Jun 022012
 

Costly Error and Wasted Opportunities Sink Rangers,  AL West Lead shrinks to 4 1/2That was a frustrating loss. I’m cynical by nature but even if I wasn’t, that lackluster performance would be ripe for the most sardonic of cynicisms.

I feel as though the quicker I wrap this up, the quicker we can get to Yu Darvish and (hopefully) our winning ways…So let’s jump on in:

Colby Lewis didn’t deserve the loss

• Over his 6 2/3 innings pitched—three of which were of the no-hit variety—Lewis scattered four hits around one walk while netting five K’s. His hits surrendered were untimely; it can be argued that he didn’t pitch well enough for the win, but he was unfairly hit with the loss.

• Two more unearned runs in this game (cynical hat tip to Ian Kinsler’s game-changing error). The Rangers now have 17 “unearnedies” in their last 17 games.

Silver lining awash in a Sea of Crap:

• The Texas Rangers are still in first place in the AL West by 4 1/2 games.

• Mike Napoli is continuing to improve—he was 1-for-3 with an RBI last night.

• Adrian Beltre continues to rake. He was 2-for-4 last night pushing his batting average to .323. He also has a 10-game hitting streak.

• Koji Uehara—easily my favorite player of all-time—continues to excel in relief. He worked a scoreless ninth inning, surrendering one hit and striking out one.

The door ding in the previously pristine Rangers-mobile

• The offense is continuing to struggle. Two runs plated against a team playing as well as the Angels have been lately isn’t going to win many—if any—ball games. You don’t go bow hunting with a slingshot.

• The defense. What the fu** is the matter with the gloves? Tonight it was Kinsler (and Cruz?). It’s been Andrus and Beltre recently.

One of the key things that has elevated the Texas Rangers to their current level of greatness has been their consistent excellence with the leather.

Whether it’s boredom, fatigue, or whatever—this shi@ has got to stop. No team is good enough to give away outs in exchange for base runners and expect to continue winning.

Hey Vernon, you feeling better yet? We need you back bud!

• The Angels are now 10-1 since Vernon Wells was placed on the disabled list. No word yet on if there is a 24-hour police watch to make sure Mike Scioscia doesn’t murder Wells.

Fake news report: “Vernon Wells has recently been upgraded to the permanent disabled list in the sky by manager Mike Scioscia.”

Mike Trout: One fish we’d love to put in a barrel

Costly Error and Wasted Opportunities Sink Rangers,  AL West Lead shrinks to 4 1/2

"Quick get the shotgun! That dang Trout just made eyes at my old lady!"


• The Angels’ recent surge has less to do with Wells’ departure than the arrival of Mike Trout. Now I understand why some feel he’s going to be better than Bryce Harper.

• Trout was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI batting in the leadoff spot. His most important statistic of the day though? ZERO LOB You dig, Mitch? (5 LOB).

The Angels’ Bullpen no longer Sucks

• Castaway closer (and North Texas resident) Jordan Walden has excelled in his non-ninth inning role. It solidifies the biggest weakness the Angels had during April.

Ernesto Freaking Frieri. Yep, the Angels now have a lights-out closer in Frieri. He picked up his 3rd save in dominating fashion last night by striking out 2-of-3 and slamming the door on the Texas Rangers.

Frieri’s ERA is now 1.09 with a K/9 ratio—18.8—that seems more fiction than fact. What’s the key to getting to this guy? Easy. Don’t let the Angels get the freaking lead.

Up Next:

The Texas Rangers will look to Yu Darvish (7-2, 3.25 ERA) to snap their current three-game skid. Darvish will have his work cut out for him as he opposes former Ranger and consistent douchebag C.J. Wilson (6-4, 2.77 ERA).

The first pitch is scheduled for 9:05 (CST), and as always, check back here for the pregame preview on BaseballDo, foo!

