Mar 282013
 

It’s the podcast you have all been waiting for…ok, maybe not, but give it a listen and hold Jasen and I accountable for our picks when they are all dead wrong at season’s end.

I don’t want to spoil it, but you’ll never believe who we pick to win the 2013 World Series.

Baseball Do Episode 27: 2013 Predictions and Dear Baseball Do...
“Hello JD, it’s Jasen with BaseballDo.com, will you marry me?”

Special thanks to all on Twitter who submitted questions.  Listen for the “marry one, kill one, naked spoon one” question regarding Wash, Nolan and JD and then let us know below how you would answer that question.

If you want to play along with your prediction, post them in the comments section below:

We picked:

  • Divisional Champs
  • Wildcard winners
  • League Champs
  • World Series Champ
  • MVPs
  • Cy Young Award winners
  • Rookies of the Year
  • Managers of the Year

Good luck, and don’t be intimidated by the fact that we are professionals.

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Feb 262013
 

React: Should Wash be on the Hot Seat in 2013?Ron Washington has become one of the most beloved managers in Texas Rangers history and has managed this team to levels never attained by previous squads.  With the success has come a new level of expectations in Arlington – a trip to the postseason is no longer where the bar is set, but rather considered acceptable and lackluster.

Wash do what Wash do…

Since taking the reins in 2007, Wash has managed the Rangers to a record of 520-452 and finished in the top five for AL Manager of the Year honors three times (’09, ’10 & ’11; not always a good thing).  This isn’t the place to compile “the resume of Ron Washington”, but I just wanted to set the stage.  Oh yeah, his teams also reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011…but something tells me you knew that.

So, with all this success, why is the term “hot seat” being mentioned in the same breath as Wash?  Well, because “that’s the way baseball go”.

Jim Bowden (former MLB GM & current ESPN.com contributor) from interview with Ben & Skin (ESPN Radio, 103.3 FM):

There’s a lot of pressure on managers to win when their teams are good enough to win. As long as Ron Washington makes the playoffs, his job will be fine. I think that’s the key, whether it’s the division or the wild-card, he’s gotta do that. If the Rangers are on the outside looking in come November, it would not surprise me at all if they decided to make a change. So, yeah, I think there is pressure there.

As we have been reminded throughout the offseason, baseball is a performance business where winning now is the measure of success – especially for teams with existing talent at the major league level.  With that in mind, it’s only fair that we take a look at Wash under the same scope that we would a player who fails to perform as expected when needed (ahem…Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, etc.).

Two Types of Managerial Situations

For a manager, while winning isn’t everything, it certainly provides a good amount of job security.

Develop and don’t regress.  Some managers aren’t necessarily expected to win now (ex. Bo Porter in Houston), but more expected to set the tone for the team, develop young players and wait for more talent to arrive.  When Wash arrived in Arlington in 2007, he was

Win now.  Then there are managers with good major league talent and fan base and front office that expected a trip to the postseason – for these managers, winning is everything – and it’s on this list of managers where you’ll find Ron Washington.

“Hot Seat”

React: Should Wash be on the Hot Seat in 2013?To be clear, I’m not calling for Ron Washington to lose his job right now.  Far from it actually – our 2013 Field Trip T-Shirt has a Wash Theme.  We are simply asking the question, should Wash be “on notice”, and if the 2013 season were to get off on a bad foot, should there be a change?

If so, how bad would it have to get for you to feel that firing Ron Washington during or immediately after the 2013 season would be justified?  Read on, then comment below.

Argument for the “Hot Seat”

Last year’s meltdown and the perceived loss of respect late in the season are enough to warrant Wash being on the hot seat.  The window to compete can be quickly closed, and while the Rangers have some great young prospects in the pipeline, we need a manager that can deliver a championship when provided with a championship-caliber roster.

Evan Grant (SportsDayDFW.com):

…I think he’s on something of a hot seat this year. Washington didn’t have a great year last year as the Rangers manager, but I think he learned from it.

The way the 2012 season ended left us all sick, and while that can’t be all we base Wash’s job security on, I repeat…it’s about winning now when you have as much talent as the Rangers.

React: Should Wash be on the Hot Seat in 2013?

Loss of respect? We don’t care about Josh, but the fear is that other players that remain on the team feel the same way.

In addition to the decline in on-the-field performance that led to the poor ending last season, it seemed evident that Wash had lost the respect of some players.  We all remember the confrontation between Wash and Josh in the dugout in Oakland, and I know we aren’t concerned with Josh’s respect of Wash now, but it’s very possible that other players feel the same way.

