Archive for the ‘Mark Teixeira’ Category

Rangers Review: First Base

October 6, 2007

The year started with Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, but with the vaguest swirl of rumors about his future. As always, he started very slowly, the first couple of weeks were terrible. By mid-April though, he had begun hitting, and was swinging the bat well until he got injured in early June. For a month the Rangers went with Brad Wilkerson at first, and he actually proved to be pretty decent, although a few fielding plays showed his inexperience at first. Teixeira came back in early July, with the trade rumors swirling strongly. Not only does he have Scott Boras as his agent, meaning he is more likely to look at free agency, but rumors for years had him wanting to play in his hometown of Baltimore, or for the Yankees, or in Atlanta, where he went to college. Finally, after weeks of speculation, the trade went through, just before the deadline, when Tex was traded to Atlanta (along with Ron Mahay) for a huge pile of prospects. The general consensus was that Atlanta had won the trade short-term, but the Rangers would win long-term if some of those prospects came through. As it was, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the key piece, and he mostly slotted into Tex’s place at first, although generally regarded as a catcher. By the end of the year, Salty was playing much more behind the plate, and the Rangers were shuffling bodies in and out of first, with Wilkerson and Frank Catalanotto spending much time there.

Mark Teixeira summary: Money can’t buy you love. He had a rough final half-year in Texas, spending time on the DL, struggling at the start, but by the time he was traded he was booming, and continued to do so in Atlanta. Reportedly turned down a $120 million contract offer from Tom Hicks, which just shows how much he wanted to get out of Arlington. Had an argument with Ron Washington about how to hit, which is funny because as the saying goes, the only thing Ron Washington knows about hitting is that he can’t. Teixeira is a bat that can carry a team, and if the Rangers were to contend any time soon, he would have been a key part. As it is, the Rangers actually performed a little better while he was out injured, but that’s just a statistical anomaly caused by the pitchers pitching better, not by anything Tex did or didn’t do. He was well-loved in Texas, and will be sorely missed. But not as much as he would if the Rangers were closer to contention.

Brad Wilkerson summary: He’s a free agent, and I don’t know if he will be back or not. He hasn’t shown much since coming over in the Soriano trade, certainly not as much as expected. He’s spent a lot of time injured (this year he spent three weeks on the DL in May/June), and when he’s been fit he hasn’t hit. He fell out of favor for a while, but came back and played a lot of first when Tex was injured and then again after he was traded. There have been flashes of what Wilkerson can do with the bat, including a three home run game, but he didn’t run like he used to and didn’t field well either (at least, that was my perception, but his Range was above average at every position he played, which surprises me). Maybe it’s the injuries, but given that he is now 30 and is likely to have more injuries and decline more with the bat, I would consider him borderline to return. If you get him for the right amount of money (and by that I mean in line with what he has done, not what you hope he might do), bring him back. If not, there are plenty of players just like him available for less – just look at what happened with Marlon Byrd this year for an example. He can fill in at first and in the corner outfield spots, but there are a lot of fourth outfielders available for minimum salary.

Frank Catalanotto summary: Cat played 14 games at first, 12 of them in September as the team needed someone to fill in at first and he was given a short trial there, presumably looking at him as a possibility for next year. Cat is signed for two more years, while Wilkerson is a potential free agent, so the team may be thinking of letting Wilkerson go and keeping Cat at first. Curiously enough, in 10 of those last 12 games he was removed late in the game, replaced by Wilkerson for defensive purposes. Cat’s defense (in a very small sample size) was league average at first (in Range Factor), whereas Tex had been surprisingly just a little above average and Wilkerson was quite a bit above. As for hitting, both Catalanotto and Wilkerson had a 101 OPS+, and their other numbers were pretty similar – Wilkerson had 20 HRs to Cat’s 11, but Wilkerson also struck out 70 times more than Cat in almost the same number of at-bats. Cat doesn’t bring the power you want at first, and he’s also three years older than Wilkerson. If they go with Cat, they’re probably settling for the lesser of two very similar ballplayers.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia summary: Covered in-depth in the Catchers review, although he played slightly more at first than at catcher. Hit much better as a catcher than as a first baseman (almost 300 points of OPS better). Not likely to be back in the mix at first, especially if the Rangers go outside the organization to get a first baseman, as he will be spending much more time catching.

Others: Ramon Vazquez got in a few games at first, mostly while Tex was out injured. Matt Kata played there a couple of times too. Both will be covered in more depth at their primary positions.

Minor leagues summary: The cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to first base in the minors, too. Nate Gold is a good prospect, having hit 26 HRs at AAA, but he’s already 27 so can’t be a very good prospect, or he’d have been up in the bigs by now. Emerson Frostad was a little below average at AA. Jim Fasano got time in at AA and High-A, did decently but spent a lot of time DHing, which is worrying for someone who’s only 23. Freddie Thon played most at first at High-A and was below average offensively. Mauro Gomez got the bulk of the time at first at Low-A, and performed pretty well with 21 homers. His 115 strikeouts (vs 23 walks) is a red flag though. It seems like we’ve heard of Ian Gac for years, and yet he’s still only short-season rookie ball, and a little old to be there, but he did hit 17 HRs and perform okay otherwise. Michael Ortiz was good in rookie ball.

2008: This position is up for grabs, and the question is whether it is going to be a fill-in like converted outfielders Wilkerson or Catalanotto, someone trying to find a position like Jason Botts, someone from the minors (not much there, will Nate Gold get a shot?), or looking outside the organization. Adam Dunn has been rumored over and over, would the Rangers take all those strikeouts, and what would he cost in trade and contract? Given the state of first base at all levels, this is one of the positions most likely to receive a lot of attention, either via trade or a big free agent splash.

