Apr 162012
 

Monday Morning FastballsThe price tag keeps going up…

Trailing by one run in the 8th after an RBI triple by Elvis Andrus had plated Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton hit a no-doubter to the upper deck in right field that silenced the hometown Twins once and for all and wrapped up the opening road series sweep.

  • It’s the first time that the Rangers have swept the Twins in Minnesota since 1999.
  • Prior to the sweep, the Rangers had lost 20 of their last 26 in Minnesota, including 9 of 10 at Target Field.

“You know I don’t watch them,” Hamilton said regarding the distance of his home run. “I know it feels good and sounds good and Ron yells, ‘Yes!’ pretty loud. That’s about it. But that one felt pretty good.”

“That was awesome,” outfielder David Murphy said. “We didn’t get our offense going, but with this offense, we’re never out of it. Huge shot by Josh. As long as we have outs, we’re never out of it.”

“We played good baseball,” Washington said. “We pitched, we played defense, we ran the bases, we delivered the big hit when we needed them. Everything fell into place.”

  • Joe Nathan closed the door, working a perfect 9th against the middle of the Twins order and earning his 3rd save on the season.

“It’s nice to come in here and sweep these guys,” Nathan said. “I know the Twins have done pretty well against this club at this park. Today was a good win, come-from-behind win, and to hold down a one-run lead, it was nice.”

  • Monday Morning FastballsNeftali Feliz (5 IP, 3 ER on 5 hits and 2 BB, 3 K) pitched well early in the game but ran into some trouble in the 6th and was relieved by rookie Robbie Ross, who earned the win and pitched two brilliant innings.

“It was a pretty fun weekend,” Ross said. “I enjoyed it. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, just relax and try to get guys out.”

  • This was a big one, as the Rangers were able to put the final nail in the coffin and get a series sweep…on the road no less.  There was much to be impressed with in this game, including the clutch hitting of Josh and Elvis, the plate discipline of Kins, the first four innings from Nefti, the dominance of the rookie Robbie Ross…but the moment that put the biggest grin on my face was Joe Nathan closing the door on his former teammates.  Once we can trust in Joe (which he has to earn through consistent dominant pitching), this thing is unstoppable.

Quick hits:

  • Rangers are off today…what the hell are we supposed to do now!
  • Colby Lewis will pitch in game one of the two game series in Boston.  He’ll face off with Boston ace Jon Lester.  Lewis has not had much success against Boston in his career (.329/.388/.685 in 80 PAs).  Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in particular have hammered the Colbra in the past (Gonzalez: 6 for 7 with 2 HRs and a double; Ortiz: 5 for 15 with 3 HRs)
  • Derek Holland vs. Josh Beckett on Wednesday to wrap the short series, then it’s on to Motown for a four game set with the Tigers and home to face the hated Yankees…who, while they’ll always be hated by Rangers fans, are no longer public enemy #1.

“They’re chasing us,” echoed second baseman Ian Kinsler. “It shouldn’t matter to us. We’re not chasing them. Obviously, they are some of the best teams in the American League, but we feel like it’s got to come through us. We just have to play good baseball.”

  • Mitch Moreland missed his second straight game Sunday due to a painful abscessed tooth. He flew back to Dallas last night and is scheduled to undergo oral surgery today.  The plan is for him to rejoin the club tomorrow in Boston.
  • In an effort to split up the lefties in the rotation, Wash said he was considering switching Darvish and Harrison during the series with the Tigers, but no official decision has been made yet.
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Apr 112012
 

Wednesday Morning CurvesLast night felt good.  There wasn’t a player on this team I wanted to see succeed more than Neftali Feliz, and not just because of the bold prediction that I made in my preseason article about him, “The Other New Guy”.   Last night Neftali Feliz put together the best performance of any starting pitcher on this rotation the first time through.  The 7 inning gem was also his longest performance in his professional career (including in the Minors where max was 6 1/3).

Believe me, I know the season is still very young, and he’s got a long way to go to get to my prediction of 16 wins…but you have to be excited about what you saw last night.  Feliz proved that he is more than just a flame-throwing closer and that he does indeed have an effective changeup and a pretty salty slider that compliment his fastball – which really never reached the velocity that we’re used to seeing from Feliz, whether by design or simply because his arm strength is still ramping up.