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Jun 012012
 

Texas Rangers Look to Reignite Winning Ways out West, vs. AL West Rival Anaheim AngelsAfter taking two-of-three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last month in Arlington, the Texas Rangers now travel to the “Big A” to see if they can take another series from their hated division rivals.

For the Rangers (31-20) it may appear as though the time is ripe for a quick sweep of the ankle-biting Angels (26-26).

After all, the Angels just lost everyone’s favorite crooner, their staff ace, Jered Weaver, to a back injury. Despite the loss of Weaver, the Angels have been the hottest team in the AL not named the Chicago White Sox.

They’ve managed to win eight of their last ten games as Pujols was somehow plucked from his personal sea of suck.

Don’t take off that lifejacket yet, Poo, it’s a loooong season.

Over his last 10 games, “Captain Poo” has seen his batting average rise 31 points—all the way up to .243. He’s also hit five home runs over that span, giving him 8 on the year.

However, the Poo-meister has only managed a less-than-stellar .167 batting average against the Rangers with one solitary RBI during the regular season.

Rangers ready to take a bite out of the Angels:

Mike Napoli. He’s batting .362/450/.754 with 6 HRs and 10 RBI lifetime against the Halos. Naps also has 54 HRs and 140 RBI while playing in the “Big A.”

Josh Hamilton. This season, “Hambone” is batting .462 with 3 HRs and 6 RBI against LAA. In his career at the “Big A” he’s gone: .317/.372/.591 with 13 HRs and 48 RBI.

Ian Kinsler. Kinsler has always hit well in Anaheim. His .303/.389/.520 with 13 HRs and 44 RBI certainly validate that point. Although he hasn’t done much yet this year against the Halos, you get the feeling that this sleeping giant is about to awaken…and he might be pissed.

• This season, Nelson Cruz has had a series of ups-and-downs, slumps and mini-slumps. Throughout it all his favorite whipping boys have been the Angels, and he’s gone .545/.643/.909 with a HR and 6 RBI thus far. In his career, “Boomstick” has 14 HRs with 45 RBI against the hated Halos.

Tonight’s Matchup: RH Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.58 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 vs. RH Jerome Williams (5-2, 3.81 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, K/9: 5.8)

Lewis

Lewis is coming off a no-decision at home against Toronto in which he skirted trouble throughout his 5.1 innings pitched. He scattered 10 hits without issuing a walk and struck out 6.

This is “Colbyashi’s” first appearance against the Angels this season. However, the current roster is batting just .205 off of him over his career.

Loves to face: Albert Pujols (.143), Torii Hunter (.125, 5 Ks) and Howie Kendrick (.176, 7 Ks).

Hates to face: Peter Bourjus (.313), and Mark Trumbo (.400, 1 HR, 4 RBI).

Williams

Jerome Williams is one of just five active Hawaiian-born major leaguers (of the five, he and the Rangers’ own Scott Feldman are the only pitchers.) The Honolulu native was a former 1st Round Draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 1999.(39th overall pick).

In his last start, Williams earned the victory against the Seattle Mariners by scattering five hits over his six innings pitched with 5 Ks and 2 BBs.

The burly right-hander didn’t fare nearly as well in his most recent start against the Rangers. He luckily escaped with the no-decision as he was hit hard and often during his May 11th start at the Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington. All told, he lasted 6 2/3 innings but surrendered 6 ER on 11 hits with just 3 Ks and 2 BBs.

Overall, the Texas Rangers are batting a ridiculous .473 off of Williams—here’s hoping that’s a trend that will continue tonight.

Loves to Face: Elvis Andrus (0-for-5 lifetime).

Hates to Face: Just about everyone else…but here’s a short list:*

Nelson Cruz (.800/.857/1.833, 2 HRs, 6 RBI)
Craig Gentry (.750/.750/1.250, 2 RBI)
Josh Hamilton (.667/.600/2.667, 2 HRs, 3 RBI)
Adrian Beltre (.500/.500/.900, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
Mike Napoli (.429/.429/1.143, 1 HR).

