Oct 252012
 
Mike Napoli 7

With Mike Napoli entering free agency and the Rangers silent (as expected) in regards to trying to bring him back, much off-season trade talk is centering around the backstop position.

On Monday, T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote:

Texas could have interest in J.P. Arencibia, who was the Toronto starter the past two seasons. Arencibia hit .233 with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs, a .275 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage over 102 games.

The 26-year-old has two-plus years of Major League experience and is not yet eligible for arbitration. He missed six weeks in the second half with a broken right hand and only threw out 18.5 percent of attempted basestealers.

Thursday Sound Off   Whos catching in 2013?

J.P. Arencibia

Sullivan goes on to mention Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando as likely candidates to swap for Arencibia.

Another intriguing backstop from the Jays organization is top prospect Travis d’Arnaud, but I think it’s less likely that the Rangers trade for d’Arnaud unless they are able to secure a stop-gap catcher (Ryan Hanigan mentioned by Jamey Newberg) as well to hold the position until they are convinced he is ready for the majors.

As of now, assuming Napoli were to sign elsewhere and nothing else was done to address the position, Geovany Soto would be the starting catcher on Opening Day 2013.

A few things to note:

  • Napoli will be 31 years-old on Halloween and there have been contract numbers estimated in the range of 4-6 years at $50-$80 million.
  • The 26 year-old Arencibia isn’t eligible for free agency until 2017.
  • Ogando and Holland are both under control through 2016, with a team option on Holland for ’17 and ’18.
  • Other catchers on the free agent market: Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski (die), David Ross, Gerald Laird, Kelly Shoppach.

A look at the numbers:

J.P. Arencibia

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 24 TOR 11 35 3 5 1 0 2 4 2 11 .143 .189 .343 .532
2011 25 TOR 129 443 47 97 20 4 23 78 36 133 .219 .282 .438 .720
2012 26 TOR 102 347 45 81 16 0 18 56 18 108 .233 .275 .435 .710
3 Yrs 242 825 95 183 37 4 43 138 56 252 .222 .275 .433 .708
162 Game Avg. 162 552 64 123 25 3 29 92 37 169 .222 .275 .433 .708
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

Mike Napoli

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 24 LAA 99 268 47 61 13 0 16 42 51 90 .228 .360 .455 .815
2007 25 LAA 75 219 40 54 11 1 10 34 33 63 .247 .351 .443 .794
2008 26 LAA 78 227 39 62 9 1 20 49 35 70 .273 .374 .586 .960
2009 27 LAA 114 382 60 104 22 1 20 56 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842
2010 28 LAA 140 453 60 108 24 1 26 68 42 137 .238 .316 .468 .784
2011 29 TEX 113 369 72 118 25 0 30 75 58 85 .320 .414 .631 1.046
2012 30 TEX 108 352 53 80 9 2 24 56 56 125 .227 .343 .469 .812
7 Yrs 727 2270 371 587 113 6 146 380 315 673 .259 .356 .507 .863
162 Game Avg. 162 506 83 131 25 1 33 85 70 150 .259 .356 .507 .863
LAA (5 yrs) 506 1549 246 389 79 4 92 249 201 463 .251 .346 .485 .831
TEX (2 yrs) 221 721 125 198 34 2 54 131 114 210 .275 .379 .552 .931
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

Derek Holland

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS CG IP H HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 22 TEX 8 13 6.12 33 21 1 138.1 160 26 47 107 1.496 3.1 7.0 2.28
2010 23 TEX 3 4 4.08 14 10 0 57.1 55 6 24 54 1.378 3.8 8.5 2.25
2011 24 TEX 16 5 3.95 32 32 4 198.0 201 22 67 162 1.354 3.0 7.4 2.42
2012 25 TEX 12 7 4.67 29 27 0 175.1 162 32 52 145 1.221 2.7 7.4 2.79
4 Yrs 39 29 4.71 108 90 5 569.0 578 86 190 468 1.350 3.0 7.4 2.46
162 Game Avg. 13 10 4.71 37 31 2 195 199 30 65 161 1.350 3.0 7.4 2.46
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

Alexi Ogando

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
2010 26 TEX 4 1 1.30 44 0 0 0 41.2 31 2 16 39 1.128 3.5 8.4
2011 27 TEX 13 8 3.51 31 29 1 0 169.0 149 16 43 126 1.136 2.3 6.7
2012 28 TEX 2 0 3.27 58 1 0 3 66.0 49 9 17 66 1.000 2.3 9.0
3 Yrs 19 9 3.12 133 30 1 3 276.2 229 27 76 231 1.102 2.5 7.5
162 Game Avg. 8 4 3.12 55 13 0 1 115 96 11 32 96 1.102 2.5 7.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

Others if interested: Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski (die), David Ross, Gerald Laird, Kelly Shoppach

So, there are a few options in regards to the 2013 backstop.  What do you think?  Vote on the poll and sound off in the comments section.

What do you think the Rangers should do in regards to the catcher position this off-season?
Resign Napoli (4-6 yrs. @ $13-15M per)
Trade Holland for Arencibia
Trade Ogando for Arencibia
Sign stop-gap and trade for prospect
Roll with Soto
Other (add comments)
View Result
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Oct 182012
 
Rangers' rookies Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, and Wilmer Font could be viable options to replace Mike Adams.
MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Rangers’ rookies Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, and Wilmer Font could be viable options to replace Mike Adams.

Like most of us, I’m still smarting from the fact that Major League Baseball decided to continue its postseason even after the Texas Rangers were eliminated.

Seems kind of rude, doesn’t it?

So I guess It’s time to move on. And move on we shall. The Texas Rangers are going to be an excellent team for many years to come, even if Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli end up signing elsewhere.

Today we take a look at yet another Texas Rangers free agent, right-handed reliever Mike Adams.

Mike Adams—2012 stats: (5-3, 3.27 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9)

Due to injury, Adams wasn’t going to pitch for the Rangers this past postseason. As it turned out, he didn’t miss much. Adams, like fellow free agent reliever Koji Uehara, was acquired at the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline.

The Rangers decision whether or not to re-sign Adams seems easy considering that he was recently diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, or “TOS.”

If you’re like me, your first thought was: “What’s the big deal? Just head on down to the local Thoracic Outlet Mall and grab homeboy another thoracic…”

Evidently it just doesn’t work that way, and TOS is a serious issue that can end careers.

Yikes!

MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Need a new thoracic, friend? Last season’s thoracics have got to go!

So, why waste your office downtime reading about any attempts to re-sign a dude who may never recover from his current injury? I mean after all, you could be watching Kate Upton’s Cat Daddy in slow-mo for the hundredth time, right?