Feliz gave up only four hits and two walks over 7 innings while striking out four – all on 108 pitches…and all in a game that seemed to be over in the blink of an eye due to his rapid pace and control.  He is only the third Rangers pitcher to ever throw at least seven scoreless innings in his first big league start.

“I was trying to throw all my pitches and keep them low and I did that,” Feliz said. “There is a big difference between being a closer and being a starter. As a starter you have to think and be calm and execute. The first inning I had to make a little adjustment. I had a little pressure on me and I had to work out of it and make my pitches.”

“Awesome,” catcher Mike Napoli said. “He did a great job. We kind of noticed his changeup was on and we were going with it and it was good pitch for him tonight. That can change from night to night. He had that going and we used it a lot. That’s what you’ve got to do as a starter. You can’t go out there and throw fastballs every single time through the lineup. You’ve got to be able mix it up and he did that.”

“Everybody knows he can throw 100, but he was mixing in a lot of pitches tonight,” Mariners DH Jesus Montero said. “He struck me out on an off-speed pitch the first time, so I kind of forgot about the fastball for a little bit. Then I got base hits on a slider and changeup. He was unbelievable tonight. Amazing.”

“He just did a really good job of pitching,” designated hitter Michael Young said. “What’s impressive is that wasn’t his routine as a closer. As a closer he would come in the ninth and throw bullets. Tonight was all pitching.”

Neftali’s next start will come this Sunday at 1:05 in Minnesota against the Twins.

Quick Hits:

  • Wednesday Morning CurvesDavid Murphy continues to perform at the plate, as he was 3-3 with two doubles and the games lone RBI last night.

“I want to stay the course,” Murphy said. “I feel like in the past if I had a start like this, I might start swinging hard and thinking in my mind that I’m playing with house money and getting outside myself. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s just five games and there’s a lot of baseball to be played.”

  • Neftali was amazing last night, and the opposing pitcher, former Rangers 1st round pick Blake Beavan was pretty salty as well.
  • Gotta love the smart base running by Adrian Beltre last night to keep a rundown going long enough for Michael Young to advance to second base.  If you missed it, T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) broke it down and there is video.

“That’s baserunning 101 right there,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You get caught in a rundown, you have to stay alive as long as you can to let the guy get the extra base. That’s exactly what he did.”

  • The Ian Kinsler extension is expected to be made official later today, after Kinsler completed the physical yesterday.  The Rangers fully expect the young second baseman to be declared “healthy” later today and will announce the contract shortly thereafter.

“Well deserved,” outfielder David Murphy said. “He is as complete of a player as you’ll see in the big leagues and has the best instincts of any player I’ve ever played with. He loves the game. He’s the ultimate competitor.”

Washington on Ian Kinsler as a clubhouse leader: “He’s matured into a lieutenant. We have a couple of generals and a couple of captains, he was a sergeant, now he’s a lieutenant. Kinsler has gained his respect every year, not only in our clubhouse but around the league.”

  • Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Opening Day starter Colby Lewis are among the players who could still become free agents after the 2012 season.  Kinsler told Napoli that he was next yesterday in the locker room, and while I know it would be nice to get both Napoli and Hamilton locked up during the season, the lpossibility of a deal with Napoli in the near future seems more likely.

“I guess we’ll see,” Napoli said. “I don’t know, but I hope we can get something done. The bottom line is I want to be here, but I really don’t know how it is going to work out.”

  • Utility infielder Albert Gonzalez got into the game in the 9th inning last night, meaning that Brandon Snyder is the last man to get on the field.
  • The Rangers face off with former Ranger Kevin Millwood tonight, first pitch 7:05pm.  Colby Lewis will take the mound for Texas.
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Mar 282012
 

2012 has begun!  The Athletics and Mariners are over in Japan wrapping up the season opener as I type this.  One note, the Rangers will be tied with the Angels for 2nd when this game completes.  Nice article by Jim Caples (ESPN) on Ichiro’s return to Japan.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsMike Napoli hit two home runs in yesterday’s Spring Training match-up with the Padres, which was won by the Rangers when Joey Butler (of Baseball Do podcast fame) scored from third on a wild pitch.

  • Ian Kinsler continues to tear through Spring Training, compiling 3 hits in the game, raising his Spring Training batting average to .422.  I’m calling it right now – Kinsler will not hit above .422 during the regular season.
  • Robbie Ross, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen with the Rangers, started the game and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk over 2 innings of work.