2009 and beyond: Depends on if they dip into free agency. There doesn’t look like much in the minor leagues right now to get excited about, and there’s certainly nothing at the big league level. There is no easy replacement for Teixeira, but since the Rangers will not seriously contend until 2009 at the earliest, they have time to look around, see what they have, and don’t rush into any foolish contracts for too much money. At worst they should be trying some of their minor leaguers, or someone like Wilkerson, rather than trying to spend the $100 million they didn’t give to Tex. It’s more likely they’ll give some over the hill free agent a ton of money for several years, and watch them slowly decline. Given that there are no decent free agent first basemen this year, anything they do will surely be wasted money.

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Short term trade values

August 17, 2007

I promised a pic of Rusty at his induction into the Rangers Hall of Fame.  As it so happens, once I downloaded them they were all pretty fuzzy (expensive camera <> good cameraman), and probably not worth looking at.  I’ll try and pick one tomorrow and upload it, but don’t expect much.

By coincidence, I was taking a look at the Braves today to see how Tex was doing, and happened to see that David Justice is being inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame tomorrow (Friday).   Justice happens to be my all-time favorite ballplayer, my interest in baseball began in his rookie year, when he was named Rookie Of The Year, and I followed his career ever since.  For a few years I thought I was a Braves fan, but when he was traded to Cleveland I discovered I was a Justice fan, because I lost interest in the Braves and began following the Indians.  By that time I moved to Texas and became a Rangers fan full-time, which is fortunate because otherwise I might have been forced to become a Yankees fan or Oakland fan when he went to those teams.  I did see him play in Arlington a few times, my memory is not exactly clear but I’m pretty sure we saw him in all three of those uniforms.  I have a few hundred Justice baseball cards, and continue to add to my collection of Justice stuff, even though he’s been retired for years.  Never a Baseball Hall of Famer, but certainly deserves the Braves Hall, just like Rusty deserves the Rangers Hall.  So naturally I’m pretty darn pleased to have seen Rusty inducted last week, and to know about Justice this week.

I was looking to see how Tex was doing out of curiosity, because I keep hearing his name pop up.  In 14 games in Atlanta, he has 5 home runs and 15 RBI, and is generally doing pretty well.  Mahay has allowed just one run in 8 innings, so the Braves have to be pleased with their immediate return on the trade, even though they’ve only gone 8-6 and are still hanging about 3 games back of the Mets.  I’d like to see Tex do well, I think.  Not as much as I wanted Pudge to win the World Series with the Marlins, but still pretty much.  Like I said, too soon to judge the trade, but there are already rumblings about Salty’s lack of hitting so far.  You have to remember he’s still only 22, and has a lot of upside, and we’re only two weeks into this thing.  Give it a couple of years and see how it turns out.  I still think the Rangers will end up with the better end of the deal in the long run.

Speaking of the trades, Gagne has been stinking up the joint in Boston, and while they’re also 8-6 since he’s been there, the Yankees are closing, gaining 1.5 games in those two weeks to sit 5.5 back today.  Gagne’s ERA is 12.60 in 5 innings, and it just reminds me of earlier in the year, when he had to come into a game in the 8th, and didn’t know what to do, and his comments about wanting to be a closer.  There are a lot of cases where guys have been moved into the closer’s role and fallen apart, but I bet there aren’t too many where they’ve moved out of that role and not kept up.  You have to have a certain mentality to close, I guess Gagne’s mentality is too much that way so he can’t handle not closing.  It will be interesting to see how he fares the rest of the way.  Also interesting is all that talk about bringing him back next year, would we want to do that now that CJ has the job, or do we keep faith in CJ and forget about Gagne?

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is look back at the long run of a trade, specifically Carlos Pena.  In the olden days, A-Rod used him as one of the reasons for coming to Arlington (the 253rd millionth reason, I guess), saying that the Rangers had big young prospects like Pena.  Not long after, the Rangers dealt him to Oakland with Mike Venafro, for Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwick, Jason Hart and Mario Ramos.  At the time Pena was a top prospect, and it felt like a loss in the immediate aftermath.  Ramos was rumored to be good, but the others were just run of the mill prospects.

In the end, they all played in the majors, although Hart and Ramos just got a cup of coffee each and were effectively worthless.  Ludwick would get little time in Arlington and then go on to Cleveland and now St Louis, where he’s proving to be right around an average ballplayer, and since he’s only 28 could turn out to have a fairly long, fairly average career.  Venafro bounced around, but has only had 68 major league innings in 6 years, so he was effectively worth little after the trade.  Ultimately Pena would go here, there and everywhere, having gone from Texas to Oakland to Detroit for a few years to a minor league stint with the Yankees to a short time in Boston and now with the Devil Rays.  He’s also only 29, and has definitely been above average wherever he’s been (career OPS+ of 114), but he hasn’t really had the opportunity to keep a job anywhere.  His career Runs Created is 325, of which just 16 were with Oakland.

The Rangers of course got Laird as the big chip, and he’s the only player still with the team he was traded to back in 2002.  He’s also been a backup for years, in fact this year is now the most he’s played in a single season.  His career RC is 94.  Rumors are all around that Salty is going to take the catching job, and Laird will be traded (the Cubs keep coming up in those rumors).

