Results tagged ‘ Neftali Feliz ’
There’s nothing that talk radio loves more than a good crisis. Sometimes they love it so much, they manufacture it.
I could be off base about this, but that’s the way I’m feeling about the reports out of the DFW area that Nolan Ryan may be ready to depart the Texas Rangers organization for good, possibly by the end of this month before the regular season begins.
Why the speculation? A few days ago, the Rangers announced they had promoted GM Jon Daniels to the combined post of GM and President of Baseball Operations. Meanwhile, Rick George was promoted to President of Business Operations. This leaves Ryan, who had been president of all operations as well as CEO, as “just” the CEO.
By the time Monday rolled around, Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said he had it on good authority from “many sources close to Nolan Ryan” that Nolan didn’t take his “demotion” well and was soon to leave the organization, possibly by month’s end.
Admittedly, the number of sources I have in the Texas Rangers organization numbers zero. My boss has a friend who knows Neftali Feliz, but that’s as few degrees of Kevin Bacon as I can get. Still, I can’t help feel Galloway is making much ado about nothing here. Nolan is 66 years old and was treated just a year or two ago for heart troubles. As Sigmund Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Why can’t this simply be a situation where Nolan wants to ease his way into a well-deserved retirement. Let the kids do the heavy lifting while still having some decision-making power and a share of the profits while remaining as the figurehead heart of the franchise.
I guess folks don’t feel it could be that simple because if it were, Nolan would have said something to that effect when the promotions for Daniels and George were announced. The head of the ownership group, Bob Simpson, told Galloway the promotions had nothing to do with trying to usher Nolan out the door and said he wanted Ryan to stay as long as he wanted to stay.
Maybe at the end of this month, I’ll have egg on my face when Ryan decides yes, he will leave the organization. If so, I’ll wish him well but I don’t think it will have any effect whatsoever on how the Rangers do business or work on constructing the team. JD’s already been doing that for a while now.
All this takes away from what is the more pressing news on the field. Rookie Martin Perez, already the frontrunner for the 5th starter in the rotation, was hit by a line drive on Sunday and broke the forearm of his pitching arm. He’ll be out a month before he can resume throwing and figure on another month before he’s ready for any kind of game action.
Immediately the speculation began that Texas has to go out and sign Kyle Lohse now. I still don’t see it happening. This is your #5 starter we’re talking about. Do the Rangers really want to give up a first round draft pick to sign a #5 starter whose main job is to keep the spot warm until Colby Lewis is ready to come back in May? Seems like a pretty steep price to pay.
I’m beginning to see how hard it is to put together a team. So far, the other candidates for the #5 spot in camp have been underwhelming. In addition, #4 starter Alexi Ogando has gotten off to a rocky start this spring as well. It isn’t exactly filling the fan base with optimism about the back-end of the rotation. Still, Lohse is a steep price to pay for what could only be a month and a half long situation.
That, however, is not my call. I guess it’s not Nolan Ryan’s call anymore either. It’s all up to the Rangers’ new GM/President of Baseball Operations now.
- Is Nolan Ryan Leaving the Texas Rangers? (knue.com)
Ballplayers get at least three months off between end of season and start of spring training. I took three and a half weeks off between blog posts. Am I rested? I don’t know. Am I in shape for the 2013 season? Absolutely not!
I vegged out over the past three and a half weeks. I thought about posting some thoughts but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I spent more time playing with my Christmas presents than I did looking into the minutia of Texas Rangers baseball.
Most common statement I’ve heard from non-Rangers brethren since the off-season began and, more specifically, since Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels: “Bet it’s going to be hard to watch the Rangers this year. They’re going backwards.”
I agree it seems the Rangers have gone backwards going into 2013. Gone are Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Ryan Dempster. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be any help until the second half of the season at the earliest. Coming on board? Joakim Soria, who’s also disabled until after the All-Star break. Lance Berkman, who was limited by injury to less than 100 at bats in 2012. New bullpen pieces in Jason Frasor and Josh Lindblom. A new catcher in AJ Pierzynski. Not exactly a group that’s going to make you forget Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Adams and Uehara, right?
