Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’
Cliff Lee July 10, 2010
IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
9 9 6 6 0 2 3 6.00
Ryan Dempster August 2, 2012
IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
4.2 9 8 8 3 6 2 15.42
Matt Garza July 24, 2013
IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
7.1 5 1 0 0 5 0 0.00
Guess which one of these three Rangers fans took to right away? Besides the obvious love of getting the win, besides the fact Garza gave up no earned runs, Matt Garza’s debut was notable in one other way. It was the first game since May 30th in which the Rangers pitching staff didn’t give up a walk, a span of 47 games.
Another noteworthy accomplishment: Ron Washington is known for assigning innings to his relievers. Closer Joe Nathan pitches the 9th inning beginning to end. Thus it was surprising to the Rangers faithful to see Wash go against the grain Wednesday night, keeping Neal Cotts in to face (and retire) the first two batters of the inning. Nathan was then brought on to get the third and final out of the inning and the game.
Matt Garza had an incredibly successful debut as a Ranger, the most successful since John Burkett tossed a shutout in his first Texas start in 1996. What does he get for an encore? A match-up against Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels Monday night. Should be fun.
When you talk about the first World Series run by the Rangers, the names that come to mind are Josh Hamilton, American League MVP; Cliff Lee, mid-season acquisition and Yankee Killer in the ALCS; Michael Young, the long-time “Face” of the franchise; and Nelson Cruz, who can carry a team on his back for two-week stretches, including the playoffs.
Those players deservedly got a lot of the press, but another key to the Rangers first run to the pennant were the spare parts. Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on the DL after just two games. Enter last-minute Spring Training acquisition Matt Treanor. Treanor held down the fort so well until the July acquisition of Bengie Molina, Saltalamacchia never again wore a Rangers uniform. Salty was optioned to AAA after coming off the DL, then went to the Red Sox in a September deal.
The Rangers had a winning record during Nelson Cruz’ three trips to the DL in 2010, thanks to the emergence of David Murphy as a viable 4th outfielder. Murphy remains an integral piece of the Rangers today, though speculation grows he’ll become part of a deal sometime this summer.
Ian Kinsler also had two DL stints in 2010. Again, Texas survived just fine, especially in mid-August when Andres Blanco filled in for 19 games and hit .333 with 8 doubles and .818 OPS, playing sterling defense as well.
The pitching staff also had its moments. Rich Harden and Scott Feldman, expected to be the top two rotation pieces, never panned out. It was new acquisition Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson, moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation, who helped keep the Rangers above-board until the trade for Cliff Lee. Likewise, the bullpen got a boost when Alexi Ogando was recalled from Oklahoma City. All Ogando did was earn wins in his first three relief appearances and ended up being the Rangers 7th inning go-to guy.
The pattern repeated itself in 2011. When center fielder Julio Borbon went down in May with an injury, Endy Chavez was called up from Round Rock, hit .301 in 83 games and banished Borbon to the minors, where he remains today. Ogando again served as a vital piece, this time moving into the starting rotation when off-season signee Brandon Webb proved not ready to go out of Spring Training. Ogando thrived as a starter, making the All-Star team. Yorvit Torrealba was expected to be the primary catcher, until Mike Napoli had an offensive year that nobody saw coming.
The stars propel teams, but the spare parts are often the ones that give winning teams the extra edge. The previous 400 words were all written with Robbie Ross in mind.
Just a year ago today, Ross was pitching for High-A Myrtle Beach. The Rangers 2nd round draft pick in 2008, Ross compiled a 9-4 record with a 2.26 ERA as a starter to earn a late season promotion to AA Frisco. In 6 games with Frisco, Ross was 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Those stats earned Ross an invite to big league camp for Spring Training in 2012.
Ross was expected to do what most rookies his age (21) do. Stick around big league camp for a couple of weeks, mop up a few games, then return to minor league camp, where he would most likely start the season at Frisco, maybe Round Rock if he was lucky.