Back in the day that trade was huge, comparable to the Tex trade this year for size although it was all prospects.  The difference being they were all high level prospects (none of the players coming from Oakland had played in the majors, Pena had just a few games with Texas, and although Venafro had three years in the Rangers bullpen he hadn’t set the world on fire, he was probably the equivalent of Mahay in the Tex trade), whereas with Tex there were some major leaguers and some low level prospects traded.  As I said Pena was considered a huge prospect, and although he’s been decent he certainly hasn’t set the world on fire.  Laird has also been decent but less so.  Whenever teams talk about trades they talk about win-win situations, and challenge trades.  This was a challenge trade, basically saying we’ll take your prospects and you take ours, and see who works out.  For Oakland they basically got nothing out of it, a year of little Venafro and half a year of Pena (although they did turn him into a big trade which mostly just lost them Bonderman).  For the Rangers three of the players were gone in a year, but one is still hanging around trying to prove himself.  You’d call it a loss-loss trade, I think, but that does a disservice to Gerald, so maybe you’d say it went about 60-40 in the Rangers favor.

Even after all this time, judging the outcome of the trade is difficult.  To look back just two weeks and say that you’re waiting for the Tex trade to help the team is disingenuous at best, from the Rangers standpoint.  I read a review of the Tex trade right after it happened, it said that the Braves will win the trade if they make the playoffs this year, but the Rangers will win if one or more of the prospects make the majors.  Let’s revisit in about five years, which may be the timeline for some of those prospects to get here.

You spin me right round baby

August 4, 2007

I’ve been pondering a question all day today. It’s something I’ve thought and written about a few times recently, it’s something all Rangers fans think about now and again, it’s something that fans of any other team immediately think about when you mention the Rangers. It is, of course, where’s the pitching? More specifically, for today, my question is: who’s going to be in the rotation next year?

For the last few weeks, every time I wrote about trading Tex, or the trade deadline in general, my main theme was always pitching, pitching, pitching. In trading the three players that they did, they got nine in return, of whom only two are major league ready, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kason Gabbard, one (Matt Harrison) is about AA level, and the rest are prospects, years away if they ever make it. In fact, of the nine, they ended up with four pitchers, which totally blows away my theory of getting more pitching. Not only that, but much of the criticism has been based on how many they got and how low they were. In other words, why trade Tex for five players, mostly low prospects, when a team might have been willing to go with two high prospects. I had set my sights on guys who were ready for the big leagues, AAA types, and they didn’t materialize. Oh, we got Gabbard, who I’m actually very pleased about, but what might we have had if we’d said forget the other two players in this deal, give us one single higher level player, a Jon Lester type guy (though not necessarily actually him). Again, to be fair, the deal with Boston got us much more than I ever hoped, I was expecting one AA level player for Gagne, to get a major league pitcher plus two others for him was excellent. But turn back to the Tex trade, and ask why we would make Salty the centerpiece, when we could have had one of their top pitching prospects? No offense to him, I expect him to become a top player for us, but why are we insisting on getting a first baseman back (yes, okay, he plays catcher sometimes too), when first baseman grow on trees and pitchers are what is coveted?

So, to get back to the point of this blog entry, how does our rotations shape up for 2008? Yes, asking that in the middle of the 2007 season is asking to be second guessed all the way, but since the team has to be thinking 2008 at this point, we may as well address it too.

Here’s who I think the candidates are currently: Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kameron Loe, Brandon McCarthy, Mike Wood, John Rheinecker, Robinson Tejeda, Jamey Wright, Willie Eyre, Kason Gabbard, Eric Hurley, Josh Rupe, Armando Galarraga, Edinson Volquez. Now, some of these guys are locks, some of them are from my hopes or dreams, some of them may require a lot of other people to fall down in front of them, but all of them have to be considered legitimate candidates.

Locks: Millwood, Padilla, Loe, McCarthy. Does that seriously seem reasonable, that you’d have four locks for five slots already? No, of course not. In fact, quite honestly I’d say there’s only one lock right now, and that’s McCarthy. Apart from pitching very well since the beginning of May (once he got his nerves from the trade out of the way), he’s also one of Jon Daniels’ major trade acquisitions, received for the blue chip prospect John Danks (checked him out lately? I know it’s his first season in the bigs, but I’d take McCarthy over him, especially given his home run rate), which means Daniels has a lot riding on his success. His injury worries this year have been relatively minor (blisters on his fingers), and something that a competent pitching coach should be able to improve. Of the others, Padilla has been on the DL for weeks, although he may be back soonish, and has a big contract that a) is too big to be moved, and b) means he won’t be sent to the bullpen. As long as he’s healthy, he’s in the rotation. Kam Loe went on the DL today, with a stressed back, which is hard to tell from what they said how bad it will be. Given his performances though, he’ll be in. Millwood has had injury and ineffectiveness problems all year, but he also has a huge contract. He’s been making some noise about wanting to contend, not rebuild. If he makes enough noise, and we eat enough of the contract, he could be gone, but right now you’ve got to think he’s in. So that’s four.

Bubbles: Kason Gabbard. Mike Wood. John Rheinecker. Gabbard has to be the front runner, simply because of his success this year, but also because of the desire to show something from the Gagne trade. Wood and Rheinecker have pretty much proven themselves in AAA, but haven’t made a breakthrough in the majors yet. They both have mid-3 ERAs in Oklahoma, and mid-5s in the majors. Wood has a few years on him now, but hasn’t grasped the brass ring, and Rheinecker has had a little taste here and there but not taken it either. Remember Rheinecker’s comments before the trade deadline, about how if the Rangers didn’t want him, there were plenty of teams ready to trade? Laughable, really. They’re both getting a little old (27 and 28) to be pushing their prospect status, they’ll likely make it as journeymen if anything.