If Wash has started to “lose the clubhouse”, there is no question that he should be on notice.  He must prove that he has the proper command and respect of the clubhouse in order to maintain his role in this organization.

Unbalanced managers often “lose the clubhouse” because they are too “huggy” or they are overly strict.  This could very well be the case with Wash and could be what led to the collapse last season.

Finally, Wash has been out-managed in some key situations and games during his tenure as manager – often going with his “gut” instead of a more statistically-aligned decision.  Game management, just like player management, requires balance and if Wash can’t provide more balance in his approach to both, the Rangers will need to look elsewhere for a manager that can lead this franchise back to the World Series.

Chris Bahr (SportingNews.com)

Even dating back to the team’s back-to-back World Series losses in 2010 and 2011, there were serious criticisms of Washington’s in-game management skills and alleged over-reliance on “gut decisions.

Argument against the “Hot Seat”

Back to the opening statement of this post…

Ron Washington has become one of the most beloved managers in Texas Rangers history and has managed this team to levels never attained by previous squads.

When a manager has taken you to the World Series twice in the last three seasons, he does not deserve to have his role under the microscope.  It is extremely difficult to do what the Rangers did in 2010 and 2011 and with that success, Wash has earned our patience, support and respect.

The idea of including Wash in any “Managerial Hot Seat” article is absurd given his track record and impact on this franchise and the DFW sports scene.

He has transcended the status of Major League Manager, and has become a cultural icon synonymous with a new era in Rangers baseball and everything that is fun and enjoyable about this team and this great game.

Tim Cowlishaw (SportsDayDFW.com), when asked “Do you think Ron Washington is on the hot seat after losing the division?” may have summed it up best:

No.

Where do you stand?

Again, I’m not calling for Wash’s job here – simply asking the question…should Wash be on the hot seat heading into the 2013 season?

In your opinion, is Wash on the hot seat?

Either way, what scenario would has to play out during 2013 to change your opinion?

In your opinion, is Ron Washington on the "Hot Seat" heading into 2013?

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Feb 232013
 
Baseball Do Episode 25   Reaction to Josh, a painful trip to the dentist and American League strength of schedule rankings

Nolan is really saying “shut up Josh”

Josh Hamilton is gone, but not forgotten, as his words once again merit response from the Baseball Do guys and infuriate much of Ranger Nation.  Scott and Jasen discuss Josh’s comments on DFW as a “baseball town” and his attempt to play Rangers fans that will be present to boo, cheer or stand in silence at the Rangers first home game (against the Angels) on April 5th, 2013.  Nolan thinks the Rangers can still be contenders without Josh, do you?

We experience a technical breakdown, but determined afterwards that editing it out was too exhausting and beyond our technical know-how…so enjoy that!

Do you love have another man’s fingers in your mouth?  If not, you’ll wanna hear Jasen horrifying story of a recent visit to the dentist’s office.  Got one that top’s it?  Share in the comments section below.

We wrap up by breaking down a recent article from ESPN.com’s Buster Olney related to strength of schedules for 2013 in the American League.  The rankings is interesting and is yet another way of looking at the decisions that will be made as the Rangers approach the 2013 trade deadline.

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Oct 102012
 
JoshRon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managerial Change?

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

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

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

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

Let Josh walk…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shake-up via trade

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

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Jun 232012
 

We are 1 week away from the First Annual Baseball Do Field Trip!

$34.99 gets you…

Start off at Patty Shack Burgers at 4pm for some good grub and Rangers fellowship!

Time is running out...

You get a “Nolan is my Homeboy” T-Shirt plus we’ll have some cool prizes to raffle away!

Time is running out...

Then we’ll head to the Ballpark to see the Rangers thrash the A’s!
Lexus Club Terrace ticket.

Time is running out...

Top it all off with a Reckless Kelly concert at the Ballpark following the game!

Time is running out as we are only a week away, and space is limited!

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Apr 032012
 

We recorded our 2012 Season Preview podcast last night and will have it up on the site later today.

Tuesday Morning SlidersBold Prediction #2 – Elvis Andrus will be the starting short-stop for the 2012 American League All-Star team.

This builds on yesterday’s prediction of Ian Kinsler winning the 2012 AL MVP.  As I wrote yesterday, I think one of the keys for Kinsler is going to be the improvement of Andrus’ offensive performance in 2012 which would help provide Kinsler with more line-up protection – aka, can’t pitch around Kinsler if Elvis is hitting the ball well.  Elvis worked to build his upper body and core strength during the off-season and that, along with his experience, athleticism and advancing maturity and discipline a the plate are going to make him a threat in the 2-hole for the Rangers all season.

