Archive for the ‘Alex Rodriguez’ Category

What bittersweet schadenfreude

February 10, 2009

I guess it takes a lot to get me to write these days…

Poor little rich boy only did steroids while playing for the Rangers.  He of course quit when he went to the Yankees, because he got away from all the pressure that the contract brought here in Texas.  As everyone knows, there’s no pressure in New York, ever.

Way back when (June 07 to be precise), I wrote a post about a few things, and included this incredibly prophetic paragraph:

Has anyone ever questioned A-Rod and steroids?  I mean, here’s a guy who is poised to be the youngest to 500, having already done it to 400 and 300 and a whole bunch besides.  He’s played on the Rangers with a bunch of guys who’ve gotten tarred with the steroid brush, and on the Yankees with them too.  Come on, if the guy can cheat on his wife, why not take a few steroids too?  He’s not Mr Squeaky Clean, he’s a dirty rat both on the field and off it.

Now, I’m not saying I’m a genius, but I certainly feel a little vindication.  He’s throwing the Rangers under the bus (and good on Hicks for his righteous indignation, normally an owner would sweep it under the rug), trying to regain his reputation as much as he can.  All I can say is I hope he gets treated the exact same way as Bonds, Clemens, McGwire et al are.  Including his Hall of Fame chances.

I don’t quite follow the timeline, but according to the reports on the weekend, the Sports Illustrated reporter talked to Rodriguez in a Miami gym on Thursday.  The story broke on Saturday.  On Sunday, Scott Boras said he hadn’t spoken to his client because he was out of the country.  Then Rodriguez shows up on ESPN on Monday, having been in the Bahamas.  Doesn’t that sound like he knew the story was coming down, and he jumped and ran for a few days?  Then, having talked to his PR people, to get his story straight, they all agreed that they could dump on the Rangers and pretend he was clean before and after.  You always have to remember when listening to Alex Rodriguez talk:  every single word has been pressed and massaged by the PR people before they come out of his mouth.  He is incapable of saying anything straight to anyone.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Joe Torre, who last week was calling him A-Fraud.  Now of course he is A-Roid.

Quote from ESPN’s story:  “Rodriguez said he didn’t know for sure he had failed a test until Sports Illustrated contacted him last week.”  Right.  Because if someone told me I may have failed a drug test, I’d be like “okay, whatever”.  Wouldn’t give a damn about clearing my name, or limiting the damage.

Another:  Rodriguez added: “I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas.”  Can we get an apology for stabbing us in the back?  For insulting the entire team?

Now to the bitter part of it:  this is just another confirmation that the Rangers were one of the epicenters of steroid use in baseball.  Oakland being the primary, of course, but you wouldn’t put many other teams above Texas.  To this day I don’t know if I believe Raffy or not.  I want to believe him, but too much evidence has racked up against him.  We all know about Canseco.  Juan Gone was gone to a bunch of injuries very early in his career, a sign of steroid use.  And then there’s Pudge (and I write this with clenched teeth).  Pudgy Pudge down to Skinny Pudge (and the deterioration of his career, although he was a catcher so there’s extra wear there), that was a little too blindingly obvious to avoid.  I will deny it until the day I die, or the day he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, but there is a very long shadow over him.

One last thought:  there’s 103 other names out there.  The other guys who failed a test in 2003.  If you don’t name them, everyone gets guilt by suspicion.  If you do name them, it won’t lift anything else off the ones who didn’t fail.  Everyone will always assume they were roiding in the early 2000s.  But right now I say name all those names.  Bite the bullet, if you don’t name them there’s just going to be endless speculation.  Come clean now, and in a year it will be forgotten (until the next scandal).  If you don’t, it’s going to hang over baseball like Damocles’ sword.

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Poor little rich boy, part deux

November 5, 2007

A-Rod wanted $350 million from the Yankees, but they valued him at $250 million.  Of course, Hank Steinbrenner is trying to pull himself out of his dad’s giant shadow, but still, he’s a jerk too.  But A-Rod is a bigger jerk.

A-Rod didn’t actually diss Hank Aaron, and when they meet he “would like to donate a portion of his next contract to a charity of Aaron’s choosing.”  I guess Richie Rich thinks he’s got so much money he can buy anybody.

“”You know what Alex loves?” Boras said. “At the All-Star Game in San Francisco, he had a chance to talk about hitting with Barry Bonds for an hour.”  Hitting, or maybe the best way not to fail a test?

A-Rod is reportedly looking for 12 years, $360 million.  That’ll make him 44 years old, which would probably be about the end of his career, but he certainly won’t be worth $30 million a year by then, and he certainly won’t be playing for whichever team signs him.  I’m guessing he’ll be about three teams along by then.

