Jul 312012
 
DempOswalt

Ryan Dempster Shakes Things Up for the Texas Rangers (In a good way)Recently acquired right-hander, Ryan Dempster, may be new to the American League, but he is no stranger to the Texas Rangers. The native of Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada, now comes to Arlington, Texas, North America, to the team that originally drafted him during the third round of the 1995 MLB amateur draft.

Colby Lewis is a somewhat relevant comparable to Dempster. Dempster is a few years older and managed to avoid the disabled list—as well as the Japanese League—so he has a considerably larger track record. But looking at each right-hander’s stats this season, you can see certain similarities between Lewis (6-6, 3.43 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, 6.64 SO/BB, 1.4 HR/9) and Dempster (5-5, 2.25 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, 3.07 SO/BB, 0.8 HR/9).

Lewis featured superior control, as his league-leading strikeout-to-walk ratio indicated, but Dempster is far less susceptible to the long ball.

Dempster’s long ball totals might trend up as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington boasts the 11th highest home run per game total (1.116) in the league. Dempster’s former stomping grounds, Chicago’s Wrigley Field, as clocks in at 16th, with a 0.973 per game average.

Not long after word came down about the Rangers’ acquisition, the team announced that former ROY and converted starter, Neftali Feliz, had a torn elbow ligament and would require season-ending surgery.

This made Feliz the team’s second TJ surgery casualty in the last week, as Colby Lewis was lost for the season just a few days ago.

Dempster’s arrival will help to stave off the near rampant paranoia that swept through Rangerville after Roy Oswalt was thwacked mightily last night during the Rangers 15-8 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Roy Oswalt to the bullpen

• During Spring Training, the Texas Rangers were kicking the tires on inking a deal with the then unsigned free agent Roy Oswalt. The only reason they didn’t pull the proverbial trigger was due to the diminutive right-hander’s reluctance to pitch out of the bullpen.

• Well, even if you’re a perennial former All-Star, you’ve got to pitch well as a starter to avoid the ‘pen. Roy Oswalt has been moved to the bullpen after last night’s terrible performance. It will be interesting to see if Oswalt will ask for his release.

Scooter, captain clutch

• Wow. When the Rangers decided to sign Oswalt they did so to hedge against Neftali Feliz’s injury. However, they also did so because because Feldman was absolutely terrible in his spot-starts. 5-straight wins later, and fresh off of a dominant eight-inning performance two nights ago, Scooter has beaten out Oswalt for a rotation spot.

• If Feldman can turn it around, Oswalt can too. This is why I was somewhat shocked when I found out that Oswalt was the odd man out in the Rangers current rotational plans.

Move over, Derek Holland

• No, Holland’s spot is safe. But his claim as resident comedian might not be a given. Holland, quasi-famus for his Harry Caray impersonation might have to come up with something knew, as Dempster’s Caray is hard to beat.

• Don’t get me wrong, Dutch’s is pretty spot-on.

• Who do you think gets the edge?

I’m just glad the Geovany Soto addition doesn’t have to stand alone as the “big” trade acquistion

• Yeah, I pretty much said it all in the emboldened title. Ah Well. Go Rangers!

Ryan Dempster Shakes Things Up for the Texas Rangers (In a good way)
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Jul 302012
 
BD8E8129

Could Cliff Lee be a Texas Ranger (Again)?

Yeah, that would sure add comfort to even the most restless of Ranger Nation souls.

As I’m sure we are all more than aware, there is approximately 24 hours left for this year’s non-waiver MLB Trade Deadline. I’m also confident that even those of us who still have dial-up Internet access—looking at you Mom and Dad—are well aware that Zack Greinke is a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

And he’s already lost once for the Halos! Snort, giggle, repeat. Guffaw as necessary.

Some of the names that were bandied about have lost a little luster. Josh Johnson. James Shields. Both are solid pitchers, but would either one actually be good enough to rise to the top of a pretty solid Rangers’ rotation? Maybe, maybe not. Shields had 11 complete games last season, and produced a sparkling 2.82 ERA. This year? Zero complete games, a league-leading 156 hits allowed, and a not-so-savory 4.52 ERA.

