August 2012

Deadline Day Pt. 2

As much attention as the July 31st trade deadline receives, today’s trade deadline is just as important. That’s because any player acquired after August 31st CAN’T be on a team’s playoff roster. In other words, if the Rangers are going to acquire proven major league help for their post-season push, today is the last day to do it.

The August 31st deadline is what the whole revocable waivers is all about. We’ve heard Roy Oswalt cleared revocable waivers, so Texas could trade him to anyone today if they so desired. Other players have probably been put on revocable waivers by the Rangers as well, and probably have cleared as well. If a player is put on revocable waivers and a claim is put in for that player, the team can either take the player back off the table (the revocable part) or work out a deal with the claiming team within something like 48 hours.

Julio Borbon

Julio Borbon: Trade Bait? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also entering into the equation at this time are players in the minors who have no options left after this season. They could become part of a trade package. Two of those for the Rangers are Julio Borbon and Brandon Snyder. I’ve been thinking all year Borbon was going to become part of a package but it hasn’t happened yet. He’s had three big league seasons under his belt and while he hasn’t fulfilled the promise he showed in his first year, 2009, he’s had a good season at AAA Round Rock, hitting over .300 with speed and some pop in his bat.

Snyder started the season with the Rangers but was sent down to make room for Mike Olt on the roster. Snyder made some good contributions to the Rangers earlier in the season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as part of  a package either.

That said, who would the Rangers want in return? Here are the possibilities:

1) A back-up catcher: Geovany Soto has done a decent job since coming over from the Cubs. His back-up, Luis Martinez has been your prototypical replacement player. The fact is, nobody knows how much longer Mike Napoli is going to be out. Because we don’t know, I’d want a better option to back up Soto. Maybe try to get Jerrod Saltalamacchia back from the Red Sox or see if the Blue Jays would allow JP Arencibia to be pried from their hands.

2) Utility Infielder: Rangers fans are not thrilled with the idea that Michael Young is currently the back-up shortstop to Elvis Andrus. Another Blue Jay and former Ranger Omar Vizquel would be a nice little pick-up to head down the stretch with.

3) Bullpen: I’m actually pretty OK with the bullpen as it’s constituted, but if there’s one slot that’s worrisome, it would be the role currently filled by Michael Kirkman. Kirkman’s had glimpses of being very good this year, but the consistency still isn’t there. I don’t know what southpaw might be available out there, but an acquisition here is a distinct possibility.

4) Starting Pitcher: This is very unlikely to happen and maybe it doesn’t really need to. Still, I do have some trepidation about Texas heading into the post-season with a starting four of Darvish, Harrison, Holland and Dempster. The thing is, I don’t think an August 31st deal is going to be able to land any kind of an upgrade here. At best, it might get you an innings-eater that will allow the Rangers to bypass Scott Feldman in the rotation in September, but not much beyond that.

Texas could be busy today. Or Jon Daniels could just say this is the team we’re rolling with into the 2012 post-season. Neither outcome would surprise me in the least.

LAST DAY!!!

If you haven’t entered, today is the last day to submit your entry for a chance to win the 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan‘s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.

To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31/12. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4/12. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today! Only 1 entry per e-mail address please.

Yu Da Man!

Ask your favorite Rangers blogger… well, ask the one you’re reading now… his impressions of Yu Darvish‘s rookie season and I’d have to say a bit of a disappointment. He has a winning record, but honestly, I expected more. In the pre-season, I was so stoked, I actually predicted a Darvish no-hitter in 2012. It hasn’t happened and I’m willing to bet it won’t happen. Most nights, Darvish has lost his no-hitter in the first inning. Tuesday night against the Rays, he lost it with the first batter. On the first pitch he threw.