Rising: Eric Hurley. Hurley is the stud of the minors, and it’s highly possible he’ll get a few starts in September. Good work in those, plus a good spring, will put him on the bubble too.

Slipping: Robinson Tejeda. Jamey Wright. Willie Eyre. Tejeda you know about, back in AAA after a miserable half season in Arlington, I’m guessing it’s at least a year before he’s back, and even then he might have converted to a reliever. Wright lost his rotation spot to Gabbard, showing where he is in the team’s plans, which is interesting because he wasn’t horrible in the Arlington rotation (4.57 ERA, although far too many walks and too few strikeouts), but he’s just as likely to be a free agent as to be in the team’s plans. Willie Eyre isn’t slipping really, he’s simply been too valuable in the bullpen as the long man, and his lone start notwithstanding, if he comes back that’s probably his destination.

Not yet: Armando Galarraga. Edinson Volquez. Josh Rupe. Galarraga might prove to be the most successful result from the Soriano trade. His numbers across the board in Frisco were good, enough to get him a promotion to AAA, but he’s 25 and running out of prospect time. Won’t make it in 2008, but should be a candidate for 2009. Volquez, well, he was rushed too far too fast, and fell back to earth with a crash. Don’t forget he’s only 24, and should never have been in Arlington the last two years. Got himself back on track somewhat this year, but he’s also a year or more away from getting back to the show. Rupe was coming up and up, getting some time in the last two years, but injury has curtailed him a lot. He’s been decent as a starter in AAA this year, which puts him in this list, but my guess is he goes back to OKC to get more time in there.

So, throwing out the wildcards, the guys not likely to be here next year (either in the minors for sure or in another organization), what do we have left? Millwood, Padilla, Loe, McCarthy, Gabbard as the front five. Wood, Rheinecker and Hurley as the next three. The others are all unlikelies.

In the greatest teams, you look at their rotations and you don’t see a number one, two, three, four and five pitcher, you see a couple of ones, a couple of twos and a three. In most any playoff team, you’ll get a one, one or two twos, one or two threes, and a four (did you get all that?). Whatever you have, you need a one, and every five you have reduces your chances (and if you have sixes and sevens in there, you’re dead).  There aren’t that many ones (Clemens, Maddux, Santana, maybe a couple of others hanging around would qualify in the last few years), and there are far too many fives for anyone.

Millwood, at his absolute best, might have been considered a number one pitcher for maybe two seasons, and a number two for a couple more. Most of the time he’s been a three, which is probably where he’s at right now. What’s interesting, I just read somewhere in the last day or two but I don’t remember where, looking at his career, is how every three years he’s had a huge leap for a season, and 2008 will be a third year. How likely is that to continue next year, given that he’ll be 33?

Padilla had a decent year last year, and parleyed that into a three year deal with the Rangers, which we regretted pretty much from signing. A career 101 ERA+, meaning just barely better than league average, last year was in fact the first time since 2003 that he’d gotten over 100, and even then he only made it to 104. This year, 69. If he can’t get over his injury woes, or his mood swings, he’ll be a millstone on the team, but in fact if he does get over them, he’ll merely be a dragging anchor. I would never have considered him anything more than a number four starter, and probably even a five.

Loe just went on the DL today, hopefully for a short period but of long term concern, since he said it was his back and to be expected because he’s so tall. Well, unless he’s planning on losing a few inches, that might continue to rear it’s ugly head. Now at age 25, he put together half a dozen good starts which appeared to be a breakthrough, but then he regressed again.  Which Loe will show up next year?  The 7.40 ERA from the start of the season through early June, or the 3.30 ERA for the rest of June and most of July?  At this stage, he’s reliably a four, with the possibility of a three.

McCarthy continues to impress every time he pitches.  As noted before, a 3.69 ERA since the beginning of May.  Hopefully he’s gotten over new team jitters and will continue to pitch like this, and if that’s the case he can only get better as he ages into his prime.  Biggest concern is the 39 to 47 walk to strikeout ratio, and how he can get that to get better.  It is quite a bit lower than prior years, so can he return to the old ways?  I would say he’s probably a three, with bad luck he’s a four but with good luck he’ll be a two in a couple of years.

Gabbard is an unknown quantity to Ranger fans.  His career numbers look surprisingly similar to McCarthy’s 2007 numbers though, and that’s probably a good thing.  To have a 3.73 ERA for Boston in the pennant race is good, too.  Everything I’ve read about him suggests he’s doing better than anyone expected, and they don’t seem to think it will last.  I’m honestly not sure where to put him, I feel like he’ll be somewhere between a three and a five, like McCarthy it all depends on luck.  Let’s call him a four just to make it even.

Wood and Rheinecker are fives, at best.  The fact that they were kept in the minors while Tejeda did what he did speaks volumes about the team’s belief in them.  They’re only getting starts when there are gaps, such as tomorrow when Wood will go for Loe, and Rheinecker being in the rotation after both Padilla and Tejeda went out.  As mentioned, their age really hurts them when considering them as prospects.

I’m not even going to rank Hurley, because he doesn’t have one big league pitch to his name.  You want to think he’s a number one, and who knows, maybe one day he might be.  For starting next year though, you’d call him a five and hope for a four.  His 39 to 111 walks to strikeouts rate is phenomenal though, so he could be good.  Just remember he’s still only 21.

