Archive for the ‘Chris Davis’ Category

JD talks trash about the Rangers

June 24, 2009

I’d say it’s time for a fisking, but I’m not going into that much detail.  Just a few thoughts on an article on the Rangers site today.

The title is “Daniels says Texas could add to ‘pen”.  That should tell you a lot.  In fact, the opening quote is “it’s more likely that he’ll be able to improve his ballclub by adding bullpen help than in any other area”.  Now, you may be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lot of things we’re looking for, but one of them is not bullpen help.  Why, you ask?  If I could be bothered digging out the study I’m thinking of (my guess is it’s either in The Book or on The Book Blog, about the smartest baseball site around), it shows that the worst position to trade for during a season is the bullpen.  These guys don’t pitch much, and when they do they’re prone to great variation.  You’re just as likely to pick up good bullpen help by picking random player X from AAA as you are in a trade, and you don’t even have to give up something to get it.

If the Rangers have anywhere to improve, it’s the rotation.  Millwood is pitching lights-out, because he’s got a contract to play for, and Feldman has been more than holding his own (seriously, all those scouts who talk about a “game face”, they never looked at Feldman and said no thanks?  At least one of his parents must have been a frog).  But the rest?  I mean the other seven guys who’ve started a game for the Rangers next year, they’ve been below average (Padilla, McCarthy), sucky (Harrison, Holland), or roster filler (the rest).  Mathis is doing well in AAA but couldn’t make the leap, Feliz is staying down a while longer, and the rest aren’t anywhere near.  The thoughts of contention in 2010 rapidly fade when you think that maybe Holland and Feliz will be here, with less than a year’s experience, and the rest of the touted pitchers are still far away.

So yeah, if they want to contend in ’09, they need a starter.  But then JD says “the club’s need for starting pitching is not as dire as it’s being made out to be nationally”.  Uhh, right.  You go into a season with basically the same staff as last year, a year when they trailed the world in pitching, and imagine they’re going to be great this time around.  That May thing, where they pitched surprisingly well for a month before slumping again, that was what’s known as an outlier.  June is called regression to the mean.  By the way, did you notice they did the same last year – team ERA for May ’08 was 3.90, next best month was 5.08 – what’s that about?  The May ’09 ERA was 3.57, best since May (again!) of ’05.  Did you think they could repeat?

“Daniels said his most likely direction right now is to, “probably stay the course.””  Or, in other words, to pretend that they are contenders with the team they have, since crowds are up a little and no-one seems to be noticing the glaring holes.  And, oh yeah, there’s that little thing about money.  The thing where Tom Hicks bought a whole bunch of toys (Rangers, Stars, Liverpool, the AAC, the list goes on) using Other People’s Money, and now it’s time to pay the bills and he’s being found out for the fool he is.  Along with a bunch of other financial geniuses, of course.

“Daniels, like manager Ron Washington, continues to express confidence that first baseman Chris Davis will snap out of a season-long slump that has the Rangers considering other options at the position.”  CD sucks, so get him down to AAA.  You are of course aware that he just set a record for fastest to 100 strikeouts.  He is swinging at anything, and you see the fear in his eyes.  I happened to be browsing a story from April yesterday, which said they’d signed Joe Kochansky as depth at first.  Lost him pretty quickly, and never filled the gap.  Shame, because they really need it now.  Frankly, anyone would be better than CD right now.  I wonder if Ben Broussard is available?  CD needs to go down, but they will not admit they are wrong and send him there.

“Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson has been mentioned as a possibility and Cardinals infielder Troy Glaus could become available at some point.”  Johnson will cost a lot, because the Nats suck badly, and the only way they’ll get better is by robbing someone in a trade.  And yes, Glaus could become available, just as soon as he gets into a game this year.  The Rangers will do better to give the job to Andruw Jones for the meantime.

“But one of the reasons why we’re in the position we are today is how we’re playing defense and Chris is a big part of that.”  I always choose my first baseman based on how good his glove is.  The bat, that’s kind of incidental.  I mean, he’s just one number away from being a second baseman, and no-one cares how they hit, right?

“Nobody is more frustrated than he is.”  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Yeah we are.