By night’s end, though, it was Yu Darvish pitching one of his finest games in a Rangers uniform. For only the second time this season, Darvish threw goose eggs all night, seven innings strong. For the 8th time, he struck out ten or more batters. Coming into the game 3rd in the AL in the negative Walks category, Darvish walked only one Ray all night. He worked out of a couple of big-time jams in the early innings, but came on strong in the end, retiring 9 of the last 10 he faced. Darvish is a pitcher who gets better as he goes. A fellow blogger pointed out tonight that Darvish has a lower ERA in Innings 4-6 than he does in Innings 1-3. And he has a lower ERA after the 6th than in innings 4-6. Pretty darn impressive.

Texas only scored one run, but it was all they needed. Ian Kinsler led off the 4th with a home run over the left field fence and it held up, the Rangers first 1-0 win since June 13th against the Diamondbacks. It was also the first time the Rangers had won consecutive one-run games since they put together a string of three in a row in the last two games before and the first game after the All-Star break.

Mike Adams pitched the 8th and wasn’t as effective as Monday night, but he did strike out Evan Longoria with the tying run at 2nd and Mitch Moreland made a great stab on a hot shot down the first base line to get the last out of the inning and preserve the shutout. Joe Nathan was even nastier in the 9th than he was Monday night, getting all three Rays to strike out to end the game. The Rangers now have the edge in the season series, three games to two and have clinched the series win with the 1-0 victory. Better still, they kept the A’s from gaining any ground despite facing the weaker Indians while Texas squares off against the Rays.

This season has been a grind. The Rangers as a team, despite their record, have played very inconsistently all year. It’s been tough on me as a fan, seeing this team resemble some of the losing teams of yore even in victory. Adrian Beltre went through a major 40-game slump. Josh Hamilton was off, way off, for the entirety of June and July. Yet here we are, nearing the end of August, and the Rangers have the AL’s best record, Hamilton still leads all of baseball in RBI’s and the team is coming off two 1-run wins against a potential playoff opponent. Crunch time is getting closer. It’s about to get fun again.

ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT!!!

If you haven’t entered, there’s only 4 days left to submit your entry for a chance to win the 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan‘s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.

To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31/12. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4/12. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today! Only 1 entry per e-mail address please.

1st Day of School: Rangers 6, Rays 5

It was the second smallest crowd of the year at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Less than 30,000 on hand to see the opener of the possible playoff preview between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

They say it was because Monday was the first day of school in the DFW area. That’s why the crowd was so small. Probably so, but come on, folks. They usually don’t give homework on the first day of school! Let the kids come to the ballpark. Check the pitching match-up: David Price vs. Derek Holland!

Funny thing was, in the end it was a pitcher’s duel… between the two bullpens. Neither starter was particularly effective, though Holland was credited with a quality start, thanks to two of the five runs he gave up being unearned.

Tampa jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first when sure-handed Elvis Andrus had two brain farts. The first was ruled an error. The second kept Elvis from finishing off a double play. Thanks to those two bonehead plays, Evan Longoria got to bat in the first and hit a 3-2 pitch off the left field foul pole for a 2-run home run.

In the bottom of the first, David Price would retire the side in order. On five pitches. FIVE FREAKING PITCHES!!! Little did anyone know that was actually the Rangers game plan for the night. It ended up working to perfection.

Apparently the scouting staff determined that Price’s best pitches are his first pitches of an at bat, so Texas swung early often. In the second, it resulted in back to back solo shots by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Another run would be tacked on to make it a 3-2 Rangers lead after two.

Tampa would tie it in the top of the third on a triple and a sac fly, but the Rangers would score two of their own in the bottom of the third on an Adrian Beltre double.  The Rays would tie it up in the top of the 5th on a single-triple-single combination. Texas would come through in the bottom of the inning again, this time on a Beltre single, chasing Price. The reigning AL PLayer of the Week ended up with 4 RBI on a HR, double and single. It was the third time in a week Beltre has gone to the plate in the late innings needing just one hit for the cycle. One time he succeeded. The two times he needed a triple to complete it, he didn’t do it (to be fair, Kyle Farnsworth intenionally unintentionally walked Beltre in the 7th to rob him of the cycle chance).

