Mar 202012
 
Tuesday Morning SlidersYu Darvish pitched 4 innings in the Rangers 5 – 3 loss to the Brewers yesterday.  The Rangers were in control of the game when Darvish left, with a 3-1 lead, but Joe Nathan surrendered the lead in the 6th inning.
  • Darvish allowed a run on 1 hit in 4 innings of working, striking out 3 and walking 3.  He also threw a wild pitch and hit a batter, so harnessing the control is still a work in progress which is perfectly fine for  Spring Training.
  • This was his first Spring Training game in which Yu pitched from the wind-up.
  • Darvish on the outing and his delivery, ”The way my body is working, my delivery, I can’t really repeat it all the time right now.  The consistency is not there. That’s why you see some good pitches and some bad ones. And I don’t expect it to be perfect right now anyway. Those are some things I’m going to continue to plan on polishing as we go on.”
  • Darvish on NL MVP Ryan Braun, ”He’s a tremendous hitter, has a tremendous swing.  I’m still new here and I don’t think it’s proper for me to evaluate him yet, but he’s a very good hitter.”
  • Pitching Coach Mike Maddux on Darvish, ”He progressed the way he wanted to today.  We worked two times and skipped a live BP to get more mound time. I was happy with his outing. He commanded the fastball and threw some good breaking balls.”
  • Closer Joe Nathan came on in the 6th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits – should you panic?  No, but should you watch Nathan closely once the regular season gets underway?  Yes.
  • SS Elvis Andrus went 3-4 with a sweet bunt single in the 1st inning.  Both Elvis and Ian are really producing in Spring Training.  Hopefully, they can carry that momentum into the regular season.
  • Prospect Tanner Scheppers got through only 2/3 of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks.

Quick hits:

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers and Derek Holland are on the verge of reaching a 5 year agreement.  No details are known at this time, so stay tuned throughout the week to find out the future of the Dutch Oven.
  • Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com) wrote “A New Start for Feliz; in more ways than one”, which rehashes Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, but also provides a closer look into the mindset of Feliz.  I’m really pulling for Neftali to experience some success in 2012.  His stuff is great, and I think he has the make-up to be a great starting pitcher in this league for a long time.
  • The Rangers optioned 7 pitchers to the minors yeterday:
  1. Neil Ramirez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  2. Miguel De Los Santos (Double-A Frisco)
  3. Jake Brigham (Double-A Frisco)
  4. Justin Miller (Triple-A Round Rock)
  5. Cody Eppley (Triple-A Round Rock)
  6. Roman Mendez (High-A Myrtle Beach)
  7. Martin Perez (Triple-A Round Rock)
  • Yu Darvish will not face the Angels this coming weekend when the Rangers square off with their nemesis in Spring Training, instead he’ll pitch in an intra-squad game.  I like the strategy.  No point in giving the Angels batters an opportunity to see Darvish live from the batter’s box before it really counts.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersMike Napoli is not pleased with C.J. Wilson’s attempt at a Twitter prank, and neither are we.  Jasen and I sounded off on this last night, when we attempted to record the weekly podcast only to find out that the file was corrupted and it was all for not.  Regardless, just know that we think this was a crappy thing for C.J. to do, and if we knew Kung Fu, we’d probably use it on him…
  • Josh Hamilton on potential of free agency after the 2012 season, ”Free agency is free agency.  If they sign me now, it’d probably cost less. If they sign me there (free agency), it’d cost more. So we’ll see.  Obviously, I told the Rangers that they get first shot, and I mean that. I have loyalty to the Rangers. They’ve been good to me and my family, and it’s been a good relationship.”
  • Does this make up for the “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comment?  That’s for you to decide.  For me, I think Josh is over-correcting and probably just needs to let it go.
  • The Rangers meet up with the Cubs today in a split squad match-up in Mesa, AZ at 3:05.  Neftali Feliz will take the ball for the Rangers against Ryan Dempster.
  • Michael Young has now hit in eight consecutive Spring Training games, so watch to see if he can extend that today.
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Mar 192012
 

Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersThe Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.

  • Harrison on the outing, ”So far, so good.  Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that.”
  • Manager Ron Washington on the effectiveness of Harrison’s changeup, ”I’ve always thought that was his second-best pitch.  He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he’s continued to work on it and it’s gotten better.”
  • Two of Harrison’s strikeouts came on changeups, which is an encouraging sign from the young starter.
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor discusses how the Rangers rotation is starting to take shape.
  • Ron Washington said a few weeks ago that he was going to split Harrison and Holland up in the rotation, which makes perfect sense.  To me, I’ve though the debate was whether they would fall in the second and fourth spots of the rotation or the third and fifth, with Darvish and Feliz taking the other two spots.  After the strong performances from Holland this Spring, I think it’s clear the order looks like this:
  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz
  • Washington on Holland and Harrison expectations, “I don’t want them having 18 or 20 wins on their mind.  If they set out to do what they did last year, they’ll surpass it without even trying. If they repeat the number of wins they had last year, that’s good enough for me – anything else is failure. I don’t want them going backward.”