“Starting pitching could be more expensive, both in prospects and salary that would have to be added. The Rangers are reluctant to trade top Minor League prospects”.  Me too.  Really, I don’t believe the Rangers are contenders, and I don’t believe there’s only one piece out there that would make them so.  There are a lot of empty shells that look pretty, but don’t help the team as much as you might think.  I love Marlon Byrd’s work ethic, but let’s face it, he is a below average hitter and his fielding is pretty bad too.  Shame that Hamilton had to run into a wall too many, but of course he’s more suited to a corner too.

“and this could be a tough time to add salary with the current economic conditions.”  Especially when your owner was one of those morons who said “hey, property values are always going to go up, let’s gamble since it’s free money!”

I think I actually like Jon Daniels now.  He’s doing a pretty good job lately.  Okay, ignore the fact that Danks, Young, Volquez, Millwood, Galarraga would look like a fairly decent rotation.  I mean apart from that.  Clearly, in an interview like this, he’s got to say a bunch of good stuff about the team.  First of all, chances are some or all of the team are going to hear about his comments, and it won’t go over too well if he tells the truth about them.  And second, there’s all those tickets to sell, during the summer when it’s getting time for the Cowboys to start practicing.  If they can just pretend the team is contending for another month or two, they might be able to break even this year.

But never mind, it’s his job, for now at least.  Personally, if you or I gave Ron Washington an extension based on his performance this year, our feet wouldn’t touch the ground on the way out the door.  JD says he has a plan, and I have to believe him, even if I think that plan is slipping to 2011 or 2012, and depending on what they do the next few weeks, maybe even 2013.  At the very least, he’s padding his resume for a future director of scouting job.

The other thought that crosses my mind is Pedro Martinez.  Not the ridiculous rumors that we should sign him, both sides would be foolish to do that.  I actually mean the trade that took him to Boston.  Carl Pavano and Tony Armas were considered top prospects, and the initial reaction was that they paid too much for Pedro.  Wouldn’t hear that now, would you?  No, now all you’re hear is TANSTAAPP – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.  JD ought to remember that, when he’s thinking about blockbuster deals (which should be a year or two away).

And if anyone dares to mention Orlando Hernandez, I’ll be waiting for them outside with a bat in my hand.

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It’s June, time for the collapse to begin

June 9, 2009

I write this in my head every day.  It’s the getting it out through my fingertips that is the problem.

I want the Rangers to win, I really do.  I want them to make the playoffs, to actually win a playoff series, to win it all.  I’d love it if it was this year.  But as a Rangers fan (and an Arsenal fan) I know that it is far too easy for a team to set you up and then knock you down.  Every day I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bandwagon to turn into a pumpkin.  That’s the way my mindset works.  The longer it takes for the Rangers to fall away, the worse it is going to be.  That tiny little feeling in the back of my mind that yes, they really are going to do it, is just going to end up a cruel joke.  And those folks who are getting on the bandwagon are going to be getting off in a hurry (Newy Scruggs, who has built his Dallas career on slamming the Rangers, had the gall on the radio today to be telling folks to shut up and enjoy the ride), and many of them will be having fun at my expense (all the people in my office who today are coming up to me and talking about “our” Rangers, in September they’ll be saying how much “your” team sucks for blowing it).  I can’t stand it, as Charlie Brown would appropriately say.

All of Tom Hicks’ teams are falling apart financially.  Even Liverpool lost fifty million pounds, seventy-five million dollars give or take, although they’re pretty much blaming the way he financed the team for that.  It’s funny, this is one of those cases where you’re enjoying a banker getting his, but then realizing what it could mean for the team.  Nolan Ryan as the owner?  Not many would say that was a bad thing.  But who else might want to get in on it?  David McDavid was rumored, not sure how a guy in the car business would get that kind of money these days.  And then there’s the man himself, Mr Cuban.  Out of the frying pan indeed.

You know what’s funny?  For years I’ve seen guys like Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard striking out near 200 times, and said who cares, it’s just an out, and they’re still hitting 40 home runs.  But when it’s one of ours, somehow it’s personal.  I think Chris Davis needs to go back to the minors, sad as that would be.  I just don’t want to see him flailing wildly again any more.  I’ve gotten to the point of closing my eyes or leaving the room when he bats.  It’s sad when they have to pinch-hit Andruw Jones for him to avoid a sombrero.