Author’s note: no link provided for the aforementioned Upton dance. Trust me, you follow that link and there is no chance you’ll finish this article, and, well, I couldn’t blame you.

Look, it’s easy to forget, but Adams was one of the best relievers in MLB over a two-year period, and TOS is extremely treatable. Plus, this condition might mean the Rangers could re-sign him on the cheap.

The Sinton, Texas, native earned $4.4M last season, but he could be inked for significantly less should the Rangers make an offer. However, if the Rangers decide to let Adams and his bad wing fly free, all is not lost. Texas does have a bevy of in-house options that could make for a 2013 bullpen enhancement, minus the dinero advancement.

Replacement Options: Tanner Scheppers, Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font

Tanner Scheppers (1-1, 4.45 ERA, 8.4 K/9), at age 25, is eight years younger than Adams, and flashed a good deal of potential during his first taste of the bigs in 2012. All told, the 6’4” former first rounder (2009, 44th overall) showed a plus-fastball that touches triple digits and a decent feel for an off-speed pitch.

Justin Grimm (1-1, 9.00 ERA, 8.4 K/9) burst onto the seen during the Rangers’ June Swoon of pitching problems—when seemingly every pitcher was headed to the dreaded disabled list.

Grimm, a fifth round pick of the Rangers’ in 2010, won his major league debut—albeit against the Houston Astros—and compiled an excellent strikeout to walk ratio of 4.33 over his 14 big league innings of work. Just 24 years old, Grimm’s future is all but, and he has an outside chance of cracking the Rangers’ bullpen (or possibly rotation) in spring training.

Wilmer Font has been in the Rangers’ organization since 2006. So he should be like 34 years old, right? Wrong. Font was signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela at the tender young age of 16.

MLB Free Agent Mike Adams: Should Rangers Re Sign the Righty?

Jamie Moyer was 47 when Font was born, and Brian Wilson is looking pretty old these days.

Font had had to grow up fast. Only 22, he’s already had Tommy John surgery and made his big league debut with Texas. Granted, his command was bad—he walked four in his two total innings of work—but his solid stuff was evident. With further refinement, Font could be a key piece in the Rangers’ bullpen for many years to come.

Should the Texas Rangers Make Adams An Offer?

We here at Baseball Do would love to hear what you think about the Texas Rangers’ chances of re-signing this year’s crop of free agents. So, should the Rangers make Mike Adams an offer, or are they just fine moving forward thanks to a deep farm system? Let us know what you think in our comments section below.

Yep, that’s it! Now back to “reading” about Kate Upton…

Follow Timothy @TMurrayHowell

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Oct 102012
 
JoshRon

How quickly the last three years have flown by for Texas Rangers fans.  How quickly expectations change for a team.

Time for changes in Arlington?Just three years ago, the Texas Rangers were a week or so removed from the end of a strong 2009 campaign (85-77) in which they finished 10 games back of the Angels in the AL West and well short of the Wild Card clinching Boston Red Sox (8 games back) (Note: the Rangers would have made the playoffs as the 2nd Wild Card in ’09 if current layout had been in place).

Something special was on tap for this young and exciting team.  Behind the talented core of Josh Hamilton, Ians Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers were going to be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future.

Fast forward three years and the Rangers have accomplished what many franchises haven’t accomplished in a lifetime; both on and off the field.

Here’s a quick look at some of key moments along the way (to be read with banjos playing along):

  • Ownership change - Welcome back Nolan
  • Time for changes in Arlington?Cliff Lee
  • Hambone win’s the MVP
  • 2010 AL West Champs
  • First Postseason series victory
  • Nefti stuck out A-Rod
  • First World Series birth
  • So long Cliff
  • Time for changes in Arlington?Welcome aboard Adrian
  • Napoli Ever After
  • 2011 AL West Champs
  • One strike away…twice
  • David Freese
  • So long C.J.
  • Yu
  • The collapse of 2012

Over the course of the last three years the Texas Rangers have broken new ground and have been labeled as a “model” franchise – the ground work for such was being laid several years prior by team management and franchise leadership.

From the fan’s perspective, the Rangers have gone from mediocrity on the brink -> to one step from the mountaintop -> to crashing back down with great disappointment. Such devastating disappointment is often met head-on with change – something we can expect from the Rangers over the course of the coming off-season.

Baseball history is littered with examples of this, most recently the collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox which resulted in the firing of manager Terry Francona and the eventual trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

So, what change could be in store for the Rangers this off-season?  How different could this team look by Opening Day 2013?  Let’s examine some of the potential changes in Arlington:

Managerial Change?

Time for changes in Arlington?While Wash has opened himself up for plenty of criticism, I don’t think this is very likely.

The heat could be on if the Rangers don’t bounce back from their poor finish in 2012 and they continue to play uninspired baseball in 2013, but I think the team’s ownership and front office still believe in Wash.

While the manager is ALWAYS part of the problem when a team is playing poorly, I think Wash get’s some leniency due to his success over the last 3 years.

Besides Wash, the coaching staff could take a hit if Mike Maddux is lured out of Texas for a managerial role somewhere else (Boston perhaps).

Let Josh walk…

Time for changes in Arlington? Josh was widely seen as a big part of the problem over the last 1-2 months of the season.  While he wasn’t the only player that demonstrated a lackadaisical approach as the season came to a close, none seemed less interested than Josh.

While I have no inside scoop on what went wrong, my theory is that the team revisited an extension with Josh and his agent at some point in June or July which left Josh feeling bitter.  My guess would be that the contract negotiations weren’t real close in terms of length and Josh felt unappreciated.  Whether it was intentional or not, Josh let his feelings regarding the negotiations impact him on the field and in the clubhouse.

Is it likely that Josh is playing his home games somewhere other than Arlington next season?  I think it’s a foregone conclusion.

How big of an impact is Josh leaving on the team and the line-up?  Well, when Josh is playing up to his potential, he has the ability to carry a team on his back as we have seen many times during his time here in Arlington, but…when Josh is frustrated and uninterested, he can become a distraction that can poison a clubhouse.

Plan and simple, this is very well a situation where both parties will benefit from a change.  Something has clearly gone awry in the relationship.

Dustin Dietz will have a article up in the next few days that analyzes Hamilton’s potential contract situation and sheds some light on the risks involved with giving a hefty contract to a player north of 30 years of age.

Hamilton isn’t the only Ranger entering free agency, but will be the biggest story.  Tim Howell is taking a closer look at each of the free agents from the 2012 Rangers squad to determine who the Rangers should make a push for and who they should just let walk away (Hamilton here, Napoli here, more to come).

