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.
“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:
World Series Champ
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.
The Mariners look forward to the arrival of the Astros in the American League West with the hope of getting out of last place for the first time in the last three years. The Mariners took some positive steps during the offseason, including securing one of the best pitchers in the game to a long-term contract, but it won’t be enough to overcome Oakland, Anaheim or Texas.
This is a team with young talented players at some key positions in “King” Felix Hernandez (SP), Dustin Ackley (2B), Jesus Montero (C/DH), Kyle Seager (3B), Michael Saunders (RF) and the freshly drafted Mike Zunino (C). Couple the young talent with some veterans sprinkled in and we should see the Mariners improve upon their 77-85 mark from 2012. By how much is the question…
The Bats & Gloves
This lineup has some holes in it, but if a few of these guys can take a step in the right direction, it’s a lineup that could greatly improve over last year’s performance.
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Michael Morse, LF
Kendrys Morales, DH
Jesus Montero, C
Justin Smoak, 1B
Michael Saunders, RF
Brendan Ryan, SS
I don’t think Manager Eric Wedge has unveiled his official Opening Day lineup, but it should look similar to what’s above, barring injury. There are three bats in this lineup that peak my interest:
Dustin Ackley was less than impressive last year (.226/.294/.328) and MUST take a major step in 2013 for this lineup to have success. Keep in mind that he is still only 25 years old, but as the table-setter, the Mariners will be depending on him to get on base at a higher rate than .294.
Kyle Seager is an impressive young player (also only 25) who I secretly admire. In his first full season last year, Seager put up a pretty respectable line (.259/.316/.423) with many of his metrics improving in the second half. I think Seager will improve further in 2013 and be an important part of this lineup’s run production.
In mid-December, the Mariners shipped the frustrating Jason Vargas to the Angels for Kendrys Morales who just didn’t have a spot in the Angel’s stacked lineup. It was one of those rare intra-division trades that addressed a need for both teams at the major league level. I loved this trade for the Mariners. Morales has has been hindered by injury and lack of playing time over the last two seasons, but it wasn’t that long ago (2009) that he finished 5th in the AL MVP voting (.306/.355/.569) and was the centerpiece of the Angel’s lineup. Can he return to that form? He’s only 29 years old, and I could see the change of scenery and opportunity to play ever day get him close.
Defensively, the Mariners are good, as the mantra of “pitching and defense” is still part of their identity. They only committed 72 errors in 2012 (2nd best in AL) and had the second highest Defensive Efficiency rating in the American League.
The middle of the lineup may get some help from the fences moving in, but remember…that works both ways.
The Mariners have something that we Ranger fans have coveted for a long, long time…a true Ace. Perhaps one of the more upsetting off-season occurrences that didn’t directly involve the Rangers was the contract extension between the Mariners and King Felix which will keep Hernandez in Seattle through 2019.
Quick – who were the other four starters for Seattle last year?
I gave you Vargas, so that doesn’t count, and you probably thought of former-Ranger prospect Blake Beavan. Do either of those guys do much for you? Me neither, but the Mainers pitching staff was pretty good in 2012 when compared to the rest of the American League:
4th in team ERA in AL at 3.76
3rd in team WHIP in AL at 1.241
So, this is what a pitcher’s park and King Felix will get you.
Brandon Mauer – this spot is still an open competition, but Mauer’s got my vote. Erasmo Ramirez was probably the favorite to win the spot (ala Martin Perez) and could still win the spot (ala not Martin Perez).
Can Hisashi Iwakuma be a legit #2? There is no doubt in my mind that he can if he isn’t already. Last year’s performance was good, but take a closer look – he was great at the end of the season. Keep in mind 2012 was his first season in MLB, so the inconsistencies near the beginning of the season can be dismissed as part of his “adjustment period”. In August and September, Iwakuma posted a 7-3 record with an ERA in the low 2′s. I think he’s adjusted and gives the Mariners a nice 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.
The bullpen is fair, anchored by Tom Wilhelmson who assumed the closing duties last year and converted 29 saves on 24 opportunities. Bullpens are generally boring.
Eric Wedge. Enough said. Nothing special. Career 703-755 managerial record with Indians and Mariners.
The Bottom Line
In my opinion, the Mariners could push for 3rd place in the American League West, but I think a 4th place finish is more likely.
IF…the the lineup can get consistency from some of the youngsters (Ackley, Montero, Smoak). IF…the back-end of the rotation can be average. IF…they can stay healthy. Three big IF’s, but it could happen.