Quick hits:

  • C.J. Wilson is an idiot.
  • The Rangers have partnered with the Japanese social media company gloops.  The partnership will include a gloops exclusive Japanese backdrop during press conferences, a fixed sign behind home plate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and signs around Surprise Stadium for the rest of spring training.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDavid Murphy and Brad Hawpe each went yard in the other split-squad game yesterday, before the game was called short in the 4th inning due to rain.
  • Torrealba was removed from the line-up due to stiffness in his back.  He did get some batting practice in, so it looks like his removal was precautionary.
  • Craig Gentry returned yesterday from his wrist injury that he sustained last week.  He went 0 for 2.
  • Prospect Robbie Ross, who is fighting for the bullpen role, started the game against the Brewers yesterday and didn’t fare well, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits across 2 1/3 innings.
  • Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Ross’ outing,  ”He was aggressive, went right after these guys.  He just didn’t have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders.  He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn’t back off from them. He came right at them. I didn’t see any intimidation, and I didn’t see any fear. He just didn’t quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there.”
  • Good article from T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) on Johan Yan, who the Rangers are hoping to convert from a poor hitting fielder to a strong armed relief pitcher, just as they did Alexi Ogando.  Another current Ranger who made a similar conversion was Joe Nathan, who was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Giants.

Darvish Day III:

  • Yu Darvish will be on the mound and Mike Napoli will be catching today when the Rangers play the Brewers.  The game will be live on MLB.TV, at 3:05 p.m.  Darvish is making his third start and will be looking to throw 60 pitches across four innings.  Napoli, who has been dealing with a strained groin muscle, will be back behind the plate for the first time since March 8.
  • Monday Morning Fastballs   Darvish Day III & St. Patricks Day Ticket WinnersDarvish reportedly generated more than $250 million of advertising revenue in January alone.
  • Pitching coach Mike Maddux on Darvish (from Ben & Skin, 103.3FM ESPN), “So far we’ve got five innings to go on. In those five innings, we had some ups, and we had some downs. We had more ups especially the ball being up and down. It’s just something we need to continue to grind at. We’re going to work today and really get that ball going down. He showed us some good breaking stuff, and that’s kind of bailed him out since his fastball command has been erratic. He’s a confident young man. He only knows success. You look at his track record in the Japanese league, and he was dominating. His expectations are to go out there and dominate, but it’s a little different game over here. There is a more concentration of talent so he has to grind it out, and I think he’s learning that.”
  • Maddux on overcoming the language barrier with Yu, “It’s somewhere between broken English, broken Spanish and broken Japanese. Some how, we got it all on the same page. The good news with baseball is that it’s an international language. Whether you’re in Tokyo or Arlington, Texas, it’s fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, change. It’s a strike and a ball. Some of the phrases are universal. There are some phrases that everybody knows whether they be in English or in Japanese or in Spanish. You kind of use those bullet phrases, and we all get on the same page. We’re able to get the communication bridged. When we come to the dugout, we really start getting the communication bridged when we employ the translators.”
  • Darvish’s younger brother, Sho Darvish, was sentenced to a one-year prison term for assaulting a female friend. According to the Japan Times, Sho repeatedly slapped the woman in the face and tried to choke her. The attack reportedly resulted from Sho’s anger over her association with some of her friends.

St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner

  • Thanks to all those that participated!  The winner of the tickets is rauch5s.  We’ll get in touch with the winner and get the tickets out in the mail this week.  Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the season!
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Mar 132012
 
Texas Rangers Yu Darvish struggles with command

Yu Darvish, much like his mustache in this picture, struggled. It was his second spring training start.

The Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish was an astounding 49-0 when his Nippon Ham Fighters provided him a four run lead.

This afternoon, at Goodyear Ballpark, the spring training home of the Cleveland Indians, Darvish’s offense handed him four and then some.

It was 7-0 Rangers when Yu Darvish began his third inning of work—the first time in his big league career he’d pitched past the second inning.

Here’s an inning-by-inning recap of Darvish’s second major league start:

First Inning

Darvish—once again pitching exclusively from the stretch—struggled with his command from the get-go.  He walked Indians leadoff hitter Michael Brantley on six pitches, and issued another free pass to Asdrubal Cabrera on five pitches.

The very dangerous Shin-Soo Choo was up next.

Yet rather than face Choo with two on and nobody out, Darvish was able to battle the South Korean slugger with no one on and two out.  Rangers’ catcher Yorvit Torrealba was able to flash his strong-arm as he gunned down both Brantley and Cabrera as they attempted to steal second base.