Shake-up via trade

Time for changes in Arlington?The possibilities here are endless.  Just a few names that could be mentioned this off-season and into the 2013 season:

  • Ian Kinsler – Kinsler is the most polarizing player on the Rangers, according to Jasen and the rest of Twitter.  With the arrival of Jurickson Profar, Kinsler could be moved to make room at second base.  The 30 year-old plays a offensively scarce position, can hit anywhere from 1st to 5th in a line-up and is under team control through 2018 (option in ’18) – so there would be plenty of interest from around the league.
  • Elvis Andrus – For the same reason cited above for Kinsler, Elvis is a little more expendable now if the front office truly believes that Profar can be a transcendent player.  Andrus’ age (24), position and talent ceiling would make him more valuable than Kinsler to any potential suitors.  He’s under contract through 2014, so he’ll never have more trade value than he has right now coming off season in which he posted career high in almost every offensive category.
  • Nelson Cruz – Again, the Profar factor is a part of this as the Rangers would more than likely need to make room in the outfield if Kinsler were to be relocated. Nellie is signed through next season, so if the Rangers felt they weren’t going to be in position to resign him – or – felt the interest wouldn’t be there after 2013 due to the youth movement, now would be the time to move him for maximum value.
  • Jurickson Profar – This is the least likely to happen.  According to multiple reports, it would take something to the tune of Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw to pry the young phenom away from the Rangers.
  • David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Mike Olt – You never know.
  • I don’t think there is anyway the Rangers would or could deal Michal Young heading into the final year of his contract.  Young will be 36 later this month and is due $16M.
  • Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando….and them – Current value isn’t equal to potential for all of these guys, so I doubt we’ll see Dutch moved.  Really aren’t too many Rangers pitchers in general that would have good value and make sense from the Rangers standpoint.

The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is, there will be change.  Hopefully this change will bring some renewed life to a team that sputtered down the stretch, but only time can tell.

What do you think?

Looking at the potential trade bait above, give me a realistic trade that you’d like to see the Rangers pursue.  Do you want to see Josh back with the Rangers in 2013?  Do you think it’s time for a managerial change?  Use the comments section below.

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Oct 092012
 
Will Napoli be back in Texas in 2013?

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?The Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton is the biggest name in this winter’s MLB Free Agent sweepstakes. So big a name is Hamilton, that another key offensive weapon in Texas is often overlooked. Mike Napoli, despite a precipitous decline from the previous season’s offensive production, provided 24 home runs and has been the team’s most productive catcher since Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

And like Hamilton, Napoli could seek a new suitor this winter. Should Napoli follow Hamilton, the Rangers could find themselves scrambling to replace a combined 67 HRs and 184 RBI from last season.

It’s funny to think that the Rangers wouldn’t re-sign Mike Napoli. After all, 2011—Napoli’s first season in Texas—might be best remembered as “The Year of the Napoli.”

For the better part of 2011, Napoli crushed every offering headed his way. His second-half frenzy and subsequent postseason romp—coupled with Nelson Cruz’s October power surge—helped drive the Rangers towards their second-straight American League Pennant. Tampa Bay’s manager, Joe Maddon—whose team was the first victim of Napoli and company—coined 2011 as “The Year of the Napoli,” a catchphrase that reverberated throughout the postseason as Rangers fans fervently chanted his name: “Nap-O-Li!! Nap-O-Li!!!” Few were the times that Napoli didn’t capitalize on his fan’s chants or the opposition’s pitches. However, as 2012 would attest, it was a good thing the Rangers were patient in signing him to a long-term deal.

The Rangers’ Patience Paid Off

By signing Napoli to a one-year $9.4M deal last February, the Rangers avoided arbitration and skirted a long-term commitment. Granted, there were those—present company included—that clamored to extend Napoli on a multi-year deal. 2011’s magical run proved a strong spell. As it turned out, not committing to Napoli long-term was a shrewd move. Since the Rangers decided to wait it out, they now have tangible proof that 2011 was more hot streak than a sustainable run of promised potential. Granted, since Napoli is one of  the premier power-hitting catchers in baseball, his average annual salary should exceed last year’s one-year deal. A three-year, $36M contract would probably land “Nap-O-Li!!!” back in Arlington for the remaining years of his prime.

Despite last season’s statistical letdown, Mike Napoli—who has averaged 27 HRs per season while in Texas—has been the Rangers’ best offensive catcher since the iconic Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Down on the Farm: Help at Catcher?

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?

If there is a glaring weakness in the Texas Rangers’ farm system—a system  ranked as one of MLB’s finest—then it is a lack of depth at the catching position. Former 2010 first round pick, Kellin Deglan is an intriguing prospect. Deglan flashed some power with Hickory of the South Atlantic League (SAL) in 2012, as he hit 12 home runs. Deglan, a career .225 hitter in the bush leagues, is athletic, but raw. Fangraph’s Mike Newman ranks fellow SAL luminary Jorge Alfaro slightly ahead of Deglan, with a high-ceiling and nearly non-existent floor. Like Deglan, the 19-year-old Alfaro is at least three years away from the big leagues.

Geovany Soto and Other FA Catchers (Been there, done that)

Geovany Soto is one option to replace Mike Napoli. Soto was acquired in the trade that netted the Rangers his former Chicago Cubs battery mate, Ryan Dempster, to boot. While with Texas, Soto, the 2008 NL ROY, flashed moments of greatness but was largely a letdown. Ironically enough, most of the free agent catchers available are former Rangers. Gerald Laird, Rod Barajas, Matt Treanor, and Yorvit Torrealba have all played in Arlington with varying degrees of success and failure. Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz, and Atlanta’s Brian McCann, are technically free agents, but both have 2013 club options that their teams are likely to exercise.

So, What do you think? Should the Texas Rangers re-sign Mike Napoli? I’d love to hear your feedback, just respond with your thoughts in our comments section below.

Mike Napoli: Should The Texas Rangers Re Sign The Slugging Catcher?

Follow Timothy On Twitter

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Oct 032012
 
RangersAs

Here we are at game 162…

How the West was won...At no point this season, did I think it would come to this.  Even yesterday, I felt confident that Matt Harrison would get it done.  I felt confident that the bats would come to life just enough to claim victory in game 161 and wrap up the AL West title.

But that’s not the way it worked out…and here we are.

A small part of me is excited.  While I would have loved for the Rangers to have locked up the division a month ago, there is something to be said for this Game 7-like finality.

The more realistic and pessimistic side of me wants to puke.  The Rangers look like a deflated, uninterested, scared team and a meager shell of what we saw early in the season.  This side  of me is not confident that we can secure the division with a win today.  This side of me is not confident we can beat Baltimore in a one game Wild Card to get to the ALDS.  This is not my favorite side of me…

Let’s take a quick look at how the West was won….