Ross, however, didn’t recognize his long odds. He just did what he’d been doing since being drafted. He threw strikes. Because he threw strikes, he got outs. There were veteran southpaws in the Rangers camp this year, looking to fill the role vacated by Darren Oliver when he departed for the Blue Jays, chief among them Joe Beimel. He didn’t pitch badly, but a late camp injury ended his chances. Michael Kirkman, who contributed key late-season innings in 2010 but slipped in 2011, was another prime candidate. Kirkman struggled from the outset and has continued to struggle at Round Rock in 2012.
By the time Spring Training was over, Ross had leap-frogged everyone and earned a spot on the Rangers roster. He was expected to be brought around slowly, used in mop-up roles to get his feet wet. Most thought Ross would just hold down the fort until the Rangers either re-signed Mike Gonzalez or traded for another lefty in the pen.
All Ross has done is succeed, in whatever role the Rangers have asked him. Sunday, he was asked to replace another famous spare part, Alexi Ogando. Ogando, who was made a starter again when Derek Holland went on the DL, threw three hitless innings, then strained his groin legging out a bunt single that was supposed to be just a sacrifice bunt. Ross came in and this time threw four innings of 1-hit ball at the Giants and earning the victory. Ross is now 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA. If Ogando goes on the disabled list, Ross could be the Rangers starter this Saturday against the Astros.
Not bad for someone who wasn’t even projected to be in the big leagues until next year at the earliest. Let’s hear it for spare parts!
Here’s what I love about Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers front office- they are full of surprises!
You can read all you want about Hot Stove activity, listen to MLB radio, have ESPN and MLB TV attached at your hip on your Smartphone and still be totally surprised at the announcements that come from the Rangers.
A year ago, when the baseball world was intent on the Rangers’ pursuit of Cliff Lee, out of nowhere came the trade with the Blue Jays that brought Mike Napoli to Texas.
In 2011, while all the talk has been focused on Texas’ efforts to re-sign CJ Wilson and whether or not the Rangers are serious players for either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, again Jon Daniels pulls a rabbit out of his hat and announces the signing of former Twins closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal with a third year option.
The trickle-down effect is immediate. Nathan has been signed to be the closer, putting former closer Neftali Feliz on a collision course to being one of the Rangers’ starters in 2012. Texas also announced Alexi Ogando will not be returning to the bullpen in 2012. Thus, the Rangers already have a starting five, even if they don’t ink Wilson to a new deal: Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Ogando and Feliz.
Moving Feliz into the rotation was discussed a year ago. In fact, Feliz was stretched out as a starter throughout Spring Training before the brass decided they needed him more in the bullpen. With Nathan’s signing, that obstacle has been removed.
Nathan’s 2011 stats don’t look that impressive after returning from Tommy John surgery: a 4.54 ERA and only 14 saves for the Twins. They look a lot better, though, if you take April out of the equation. Nathan ended the first month of the 2011 season with an ERA of 10.00 and two blown saves. From May through September, though, he was 11 for 12 in Save Opportunities with a 3.53 ERA, 7 walks and 36 strikeouts in 35.2 innings, with a .213 Batting Average Against and a 1.01 WHIP. Even if Nathan struggles out of the gate in 2012, Mike Adams will provide able back-up as a closer.
I would bet the Rangers are hoping Derek Holland is ready to step up and be the #1 starter after his outstanding World Series performance, with Lewis #2 and so on. Scouts have said Feliz could have #1 starter stuff, but he’s going to have to prove it and will probably start the year in the #4 or #5 slot.
This isn’t to say Texas won’t be signing another starter. Wilson could still come back, although it appears less likely right now. I still hold out hope for Mark Buehrle to come the Rangers’ way, but I don’t know if that will happen or not. If Texas signs another starter, it could mean Matt Harrison would be traded. Or it could give Texas the luxury of letting Feliz start 2012 at the AAA level to get used to being a starter before bringing him up for the second half of the season.
Whatever the end result will be heading into Spring Training, I’m willing to bet there will be more surprises coming. Maybe that’s why the Rangers have Spring Training in Surprise, Arizona.