Darvish started off Choo with a strike—the first batter he’d started off ahead of—before striking him out on a 3-2 pitch to end the first.

Second Inning

Darvish, now pitching with a 1-0 lead, was much sharper in the second inning.

He went after Travis Hafner and had him down 1-2 immediately.  Darvish then induced a lazy pop-out on the next pitch.

Jose Lopez was down 0-2 before he managed a weak, broken-bat single up the middle on the third pitch of the at bat.

Jason Kipnis was up with one out and the tying runner at first base.  Darvish needed only four pitches to retire Kipnis on a strikeout.

Fred Lewis was up next with two outs and a runner on.  Just as he had with Kipnis, Darvish notched a strikeout of Lewis on just four pitches.  The strikeout was Darvish’s third, and it didn’t seem as though it would be his last.

The Texas Rangers’ six-run third inning was highlighted by Yangervis Solarte’s two-run home run, and provided Darvish with a cozy 7-0 lead.

Third Inning

Leading off, Jack Hanrahan worked a 2-2 count and put a good swing on a Darvish fastball that got too much of the plate.  Rangers’ center fielder, Craig Gentry, darted towards the well-hit liner and misjudged it at the last moment and it ricocheted off of his glove at the last moment.

This is when the wheels on the fine-tuned Yu Darvish machine began to wobble.

Darvish’s next seven pitches all missed the strike zone.

He walked both Lou Marsen and Michael Brantley to load the bases for Asdrubal Cabrera with nobody out.

On a 2-2 count, Cabrera drove in the Tribe’s first run with a single through the right side of the infield.

Even with a 7-1 Rangers lead, Darvish was very much in trouble, as he had no outs and the bases jammed.

Shin-Soo Choo helped Darvish out by swinging on a 2-1 pitch that resulted in a 4-6-3 double play.  The groundout forced in the Tribe’s second run and the Rangers lead was cut to 7-2.

Travis Hafner, the sixth batter that Darvish had faced in the inning, lined out to center fielder Engel Beltre to end the threat and Darvish’s second big league start.

Overall performance of Yu Darivsh (1-5 scale): 2.5

 Line: 3 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 3 K’s

Darvish relied on his defense to bail him out of a shaky first inning.  He had a solid second frame, but featured below-average command in his third and final inning of work.

Darvish’s third inning was similar to his first frame.  The first inning was a “best case” scenario (aided by Torrealba) and the third inning wasn’t quite “worst case” but it was certainly poor, based on what we saw of Darvish in his first outing last week.

Had it not been for Torrealba’s arm, Darvish could have easily been knocked around soundly in the first inning.

The type of baseball fans that were ready to anoint Yu Darvish the next coming of Cy Young after last week’s start are the exact type of fans that will label him as a bust on course to be the next Kei Igawa, after today’s outing.

Neither assessment is correct.

The Yu Darvish we saw in the second inning this afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona, is far more indicative of the “normal” Yu.  Sometimes getting roughed up is the best thing that can happen to a young pitcher in his first big league spring training.

It will be interesting to see how Darvish recovers in his next spring start.

I’m willing to bet he’ll be just fine.

Thirsting for more Yu Darvish? Texas Rangers Yu Darvish struggles with commandBaseball Do has got plenty to get your Yu-mania juices flowing. Follow Timothy on Twitter for all of the latest on the Texas Rangers.  

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Mar 122012
 

Monday Morning FastballsOne of the Rangers over-shadowed acquisitions of this off-season was the signing of closer Joe Nathan who, Joey Nowak (MLB.com) writes, is confident that he’ll return to form after missing a season and a half after Tommy John surgery.

  • Nathan on the injury and surgery, ”Obviously, the surgery, being two years behind me now, has allowed my arm to heal and do everything I need to do.  It’s not a concern, I’m not thinking about that anymore. I’m just concentrating on what’s important and that’s getting guys out.”
  • Ron Washington on Nathan and the acquisition, ”Last spring, we experimented with Neftali starting, but we weren’t protected in the back end of the bullpen.  And the first thing [general manager Jon Daniels] did this winter was go get us some protection in the back end of the bullpen so we could go make this move with Neftali. I think he made a great choice in Joe Nathan. More than that, Joe Nathan wanted to be in Texas.”
  • Catcher Yorvit Torrealba on Nathan, ”Not to take anything away from Neftali, but Nathan is one of the best closers in the game, and it’s a plus to have a guy like that to bring in.  With Neftali moving to the rotation, we need a guy like that, and to have him here is great.”
  • Nice to hear Joe’s confidence in himself and that the injury is behind him completely.  This was a move that not only netted the Rangers a potential stud closer, but also with a potential top of the rotation starter with the transition of Feliz.

Minus C.J., plus Yu, and more…  Mike Bauman (MLB.com) think that the 2012 Rangers Pitching may be better than last year’s.