Price ended up going just 4+ innings, yet 77% of his pitches were strikes. Most of the strikes just weren’t missing Rangers bats. All six runs were charged to Price.

Both teams’ bullpens have reputations for being lights out and that was certainly on display Monday night. Neither bullpen gave up a hit. The Rays had four innings of hitless relief, the Rangers 3. The Rays bullpen did allow a couple baserunners, one on the Beltre walk, the other two on errors.

If Texas was playing like it was a playoff game, it was evident with the bullpen. The 7th, 8th and 9th innings were handled by Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan. Nathan never looked nastier in picking up his 26th save. In fact, all three Rangers relievers were nasty and all three ended with an identical picthing line: 1 IP, 0 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Walks, 2 Strikeouts.

If Monday night was any indication, the rest of this series is going to be intense.

ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT!!!

If you haven’t entered, there’s only 4 days left to submit your entry for a chance to win tyhe 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from  A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan’s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.

To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today!

WIN THE ESSENTIAL GAMES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS DVD SET.

Time is running out to win! Entry deadline is now August 31, 2012!!!

Thanks to the folks at A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions, five lucky readers will win this DVD set for your home!

The set includes the following FOUR ESSENTIAL RANGERS GAMES!

NOLAN RYAN’S SEVENTH NO-HITTER vs. TOR, May 1, 1991

1986 ALDS GAME 1 vs. NYY, Oct 1, 1996

2010 ALCS GAME 6 vs. NYY, October 22, 2010

2011 ALCS GAME 6 vs. DET, October 15, 2011

Enter for your chance to win your own copy. One entry per e-mail address. Contest ends August 31, 2012. Winners names will be drawn randomly on September 4th, the day after Labor Day. Enter today and good luck!

If you’d rather just order your own copy, just go to the web site here: http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13156454&cp=2366583.2498452

Week 20 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 3-4

Overall: 75-52 (1st Place AL West) (+5.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .433/.433/1.100  3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 9 RBI (Should be AL Player of the Week)

Raspa Cold (Offense): Michael Young .231/.286/.308 0 RBI (but he became a new daddy Friday!)

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Matt Harrison  1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP (2nd week in a row Jalapeno Hot)

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman  0-2, 7.59 ERA, 1.78 WHIP (could he be replaced by Oswalt in rotation?)

It would have been nice to get more, but Texas added a half game of space between themselves and the second place A’s, while the disappointing Angels are now 9 1/2 games out, with the Rangers now having a Magic Number of 26 to eliminate them from the Division Title race. Texas ends their string of 20 games in 20 days (10-7 thus far) with three home games in a potential playoff preview with the Tampa Bay Rays. Following a day off Thursday, it’s on to Cleveland for three with the fast fading Tribe. Oakland is in Cleveland for four, followed by three home games against the now depleted Red Sox. The Angels have three at home against the Bosox followed by three in Seattle against the surging Mariners.  If the Angels and A’s are to gain ground, the next four days would be the time to do it.

Does Wash Favor The Veterans?

Another game, another night without Mike Olt in the line-up for the Texas Rangers. When this occurred yesterday, I noticed a tweet which set out to prove, in 140 characters or less, that Rangers manager Ron Washington is biased against rookies and refuses to play them in favor of his veterans. The tweet stated that, in Wash’s tenure as manager of the Rangers, the only “first year” players to even get 200 at bats in a season have been Elvis Andrus, Brandon Boggs, Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak.

Is it true? Does Wash favor his veterans at the expense of the rookies? I did a little digging. The answer? Compared to other managers in recent history, Wash actually has used those first year players even more than others!

The person who put forth the tweet merely said first year players. That’s different than players who are still technically rookies. First year simply means the first year they appeared in a Rangers uniform, even if it was a September call-up.