A-Rod’s number one choice is Boston.  Given the fans’ response to him there, I would be surprised if their ownership went for him.  After all, they’re actually pretty intelligent owners in Boston now.  They know when they would be bringing in a clubhouse cancer.  Hey, remember when he tried to go there the first time, and they wouldn’t negotiate over a few million?  You think they will over $360 million?

A-Rod in Spring Training:  “I love being the highest-paid player in the game. It’s pretty cool. I like making that money,” he said. “You get crushed, but you know what? It’s pretty cool I enjoy it.”

Another big rumor is that the Angels are the front runners.  That’d be pretty funny, given how much they play both Seattle and Texas.  The fans would be on him all the time.

The joke on Saturday Night Live yesterday (paraphrased):  “A-Rod opted out of his Yankees contract.  Now we get to see which owner has too much money, and no desire to win during the next decade.”

I know this is a Rangers blog, and I shouldn’t really care so much, but I will always hate him, so the next few weeks or months are going to be a fun ride.

Drib-drab

June 22, 2007

A win is a win, I guess, despite knowing nothing about it until after it was over. Once again, Padilla staked to a big lead and blows it, this time rescued in the bottom of the ninth.  Reports are now appearing that he has been pitching in pain for a while, which is the cause of all his problems.  If that’s the case, they should be looking at what it will take to get him healthy for next year, and that should include the possibility of surgery or shutting him down for a while.  No point making it worse this year, with nothing to play for.

The Rangers have now won five out of seven, although still no more than two in a row. Of course, those five have come against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and the Cubs, not exactly Murderers Row. Can we ask if we can switch over to the NL?

This story will tell you that the Rangers are not the worst team in baseball, that they have simply badly underperformed, and should get better and pass a few other teams by the end of the year.  I don’t want them to now, I want that number one pick in the draft.  In particular it says that some of the pitchers must turn it around a little.  Regression to the mean agrees, they can’t be this bad forever, even just dumb luck would make them better.

Gagne said he’d like to stay in Texas awhile, but understands the business aspect.  If he likes it here, do you think he’d agree to be traded with an understanding we’d bring him back next year?  Would he live up to that?  Would we?  Would it even be legal?

Reports say that several teams are zeroing in on both Gagne and Aki, either separately or (in the case of the Tigers) together.  It’s time to extract maximum value for them, each one needs to bring a near major league ready starter.  I don’t care about this year, or even next year necessarily.  I want a guy who can be good in 2010, and I want him to be a potential number one starter.  It’s about time we had one of those around here, I don’t remember the last time we did, if ever.  Something else to look into.

Congrats to Rusty Greer, who will be the only inductee into the Rangers Hall of Fame this year.  He totally deserves it.  We had season tickets in section 5 for a couple of years behind Rusty, literally staring directly at his back.  He wore a small patch in the grass because of where he stood in the outfield.  He is to this day the only player I have ever written to, I sent him good wishes when he was injured along with a baseball card which he signed and returned, and I gave my wife for her birthday.  Thank you, Rusty, not just for that but for everything you ever did on the field.

Has anyone ever questioned A-Rod and steroids?  I mean, here’s a guy who is poised to be the youngest to 500, having already done it to 400 and 300 and a whole bunch besides.  He’s played on the Rangers with a bunch of guys who’ve gotten tarred with the steroid brush, and on the Yankees with them too.  Come on, if the guy can cheat on his wife, why not take a few steroids too?  He’s not Mr Squeaky Clean, he’s a dirty rat both on the field and off it.

Here’s a question that’s so obvious that no-one would ask it:  can you tell what type of pitch a pitcher is throwing based on how he throws it?  Marian asked that the other day, after reading my recent posts on release points and what the Rangers starters are throwing.  I responded with an of course not, if anyone did that other teams would notice how they were throwing and pretty soon they’d be knocked all over the place.  Well guess what?  I’m not as smart as I think.  A little bit of graphing presents a few new  charts, and you will be surprised at the results, some of them are about as counter-intuitive as they can get.  But it might help to explain a few things about this year’s rotation results.  Keep an eye out for it, I should post it sometime this weekend.

In the meantime, the Astros come to town for the last interleague games of the year.  We have a 2-1 lead in the fight for the Silver Boot, may as well pick up some silverware this year, right?