The best part about this prediction is that my fellow Rangers fans can help me make it come true by voting for Elvis when the voting commences this season.  No doubt the Yankees and Indians fans will vote in droves to try to get their short stop the starting role, but Elvis will prevail…and it won’t be because Rangers fans have stuffed the ballot boxes because Elvis is simply a Ranger.  It will be because Elvis has deserved and proven he is the top player at his position.

Nolan Ryan spoke with media yesterday before the Rangers and the AAA Round Rock Express played.  Ryan addressed a number of hot topics including the Angels, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.

“The Angels have stepped up and helped themselves,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a tough division for us. They are very competitive, and it will come down to who stays healthiest. They have real strong pitching, so we know we have our work cut out for us.  It should make it interesting. It should make it a good rivalry. I’m looking forward to it. I still think we have the best ballclub.”

When asked if the Rangers-Angels rivalry compares to the Red Sox-Yankees, Ryan said “Are we the West Coast version of it?  I don’t know. I don’t think a lot about it. Obviously, the fact that we’ve won the division the last two years and they felt like they had a lock on that. [Angels owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it.  It will be good for our division and baseball, and it’s going to stimulate more interest, obviously, with Pujols and C.J. over there.”

“[Center field is] where he wants to be,” Ryan said about Josh Hamilton. “It’s where he is happiest. It’s where his focus is. He’ll be fine there.”

“He has a good feel for pitching,” Ryan said about Yu Darvish. “He tried to make some adjustments. Each start he had he worked on things. I saw improvement. I thought that was a positive.  We don’t have any numbers we’re putting with him.  We think he’ll pitch in the rotation and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he’s at the point in his career where he’s accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings. Somewhere in that neighborhood, I think, would be the expectations.”

Quick hits:

  • Josh Hamilton hit his first homer of the Spring yesterday against Round Rock, blasting a 426 foot 2-run 3rd inning home run to center field.
  • Derek Holland started the game and threw 78 pitches, giving up a 2-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.  Holland felt good after the start, despite the long ball.

“I’m ready to go for sure, despite the home runs,” Holland said. “I thought everything was good. I left a couple of pitches up for strikes. That’s part of getting ready for the season.”

  • Matt Harrison pitches tonight at the Ballpark against Mexico City, 7:05pm first pitch.
  • The Rangers have rounded out their roster, sending Julio Borbon to AAA to start the season.  Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder and Craig Gentry all secured the final bench spots on the team.  Snyder gives the team a lot of flexibility as the 3rd catcher, 3rd baseman and corner outfielder.
  • Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will be starting for the Frisco Rough Riders to start the season.  Maybe the next Field Trip will be to Frisco to see these two budding stars.
  • 2012 opening MLB Power Rankings have the Rangers in 2nd.
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Mar 222012
 

The Baseball Do 2012 Field Trip

50 of us are going to meet up at Patty Shack Burgers to get the event started at 4:oopm, have some chow and then head over to the ballpark for a great game, followed by an awesome concert.  To top it all off, we’re giving you some Baseball Do swag!  Here’s what you get:

  • A ticket to see the Rangers host the Oakland A’s at the Ballpark on Saturday, June 30th
    • 6:15pm start – Lexus Club
    • Free Reckless Kelly postgame concert
  • A meal before the game at Patty Shack Burgers
    • Burger or Chicken Sandwich
    • Fries
    • Soft Drink or Tea
  • A Baseball Do “Nolan is my Homeboy” T-Shirt to wear to the game!

That’s a $60 value.  You get everything above for just $34.99!

Secure your spot for the Baseball Do Field Trip! Limited to the first 50!




The Baseball Do 2012 Field Trip
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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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Feb 232012
 

We took a closer look at likely Opening Day starter Colby Lewis yesterday.  If you missed it, check out “A Closer Look at the Cobra”.  Mike Maddux announced yesterday that both Colby and Scott Feldman will pitch in the Rangers first Cactus League game on March 4th.