Wash was renewed today, of course, just a day after ESPN published a story saying how he wasn’t happy that he hadn’t been renewed yet.  Okay, technically he said he didn’t care, that he’d find something, but still, it was interesting timing.  I wish I had the dates from when he was extended last year, I’m pretty sure it came after a hot streak and was followed by the team’s collapse, but I may just be dreaming that (or foretelling it).

McCarthy is so brittle, they ought to check to make sure he has all his bones.  Although if they do, they’ll probably find another one he can break.  So much promise, so little on-field time.  You could argue that this comes so soon after his back-to-back 118 and 124 pitch starts, that surely they’re related.  I ought to make a chart showing the pitchers’ recent performances before their injuries.

Way back at the start of the season I said “I will bet you that one or more of these first four starters will be on the DL by the end of the month.”  Well, I was off a little, both in numbers and time.  The first five starters of the season were Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, Benson and Harrison.  Four of them have now spent time on the DL.  Wow.  How are the Rangers still managing to win?  Maybe they are star-crossed this season.

You’re not a true DIYer until you’ve fallen through a ceiling.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Padilla is infuriating.  I’ve said before that I watch his starts hiding behind the chair, just peeking now and then, waiting for the meltdown to happen.  Was that whole waiver thing really an attempt at a wake-up call?  Could they really afford to dump him now, when there’s no-one else left to go into the rotation?

Holland isn’t going to be a big league starter.  Not with three pitches, one of which he throws 80 percent of the time.  You can blow a 97 mph fastball past AA players, but in the majors they feast on it all day long.  Have you noticed how the more he pitches, the more he’s hit, and the worse he looks?  Okay, he’s still young, but there’s a lot more development needed.

I’m going to predict right now that the Rangers will make a blockbuster trade this month, for a starting pitcher.  The sooner the better.  I’m not saying Halladay or Greinke caliber, but Bedard might be available (although not necessarily within the division), or maybe Cliff Lee?

It says something when you’re unhappy about the Rangers splitting a road trip to NY and Boston.

As of when I write, the Rangers are leading the majors in Ultimate Zone Rating, or UZR, one of the better fielding ratings out there.  That’s going from dead last a year ago.  Really, the only significant change was moving Michael Young to third and bringing in Elvis at short.  Somehow, Michael is actually a worse third baseman than shortstop (you can make the excuse that he’s learning the position all you want.  I’ll just reply with the defensive spectrum, that short is a much harder position to field).  He’s even worse than the rag-tag mob that played there last year.  Between Elvis, who is head and shoulders above any other shortstop in baseball this year, and Kinsler, who has made a dramatic improvement, they’ve lifted the team a lot.  There are people who say the change this year is not the pitching, it’s the fielding, and they may be right.  Could all that losing of the last decade be placed on the horrible fielding from Michael Young?  If we’d had a decent shortstop in that time, could things have looked a lot different?  Something for the simulations, I guess.

2am.  This is why I don’t post that much.  Won’t even have any time for some Far Cry.  And only 17 hours until it all starts up again.

Taking steps towards progress

August 2, 2008

We went to the game tonight, and enjoyed so many aspects of it. Coming back from a big deficit was one, Boggs throwing a strike from left field, the dot race (although blue dot would have won if green dot hadn’t pushed him!), the little cooler bags, seeing Jamey Newberg on the big screen, and of course the winning. Even the failure of CJ Wilson, which I predicted as he came into the game, was ultimately irrelevant (at least in terms of today’s game: what it means in a month, or a year, I don’t yet know).

I started the week expecting to write something about how the Rangers had lost their senses, or their nerve, and pulled off some stupid crazy trade, dumping a bunch of prospects for some stud-muffin who would help drag them to 85 wins and just miss the wild card by five teams or so (exhibit A: Carlos Lee – and for some odd reason, when I typed Lee just then, my fingers ended up typing Less instead. Weirdly appropriate). I’m very pleased to have ended the week with everyone still intact (although I do harbor thoughts of getting some of these catcher prospects turned into pitching, before their carriage turns back into a pumpkin). I had even been thinking of a riff along the lines of “for the first time in my adult life, I’m proud of a Ranger front office”, but then gave that away as it would have been kind of silly.