“I was up just a little bit,” Ross said. “I got behind on batter a few times. I hit my spots OK, but I think I could have attacked the guy that hit the home run better than I did. I kind of pitched around him and nit-picked a little bit.”

  • Ross made a nice defensive play, snagging a line drive hit back to the mound by Chris Denorfia.  Credit Greg Maddux with the nice glove work by the prospect.  After Ross just got out of the way of a similar line drive hit by Torii Hunter on Sunday, Maddux put Ross out on the mound and drilled 6 line drives back at him, making him field the ball rather than bail.

“He was hitting them at me, so this time I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what we worked on,’” Ross said. “It was kind of nice knowing I could stick in there with that.”

Wednesday Morning CurveballsNeftali Feliz got back on the mound for the first time since being pulled early from a game last week due to should stiffness.

  • Feliz gave up one earned run (three runs total) on six hits and one walk in four innings of work, striking out three.
  • He hit 96 MPH with his fastball in both of his final two innings of game.

“I felt good,” said Feliz through a translator. “Everything was OK. I wasn’t trying to throw hard, just trying to keep my pitches down.”

The Rangers are expected to announce their starting rotation very soon.  It’s known that Colby Lewis will start Opening Day and Neftali Feliz will take the 5th spot.  If the Rangers are truly wanting to split up their left-handers, as manager Ron Washington eluded to earlier this Spring, than the rotation should look like:

  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz

Quick Hits

  • Hold your breath…Elvis Andrus left yesterday’s game with a tight right hip flexor muscle.  The plan is to rest him today and get him back in the lineup tomorrow.  Wash isn’t concerned.  Exhale…
  • Joe Nathan pitched back-to-back days for the first time this Spring on Monday & Tuesday.  His outing yesterday, against the Royals AA team, was especially gratifying as he struck out 2 and got a ground out in a quick 11 pitch inning.
  • Nathan hiy 94 MPG with his fastball and said that his arm felt strong on Tuesday than it did on Monday.

“I had good building blocks yesterday and built on that,” Nathan said.

  • The Dutch Oven pitches tonight at the Royals and Alexi Ogando will pitch in a minor league game against the Dodgers in which is expected to go 6 innings.
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsT.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article on Adrian Beltre’s leadership role on the Rangers.  The article is filled with comments from his teammates and manager Ron Washington.

“It’s so easy on this team to be yourself and help others,” Beltre said. “There are not a lot of guys who get out of line. It makes it easy. I like to have fun. It helps me relax and enjoy the game. When I enjoy the game, I perform better. It’s tough to have fun when you’re losing. The good thing is this team wins a lot. It’s easier that way.”

  • Next week’s podcast will be our 2012 Season Preview Special.
  • We’re planning a giveaway in the near future for some Rangers tickets, so stay tuned.
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Mar 262012
 

OK, so our balls are neither fast or in the morning today…Jasen and I both have some shoulder stiffness, so today’s lateness and brevity are both just precautionary.

Monday Morning FastballsYu Darvish had a good outing yesterday in a minor league intrasquad game.  He threw 85 pitches over five innings, giving up four runs to a team consisting of some of the top Rangers prospects – Leonys Martin, Mike Olt, Engel Beltre, etc.  He gave up six hits and two walks, while striking out 11.

“I gave up four runs, but I was not unhappy at all with my outing,” Darvish said afterwards. “Overall, I felt very good. I thought my pitches were good, but I kind of backed up the slider a couple of times … little by little, it’s coming.”

Pitching coach Mike Maddux was pleased with the improvement that he saw from Yu.

“I thought he looked good,” Maddux said. “He’s improved each time out. His velocity was there and he spun a few [curves]. I thought his stuff was good. He feels good physically, he said he could go nine innings. That’s a good sign.”

Darvish will start again on Friday against Colorado and is scheduled to pitch six innings and around 100 pitches.