Best case: 84-78 record behind the emergence of Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero as legit major league all-star caliber players.
Worst case: 77-85…again…hey, they have King Felix.
Up next…you can probably figure it out from here.
Side note – we are close to two weeks away from the 2nd Annual Baseball Do Field Trip. We still have tickets available. If you want to go and your want your shirt to be ready for the Field Trip, you need to order your tickets by next Wednesday at the latest.
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”.
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.
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.
Weekly preview of each of the Rangers’ American League West rivals for the 2013 season – from the bottom up.
The Rangers’ cross-state inter-league rival is making the move to the American League West starting in the 2013 season to become a more frequent opponent on the Rangers’ schedule and potentially bring more intrigue and consequence to each match-up.
New Manager Bo Porter hopes to get things turned around in Houston.
The Astros are a young team who will struggle to really build their identity in the American League in 2013. However, with new manager Bo Porter in place, a respected front-office and a strong farm system (4th on Keith Law’s organizational rankings),they hope to get out of the cellar in the next 2-3 seasons.
Unfortunately, with the move to the AL West (Hello DH!), the limited experience of many key players (youth) and the anticipated improvement in Seattle, it’s not likely that they will finish anywhere but last this season. The question is, how many games will this team lose?
After finishing last in the National League Central in 2011 and 2012, with 106 and 107 losses respectively, the win’s won’t come any easier in 2013. Is another 100+ loss season on tap for the Lastros (sorry, couldn’t resist)? Uhhhh…yes.
The Bats & Gloves
As stated earlier, the Astros have some young talent at the Major League level and the large majority of that, if not all, falls to the position players. With some moving parts and flexibility in the line-up, it could easily change, but…
Jose Altuve will set the tone for the Astros’ lineup in 2013.
Jose Altuve, 2B
Tyler Greene, SS
Brett Wallace, 1B
Chris Carter, LF
Justin Maxwell, CF
J.D. Martinez, RF
Carlos Pena, DH
Jason Castro, C
Matt Dominguez, 3B
There are many potential variations out there for the Astros’ lineup, but the players are pretty set with the exception of OF Fernando Martinez who should crack the lineup regularly throughout the season.
The 5’5″ Altuve is a solid lead-off option, but beyond that the Astros have a number of question marks with inexperience and inconsistency being the big culprits. Don’t get me wrong, there are some players here, but I don’t think the Astros can count on the offense to improve enough to avoid 100 losses again.
If a couple of the youngsters (Martinez, Martinez, Wallace, Castro & Dominguez) can break out and if they can get some consistency from the veterans (Pena, Maxwell), they could help win 7+ more games in 2013, but….
Can the Rocket improve this pitching staff?
A few key figures from 2012:
.270 Batting Average Against – 27th in the Majors
.337 Opponents On-Base Percentage – 28th in Majors
.427 Opponents Slugging Percentage – 25th in Majors
2.17 K/BB – 25th in Majors
1.43 WHIP – 29th in Majors
Only blew 19 saves…but that was on only 50 save opportunities, so good enough for a 62% Save Rate – 26th in Majors
With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun and Joey Votto…it’s not going to get any easier in the American League West.
The Astros brought former Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens in to help, but that’s not going to help unless he brought Brian McNamee along.
There are as many as 10 pitchers in the mix, vying for a spot in the starting rotation, but here’s what’s likely:
Brad Peacock, Alex White, Jared Cosart and John Ely are all talented young pitchers who will very likely get a shot at some point during the season as well.
Looking at this bunch, I would say there are no clearly defined roles with setup and closing duties open for competition in Spring Training – and the possibility of some of the youngsters mentioned above (Peacock, White, Cosart and Ely) fighting for spots in the bullpen (ala Robbie Ross).
More than likely, Jose Veras will be the closer at least to start the season.
First year rookie manager Bo Porter has his hands full, but barring a cluster of unforgivable mistakes, expect the Astros front office to have some patience with him. I, for one, think Porter was an excellent hire and if given time can be a good major league manager.
From “The Legend of Bo Porter” on RantSports.com:
Porter studied all 162 games of the Astros season last year. He believes the Astros could have won 35 more games than the 55 that the Astros did actually win. If you do the math, that is 90 win season for the Astros and would have ultimately propelled the Astros into the playoffs as the second Wild Card. Porter said those 35 games were lost at the “breaking point”. He also went on to say all the Astros need was mental toughness, and of course, a little motivation.