AL West Division as of April 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 17 6 .739 124 68 .750
SEA 11 13 .458 6.5 94 103 .458
OAK 11 13 .458 6.5 73 92 .396
LAA 8 15 .348 9.0 80 94 .427
Feeling good at this point.  The Angels were the bigger concern coming into the season, and Rangers fans were just as enthused about their poor start as they were the Rangers strong start.

AL West Division as of May 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 31 20 .608 291 212 .641
LAA 26 26 .500 5.5 199 191 .519
SEA 23 30 .434 9.0 218 216 .504
OAK 22 29 .431 9.0 164 202 .406
That’s more like it.  Angels surged in late-April/May with the arrival of Mike Trout and the bottom feeders took their rightful spots – 9 games out close to 1/3 of the way through the season.

AL West Division as of June 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 50 29 .633 426 324 .623
LAA 43 35 .551 6.5 337 297 .558
OAK 37 42 .468 13.0 297 301 .494
SEA 34 46 .425 16.5 315 344 .460
The Rangers continued to hold a nice lead in the division at 6.5 games over the Angels.  Oakland and Seattle continued to slide as expected.  It clearly looked like a two horse race as we approached the All-Star break.

AL West Division as of July 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 59 43 .578 507 434 .571
LAA 57 47 .548 3.0 475 416 .560
OAK 56 47 .544 3.5 414 384 .534
SEA 49 57 .462 12.0 423 422 .501
What the hell happened here?  Rangers (9-14 in July) gave up some ground to the Angels (14-12 in July) and Oakland got HOT, posting a record of 19-5 during the month of July.  All of the sudden, there looked to be a third horse in the race.  While there July performance couldn’t be ignored, it was seen as a bit flukey and I think many questioned if they could sustain the pace through the end of the regular season.

AL West Division as of August 31st, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 78 53 .595 675 562 .583
OAK 74 57 .565 4.0 560 486 .564
LAA 70 62 .530 8.5 631 588 .532
SEA 64 69 .481 15.0 518 528 .491
The Angels faded during August and Oakland kept pace with the Rangers.  With a month to go, there was still a small fear of a Angels surge and most felt like Oakland was for real at this point.
Wild card for Oakland?  Sure.
AL West title for Oakland?  Seemed like a stretch.

AL West Division as of September 30th, 2012

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 93 66 .585 799 688 .568
OAK 91 68 .572 2.0 694 605 .562
LAA 88 71 .553 5.0 758 677 .552
SEA 73 86 .459 20.0 597 642 .467
This is where we stood Monday morning.  Headed to Oakland in complete control of the division and our post-season placement…and our DESTINY if you dig the emotional cheese.

AL West Division as of Today

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
TEX 93 68 .578 803 695 .566
OAK 93 68 .578 701 609 .564
LAA 89 72 .553 4.0 767 687 .550
SEA 74 87 .460 19.0 607 651 .468
Two games with Oakland.  Two losses.  Game 162 today at 2:30pm to determine:
  • The American League West Division Title
  • Post-season placement – Wild Card or #1/#2 seed (depending on Yanks outcome)
  • Another chapter in the Rangers History Book.

Will this team be looked back on as the team that came through when their backs were against the wall – or – will this be the team that cued up changes.  Changes in personnel, changes in approach and changes in how the team is perceived by the rest of the MLB community.

How the West was won...

Hey Dempster – need ya to be great today brother!

I want to be the guy that believes the Rangers can wrap this up today and play like I know they are capable of in the post-season.  I also want to be independently wealthy without actually working, but…

Love you all.  See you on the other side.

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Sep 072012
 
Mike Napoli 3

Which Naps coming back?According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Mike Napoli continues to make strides in his recovery from an injury to his left quad.  While it sounds like Nap just needs to get more comfort in his running, Rangers fans hold out hope that we get the 2011 version of Nap upon his return, rather than what we saw during the first 4+ months of the 2012 season.

Want the 2011 version of Nap back for the final month of the season and the playoff run?  I have the answer!!  Read on…

A look at the numbers…

Napoli, who has not played in a game since August 10th (DET), was making it clear that 2011′s performance was the outlier in his career and not the norm.  Here is a quick look at Nap’s career numbers:

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 24 LAA 99 268 47 61 13 0 16 42 51 90 .228 .360 .455 .815 110
2007 25 LAA 75 219 40 54 11 1 10 34 33 63 .247 .351 .443 .794 107
2008 26 LAA 78 227 39 62 9 1 20 49 35 70 .273 .374 .586 .960 148
2009 27 LAA 114 382 60 104 22 1 20 56 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842 120
2010 28 LAA 140 453 60 108 24 1 26 68 42 137 .238 .316 .468 .784 115
2011 29 TEX 113 369 72 118 25 0 30 75 58 85 .320 .414 .631 1.046 173
2012 30 TEX 92 301 45 67 7 2 17 40 50 108 .223 .343 .429 .771 101
7 Yrs 711 2219 363 574 111 6 139 364 309 656 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
162 Game Avg. 162 506 83 131 25 1 32 83 70 149 .259 .357 .502 .859 126
LAA (5 yrs) 506 1549 246 389 79 4 92 249 201 463 .251 .346 .485 .831 119
TEX (2 yrs) 205 670 117 185 32 2 47 115 108 193 .276 .382 .540 .922 140
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

As you can see, Napoli’s 2012 performance is down across the board from that magical 2011 season.

  • .223 batting average is actually the lowest of his career.  He’ll have a limited number of games upon his return to try to bring that up over .228 he hit in his 2006 rookie season in Anaheim.
  • 108 whiffs in 92 games YTD exceeds the respectable 85 (for a slugger) he accumulated in 2011 in 113 games played.
  • Walks is really the only thing that doesn’t seem to have gotten worse (50 YTD compared to 58 in 2011).
  • Check that – he has 2 triples!

You could go on and on, and I won’t, but the point is that it looks like Nap was playing well above himself in 2011 and his performance has regressed to the mean.

Could we get Nap v.11 for the stretch run?

Taking a closer look at 2011, we see the cycle of Nap’s season, and there is hope:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 17 45 12 12 3 0 6 12 13 8 .267 .431 .733 1.164
May 21 63 9 13 3 0 4 13 10 17 .206 .320 .444 .764
June 8 28 3 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 .179 .233 .214 .448
July 18 61 16 27 8 0 5 14 7 12 .443 .500 .820 1.320
August 28 102 20 31 5 0 7 17 13 23 .304 .388 .559 .947
Sept/Oct 21 70 12 30 5 0 8 19 14 16 .429 .518 .843 1.361
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

Started the season off with a bang, slid back into mediocrity in the early summer months and finished the season and post-season at a ridiculous All-Star level.