So the front five will be, barring trades or free agents, the same as it was starting this year, with the exception of Gabbard for Tejeda.  And herein lies the problem of the Rangers.  The guys that might help are years away, the guys that are here are largely mediocre, and we’re relying on the bats to cover over the cracks.  When the bats go silent, as they did at the start of the year, the huge hole is exposed.  When the pitchers pitch well, as they did in July, again the bats let them down.  Yes, it’s hard getting everything working in tune, but it’s even harder when you’re going with a couple of threes and three fours in your rotation, and trying to pretend they’re anything other than what they are.  Unless the Rangers blow someone away with a free agent offer (which hasn’t happened in the last 30 years) or a trade (and the biggest chip just left town), they’re waiting for some of these prospects to grow up and become number one and number two pitchers, all before they reach free agency themselves and take the prime of their careers to greener (and deeper) pastures.

Finally, can anyone actually define a number one pitcher, or number two pitcher, or so on?  Have the Rangers ever had a one?  Maybe I need to come up with my own rankings, and see what I can come up with.  It seems like the annual free agent rankings from Elias ought to be useful in calculating starter status, but I don’t think they’re available for any but the most recent years, and the algorithms that make them are certainly not free.  If I can find some of those rankings, and throw in a dash of my own calculation, I might be able to get something workable going.  Give me some time to think about it.  I guarantee I’ll answer the question before the Rangers have a true number one pitcher.

The trade winds blew some good

August 1, 2007

ESPN’s poll on the trade deadline says the Braves and Red Sox both handily beat the Rangers in their trades. It also says only 11% think the Rangers “won” the trade deadline. Jayson Stark’s article pretty much says the same when reviewing each trade, but then says Jon Daniels gets an A for everything he did.  Huh?  Part of the problem is that if you ask the question “Who got the better of the deal, Braves or Rangers?”, more folks are going to put Braves, simply because they’re a more famous/better known team.  Same with the Red Sox.  If you had a third option, for “Both”, or “Neither”, I think you’d get a lot more votes for that.  It’s simply the case that there must be a winner and a loser, instead of both teams being able to come out looking good.

So did the Rangers come out looking good today?  On Friday I felt they did really well, getting a decent prospect for 40 year old rent-a-player Kenny Lofton.  Yesterday I thought they did pretty good, getting four players for Tex, three of whom were the Braves’ top three prospects.  Today that was amended slightly, because the Braves added another player to the list, Beau Jones, which makes it a little better for Texas.  The only thing I know about Jones is what Baseball Prospectus said, that he’s got a lot of heat to his fastball, all he needs to do is learn how to throw it over the plate.  So you’ve got to be fairly happy about the Tex deal from a Texas standpoint.

And then there’s Gagne.  One of the first things I read about this deal was how the Rangers didn’t get anything good for him, and how the Red Sox were happy because they’d kept all their top prospects.  Good point.  Could they have gone for a little more quality and a little less quantity?  Overall, are nine prospects worth four major leaguers?  In the Gagne case, they appear to be hedging their bets, working along the lines of “put more fish in the barrel and you’re more likely to hit one”.  If you’re not going to get a Buchholz, or Ellsbury, or something decent out of the Yankees, then is it smarter to play multiple choice instead?  Time will tell.  I like Kason Gabbard, for some reason I thought he’d thrown seven shutout innings against the Rangers in May, that was wishful thinking, because it was actually three runs in 5.2 innings, although he did get the win.  In 66 career innings, he has given up 52 hits (good), 34 walks (not good), 44 strikeouts (decent), 3 home runs (good, especially at TBIA), and has a 3.65 ERA.  Granted, that will go up at the Ballpark, especially once Mark Connor starts to ruin him, but he’s going to slot into the rotation, give us a number three or four starter for next year, and is another 25 year old yet to reach his potential.  The other two players we got from Boston I don’t know, but for 30 innings of Gagne I think we got ourselves a pretty good player.

What surprised me was that Hicks came out today and said that on July 15 he had offered Tex an 8 year, 140 million dollar contract extension and was turned down.  That is proof that Tex wanted out of town.  The surprising part is that the offer was not leaked before the trade deadline.  I think if it had been, it might have affected his trade status, because teams would have offered less knowing the Rangers had to deal him.  But it also would have taken some of the heat off the Rangers, because the fans would have seen that and said “get rid of the bum”.  I love Tex, but his mind was clearly elsewhere.  I hope he doesn’t end up regretting it in a Juan Gonzalez kind of way, Gonzo turned down similar years and dollars from Detroit and then injured his career away.

Hicks also said they had been negotiating with Gagne, but couldn’t get together on years and dollars.  With luck, we can work on him in the offseason, and bring him back next year, when we might be slightly more competitive.  The fear is of moving up the timetable on winning, which is still at least three years away, and blowing money and players we shouldn’t be to try and win now.

Sosa is still a Ranger.  I wonder if they will waive him right away, get him through waivers so they can trade him to anyone, or at least have someone claim him and get him off our hands.  Hicks says they won’t release him, “I won’t do that to Sammy”, which tells you why he’s an owner, not a GM, and why he’s a bad owner too.  Sometimes you have to cut the famous players, even the ones with poor reputations.

Interesting quotes from both Millwood and Michael Young, once again not wanting to be part of rebuilding.  Could their trade time be coming soon?  Don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but you’ve got to think that if you don’t do something good in another year, their complaints are going to increase as time goes by.