*Yes, believe it or not, the slash lines are not mere hyperbole; they are really real…no, really.

Have fun with that, Mr. Williams.

Currently, the Texas Rangers lead the Angels by 5.5 games in the AL West. Worst case scenario, if the Rangers are swept, they’ll still be up by 2.5 games. But it’d be a whole lot more fun to pull off the sweep and have that lead where it should be: 8.5.

The first pitch tonight is scheduled for 9:12 PM (CST).

Go Rangers!

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May 282012
 

Surging Rangers Offense looks to stay Hot against Seattle Mariners, Kevin MillwoodBefore the Toronto Blue Jays came to town, the Texas Rangers (30-18) were mired in an offensive funk that saw them averaging less than four runs per game—paving the way to losses in six of their previous ten games.

The Jays had beaten the Rangers in two out of three this season and had dominated Texas both last season and the season prior—and with Brandon Morrow set to toe-the-rubber in game one last Friday, things looked bleak.

However, Texas’ slumbering offense came alive immediately—plating seven in the first inning—setting the tone for domination and initiating the sweep.

And just like that, the offensive woes fell to the wayside thanks to an attack that averaged 11.33 runs per game during the Jays series.

Here’s hoping the Rangers bats can stay hot as they welcome their familiar foe, the Seattle Mariners for a three game set in Arlington.

Kevin Millwood (3-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6 K/9) vs. Matt Harrison (5-3, 4.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5.9 K/9)

Millwood

In former Texas Ranger Kevin Millwood’s last start, he pitched six scoreless innings against the Rangers, picking up the win 5-3. Millwood is in a zone that he hasn’t seen since last century (1999)—he hasn’t allowed a run in 17 consecutive innings.

Millwood is a veteran that relies not on raw stuff, but on location. A similar comparison in style would be that of Colby Lewis (with much lower K/9 and HR/9 rates).

Against the current crew of Rangers, Millwood has a .253 BA against. Adrian Beltre has 3 career home runs with 5 RBI off of him. Mike Napoli (.375, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and, of course, Josh Hamilton (.400, 1 HR, 3 RBI) have both been tough outs for Millwood throughout his career.

Matt Harrison

“Harri” had seen his ERA rise from 3.68 to 5.21 before he picked up the win against the Mariners in Seattle, 3-1, last week. Harri was sharp, going 7 innings, striking out 6, walking 2 and scattering 8 hits.

If you’ll recall, after that first inning against the M’s it sure didn’t look like we’d be getting 7 quality innings from the big left-hander.

Thanks to some outstanding defense from Hamilton, Harri was able to get out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning—while surrendering just the one run. From that point forward, he was in cruise control.

The Mariners have only managed a .182 BA against Harrison. Ichiro Suzuki has had the most at bats against him, and has collected 9 hits with a team-leading 2 RBI. Alex Liddi (.500) and Brendan Ryan (.667) see the ball well against the Durham, North Carolina native, but it’s a small sample size for them.

Much like the North Texas weather, here are four Rangers that are heating up:

•Nelson Cruz—8 RBI in one week much less one game will certainly warrant your inclusion in the hot list.

•Josh Hamilton—Much like Cruz’s big night, Hami’s walk-off, extra innings long ball is enough to realize his power stroke hasn’t gone anywhere. Plus, he’s Josh Hamilton…’nuff said.

•Mike Napoli—It’s no secret that Napoli has struggled since an April hot streak. However, his 2-for-3 yesterday afternoon (including his first home run in nearly a month) might be a sign that “Mr. NAP-O-LIII!” is starting to sizzle.

•Mitch Moreland—Mr. underrated…even after yesterday’s 0-for-3, Moreland has been torrid at the dish. In the Jays series he was 6-for-13 (.462) with 4 RBI and one big fly.