Last year was truly “The Year of the Napoli”:

Now, a closer look at 2012 YTD:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 20 70 11 18 1 0 7 14 6 27 .257 .338 .571 .909
May 25 77 14 17 2 2 2 11 11 27 .221 .322 .377 .699
June 23 76 11 18 3 0 3 5 12 26 .237 .356 .395 .750
July 19 60 7 11 0 0 5 8 17 19 .183 .364 .433 .797
August 5 18 2 3 1 0 0 2 4 9 .167 .318 .222 .540
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 9/6/2012.

May and June brought similar levels of mediocrity after a strong start in April, but we started to see a bit of an uptick in July with Nap’s OPS creeping up closer to the .800 range, which would be considered above average – especially at the catcher position.  Disregard August numbers given the injury.

A closer look at July shows us that his batting average was at the lowest level it’s been all year, but his walks and power numbers were up.

  • 5 home runs in 60 July at-bats (HR/12.5 AB) vs. 5 home runs in 153 May/June at-bats (HR/30.6 AB)
  • 17 walks in 19 July games vs. 23 walks in 48 May/June games

By no means was this July in line with what Nap did to close out his 2011 campaign, but as mentioned above, it gives us a glimmer of hope.  As good as this current team is, it could use Napoli v.2011.

Theories on Nap’s decreased production

OK, full disclosure before we go any further…I’m the same guy that was ready to fork over the bank to Nap before the season started.  I thought we had seen the breakout in 2011 rather than just a prolonged hot streak from an above average MLB hitter – and I’m not fully convinced I’m wrong (proven by this article), but his 2012 performance is like mud in my face at this point.

Clearly, when you look at the career stats above, 2011 was the outlier, so perhaps the real question is – Where in the hell did 2011 come from, and how do we get it back for the next two months?  Let’s first examine the top 5 theories behind why his 2012 performance hasn’t matched what he did last year (with odds since I gamble on everything):

  1. Which Naps coming back?He’s misses C.J. Wilson – while they had a little off-season friction over C.J. tweeting out Nap’s cell phone number, could it be that they really were buds?  They both made Dustin Dietz’s “Team D-Bag”, so might they have more in common than we actually realize?  Nap has dismissed a friendship, much a relationship that could cause a funk like he’s been in much of 2012.
    “You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season,” Napoli said after the so-called prant. “We don’t have that type of relationship.”
    ODDS – 75:1 
  2. Which Naps coming back?He misses Jered Weaver and the rest of the Halos – Let’s face it, Nap’s first season here in Texas was the honeymoon, and the honeymoon is always fun!  Well, maybe the honeymoon is over.  Napoli was drafted by the Angels organization in 2000.  It’s natural for a little homegrown loyalty to develop in players that come up through the ranks and experience their first success all with one organization.  The theory calls out Weaver specifically because they clearly have a friendship (suck on that C.J.), which we were all reminded of at the 2012 All Star Game (here and here) – and there’s nothing wrong with that…as long as Nap’s longing for quality time with his former homies isn’t the reason for his decreased production.
    He’s a professional.  He has the off-season to rekindle the flames.  Seems like a long shot.
    ODDS – 60:1 
  3. Which Naps coming back?The Ankle of Steel – Look at that picture!  Zoom in on it, crop it, posterize it, make it black and white, rotate it, make it look like a Zombie, do whatever you want to it…it’ll still makes you a little queasy.
    Physically, he’s over it, proven by this ability to effectively run the bases and play the catcher position during the first four months of the season.  But mentally?  Emotionally?  Could he be addicted to the pain?  Addicted the baboon ankle transplant be affecting his other senses and abilities?  Doubt.  Seems like another long shot.
    ODDS – 45:1
  4. Too much nookie -
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?  Yes it’s them again…
    Which Naps coming back?Which Naps coming back?
    Sorry…that one got mixed in accidentally.
    No need for further examination of this one.  Nookie makes us stronger.  Theory trashed.
    ODDS – 1,000,000:1
  5. Which Naps coming back?The Evan Grant Pizza Curse –  It would be a first…that we know of, so I’m not 100% sure I can label it as a curse already, but maybe this will dissuade Mr. Grant from naming a pizza after a player ever again.  So far, every time Grant’s done this, the player follow’s it up with a decrease in production the following season.  It’s groundbreaking, but a strong contender.
    ODDS – 15:1

The Odds On Favorite

Overuse of the “NA-PO-LI” chant by Ranger fans -

Last season, the chants started in early October and carried through the playoffs and World Series – fans called out with the chant in key situations and were usually answered with clutch performances from the overnight fan favorite.

This season, fans were half-heatedly chanting “NA-PO-LI” with the bases empty and 2 outs in the 5th inning of a game the Rangers already had in the bag.

Can you see how it would lose a little power?

ODDS – 2:1

There you have it.  Vegas Odds say that we, the fans, can bring back Napoli v.2011.  It has nothing to do with C.J. or Weaver, his baboon ankle or nookie consumption, or even that damn pizza.  It’s about respecting the power of the chant.

I move that we reserve the “NA-PO-LI” chant for those times when we need it most.  For those times when we need some magic and when a situation calls for Super Nap (formerly known as Napoli v. 2011).

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Sep 062012
 
Jered Weaver  3

The last time I produced an article for BaseballDo, I received unexpected acclaim and notoriety from a couple of local sports radio talk shows which I have admired for many years. To hear my name had been associated with decent writing was pretty surreal based on my past failures in freshman and sophomore English at Bryan Adams High School.

I received instant popularity and credibility throughout social media as I gained at least 10 new followers the first day. You might think I am being sarcastic, but 10 new followers in a day for me is something which does not occur very often, even on Follow Fridays.

In all honesty, I really do not feel I did spectacular work on my article in regards to Michael Young’s struggles so far in 2012. I felt as if I was just providing the reader with information any person could have found on the internet late at night when one is unable to sleep. I am still very grateful for all the kind words though.

Well, my last article might have gained me some baseball writing credibility, but with this piece, I might be losing every bit of the cred I might have earned.

Presenting Team D BagOne popular phrase or moniker for a certain type of individual in today’s society is douchebag. We all are cognizant of what a douchebag, or doucher for short, really is. Douchebags tend to walk around with this arrogant, pompous sense of entitlement like they are better than you.

The clothes douchebags wear are more than annoying. There are the button-up shirts with crosses stitched on the back, Ed Hardy tees, and blue jeans with dragons printed on them. Douchers even style their hair a certain way.

