Feb 272012
 
  • Monday Morning FastballsOver the weekend, Josh Hamilton addressed his comments from Friday’s press conference saying, “If it does go to free agency, the first place I’m coming is here.  If I owe anything, it’s that. My loyalty is here. This is where I’ve been. This is where my family’s been, so obviously I’d love to stay here more than anywhere else. So first of all, they get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here.”
  • Hamilton further clarified his “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comments saying, ”What I owe is 100 percent on the field.  My employee-employer relationship is to give 100 percent in the clubhouse, to the fans, everything I’ve done while I’ve been here. That’s what I owe to the Rangers. I’ve done those things and I’m going to continue to do those things. That’s what I mean by it.”
  • Again, I know it’s a business, but you just hate to hear a star player have to use the “employee-employer relationship” line.  If you missed our take on his statement from Friday, check it out here.
  • Josh went on to comment on the potential of negotiations during the season, saying ”If it’s during the season, I’m not going to know about them because I’ve asked not to know about them.  I trust my agent. He’s not just my agent, but a close friend and mentor of mine, somebody I go to for advice and I really trust. I leave that up to him. I just say call me when there is something worth talking about.  I’m just going to leave it up to him. If they approach him and he feels like it is something to go forward with, I’ll leave it up to him. It’s not going to be something I’m focusing on, concentrating on.”
  • Monday Morning FastballsJoe Nathan addressed the team during a team meeting yesterday which was intended to be a chance for the team, coaches and staff to air all of their feelings about how the World Series ended.  The veteran newcomer said “I talked about what it looks like from the outside looking in.  For me, watching that, they were the better team. What happened is baseball. Stuff happens in this game is sometimes unexplainable, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t the better team and I’m excited to be here and that they had nothing to be ashamed about.”
  • Nathan went on to talk about the current state of the team, saying ”I don’t think anybody is hanging their heads about last year.  I don’t think there’s a reason to hang your heads about last year. They’ve got a lot of things to be proud of about what they did last year. Even though it’s tough and you want to win and had a chance to win, you’ve still got to be excited about where this team is and where this team has been and 28 other teams wanted to be in their spot even though it was a tough way to go down.”
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) covers the team meeting in more detail here.
  • Monday Morning FastballsElvis Andrus is listed as day-to-day after having a Plantar’s wart removed from his heel.  Shouldn’t have any long-term impact on the young shortstop.
  • Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) shared his thoughts on the Rangers batting order: “I’d move Michael Youngto second and Elvis down to the lower third, but only if Young could be more of a situational hitter. His track record suggests he’s been prone to too many double play balls. I’d rather have Elvis hitting eighth or ninth with speed around him there, than to dropMitch Morelandto the 8th spot. Think the Rangers could do some manufacturing from bottom third of order that way.”
  • Evan isn’t alone in his thoughts above.  Elvis makes more sense hitting 2nd in terms of small-ball, while Young brings better numbers all-around.  It’ll be interesting to see if this changes in 2012.  If I had to guess, I’d say that it won’t change, only because I think Elvis will take another step forward in his offensive development in 2012, and you can tell that Ron loves having him in the 2 hole.
  • Grant also discussed the pitching staff, saying “I’m a little concerned. There is a lot of talent, but little track record. Both Holland and Harrison have only one half season each of real success. Lewis gave up 35 homers last year and I don’t expect that number is going to go down markedly. While Feliz and Darvish have limitless potential, neither has started a major league game. If everything goes right, it’s a dominant rotation, maybe the best and youngest in the league. But how often do things fall just right?”
    ROTATION: Lewis, Holland, Darvish, Harrison, Oswalt.
    BULLPEN: Feliz or Nathan (closer), Feliz or Nathan (setup), Ogando (setup), Mike Adams (middle/setup),Scott Feldman (long), a lefty TBA and one spot open for a Tateyama or someone of that level.
  • Jasen and I provided our thoughts on the pitching staff in last Monday’s podcast.  While it would be shocking to see Feliz not have a spot in the rotation after the signing of Nathan and the way things ended in 2011, I understand Grant’s position in that Oswalt brings more of a track record.  With the improvements that the Angels made, this is not a season where the Rangers will be able to risk losses due to experimentation – Feliz needs to prove he can be in this rotation during Spring Training.
  • As far as the “lefty TBA” mentioned above, watch out for phenom prospect Martin Perez.  Both minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark and manager Ron Washington have talked about his limited performance so far this Spring and have been impressed.
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Feb 142012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersHappy Valentines Day to all our ex and current lovers.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote yesterday that Mike Napoli’s ankle injury continues to progress.  Regarding the ankle, Napoli says, ”I think I’m close.  I’m not really going to know until I get into the wear and tear of spring training and catching all the time. But I’ve been feeling good and getting better day by day.”
    And it looks like Nap is eager to get back, ”I can’t wait to get back there and see all those boys and get back into it again.  I wish I was leaving now. I’m ready to do baseball stuff and not just working out.”
  • Gerry Fraley (SportsDay DFW) writes “Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty indicated on Monday that he believes free-agent righthander Roy Oswalt eventually will land with the Texas Rangers.”  Jocketty spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer recently and said that he believes Oswalt is “waiting for Texas to clear money.”
    This has been in the back of my mind all along.  We have asked the question many times of why is Oswalt waiting so long to sign somewhere.  Given that he’s a veteran that knows where he wants to be and probably values that more than money, he is either waiting for the Rangers to clear up some room to pay him or he’s waiting for the Cardinals to increase their offer to a respectable level.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article summarizing some key questions, off-season moves, and leaders from 2011.  Check it out here. Jasen and I will be discussing the questions that the Rangers need to answer on an upcoming podcast.
  • Rangers Senior Director of Play Development (and former Astros GM), Tim Purpura, sat down with Rangers Magazine to discuss a number of hot topics.  Bryan Dolgin covers everything here.  Some highlighs:On Oswalt, “The fact of the matter is, I think, in any offseason other than this one, it might have been something that made a whole lot of sense. Given the fact that we already have six starters, adding another one to the mix and changing the dynamics of where we’re at … that’s something that I think has been part of the thought process.  Is that the right step? The right move for the Texas Rangers right now?”On JD, “He’s a very patient person. He’s a very analytical person. He looks at all sides of the issue which I think you absolutely have to as a general manager. He solicits opinions extremely well.  He’s got a very talented group surrounding him with Thad Levine, AJ Preller and Don Welke. And, he listens to everyone and then he makes his decision as to which course he wants to take which is exactly a way a general manager should operate.”