Jamey Newberg had a long quote yesterday from Michael Young, which began with “I don’t really care about the trading deadline”. Reading that whole thing really burned me, because I distinctly remember a couple of years ago him (and a few other Rangers) being mad because the GM hadn’t done anything to help the team at the trade deadline. That has rankled with me ever since, and one of the chinks in the #10 armor that still makes me think he won’t be here at the end of his contract.

And yes, I have to admit, when I heard he had a broken finger I was pleased that we might get a good fielding shortstop up, to show us what we’re missing. And I was a little disappointed when I heard he would miss little time if any. Sorry.

I’m done with Hank Blalock. ESPN said tonight that the Red Sox traded Manny because several veterans told the GM they couldn’t count on Manny any more. I think it’s the same with Hank, he’s just going to pop in and out, between sessions on the DL, and disrupt the team a lot. First he insulted everyone at first base, because of his assumption that he was better than any of them if he moved over there “for the team”. Then he made Ramon Vazquez mad, moving back to third (although forced there), so much so that Ramon pretty much said “screw you guys, I’m going to play somewhere else next year”. Then, when he went back on the DL, he pretty much blamed the team for making him play third when they knew his arm was bad and he should be on first (sorry, Chris Davis, you shouldn’t have hit all those home runs). I liked Blalock as much as anyone for a long time (I still have a #12 shirt with his name on), but really, he can’t be counted on to be healthy any more. Pay off his option and get him out, and don’t even bring him back this year when he’s “healthy” again.

How the heck does Josh Hamilton get dehydrated? Or light-headed? Or whatever he had – and I’ll give you just one guess as to what my first thought was when finding out that was the reason he’d left the game. I mean, is he not used to the Texas heat yet? Does he not have a personal minder who should be able to tell him it’s time to drink some Gatorade? Hmmm. I’m not saying nothing.

Don’t know what Vazquez did to hurt himself, it looked pretty innocuous to me.

We got to see Shrek again, for a few moments. There were as many boos as cheers when he came up to pinch-hit (or maybe it was just me balancing out the cheers).

Twice they intentionally walked Marlon Byrd to get to David Murphy. I know it was lefty-lefty matchups that caused it, but really, we knew he was going to burn them at some point. I mean, come on, how dangerous is Marlon that you don’t want to face him?

I really appreciated Chuck Morgan explaining two errors to us in the first inning (pitcher interference followed by catcher interference). I wish he’d done it a little more though, in particular the ejection of the Jays pitcher, which all I saw was the umpire’s arm waving, I couldn’t tell who was ejected (for a while I thought it was Gaston).

Okay, so let’s get to the real reason you’re here today. The headline on the Rangers site, buried in the corner in the “Releases” section, says “Rangers name Andy Hawkins pitching coach”. You’d be forgiven for skipping over it, since hardly anything worthwhile ever goes down there, and it seems like they only update it every full moon or so. And there’s not even a story about it in the main section of reports (maybe TR Sullivan needed to get to bed early tonight).

The news that I have been hoping to read for a year or more has finally been delivered, the end of the Mark Connor era. Jon Daniels made some nice quotes about him, but basically what they were saying was that all the young pitchers weren’t listening to a broken down old man any more. I guess they hope that maybe the new guy knows something about pitching, huh? Or at least can relate a little better, where maybe they can talk to him like a dad, instead of a senile old grandpa.

I wish I knew what training regime Connor taught. I read a while back about what various pitching coaches do (the days they have their pitchers stretch, and throw, etc), but not about him. Whatever he was doing was obviously a failure, since so many pitchers broke down themselves that the Rangers were running their own airline between OKC/Frisco and Arlington. Record numbers of starters, record numbers of innings and runs and so on. Connor really had no clue, and just seemed to be a grumpy old man wandering around trying to look like he belonged.

Yeah, I’m glad he’s gone. So what? At least now he won’t have the chance to ruin all the young stud arms that will be coming up in the next couple of years (he already got to Hurley). I have railed and railed against him, and the team obstinately refused to listen to me (hah!) until even they had had enough. Good riddance, I say. Since this is almost certainly his last appearance as a pitching coach (surely no-one would ever hire him again, not after the debacle that Rangers pitching is), we can start the clock on the analysis of his effect on players. Easy to do historically, not so easy live – because you want to compare a coach to when he has players and after he is gone.