And yet, and yet. I am possibly looking forward to 2013 as much as I looked forward to 2010, when I began this corner of the webiverse chronicling a team that, for the first time in a decade, was possibly going to contend for a title. That team exceeded my expectations and made it to the World Series. And while I harbor no illusions of the 2013 squad being in the Fall Classic, I won’t totally discount the possibility either.
I am looking forward to seeing what the infusion of youth does for this team. Whether the names Leonys Martin, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will become as well-known to baseball fans as Josh Hamilton and Michael Young were for the past few years. I can’t wait to see if Yu Darvish builds on a successful rookie campaign to become a bona fide ace. Whether Derek Holland can put a pedestrian 2012 behind him and progress to be at the very least an above average #3 starter. I want to see if new hitting coach Dave Magadan transforms Texas from a team of sluggers to hitters who work counts and put pressure on the pitcher. Will the Rangers running game improve and will baserunning coach Gary Pettis be able to effectively do his job from the third base coaches box instead of his usual first base box? Will Berkman stay healthy enough to impact the team? Is Nelson Cruz going to rebound from a so-so 2012 both offensively and defensively to be the presence he was in 2010 and 2011? Can the new bullpen pieces quickly coalesce into a unit that consistently delivers a lead to Joe Nathan in the 9th?
Most important of all, how will Ron Washington handle the youth movement? Wash took a lot of flak last year for staying with his veterans, especially Michael Young, while Olt and Profar languished on the bench in September. And if he gets all the young guys to perform at a high level and the Rangers continue to compete for a division title, will he finally get some consideration for Manager of the Year?
OK, so Texas didn’t get Zack Greinke. Or Justin Upton. Or Hamilton. Or Napoli. Or James Shields, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Travis D’Arnaud and J.P. Arencibia, all of whom Jon Daniels kicked the tires on during the off-season. Nor does it appear that Kyle Lohse or Michael Bourn are Arlington bound. Yet I’m excited about the 2013 season.
Pierzynski and Berkman aren’t sexy signings, but the two of them have something the rest of the team doesn’t have- a World Series champion ring. I bet that counts for something, including what impact their work ethic might have on Olt, Profar and Martin.
For sure, this is a team with flaws. Just 20 days from Spring Training and there’s no clue who will be the utility infielder or fifth outfielder. It’s anyone’s guess who will be in the bullpen besides Nathan and Frasor. The fifth starter for the rotation has yet to be determined and none of the names in contention are likely to strike fear in the average major league line-up.
What gets me excited is this. If Wash can keep this team in contention through the All-Star break, the second half will see Feliz and Soria returning to the pen and Colby Lewis to the starting rotation. That would make for an intriguing stretch run.
Too bad it’s still 20 days from pitchers and catchers reporting and 66 days til Opening Day at Houston.
Sure, it’s easy to say the Texas Rangers are in the playoffs as a Wild Card, so the term “collapse” doesn’t really apply. The playoffs don’t matter in this case. All the playoffs do is make the Rangers 4-9 finish and ceding the AL West title to Oakland seem not as bad as the collapse of the Red Sox a year ago.
Honestly, it’s worse than the Red Sox. My last post mentioned the A’s were 13 games behind Texas on June 30th. This makes the Rangers downfall the third largest lead ever given up to a team in baseball history.
On the other hand, one has to hand it to the Oakland A’s. I had them picked as my worst team in the AL at season’s start. Think about this. For the early part of the season, their best starting pitcher was Bartolo Colon. He got suspended for PED use. As soon as he was suspended, here was Brett Anderson coming back. He pitched brilliantly before an oblique strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. Brandon McCarthy, the overall ace of the staff, was literally knocked out of the season by a line drive to the head. This was a good starting pitching staff that was getting decimated and every time, someone else just came in and took someone’s place and pitched just as well. Contrast this to Texas, who lost Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to injury for the season. As replacements, the Rangers tried Roy Oswalt. Then Scott Feldman. They acquired Ryan Dempster. Rookies Martin Perez and Justin Grimm were given brief shots. None of them panned out the way the Rangers hoped. Every one of the A’s did work out. Kudos to Oakland and their coaching staff.