    On Rangers Pitching Prospect Martin Perez coming up to the big leagues this season as a closer, “Those are tough decisions from the point of view of this is a guy who probably is at the top of the list of our starting pitchers in the minor leagues as being a number one starter down the line. You have to balance the development process with the need to win at the major league level.  It’s a delicate balance.”

  • The A’s and Cuban free-agent Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a 4 year $36M contract yesterday.  The Marlins were considered the heavy favorites to sign Cuban mega-prospect.
    David Schoenfield (ESPN.com) asks three good questions now that Cespedes has signed.
  • Big Papi (David Ortiz) and the Red Sox avoided their arbitration hearing just hours before it was scheduled by agreeing to a contract for 2012 that will pay the slugger $14.575M.  Someone on Twitter pointed out yesterday that our DH makes more.  Not sure if this was a pride-point or said in jest, but a strong argument can be made for Young over Ortiz,  starting with he can play anywhere in the infield in a pinch (didn’t say he would be a gold glover…).
  • Dirk…
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Feb 022012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsGerry Fraley (SportsDay DFW) reports that Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton will both be switching to Louisville Sluggers for the 2012 season.
    “This is not a minor item. Most players are picky about their bats. A change in bats represents a major step that can be caused by reasons ranging from a desire to get better wood to a company’s willingness to meet special specifications. Kinsler had been plagued by a rash of broken bats from his previous supplier.  Hamilton has worked with Louisville Slugger in search of an ideal bat for several years. As part of an exclusive deal with Hamilton, the market the H359 in his honor. Hamilton won the American League batting title in 2010 at .359.”
  • Jim Bowden (ESPN) recently wrote an article proposing trades for 5 contenders.  Here is his proposal for the Rangers:
    “Trade LHP Martin Perez to the Minnesota Twins for CF Denard Span
    The Twins are desperate to rebuild their rotation, and Perez should develop into a front-line starter. The Twins could then move Ben Revere to center field and put free-agent signee Josh Willingham in left.
    From the Rangers’ perspective, this would allow them to move Josh Hamilton to left field and improve their defense in center. Span also would give them a legitimate leadoff hitter and a better chance to win the World Series now than if they waited for Leonys Martin to develop.
    As an added bonus, Span is signed at a reasonable cost through 2015, which makes him far more valuable to a contender than he is to the Twins, a club that is in a bit of a rebuilding period. The Rangers are deep in rotation candidates, so Perez is expendable.”
    While many Rangers aren’t in favor of moving Perez, I’d be willing to move the left-handed pitching prospect for the right player, and I don’t think Span is that player.  My major hesitation with Span is the head injury (concussion) that he experienced last season – it’s not something to be taken lightly (see Span’s teammate Justin Morneau.
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsChuck Morgan, Rangers Senior Vice President of Ballpark Entertainment, represented the Rangers last night on Baseball I.Q. on the MLB Network.  He faced off against some dude from the Angel’s organization.  Unfortunately, the Angels won the first showdown of 2012, but they won’t win the last.  Great show!
  • Nothing new on the Roy Oswalt front.  Looks like Roy is in no hurry to sign with any of the teams that have already made him an offer.  Could last week’s meeting really have been Nolan and JD asking Roy for some time to see what they could get in return for Matt Harrison (or one of the other starters)?  Time will tell….