Hot Mariners to watch:

N/A—C’mon, they just got swept by the Angels for crying out loud.

The Rangers can win if:

• They can get on base early against Millwood. Millwood was dominate at times in his last outing, and he leads the league with the lowest HR/9 rate, averaging just 0.3/9. In other words, the Rangers can’t rely on the long ball to touch up Millwood.

Prediction time:

I just can’t see Millwood keeping the Rangers bats at bay twice in less than a week. Rangers win 7-4, and Millwood’s scoreless innings streak is snapped at 18.

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May 272012
 

Texas Rangers Bruise the Jays Blue on Hamiltons Walk off Home Run Sometimes, even without RISP, there can be a reward.

After going 2-for-16 (.125) with runners in scoring position, while leaving as many runners on base as innings played (13); and then failing to plate the winning run after getting it on base with the leadoff batter in four consecutive innings

The Texas Rangers—thanks to Josh Hamilton—weren’t going to let this 13-inning affair end with a loss. And just like that Hamilton hit his 20th home run, and his third career walk-off home run.

You know, Josh, you’re spoiling the hell out of us Rangers fans. But, hey, after that whole “1972—2009″ stretch of Rangers’ mediocrity—with a few one-and-done playoff teams sprinkled in—we deserve a little pampering.

Aside from the obvious Hambone-heroics here’s a glance at some other highlights from, literally, the longest Texas Rangers game of the year:

• With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the Rangers trailing 4-2, Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland (the 7, 8, and 9-hole hitters) each hit solo home runs to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead…

• Mitch Moreland is now hitting above .300 for the first time this season…his home run was his fourth in the last 10 games, and he is hitting .458, with 8 RBI over that span.

Nelson Cruz has hit as many homeruns (2) in the last two games as he had in the entire month of April.

• The Texas Rangers are now at their high-water mark, 11 games above .500, for the first time since May 13th.

•The Rangers are 3-1 in extra innings this season.

The Texas Rangers will go for the sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled for 2:05 PM .

Yu Darvish (6-2, 3.05 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) will oppose Kyle Drabek (4-4, 3.27 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.1 K/9).

Make sure to check back here for the pregame preview a la BaseballDo, foo!

Go Rangers!

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May 262012
 

Nelson Cruz Goes Nuclear, Boomstick Butt Kicks Blue Jays with 8 RBI

Cruz is heating up.

“…A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do
Tomorrow.”
Edgar Albert Guest, Tomorrow.

That succinctly summarizes what the Texas Rangers offense was able to do to Morrow—Brandon, that is—during last night’s 14-3 Blue Jays beatdown…not feeling it?

All right, how about:

“…An offense that was troubled and weary Nellie knew,
His team would be glad of a lift and needed it, too;
On his boomstick he would call and see what he could do
To Brandon Morrow.”

Hell yes!

And now for the fun, non-poetic, Rangers kicking-ass, feel-good stuff:

The Sorrow of Brandon Morrow (sorry, couldn’t resist)

•Morrow threw 14 pitches to leadoff batter Ian Kinsler, before losing him to a walk.
•He would only throw 30 more pitches before exiting the game, down 6-0. Surrendering an average of one run every five pitches thrown.
• Morrow’s ERA entering last night’s Texas Rangers slugfest was 2.63. Now it’s 3.47 and he needed just two-thirds of an inning to put Tiger Balm on his ERA’s bozack.
• Poor Morrow, I never new a “slump buster” could be tall, thin, bearded and—worst of all—a freaking dude.

Boom Shack-a-Lacka Shack-a-Lacka Boom Boomstick!

• Nelson Cruz’s first home run—Grand Slam style sucka Boo-ya! in 11 days was just one of his four hits on the night.
• He went 4-for-5 with 8 RBI. This tied him for the most RBI in a game this season with Josh Hamilton, who was 5-5 (with 4 home runs) on May 8th.
• Seriously? What team has two dudes knock in 8 in one game just 17 days apart? Answer: Our team!