Dallas is burning

June 3, 2007

We drove to Houston yesterday for our niece’s high school graduation party. It was a fun time, good weather, good party, swimming in the pool, everything you could want. Except I only got to see the last couple of innings of Saturday night’s game, and missed all of Sunday. Of course, when I say missed, I really mean was almost glad that I wasn’t able to watch, based on the reports of the games and the Rangers Replay post-game show we listened to on the way home (I listened to it, Marian and Josh watched Go Diego Go – DVDs are a godsend for small children on long car trips).

So when I say Dallas is burning, I really mean that the fans were burning up the airwaves with their condemnation of the Rangers, at all levels from player to owner. I don’t think I heard a good word all night. Everyone was talking about how we need to replace the owner, the GM, the manager, the players who whine, I think I even heard something about the ballboy in there too. There was general condemnation of the players and how they are performing, and some comments about things said within the clubhouse. Mention was made that Tex and Wash have had a couple of clashes in philosophy, which to me is interesting because I side with the folks who say that Wash is the manager and his philosophy goes, and Tex needs to live with it. On the other hand, I also think that Tex is a big bopper who needs to swing the bat. And on the third hand, I say again that I now think he will be out of here by the trade deadline. More disturbing though, and I couldn’t quite follow how this came about, was the suggestion that Michael Young had said he hadn’t signed a new contract to go through rebuilding – very dark shades of A-Rod and his pathetic ways of getting out. I hope Mikey doesn’t leave too, because to me and many others he is the soul of the team.

Now, I’m in the get rid of Tom Hicks camp, but to all those people calling, I say who are you going to replace him with? Which billionaire in the Dallas area will buy the team and do a better job? Someone suggested Mark Cuban should buy the Rangers instead of the Cubs, but it was rightly pointed out that the successful owners are generally those who have one team to concentrate on, not splitting their time between varied interests like Hicks does, and you know that when push comes to shove that Cuban will favor the Mavs every time. The problem with Hicks is that he doesn’t love the Rangers, he loves the money that comes with the Rangers. You see money in the back of everything he does, talking about investing in the team, and the area, when he’s really trying to start development in Arlington that will get money coming his way. He did the same with the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, with his Victory Plaza stuff, and that time he was going to shut it down because the City of Dallas wasn’t going to play ball and give him $70 million in tax cuts. For those of you who don’t know, at the start of the year he bought the Liverpool soccer club in England, one of the most successful clubs in the world, and made all sorts of promises to them, too. I even saw one report from England that said how he’d built a fabulous new stadium for the Rangers, and is going to do the same for Liverpool. As Rangers fans know, Hicks had nothing to do with building the Ballpark, all he did was try and commercialize it. Liverpool fans, you can take this from a Rangers (and Arsenal) fan: Hicks will try and suck every penny out of your team and your city, and to hell with the quality of what is on the field.

Next down the line is Jon Daniels. The suggestion was that he is Hicks’ man all the way, just a puppet doing what the boss says. I don’t believe all of this, but in some ways it rings true. After all, Hicks hired him and he wouldn’t do that if he didn’t think he could control JD. As to his quality, he’s already made some bad decisions (the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and the Coco Cordero trade too), and not many good ones. Yes, Gagne will make a good chip at the trade deadline, if he stays healthy. Yes, Sosa will hit 600 here, which will make the Rangers famous for five minutes. But ultimately, with only a year and a half in charge, things haven’t looked good for Daniels. I almost feel he was chosen because he wouldn’t make much money, not compared to the bags of cash they handed John Hart to mess things up. Still, he has the job, and who legitimately do you want to be the GM? Anyone available that’s willing to come here and willing to work through the problems? No, I thought not. Besides, there’s a draft in a week, are you going to replace the GM right before that? Let alone that any new GM works with the previous guy’s players for three or four years in the majors, and five or six in the minors before they get to the big leagues, so he’s largely working with talent he inherited, not bought.

I’ve talked about Ron Washington before, too. Two months in, should he be fired? No, that’s also not long enough to be a fair go. Besides, waiting in the wings for the job is Art Howe. He did nothing as a manager in his career, 6 out of 14 years with a winning record, and four of those came with an A’s team that would have won with a blind donkey managing them, since they had the trinity of pitchers to carry the load. If you’re going to tear down the team, which it appears they will, there’s not much point changing managers, because the new guy is going to be tainted with the same losing brush as the current one. May as well let Wash run out a couple of years of losing, and bring in someone new to push them over the top when the team gets better. See Showalter, Buck for this strategy (speaking of, I guess the Rangers won’t keep alive the record of teams winning the World Series the year after he is fired. I knew they should have hired and fired him the same day, we could have won it all years ago).