  • Gordon Edes (ESPN) posted “A Red Sox source confirmed Wednesday that the team had not abandoned hopes of signing Oswalt, indicating that the 34-year-old right-hander may have a better chance at a regular turn starting with the Sox than with the other two clubs, both of whom appear to have filled their rotations. The Cardinals and Rangers, however, have the advantage of being closer to Oswalt’s Mississippi home, the Red Sox source said. Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, had been quoted Saturday as saying that Oswalt would not take a bullpen job.”
  • My prediction – Oswalt signs with the Charros tomorrow.
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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 312012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers have extended the contract of manager Ron Washington through 2014.  Financial terms were not disclosed.  Jon Daniel’s talked about Wash, saying “Our guys love playing for this man.  You see that every day. The national baseball audience has seen that the past two Octobers. You really see the way our guys respond to him.  He’s become a great manager, and a good personal friend and partner in all that we do, and obviously a huge part of our success, in my mind, is his ability to set the tone in that clubhouse to continue to teach the game to guys at the big league level and to demand a lot from our players.”
  • Washington is appreciative of the opportunity, saying ”Jon Daniels took a chance when you look back five years ago on a novice manager.  We hit it off. He just believed that I could be the guy that could take this organization in the direction that he knew it had the opportunity to go in. We’ve done that, and the most important thing, we’ve done that as a family, we’ve done it as a solid unit.”
  • From Evan Grant (DallasNews), “If Ron Washington stays through the end of the contract extension he signed with the Rangers Monday – his second extension in 14 months – he’ll have managed and won more games than anybody to ever spit in the dugout in Arlington.”
  • Richard Durrett (ESPN) provides more on contract extension here.
  • Ron Washington thankful for bond with GM by Richard Durrett (ESPN)
  • Ron Washington has grown with the Rangers with the Sports Center video clip by Richard Durrett (ESPN)
  • Roy Oswalt’s meeting with the Rangers yesterday included Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan, Roy, Roy’s wife and his agent.  It was described as “good”.  I’m beginning to feel like the primary purpose of this meeting was for Nolan to let Roy know that the Rangers respect him and in just about any other year would have jumped at the opportunity.
  • Jeff Wilson (Star-Telegram) wrote a column regarding Oswalt’s fit in Texas, “St. Louis is said to be the only other club Oswalt is considering, and various reports have the Cardinals scrambling to meet his asking price of $10 million on a one-year contract.That’s out of the Rangers’ price range, perhaps even if they can trade Koji Uehara and the $4 million he will make this season. Uehara appears to be a man without a spot in the bullpen with Alexi Ogando expected to rejoin the late-inning mix after the signing of Yu Darvish.
  • Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) wrote a small piece on Roy Oswalt’s potential suitors, saying “No team in baseball needs a starting pitcher less than the Texas Rangers. Their starting pitchers combined for +19.8 WAR last year, third most in the Majors, and while they lost C.J. Wilson, they spent roughly $110 million to bring in Yu Darvish and have decided to bring Neftali Feliz to camp as a starting pitcher. Toss in Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison, and their rotation doesn’t even have room for Alexi Ogando, who himself probably belongs in a Major League rotation next year.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersAlso from FanGraphs, an interesting article about Rangers Prospect Roman Mendez by Mike Newman.  Regarding Mendez’ potential, Newman writes “At present, Roman Mendez is still more lottery ticket than legitimate starting pitching prospect. The raw stuff borders on electric and it’s easy to dream on his fulfilling his potential. “
  • The Rangers are considered one of the off-season winners, according to Jeff Wilson’s (Star-Telegram) Top 5/Bottom 5 rankings.
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Jan 302012
 