  • Bauman on the depth, “And there is admirable depth here. Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, appears to be all the way back after knee surgery. Hard-throwing Alexi Ogando proved his worth as a reliever in 2010, then demonstrated that he was a Major League starter in 2011.”
  • Overview from Wash, ”If our young kids continue to grow — it’s important that they continue to grow and don’t go backwards — we will certainly hold our own.  Name-wise, you put them up against some of those rotations out there, maybe we don’t compare. But result-wise, I think we will be fine. I’m certainly looking forward to them continuing their growth. And the addition of Darvish will certainly help. That will replace what we lost in C.J.  We should continue to move forward. We don’t doubt that. Colby showed that he’s coming around [with four perfect innings on Saturday]. Feldman has got his sink back and his cut back on his fastball, and he’s getting his ground balls. Neftali is moving along. Holland and Harrison have shown that they haven’t missed a beat, yet. And Darvish had a very good first outing. So we’re certainly very positive about what we have to go into the season with. And we’ve just got to hope that we stay healthy.”
  • Ron Washington on the young guys on the staff, ”The Harrisons, the Hollands, the Ogandos, the Neftalis, they were young, and they had a chance to pitch into the postseason two years, back to back, and understand what it’s like to compete.  And I think that’s a good advantage for us to have. They’ve been there and done that.”
  • Say what you want about C.J. (super douche), but his loss from the rotation did leave a gap…a gap that has been filled by Yu Darvish, who has more potential than C.J.  You couple that with the development of the younger guys on the staff, as Wash talks to above, and I think this year’s staff will out-produce last year’s staff.  A lot depends on what Yu can do…

Quick hits:

  • Rangers split their two Spring Training games over the weekend, losing Saturday to the White Sox and beating Cleveland yesterday.
  • Derek Holland had an effective outing in the win yesterday, giving up 1 ER on 3 hits over 3 innings of work, striking out 4.
  • The Rangers play the Mariners today at 3:05pm.  Matt Harrison faces off with former Ranger prospect Blake Beavan.
  • Scooter Feldman (Jasen’s pick for Surprise Player of the Year) understands the starting pitching depth that this team has, ”I’m just trying to get my focus where it needs to be at the beginning of the season.  I’d like to know what I was doing, but I’m a fortunate guy to be on this team. I just go about my business and do what I can control. I can’t control the decisions they’re gonna make.”
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN) compares the current Rangers squad to the dominant Cowboys of the mid-90′s.
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Mar 122012
 

 

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Could Yu become even better in the eyes of Feliz?

Yu Darvish’s initial spring training start was universally dubbed a galactic success.

Whoops, I just misspelled “success.”  Darvish’s outing was so amazing that the synonym for “conquest” can no longer be spelled without a “Yu.” Literally.

Syuccess.

Spelling the word in this manner not only pleases the eye, it pleasures your computer. My laptop just gave me a high-five! What? You thought Yu-mania was only reserved for human beings?! HA!

As a matter of fact there is only one man—in the entire galaxy, I checked—saddened by Yu Darvish’s unprecedented series of spring training successes. That man is Neftali Feliz.

After all, the accolade-overdose thrust upon The Yu, was supposed to be dumped on Neftali too.

Regardless, Feliz made his spring training debut last Thursday, and BaseballDo sent me there for a quick interview.

Well, sort of.

 *****

My first question for Neftali Feliz was of the hard-hitting journalistic style. Hey, I didn’t spend a decade in hard-hitting journalism school for nothing!

“So Feliz, in your opinion, is there any way that Yu Darvish could possibly become any better than he already is?”

Booya! Hard…Hitting!

After a moment of deep reflection, Feliz explained to me in his native tongue that he needed more time to consider his answer to this question.

My initial question would prove to be my only query, as Feliz proceeded to conduct the entire interview solomente. And for those of you that aren’t bilingue, “solomente” meant that he conducted the entire interview by himself.  Yep, he asked  himself the questions, and then answered them. Out loud. Yeah, it was weird.  It made my job pretty easy though, I just kicked back and wrote it all down. I have provided the necessary translations in italics.

“En mis propias palabras.  Las palabras que fueron inventadas por otra persona.”

I am now talking, and in doing so, I am speaking out-loud in a manner that is similar to an interview, especially an interview that is conducted by only one person, the person that is doing the interview.

“By Neftali Feliz.”

By Neftali Feliz. And yes, he actually said the words out loud.  Again this is odd. But hey, he’s the former rookie of the year not me!

“En mi primero estrada.”

My first inning of work.

“No fue bien.  Obscenidad. Rendí un jonrón al hombre gordo grande llamó pinche puto ‘Asno’. Obscenidad”

It was poor.  Expletive. A really fat “Donkey-man” took me deep on my fastball. Expletive.