Ding dong, the witch is dead. Now let’s see if we can manage to reanimate a few pitching arms.

And finally: I’m pretty steamed that there are no Chris Davis shirts at the ballpark yet. Even if it would be just the same as all the other Ranger shirts I own. Come on, guys, make some variations! Do something different with some shirts. Maybe even color them red…

Life, Interrupted

July 1, 2008

Hi there! It’s been a while. Too long, in fact. I hope you missed me, or at least didn’t delete me from your feed reader. Actually, it’s been about six or seven weeks since I last wrote here. I’ve been meaning to, every day I’ve come up with a different idea or theme or something. I just haven’t gotten around to writing them down. And, once the days starting slipping into weeks, it just became easier and easier not to write. Makes Jamey Newberg look like a freaking firehose, doesn’t it?

Fact is, I got a new job in mid-May, and it’s been sucking up all my time and energy. When you go from a job you don’t really care about, to one that you’re passionately interested in, that’ll happen. Is it my dream job? No, probably not, since I don’t get to a) swing a bat, b) kick a ball, or c) dive into a swimming pool full of cash every day. But in terms of what I enjoy doing, which is messing around with software, it’s pretty high up there. It’s with a huge company that you may or may not have heard of, but who I’m not allowed to name since they have rules about blogging. And, although there’s no swimming pool of money involved, I can certainly take off my shoes and splash around in a puddle. Life, right now, is pretty darn good.

And you’d be forgiven for thinking that life is good for the Rangers. One of the things you haven’t missed lately is my dragging down the mood of the party in Arlington. There’s some perception going on that the Rangers are doing well. They are, if you consider that we’re now in July (by 16 minutes as I write) and they haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet. Let’s take a look at a chart:

AL West Race through June 29

You’re probably familiar with this kind of chart. It’s the number of games above or below .500 each team is. The Rangers have, of course, spent the last 40 games or so hanging right around .500. But compare their low point, 9 games below, to where Anaheim was at the time, 5 games up. That’s a 14 game difference. Now, today, the Rangers are one over, and Anaheim is 16 over – a 15 game difference. That’s right, for all that you think the Rangers have been playing well lately, they haven’t gained on the leaders at all. Sure, they haven’t gone into freefall like the Mariners (and like the Rangers usually do), but is there reason for hope?

Cool Standings says that the Rangers have about a 10% chance to make the playoffs right now. Is that reason for hope? The Hardball Times yesterday said that the Rangers are performing above their talent level. Is that reason for hope? In fact, they say they’re about a 73 win team, playing about 85 win baseball. I predicted a 70 to 75 win season at the start of the year, and I see nothing to change that. What’s sad is that they’re hitting the heights of mediocrity, and people are using that as a pointer to them being good, a poor substitute for the reality of being good.

My fear is that ownership is going to be deluded enough, or pressured by the media enough, to do something stupid in a few weeks. Bringing in another Carlos Lee comes to mind. At least let it be a pitcher this time, and yes, I’ve heard the name CC Sabathia bandied about. Boy oh boy, wouldn’t it be great to see him here? Just think of all the prospects we’d have to throw out to get him.

I would rather the GM do nothing than go get someone like CC, who will be out of here as soon as he can. We have a plan, stick to it, plan on competing in 2010 and just pretend that we’re in it right now, so you can keep Michael Young happy a little longer.

Okay, now to a few other things that have been rolling around in my head for a while:

The tv broadcast lost TAG for a few weeks, and I am very glad to see him back. No offense, but Victor Rojas at times didn’t sound like he knew what was going on with the Rangers this year. Josh Lewin would say something, and Victor would be like “huh?”, and Josh would have to explain. Of course, Josh normally has to explain his jokes, but these were some pretty obvious things (and I can’t think of an example right now).