  • Monday Morning FastballsThe Rangers are scheduled to meet with Roy Oswalt today.  Friday, there were reports that Oswalt was close to accepting a deal from St. Louis, but it looks like the veteran right-hander wants to meet with the Rangers prior to making a final decision.
    There are arguments for both sides when it comes to the Rangers signing Oswalt (read Jasen’s here), but if he signs, it’s the dominoes that fall from there that are stirring debate.  If he does indeed sign with the Rangers, the question becomes who is out of the rotation (most talk is of Matt Harrison) and are they destined for the bullpen or a trade.
    I love the way Jamey Newberg summed it up, by writing “I’m not sure yet whether I want this supposed competition to turn out differently from the World Series, but I do feel pretty sure that if the Rangers are hoping to land the righthander, it’s likely part of a bigger plan that’s laid out on a whiteboard that none of us can see and perhaps that none of us have fully visualized.”
  • Matt Harrison fielded a question concerning his future in the rotation by saying, “My goal is to come in there and be the best I can be and make sure no matter what I give it everything I have in spring training.  It’s out of my hands whether or not they want to put me in the bullpen if they sign Roy or whatever happens from there.”
  • Monday Morning FastballsThe Negro Leagues Baseball Museum honored Ron Washington on Saturday night in Kansas City with the C.I. Taylor Award as the AL’s top manager, part of the museum’s Legacy Awards.
    Washington had this to say at the event, ”It means a lot.  It means our team did a great job. I read some of the history of the awards, and there’s quite a few great people who have won the award. I am honored.   I never doubted myself or needed any vindication.  Even in my first year, I knew it was just a matter of getting my coaches to coach and my players to play the game of baseball the way it’s supposed to be played.  There’s always other people around you that help you become successful. I am just fortunate that (general manager) Jon Daniels didn’t panic the first couple of years because, if he did, I probably wouldn’t find myself with this opportunity.”
    Jeff Wilson (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) wrote a piece on Washington and the award here.
  • Nothing new in regards to contact talks with those that the Rangers are focused on, but Ian Kinsler had this to say regarding his situation, “The longer they wait, the more difficult it’s going to be.  It takes a lot of conversation and thinking on both sides. It’s not just a couple of phone calls and strike a deal, especially the second contract when they’re investing a lot more money.”
  • According to Bovada.com (formerly Bodog.com), the Rangers have 9/1 odds of winning the 2012 World Series.  From an odd’s perspective, that puts them in the top 5, behind or equal to the Phillies (11/2), the Angels (13/2), the Yankees (13/2), and the Tigers (also 9/1).
  • The Rangers have agreed to a minor-league contract, with an invitation to spring training, with outfielder Kyle Hudson.  Hudson has been in the Baltimore farm system since 2008, most notably contributing 119 stolen bases during his time there.
  • Christina Kahrl (ESPN’s Sweet Spot) wrote a good piece highlighting production by position, specifically looking at the “up the middle” positions (C, 2B, SS, CF).
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Jan 252012
 

BREAKING: Roy Oswalts Evil Plan to Slow Development of Rangers PitchingI know, harsh. Let me start this off by saying I really love Roy Oswalt. He is a workhorse. Always near the top of the league in innings pitched. He throws 93 mph and has one of the coolest named pitches in baseball, the “Vulcan change-up”.  He works a pitcher’s mound like a mad-man, the polar opposite of Joaquin Benoit. He’s a two-time 20 game winner with a career 3.21 ERA, a great teammate, and an all around nice guy. All that being said, I don’t want him. According to ESPN.com’s Richard Durrett the Rangers have shown some interest in signing Oswalt and he has reciprocated the interest in the Rangers.