Quick Hits:

  • Colby Lewis isn’t concerned with his hip…therefore, neither are we.
  • Monday Morning FastballsRobbie Ross continues to campaign for a spot in the Rangers bullpen.  This time, Ross put together a nice outing against the hated Angels, striking out the first two batters he faced looking.  He gave up one hit in the outing, but got Albert Pujols out on a line drive to left field.  We’ll be talking about Ross tonight on the podcast and weighing in on the many different options the Rangers have with the prospect.
  • Craig Gentry left yesterday’s game against the Angels due to dehydration.  Will someone please get that man some Gatorade.
  • Neftali Feliz will start tomorrow and says he feels good.  He threw in a bullpen session yesterday and said that his right shoulder, which he experienced some stiffness in last week, felt fine.
  • Matt Harrison was strong on Saturday in a minor league Spring Training game against the Royals Triple A players.  He pitched 6 scoreless, allowing no runs on two hits, with four strikeouts and no walks on 71 pitches.
  • Joe Nathan, on the other hand, continued to give us runs on Saturday, giving up two of them on three hits across five batters.  Ron Washington isn’t concerned with the results Nathan is accumulating in Spring Training, nor should he be, but it will be interesting to see how long the leash is that Nathan has once the regular season begins.
  • Baseball Do Field Trip!

Jennifer and Megan from www.RangersTalkers.com will be joining us tonight on the podcast to talk about Robbie Ross, the Rangers situation in center field, Tailgating and Ballpark food!

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Mar 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 11   Big news for us and Dutch!  C.J. sucks!Jasen and I talk about:

  • Our new partnership with Patty Shack Burgers!
  • Derek Holland’s new contract
  • Neftali’s stiff shoulder
  • The closer role
  • C.J. Wilson’s failed attempt at a prank on Mike Napoli
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Mar 192012
 

Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersThe Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.

  • Harrison on the outing, ”So far, so good.  Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that.”
  • Manager Ron Washington on the effectiveness of Harrison’s changeup, ”I’ve always thought that was his second-best pitch.  He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he’s continued to work on it and it’s gotten better.”
  • Two of Harrison’s strikeouts came on changeups, which is an encouraging sign from the young starter.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor discusses how the Rangers rotation is starting to take shape.
  • Ron Washington said a few weeks ago that he was going to split Harrison and Holland up in the rotation, which makes perfect sense.  To me, I’ve though the debate was whether they would fall in the second and fourth spots of the rotation or the third and fifth, with Darvish and Feliz taking the other two spots.  After the strong performances from Holland this Spring, I think it’s clear the order looks like this:
  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz
  • Washington on Holland and Harrison expectations, “I don’t want them having 18 or 20 wins on their mind.  If they set out to do what they did last year, they’ll surpass it without even trying. If they repeat the number of wins they had last year, that’s good enough for me – anything else is failure. I don’t want them going backward.”

Quick hits:

  • C.J. Wilson is an idiot.
  • The Rangers have partnered with the Japanese social media company gloops.  The partnership will include a gloops exclusive Japanese backdrop during press conferences, a fixed sign behind home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and signs around Surprise Stadium for the rest of spring training.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDavid Murphy and Brad Hawpe each went yard in the other split-squad game yesterday, before the game was called short in the 4th inning due to rain.
  • Torrealba was removed from the line-up due to stiffness in his back.  He did get some batting practice in, so it looks like his removal was precautionary.
  • Craig Gentry returned yesterday from his wrist injury that he sustained last week.  He went 0 for 2.
  • Prospect Robbie Ross, who is fighting for the bullpen role, started the game against the Brewers yesterday and didn’t fare well, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits across 2 1/3 innings.
  • Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Ross’ outing,  ”He was aggressive, went right after these guys.  He just didn’t have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders.  He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn’t back off from them. He came right at them. I didn’t see any intimidation, and I didn’t see any fear. He just didn’t quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there.”
  • Good article from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) on Johan Yan, who the Rangers are hoping to convert from a poor hitting fielder to a strong armed relief pitcher, just as they did Alexi Ogando.  Another current Ranger who made a similar conversion was Joe Nathan, who was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Giants.

Darvish Day III:

  • Yu Darvish will be on the mound and Mike Napoli will be catching today when the Rangers play the Brewers.  The game will be live on MLB.TV, at 3:05 p.m.  Darvish is making his third start and will be looking to throw 60 pitches across four innings.  Napoli, who has been dealing with a strained groin muscle, will be back behind the plate for the first time since March 8.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDarvish reportedly generated more than $250 million of advertising revenue in January alone.
  • Pitching coach Mike Maddux on Darvish (from Ben & Skin, 103.3FM ESPN), “So far we’ve got five innings to go on. In those five innings, we had some ups, and we had some downs. We had more ups especially the ball being up and down. It’s just something we need to continue to grind at. We’re going to work today and really get that ball going down. He showed us some good breaking stuff, and that’s kind of bailed him out since his fastball command has been erratic. He’s a confident young man. He only knows success. You look at his track record in the Japanese league, and he was dominating. His expectations are to go out there and dominate, but it’s a little different game over here. There is a more concentration of talent so he has to grind it out, and I think he’s learning that.”
  • Maddux on overcoming the language barrier with Yu, “It’s somewhere between broken English, broken Spanish and broken Japanese. Some how, we got it all on the same page. The good news with baseball is that it’s an international language. Whether you’re in Tokyo or Arlington, Texas, it’s fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, change. It’s a strike and a ball. Some of the phrases are universal. There are some phrases that everybody knows whether they be in English or in Japanese or in Spanish. You kind of use those bullet phrases, and we all get on the same page. We’re able to get the communication bridged. When we come to the dugout, we really start getting the communication bridged when we employ the translators.”
  • Darvish’s younger brother, Sho Darvish, was sentenced to a one-year prison term for assaulting a female friend. According to the Japan Times, Sho repeatedly slapped the woman in the face and tried to choke her. The attack reportedly resulted from Sho’s anger over her association with some of her friends.

St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner

  • Thanks to all those that participated!  The winner of the tickets is rauch5s.  We’ll get in touch with the winner and get the tickets out in the mail this week.  Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the season!
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Mar 152012
 

Rockies beat the Rangers 6-1 yesterday, as Neftali Feliz got his second start of Spring Training under his belt.  Of bigger concern was the injury to Josh Hamilton’s heel that occurred in the second inning.

  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsFeliz struck out 3 over 3 innings, giving up 1 run off of 4 hits and a walk (47 pitches, 32 for strikes).  More importantly, Neftali was able to get himself out of two jams with inning-ending double plays which lessened the damage and showed that the closer-turned-starter was able to buckle down in crunch time.
  • Ron Washington on the start, ”He pitched well.  He went out there once again and used the whole strike zone and used all his pitches.”
  • T.R. Sullivan elaborates further on the start and provides some video here.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPNDallas) provided his take on Feliz here.
  • Hamilton’s injury is not considered serious.  He left the game for precautionary purposes after jamming his heel while chasing down a Todd Helton double.
  • Wash on Hamilton, ”He just said his heel felt sore so we removed him.  We’ll just see how he is tomorrow. If they feel he’s fine, he’ll be back out there. If they feel he needs another day, we’ll give him another day.”
  • Ian Kinsler returned to the Rangers line-up Wednesday after missing three days with stiffness in his back.  He looked good in the game, going 2 for 3.
  • Mike Napoli was still out of the line-up as he nurses his groin.  That’s 5 straight games now that Nap has missed, and the Rangers aren’t really saying anything as to when he will return.  Precaution is key, but it seems the problem is lingering a little longer than they thought.

Quick hits:

  • Craig Gentry sprained his wrist in the Yu Darvish start (remember the diving attempt…).  He’s expected to miss 3-5 days, and had this to say regarding the situation, ”It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game.  When it happens you try to move on, but it’s frustrating not getting at-bats or being able to finish a nine-inning game.”
  • Martin Perez will get his second Spring Training start today at 3:05 against the Swingin’ A’s.  Neil Ramirez, another highly touted Rangers pitching prospect, will also pitch in today’s game.  You can listen to the game on TexasRangers.com.
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsJean-Jacques Taylor (ESPNDallas) wrote a piece on Julio Borbon and his plight to be the full-time CF.  According to Taylor, Ron Washington and others are high on Borbon’s performance so far this spring, and the feeling is that he has surpassed Craig Gentry in the competition for the role.
  • Borbon on his approach this spring, “I’m finally playing my game the way I want to play.  I’m not trying to do what I think the Rangers want me to do.  I’m not trying to impress anybody or overdo anything. Sometimes, you work yourself to exhaustion trying to do everything you can – and then you can’t perform.”
  • Washington on Borbon, “When we showed up to spring training he was ready to play ball because he’d been playing all off-season. He started well and he hasn’t let up.”
  • Ron Washington isn’t going to bail on Joe Nathan after one bad outing in Spring Training, saying ”Once again we’re in spring training.  He has to develop his arm strength. He has to get a feel of what he’s trying to do.”
  • If you missed Wash on with Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN), you can read some details from the interview here.
  • Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) wrote a piece on hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and the praise he is getting from the players.
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Mar 122012
 

Monday Morning FastballsOne of the Rangers over-shadowed acquisitions of this off-season was the signing of closer Joe Nathan who, Joey Nowak (MLB.com) writes, is confident that he’ll return to form after missing a season and a half after Tommy John surgery.