That being the parameter, I looked up the history of the following major league managers: Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona and Mike Scioscia. In the case of Scioscia, I’ve gone through his entire managerial career. For Francona and Manuel, I’ve focused on five-year spans in which their teams were contenders to go to the World Series.

Francona won a World Series his first year with the Red Sox in 2004. That year, first-year Kevin Youklis got over 200 AB’s. In the ensuing four seasons, the only players to exceed the magic 200 AB plateau were Dustin Pedroia in 2007 and Jed Lowrie in 2008. Three players in five years.

For Manuel the results are even more striking. Starting in 2007, the year before the Phillies won the World Series, through 2011, there has not been one season in which a first year player received more than 200 at bats. 

Finally, looking at Scioscia’s managerial career from 2000 to 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels, we find that first year players under Scioscia have only fared well in one season. In 2006, three first year players got more than 200 at bats: Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick. In not one of the other 11 seasons Scioscia has managed the Angels has a first year player accrued more than 200 at bats in a season.

Like the Rangers, all three of these other teams have been in what could be considered World Series “windows”, years in which they had a chance to go far in the playoffs or were just a year away from being there. In just six years of managing,  Ron Washington has managed to give more playing time to first-year players than any other.

Wash’s figure of five came very close to being a list of seven, as Julio Borbon and Travis Metcalf both fell less than 15 AB’s away from the magic number of 200.

So does Wash favor his veterans? No more than any other manager in his situation. And maybe even a little less.

Week 19 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 3-4

Overall: 70-50 (1st Place AL West) (+5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense): David Murphy .385/.429/.769  2 HR  5 RBI

Raspa Cold (Offense): Ian Kinsler .083/.154/.087 6K in 23 AB

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Matt Harrison  1-1,  1.88 ERA,  0.77 WHIP in 14.1 IP

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Ryan Dempster 0-1, 12.00 ERA, 8 ER in 6 IP,  1.83 WHIP

Rangers ceded a game and a half in the standings to the A’s but even at 3-4 on the week, put even more space between them and the Angels. The A’s now stand as the likeliest threat to the Rangers defending the AL West crown. After spending 17 of the past 20 games on the road, it’s home cooking all this week at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, facing the Orioles for 3 and the Twins for 4. The A’s are at home for three against the Twins, then hit the road for three at Tampa, with a rare Sunday off. The Angels, who are now closer to the Mariners than they are the Rangers in the standings, are on the road all week at Boston and Detroit. If all plays out as it should, Texas puts more space between themselves and both Oakland and LA by this time next week, with the Magic Number for clinching creeping down into the 20′s.

The Rangers Blogger Diatribe

English: Michael Young

Michael Young (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael Young destroyed a good narrative today.

Young hit his first home run since May 7th and knocked in a season-high 5 runs in the Rangers 11-2 pasting of the Blue Jays. This came five days after I officially joined the ever-growing bandwagon calling on less playing time for Young.

This game actually didn’t do anything to dissuade me from saying Young should probably play less. On the other hand, I DON’T belong to the group that thinks he should never play again in a Rangers uniform, of which there is one, and a very vocal one at that. It has, though, finally given me the impetus to rant about some things that have been in my mind for the past five postless days.

At the outset, my invective is aimed at certain members of the SABR community. I’m sure there are many in said community who are very savvy and, dare I say, open-minded about what those who don’t prescribe to every number and statistic they come up with. There are some, however, who try to bury any debate in an avalanche of numbers and using it to advance their own biases. Michael Young is the perfect example of this.

Sunday’s performance against the Blue Jays aside, Young has not had a good year. As pointed out in my last post, his batting average is down, his power numbers are down, his walk rate is down. In all three cases, they are down considerably from what anyone could consider an average Michael Young year. Despite his being used as a “Super” Utility Infielder, Young has liabilities at any position he happens to be playing defensively. As a non-SABR guy who does his best to understand some of the new SABR stats, that is enough for me to think Young merits a little more time on the bench, at least until he starts to figure it out, if he can.