The most vexatious (thank you Google)trait douchers have is the tendency to brag incessantly about their accomplishments, possessions, or jobs where they make an infinite amount of money more than you do . Douchers will even begin to speak about themselves before one even touches the subject. Yes, humility is not in the cards for the doucher.

Being a douchebag can be advantageous as I have noticed women tend to flock towards the doucher, and also the D-bag tends to have a chiseled physique resembling a Greek God, while we are left to look like Al Bundy in the later years of Married with Children.

The term douchebag has also found its way over into the sports world, in particular, the great game of baseball. For some odd reason, some select baseball players have earned a reputation of being a douchebag, despite the fact many of the fans referring to the player as a doucher do not even know the player personally.

Presenting Team D BagI cannot tell you how often I hear a player is awful because he is a douchebag. Recently, I was engaged in an argument over New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher and whether or not the Texas Rangers should pursue him this offseason when Swisher becomes a free-agent. I asked another writer on Twitter what he thought about pursuing Swish. He responded, and I am paraphrasing, he would be surprised if the team did not try to sign the soon to be free agent.

Immediately, I received all kinds of tweets from fans about what a douche Swisher is, and how he would have this pernicious effect on the clubhouse. My response to these tweets I received was Swisher has produced above average numbers since becoming a Yankee as he has yielded an OPS over .800 4 straight seasons, and is on pace to have a career high in extra base hits in 2012. Well, none of that mattered because many still believed Swisher sucks because he smiles a certain way, or walks to the plate with an overly arrogant stroll with his sunglasses a certain color.

The most controversial perceived douchebag in DFW is former Rangers pitcher CJ Wilson, who now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. As the Rangers ‘ace’ heading into the 2011 postseason, Wilson struggled the entire playoffs and the Rangers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games, a game in which Wilson hit the first batter he faced with the bases loaded in the 5th inning.

When CJ signed with the Angels, many were upset with him (myself included) despite the fact he pitched wonderfully as a starter in two seasons while in Texas. Wilson compiled a 31-15 record with an ERA slightly above 3.00 and a WHIP close to 1.20. Ceej gave the Rangers over 420 innings pitched in two seasons, and earned the contract he was given by LA.

Presenting Team D BagFans are still upset with Wilson for leaving the Rangers to go play with their main rival as they have booed Ceej relentlessly all three times he has pitched in Arlington this season. Fans are angry about last postseason, but most are still annoyed by Wilson’s douchebag like behavior he exhibited while in town. His knife fighting, piloting, and DJing skills are just too much for people in DFW to handle. My belief is the CJ hatred is simply in regards to his incessant boasting, and bragging montages.

While the fans should be showing Wilson appreciation for his years of service in Texas, they boo him because they think he is a douchebag, and they do not even know him personally. Much of what Ceej says can make one roll his or her eyes, but off the field stuff should not matter as long as he produces on the field.

All of this unwarranted douchebag hatred and bashing got me to thinking, “What if all of the perceived MLB douchebags were on one team? How would the team fair against other competition?”

So, I began my research by finding out who in MLB is considered a douchebag by simply asking fans on Twitter. I received a few obvious answers, but had to search the world wide web for a few others. I was even tweeted a picture of the All-Douchebag team someone had taken their time to construct.

After about an hour of research, I had compiled my team of MLB douchebags. I even gave them the moniker ‘Arizona D-Bags,’ using a funny play on words. Without further ado, here is my team of D-Bags based solely on reputation according to baseball fans.

C  – AJ Pierzynski

1B – MarkTeixeira

2B – Ian Kinsler

3B – Alex Rodriguez

SS – Jhonny Peralta

LF – Ryan Braun

CF – Bryce Harper

RF – Nick Swisher

DH – Mike Napoli/Josh Reddick

BN – Johnny Gomes, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Theriot

SP  – CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver, Stephen Strasburg, James Shields, Bronson Arroyo

RP – Brandon League, Chris Perez, Jonathan Papelbon, Brett Myers, Jose Valverde, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Robbie Ross

Yes, I realize I have a 26 man roster, but this is a team full of perceived douchers, someone will get injured. Also, I added Robbie Ross and Ryan Theriot to the team because the team needed a left-handed reliever and utility infielder. While Ross and Theriot do not seem like douchebags, one never knows.

My experiment included using the player’s current statistics from 2012, and finding out how the overall combined statistics stack up against other current major league teams.

What I first wanted to do was appease the traditionalist and see how the basic offensive numbers compared to other MLB teams. The 13 D-bag hitters have combined to hit 224 home runs so far as of September 2nd, that would rank 1st in MLB. The Yankees would be 2nd with 202.

Then, every traditionalists’ favorite statistic, batting average. The D-Bags are hitting a mediocre .267 so far in 2012. However, the .267 batting average would rank 7th in MLB.

Next, I thought I would compare the advanced offensive numbers because those are the numbers sabermetricians will tell you matter. The D-Bags OBP is .340, tied for 1st in MLB. They’re slugging .457 as a team, and have a collective .797 OPS, both 1st in MLB. When one adds up the runs all of the D-Bags have scored, one will find out the D-Bags have scored 758 runs between 13 offensive players, also 1st in MLB.

As one can tell, douchebags can apparently hit the baseball as they are 1st in MLB in 5 of the 6 major offensive categories. But, can the douchebags pitch and play defense?

Again, I will begin with the baseball traditionalist favorite pitching statistic, the W-L record. The D-Bags starting rotation is a combined 64-33 so far, the 33 losses would be the lowest in MLB.

Now, let’s go to the traditionalists’ next favorite pitching statistic, ERA. The entire D-Bags’ rotation, bullpen included, possesses a 3.24 ERA, which would be the lowest in MLB.

The D-Bags have combined to strike out 1,141 hitters so far, which would be 2nd in MLB only to the Brewers. The D-Bags have a slight problem walking hitters as the 376 free passes given would rank 11th in MLB.

Now, let’s move on to the more exciting advanced pitching statistics. The .231 average batters hit against the D-bags would be the lowest in MLB, and the 1.19 WHIP the D-Bags pitchers possess would be tied for the best in baseball.

The .284 BABIP against the D-Bags as a team is about average, and the 3.39 team FIP is outstanding. Sorry, but, I could not find team rankings for these stats.

Can the D-Bags play defense? Well, the 75 errors the team has committed in the field (not including pitchers) would rank 7th in baseball. So, apparently douchebags can play defense and pitch too.