  • Nathan on the injury and surgery, ”Obviously, the surgery, being two years behind me now, has allowed my arm to heal and do everything I need to do.  It’s not a concern, I’m not thinking about that anymore. I’m just concentrating on what’s important and that’s getting guys out.”
  • Ron Washington on Nathan and the acquisition, ”Last spring, we experimented with Neftali starting, but we weren’t protected in the back end of the bullpen.  And the first thing [general manager Jon Daniels] did this winter was go get us some protection in the back end of the bullpen so we could go make this move with Neftali. I think he made a great choice in Joe Nathan. More than that, Joe Nathan wanted to be in Texas.”
  • Catcher Yorvit Torrealba on Nathan, ”Not to take anything away from Neftali, but Nathan is one of the best closers in the game, and it’s a plus to have a guy like that to bring in.  With Neftali moving to the rotation, we need a guy like that, and to have him here is great.”
  • Nice to hear Joe’s confidence in himself and that the injury is behind him completely.  This was a move that not only netted the Rangers a potential stud closer, but also with a potential top of the rotation starter with the transition of Feliz.

Minus C.J., plus Yu, and more…  Mike Bauman (MLB.com) think that the 2012 Rangers Pitching may be better than last year’s.

  • Bauman on the depth, “And there is admirable depth here. Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, appears to be all the way back after knee surgery. Hard-throwing Alexi Ogando proved his worth as a reliever in 2010, then demonstrated that he was a Major League starter in 2011.”
  • Overview from Wash, ”If our young kids continue to grow — it’s important that they continue to grow and don’t go backwards — we will certainly hold our own.  Name-wise, you put them up against some of those rotations out there, maybe we don’t compare. But result-wise, I think we will be fine. I’m certainly looking forward to them continuing their growth. And the addition of Darvish will certainly help. That will replace what we lost in C.J.  We should continue to move forward. We don’t doubt that. Colby showed that he’s coming around [with four perfect innings on Saturday]. Feldman has got his sink back and his cut back on his fastball, and he’s getting his ground balls. Neftali is moving along. Holland and Harrison have shown that they haven’t missed a beat, yet. And Darvish had a very good first outing. So we’re certainly very positive about what we have to go into the season with. And we’ve just got to hope that we stay healthy.”
  • Ron Washington on the young guys on the staff, ”The Harrisons, the Hollands, the Ogandos, the Neftalis, they were young, and they had a chance to pitch into the postseason two years, back to back, and understand what it’s like to compete.  And I think that’s a good advantage for us to have. They’ve been there and done that.”
  • Say what you want about C.J. (super douche), but his loss from the rotation did leave a gap…a gap that has been filled by Yu Darvish, who has more potential than C.J.  You couple that with the development of the younger guys on the staff, as Wash talks to above, and I think this year’s staff will out-produce last year’s staff.  A lot depends on what Yu can do…

Quick hits:

  • Rangers split their two Spring Training games over the weekend, losing Saturday to the White Sox and beating Cleveland yesterday.
  • Derek Holland had an effective outing in the win yesterday, giving up 1 ER on 3 hits over 3 innings of work, striking out 4.
  • The Rangers play the Mariners today at 3:05pm.  Matt Harrison faces off with former Ranger prospect Blake Beavan.
  • Scooter Feldman (Jasen’s pick for Surprise Player of the Year) understands the starting pitching depth that this team has, ”I’m just trying to get my focus where it needs to be at the beginning of the season.  I’d like to know what I was doing, but I’m a fortunate guy to be on this team. I just go about my business and do what I can control. I can’t control the decisions they’re gonna make.”
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN) compares the current Rangers squad to the dominant Cowboys of the mid-90′s.
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Mar 122012
 

 

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Could Yu become even better in the eyes of Feliz?

Yu Darvish’s initial spring training start was universally dubbed a galactic success.

Whoops, I just misspelled “success.”  Darvish’s outing was so amazing that the synonym for “conquest” can no longer be spelled without a “Yu.” Literally.

Syuccess.

Spelling the word in this manner not only pleases the eye, it pleasures your computer. My laptop just gave me a high-five! What? You thought Yu-mania was only reserved for human beings?! HA!