Oakland’s offense outperformed the vaunted Rangers offense throughout the second half of the season. Look at the overall offensive stats and almost everything indicates the Rangers had the superior offensive team. Here’s where statistics can lie to you, though. Texas led the American League in most innings scoring five runs or more. They’d also follow-up these monster games with spans where the offense would flat-out disappear for three and four game stretches. It was a testament to the most consistent starters, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, that the Rangers avoided long losing streaks during these offensive swoons (their longest streak was 5).
Once the Rangers season is officially over, which could very well be Friday night, this space will list the “whys” in order of importance. For now, a hearty congratulations to the Oakland A’s for their accomplishment, for it wasn’t entirely a collapse to end the Rangers regular season. The A’s didn’t back in because of the Rangers. They drove straight in by their own right. They earned the title.
Texas will host the Baltimore Orioles Friday night for the right to play a 5-game set with the New York Yankees. The Rangers will be the favorite Friday, playing at home with Yu Darvish on the mound. But if anything has been proven over the last two weeks of the regular season, it’s that favorites don’t always come out on top, much as you might want them to.
- The Rangers lose the AL West to the Athletics – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Darvish to start Rangers’ playoff opener (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
One is one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2012 and will barely get a whisper of consideration for the Cy Young Award. The other was a trade that didn’t go well for the Rangers a year ago. Both pitchers were nails in Sunday, allowing the Texas Rangers to get a little more breathing room against the hard-charging Oakland A’s.
Matt Harrison was magnificent Sunday, picking up his 17th win and almost getting a complete game in beating the Seattle Mariners on his 27th birthday, 2-1. The only blemish for Harrison was a lead-off 8th inning home run by former Ranger Justin Smoak. Harrison’s only walk came in the 9th inning.
Harrison was the second big piece acquired on that fateful trade deadline day years ago, when young GM Jon Daniels acquired Harry along with Elvis Andrus from the Braves system for Mark Teixeira. He’s been a part of the Rangers every year, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Harrison turned a corner and became an effective starter. Harry said he read a book in the off-season that year that helped him change his mental approach on the mound. True or not, something worked. He won 14 games for the Rangers last year and has added 17 this year, with an outside shot at being a 20-game winner on the season.
This year, Harrison has arguably been the Rangers’ most consistent starter from beginning of the season to today. He’s not a strikeout pitcher at a little over 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. He gives up about a hit per inning. He also gets ground-outs. Lots of ground-outs. That leads to lots of double plays. With three more today, his total is now at 23 double plays induced in 2012.
All Matt Harrison does is give you innings and win. You’ll see his name near the top of the charts in all sorts of categories: Wins, WAR for pitchers, ERA, WL%, Innings Pitched, Complete Games, Shutouts, Home Runs Per 9 Innings (among the lowest rates), Adjusted ERA, Adjusted Pitching Runs, you get the idea.
Yet when the votes for the Cy Young Award get tabulated, Matt Harrison is almost guaranteed to finish no better than fifth to a group that includes the names Hernandez, Verlander, Weaver, Price and Sale. There’s an outside chance fellow Ranger Yu Darvish will get more votes than Harrison. It’s all a shame. One could make the case it’s harder for a pitcher like Harrison to reach the heights he has since he doesn’t have the raw stuff of those other pitchers mentioned, so he should be entitled to more votes. But it won’t happen.
In fact, here’s a new twist. It is also conceivable that Matt Harrison, the Rangers most consistent pitcher of 2012, will be no more than the #4 starter in post-season play. Yu Darvish has been pitching more and more like an ace his last five starts, so he could get the #1 nod. If the Rangers rotate between righthanders and lefthanders, Harrison would be either #2 or #4, and Derek Holland has started to look a little more like a solid #2 lately as well. The Rangers top winner a #4 playoff starter? It could happen.
The day before the July trade deadline a year ago, the Rangers were rumored to be hot and heavy in on Heath Bell, then of the Padres. A deal hadn’t been made yet, with speculation a trade could fall through. Just in case, Jon Daniels swung another deal, sending Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for righthander Koji Uehara.
The Japanese import had been nails in the Birds bullpen all year, compiling a 1-1 record with 13 holds and a 1.72 ERA in 43 appearances. Opponents were hitting just .152 off Uehara and his strikeout to walk ratio was an astounding 62-8. When the Rangers added the Padres’ Mike Adams a day later, Rangers fans were salivating over a 7th, 8th and 9th inning featuring Uehara, Adams and Neftali Feliz.