For the first time, everything went as planned. Texas got out to the lead, added on as the game progressed and got strong pitching from their starter, in this case Alexi Ogando. When Ogando tired in the 7th, it was bullpen time. First it was Darren Oliver getting the second out in the 7th with the tying run at the plate. Oliver gave way to Uehara, who took care of the final out. Adams came on in the 8th and retired the Tigers on just 8 pitches. Neftali Feliz took care of the 9th, getting the save with two of the three outs on strikeouts.
Rangers fans haven’t seen such an efficient bullpen all season. Add two daytime hits for Josh Hamilton, whose struggles in day games have been epic in 2011, and things are starting to look rosy again in Big D. Yes, it’s just one game and the Rangers are still a mortal 6-9 since their 12-game winning streak ended (including 1-2 with Uehara and Adams on board). However, if the bullpen performs like that, the way it was envisioned when the trades were made, this is going to be one plenty dangerous team to face down the stretch.
It is disappointing to have dropped two of three to the Tigers, even on the road, if only because they didn’t have to face Justin Verlander in the series. Thursday’s win kept Texas from having its worst road trip of the season and they limp home having gone 2-4. Interestingly, the Tigers finished the season series with the Rangers at 6-3. All three losses were to Ogando.
Now it’s time to go home and face the Cleveland Indians, with a heady assignment right off the bat- newly acquired Ubaldo Jiminez. On the other hand, the Indians have to go on the road and face Derek Holland, who’s tossed three shutouts in his last five games. Derek could have extra motivation as well. Cliff Lee threw his fifth shutout of the year last night against the Giants, so Derek has to throw one tonight to move back into a tie!
Trivia Tidbit: Rangers sites the past couple of days have focused on a couple of things in Rangers history. One is the first anniversary of the auction process that led to the new ownership group headed by Nolan Ryan. The other was the anniversary of the famous Ryan-Robin Ventura headlock picture (Ventura will NEVER live that down!). The one they didn’t focus on yesterday, though, was the 41st anniversary of the shortest start in Rangers history. I wrote about it earlier this season. You can read up on it here: http://40yearrangerfan.mlblogs.com/2011/06/28/the-shortest-start-in-rangerssenators-history-august-4-1970/
Read the words of all the scribes and pundits. Listen to the talking heads on your favorite sports network, radio or TV. The overwhelming majority of them will say this: the Texas Rangers made the best trade deadline maneuvers of any team in baseball. In one fell swoop, they turned the biggest problem area of the team, the bullpen, and not only made it stronger, but maybe made it the best one in the game.
So leave it to the team to make the fans excited about these developments become squirming nervous pieces of vegetation (I know, it makes no sense, but it sounds good) by going 0-2 in the first two games since the trades were made. The #1 and #2 starters both had games to forget, except for two things: 1) The #1 starter has now had two putrid starts in a row; and 2) the #2 starter has been this inconsistent with his command all year long. And oh yeah the #2 starter now leads the league in home runs given up by a wide margin (6 more than the next guy, I believe). Classic “BOY PUTS FINGER IN DIKE! NEW LEAK DEVELOPS!” story.
Making matters worse, the Rangers came back from Colby Lewis‘ miserable start and tied a game they were well on their way to losing, only to see the Tigers get a home run in the bottom of the 8th to regain the lead and win the game. The home run was off the newest bullpen piece, Mike Adams, one of the guys hailed as among the best in the game. It was the first home run he’d given up to a left-handed hitter in a year and a half. On a change-up, a pitch he hardly ever throws.
It could be worse and, in fact, was a year ago. As Jamey Newburg painfully reminded me in his column today, Cliff Lee‘s first Rangers start was a shelling at home to the worst team in the AL at the time, the Baltimore Orioles. Lee gave up three homers in that game and was gone by the 6th. That trade still ended up working out pretty darn good, so I’ll forgive Adams for this debut, especially since it occurred during a rainstorm.
With the Angels winning and cutting the Rangers West lead to a single game, now is not the time to be seeing problems in the starting rotation. Matt Harrison gets the job of plugging the new leak tonight as he takes on the Tigers’ new acquisition Doug Fister. It’s getting a little too uncomfortable right now.
