Mar 272013
 

Weekly preview of each of the Rangers’ American League West rivals for the 2013 season – from the bottom up.

  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Houston Astros

Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?The Oakland Athletics won the American League West last year in dramatic fashion, snatching the division title away from the Rangers on the final day of the season.  If you are reading this, I’m betting that you haven’t forgotten.

With a hodge-podge of contributing veterans, break-out players, timely performances and a Cuban who is slugging his way towards stardom, the A’s won the division when the consensus going into 2012 was that they would finish a distant third to the Rangers and Angels.

So, who would dare pick them to finish third again?  Who would challenge Moneyball?  Who would give the A’s their bulletin board material in 2013?  Me…and Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com…and others for that matter…but most importantly ME.

Bottom line (oddly near the top of the article), I’m not a believer.  The Rangers helped the A’s to the West title last year more than any other team in baseball could have.  The A’s don’t have what it takes to win the AL West without another collapse from the Rangers and Angels.  

The Bats & Gloves

This is still a lineup made up of guys (with the exception of a few) that are relative no-names.  No offense to those guys, but these just aren’t names that the average baseball fans is familiar with.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t good…

Projected Line-up

  1. Coco Crisp, CF
  2. Jed Lowrie, SS
  3. Josh Reddick, RF
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  5. Brandon Moss, 1B
  6. Seth Smith, DH
  7. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  8. John Jaso, C
  9. Scott Sizemore or Eric Sogard, 2B

There are some projections out there that have Jaso batting higher in the order and even 2nd, but Lowrie is leading candidate.  Former Diamondback outfielder Chris Young will also probably get plenty of ABs as the fourth outfielder on the team.

Three bats that peak my interest:

  • Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?Brandon Moss…solid player who far exceeded expectations in 2012 – or – late blooming journeyman who just needed a chance to prove he is a middle of the order talent?  The 29 year-old Moss, with his fourth team in Oakland, broke out like no other in 2013, and while I’m inclined to call it a “one-hit wonder”, I’m not quite ready to completely dismiss Moss.  In 265 crucial at-bats last year, he hit 21 bombs with a .954 OPS.  Projected over a full season, he would have been a 40+ HR, 100+ RBI MVP candidate.  The only other season in his career in which he had as many plate appearances was in 2009 when he hit 7 dingers with a .236 batting average with 120 more at-bats than what he had last year.  So, will the real Brandon Moss please stand up?  Like I said, I’m intrigued.
  • John Jaso was once trusted to lead off by the great Joe Maddon (he with the sweet black-rimmed specks).  Jaso flies under the radar (just like the A’s like ‘em), but is an extremely productive player when you take into account he is a catcher (thin position).  Last year with the Mariners, he hit 10 HRs with 50 RBIs over just 294 at-bats, while putting together an impressive slash – .276/.394/.456.  While it’s quite possible that Jaso too played above his head a bit in 2012, this dude can hit and he is a perfect fit for this line-up.  Derek Norris will still get time behind the plate, but Jaso’s bat will find away in to the line-up more often than not.
  • Breaking down the West   Oakland cant do it again in 2013...can they?Yoenis Cespedes scares me and he should scare you too.  As stated earlier, this team is made up of a bunch of second-chancers and no names with the exception of a few….and Cespedes is part of the few.  Wanna dark horse for 2013 AL MVP?  Look no further.  Cespedes put together an impressive rookie campaign in 2012 with a .292/.365/.505 slash, but when you look at the splits, you see that he really figured it out in the second half of the season with an OPS of 119 points higher than the first half.  He doesn’t care if the pitcher is a rightie or a leftie, and get’s even better when runners are in scoring position (.345/.430/.540 slash with RISP).

Defensively…well, you’ve probably seen Moneyball…so you know how Billy Beane does it.  Outfielders are good, infielders are average…again, breaking down defense is boring.  Not dismissing it’s importance, but c’mon…

The Arms

The A’s have an impressive stable of young starters who, while none of which are Ace material, combine to make a strong rotation – that’s synergy…maybe.

Projected Rotation

  1. Brett Anderson, LHP
  2. Jarrod Parker, RHP
  3. Tommy Milone, LHP
  4. A.J. Griffin, RHP
  5. Bartolo Colon, RHP

Dan Straily will be the 5th starter for at least the first time through the rotation, but it’s really Colon’s spot to lose.