Uehara, though, would be a bust for the Rangers. While some of his peripherals still were decent, he gave up 5 home runs in just 18 innings of work, helping explain his 4.00 ERA in a Texas uniform. The playoffs were even worse. In two appearances over the ALDS and ALCS, Uehara surrendered three home runs and five runs in just an inning and a third of work. The Rangers didn’t even use Uehara in the World Series.
His confidence shattered, Uehara spoke openly of preferring Baltimore to Texas and it appeared the Rangers’ front office tried hard to make a trade back to the Orioles a reality. It never came to fruition.
Instead, Uehara started 2012 in a Rangers uniform once again. The difference was, instead of being a trusted late-inning reliever, the man with the long sideburns was now brought into games for mop-up work: either big wins or big losses. That’s the way Ron Washington operates: Show me you can fill this role, then I’ll give you a better role to see if you can handle that.
Koji filled that role and was actually doing quite well in it. By June 2nd, his ERA was down to 1.33 over 19 appearances, but he was only credited with three holds over that time. Following a bad outing June 9th against the Giants, Uehara was placed on the DL, where he spent the next two and a half months with a strained rib cage.
When activated August 26th, Uehara was back in the mop-up role again. Now Wash started seeing something he hadn’t seen for awhile. Uehara, a righthander who had always handled lefthanded hitters well, started getting leftys out with regularity again. Last week, Koji was given another chance. With set-up man Mike Adams on the shelf with tightness in his back, Uehara was given the 8th inning again. Appearing in 4 consecutive games, Uehara allowed just one hit in 3 innings with 4 strikeouts, all with low pitch counts.
Sunday, with runners or the corners and two outs in the 9th inning of a 2-1 game, it was Uehara brought in to try to nail down the save, not overworked closer Joe Nathan or the usual second-best option Alexi Ogando. No, it was Koji Uehara, who proceeded to strike out the only batter he needed to face on four pitches to nail down his first save since 2010.
Koji Uehara gave up 11 home runs in the regular season a year ago and three in the playoffs. He’s only given up four in 2012. His strikeout to walk ratio is now 30-3, the Batting Average Against .184. Four weeks ago, the names being discussed for the post-season bullpen featured names like Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers. Today the name Koji Uehara is prominent, which is what the Rangers were expecting when they traded for him a year ago.
The Texas Rangers are still looking for their first World Series Championship, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been highlights over their 40 years of existence (51 if you include the Washington Senators years). If you had to choose, what four games would you consider the most essential for any Rangers fan to have in their collection?
The folks at A&E TV and Major League Baseball have made their decision and have released the official MLB DVD “The Essential Games of the Texas Rangers”. This 4-DVD set contains the complete game broadcast of four games considered the top games in Rangers history. In chronological order, they are: Nolan Ryan‘s 7th no-hitter on May 1, 1991; The Rangers first post-season game and first post-season win, October 1, 1996 against the New York Yankees; Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees October 22, 2010; and Game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers October 15, 2011.
I’ve browsed through the set and it certainly brings back fond memories of all those games. The last two games are freshest in my mind. Of all the games, probably the best for me was the 2010 ALCS Game 6 against the Yankees, the game that sent the Rangers to the World Series for the first time. I guarantee I will wear out that DVD just playing Neftali Feliz‘ slider that caught A-Rod looking for the final out and seeing the ensuing celebration. Brandon Inge’s pop-out to first to end Game 6 in 2011 just doesn’t compare.
The fun ones to view are the older games. If I have one quibble, it is this: Nolan Ryan’s 7th career no-hitter features the Toronto Blue Jays TV crew and not the Rangers crew. I honestly don’t remember if the Rangers were on TV that night. Back in ’91, they didn’t necessarily broadcast every single game like they do today, so if that’s why they used the Blue Jays crew, I’m OK with it. Still, it is a bit weird to see this highlight in Rangers history being presented from the viewpoint of the opposing team. The Blue Jays broadcast crew consisted of Don Chevrier, Tommy Hutton and Fergie Olver. Some of the interesting stuff about this game was one of the Blue Jays’ sponsors: Game Genie, the video game enhancement system. Does anybody remember Game Genie? You attached it to your video game before you plugged it into your system and it cracked cheat codes for you. The graphics they used on the TV broadcasts then were pretty funny. They were all VERY large. Tidbit I didn’t know before: In the early part of the broadcast, Tommy Hutton said the reason the Rangers sent Pete Incaviglia to the Detroit Tigers was because manager Bobby Valentine couldn’t stand him. All these years as a Rangers fan and that was the first time I’d heard that.