The day after my last post, then, imagine my surprise when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweeted this stat: Since the first of July, even from a SABR point of view, Michael Young has been outperforming Adrian Beltre. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Michael Young has outperformed Adrian Beltre offensively for the past 49 days. That’s seven weeks. That’s almost two months. That’s one-quarter of the season and one-third of the season played to date.

English: Third Baseman Adrián Beltré

Adrian Beltré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was shocking. So I went to baseball-reference.com to check it out. Sure enough. Not including Sunday’s breakout game for Young, here’s what we see from July 1st to the present: Young 14 RBI, Beltre 16. Young BA .260, Beltre .263. Then, getting into some of those SABR areas, Young’s WPA (Win Probability Added) -.312, Beltre -.535 and in RE24 (Base Out Runs Added) Young was at -6.46 and Beltre was at -8.23.

What do these stats say? They say for the past 40 games, Beltre has been just as bad a Michael Young. I hadn’t even noticed how much Beltre had been scuffling. He was still at .305 in BA for the season with 19 HR and 68 RBI entering play Sunday. Everyone sure noticed how badly Josh Hamilton slumped in June and July and some even called for Hamilton’s benching for a couple of days. People are just now noticing how Ian Kinsler has been in a slump for a few weeks (some even want to blame Wash for giving him a day off when he was in a hot streak). Beltre, though, has gotten a pass. So, armed with this knowledge, I pointed out this lengthy Beltre slump on a more SABR-oriented site and opined how it was more important for Beltre to improve offensively than Young because a no-hitting Beltre would be more disastrous to the Rangers in the post-season than a no-hitting Young.

Boy, was that a mistake. I was hit with everything from “Yes, but Michael Young has done this all year” to “Yes, but Adrian Beltre is a defensively superior player” to “Yes, but these are Adrian’s stats and these are Michael Young’s for the season and they don’t compare”. All three of those statements are 100% true. What they DIDN’T do, however, is address the specifics of my point- that for the last one-third of the season, Adrian Beltre offensively HAS compared to Michael Young and if it continues, it will be a BIG problem for the Texas Rangers and their World Series aspirations. I don’t care how many stellar defensive plays Beltre makes in the post-season. If he hits .190 or less in a post-season series, it will be awfully difficult for the Rangers to win it.

But that doesn’t fit the narrative of the SABR Rangers fan. Argue otherwise and most will counter with “You’re looking at a small sample size”. I’ve seen one who, when confronted with an argument using his own advanced stats against him, will slyly change his tune to say “Yes, but the stat that REALLY tells the biggest story is this one”. Over the past two years, that has changed from WAR to wOBA (weighted On Base Average) to wRC (Weighted Runs Created).

I don’t mind getting into a debate with someone. I think it’s even possible for a SABR-ist and a non-SABR-ist to debate and make each other understood. What I detest, though, are the many who use their SABR stats to talk down to other people like they’re dim bulbs. You know what? We’re not. And sometimes, we make good points about what’s going on without having to refer to spreadsheets to make our point. So yeah, Michael Young has sucked most of the year and Beltre hasn’t. Baseball though, is like life, with a lot of people saying “What have you done for me lately?” and lately, Adrian Beltre has not been very good offensively. The problem is, we’re now a little over a month away from the playoffs so Beltre is running out of time to get it together, as are Michael Young and Ian Kinsler.

