Feb 082012
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsThe Rangers and Elvis Andrus will avoid arbitration as the two sides reached an agreement last night on a 3 year contract worth $14-15M.  The contract is pending a physical.  Elvis would have been up for arbitration after the next two seasons as well, so this contract will eliminate that.  Elvis will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.  Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) provides some more background on Elvis here if interested.
  • If you missed the Part 1 of American League West Position Showdown, check it out to see where Elvis stacks up against his peers.
  • Next up – Mike Napoli and Nellie Cruz
  • The Rangers have hired Shayne Kelley to be Josh Hamilton’s accountability partner.  Kelley, a longtime college baseball assistant coach and former coach in the Royals’ system, will also serve as a Major League staff assistant for the Rangers.
    Jon Daniels had this to say regarding Kelley and the search, “We talked to a few people, but Shayne was at the top of our list.  We had more interest in this position from people reaching out all over the country than all other positions combined since I have been here.”
    Kelley accompanied Hamilton to New York on Monday to meet with doctors from MLB and the Players Union.
    T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) covered the story with some additional detail here.
  • Mitch Moreland reports that he is feeling great after his off-season wrist surgery in November.
    Moreland says “Going into Spring Training, I’ll be in some kind of routine, but I don’t think there will be many limitations.  They said we’ll go on how I feel. If I feel good, we’ll keep going through it. That’s going to be for me to find out. Nobody will know until we get there but me. Right now I’m feeling good.  I know it’s going to be better than last year.  It was pretty bad the last month. There were days that I would go into the [indoor batting] cage, I’d just come out for batting practice, take two, three, four swings and see how I feel. We got through it.”
    This is great news for the Rangers and Mitch as he looks to take the next step in his progression.
  • The Rangers have released their Spring Training broadcast schedule.  There will be a good amount of coverage, with 10 games on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, 10 games on local television and 10 free audio webcasts at texasrangers.com. You can check out the full schedule here.
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Feb 072012
  • Tuesday Morning Sliders15 days folks…
  • The Rangers are still working to avoid arbitration with Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus.  Elvis is the nearest to going to arbitration, as his hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, with Cruz on the 15th and Nap on the 17th.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides more information here.
    “The Rangers will likely reach a settlement with Andrus before the hearing. Andrus, who is represented by Scott Boras, is asking for $3.6 million; the Rangers are offering $2.65 million.
    Napoli has the largest spread — asking for $11.5 million, with the Rangers offering $8.3 million — and could be the most likely to end up in a hearing. Napoli is coming off the best year of his career, setting personal bests with a .320 batting average, 30 home runs, 72 runs scored and 75 RBIs.
    Cruz, who hit .263 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in 2011, is asking for $7.5 million, whereas the Rangers are offering $5.5 million.
    Contract negotiations with all three are ongoing.” 
  • Here’s hoping the Rangers can get something done and avoid arbitration with all three players.  It’s a business…but arbitration can make it personal sometimes as the team is essentially laying out a case for why the player isn’t’ worth what he thinks he is.
  • The Rangers have signed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel and right-handed hitting 1B/OF Conor Jackson to Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training.  T.R. Sullivan provides an update on both players and their roles here.
    “Jackson, 29, played in 114 games for the Athletics and the Red Sox last season and hit .244 with five home runs and 43 RBIs in 352 at-bats. He had a .310 on-base percentage and a .341 slugging percentage. He has a career .283 batting average, .381 on-base percentage and .436 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.”
    “Beimel, 34, pitched in 35 games for the Pirates in 2011 and was 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA while being sidelined from May 28 to July 15 with inflammation in his left elbow. Opponents hit .321 off him, including .302 by left-handed hitters.”
  • The additions of Jackson and Beimel bring the Spring Training count up to 58 .

A few thoughts on Josh Hamilton from Evan Grant (DallasNews):

  • On Hamilton’s reliability moving forward:
    “ If you listen to Josh’s apology, it’s like he’s talking directly to you. The guy is earnest, the guy is convincing, the guy has a really humble approach in dealing with adversity. And somebody else will listen to that and say, “He’s over it, he’ll deal with it, everything will be fine.” But it is two slip-ups in three years.”
  • On if Hamilton’s relapse will cause the Rangers to lose him:
    “ If he walks away from the Rangers after this year, I don’t think that the Rangers will have “lost” him. I think the Rangers will be OK with that at this point in time because he will have kind of come to the end of the road here. I think if Josh sits back, looks at everything, goes through this year with all the support that the Rangers give him and he chooses to go somewhere else, I think that the best will have been behind Josh Hamilton.”
  • On how Hamilton’s relapse will affect his contract negotiations with the Rangers:
    “This plays out that Josh plays a year as a potential free agent because they’re not going to negotiate any time before the season starts. And I think the Rangers now are going to take the approach that they’re not even going to approach him. With most players, they don’t talk during the season and I think right now, there’s no reason for them to talk. People want to talk about leverage in this situation, but leverage is a moot point at this point. It’s gone from this: the Rangers were asking Josh previously to give them a hometown discount. I think now the Rangers will be discussing whether or not they want to put up with this burden long-term.  But with Josh, the question is not just .320 average versus a guy dealing with alcohol abuse. With Josh, it’s a guy who is now 31 years old, as opposed to most free agents who may be a year or two younger. It’s a guy who annually misses at least 30 games a year. There are other factors involved in that burden.”