And the Rays would want one of the killer Ps or the “Oltimate Warrior”? Pass. Besides, if Shields were to wear the Rangers red or blue, it would take away from the pleasure of beating him senseless in the playoffs as the Rangers are want to do.

Josh Johnson? It’s hard to naysay a power-pitcher that’s 6’7″ 250 pounds. But the Marlins supposedly want a bevy of prospects that would even outweigh what the Angels shipped off for Greinke. Yep, you guessed it—it’d be one of the killer Ps and possibly the Oltmeister.

Plus, Johnson’s injury-riddled past leads one to believe that this giant with the eye-popping potential and stuff to match is constructed of paper-mache. You’re going to want something more fireproof when that thermometer hits it’s mid-August southern stride.

So what does that leave in regards to rotation quick fixes? Well, it may be quite a long shot, but it does leave one Clifton Phifer Lee as a possibility.

If you’re a glass is half empty type, Cliff Lee is the dude that lost two games in the 2010 World Series for us. Personally, I’ll always remember him as the only reason we made it to the dang World Series in the first place.

Ciff Lee is about the only name I can think of that would allow me to let loose my death grip on the Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar, and Martin Perez-types. How far-fetched is the notion t hat Cliff Lee could land in Arlington once again? Well, Buster Olney of ESPN seems to think it could happen:

Yes, it would take a premium prospect (or two.) Yes, there would be a HUGE financial investment. But the window for greatness always seems to shut a little prematurely—Philadelphia Phillies, anyone? So if it’s possible, I say get this done. Bring him on down. We always kind of considered Lee one of our own, anyways.

Not only am I the optimistic sort, I also believe in atonement…there’s a chance—albeit remote—that Cliff Lee could land back in Texas. Hey, everyone deserves a second chance to make the right decision.

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Jul 282012
 
Josh Hamilton 13

Podcast Episode 17: Trade Deadline Part 2 & Slumping Josh

The trade deadline is fast approaching…Scott & Jasen discuss some recent developments, the Rangers next move and the slump of Hambone.

The Angels landed the first blow yesterday in dealing for Zack Greinke to add to an already salty starting rotation, but did they mortgage too much  of there future for a rental player?

Will the Rangers answer with a deal of there own?  Josh Johnson or James Shields?

Do the Rangers need to add some offensive help?  Could we see a big bat that could eventually serve as the replacement of Josh Hamilton – someone like Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Upton?  Or, are we simply looking for depth form the likes of Alfonso Soriano or Jeff Francouer?

Speaking of Hamilton, he is currently in the midst of the biggest slump in his career and he’s starting to hear the boo-birds at Rangers Ballpark. What does this mean long-term? Can Hambone turn it around this year when we need him the most – September & October?

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Jul 272012
 
Josh Johnson 2

Continuing the Trade Target Profiles today with Josh Johnson, who has peaked the interest of many Rangers fans over the last couple of days.  With Cole Hamels off the market and the unsavory thought of Greinke being nothing more than a 3 month rental, Johnson’s attractiveness shot up the charts quickly.

Joshua Michael Johnson

The Player

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonJohnson has long been a player of desire for Rangers fans, primarily due to the fact that the Marlins are always a volatile team when it comes to the trade market – either buying or selling big every season.

The 28 year-old Johnson grew up in Oklahoma, which has been  used in the media recently as a reason why he would be a logical trade target for the Rangers – being closer to home would make him happier.  Also floated out there for the media to gobble up is that his wife wouldn’t mind being closer to her family…in Orange County.  Seems the Marlins are pandering to the Rangers and Angels…bidding war anyone?

Johnson is a two-time All-Star and finished fifth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting.  Since his first full season in 2006, he hasn’t necessarily been the model of consistency in regards to playing time and health, only surpassing the 20 games pitched mark three times in his career (2006, 2009, 2010).