Durrett notes: The Rangers have taken some chances on injured pitchers before, with the idea that it can be a low-risk, high-reward option.

I know the saying “You can never have enough pitching”. I was a Ranger fan during the 90′s and those days Juan Gonzalez was hitting 400 foot bombs to left field I would have killed for a Roy Oswalt on that team. These aren’t those Rangers.

This organization has built a perennial championship contender by drafting high ceiling talent and nurturing that with great coaching at all levels. They have built a stable of good young arms that are just now on the verge of making a leap into the big show. They also have three young guys that last year made up 3/5 of an AL Championship rotation. The addition of Neftali Feliz into the rotation ensures one of those guys will be moved back into a bullpen role. The addition of Roy Oswalt to this team would force another of those young, talented, and still developing starters back into the bullpen. Losing a year of development for a starter could be devastating both physically and mentally.  I know what you’re thinking. Oswalt is WAY better than Matt Harrison. Wrong.

Harrison – 30 GS 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA. 57 walks and 126 SOs.

Roy Oswalt – 23 GS 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA. 33 walks and 93 SOs.

I love Roy Oswalt. I love Matt Harrison and Derek Holland more. This isn’t the time to set those guys back in the spirit of signing a guy with a more recognizable name and more experience. This is the time to push those guys to be better than they ever have. Sorry Roy, we aren’t going to let you set back our boys.

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Jan 132012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsJosh Hamilton shared the extent of his injuries that were evident during the post-season, which required off-season surgery.  He had three detached adductors and a torn abdominal muscle.  While Hamilton acknowledged that he was in a great deal of pain during the post-season, he is now fully recovered after surgery and participating in full workouts in preparation for the 2012 season.  More from Josh on the injuries as well as his father-in-law, Michael Chadwick,  joining the Rangers staff in this article by Richard Durrett.
    It was no secret that Hamilton was suffering during the post-season in 2011, but it’s encouraging to hear that he’s healthy now.  It’s been relatively quiet on the contract-extension front for Hamilton, but I think Josh is a guy that wants to be in Texas, so possibly understands that waiting for the dust to settle around Darvish and any other free-agent deals (Prince??) should be the primary focus for the team.
  • Nolan Ryan expects Yu Darvish and the Rangers to reach an agreement.  So c’mon, if Nolan feels good about it, you should too!  Is Nolan your Homeboy?  Durrett’s article provides a little more detail, and my quote of the day from Michael Young – “Very good players are always welcome here.”  Sounds like a man beaten down by questions about Yu…
  • Gerry Fraley reported that the Rangers have inquired about Roy Oswalt.  I would have to believe that Oswalt would be a short-term option for the Rangers if a deal isn’t reached with Darvish.  I can’t imagine them signing both as the starting rotation will have plenty of strong competition for the 5 spots with Darvish included.
  • Michael Young received the Rangers’ Player of the Year award last night at the Rangers Awards Show. If you think about all that Young has gone through over the last few years, what he means to this team/organization, and his performance, I think it was a no-brainer – and that’s taking into account how many great players were on this team last year.  Young received the award in ’04, ’05, ’07 & ’09 as well.
    Jeff Wilson provides some more detail here, and notes that C.J. Wilson didn’t make it to the show even though he won Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year…go figure.
  • Fan Fest starts tonight and we’ll be there.  We’ll have updates from Fan Fest here on the site, as well as on Twitter (@baseballdo)  and Facebook.  Should be a good time as Jasen has guaranteed that he will astonish us all with his speed on the timed “3rd Base to Home Dash”!
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