How do you explain a trade to a two year old?  All season we’ve gotten Josh into the Rangers, so much so that he will tell you that Michael Young is his favorite player, Frank Catalanotto (or rather, Catalano in two year old language) is Mummy’s favorite, and Mark Teixeira (pronounced very well) is Daddy’s favorite.  We tried to talk to him about it today, but I don’t think he got that Tex is gone.  All he knows is that there are two teams in baseball, the Rangers and the Other Team, and telling him that Tex now plays for the other team didn’t work too well.  Neither did telling him that Daddy needs a new favorite player, I think he was more upset by that than the idea that Tex is gone.

Speaking of, who is Daddy’s new favorite?  We were talking about it, and I think I ended up saying McCarthy, although I don’t know if a pitcher should be favorite, since he doesn’t play every day.  Laird, although he may be on the outs now that we have Salty.  Salty could be it (I love the fact that he has “Salty” printed on his batting gloves), but you shouldn’t go for a guy you just met a day ago, even if you know he’ll be around for years (hmm, that’s advice for a lot of people, not just for a favorite ballplayer).  Salty might be it in the future, but not right now.  Maybe Nelson Cruz, who will be my favorite if he can keep up what he’s been doing the last few days.  Maybe Marlon Byrd, if he’s here for more than a couple of months.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  Maybe I just need to wait and see who pops out and surprises me.  I do think I want a Saltalamacchia t-shirt though, just to see what those tiny letters look like, and to see people try and pronounce it.  Kudos to the Rangers equipment manager for getting him a shirt to wear today when he showed up at the game.  In fact, kudos to Salty for getting there, I know players have three days to report after a trade, so he looks eager to get on with things, not necessarily an expected situation for a guy traded from a pennant race to a last place team.  I really wanted him to pinch hit tonight, when we had the bases loaded and Wilkerson coming up, but in hindsight that would have been a lot of pressure for him to face.  Interestingly, Tex arrived in Atlanta mid-game too, but wasn’t needed there as the Braves pounded out a bunch of runs.

The Rangers actually played a game today, too, and ended up with a nice win.  With all the attention firmly on trades, McCarthy went out and had a good start, his third game score of 60 this year, just behind his best of 61.  He pitched 6.2 innings, the first time he’d gone over six all year.  He walked three, which was a little too much, but he kept them down even with that, only giving up a solo home run.  Nice work.  And good by the bullpen too, especially CJ Wilson pitching four outs for his first save of the year.  You know, Gagne only had one save of more than one inning all year.

So what’s next?  For the Rangers there’s now nothing left in the season except to try and play well the rest of the way.  There are no drafts or trade deadlines or anything like that out there.  No chance of October baseball.  Just time to get some players bedded in to the team, see who is worth keeping for next year and who is going to be gone.  See what minor leaguers will be ready to step up.  See if Gabbard can make the rotation better.  See if Rheinecker can do the same.  Work out what happens at catcher/ first base.  Get Botts some playing time.  Hopefully watch some more winning baseball, but not too much that we earn yet another season of mediocrity (and not too much that we end up getting to the 16th draft pick, meaning that we lose a first rounder if we sign a decent free agent).  The Rangers had their first winning July since 2001, which is a sign of improvement, but we’re not working on now, we’re working on next April, getting out of the gate much better than this year and maybe contending with what we have, while sticking with JD’s one year plan in the bigs and five year plan in the minors.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Two plans to execute, always a good idea.

Goodbye, nice to know you

July 31, 2007

So the Tex era ends with a bang, or a whimper, depending on who you talk to.  At the very least it ended with a single, in a humiliating loss to KC, part of a humiliating sweep in KC, and you’ve got to know that Tex is jumping for joy at the chance of getting out of this mess.  After yesterday’s game, did you notice what he did?  He walked in from second base, where he had been stranded, took off his helmet and gloves, then looked around in the crowd, then took off his cap and threw it to someone in the crowd.  The cameras didn’t show who he threw it to.  Was it someone he knew, or just a Rangers fan?  Was he pretty much saying “yeah, it’s over”?  When Pudge left, everybody loved him, and I was so happy when he won the World Series the next year with Florida, I felt almost like the Rangers had won it.  Tex doesn’t have anywhere near that love, but I will be happy if he makes it too.

Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that Tex was not the solution here.  Part of the solution, yes, but unfortunately a part that didn’t have all the other parts ready to be solved.  It’s like baking a cake, being partway through when you put in the Tex baking powder, then realizing that oops, you don’t have any cocoa (or Coco?), so your chocolate cake is going to end up a bland vanilla, ending up in third or fourth place every year.  Okay, so we got Tex via the draft, not free agency, but the concept is the same, the waste of a top talent while he was here.  It’s kind of like when A-Rod came along, he was going to be the straw that stirs the drink, but they forgot that you have to make the drink before you can stir it.  In yet another metaphor, they were busy looking for the final piece of the jigsaw when they still had half of it to build.

Okay, so what are the pieces we just obtained worth?  First, Saltalamacchia, or Salty as he is obviously known, replaces Teixeira in the Rangers scrabble game.  I hope they charge by the letter when printing his shirts.  On Opening Day this year, some kid was asked to spell Catalanotto, and couldn’t, then on Opening Night another kid was asked to spell Teixeira, and couldn’t.  Here’s a tip for the kids:  if someone asks you to play the game on Opening Day next year, just take the consolation prize and walk away.