After a successful rookie campaign in 2006, Johnson had issues early in 2007 and was eventually shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

Similar to Greinke, he has one season (2010) that stands out on paper as a season of dominance, but his 2009 numbers were very strong as well and  he was well on his way to a dominant 2011 before being shut down early due to inflammation in his right shoulder.

All that said, this dude is a stud and I don’t view him as any more of an injury risk than any other alternative.

As noted, the contact situation is attractive here because we’re not dealing with a 3-month rental.  Johnson’s contract pays him $13.75M this year and the same in 2013.

The Measurables

Year Age Tm W L ERA G CG IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2005 21 FLA 0 0 3.65 4 0 12.1 11 0 10 10 112 1.703 1.00
2006 22 FLA 12 7 3.10 31 0 157.0 136 14 68 133 140 1.299 1.96
2007 23 FLA 0 3 7.47 4 0 15.2 26 1 12 14 60 2.426 1.17
2008 24 FLA 7 1 3.61 14 1 87.1 91 7 27 77 121 1.351 2.85
2009 25 FLA 15 5 3.23 33 2 209.0 184 14 58 191 133 1.158 3.29
2010 26 FLA 11 6 2.30 28 1 183.2 155 7 48 186 180 1.105 3.88
2011 27 FLA 3 1 1.64 9 0 60.1 39 2 20 56 239 0.978 2.80
2012 28 MIA 6 7 4.14 20 0 119.2 125 7 35 105 99 1.337 3.00
8 Yrs 54 30 3.14 143 4 845.0 767 52 278 772 134 1.237 2.78
162 Game Avg. 13 7 3.14 35 1 208 189 13 68 190 134 1.237 2.78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Exceeded 200 innings only once in his young career (2009)
  • Current WAR is 1.7, which is lower than Harrison, Darvish and Colby Lewis (R.I.P. Colbra), but a 6.4 in 2009 and a 6.8 in 2012 far surpass the high-marks of any current Rangers starting pitchers.
  • Similar players of note in terms of performance (according to Baseball-Reference.com) are:
    • Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens & Adam Wainwright for career
    • David Cone, Adam Wainwright and Orel Hershiser  for similarity thorugh age 27 (2011 season for Johnson)
  • While his career has been brief and subject to time away for recovery, Johnson has been a better first half pitcher, posting second half marks of 3.83 ERA (compared to 2.71 in first half) a 1.318 WHIP (compared to 1.186 in first half)
I Split W L ERA G CG SHO IP H HR BB SO WHIP SO/BB
April/March 8 6 2.88 28 2 0 147.0 121 6 47 140 1.143 2.98
May 11 4 2.66 27 0 0 169.1 144 8 51 140 1.152 2.75
June 11 7 2.62 22 1 0 144.1 128 7 53 135 1.254 2.55
July 9 4 3.20 25 0 0 151.2 145 16 43 140 1.240 3.26
August 10 5 3.71 22 1 0 138.1 127 8 42 122 1.222 2.90
Sept/Oct 5 4 4.29 19 0 0 94.1 102 7 42 95 1.527 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Johnson has faced the Rangers only once in his career, shutting down the Rangers offense in 2010 by pitching seven strong innings, striking out 7 and giving up only one run on 1 walk and 4 hits…in a no-decision.
  • Johnson has never faced the Angels, A’s or Mariners.

Could Josh be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonMost prefer Johnson to Greinke at this point.  Neither player is having a career year by any standards, but both have the make-up and ability to be dominant aces on the mound.

The Marlins have put the word out that there is only a 5% chance that Johnson is dealt away this season.  They have already made to big trades this season as their fire sale is well under way – sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers and sending Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.

It’s also well known that the Marlins current asking price for Johnson is very steep.  While this may be posturing on there part, you have to figure it’s higher than what could be expected for Greinke (rental).

What would the Rangers have to give up to land Johnson?  Given the Marlins dealt away there third baseman (Ramirez), you have to assume that Mike Olt (recurring theme of these trade discussions) would be involved in any package.  Beyond Olt, I could see another lower-tiered prospect or two being involved.  An interesting scenario that I have only seen discussed once (so it’s probably not going to happen) would have the Marlins including super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio in a deal to the Rangers, with the Rangers increasing their package beyond Olt to  include a more highly rated pitching prospect.