Short and sweet this time.
It took Derek Holland less than 100 pitches today to accomplish a number of things:
3) He pretty much took his name off the table in any trade deadline discussions. Holland’s name was attached to a rumor today in a deal with the White Sox for Matt Thornton, but the Rangers said they’d have to throw in a starter like John Danks for them to trade a starter away.
4) He let Rangers fans forget how, once again, this highly thought of offensive team can look entirely mediocre against a pitcher who can’t even reach 90 on the radar gun. Granted, the line-up was missing Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, but there was still some firepower in the line-up.
Way to go, Dutch. Keep up the good work!
Texas Rangers beat writer for MLB is TR Sullivan. He has a column posted on the Rangers’ web site on the 50 shortest-lived Rangers in their 50-year history. You can read it here: http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110626&content_id=21064102&vkey=news_tex&c_id=tex
Most people will stick with those at the top of the list, like Cliff Lee, David Clyde and the like. My most vivid memory as a fan, though, came with the very last person on Sullivan’s list- George Brunet.
Brunet’s main claim to fame is what he did after leaving major league baseball. He pitched for a lot of years in the Mexican League and is, in fact, a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in Monterrey.
What Sullivan says is true. Brunet had a short time with the Senators, playing only in 1970. As Paul Harvey would say, now the rest of the story.
Brunet not only had one of the shortest stints with the Rangers/Senators, he also literally had the shortest start in team history. On August 4, 1970, the Senators were in Detroit to face the Tigers. Brunet was the scheduled starting pitcher. The Senators had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st on a 3-run homer by Aurelio Rodriguez off Denny McLain. Ironically, Rodriguez was one of the pieces in the off-season trade that brought McLain to the Senators the following year.
In the bottom of the first, Brunet was taking his warm-up tosses when he injured his arm. I was a 14-year-old kid listening to the game on the radio at the time and I don’t remember exactly what the injury was, but I remember that, under MLB rules at the time, he had to actually appear in the game because his name was pencilled into the starting line-up. So Brunet threw one pitch to Mickey Stanley of the Tigers, then gave way to Jackie Brown.
Brown would end up going 5 1/3 innings, striking out 6 and giving up one run to get the win in relief of Brunet, who would never start another game for the Senators. After a couple relief appearances, the Senators traded him to the Pirates.
While Elvis irritatingly keeps booting grounders, it was good to see not only a Rangers win for the first time in four games, it was incredibly gratifying to see the performances of both Chrises on the Rangers roster.
The biggest was from Christopher John Wilson. It’s been said often (especially by Rangers fans) that Texas doesn’t have a true Top of the Rotation guy, the stopper who puts an end to losing streaks and sets the tone for the entire staff. One CJ Wilson did his best to put that notion to rest.
Wilson was brilliant in pitching the first Rangers complete game of the season, allowing only six hits, none for extra bases, walking only one and striking out 12. It didn’t start out looking good for Wilson, as he gave up single runs in each of the first two innings, the first off a combination of weak singles and the second due to the now annoyingly obligatory Texas errors (Andrus and Ian Kinsler).
After the second, Wilson was nigh unstoppable, retiring the final 14 batters in order and moving to 4-1 on the season. This is also the third game out of the last four that Wilson has walked only one batter. A year ago, CJ gave up more walks than anyone in the AL.
A year ago, Wilson was “Grasshopper” to Cliff Lee’s Master Po, soaking up knowledge from a pitching master. Those lessons are starting to take root now. Wilson is well on his way to becoming the premier free agent pitcher after this season concludes. He’s made it clear he would love to stay in Texas. Here’s hoping Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan can make it happen.
Meanwhile, Chris Davis had reason to celebrate as well. Davis hit his 40th big league home, but only his second since the end of the 2009 season, to give Texas an insurance run, making it a 4-2 game at the time.
Adrian Beltre is the Texas third baseman for at least the next six years. Mitch Moreland is the lefthanded hitting first baseman and has done nothing to warrant losing the position. Davis, for all his potential, played his way out of the Rangers good graces and is pretty much a dead man walking on the roster, merely filling a space until Josh Hamilton returns from the DL. From there, he’s destined to either return to AAA Round Rock or be used as trade bait.