  • On the type of contract Hamilton could get as a free agent:
    “If he goes out there this year and hits .320 with 35 bombs, plays 150 games and wins another MVP, there will be plenty of clubs that sit there and say, “Josh Hamilton is a risk. Over a six-year contract, it’s a risk that’s not going to pay off, but over the next two years, we’ll take that and pay the extra freight.” It only takes one team to think that way.”
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Feb 012012
  • Wednesday Morning CurvesThe Rangers are working to avoid salary arbitration with OF Nelson Cruz.  The hearing is scheduled for February 17th.
    Cruz had this to say regarding the process and his future in Texas, “I’m not afraid of the process.  If we need to go to arbitration, I’ll do it. But in an ideal world, it’s better to avoid it altogether.  I’d like to be a Ranger for life.  I like the city, the team and the fans.  But this is a business. If God wants me to keep on playing in Texas, it will happen. I have to be ready for anything.”
    Cruz will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.
  • One of the conversations we got into with Kevin Mench when we recently interviewed him (Jasen’s article here) was around the arbitration process.  The GM, the player, as well as others sit in front of an arbitrator and pitch their sides in order to get the arbitrator to settle on a salary closer to what they desire.    Doesn’t sound like a fun process and even those with thick skin can sometimes be turned off by the organizations tactics.  Let’s hope that Nellie doesn’t have to go through this.
  • Bryan Dolgin (ESPN.com) wrote a good piece on Mitch Moreland’s increased motivation driven from the Prince Fielder hooplah.
    Moreland says, “I think it was more of a motivation thing for me, you know. He’s a good player and all, but you know, I want to go out and prove that they didn’t need him.  I’m looking forward to this year and getting started.”
    Check out the rest of the article here.
  • John Machota (Special Contributor to DallasNews.com) wrote a column on Matt Harrison, who is believed to be the odd man out if the Rangers were to sign Roy Oswalt.  Harrison, on with Ben & Skin (103.3 ESPN), was asked about the potential of being traded if Oswalt was signed and said, “That could be an option.  I feel like I proved myself last year, that I could be a consistent starter in the big leagues. I’m not saying the bullpen is a bad thing but I think I’m better suited for the rotation because pretty much at the beginning of the game I’m a little bit of a slow starter and I kind of acclimate as the game goes on.”
  • Oswalt, Oswalt, Oswalt….I keep waiting for this to go away and for Oswalt to sign with another team, but the fact that Oswalt has yet to make a decision leads me to believe that the Rangers are at least still players for the veteran right-hander.  We have provided our opinion already regarding Oswalt (here) and the impact his signing would have on the current pitching staff.  If this is part of a bigger plan, as many of speculated, Harrison should have strong value on the trade market.  Signing Oswalt, and dealing Harrison could lead to a improvement in center-field, the bullpen, or even more young talent to stock the minors with.  All that said, I’d still prefer to see Matt Harrison in my rotation this year as opposed to Roy Oswalt.
  • Rangers announced a whole mess of personnel moves yesterday.  Richard Durrett (ESPN.com) covers them here.
  • Nolan Ryan turned 65 years-old yesterday.  If Nolan isn’t already your homeboy, make it happen.
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Jan 182012
  • Wednesday Morning Curves   Darvish Deadline DayIt’s Yu Deadline Day!  We’ll know by 4pm today if the Rangers and Darvish were able to reach an agreement.  Richard Durrett & David Schoenfield face off on ESPN’s Hot Button explaining why they feel the Rangers should sign (Durrett) or pass (Schoenfield).  That link also displays a Jim Bowden video that provides nothing new, but if you’re wanting to drown yourself in Yu Darvish today, give it a watch.
  • Tim Kirkjian feels that “one way or another, Yu Darvish is going to sign with the Rangers”, and that seems to be the general sentiment of much of the MLB Media.
  • David Murphy, Matt Harrison, Mark Lowe and Mike Adams reach deals with the Rangers to avoid arbitration yesterday.  This leaves Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus as the three remaining players that could go to arbitration if a deal is not reached.  T. R. Sullivan provides some more details on this matter here.
  • Would you want the Rangers to sign Prince Fielder, if it meant that they would not be able to resign Josh Hamilton after the 2012 season?  Jasen posted a good article last night examining the scenario, and Jean-Jacques Taylor sided with Hamilton in an article posted on ESPN Dallas this morning.  Decide for yourself, and leave a comment below.
  • Greg Maddux kicked-off his career as a Ranger yesterday getting up to speed with some of the minor-league pitching talent within the organization.  According to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram, “While Greg Maddux will familiarize himself with the pitching prospects this week, one area that he will surely be involved with throughout spring training is the pitchers’ fielding technique.  The Rangers’ pitching staff combined for 16 errors last season, including four each by Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis and three by Derek Holland. Greg Maddux, on the other hand, won 18 Gold Gloves during his career, committing 53 errors over 23 seasons.”
  • Former Ranger Curtis Wilkerson is coming back to DFW.  This time as a manager, as he’ll oversee the Ft. Worth Cats in the 2012 season.
  • The Tigers took a serious shot to their line-up yesterday as news broke that Victor Martinez would likely be out for the 2012 season after tearing his ACL during off-season winter workouts.  Doesn’t seem likely the Tigers would jump in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes as Prince said he has no interest in being a full-time DH.
  • Cole Hamels and the Phillies reached a 1 year agreement yesterday ($15M) to avoid arbitration.  The Phillies are said to still be working on a long-term deal with the lefty.  If a deal is not reached, Hamels would surely be one of the top free agents next off-season.
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