Just gonna float this out there:

  • Rangers give Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and a player to be named (marginal prospect at best)
  • Marlins give Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio – with no help on Johnson’s contract.

***Bonifacio would be under the Rangers control through 2015 and has good value as a switch hitter that can play just about any where in the field.

While many are putting better odds on a deal for Greinke occurring (lower asking price, history with Doug Melvin), I think a deal for Josh Johnson is possible.  The Marlins are in a complete rebuilding phase now and know that the return they could net for Johnson will never see a higher point.

Who’s next?  James Shields is on deck unless I get another request…

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Jul 262012
 
greinke_brewers

Rangers Trade Market Update: Zack GreinkeJust days away from the trade deadline…rumors continue to swirl around the Rangers.  Below is a compilation of what’s being said regarding Zack Greinke – so that you don’t have to wander aimlessly around the internets and accidentally stumble across something dirty…

If you missed our initial Profile of Greinke, check it out.

Zack Greinke

  • Josh Cohen (Bleacher Report):

All indications point to Texas reloading its rotation through a trade. The team’s website reports the Rangers want to add a “difference-maker” to the rotation, with Greinke and Hamels leading their wish list. Texas has coveted prospects in Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, and it would not hesitate to move them for a pitcher like Greinke.

  • Timothy Rapp (Bleacher Report):

The Rangers are already (arguably) the best team in baseball. With Greinke, I think that argument would have to be put to rest. And perhaps finally—after two seasons coming up just short—the Rangers would finally get a World Series title for a team in its prime.

  • Tom Haudricourt (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Rangers’ primary target was Hamels, and now that he is off the market they will have even more interest in Greinke. Their top prospect is shortstop Jurickson Profar, whom the Brewers would love to have, but Texas considers him an untouchable. Third baseman Mike Olt is another coveted prospect, but the Brewers have a three-year commitment to Ramirez, who would have to be moved to make room. The Brewers would be very interested in obtaining left-hander Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect, and also have scouted right-hander Justin Grimm.

  • Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune)

Zack Greinke needs important innings to pitch, and the Texas Rangers need a splash. Given the track record that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have of getting their men, it will be a surprise if Greinke isn’t traded to the Rangers. The Brewers not only scouted a start by Rangers’ prospect Martin Perezon Tuesday against Boston but also had a scout watchingNeftali Feliz in a minor-league rehab appearance.

  • Austin Lyon (Orlando Sentinel)

Texas executed a similar trade in 2010 when it acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle and that move helped the Rangers reach the World Series. With a loaded farm system, Texas has more than enough pieces to make an attractive offer to Milwaukee, which appears poised to start rebuilding. With the Angels and suddenly surging Athletics right on the Rangers’ heels, it’s imperative they make a move for the stretch run and I believe they’ll add Greinke.

Greinke seems to be the hot topic right now and more teams are jumping into the mix (White Sox and Nationals to go with standard Braves, Red Sox, Angels & Rangers).  How serious are these other teams?  Who knows, but we do know that the Rangers have the young talent to best any of them if necessary – let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.  Keep in mind that Greinke is just a rental, but don’t forget that he could put this team over the top…

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Jul 212012
 
Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels

Scott attempts to trade Jasen to an Oakland Athletics blog and podcast, which leads to discussion about the trade deadline and what we think the Rangers should do.

  • What are the top 2 needs for the current Rangers squad?
  • Who are some of the trade targets?
  • Who would the Rangers have to give up in return?  Profar?  Olt?  Perez?

Podcast Episode 16   Rangers Trade Deadline Talk (Part 1)Unfortunately, the Philly pictured here has not been put on the trading block.

We’ll have part 2 of the Trade Deadline podcast up next Saturday, as the rumors continue to heat up through the week leading up to the deadline at 4pm on July 31st.

Be sure to check out our Trade Target Profiles on Justin Upton and Cole Hamels…we’ll have more of these coming through the deadline as well.

Stay tuned for details on a game watching party at Mixed Up Burgers!

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