Maybe a little much, but shows the enthusiasm and confidence.
The Bottom Line
Astros’ prospect Delino Deshields Jr.
New rookie manager
Move to the American League
Lots of unproven young talent
Very shaky (at best) pitching staff
Highly regarded front office
More young talent in the minor league system
Not working this game by game, but here are my predictions:
Best case: 77-95 – Altuve solidifies himself as an up-and-coming MLB star, a couple of the young bats really break out and Brad Peacock and Alex White save the pitching staff.
Worst case: 52-110 – Altuve regresses and Porter can’t find the right mix offensively or with his staff all season.
Is there a position that you feel better about on this Rangers squad right now than 3rd base? Adrian Beltre has become a fan favorite, a leader and a fixture at the position for the Rangers (and the American League All-Star team) over the last two years and will man the position for the Rangers through 2015 (possibly 2016). It just so happens that the Rangers have a pretty salty young prospect in Mike Olt at the position as well, so what’s his future?
To break up the baseball talk, we decided to talk about the exciting topic of alcohol. We discuss preferences, current favorites, drunken states, friends and most importantly – responsibility.
To wrap up, we go back to the “Dear Baseball Do…” question bag and Jasen provides his 3 keys to success for the Rangers in 2013.
Are the Rangers better or worse at the catcher position than they were in 2012? How do A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto stack up when compared to their peers in the American League?
Jasen and I break down the catcher position for the Rangers in the first of their preseason position-by-position review.
We also rank their top 5 current TV shows. Spoiler alert – Breaking Bad makes the cut, but is it in the top spot?
Last, but not least, we introduce our newest segment – “Dear Baseball Do…” in which we field questions from our Twitter friends. If you want to have your question on a future podcast, hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (facebook.com/baseballdo) with your questions. They don’t have to be Rangers related, or even baseball related for that matter. Jasen and I are both experts in pretty much everything with the one exception of Jasen’s lack of knowledge in the area of the adult film industry.
Do you agree with our take on the catchers? Got a great TV show that we missed or wanna share your top 5? What do you think of the new intro and outro?
According to Dayn Perry (CBSSportsline), the odds-makers over at Bovada.lv have put out odds on where Josh Hamilton will sign this offseason.
Who will sign Josh Hamilton next?
San Francisco Giants: 3-1
Atlanta Braves: 5-1
Texas Rangers: 5-1
Philadelphia Phillies: 7-1
New York Yankees: 9-1
Chicago Cubs: 9-1
Boston Red Sox: 9-1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 10-1
Toronto Blue Jays: 10-1
Los Angeles Dodgers: 15-1
Let me be the first to say that there are a few teams on this list that I think have no shot or no interest in Hamilton
Phillies – No interest and no shot. Unless they can find a way to unload some of the veteran contracts that they currently have in place, I just don’t see GM Ruben Amaro adding another large contract to the mix, especially a player north of 30 years old. Here is a quick look at some of their top salaries for 2013:
Roy Halladay – $20M
Hamels with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro
Cole Hamels – $19.5M
Ryan Howard – $20M
Cliff Lee – $25M
Jon Papelbon – $13M
Jimmy Rollins – $11M
Chase Utley – $15M
That’s $123.5M for 7 players, most of which are getting a little long in the tooth. This is NOT a team that is going to give a 4-6 year contract to Josh Hamilton. In addition, the fan base in Philly is quick to turn on poor performance and lack of effort – can you imagine the treatment Josh would have gotten from the fans down the stretch in 2012 if he had been playing for Philly?
Cubs – No interest. Theo Epstein is in the process of rebuilding and while the Cubs will soon be at a point where they are ready to supplement a strong base of talent in free agency, they aren’t their yet. Hamilton’s age and the potential for injury and fatigue due to his past and playing style just don’t fit in Theo’s plan. Cubs fan’s would love Josh…but it’s not happening.
Pirates – Are you kidding me? No shot.
Don’t see any odds on the field (everyone else), but would assume they would be somewhere around 30-1, if not larger. I’d bet on the field at 30-1 (heck, even 25-1) before I’d consider the Phillies, Cubs or Pirates.
In fact, the team that I think will sign Josh Hamilton is not even mentioned above.
My official prediction as to who will sign Josh Hamilton….as of right now….always subject to change….