I emailed the booth tonight to tell them that Josh’s story about Yankees getting pinstripes to make Babe Ruth look thinner is a myth (they first had pinstripes in 1912, he joined the team in 1920). Maybe they’ll mention it tomorrow. There’s been a few cases lately where they’ve irritated me on things enough that I’ve written them. There was another one yesterday, something about stats, that really annoyed me. Again I don’t remember what it was now, I just remember thinking that someone like Josh Lewin really ought to have at least basic knowledge of modern statistical analysis. I don’t necessarily mean the deep stuff that people like me enjoy, but even the simpler ones like OPS proving things. Another that annoyed me tonight was on the radio on the way home, they said someone in the NL was having a bad year because he is something like 2-8, with a 4.20 ERA. Surely by now people realize that a pitcher’s record has little to do with his performance, it’s what happens around him. After all, if there was a guy on the Rangers with a 4.20 ERA they’d think he was a superstar (Padilla has a 4.13, next best is Feldman’s 4.60 among regular starters).

I’m starting to lose patience with Salty. He can’t hit (82 OPS+) and he can’t field. Opponents are 28-5 stealing against him, he has 3 passed balls and 17 wild pitches. He doesn’t seem to be improving. That jackass Ron Washington said the other day he doesn’t care if his catchers hit, he wants them fielding and working with pitchers. First of all, I’ll take a guy who can hit over someone who can’t any day, the numbers prove that hitting is much more important. Second, Ron Washington would say that, because he’s a guy who couldn’t hit the side of a barn in his career, so of course he doesn’t care about numbers. And third, why not give Max Ramirez the same deal that Laird/Salty had, splitting time? Right now, as far as I’m concerned, when Laird comes back, Salty should go to the farm.

Aren’t we glad we didn’t trade Laird during the spring?

Remember how the Rangers lost patience with Jason Botts, because in all those cameos where he barely got to string two games together, he didn’t hit much? Salty is barely hitting better than Botts did, and he’s had about 50% more playing time than Botts so far in their careers. Of course, Botts didn’t have the Teixeira trade on his side, whereas they will keep putting Salty out there until they can justify the deal.

I love Chris Davis. My natural nickname for him is CD. I’d drink some for him, if I could get it here.  Washington said that Davis will go back to the minors when Blalock comes back, no matter what.  I hope Davis can hit about .500 with 20 home runs between now and then, just to make it more difficult for them.  Davis should be playing first every day, and Max Ramirez shouldn’t be there at all.

And Blalock, well, how insulting is it to the other players that he says he’s going to switch to first to help the team?  It was Catalanotto and Shelton at the time.  Thankfully Blalock can’t get healthy (I don’t mean to insinuate anything, but don’t they say getting injured like this all the time is a sign of steroid use?).  The Rangers began to play well when he got injured, and the longer he stays out, the harder it will be for him to mess things up, like sending CD back down.

Now see, it took me an hour to write all that.  That’s why I haven’t been able to do it much lately.  Not only will I be tired in the morning, but I didn’t get a chance to play any games tonight.  So, no promises when the next one will be, but I hope it won’t be another six weeks.

Rangers Review: Third Base

October 8, 2007

When Ron Washington was hired, one of the things he said he was looking forward to was working with Hank Blalock at third base.  He felt that Blalock needed help with his fielding, and Washington had helped Eric Chavez win a Gold Glove in Oakland.  Of course, Blalock’s bigger problem was his bat, as he had dropped in productivity every year he had been in the majors.  As it turned out, Blalock ended up only spending a little time at third, as he spent most of the season on the DL, with thoracic outlet syndrome.  When he returned in September, he only DH’d, and although day after day would come a new story about him being ready to field, he ended up putting off fielding until Spring Training.  While Blalock was out, the position was held down by various people, mostly Ramon Vazquez and Travis Metcalf, who was promoted from AA in the immediate aftermath of the Blalock injury.  While you couldn’t say they did a good job, being mostly just above replacement level (which Metcalf arguably was, since he came from AA), they held the position together and did just about what you would expect of them, which was not much.