“Esto me hizo enojado. El año pasado personas lo baten tirando secretamente. Obscenidad. Me recordó del Diablo Supermo, pinche jota de los Cardinales del sexto juego. Obscenidad.”

I was angered by this unexpected turn of events. Last year, you could get him out by throwing underhand. Expletive. Donkey-man had the happy look in his eye of Freese from game six. Expletive.

“Como mirando los tetas grandes de Asno zangolotean me audaron me calmo. Jajaja. ¡Entonces jogoso! Jajaja.”

The large Donkey-man’s jiggling breasts as he rounded the bases helped to calm my frazzled nerves. Hahaha. So juicy! Hahaha.

“Sólo en los Estados Unidos hace tienen a hombres con tetas grandes como eso.  ¡Sólo mujeres están como eso en el Dominicano¡ Podría cambiar…cosas.”

Large jiggling breasts on men are a product of the United States of America only.  Only women have such wonderful devices in the Dominican. Large breasted men could…change things.

Hahaha…

NOTE: The laugh included was my own. Feliz did not laugh, and for a moment things became awkward as he stared my way.

Suddenly, my decision to wear an Under Armor compression shirt went from a comfortably cool idea into a misguided mistake.  Those things really cling to the old man-boobs. For the first time in my life, I felt that the room was a tad too cold.

I briefly explained to Neftali that my eyes were “up here” which seemed to shatter the spell.

For the next several moments we cleared our throats—while making assorted manly noises—and talked about how much more attractive women are than men.

Yes, even the large breasted men were not nearly as attractive as women.

Feliz suddenly had the look of a man that had discovered a simple solution to a difficult problem.  For the first time in a few minutes, the former closer spoke:

“Dibujaré para usted la respuesta a su pregunta.”

I will draw for you the question to my answer.

He proceeded to grab a large sketchbook from under his chair. He immediately began to draw, pausing only to to put on a painter’s beret with matching turtleneck. More than once, he laughed maniacally. It was unsettling.

Finally, he tore off a page and carefully folded it once before handing it my way.  He then decided to conclude his interview of himself.

“En el Segundo entrada, Washington permitó que tire mi queso grande y yo dominé. Aquí permita que le muestre algo.”

In the second inning, the capital of the United States of America allowed me to throw my fastball, which smelled of cheese.  I dominated.

“Siga. Eche una Mirada a eso. ¡Eso es lo que deseo hablo de ahora! Jajajaja.”

Go Ahead. Take a look at that. That picture I drew is answer to your first question! Hahahaha.

I unfolded the paper and discovered that he had drawn a picture of Yu Darvish.  Something was very different about him, though.  It was probably the enormous knockers drawn on Darvish’s body that marked the biggest difference.

Neftali Feliz gave me a sly smile, followed by a thumbs-up sign. Then in English, he said:

 ”That is the only way Yu Darvish could be become any better!”

¡Las tetas grandes son las únicas maneras Yu Darvish podría conseguir mejor!

As I left the interview room and closed the door, I could still faintly make out the crazy cackle of Neftali Feliz. I feel certain that he continued to laugh (in Spanish) long after I had made my way into the hard-hitting journalistic style parking spot that had been reserved for yours truly.

Hell, he may still be laughing right now.

¡Jajajajajajaja!

Hahahahahahaha!

Find Timothy on Twitter.

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Perhaps he is not staring at anything. Perhaps he is staring at something. And perhaps what he stares at is jiggly.