As a matter of fact there is only one man—in the entire galaxy, I checked—saddened by Yu Darvish’s unprecedented series of spring training successes. That man is Neftali Feliz.

After all, the accolade-overdose thrust upon The Yu, was supposed to be dumped on Neftali too.

Regardless, Feliz made his spring training debut last Thursday, and BaseballDo sent me there for a quick interview.

Well, sort of.

 *****

My first question for Neftali Feliz was of the hard-hitting journalistic style. Hey, I didn’t spend a decade in hard-hitting journalism school for nothing!

“So Feliz, in your opinion, is there any way that Yu Darvish could possibly become any better than he already is?”

Booya! Hard…Hitting!

After a moment of deep reflection, Feliz explained to me in his native tongue that he needed more time to consider his answer to this question.

My initial question would prove to be my only query, as Feliz proceeded to conduct the entire interview solomente. And for those of you that aren’t bilingue, “solomente” meant that he conducted the entire interview by himself.  Yep, he asked  himself the questions, and then answered them. Out loud. Yeah, it was weird.  It made my job pretty easy though, I just kicked back and wrote it all down. I have provided the necessary translations in italics.

“En mis propias palabras.  Las palabras que fueron inventadas por otra persona.”

I am now talking, and in doing so, I am speaking out-loud in a manner that is similar to an interview, especially an interview that is conducted by only one person, the person that is doing the interview.

“By Neftali Feliz.”

By Neftali Feliz. And yes, he actually said the words out loud.  Again this is odd. But hey, he’s the former rookie of the year not me!

“En mi primero estrada.”

My first inning of work.

“No fue bien.  Obscenidad. Rendí un jonrón al hombre gordo grande llamó pinche puto ‘Asno’. Obscenidad”

It was poor.  Expletive. A really fat “Donkey-man” took me deep on my fastball. Expletive.

“Esto me hizo enojado. El año pasado personas lo baten tirando secretamente. Obscenidad. Me recordó del Diablo Supermo, pinche jota de los Cardinales del sexto juego. Obscenidad.”

I was angered by this unexpected turn of events. Last year, you could get him out by throwing underhand. Expletive. Donkey-man had the happy look in his eye of Freese from game six. Expletive.

“Como mirando los tetas grandes de Asno zangolotean me audaron me calmo. Jajaja. ¡Entonces jogoso! Jajaja.”

The large Donkey-man’s jiggling breasts as he rounded the bases helped to calm my frazzled nerves. Hahaha. So juicy! Hahaha.

“Sólo en los Estados Unidos hace tienen a hombres con tetas grandes como eso.  ¡Sólo mujeres están como eso en el Dominicano¡ Podría cambiar…cosas.”

Large jiggling breasts on men are a product of the United States of America only.  Only women have such wonderful devices in the Dominican. Large breasted men could…change things.

Hahaha…

NOTE: The laugh included was my own. Feliz did not laugh, and for a moment things became awkward as he stared my way.

Suddenly, my decision to wear an Under Armor compression shirt went from a comfortably cool idea into a misguided mistake.  Those things really cling to the old man-boobs. For the first time in my life, I felt that the room was a tad too cold.

I briefly explained to Neftali that my eyes were “up here” which seemed to shatter the spell.

For the next several moments we cleared our throats—while making assorted manly noises—and talked about how much more attractive women are than men.

Yes, even the large breasted men were not nearly as attractive as women.

Feliz suddenly had the look of a man that had discovered a simple solution to a difficult problem.  For the first time in a few minutes, the former closer spoke:

“Dibujaré para usted la respuesta a su pregunta.”

I will draw for you the question to my answer.

He proceeded to grab a large sketchbook from under his chair. He immediately began to draw, pausing only to to put on a painter’s beret with matching turtleneck. More than once, he laughed maniacally. It was unsettling.

Finally, he tore off a page and carefully folded it once before handing it my way.  He then decided to conclude his interview of himself.

“En el Segundo entrada, Washington permitó que tire mi queso grande y yo dominé. Aquí permita que le muestre algo.”

In the second inning, the capital of the United States of America allowed me to throw my fastball, which smelled of cheese.  I dominated.

“Siga. Eche una Mirada a eso. ¡Eso es lo que deseo hablo de ahora! Jajajaja.”

Go Ahead. Take a look at that. That picture I drew is answer to your first question! Hahahaha.

I unfolded the paper and discovered that he had drawn a picture of Yu Darvish.  Something was very different about him, though.  It was probably the enormous knockers drawn on Darvish’s body that marked the biggest difference.