It bothers me a little that Salty was in AA last year, then jumped to the majors this year as a first baseman, when they needed help.  My first thought when they said his name was that he would slot in at first, but every comment I read said catcher, which makes me think he’ll be there.  So my second thought was “what about Laird”?  He’s proving himself defensively, and his hitting is improving.  A couple of years ago I thought he was going to be the new Pudge, settling in for a decade at catcher.  Then along came an injury, and some absolutely worthless years being blocked behind Barajas, of all people, and Laird’s star slipped a little.  Is he going to regress back to backup catcher again?  I hope not, I hope there’s a way to get them both in the lineup.  Everyone says that Salty has great defense, but needs to work on offense a little.  He’s 22, and in the big leagues, so maybe he’s the next Pudge instead.  One liner from the Baseball Prospectus annual says it all: “back to being one of the best catching prospects in the game”.  I love Gerald Laird, but given the five year difference in age, Salty is the better prospect.

Elvis Andrus.  My wife will love him, just for his first name (Stojko, not Presley).   19 years old in one month, and a long way from the majors.  Hasn’t hit much yet, but apparently fields well, was in the Futures game, and named his league’s most exciting prospect.  Very much a reach, if not three or four years away at best.  Of course, Michael Young has that position locked up, which means one of them will have to move somewhere.  Baseball Prospectus quote: “a potential All-Star, and there’s a chance he’ll be more than that”.  Let’s hope for more.

Neftali Feliz has apparently made a lot of people spell his name wrong today.  Another 19 year old, which the BP annual says has hit 98 on the radar gun, but Baseball America says he touches mid 90’s with ease.  Control issues.  In A ball.  His walks are of concern, but he can also strike them out.  Project him years away too, he’s probably round about the same level as a Kasey Kiker.

The fourth one is the interesting one.  Some sites say Matt Harrison, others say a player to be named later.  I read a couple of days ago that there are arm issues, and the Rangers are examining medical records on him.  One report is that they have a list of four other players they can choose from.  Baseball America says Harrison projects as a number three or four starter.  Yep, we need more of those.  Has good walk to strikeout ratios, and apparently control of several pitches.  If the Rangers take him, he’ll presumably go to Frisco and get a whole lot of publicity.

So what to make of them?  One legitimate top prospect in Salty, and three projections.  As always in projections, especially those so far ahead, a lot of it is a crap-shoot.  Will any of them pan out?  Remember Drew Meyer, Rangers first round pick a few years ago?  Did almost nothing for us.  But the good news here is that we got the Braves #1, #2 and #3 prospects, according to the Baseball America rankings.  That can only help our system, which is terrible but improving a little both with the draft and with this trade, and the Lofton trade on Friday.  The argument goes that the more prospects you have, the more likely some will pan out.  The alternative argument is that prospects are just that, prospects (TINSTAAPP – There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect).  Yes, you’d rather have Tex playing every day, but you’d rather do it in meaningful games, and this might help make some meaningful games in about 2012.

Remember back when the Red Sox traded a couple of their best prospects for Pedro Martinez, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed?  One of them was Carl Pavano, who’s had about two good years since, and the other Tony Armas Jr, who barely even had that.  The point being, from the Atlanta perspective they’ll say yay, they got a stud hitter, future MVP, for a bunch of prospects who may or may not pan out.  The Rangers will take the opposite tack, and say that they’re building for the future, and got a good package of prospects in return for someone they couldn’t sign.  Right now, I give this trade a little advantage to Atlanta, but it will only take two of these prospects to make it a good deal for the Rangers.

Oh yeah, Ron Mahay was in the deal.  We liked you too, Ron, but let’s face it you weren’t a player we were building our hopes around.  Sorry.  We’ll slot someone else into the bullpen and hardly miss ye.

In other news, with a little over half a day until the deadline, we still have Sammy Sosa, and we still have Eric Gagne.  Teams are lining up for Gagne, or so they say, but if we trade him, who’s gonna be the closer since Aki is on the DL?  Well, first of all, we don’t need a closer, because we’re not winning anything.  Second, I think you’ll see Benoit and Wilson stepping into that slot, and I’ve been saying for a while that CJ Wilson is the closer of the future for the Rangers.  The future is now, as they say.

I’ve got those All-Star break blues

July 9, 2007

The All-Star break is a good thing for the players, but it’s not for me.  As a general rule, I don’t really watch the All-Star game, and certainly not the Home Run Derby.  the game is usually on, simply because there’s nothing else on tv at this time of year, but my attention is usually elsewhere.  If I happen to know that a Ranger is about to hit, or pitch (yeah, when was the last time the Rangers had a pitcher in the All-Star game?), then I’ll watch, but otherwise not.  So really what it ends up is being a few days without baseball, and I begin to get antsy on Wednesday, needing my fix to keep going.  This year it’s even worse, as the Rangers have an extra day off before going to Anaheim on Thursday.  It’s not like the off-season, because at that point you know the season is over and there’s a few months without baseball.  In this case, it’s the middle of the season, you’ve watched almost every day for three months, and you want it to not stop.  The bad part is also that there are no other sports going on anywhere.  I think I read once that the Wednesday after the All-Star game is the only day of the year when there is not a major professional sport playing that day.  Even Arsenal are on their summer holidays, and although some transfer news trickles through over there, it’s still just hot stove time for them (hmm, should you call it hot stove when it’s the middle of the summer?).  So the next few days are kind of blah days, where I might try and catch up on some of those things that get put off from April to September because there’s a ballgame to watch.

One of the things I am going to do over the next couple of days are take a look at Kam Loe and Kevin Millwood.  After pitching horribly for so long, they’ve both turned it around recently (Loe much better than Millwood of course), and I’d like to look at the Gameday stuff and see if there is anything there to pinpoint what they might have changed.  Unfortunately for both of them, their starts since turning good have mostly been out of town, in non-Enhanced Gameday ballparks, so there’s no data to look at.  But what I think I will do is look at their two home starts each in those five games, and compare them to the two prior EG starts, and see what is what, if there is anything to see.  I know Loe had mentioned that he had raised his arm angle, and that had helped, and of course Millwood had spent a lot of time on the DL, so we shall see what we can find.