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Mar 022012
 
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsJeff Wilson (Star-Telegram) wrote a column on Colby Lewis and how he likes the pressure that comes with being the Opening Day Starter.
  • Derek Holland’s thoughts on Lewis’ approach, ”He’s been there and done it all.  He might not throw 98, but he shows he’s not scared to go inside. His motto is, like, ‘Here it is. Go after it.’ We know we can do those types of things, too, if we focus like he does and carry ourselves like he does.”
  • Ron Washington and Michael Young are both in favor of the revisions to the playoff system which would add a second wild-card team in each league.  Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) covers the story here.
  • Washington’s rationale,  ”It does create an extra hurdle, but I’d rather have that extra hurdle than be sitting at home.  Getting to the playoffs, I’m never going to look at it as a negative no matter how we got there.  You want to win the division, but I wouldn’t complain if I end up winning 94 ballgames and end up being that second wild card. If you’d rather go home, go home.”
  • Gil Lebreton (Star-Telegram) wrote a good column on the important role that David Murphy plays on this team.
  • C.J. Wilson spoke with The Mason & Ireland show (710AM in LA) recently.  When asked how difficult it was to choose the Angels, “I have told everybody it was a totally unpredictable process. You have this idea in July and you think okay it is going to shape out like this. Then October rolls around and November rolls around and you realize you have no idea because there are 30 different general managers, who have 30 different ideas about what’s going on. That could be everything from some teams are interested and other teams weren’t interested at all that I was for sure planning on visiting. It’s a very weird process, but in the end I think I made a good decision for the next 5 years at least to be an Angel too and I am really happy about it.”
  • Yu Darvish will face big league hitters for the first time today when he pitches in the intra-squad game.  He’ll head to the mound following Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison.
  • Evan Grant (Sports Day DFW) shared his thoughts regarding Yu Darvish on SportsDay (Fox Sports SW) yesterday.
  • His thoughts on Yu’s first Spring Start (next Wed.), “ I think what you’ll see is a lot of media showing up. The Japanese media has been very excited. There were about 120 people here the day he reported to camp for his first workout. Since then, because the only hitters that Yu has faced are all minor leaguers, I think everybody has grown restless evermore to see him face big league hitters. When he does so on Wendesday in San Diego, I think there’s going to be a postseason atmosphere to it because I think a lot of people are really excited about what this guy may or may not bring to the mound.”
  • His thoughts on what the Rangers expect from Yu in 2012, “That’s been the typical question of the Japanese media. “How many games will he win?” And I think what the Rangers are looking for is not wins. I think what they’re looking for is that he can go six or seven innings every time out, not exhaust the bullpen like a lot of young starters do — especially given the fact that you’ve got another young starter in the mix — and that he can get through this adjustment to the five-man rotation. He’s got a lot of things that he’s got to learn this year. He may not give you the complete return that you expect for whatever the investment is over the course this  year, but I think he’s going to set himself a very good base for long-term success. He’s got to adjust to the baseball, to the hitters, to the rotation — it’s a lot to try to take on in one year.”
  • Rich Gosselin on the three things that must happen for the Rangers to make it to a third consecutive World Series, “Derek Holland emerges as an ace, putting up the numbers C.J. Wilson posted last year.Yu Darvish winning 15 games and the middle of the order – Nelson Cruz , Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli – performing this summer like they did last October. The Angels are going to be stalking the Rangers every step of the way this season so the defending American League champions must play better than in 2011 to reclaim the division.”
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Mar 012012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsMike Napoli will test the free agent market after 2012, “I’d love to be here, but I’ll test the market.  Every player plays to get to free agency. But it’s not something I’m going to worry about. That’s why I have my agent.”
  • Napoli’s ankle feels good after a week of workouts and he plans to catch 3-4 innings in tomorrow’s intrasquad game.
  • Yu Darvish put all 7 of his pitches on display yesterday during his BP session.  Mike Napoli, who got to catch the session, said “He has great movement.  He was throwing the sinker and it moved and he threw a couple of splits where the bottom just dropped out of it. He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He knows how to manipulate the ball.”
  • The Rangers are at the center of a international signing controversy with the signing of Dominican teenager Jairo Beras.  Beras, who according to Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) “the club believes is 17 years old and eligible to sign with any organization now. But according to reports, other rival executives believe Beras is 16 years old and would not be eligible to sign until July 2.  If Beras is 16, he falls under the new rules governing international signings as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams will have a cap of $2.9 million in bonuses it can hand out to international players for one year, starting July 2. After that, the bonus money will be based on record, giving the teams that finish lower in the standings more money to spend. “
  • Are you a bobble-head junkie?  Beltre, Kins and Wash will be the bobble-heads of choice in 2012 according to the 2012 Promotions schedule.
  • Ron Washington and Bobby Valentine are disagreeing on one of the all-time great defensive plays – Jeter’s “flip” during the 2001 ALCS.  Valentine argues that Jeremy Giambi would have been out regardless of the flip, and Washington says Jeter makes the out with the flip.  I agree with Wash and wonder if Valentine is getting vocal on this simply because he’s in Jeter’s division now.  I hate the Yanks just as much as all of you, but respect Jeter – that was one of the greatest defensive plays I’ve ever seen.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a column on Michael Young embracing his current role.  Michael is simply a class-act, and I’m so glad he didn’t end up getting shipped to Colorado a year ago for some spare part…
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsRichard Durrett (ESPNDallas) on David Murphy and his focus for 2012.  Murph is going into 2012 hoping for more playing time, but not at the expense of his teammates health, ”I have a positive mindset for my teammates.  I know that the last few years I’ve gotten my 400 at-bats because there’s been a lot of injuries and I don’t want Nelson to get hurt or Josh to get hurt. If Nelson gets 150 or 160 games, he’s an MVP candidate. I don’t want him on the bench.
    All the same, there’s no reason I need to stress out about anything. Things always seem to happen. I always am able to play some sort of role and that’s something that can’t be predicted and I guess there’s almost no reason to talk about it until the end of the season when it’s all said and done and the games and at-bats columns are final.”
  • Murph bring a ton of value to this team as a quality left-handed bat off the bench and a solid 4th outfielder.  Would he start for other teams?
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Feb 292012
 

If you missed our most recent Podcast, check it out here.  We had a good time talking about Josh Hamilton with our guests, Jennifer and Holly from RangersTalkers.com.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsJerry Crasnick (ESPN.com) asks the question Do the Rangers have an Ace in their stable?