No, Jeff, you can’t wear catcher’s gear on the mound…

• The only Blue Jays pitcher that didn’t allow at least two earned runs last night is not really a pitcher.
• Of course, Jeff Mathis isn’t much of catcher either, but that’s beside the point.
Delusional Angels skipper, Mike Scioscia, most likely viewed Mathis as a better pitcher than Mike Napoli too.

I’ve got your slump right here, pal!

• The Rangers 14 runs scored were the most they’d plated since their 13-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels of that city near Disneyland, on May 13th.
• Michael Young’s 3 runs scored last night were one more than he had scored in his previous nine games combined. His 3-for-5 night raised his average to .276—and he is now hitting over .400 against Brandon Morrow for his career.

The Dutch Oven is so HOT! right now…

• Derek Holland’s 9 strikeouts are the most he’s had this season and fell just one shy of his career high of 10.
• Holland struck out the side in the first inning and did the same in the sixth inning with the only blemish being Edward Encarnacion’s solo shot.

Timely Hitting, come and get some!

• The Rangers left 11 men on base, but hit .389 (7-for-18) with RISP.
• The Blue Jays hit .500 (1-for-2) with RISP; but who gives a shit?

Even though Koji Uehara is not currently sucking…

• There is no “Koji-has-to-suck-for-the-Rangers-to-succeed” hex. Whew! Now it’s just something silly I made up for a cheap laugh rather than a, you know, real “thing.”
Or maybe the onus has been passed on to Lowe’s anus, but who knows?

Up Next for the Rangers:

More potential Blue Jays bashing with the first pitch set for 2:05 PM today; check back here for the Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs. Henderson Alvarez (3-4, 3.30 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) pregame preview…

Go Rangers!

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May 142012
 

Rangers Cruz Past Rival Angels in Rubber Match

Monday Morning FastballsAfter falling to the Angels on Saturday, the Rangers came out and made a bold statement on Sunday night against Angels Ace Jered Weaver in a nationally televised game.  In the first 3 of 19 the two teams will play this season, the Rangers established where the balance of power stood in the American League West.

“It’s important to win games against the teams in your division, there’s no doubt about it,” said Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (2 for 4, 1 RBI in the game). “The most important thing is to win games and to win series and we’re able to get another series under our belt. To be honest with you, I’m not really worried about them. I’m worried about us and what we need to do to win games.”

The Angels sent their Ace to the mound, a day after Rangers fans were treated to seeing C.J. Wilson start his second consecutive game of the series.  Weaver only lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up 8 earned runs on 10 hits and a walk.

“Those guys are good over there, man, and if you fall behind, let them get in hitters’ counts, they’re going to put damage on you,” Weaver said. “Obviously, they’ve been doing it to a lot of people. You have to be on your ‘A’ game against these guys. They don’t give you a chance to breathe. You have to be pretty fine with all your pitches, and that wasn’t the case tonight.”

While all runs are created equal, the big blow came off the bat of Nelson Cruz who, with the game tied at 2, delivered a two out Grand Slam in the bottom of the 3rd to cap off an inning in which the Rangers scored all of their runs (5 in total) with two outs.

Monday Morning Fastballs

“I said before that I felt like my swing was there, just not the results,” Cruz said. “I thought it would come. It’s good to see it.”

Monday Morning FastballsCruz wasn’t alone in his plight to sink the Angels pitching staff.  Every Rangers starter, with the exception of David Murphy, got a hit with Kinsler, Andrus, Hamilton, Cruz, Napoli & Moreland all contributing multi-hit games.  Even the hitless Murph made a very big contribution last night, working a walk after being down 0-2 to Jered Weaver in the 3rd, which loaded the bases and kept the inning alive for Cruz.  While Cruz was the only one that left the yard, the extra base power was there all night as the lineup combined for seven doubles.