The Houston Astros
Is this crazy? Here is my thinking:
Money: They have to have money! They don’t have anyone on their current roster that is deserving of a big contract, so they must have the money to make it happen, even considering they’ll have to overpay.
Ownership: Jim Crane is a crazy ass, looking for attention and desperately seeking any opportunity to make a big splash. So much so, he was considering bringing the Roger Clemens circus to town late in the 2012 season. Signing Josh Hamilton and being the “mystery team” would be a BIG splash.
Location: Josh and his family are clearly comfortable in the DFW area and while it’s still five hours away…it’s as close as he’s gonna get to staying here.
AL West: The Astros will be joining the Rangers in the AL West starting in 2013. Josh is familiar with the lay of the land in the AL West, which benefits the Astros and provides a certain level of comfort for Josh.
Houston Fans: Low expectations…if any. The excitement generated over the signing would follow Josh into the regular season and mask any lack of effort or disinterest – if those issues are still there – which I don’t think they will be.
Nevermind the fact that the Astros are horrible. I think Josh will value the situation and the contract more than any team’s current level of play or postseason hopes.
Prediction #2 - Josh will play like a man possessed in 2013 and win the AL MVP despite:
Houston’s weak lineup which provides him no protection
The fact that the Astros will be out of the playoff race by mid-April
This sucks given his poor exit from the Rangers…but you know you agree.
So, what do you think? Have I sold you on Josh in a Astros uniform in 2013? Or do you trust the odds provided by Bovada?
Vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments section.
Yeah, you don’t let this guy beat you. You just don’t.
And just like that, the first World Series game that has not included the Texas Rangers since 2009 has come and gone.
Plain and simple, it just feels weird to watch the Fall Classic without our favorite team in the mix. I’m not the only one that’s upset. Famed denizen of the Texas State Fair, “Big Tex” was so bereaved by the Rangers’ late-season collapse and subsequent postseason exit that he set himself on fire…presumably in protest.
Or something like that. Personally, I always thought of Big Tex as more of a football fan, but I guess the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really done too much to keep the flame from the flesh either, so to speak.
• My first thought after the conclusion of the San Francisco Giants’ 8-3 game one win was that: “Former Ranger Joaquin Arias is going to get a freaking World Series ring before any current Ranger.” This initial notion led me to consume beer number nine whilst moving on to my second thought on the matter which was: “$hit.”
• I realize that some of this was necessitated by days of rest and what not, but by using Barry Zito in game one—and unbelievably getting a win out of him—the G-men have effectively reversed their rotation. Zito last night, Madison Bumgarner tonight, Ryan Vogelsong for game three, and ace Matt Cain for game four…if you’re a Giants fan you’ve got to like this; especially if Bumgarner can put together a strong start.
• Last night was the first time this postseason that the Giants have won a game one. I don’t think the Tigers are the type of team to rally from being down 2-0 or 3-0 like San Francisco has done. In other words…
• Doug Fister needs to pitch well tonight. He needs to find an answer to the 37-year-old riddle named “Marco Scutaro.” He’s got to keep Pablo Sandoval in the park and off of the base paths. Fister needs to avoid the big inning; he doesn’t need to dominate but he does need to keep the San Fran offense to a minimum.
• So, at what point last night did I realize that the Tigers were going to lose game one? The exact moment that Barry Zito went “oppo” for an RBI single.
• Last night’s big third-inning gained steam for San Fran with two outs when Angel Pagan—”Pagan Angel” for those with dyslexia or Tigers fans—hit a double right off of third base. Literally. His hit immediately brought back memories from last year’s ALCS when Miguel Cabrera ripped a shot off of third base in Detroit against the Rangers. I’d go on about karma but thinking of last year’s ALCS—since the Rangers were not only a part of it but the eventual victors—makes me sad.
• Well, at least the St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated, huh?
I’d like to know your World Series predictions and thoughts. Before last night, I had the Tigers winning it all in six games. What do you think? Just use our comments section below to let us know how you see the 2012 Fall Classic playing out.
And to think, had the Rangers made it past the Orioles, the Big Tex tragedy could have been avoided.
Texas could have interest in J.P. Arencibia, who was the Toronto starter the past two seasons. Arencibia hit .233 with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs, a .275 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage over 102 games.
The 26-year-old has two-plus years of Major League experience and is not yet eligible for arbitration. He missed six weeks in the second half with a broken right hand and only threw out 18.5 percent of attempted basestealers.
Sullivan goes on to mention Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando as likely candidates to swap for Arencibia.