  • As Crasnick puts it, the Rangers pitching staff is long on talent, but short on experience.  ”The Texas rotation, as currently constructed, is long on talent and relatively short on experience. Colby Lewis, the elder statesman of the group at 32, has 631 big league innings if you exclude his time in Japan. Lefties Derek Holland, 25, and Matt Harrison, 26, continue to grow and evolve. Neftali Feliz is transitioning from closer, and Alexi Ogando could land in the rotation or the bullpen. The Rangers also have Scott Feldman, who was a postseason savior as the team’s long man in October.  Which brings us, finally, to Yu Darvish, whose talent and stuff prompted the Rangers to shell out almost $112 million between the posting fee and the contract.”
  • Crasnick then asks the real question – does it matter if their is a true ace or not?  He goes on to name all of the teams in MLB that have a legitimate ace, and says “Despite the absence of Rangers from the list, two big league front-office people said Texas’ rotation is worthy of a pennant contender, particularly because it’s supported by such a formidable lineup.”
  • Crasnick makes some good points in the article and it’s definitely worth the read, but I’m really hoping that one of two things happen in 2012:
  1. One of the existing Rangers starters develops into an ace over the course of the year and can serve in that role during the playoffs – Darvish or Holland seem to make the most sense to me.
  2. If #1 doesn’t happen, the Rangers are in a position to trade for a true ace at the trade deadline.

The uncomfortably named Michael Weiner, Executive Director of the MLB Players Association, was at Rangers camp yesterday for the Rangers union meeting.  With both last year’s player rep and the back up, C.J. and O’Day respectively, no longer with the club, the team will need to identify replacements.

  • Weiner talked briefly about Ryan Braun’s recent “testing” debacle, saying ”Any strong program has to to deter use, has to have appropriate penalities and also has to have a fair appeals process.  This doesn’t take away from our process. Anybody that wants both a tough and fair program should be satisfied with this result.”
  • Weiner also talked about Josh Hamilton’s recent relapse, ”The union and the Commissioner’s Office jointly administer a program and Josh is a part of that.  Josh is working hard under that program and our first concern is for Josh’s well-being. Josh has the resources that he needs,” Weiner said.

Quick hits:

  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsRon Washington is impressed with Neftali Feliz’s attitude, ”He’s focused and he’s confident and he’s getting the opportunity to use all his pitches in batting practice.  He has been a leader in his group out there. So far, he seems very happy to be a starter. To me, that is 50 percent of it. The other 50 percent is going out and getting it done. He’s determined to do well. He’s going to win some game for us.”
  • Elvis Andrus (foot) didn’t participate in any running drills yesterday, but did hit in the cage and take grounders.  Should be back to full speed soon.
  • Mike Adams (hernia) will throw again today and plan’s to pitch in the intrasquad game on Friday.
  • Jeff Wilson (Star-Telegram) writes about David Murphy’s hope for more playing time in 2012.
  • Jon Daniels when asked if he’s optimistic about Josh Hamilton remaining with the Rangers beyond 2012 after his comments from last Friday and over the weekend, “The comments don’t play into it much. Maybe I’m an optimist but I’d like to think that at the appropriate time, we’ll sit down and be able to work something out. Bottom line is the club would like to keep Josh in Texas, and I think he’d like to be here. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship, without a doubt. Every situation is unique and requires some level of creativity. If that’s the mindset on both sides, we’ll be OK. For now though, we all think it’s best to let Josh’s family and sobriety be the priority, followed by getting ready for the season. We’ll handle the contract talks privately at some point.”
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Feb 282012
 

We recorded he podcast last night with Jennifer Cobb and Holly Ballantine from www.RangersTalkers.com.  We’ll have it posted up here on the site later this morning be sure to check it out to hear how the sTalkers got started and all of our thoughts on the recent Josh Hamilton news.  Disclaimer: Jennifer’s dog is named “Hambone”.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers announced Yu Darvish will  make his first Spring Training start on March 7th at 2 p.m. against San Diego in Peoria.  The game will be broadcast on texasrangers.com.  Darvish threw 36 pitches yesterday and seemed to be happy with the outing.
  • Here is the full rotation for the first five Spring Training games:
    March 4: Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman
    March 5: Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando
    March 6: Matt Harrison
    March 7: Darvish
    March 8: Neftali Feliz
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) provides an overview of the center field battle.