Davis is a plus defender at both first and third. His problem has always been a big hole in his swing and a failure to hit breaking pitches. As a power hitter, the hole probably will never go away, but if Davis ever learns to lay off some of the breaking balls, he could come back to being a scary big league hitter. Getting a tater off AL Rookie of the Month Michael Pineda was a good start.
Chris Davis might actually have a small window of opportunity with Texas right now. Nelson Cruz is out nursing a tight quad muscle. By necessity, that puts Moreland into the outfield for now, allowing Davis to get a couple consecutive starts at first. Since there doesn’t seem to be much future for him long-term in Texas, every successful at bat not only helps the Rangers in the game, it also enhances his trade value. Keep it up, Chris!
Colby Lewis had his first strong start of the year his last time out against Oakland. He’ll get the ball tonight in the series finale against Seattle. Texas hasn’t won consecutive games since their three game sweep of the Royals a week and a half ago. Sure would be nice to see that happen tonight!
Chris Davis is unhappy.
Much of the unhappiness is his own doing, yet his feelings are understandable.
Davis burst on the scene in 2008 following a meteoric rise through the Rangers system. When they could hold him back no longer, Davis came to the majors and tantalized the fan base with a .285 average, 17 HR’s and 55 RBI over 80 games. Rangers fans were positive Davis would make us forget about Mark Teixeira in short order.
Sadly, it seemed to be a tease. Davis at the outset of 2009 and was sent down on July 5th with a .202 average. After almost two months of scorching the ball in AAA, Davis came back and recovered enough to compile a .239 average with 21 HR’s and 59 RBI.
Last season, the Rangers were in no mood to fiddle around with slumping players. Frank Francisco was replaced as closer two weeks into the season after a few blown saves. By the end of April, Davis was at an abysmal .188 and he was sent down to AAA again, replaced by Justin Smoak.
When Smoak was traded to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, Davis came back up July 9th, but by the 28th, he was still only hitting .188. Again Davis was sent down, this time replaced by Mitch Moreland.
Now in 2011, Moreland has pretty much secured the first base starters job. Davis, meanwhile, has had an awesome spring. After yesterday’s 3-3 showing, Davis is now hitting .405 with 3 HR’s and 11 RBI. Unfortunately for him, Moreland is hitting .359 with 2 HR’s and 7 RBI of his own.
There is no real place on the Rangers roster for Davis right now. By all accounts, he is one of the hardest workers in the Rangers organization. His defense at first base is excellent and he’s no slouch at third either. But, there’s no place for him unless there’s an injury.
Ron Washington has been paying attention. That’s probably why last night’s exhibition game against the Rockies featured Mike Napoli at catcher, Davis at first base and Moreland in right field. From a Rangers standpoint, this is a good problem to have. From Davis’ standpoint, not so much. Under such a scenario, you might envision Wash compromising on his “defense first” catchers approach and send Matt Treanor packing. Maybe, but I don’t think he’d pull that trigger.
I’d hate to see Davis leave, especially if the Rangers got little in return for him. On the other hand, I’d hate to see him force a roster move and once again not have him come through.
Davis has one option year left, Moreland has two. I actually wonder if the Rangers might consider sending Moreland back to AAA to give Davis one last chance. No matter how it goes, one of those two players will probably be sent down to AAA to start the season and neother one will deserve it.
Another Sharing Space Note: I got inspired to start this blog in two ways: one was the movie “Julie and Julia”. The other was Jamey Newberg, who was one of the original Texas Rangers bloggers. Today, Jamey and I share a space in a way. We both contributed our Rangers thoughts, independently of each other, for the blog of a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. You can check it out here: http://www.cardinal70.com/playing-pepper/playing-pepper-2011-texas-rang.php
“The Face” of the Texas Rangers
It’s amazing what a World Series appearance does for a team on the national stage. Just in the past week alone, two of the top stories in baseball have been “The War of Words” between Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg and the Yankees and “The Michael Young Trade”. I don’t remember the Rangers ever getting this much oress from the national media in January. Heck, I don’t even remember the Rangers getting this much press in January from the LOCAL media!