The DVD I like the best from a broadcasting standpoint was the 1996 ALDS opener against the New York Yankees. Not only was it the Rangers first-ever post-season game, the broadcast team put together by NBC was great: Bob Costas on play-by-play, with color commentary from Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker. It was kind of funny hearing Costas talking about the Yankees bullpen with “their great SET-UP MAN, Mariano Rivera.” The game was played shortly after the infamous Roberto Alomar spitting incident. Apparently there had been some kind of meeting by the MLB brass that day and Costas tossed it to sideline reporter Jim Gray to talk to MLB’s chief labor negotiator at the time, Randy Levine. Gray was younger but just as combative as he is today. In interviewing Levine, Gray said “MLB fumbles on itself time and time again”. Later he told Levine, “It seems as though MLB cowers to the Players Association every time.” I’ve just never been a fan of Gray’s style of questioning. It always seems more editorializing than questioning. Still, it was interesting to revisit the issue all these years later.
The 2010 ALCS game was called by TBS’ crew of Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and John Smoltz. Johnson does not have much baseball play-by-play experience so it’s difficult to hear. Not as hard as the 2011 ALCS game, which was called on Fox by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I don’t mind Buck so much, but listening to McCarver these days is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Yes, he’s knowledgeable. He’s also older now and comes across more Tommy Lee Jones curmudgeon than insightful analyst. Ah, well. I still love watching the game, a 15-05 pasting of the Tigers to send the Rangers back to the World Series.
If I had any other negative, it would just be that I wish we could get a box set that has more than four games on it. I would’ve loved to have seen them include Kenny Rogers’ perfect game. Another one I’d pick, even though they haven’t won the World Series, would be Derek Holland’s two-hit gem against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series.
All in all, “The Essential Games of the Texas Rangers” is an essential get for any diehard Rangers fan. You can order your set here: http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13156454&cp=2366583.2498452
I have more news about this box set to share with you. It will be announced in my next post.
One could find so many nasty things to say about the Texas Rangers, Ron Washington, Elvis Andrus and countless others associated with Sunday’s giveaway loss to the Kansas City Royals. The Rangers, though, took two of three from the Royals and gained a game on both the Angels and the A’s in the process, so Sunday’s game notwithstanding, it seems appropriate to say nice things about the team that once again has the best record in the American League.
Just six weeks ago, Rangers fandom, this writer included, was ready to jettison Scott Feldman to the Mars mission scheduled to land tonight. On June 4th, Feldman stood at 0-4 on the season. After finishing his fourth start as Neftali Feliz‘ replacement in the rotation, Scooter had an ERA of 7.01. While the ERA would improve over the next two starts, he still stood at 0-6, 6.50 on June 14th, a mere six weeks ago. What has transpired since then has been nothing short of amazing.
Over the next three starts, Feldman won two games and got one no decision. They weren’t lights out starts, but they did lower his ERA from 6.50 down to 6.11 on July 4th. At this point, it appeared Feldman would be returning to his original role of long relief, as Colby Lewis was coming off the DL and Roy Oswalt was now on board. Feldman expressed his displeasure at being pulled in one direction and then another, once again earning him little favor from the fans. He picked up his third win with two innings of relief in an extra inning win over the Twins. When Lewis’ season ended, Feldman was back in the rotation. Since then, he has been the Rangers steadiest starting pitcher. Over his past three starts, he’s allowed only three runs over 22.2 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.52. The three wins he’s earned in that span has brought him all the way back to 6-6 after an 0-6 start.
Feldman isn’t going to strike out a lot of people. He pitches to contact and when his cutter and sinker are working, the contact is usually poor. It was that talent that led him to a staff-leading 17 wins in 2009 and earned him the Opening Day spot for the 2010 season.