Finally, I wanted to use the Pythagorean expectation formula created by sabermetrician Bill James to estimate how many games this D-Bags team should win based on their current performance. One will notice the Pythagorean W-L record on baseballreference.com next to the amount of runs a team has allowed and scored. If one so chooses, one can look at any team’s Pythagorean W-L record in baseball history. The formula has been slightly modified since the formula’s genesis, but here is the formula used today on baseballreference.com. Remember, the answer to the formula will be the team’s should be winning percentage.

The D-Bags have scored 758 runs so far this season, and the pitchers have allowed 539. Yes, that is a +219 run differential, which would be far and away 1st in MLB this season. After I entered in the numbers and worked the formula, I arrived at a .651 overall winning percentage for the D-Bags. When I multiplied the .651 winning percentage times the numbers of games the team should have already played (133) the answer was 86.5.

The D-Bags overall record after 133 games should be 87-46, best in MLB by a substantial margin. The D-Bags are on pace to have a final record of 106-56, 50 games over .500, and only 10 off the regular season win record set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners.

What does all of this mean? Well, for one, the perceived douchebag players fans think are horrendous because they might wear an Ed Hardy shirt to a night club can play the game of baseball very well. Also, if a fan considers a player a douchebag, the player is probably a stud the fan secretly wishes were on his or her favorite team.

I realize the numbers do not factor in team chemistry, and whether or not other teammates loathe any of these players personally, but the numbers do not lie. Most of these players are very solid, and are key contributors who will help teams win.

Yes, I have been guilty of name calling in the past, there is proof out there I have done this. However, I have realized my foolish behavior, and you can too. So, before you claim a player sucks because he is a speed reader, or script writer, remember those things have nothing to do with baseball. While the behavior may be annoying, it has nothing to do with what happens on the field. These players are enjoyable to watch. Learn to look past the off the field behavior and appreciate the talent these players display on the field.

Presenting Team D BagFollow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18

 

 

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Aug 022012
 
Elvis

Walk Off Rangers Win so Huge it Overshadows Dempster/Olt DebutsHad the Rangers lost last night, you’d better believe that this post would be all about Ryan Dempster and Mike Olt’s Texas Ranger debuts.

Only problem with that is the Rangers did not lose. Quite the opposite, as they won in thrilling fashion, 11-10.

And oh boy was that a much needed “w.”

So bad have the Rangers bats been, and so woeful the starting pitching, I feel it’s best we bathe in the glory of last night’s throat punch to the second-place Los Angles Angels of blah-blah-blah.

Stay down, Angels. Save yourself further embarrassment. Should you rise, we’ll just lay you out again, each time more forcefully than the last. This Division, this League, it’s ours. We’ve got this sh**.

That’s how Texas Rangers baseball suddenly feels again—and it’s fantastic.

It’s a win that will be fondly remembered as summer’s heat recedes while the regular season gradually gains intensity before blooming into postseason play.

Man, that Rangers’ tenth inning…A half frame that functioned as snake oil for the soul, capable of healing all ailments, while restoring plummeting batting averages and halting the rise of our chief A.L. West combatants.

Hell, it might even halt Roy Oswalt’s regression and fix Josh Hamilton’s inexplicable batting misadventures.

Some thoughts from last night’s tenth inning Angels-beat down:

Joe Nathan

• In the top of the tenth inning, in a 7-7 tie—in a game that the Rangers had trailed by as much as six runs, closer Joe Nathan immediately delivers his best Koji Uehara impersonation. Eight-hole hitter, Chris Ianetta, promptly whistles a go-ahead home run into the left field seats for an 8-7 advantage.

Then, after two quick outs, Nathan plunks Torii Hunter, and here comes Albert Pujols. Yep. Two-run rocket shot to left field, Rangers down 10-7. I’m not sure what left quicker, Pujols’ homer, or the crowd’s feel-good vibe.

But, so magical was last night, that Joe Nathan not only gets to stay in town unharmed, he gets the win!

Michael Young

• Sure, we all know Michael Young is having a down season. No need to delve deeper than that. Young seemingly grounds out to Angels’ shortstop Andrew Romine, only to reach on an error. He’d eventually score the run that brought the Rangers within one, 10-9.

Mitch Moreland

• Injured for over a month, Mitch Moreland has hit safely in all three of his games since being reactivated from the disabled list on Monday. No hit was bigger than his line-drive single that tied the game up 10-10.

Moreland could provide the stretch run offense the Rangers have so sorely lacked.

Ian Kinsler

• Yes, Kinsler was the only out recorded by the Angels in the tenth inning. Yes, it was a meekly hit weak pop-up that didn’t leave the infield…but his game-tying, leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning more than makes up for any of his shoulder-dropping, groan-inducing games of pepper with second baseman the league over.

Nelson Cruz

• Nelson Cruz’s laser beam solo shot should have been for the walk-off win. But that doesn’t matter. What does is that The Boomstick is heating up baby…and Nellie goes nuclear, he can carry the team almost solomente.

Mike Napoli

• Quietly—it’s hard to make much of a racket after last year’s slash line—Mike Napoli is starting to show signs of life—as well as pop. Naps has hit five home runs in his last 10 games and was an almost-overlooked 3-for-4 last night with 2 RBI.

Elvis Andrus

• Despite Ian Kinsler’s big game last night, there will be plenty that feel Elvis Andrus should be the Texas Rangers’ leadoff hitter. I’m beginning to be one of them. It’s not that Kinsler sucks, but it seems his skill-set might be better suited lower in the batting order.

Regardless, Elvis made a case for not only batting leadoff, but for team MVP last night. One of the few Rangers that has stayed consistent at the plate all season long, Elvis’ ringing, walk-off double still induces goose bumps nearly 14-hours later.

Ryan Dempster

• Arguably the happiest Ranger of all, Dempster toes the rubber for his Texas debut tonight. Why so happy? It’s hard enough switching teams, but how about having to be your team’s ace and losing streak stopper all at the same time?

Mike Olt

• If Olt takes to the big leagues as he has at every level of the minors, the Rangers might have their own version of Mike Trout. Okay that’s a bit far-fetched, but Olt has flashed prodigious power, a plus-glove and a knack for drawings walks throughout his minor league career.

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Jul 182012
 
Roy

Coming into last night’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics had been on a roll. Their offense had finally started to support one of the league’s most underrated—and unheard of—pitching staffs.

But then along came Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt’s previous four starts had ranged from decent to terrible. Last night was easily his best start as a Texas Ranger. Oswalt’s dominant effort quieted the A’s offense, with Adrian Beltre and Craig Gentry combining to solve the riddle of the Athletics’ Colon.

Um, Bartolo that is. On a side note, the Athletics should have that checked at least once a year or so. It’s better safe than sorry when you’re talking about something as important as your Colon.