And another thing. Sometimes you guys throw out your numbers and don’t even realize how you could make your point easier for everyone to understand. For instance, something I now hate hearing is the talk about pitchers having “good luck” and “bad luck” with BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). I’ve seen perfectly good Rangers fans refer to Roy Oswalt having a lot of bad luck with BABIP and how it’s going to eventually regress to the mean. They point out it’s because his xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching)  shows good numbers so it’s going to happen. Here’s where I trust my eyes better. Oswalt has had a bad BABIP because hitters have tattooed his pitches, and his xFIP is low because, even though he’s been getting hit from one side to the next, he hasn’t given up a lot of gopher balls. I’m sorry, but everything I’ve read about BABIP is just a fancy way of saying either a pitcher is getting shelled or he isn’t. Regressing to the mean merely means a guy who’s been bad a few straight games is bound to have a couple of good ones soon.

Today I saw the argument that Oswalt has actually been the better pitcher than Scott Feldman to this point of the season. In this case, of course, the xFIP and SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) stats are the MOST important ones to use, according to the person making the argument. Except all that really indicates is that Oswalt has a better fly ball to home run ratio than Feldman in xFIP, and Oswalt has a better strikeout percentage than Feldman, an important component of SIERA. Well, of course. Feldman is a ground ball pitcher, so batters managing to get it in the air have probably tagged the ball,  so a higher percentage would be home runs. And Feldman isn’t a strikeout pitcher. He never was. So why not just be a fan and say you prefer a fly ball, high strikeout pitcher like Oswalt than a one like Feldman? Why the need to prove one is better when, in fact, both have been mediocre to below average in 2012? Heck, according to xFIP,  Oswalt (3.44) has been better than Matt Harrison (4.26) this season. Does anyone really want to make that argument?

If you’ve been with me this far, let me throw one more thing out there. There are a substantial number of SABR Rangers fans who love to throw out what all these numbers “mean” to chastise virtually everything manager Ron Washington does. Wash admittedly makes curious moves from time to time, but most of these fans take their arguments to extremes. Since the numbers say the use of the sacrifice bunt lowers the expectancy for a big run inning, the sacrifice bunt should NEVER be used except in certain situations. They will use these same types of arguments to take Wash to task for pitching moves, non-pitching moves, intentional walks and where certain players bat in the line-up, among others. To you, I say this in all sincerity: While I often agree with you, you can’t say that Wash going against the grain of “the book” is necessarily the WRONG decision.

Here’s why. First is the element of surprise. If you always go by “the book”, you’ll never catch the opposition by surprise. Certain plays like bunts have a higher percentage of success when the other team isn’t expecting them. Second, regardless of what “the book” says, if the strategy worked, it becomes the right decision. Which leads to the last argument: All numbers used in the game of baseball have been accruing from the time they started keeping statistics and continue to accrue. That means the decisions Wash makes today have an effect on the overall numbers, minute as that difference might be. So if the success rate of “A” is 40% and, throughout his time with the Rangers, Wash’s teams are successful at “A” at a 50% clip, then not only has Wash made the right decision for his team, he has also done his part to improve the success rate of “A” from 40% in “the book” to maybe 40.2%. Maybe, just maybe, if enough other teams were to incorporate the Rangers’ manager’s strategies the same way, it could cause a rise in the success rate of “A” to the point that this decision is now the accepted norm by “the book”.

That said, I haven’t the time to actually delve so deep into Ron Washington’s history as the Rangers skipper to know if he is, indeed, more successful at some of these moves than the norm of history. It sounds like an interesting project for someone to take on, though.

There will always be fans who dislike the manager of their team, for whatever reasons. Using all kinds of numbers to try to prove he’s a dunce is disingenuous. I’d rather you come right out and say “I don’t like Wash. Period. Doesn’t matter what he does, I just don’t like the man.” Let it go at that. You’re not really proving anything with all your numbers except your natural bias.

For those who have followed me from beginning to end of this post, I thank you. You may have had better uses you could have made with your time than reading this, but the fact you have done so humbles me.

Dear Michael Young: It’s Time

Dear Mike (or FACE, as some call you),

I want you to know I’m a patient man. Now that my kids are grown, they’re starting to realize how patient I was considering some of the stuff they did growing up. So I want you to know that this isn’t some knee jerk reaction on my part.

