion in fellowship and celebrating with each run.  I couldn’t help myself…I just laughed.

If your reading this, more than likely you were watching that.  If not, just know that in game 11 of 162 in 2012, the Rangers looked like an All-Star team…on the road…against at quality opponent.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn our last podcast, Jasen and I talked about the depth of this team, and how you can have players like Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli slumping and it’s offset by players like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler surging (insert any of the core names in this scenario).  Last night, everyone was surging, and hopefully the surge will carry over through the remainder of this road trip (next stop Motown after wrapping short series with BoSox tonight) and beyond.

18 runs on 21 hits with 3 doubles and 6 home runs.  Every Rangers player that got an AB, got a hit with the exception of Alberto Gonzalez who came into the game for Kinsler, after Kins had gotten 5 ABs.  Boston Ace Jon Lester gave up 7 over 2 IP.  New acquired Red Sox relieve Mark Melancon gave up 6 without recording an out (an ERA killer!!).  Meanwhile, Colby Lewis gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 IP, while striking out 7 batters and making the Red Sox lineup look foolish on many occasions.   It was a slaughter.

It’s fun to watch and fun to rehash, but today is a new day, and the Rangers have to take care of business again tonight against that same Red Sox team they embarrassed last night.

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“I’m just finding holes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I’m getting there. My timing is still early. I’m getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.”

“I’m getting close,” Cruz said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and my timing is there.”

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Napoli said. “I have been in the cage trying to iron it out. It feels good to put some swings into it and barrel up the ball. I just want to do it for a full game.”

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are officially splitting up Holland and Harrison in the rotation.  The day off on Monday afforded them the opportunity to flip-flop Harrison and Darvish in the rotation and they are taking advantage of it.  According to Wash, it has more to do with Yu then splitting the lefties.

“We wanted to keep Darvish pitching on four days’ rest,” Washington said. “He pitched, what, once a week in Japan? We want him to get used to four days down and then pitching on the fifth day. It just so happens to split the left-handers.”

  • Moreland returned to the team last night in Boston after battling oral issues.

“I’m so much better. It was a rough few days,” Moreland said. “I probably got five hours sleep total in two days, but I feel 100 percent better. I slept great last night.”

  • The Rangers will have 3 of the first 53 picks in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.  The Rangers will have the 29th overall pick in the first round. They will also have two picks in the compensation round, including the 39th overall pick as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels and the 53rd pick for Darren Oliver signing with the Blue Jays.
  • Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) covers the draft order in more depth.
  • Michael Young left in the 8th inning last night with back stiffness.  It’s not expected to be serious.

“He’ll be fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was just a little stiff so we got him out of there. We had the lead there. He’ll be in there Wednesday.”

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Apr 132012
 

There’s nothing like a Dutch Oven in the middle of the day!

Friday Morning Dutch Ovens

Derek Holland and Michael Young led the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners yesterday.  Holland pitched 7 1/3 innings (115 pitches), giving up 2 earned on 5 hits and no walks, while striking out 8.  Young accounted for 80% of the clubs RBI’s with 4, increasing his batting average on the young season to .321.

  • Young hit from the 2 hole, as Manager Ron Washington gave Elvis Andrus the day off.  Lot’s of banter on Twitter concerning Young’s position in the batting order, with the majority wanting to see MY10 permanently moved to the 2 hole.  I’m personally a fan of the lineup with Young batting 5th and Andrus batting 2nd.  This may be one where Jasen and I are split in our opinions, so instead of diving into here, we’ll save this topic for a podcast or future article.
  • Rangers starters now have a 2.42 ERA on the season, which is impressive, but keep in mind that 4 of the 7 games have been against the Mariners and all 7 games have been at home.  First road test kicks off today, and I’m hoping to see the strong performance continue.

“They are throwing early strikes, which is something that’s preached around here, and they aren’t giving in,” cather Mike Napoli said. “But more than that, the young guys are growing up. They’re not throwing out there. They’re pitching.”

“I wanted to stay consistent with both my fastball and off-speed pitches,” Holland said. “The big thing that Mike Maddux pitches to us is first-pitch strikes. If we go out there and throw our first-pitch strikes, go after hitters right away, it makes it a lot tougher for those hitters to react.”

“We’re trying to motivate each other,” Holland said. “We’re very happy with the way things have taken off. We’ve been doing our jobs. That’s to go out there and make sure we give our team a chance to win.”