  • 2nd in the American League in team ERA at 3.48
  • 2nd in the American League in team WHIP at 1.239
  • Last in American League with just 1 Complete Game – they rely on their pen.
  • In the bottom 3 of the AL in strikeouts while in the bottom 5 in the AL in walks – they don’t blow you away, but they also don’t give free passes.

They will definitely miss Brandon McCarthy, but Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker make up a pretty salty 1-2 punch at the top of the order.  Parker has the potential to be something special for the A’s long-term at the tender age of 24 and under the team’s control through 2017.

The Bullpen

Given the stat above of only one complete game last year, the A’s are a team that leverages their bullpen regularly….exactly 161 times in 2012.  Grant Balfour will be the closer once again.  The bullpen, like the rest of this team, underwhelms you by name but gets the job done.

The Manager

Bob Melvin is a healthy 6’4″, 205 pounds and has a career managerial record of 634 – 628, so….there’s that.

The Bottom Line

Look, the Athletics are a dangerous team, as proven by last year’s dominance down the stretch, but…I don’t think they are better than the Rangers or the Angels…on paper…which is why they play the games.

Could the A’s surprise us all again?  Of course, but this team is not a playoff team without help, in the form of a collapse, from the Rangers and/or Angels unless both wild card teams happen to come from the American League West (which was the prediction from ESPN The Magazine).

  • Best Case: 94-68, same as last year.  While the Astros will help them out in the win column, I see more consistent and improved play from the Rangers and Angels stopping the Athletics from improving upon last year’s mark.
  • Worst Case: 82-80, this team is better than .500, barring any major injuries.

Down to the top 2 now…stay tuned.


Side note – we are less than 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 tomorrow.  Looking forward to it!

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Jul 012012
 
YUBROOM copy copy

Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of OaklandAs those in attendance of Baseball Do’s inaugural field trip witnessed first-hand, the Texas Rangers ripped the Oakland Athletics last night, 7-2, to secure their seventh-straight series win.

Tonight, the Rangers wrap up their four game series against Oakland with a chance to sweep while simultaneously pushing their current five-game winning streak to six.

Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:

Oakland Athletics (37-42)

Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of Oakland

Perhaps powered by his ridiculously thick eyebrows, Cespedes continues to rake against Texas.


DH Coco Crisp
2B Jemile Weeks
RF Josh Red-Dick
CF Yoenis Cespedes
LF Seth Smith
C Derek Norris
1B Brandon Moss
3B Brandon Inge
SS Cliff Pennington

VS

RHP Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 10 K/9)

Currently, the Texas Rangers have seven players going to Kansas City next week to participate in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Darvish, regardless of his utterings to the contrary, has put up numbers that are All-Star worthy.

In his last start, he reached a milestone of sorts, as he issued the fewest walks (1) that he has ever surrendered over his 15 big league starts. That solitary free pass, coupled with his 10 strikeouts over seven innings of work were enough for the 6’5” Osaka, Japan native to record his tenth win of the year.

A win tonight against Oakland and The Yu would be tied with All-Star bound Matt Harrison for the team lead with 11.

For Darvish, the Athletics are a team he is quite familiar with. For the first time in his young career, Darvish will challenge a team for the third time. The Yu’ s results have been mixed as he won at home against Oakland in May, going 7 2/3 innings and striking out 7, and took the loss against the A’s early last month.

That loss was the worst start of Darvish’s brief major league career.

He lasted just 5 1/3 innings, put up the rather devilish line of 6 hits, 6 earned runs and 6 walks, and only managed four strikeouts.

Perhaps a tad of revenge—coupled with his success at home—will be the recipe Darvish needs to win his fourth-straight start.

Undefeated in Arlington (7-0, 3.45 ERA), and extremely tough on right-handed hitters (.187/.317/.328),The Yu is certainly capable of subduing an Oakland offense that has already been considerably cooled during the series’ first three games.

Overall, the Athletics are batting .296, with 7 RBI against The Yu. Coco Crisp has been particularly effective against Darvish, batting .667 with one homer and four RBI.

Texas Rangers (50-29)

Rangers Look to The Yu to Complete Sweep of Oakland

After going 0-for-7 during the first two games of the A’s series, Beltre ripped a game-tying homer during last night’s 7-2 win.