My thoughts from last night’s 6-1

That a boy, Roy

That was a nice start from Mr. Os. 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, with six strikeouts and zero walks. A few more starts like that and Neftali Feliz will most certainly end up in the bullpen.

Mike Adams, indigestion inducer

When Adams is on the hill, I tend to pop Rolaids like C.C. Sabathia does Oreos—by the sleeve.

Adams had Jemile Weeks down 0-2, with one out…then plunks him. Next thing you know the bases are loaded and Rangers killer Yoenis Cespedes is up. Somehow Adams got out of the inning unscathed.

But c’mon, this guy wants to close? I’m fine with that, as long as it’s for a different team.

Adrian Beltre

Beltre’s fourth inning solo shot represented the point in time when I first realized the Rangers were about to defeat the rotund right-hander, Colon.

All kidding aside, it was nice to see the Rangers have some success against Bartolo Colon. Remember that the last time Texas took on Colon in Oakland, he shut them down and did it in about two hours…no easy task.

Gentry not so Gentlemanly while in Oakland

Craig Gentry is now batting .550 (11-for-20) with 5 RBI off of Oakland Athletics’ pitching this season.

That’s downright uncivilized, good sir (or madam).

This is the equivalent of obliging a fellow gent’s request to a duel, only to shove a grenade down his pants and run like hell—all the way to the victim’s quarters so as to bed his recently widowed wife.

Or something like that…whatever, keep up the good work, Gentry.

Welcome back, Aleix Ogando and Mike Napoli

Napoli hadn’t been gone long, but his run-producig stroke had been witnessed on more than a few DFW-area milk cartons. Last night, his RBI single plated Gentry for the first run of the game, and here’s hoping it’s a sign that Napoli is finally turning the page on his very unproductive 2012 story.

It’s always a pleasure to see the “Stickman from the Dominican.” Alexi Ogando hadn’t appeared in a game since straining his right groin last month in San Francisco. Ogando pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief, ratcheting his fastball all the way up to 97 MPH. His addition makes the Rangers bullpen that much stronger.

Up Next

RHP Colby Lewis (6-6, 3.51 ERA) will make his first start since June 23 today at 2:35 (CT). Lewis had been sidelined with right forearm tendonitis. For the Athletics, Australian-born left-hander Travis Blackley (2-2, 3.20 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season.

Go Rangers!

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Jul 032012
 
Oswalt-sharp-in-first-start-of-the-season-GQ1NTKTC-x-large

Chris Sale vs. Roy Oswalt, a Rangers/White Sox PreviewAfter winning 7-of-10 during their recent home stand, the A.L. West-leading Texas Rangers arrived in the Windy City yesterday for a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the first-place club of the A.L. Central.

Unlike the Rangers, the White Sox have been quite a surprise this season. Less than a month ago, they lost their erstwhile ace—and former top Rangers’ prospect—John Danks, for the season due to a shoulder injury.

The A.L. Central is a weak division, but the ChiSox have taken advantage of said disparities thanks to a balanced team that is currently ranked eighth in the A.L. in batting average (.256), and sixth in team ERA (3.96).

The White Sox hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the resurgent Cleveland Indians and a 3 1/2 game lead over the severely underachieving Detroit Tigers.

Although coming off of a disappointing 3-1 loss last Sunday, the Rangers find themselves at 20 games over .500, good enough for the best record in Major League Baseball.

Roy Oswalt makes his third start for the Rangers and his first on the road this year. The White Sox counter with 23-year-old Chris Sale, a left-hander that has blossomed into one of the finest southpaws in the league.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Chicago White Sox (42-37, L 10: 6-4)

CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Adam Dunn
1B Paul Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexi Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

VS

RHP Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 8.5 K/9…15.6 H/9)

Oswalt most definitely loves pitching for the Texas Rangers. After giving up 22 hits over his first two starts—a career-high 13 last Wednesday against Detroit—Oswalt is 2-0 thanks to the potent Rangers offense.

I’m not concerned about The Wizard of Os, however. After all, without the benefit of Spring Training, we can’t reasonably expect Oswalt to be in top form any sooner than August at the earliest. Oswalt’s true value will be predicated by his potential impact come the postseason, should the Rangers make it into October for a third-straight season.

Regardless, like all Rangers’ fans, I want to watch him win now—and so far, so good on that front.

Over his 11-year career, Oswalt has gone 73-55 with a 3.45 ERA on the road. At Chicago’s US Cellular Field, the Os has a 2.57 ERA over his seven innings of work there.

Since his hits surrendered thus far are unbelievably high, and two starts is a teeny sample size, there’s no need to mention that right-handers are batting .414 off of him, and left-handers .370. Whoops

Let’s go with his career platoon splits, which are much less terrifying—LHB: .263/.309/.387, and .248/.296/.386 against RHB.

Texas Rangers (50-30, L 10: 7-3)

2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mitch Moreland
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

VS

LHP Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.9 K/9)

Sale, a former 2010 first-round pick by the White Sox made his big league debut just two months after Chicago selected him with the thirteenth overall pick.

Used exclusively as a reliever prior to this season, Sale has been outstanding as a starter for the ChiSox over his 15 starts.

Sale’s home/road splits are equally intimidating. Sale is undefeated on the road (5-0, 2.85 ERA) and while his two losses on the year have come at US Cellular Field, his 1.69 ERA their is one of the finest in the league.

So sound has Sale been during the first half, that both left-handed and right-handed batters tend to return to their dugouts after uttering an ample amount of curse words to themselves.

Southpaws produce the slash line of: .184/.229/.255 with zero home runs. Right-handed hitters go: .204/.264/.318 with just five home runs.

As a team, the Texas Rangers are batting just .182 against him, but this will mark the first time they have faced him as a starter.

Notes:

• Way back in April, the Texas Rangers took two-of-three from the White Sox, with Joe Nathan blowing a lead and taking the “L” during their only loss. It will be interesting to see how Nathan handles Alex Rios this go-round—should the two faceoff once again.

• Chicago acquired third baseman Kevin Youkilis late last week from the Boston Red Sox. “The Youk” has never faced Roy Oswalt, but has a career slash line of: .319/.407/.524 against the Rangers over his career…

• White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, more famous for being a loudmouthed a-hole than for anything he’s ever done on the field, has a chance to apologize to Rangers skipper Ron Washington face-to-face, starting tonight.

Pierzynski made incredibly short-sided and overtly ignorant statements regarding his All-Star “snubbing” by Wash, the A.L.’s skipper for the second-straight season…I’m willing to bet Pierzynski will do nothing of the sort.

Go Rangers!

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