Ron Washington has said he’s going to allow Elvis Andrus to start taking responsibility for his own play, rather than watching over the young shortstop as closely and proactively addressing his play.  Andrus,while still only 23 years old, has been a full-timer at the major league level for the Rangers for the last three seasons.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersWashington on Andrus, “He’s established himself now to the point where he knows what he has to do.  We’re going to give him some leeway. His teammates will make sure he does what he needs to do. I think we’ll see less of him zoning out than we have in the past.”
  • Andrus on the new found freedom, ”I am learning how to handle my body and my mind better.  Last year, he wasn’t on me quite as much. I appreciate the help and I needed it, but at the same time, as you grow as a player and a person, you want that responsibility to do it yourself. I don’t expect him to be behind me like he was earlier. I know when I make a mistake. I know he’ll be there to help me when I need it too.”
  • Andrus on wanting to improve his power stroke, ”I want to add some power.  I don’t mean home runs. Those happen with good swings. But I want to drive the ball more to the gaps.”

The starting rotation has been much of the talk so far this Spring Training, with potentially 7 viable options, not counting the always looming presence of free-agent veteran Roy Oswalt, and only 5 spots.

  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) writes that Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz are both making solid impressions early in camp here.
  • Sullivan on Feliz, “It is still early in camp but Washington likes what he sees from both pitchers, especially Feliz. Washington said he sees a pitcher who came to camp determined to be a starter.”
  • Scott Miller (CBSSports) writes that Oswalt still wants the Rangers.
  • For our take on the rotation, be sure to check out the Spring Training podcast special we recorded last week.
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Feb 242012
 

Josh may not owe the Rangers, but...“I love Texas. I love my fans. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it. But I’m not going to sit here and say that I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers.”

If you’re reading this, you’re more than than  likely a Rangers fan.  If you’re not, you can still relate – imagine your favorite team’s biggest star saying these words.  How does that statement make you feel?

Josh Hamilton sat down with media earlier today and issued the statement above (video below).  To level set here, this wasn’t all Josh said, nor was it the only topic that he discussed…rather just a snippet, but one that many fans and media members clung to.  Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) details the full press conference here if interested.

When you get right down to it, this is a business, and Josh is right – he doesn’t owe the Rangers anything.  They have a contract that both parties agreed to.  Josh is being paid to play baseball.  The Rangers are paying for his services.  In the same vein, you could say that the Rangers don’t owe Josh anything.

So, while the statement isn’t false, it’s not easy to hear for Rangers fans.  Clearly this statement was Josh’s counter to the opinion that he should give the Rangers a “friendly discount” for standing by his side during his relapses, which has been written and talked about often by local media and fans.

It’s just not the right thing to say.

Josh is under a ton of pressure right now, and should be thankful for Yu Darvish’s presence in Spring Training, as it’s diverting some of the media attention.  If there were no Yu, the media at Spring Training would certainly be following Josh’s every move and clamoring to get anything and everything out of him regarding his recent relapse and personal life.

All we know about the night of his relapse is what he has shared with us – the rest is just word of mouth or rumors.  I say this to point out that we don’t really know about the stress which the events of that night truly put on his life and the relationships in his life.  Josh is probably feeling like he is under attack to some degree right now, which could explain this defensive statement.

In addition, as he has pointed out in the past, Josh doesn’t script his press conferences or interviews, which can lead to off-the-cuff statements like this one.  I’m sure it seemed harmless at the time.  I’m sure as Josh thought about the statement for that brief second before he actually uttered the words, he saw nothing wrong with it.  I don’t mind that Josh is thinking that statement.  The realist in me understands that it’s a business, but I don’t want to hear it come out of his mouth.

Does this statement have any impact on the Rangers’ front office and their potential contract offer to Josh, whenever that may occur?  No.  While I think Jon Daniels would strongly agree that this was a poor choice of words and a potentially damning statement, he’ll separate the statement from the players ability to contribute to the team.

But, what about the court of public opinion?  In my opinion, this statement makes it a little easier for the Rangers to allow Josh Hamilton to leave in free agency after 2012.  This is a statement that could linger.

So am I defending Josh or slamming Josh?  Neither really.  At first, the statement upset me and to be completely honest, pissed me off a little.  I understand that Josh doesn’t owe the Rangers, but what about fans?  The fans the are the ones that are impacted by a statement like this.  For the Rangers and the players, it’s a business, but for the fans, it’s much more.

It’s acceptable to dislike what you heard Josh say today, and I’m not trying to sway you one way or another.  More than anything, I’m interested to hear what you think about Josh’s statement.  Leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo) or Facebook (Baseball Do Fanpage) and let us know.

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Here is the video (from the Star-Telegram’s Foul Territory Rangers Blog).  If  you haven’t seen it yet,  let’s do a little exercise.

Step 1 – Watch the video, be sure to have your speakers or headphones on.

Step 2 – Play the video again, but this time instead of watching it, just listen to it and look at the picture below.

Josh may not owe the Rangers, but...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Ask yourself, would you have felt differently if C.J. Wilson would have made this same statement last year in Spring Training, heading into the final year of his contract?

 

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