  • Box Score Note – both Napoli & Cruz were hitless in the game, continuing their slow starts.  One of the beauties of this team is the depth across all facets of the roster.  They’ll come around eventually and when they do, more than likely someone else will slump a little.  The points is, one way or another, the Rangers are going to score runs because there are NO holes in their lineup.

Quick hits:

  • Friday Morning Dutch OvensMatt Harrison takes the mound tonight in Minnesota looking for win number 2.  The Twins will send Anthony Swarzak to the hill…who?
  • Harrison attributes his strong opener and recent success to working inside:

“Once you have some success against some guys in, it shows that you’re able to pitch inside,” Harrison said. “Whenever that happens you’re willing to do it more often. Once you start getting strikes in there, you start to open up the inner half. It’s a lot better for you when command both sides of the plate and keep the hitters more uncomfortable.”

  • Adams got the save in yesterday’s game, after Nathan pitched in back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Wash is sticking by closer Joe Nathan after lots of knee-jerk reactions from fans and media after Wednesday night’s blown save and loss.

“Two things can happen: You get off good, you get off bad,” Washington said. “We’re going to support Joe Nathan 100 percent. Once he recovers from workload last night, he’ll close. If he’s in position to close a second night, we’ll give him the ball.”

Looking for feedback:

We are contemplating kicking off the Baseball Do Forums in the next week or so and trying to gauge what the participation would be like.  Let us know what you think.  You can comment here on the site or hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (Baseball Do Facebook Page).

Not signed up for the Baseball Do Field Trip yet?  What’s the hold up?  Gonna be a great time of Rangers Fan Fellowship, great food & drink and Reckless Kelly!

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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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Mar 022012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsJeff 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.”
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Mar 012012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsMike 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…
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsRichard 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?
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Feb 102012
 

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

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

Score at the end of Round 1:

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

Left Field

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

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

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

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

Center Field

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

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

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

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

Right Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

Designated Hitter

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

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

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

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

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

Score at the end of Round 2:

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

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

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Jan 272012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsSorry for skipping the update yesterday and the late update today – sometimes life gets in the way of baseball.
  • The Rangers intend to take full advantage of the anticipated heavy media coverage around Yu Darvish while in Surprise for Spring Training. According to Richard Durrett (MLB.com), “With close to 100 Japanese media members expected to attend, including at least six major network television stations from Japan filming Darvish’s every move at spring training, the Texas Rangers are likely to sell advertising space. It’s just one of the ways the club can cash in off the field from Darvish’s celebrity on it.” First step to one day becoming Nolan Ryan’s Texas Beefers.
  • Great article by T.R. Sullivan on Eric Nadel and his contributions to the Dallas community.  Growing up, most of my friends wanted to be George Brett, Mike Schmidt or Ricky Henderson.  I wanted to be Marty Brenneman (Reds radio broadcaster) or Milo Hamilton (Astros radio broadcaster).
  • Jon Daniels joined the “The Ben and Skin show” on 103.3 FM this morning and had this to say about Roy Oswalt, ”But when you look at Roy and his track record with some guys in the organization having played with and for them in Houston, it’s intriguing.  It doesn’t fit perfectly for us and you can look at each one in the rotation and you can go through each one and why they deserve and should be and we want them to be in the rotation.” If you missed Jasen’s article regarding the potential of Roy Oswalt joining the Rangers, check it out here.
  • JD also spoke about resuming talks with Josh Hamilton, saying ”We’d like to keep Josh here for an extended period of time.  It’s got to be a deal that works for both sides. He’s got a unique set of circumstances because of how his career has played out and he’ll reach free agency at a different age than Prince or even Elvis. Josh will look at this, rightfully so, as the one time he hits free agentcy and how does he factor that in with his family and the different opportunities he has. We’re talking to them about this. We love Josh, love what he’s about and we want to keep him here and we’ll continue talking to him and hope we figure something out.”
  • Great stuff from JD above, but the absolute quote of the day was issued when he was talking about the inclusion of Prince Fielder in an already stacked Rangers line-up – “You plug him into our lineup, it has a chance to be silly.”
  • Jayson Stark (ESPN.com) did a great piece with the following premise,
    “We set out to change baseball. Our mission wasn’t to “fix” it or reinvent it. Our goal was merely to take a great sport and make it greater.”
    Stark and other writers put together a list of 5 proposed changes and then collected feedback from our very own Michael Young.  It’s a creative list, personally wouldn’t be on board with any of the changes. Michael’s feedback is insightful.  Check it out here.
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