“It’s a fun lineup to be a part of,” Josh Hamilton said. “Every night somebody steps up. Either all of us, or bottom of the lineup or top of the lineup. It flip-flops or varies, which is a good thing to be able to say as a team. It’s just fun to be a part of.”

Rangers starter Neftali Feliz, very appreciative of the big lead, pitched well through six innings of work, only giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5.  The two runs came on a home run by Mark Trumbo who started in right field for the Angels – dude has massive power.

Rangers relief gave up four more runs, with three of those being surrendered by Mark Lowe in his 2/3 innings of work.  Lowe, who had performed pretty well so far this season, set himself back last night in terms of the trust that Rangers fans have in him.  The other run was given in up in the 9th by Joe Nathan via a Kendrys Morales solo shot.  Nathan was getting work in due to the time since he last pitched, not because it was a save situation.

Two other worthy highlights of the night:

  • Elvis Andrus defensive GEM – with the Angels threatening to make it a ballgame in the seventh inning, having already scored 3 and now with the bases loaded, Elvis made a tremendous play to end the inning.  I couldn’t find video of the play, but I’m sure most of you saw it.  He ranged far to his left behind the second base bag, gloved a ball and flipped the ball from his glove to Ian who was covering second, just in time to get the force.  Words don’t do it justice….
  • When Jered Weaver was pulled from the game in the middle of the fourth inning, he showed his fun side by singing along with the “Hit the Road Jack” music being played at the Ballpark.  Goofy, and as many tweeted last night, made him seem a little less douchey.  Video below…

Final words from our friend Jered Weaver:

“You have to be pretty good coming into this place,” Weaver said. “These guys are pretty good at home. That’s been proven. They’ve got a good ballclub over there, man. And if you dig yourself a hole before you get out there, that’s pretty much a game won for them already.”

Quick Hits

  • The Rangers begin their series against Kansas City tonight at the Ballpark.  Scott Feldman gets a spot start against Bruce Chen in the first of the short two game series.
  • We completed our Twitter Ticket giveaway yesterday, and the winner was Larry Bannister.  Thanks to everyone who participated and we’ll try to keep more fun giveaways coming the future.
  • The Baseball Do Field Trip is only a little over 6 weeks away.  What are you waiting for…?  Good food, Rangers baseball and Reckless Kelly!

Personal shout out – Happy Birthday Dad!

 

Jered Weaver Ballpark Karaoke:

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Apr 182012
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Feb 102012
 

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

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

Score at the end of Round 1:

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

Left Field

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

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

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

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

Center Field

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

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

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

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

Right Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

Designated Hitter

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

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

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

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

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

Score at the end of Round 2:

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

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

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Feb 102012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsThe Rangers and Nelson Cruz reached an agreement on a contract yesterday, avoid arbitration and locking the slugger up for the next two seasons.  Sources say the contact is ~$16.5M after incentives.
    Cruz is looking forward to a big 2012, saying “I feel like I’m in better shape right now than in the past.  I expect a big performance of myself and nothing less than going back to the World Series.”
  • Cruz was in the Dominican Republic dealing with a stomach bacterial infection over the off-season that hampered him for a couple of months.  Since returning to the U.S. for treatment, he has started working out at the same gym as Mike Napoli in Miami.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote a short column on Cruz moving on from Game 6.  Cruz had this to say concerning Game 6, “You always want to complete a goal, especially back-to-back years and not making it.  You’ve got to get over it. You don’t always get what you want. The whole team, the coaching staff, we have to make sure we get better, whatever we need to do to get better to make sure we get back to the World Series and win it all.”
  • Keith Law (ESPN.com) has published his prospect rankings and four Rangers made it into the top 100.
    #7. Jurickson Profar
    #20. Martin Perez
    #75. Michael Olt
    #99. Neil Ramirez
    You can read a small write up about each prospect here.
  • Law also put together a top 10 for each Organization.  Here is the Rangers:
    1. Jurickson Profar, SS (7)
    2. Martin Perez, LHP (20)
    3. Mike Olt, 3B (75)
    4. Neil Ramirez, RHP (99)
    5. Robbie Ross, LHP
    6. Rougned Odor, 2B
    7. Leonys Martin, CF
    8. Cody Buckel, RHP
    9. Leury Garcia, SS
    10. Jorge Alfaro, C
  • Randy Galloway (Star-Telegram) wrote a good article on the continuing battle that Josh Hamilton faces as an addict.  This story feels like it wants to run it’s course, but the looming thought of a video that could surface at any moment is a little disturbing.
  • Derek Holland was on with Ben and Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) recently, and spoke about leaning of Hamilton’s relapse, “First I didn’t even know anything was going on. I was out and surprised, so I had no clue what was going on. Once I had found out me as a person I wanted to give Josh all the support I can. He’s one of my teammates. He is like a brother to me. Those guys are people we look up to. It’s like Washington said he is one of those people that when we are on the road I played Xbox with him and stuff. We interact with him, so he doesn’t feel like he is left out. We make him a part of this team because he is. He is a key member to this team, but at the same time it is all about supporting him. This is a tough thing for him to go through and it’s our job to be behind him and show that we care about him and that we are there for him.”
  • If you missed Round 1 of our Position-by-Position American League West Battle, check it out here.  Round 2 will be posted today.
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Feb 092012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsHopefully, tomorrow morning we’ll be posting an update that the Rangers and Nelson Cruz have reached an agreement and avoided arbitration.  Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) reports “According to a major league source, the club is close with OF Nelson Cruz on a two-year deal that would eliminate his scheduled arbitration hearing next week.”  Grant provides more details and a good comp here.
    The deal is expected to get done this morning.
  • Details on Elvis Andrus’ 3-year contract were released yesterday.  Elvis will get $3.125 million in 2012,  $4.8 million in 2013 and $6.475 million in 2014 for a total of $14.4 million. The annual average value is $4.8 million.
    Elvis had this to say about getting the contract wrapped up and his future with the club, “These next three years, I can focus on the team and continue to help the lineup have success.  I’m still learning every day. My best years are coming. I’m getting to know myself and my offense. I’m just trying to get better every year.”
  • Fangraphs.com recently published what they believe to be the 10 worst transactions of this off-season.  The Rangers made the list one at #8 with the signing of Joe Nathan.  From the article:
    “During his prime, Nathan was one of the best relievers in baseball. Then he had Tommy John surgery, spent a year on the DL, and was essentially a replacement level arm during his first year back on the mound in 2011. The velocity was still there and he still got a decent amount of strikeouts, but his extreme fly ball ways turned into a home run problem, and going to Texas probably isn’t going to alleviate that issue. Nathan’s a decent enough bounce back candidate, but that’s why they invented one year deals with incentives. At 2/14, the Rangers should have gotten a sure thing, but Nathan is a high-risk arm who hasn’t been a good pitcher since 2009. If Texas would have shown a bit more patience, they probably could have ended up with Ryan Madson instead.”
    Check out the full list here.
  • The Rangers Believe in Mitch Moreland…of course they do, but if you need some more feel good reading on the first basemen, check out Richard Justice’s (MLB.com) article here.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good column about the questions the Rangers must answer during Spring Training this year, including setting the starting rotation and figuring out who will play center field.  Good read.  Jasen and I are going to be going over what we believe to be the primary questions that the Rangers need to answer during Spring Training in an upcoming podcast.
  • Speaking of the podcast, it’s been a few weeks now since our last episode.  We are not giving up on the podcast.  Just been working out some technical difficulties and trying to get everything straightened out before Spring Training starts.  Stay tuned.
  • Hope to have Round 2 of the American League West Position Battle posted later tonight.
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