Hank Blalock summary:  Hit very well this year, for the first time he did not drop his OPS, but unfortunately it was a very shortened season for him (just 58 games).  His 130 OPS+ tells you what he could be, he just needs to put it all together in a full season.  You would project a 25-30 HR season if he could stay healthy and play as expected all year.  At 26, he should be entering his prime, but he really needs to start proving it or he’s going to end up a forgotten man.  Given that he entered the majors at 21, he could have an excuse for struggling for a while, but now after six years in the majors he ought to have gotten over the hump.  If he can’t throw next year, he may end up going to first, which would fill the hole the Rangers have there, but create another one that they’ll have to plug, this time without any decent options.

Ramon Vazquez summary:  Now has seven years in the majors, but you wouldn’t have thought it if you’d seen him playing this year.  Possibly the definition of a replacement player, his only full seasons were 2002 and 2003, and even then the most games he got in was 128.  His highest OPS+ was 93, his career value is now 78.  The only reason he got the opportunity this year was the injury to Blalock.  Ended up playing every infield position, with 71 games at third being his most.  Had average range at third, well below at the other positions.  Will he be back next year?  I’m sure there will be some comments about being a good soldier for the team, filling in well, but frankly the Rangers can get a lot more from some AAA guy than Vazquez showed.

Travis Metcalf summary:  Thrown into the fire, being brought up from AA for a couple of days after Blalock went down, then sent back down, then doing a little yo-yoing back and forth.  Managed to get into 57 games in that time, proved better than Vazquez with the bat (90 OPS+), and slightly below average in the field.  At 24, he wasn’t ready for the big leagues, but acquitted himself decently.  Would probably have been considered a marginal prospect before 2007, but his stock has risen a little this year.  Will he be up in 2008?  All depends on Blalock’s health, and what the team decides to do there.

Others:  Jerry Hairston, Matt Kata and Adam Melhuse all got a little time at third.  Yes, Adam Melhuse, backup (or by this time third string) catcher, trying to play third because his buddy Ron Washington runs the team.  Yes, this is how desperate the Rangers were at times this year.

Minor Leagues:  The Rangers have some good talent at third in the minors, although it is concentrated in the middle minors, with little at the top or bottom.  Desi Relaford played most of the third in AAA.  See the review of second base to see what I think of him.  Adam Fox played third at both AA and AAA, and is probably the leading contender to be the AAA guy in 2008.  With all the shuffling at third, Chris Davis moved up from A to AA, hit 36 homers between the two stops, and proved to be the best prospect at third the Rangers have, if not the best prospect at any position.  Johnny Whittleman made the move from Low-A to High-A, and established himself as a good prospect too.  Jay Heafner spent quite a bit of time at third at Low-A, but was old for the league and didn’t hit much.  Down in Spokane there was nothing to be excited about, Ken Smith struggled there and was also older than anyone else, while Johan Yan didn’t hit anything in either Spokane or Arizona.  Emmanuel Solis had most of the time in Arizona and showed little, although was younger than most.

2008:  Will Blalock be able to throw, and if so will he be back at third?  Rumors abound that he might have to move to first or even DH.  Wherever he plays, his production should be better, as he is climbing into his prime years.  If Blalock has to move off third, then Metcalf has the inside run on the job, simply because he fielded a little better, hit a lot better (90 OPS+ vs 74), and is a lot younger than Vazquez.  Of course, the Rangers may go with the “veteran” Vazquez, or if Blalock can’t play there they may look outside the organization (hopefully for a short-term guy, because Chris Davis will be ready in a year or so).  Third is probably the most unsettled spot right now, and that’s saying a lot for a team that has unsettled spots all over the field.

2009 and beyond:  Chris Davis is the man of the future at third, but when will that future come?  He’ll start 2008 in AA, should be in AAA at some point during the season, but whether he’ll make Arlington in September or whether it will be 2009 I don’t know.  They probably don’t want to push him too fast, he’s only 21, but as anyone will tell you the stars get to the big leagues earlier rather than later.  Could he be pushing Blalock aside in another year?  Possibly, if Blalock’s arm worries continue.  Put it this way:  if Blalock has to move to first because of his arm in 2008, Davis will be pushing the other contenders out of the way by the end of the year.  If Blalock stays at third, Davis will be pushing him over to first during 2009.  Seriously, Davis is as close to a lock for a future major league job as anyone in the Rangers minors could be, except maybe for Eric Hurley.  Start dreaming of watching him in a Rangers uniform for the next decade or so.