You have been an important cog in the Texas Rangers offense for more than a decade. For a few years there, you and Ichiro were easily the best hitters in baseball. When the game has started you have always set the example as the hardest worker, the leader in the clubhouse and someone who puts his entire focus on helping the team win. Sure, there have been rough spots along the way. You’ve asked for a trade a couple of times when the front office asked you to move to a new position. Once the season started, though, you put all the acrimony aside and just focused on playing the game.

So now I’m writing you this letter at long last (and by the way, I’m cc’ing a copy to your manager Ron Washington) to say it’s time for you to do something else for the good of the team. It’s time for you to act like Cal Ripken and tell your manager to give you some time off.

I don’t know why but last night’s loss to the Yankees was the last straw. Sure, you can tell me the Rangers lost because Ryan Dempster pitched horribly in the third inning and you’d be right. You can tell me it didn’t help that both Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus managed to get themselves picked off, thus killing potential rallies and you’d be right again. You could tell me Michael Young is not the main reason Texas lost the game and you’d be right a third time.

But Michael, I have finally reached that point where I can’t deny what much of the SABR community has been screaming for months now. I can’t point to a single game where I would paint you as the main culprit behind a loss, but I can’t really say I can point to any win and paint you as the particular hero either. In other words, you’re really not doing much of anything one way or another.

English: Michael Young

Michael Young (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mike, you’ve played 35 games since July 1st and how many extra base hits do you have in that time? Six, that’s how many. Five doubles and one triple in 35 games. You only have 14 RBI in that time. You’ve only drawn six walks in that time and only 22 walks all year. You haven’t hit a home run since May 7th.

Even then, I might be able to forgive and keep defending you if you were hitting unlucky, with a lot of at ‘em line drives and hard hit flies to the warning track that were caught. Instead, I’m getting a lot of what I saw last night. A lot and I mean A LOT of weak grounders.

Your manager is standing solidly behind you, Michael. He’s starting you when all around people are telling him, maybe even loudly, that his support of you is getting beyond stubborn. Sure, he finally acquiesced and dropped you to sixth in the order, but he’s still playing you night after night while you do next to nothing at the plate and in the field. By the way, I won’t even go into what people are saying about you defensively. That’s an entirely new letter. But that’s the thing, Mike. Everybody on the Rangers has gotten days off since the first of July. Everybody except you.

  A season-long slump is a bad thing. I don’t know if your bat has slowed down that hundredth of a second or your reaction time to the pitch has slowed down. I don’t know if you’re hurting physically and not telling anyone. I don’t know and, at this point, I don’t care.

I just know that it’s time for you to do another thing to help the team you say you love. It’s time for you to tell your manager to at least give you a few days off, maybe even to volunteer to only play three days a week instead of seven. That was the slogan two years ago in the first World Series run and Mike, that should be your slogan today. It’s time.

Week 18 In Review

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 67-46 (1st Place AL West) (+6.5)

Jalapeno Hot (Offense):  Nelson Cruz  .476/.542/.714  1 HR  3 RBI

Josh Hamilton (Welcome Back Josh!) .455/.538/.955   3 HR  9 RBI  4 Walks

Raspa Cold (Offense): Ian Kinsler .167/.250/.250

Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Derek Holland 9 K in 7.2 Innings Pitched 0.52 WHIP,  1.17 ERA

Raspa Cold (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-1, 6.08 ERA 1.95 WHIP 9 ER in 13.1 Innings

Didn’t think it would happen, but the Rangers actually added more space between them and both the Angels and A’s. The 6.5 game lead is the biggest in the majors and matches their largest lead of the season. Texas has a tough road swing this week with four at New York and three in Toronto. The A’s have it easier with three in Kansas City and three at home against Cleveland. The Angels are at home all week against the Indians and Rays. It would be easy to envision the Rangers losing some of that space this week, but I honestly didn’t think they’d pick up a game last week, so you never know.

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