2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
3B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry

VS
LHP Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5.7 K/9

Australian-born Travis Blackley, sadly, doesn’t pitch submarine-style, so there is no point in my stating that he comes from Down Under, just like his fastball.

You can’t win ‘em all.

Tonight will mark the second time this season that Blackley has dared oppose the mighty Texas Rangers. In his last start, in Oakland, Blackley was Oakland’s lone loser of that three-game stand. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering seven hits, five earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts.

Blackley has yet to record a win away from Oakland this year, and over his last 10 starts he’s factored in to only three decisions, two of which he lost.

His platoon splits are quite similar, as left-handed batters produce a slash line of: .229/.224/.282 with zero home runs. Right-handed batters go: .238/.299/.361 with just one big fly off of the left-hander.

Ian Kinsler and Michael Young have had a good deal of success against Blackley, with Kinsler batting .333 with 2 RBI, and Young notching a triple and a double off the Melbourne, Australia native.

It’s worth noting that Blackley’s pick-off move is one of the finest in the American League, as he has successfully picked off four base runners, to tie him with Toronto’s Ricky Romero for the A.L. lead.

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Jun 042012
 
Snoop & Dre

Texas Rangers Look to Take Down Athletics West Coast StyleThe Texas Rangers finally stopped their 4-game losing streak—preventing the Angels from gaining ground—with their 7-3 victory yesterday afternoon.

For the Rangers, it’s another week of wonderful California weather and woeful West Coast start times. For the next four games it’s the less-than-formidable Oakland Athletics that stand in their path.

No matter how bad the Rangers have been playing lately, the A’s have been much worse. This Oakland squad is a team that the Rangers should have no problems dispatching. But what with the Rangers’ playing a skitterish brand of ball of late, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Oakland Athletics (23-31, 4th Place)

The A’s had a surprisingly strong start to the 2012 season. Since then, they’ve regressed back to their mean. Currently the once proud franchise has won just one game in their last 10.

On the hill:

RH Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, K/9: 4.1, BB/9: 4.5)

vs.

RH Jarrod Parker (1-2, 2.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, K/9: 6.4, BB/9: 4.6)

Feldman

This will be “Scooter’s” third spot-start as the number five man in place of the injured Neftali Feliz. In terms of success, he’s been right down the middle. He has yet to win a game and hasn’t pitched more than 4 2/3 innings yet.

However, aside from being roughed up in Seattle late last month, he’s pitched well enough to keep his team in the game.

Gives Scooter Fits:

Kurt Suzuki (.300, 4 RBI)

Can’t hit his shi*:

Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales are a combined 2-for-16 (.125) with 4 Ks against Scooter.

Key to success: Scott Feldman relies on two things for success: fastball command, and keeping his sinker down in the zone. When he’s on, he is a groundball machine that works quickly. If he doesn’t have the feel for his sinker it’ll be a quick outing—even against Oakland’s lethargic offense.

Parker

Jarrod Parker was one of the key trade pieces in the Trevor Cahill trade last off-season. Parker was the Diamondbacks’ top pick in the 2007 MLB Draft (1st RD, 9th Overall).

Like Feldman, Parker can have issues in command and generally walks far too many batters. However, he is extremely difficult to hit home runs off of so he tends to minimize the damage of his free passes.

Parker was roughed up for 6 earned runs against an anemic San Francisco Giants offense that was without their top hitter, Pablo Sandoval.

Hitters that have found their niche and batter’s he’s made his bitch

In his young career, Parker has never faced a current member of the Texas Rangers.

Keys to Victory:

It’s a small sample size, but if the A’s can hit enough to give Parker a lead he might be able to capitalize against a Rangers offense that has been sputtering of late.

Prediction Time

Parker has never faced an offense as potent as the Texas Rangers. He struggled against a Kung Fu Panda-less Giants offense last month and if he brings that same game tonight, he will get crushed.

Rangers win 5-2.

Go Rangers!

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May 162012
 

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Nelson vs. Yoenis Cespedes: The battle for AL West eyebrow supremacy has commenced!


The Kansas Royals series? Never happened. I’ve erased all memories of that highly forgettable series
Total Recall
-style.