Then there’s the players. Who comes in, who goes out? Do you play with youth and try again, just like about five years ago? We all saw how that turned out. Or do you do what Hicks tried when he got here, buy a bunch of veterans to get it done, and watch them all fall apart? No, the secret is planning and execution, just like in anything else. Unfortunately these take time, the infamous five year plan, and they’re tearing up their plan and starting again. However, as I showed the other day, history tells us that the Rangers are primed to succeed from 2010 onwards, so maybe getting that five year plan going now will help it come to fruition then.

Another thought for the fans saying that this team is terrible. Where have you been these last few years? From 2000-2006, the Rangers had the 21st best record in baseball, out of 30 teams. That means they’re a bottom third team, or at best a less than average. It’s not like recent history is showing good things, and all of a sudden they went bad. No, recent history is showing a streak of mediocrity, punctuated occasionally by some good performances (2004), but much more often a 70-90 type of team. This year they will sink a little lower, to a 60-100 level, but that’s not that much different, is it? Maybe in perception? As I’ve said before, maybe when you sink to the level of the Royals and Devil Rays, reality hits a little close to home. Yeah, we’d all like to win, but only one team a year does, and at least the Rangers start each year with hope before falling apart, not like the Royals who are a laughing stock to everybody else.

Finally, I guarantee the Rangers don’t lose tomorrow. Yes, I know, an old joke, but it’s about all we’ve got these days. But one good thing, the Tigers come to town this week, which means the return of Pudge. If I had to pick one all-time favorite player, it would be David Justice (I’ll tell you that story another day). But Pudge would be number two. It felt to me like the Rangers had won the World Series when he won it with Florida in 2002. We’ve already agreed that we will proudly be in Cooperstown to see him inducted one day. That day is further off than the Rangers ever thought. Do you think there will be more people rooting for the Rangers or for Pudge at the Ballpark this week?

Slow down, you move too fast

June 1, 2007

Everyone says Padilla is a slow pitcher. My totally unscientific calculation shows he’s faster than most of the Ranger starters:

Koronka: 2 starts, average 160 minutes
Loe: 8 starts, average 178 minutes
McCarthy: 10 starts, average 176 minutes
Millwood: 7 starts, average 178 minutes
Padilla: 12 starts, average 172 minutes
Tejeda: 10 starts, average 174 minutes
Wood: 4 starts, average 169 minutes
Wright: 1 start, average 186 minutes
Team: 54 starts, average 174 minutes

So Padilla is a couple of minutes below average, and the best of the guys with more than four starts.

This is, of course, nonsense. Taking the total game time and assigning it to starting pitchers ignores a thousand other factors. How long he pitches compared to his bullpen. How many hits the team gets or gives up. How many arguments the manager has with the umpires. How hot or cold it is. How many black holes are nearby, affecting local time shifts.

The point is, I was watching Padilla tonight taking an interminable amount of time between pitches, and sure enough giving up 7 runs in 3 innings. He threw 72 pitches in 3 innings, that’s 24 per inning when a pretty good average would be 15 per inning. He threw 46 of the 72 for strikes, a 64% strike rate, which is decent. He only walked one, he only struck out one. I guess his problem was hits, since he gave up 9. The commentators kept saying how they were all bloops, infield singles, blah blah blah. Fact is he’s now 2-8 and on a pace for 24 losses. I’m guessing the Rangers won’t let him lose 20. Will they?

I get the feeling that TAG is going to kill Josh Lewin if they have to keep up their inane chatter for the next four months. I mean, come on, Josh, we get it, you are the king of pop culture, we all know that. But even I’m getting to the point where I want to turn the tv down.

Do you think we might see the return of John Rheinecker? He’s pitched 11 scoreless innings in AAA since coming back from injury. May as well give him a shot, he can’t do worse than anyone else. If they move Padilla to the pen, he could join the rotation.

Tex is aware of the trade talk, and says all the right things. My guess would be he’s lighting candles and praying to get out of here. Jamey Newberg today suggested that the Dodgers and Braves are the two most likely trade partners. I already said, as long as we get pitching back. Although when I think of it, I’d rather he went to the NL, I wouldn’t want to see him coming in here regularly in another uniform.

In case you missed it, A-Rod is a chicken-s**t punk. But if you’re a Rangers fan, or Mariners fan, or half of the Yankees fans, you already knew that. BTW, remember in April, he hit .355/.415/.882 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs, and all was forgiven in NY? His May: .235/.359/.429, 5 HR, 10 RBI. How soon they forget. Now he’s heading into June, traditionally his worst month, along with October. I still think Mr April will be out of NY before his contract is up.

Not much else to say, really. Another disappointing loss. But the season is now a third over, which means there’s only about 8 months until pitchers and catchers report.