Thursday Morning ChangeupsNolan Ryan spoke to the media yesterday, covering a number of topics including Yu Darvish and Josh Hamilton.  Here are some excerpts:

  • Nolan compared himself at age 25 with Darvish, saying ”I think it’s neat and exciting that he has the following that he does and so many people are excited about it.  When I look at my career and his career and where I was at 25 years old, there’s a substantial difference.  I had a control problem. I was very durable, but I didn’t have the feel for the baseball or my delivery as he does with his. That’s one of the unique things about him.  At 25, he’s still a very young pitcher and he has great delivery and control of his delivery and a good feel for the baseball. When I say that, what I mean is that he can throw different pitches, he can locate his pitches. For a 25-year-old, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
  • On the excitement around seeing Darvish pitch, “We’re all excited about seeing him throw, watching him work, and so I think watching video on him I have an expectation of what he’s going to be like, so I don’t think there’s going to be much difference of the videos I’ve seen of him.  But seeing his delivery, watching him from different angles and that kind of stuff, obviously, everybody that’s been involved in this process is anxious to see that.”
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsOn the adjustments that Darvish will have to make in MLB, “He’s going to have to learn the hitters; that’s something he won’t be able to do until he pitches to them and gets a feel for them. There will be an adjustment to the baseball some, pitching on a five-day rotation where he’s been on a six-day rotation over there. We’ll obviously try to help him any way we can.  But I think from being around him, I get a feel that those things he’ll handle well.  I think that’s his type of personality and the way he’s been raised.”
  • In wrapping up on Darvish, Ryan provided some advice to the young pitcher, “”My advice to him would be just to come in and not try to do more than you’re capable of doing,” Ryan said. “Just enjoy the spring and enjoy the new situation and challenges that he has and if he has any concerns or questions, we’re here to support him. I’d like to develop a relationship with him where he’d feel comfortable if he did have something on his mind or was bothering him that he could feel comfortable enough to come visit with me about it.”
  • Regarding concern for Hamilton, ”I think we’re all concerned with Josh in that us who don’t have an addiction don’t truly understand the challenges that Josh has.  So we’re concerned for him, and as an organization we try to do everything we can to help in any way we can. One of the things that Josh realizes after this last time is the support he does have out there, and that’s probably very comforting for him.”
  • On Josh’s attitude, ”Josh has great attitude, is looking forward to getting down here and going to work and is very excited about the upcoming year and with great anticipation.  I really think he’s very focused on this time of year and what he needs to focus on. I think he’s in good shape and is working hard. I feel very positive about where Josh is coming into camp.”

Ryan hit on some other topics, but these were by far the big two, and rightfully so.  Nolan also talked about the team in general and said this regarding their outlook, “They are very determined again this spring as they are last spring,” Ryan said. “I don’t hear them talking about the World Series. I think they’ve moved on and have put it behind them.”   Ryan handled the media very well, and seemed to be initially amazed by the amount of media present.  On to non-Nolan updates:

  • According to Gordon Edes, at ESPNBoston.com, Roy Oswalt will announce his decision today as to who he will pitch for in 2012.  The Red Sox and Cardinals seem to be the strong bets at this point.  You can read the update from Edes here.
  • Joe Nathan seems eager to step into the closer role for the Rangers, saying “I’m excited.  I had a great workout this winter and have looked forward to this day for a long time.”
  • Regarding the Rangers team chemistry and clubhouse, Nathan said ”Obviously, I haven’t seen them all together in one place yet, but I’ve heard they all get along real well and that’s why they’ve done so well.  There’s talent here, just like there is in every clubhouse, but usually the thing that separates squads is how well they get along and how well they pull for each other and it looks like these guys do that as well as anyone.”
  • The Rangers hired Tony Fernandez as the special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels.
  • Neftali Feliz is fully embracing his new role and preparing for the increased stamina requirements.  “I’m doing more leg lifting so I can have the endurance.  I’ve been working a lot more on my changeup because I didn’t use that as much as a closer, and my slider.  Those two pitches were my focus.”
  • Feliz had this to say about his off-season meeting with former ace Pedro Martinez, “He gave me a lot of good advice.  He talked to me about my mental training and preparation and to understand that not everything is going to be easy and that things are going to be hard at times, but to keep my head up and keep at it.”
  • Wanna know how we think Feliz will perform this season – “The Other New Guy”
  • Jasen and I talked extensively about the Rangers pitching depth and the eventual rotation in our Spring Training Special podcast.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides his thoughts here and provides a full breakdown of the pitching staff here.
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsTanner Scheppers, who is going to work exclusively out of the bullpen this Spring, is excited about the opportunity, but still wants to be a starter down the road, ”It’s definitely nice to know my role going into it.  Long term, I would still like the opportunity to start, but right now I have to go out and perform and be competitive.”
  • Derek Holland wants us all to know that even though he’s a joker off the field, he’s nothing but business when he’s on the mound, ”At some point, I’m going to have a bad game and the last thing I want is for people to think that its because I did a Harry Caray impression.  If I have a bad game, it’s about not executing pitches. I have my fun. But when I come here, it’s not about goofing around. I’m serious every minute I’m on the field. It’s time to get to work and finish off what I started last season.”
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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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