And I needed no help from Kuato. Just the aid of 12-15 ice-cold beers. There’s no way in hell I’d grab that circus freak’s grubby carnie hands anyways…but if Sharon Stone—circa 1990—cares to come along for the ride, that’s cool by me.

So, the aspirin has kicked-in, the hangover meal’s fully munched and all Royals feats have been forgotten. It’s now time to create some new and improved memories, and we have the Oakland Athletics (19-18) with which to start…

Here’s a look at some points of interest as the first-place Rangers play host to the second-place Athletics (yeah, it’s weird.)

The Oakland Athletics are in 2nd place

Yeah, I had to say it twice just to make it seem more real. It’s the truth, the A’s are four games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West as of today. Sure, it’s early, and yeah this two-gamer doesn’t really matter that much, but it sure would be nice to get a quick sweep and push our lead to six.

Conversely, if the A’s stay hot and the Rangers remain tepid, we could be looking at a mere two game lead in the West. And that’s messed up.

Yoenis Cespedes

Remember him from the offseason? Yeah he was that other foreign-born badass free agent not named Yu Darvish.

Cespedes isn’t exactly on a Hamiltonian tear, but he’s not crapping the bed a la Pujols, either. His slash line sits at: .245/.319/.434.

He has managed five home runs, and leads the A’s in RBI with 21. I’m curious to see how the Cuban slugger fares in the offensive friendly confines of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Yu Darvish

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Jeez, lucky guy scored both of his cards in the same pack!

Anytime Darvish’s name is penciled in to start, the game becomes must-see TV. Through the first 37 games, Darvish has been the Rangers’ most consistent starter.

I look forward to all of Darvish’s starts, but in this one it will be fun to watch him battle Cespedes as well as the entire A’s team. Hard to believe, but it could be Oakland and not the lowly Angels that are knocking on the Texas Rangers’ first place door in the upcoming months.

Josh Reddick

When I see his name two things pop into my mind. The first has little to with baseball, and is simply just an overwhelming temptation to place a hyphen between the two d’s in “Reddick.”

Secondly, I think of a young outfielder that is finally starting to fulfill his power potential. He’s the A’s team leader in home runs, with 9 and is just one click away from Cespedes in the RBI department with 20.

Reddick hasn’t fared well in Arlington over his career, as is indicated by his .118 BA with one double and nothing else of note offensively. Add in the fact that he’s never seen The Yu before, and those numbers might drop further.

Also, if inflicted with a Red-dick, don’t expect any sympathy from me; it’s your own damn fault—you’re supposed to test the hot tub’s temp with your finger dude! C’mon!

Tom Milone, Bartolo Colon, and a possible attack from the “B-Mac”

Tom Milone and Bartolo Colon rhyme, and journalistically that makes me happy. Tom Milone is off to a strong start this season. He’s 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA overall. At home he’s been near unhittable, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA while surrendering no home runs.

That would be irksome if not for the fact that Arlington is most certainly not his home.

On the road, Milone has pitched to the tune of a 2-2 record, with a 7.84 ERA while allowing five dingers…if he leaves his pitches up in the zone tonight, his home run total could double.

Bartolo Colon pitched in last night’s series ender against the Angels, so we probably won’t see the paunchy pitcher with the solid numbers.

We are in line to see Oakland’s “ace” Brand McCarthy for tomorrow afternoon’s series finale.

Remember him? Yeah, he cost us John Danks in a trade with the White Sox back in 2006. We lost our first “d” in the whole D-V-D acronym on that one-sided deal. Truth be told, I was pleased when the news came down. B-mac projected as a front-of-the-rotation starter that was more major league-ready than Danks at the time.

He did become our number one starter; too bad it was while on the disabled list. Hey the DL needs pitching too…Anyways, his fractured potential is becoming a reality as he has pitched well since Oakland acquired him via free agency in 2010.

So far this year, he’s 3-3 with a team-leading 2.56 ERA. At the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, he’s surrendered more home runs (17) than anywhere else over his career.

So kick back, relax, and tell Kuato to stop salivating on your sofa, it’s time to enjoy a potential Oakland Athletics beat-down!

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers—a Showdown for AL West Supremacy

Grab your hand? Hell no!!!

Go Rangers!

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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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