Neftali Feliz gave me a sly smile, followed by a thumbs-up sign. Then in English, he said:

 ”That is the only way Yu Darvish could be become any better!”

¡Las tetas grandes son las únicas maneras Yu Darvish podría conseguir mejor!

As I left the interview room and closed the door, I could still faintly make out the crazy cackle of Neftali Feliz. I feel certain that he continued to laugh (in Spanish) long after I had made my way into the hard-hitting journalistic style parking spot that had been reserved for yours truly.

Hell, he may still be laughing right now.

¡Jajajajajajaja!

Hahahahahahaha!

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Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Perhaps he is not staring at anything. Perhaps he is staring at something. And perhaps what he stares at is jiggly.

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Mar 092012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsNeftali Feliz got his first Spring Training start out of the way yesterday, giving up 3 hits and 3 earned runs, striking out 2 and walking none across two innings.  Rangers lost the game 6-3.  Mitch Moreland had an RBI, and Elvis Andrus continues his march towards hitting .700 with a double and a single in the game.

  • He threw a total of 36 pitches, and it was really a tale of two different games for Neftali, and he gave up all the runs in the 1st inning off of a 3 run shot by Adam Dunn, and then shut the ChiSox down in the 2nd inning.
  • Not a bad start for Neftali, and keep in mind it’s the beginning of Spring Training.  I’m confident that he’ll only get better and I’m eager to see him when they get to the more stretched out (4IP+) Spring starts.
  • Feliz mixed in quite a few sliders and change-ups and had this to say regarding the approach, ”I know I’m not going to pitch like that, but I’m really working hard on them.  I’m obviously going to use my fastball more, but I know this is the time to work on all that stuff and not worry about the results.” – This is exactly the attitude and approach you would want to see from a young starter like Neftali at this point, and it shows that he has confidence in his stuff, as well as the Rangers management.
  • More from Feliz after the game, ”I’m not really focused on what happened today.  Obviously, Dunn got a hold of one. I’m just working on making my pitches, locating them where I want them, keeping the ball low. I’m just going to be focused on my goal and not going to worry about today too much.  In the second inning, I came out trying to attack the zone and keep the ball low, and I was more successful in the second inning than the first.” – I know it’s just talk, but it’s great to hear that he’s not too worried about that first inning.
  • Joey Nowak (MLB.com) writes about Neftali’s first Spring start, and includes some video footage of an interview with Feliz after the game.
For my thoughts on what I expect from Feliz in 2012, check out The Other New Guy.  Everyone has an opinion, and the transition that Feliz and Red Sox former-reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard drew the attention of Jerry Crasnick and Gordon Edes (ESPN.com) who both state their cases for the success of each pitcher in 2012.  Crasnick took Neftali’s side.
  • Crasnick says “As a starter, Feliz will have more time to tinker and work on pitches in the bullpen between outings. And when he does, he’ll receive guidance from Maddux, one of baseball’s best pitching coaches, and Maddux’s brother Greg, who’s ready to share some serious baseball knowledge as a special assistant in Texas. Heck, even the team president, a guy named Nolan Ryan, might have some observations to pass along.”
  • Tristan Cockcroft (ESPN), also gives his take on Feliz in his 30 Questions: Texas Rangers article.
  • If you missed it, Feliz was my prediction for 2012 Surprise Player of the Year, which we discussed on our last podcast.

As we all, especially the team, continue to work on putting 2011 behind us, the beat writers just keep reminding us about it by writing about putting it behind us…, and to make it worse, we continue read it.  The Rangers vow to forget 2011 season’s end by Richard Justice (MLB.ccom).

  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsI like Kinsler’s quote, ”We’re still very motivated.  We’re very competitive. This year’s a completely different year than last year. Just because we went to the last two World Series doesn’t lessen our odds of going to the World Series this year. We have to prove ourselves again, and that’s the beautiful thing about this game.”
  • And of course, JD chimes in regarding the culture, ”That’s what I’m really proud of.  The people we have. The culture we have. They enjoy being with one another. We celebrate our successes, but we don’t spend a lot of time on it. By the same token, we don’t get too low when things don’t go our way.”

As you have probably all heard by now, the video clip of Nolan Ryan whipping Robin Ventura’s ass will no longer be shown in the pregame videos at Rangers Ballpark.

We’re not that sweet…

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