I really don’t know if the Rangers are getting ready to trade Michael Young or not. What I DO know is that NONE of the speculation being reported by national writers and broadcasters has come from the Rangers side!
The story first cropped up during the Winter Meetings and was quickly quashed as just names being brought up as they always are when possible trades are discussed. Hey, if you don’t ask about someone you’ll never know, right?
It came up again the day the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a 6-year contract and announced that Young would, in 2011, become the Rangers primary DH and play a “Super Utility” role on the Rangers infield. Young said it wasn’t an ideal situation for him, but he was a Ranger through and through and was willing to make the move, with the hope of becoming a fulltime field player again in the future.
“The Story” took on a life of its own, however, the day the Rangers traded Frank Francisco to the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli. As I stated in a post at the time, I didn’t see it as a threat to Young. I saw it as a great way to give the Rangers incredible versatility in their line-up on a day to day basis, as a platoon first baseman, a DH when Young plays the field and a catcher if one of the other two catchers went down with an injury.
Harold Reynolds of MLB TV was the first of the national media I heard chime in that day, saying Young should now DEMAND a trade because there was no reason to obtain Napoli except to take at bats away from Young. Since then, we have heard a deal with the Rockies is imminent, but then again maybe it isn’t. That maybe the Rockies aren’t the only ones in the mix for Young, that he could go to the A’s… or the Angels… or the Blue Jays… or the Dodgers!
The only way trading Michael Young makes sense is if 1) he demanded a trade; 2) if they don’t deal him by May, Young becomes a 10-5 player who can veto ANY trade if he so desires; and 3) if they either get a frontline starting pitcher in return or a DH who can equal his 20+ HR’s and 90 RBI in the offense.
The reasons a Young trade DON’T make sense are 1) Young is the Rangers bona fide leader on the field, an intangible that could have a disastrous effect on the clubhouse; 2) every piece of media speculation indicates the Rangers would have to add dollars to the deal to help the other team offset Young’s $16 million salary over the next 3 years, which means any deal would make little financial sense; and 3) if they don’t get a frontline pitcher or replacement DH, as most reports indicate they won’t, the Rangers won’t be improving the team, which GM Jon Daniels says is the goal of every deal the Rangers make.
Replacing Young with Napoli straight up at the DH slot doesn’t add up. Young routinely is in the line-up for 600+ AB’s every year, while Napoli’s only had a high of 453, which was last year. He also hit only .238 last year. Platooning Napoli with David Murphy at DH? Maybe, but then the Rangers lose the versatility the line-up has right now with Young still on the team.
Maybe Young is unhappy. Maybe he does want a trade. The thing is, in all the reports making the news these days, who are we not hearing from at all? Young and the Rangers, that’s who.
The Rangers have become famously tight-lipped over the past two years. Cliff Lee? Everyone assumed he was going to be a Yankee at mid-season last year until the Rangers came in and got him. Adrian Beltre? Assumed to be an Angel, until the day before the Rangers announced his signing. January’s trade for Napoli? Not on ANYONE’s radar in the national media.
As for Young? Maybe he learned a lesson when he publicly demanded a trade when he was first asked to move to third base to make way for Elvis Andrus and is keeping his feelings private. But maybe not. Have any of these reports indicated the writer has even bothered to ask Young what he thinks about it or what he knows? Not a one. If they had, they would at least say something along the lines of, “Young declined to comment on the matter.”
Here’s what HAS been said. Michael Young has stated he wants to remain a Ranger for the rest of his career. Ron Washington says Michael Young is the straw that stirs the Rangers coffee. Jon Daniels says the Rangers have no plans to deal Young this year. Nolan Ryan says Michael Young is going to be the Rangers DH at the Season Opener against the Red Sox on April 1st.
Until I see something actually happen, I think I’ll trust the words from that last paragraph before I trust any of the others I’ve read and heard lately.