The other thing is to take a look at the Angels games from last week, and see if we can find anything interesting there, in terms of the batter-pitcher matchups.  I want to look at it this week, because at the end of the week the Rangers go to Anaheim, and it would be neat to be able to have some data on hand to compare to what is happening in the games.  In particular, I was randomly perusing a couple of the starts from last week, and started breaking down what the Rangers pitchers were throwing to the Anaheim batters.  There were definite signs of scouting reports showing up in the data, where for example one batter was getting all fastballs and another batter was getting all breaking balls.  I’d love to be able to sit down and watch the games next week with that data in hand, knowing that batter X is coming up so all he will get is fastballs, listening to what the commentators might say and seeing what actually happens.  Hopefully I’ll get that done in the next day or two, for both the Rangers and Anaheim batters.

Reportedly Tex told the Rangers that he didn’t want to go on a rehab assignment, and eventually relented to just one game in Frisco on Wednesday, and he will fly with the team to Anaheim and be activated on Friday before the game.  I said just a couple of days ago that I was resigning myself to losing him, and every word about him now just emphasizes that thought.  Doing what he wants, not what management wants, is a big sign.  Will he be traded by the end of the month?  I don’t know about that now, after the injury.  I think he certainly lost a little value that a couple of weeks of hitting will not bring back.  The Rangers website pointed out today that he is a notoriously slow starter in April, and after over a month off he is almost starting the season again.  If he starts slowly and doesn’t hit much for the next few weeks, his trade value will drop even further, and the Rangers may as well hold on to him until the end of the year, when he ought to have proven himself again.

Finally, with a couple of days to think about it, what are the Rangers going to do for the second half?  Are any trades going to happen?  Will Jason Botts ever get brought up (he was the Rangers minor league player of the month for June, by the way)?  Will we come storming back to win the division, or stumble and bumble our way to about a 70-92 record (actually to reach that we’ll have to improve a little).  And spare a thought for the Phillies, currently sitting at 9,999 losses all-time, about to become the first franchise to lose 10,000.  For what it’s worth, after today’s win, the Rangers are 3,454-3,939 all-time (including the Washington years), for a winning percentage of .467.  Their next milestone will be 3,500 wins or 4,000 losses, but it’s unlikely to be this year, unless they can go 46-28 in the second half, and even if they manage that they’ll still be about five games out of the wildcard.

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.

You gotta cry without weeping

May 30, 2007

To be fair, Dan Haren is leading the league in ERA at 1 and a half, so scoring just one run in eight innings against him is par for the course, especially when you have a weak offense like the Rangers do. To also be fair, the Rangers brought up a AAA (or perhaps AAAA) pitcher in Koronka to make the start, a guy with a career 5 and a half ERA. Did anyone seriously think that was going to be a competitive game? Given the score of 6-1, it pretty much worked out exactly as the starters’ ERA’s expected.

A loss to Seattle tomorrow and the Rangers tie a team record with 20 losses in a month.

Here’s a quote from Tex today: “I hate the word frustrating,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “We’re not a good team. We’re not playing well. If you don’t play well, you don’t expect to win.” We’re not a good team. That’s the first time that someone on the team has said that, that I know of. Is reality finally setting in? And should we read anything into the fact that Tex is saying this, given that he’s the biggest trade chip we have?

Talk on the radio this afternoon was what we could get back for veterans. Someone was saying that if we trade Tex, who plays first, and Mike Golnick replied that they’d have to get a first baseman back. WRONG! You have to get a starting pitcher back, either a good #2 or multiple major league ready prospects. Problem is, teams that want him for the pennant races aren’t going to give up starting pitching that they need.

The Rangers are going to lose 100 games at least this year. Who cares who is playing first, for goodness sake bring up Jason Botts and give him a try. He’s got nothing else to prove in AAA, you’ve got to spend a few months trying him out, getting him some experience, and while you’d prefer it if it was in the OF, may as well play him at first as anyone else.

Think Michael Young regrets his big contract now that he’s signed on to be the guy playing with 24 kids? Well, not all of them are kids of course, if they were at least we’d have a little hope. What saddens me most is the thought that A-Rod is sitting in his penthouse saying “I told you so” to anyone who will listen.

Anyone know any Ranger nicknames? I was listening to the pre-game on the radio and they interviewed Gerald Laird, who called Vicente Padilla “Vinny”, which is pretty obvious, but he also called Joaquin Benoit “Jack”. Just wondering what else they call themselves. Tex is pretty obvious. What about the others? We’ve called Michael Young “Mikey” for years, but I bet they don’t call him that in the clubhouse.

Tomorrow is the one third mark of the season, 54 games played. The Rangers will be on a pace for 57-105 or 60-102. They lost 100 games their first four years in Washington, to be expected for an expansion team, and their first two years in Texas, to be expected for a bad team. They lost 99 in 1985, so will they break that mark or can they match the 1973 team that lost 105, worst record ever? Just keep channelling the Tigers, who lost 119 in 2003, 90 in 04, 91 in 05, then went to the World Series in 06 and are playing well in 07. Of course, they seemed to have a plan to suck for years to get high draft picks so they could compete. The Rangers keep pretending to be in it, then ending about .500, not enough to make the playoffs, not enough to get good draft picks.