2010 wasn’t kind to Feldman. He struggled early and never got back on track. His season ended early and he underwent microfracture surgery on his knee, one of the first in baseball to undergo the procedure. He got a ring for being a member of the 2010 World series team, but he really didn’t contribute a lot: a 7-11 record with a 5.48 ERA. This didn’t gain him many friends in the fan base, considering he had signed a contract worth $8 million a year following his 17-win campaign.
He continued to alienate folks in 2011. He started the season in the minors, working his way back in shape from the surgery. At one point, disabled list rules called for the Rangers to call him back up unless Feldman agreed to continue his minor league rehab. Scooter refused. The Rangers were forced to bring him back up. He was used sparingly by the Rangers the rest of the year. In fact, he was with the club for almost two weeks before he was even called on to make a game appearance. By season’s end, he had appeared in just 11 games including two spot starts to give Alexi Ogando a rest. Feldman did pitch himself into at least decent graces again with the coaching staff and appeared in nine post-season games for Texas, including five games in the 2011 World Series.
Feldman began 2012 as the team’s long reliever. He made one spot start in April in which he lasted only 3.1 innings. Fans were willing to forgive him at first for a couple shaky starts. When he gave up eight runs in less than two innings of work against the A’s June 4th, that’s when the “Dump Feldman” griping came in earnest. Scooter persevered. Now he’s the Rangers most consistent starter. Good job Scott.
Meanwhile, the Mike Olt era began on Thursday when the heralded rookie was recalled from AA Frisco. Olt has now appeared in three games. On the negative side, Olt committed the game-ending error Sunday against the Royals. Everything else on his ledger has been positive. A noted power hitter, Olt has yet to get an extra base hit. He has, however, done exactly what Ron Washington preaches: he does what the game asks him to do. That’s why, after three games, Olt has just two singles in seven at bats. He also has three walks. He also has two sacrifice flies. He also has 3 RBI in three games, hitting in the 8 and 9 hole. He’s shown patience at the plate. He shortens up his swing once the count gets to two strikes. He’s made a lot of fans in just a short period of time. If he keeps it up for another couple of weeks, Olt might never see a minor league game again, unless it’s on a rehab assignment.
I still worry about this team’s post-season chances in 2012. Scott Feldman and Mike Olt are not a part of those worries.
It took until seconds before the trade deadline for the first tweet to appear. Three minutes after MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden tweeted he was waiting on confirmation that Ryan Dempster had indeed been traded to the Yankees, the Rangers shut Bowden up by grabbing Dempster in exchange for two Class-A players: pitcher Kyle Hendricks and 3rd baseman Cristian Villanueva.
Dempster was supposed to start tonight for the Cubs. He will NOT be starting tonight for the Rangers. It’s Derek Holland‘s job to face Jered Weaver tonight. No word on whether Dempster will be thrown against the Angels Wednesday or Thursday or be held out until the Royals series starts on Friday.
It was the second trade with the Cubs in less than 24 hours. From what I understand, Geovany Soto had pretty much been a personal catcher for Dempster, so there will be a great sense of familiarity between the two of them when Dempster finally makes his first start. On the other hand, neither one of them are familiar enough with the American League batters, so maybe it would make more sense for Napoli to handle Dempster at first.
Villanueva was one of the Rangers’ better prospects, a third baseman with power potential. The problem is, the Rangers already have one of those with Adrian Beltre and another on the way with Mike Olt, as well as an 18-year-old rookie, Joey Gallo, playing in the Arizona League right now and threatening to break that league’s single season home run record. Villanueva, though good, was expendable.
I don’t know as much about Hendricks beyond the fact he isn’t rated as highly as Villanueva on the Prospects charts. I read that his stuff isn’t overpowering, but he has a good feel for the art of pitching, so there’s that.
Texas didn’t get the ace they were looking for, but they did get two established major leaguers at a cost of three minor leaguers who have talent but maybe not enough to bulldoze their way into the Rangers’ long-term plans. I wish them all well with the Cubs.
Now the real questions begin for Rangers fans. With the arrival of Dempster, who gets dropped from the starting rotation? Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland? Absolutely not,. So it comes down to a choice between Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has the career track record. Feldman has been the much better pitcher over the past three weeks. And if you drop Oswalt from the rotation, what does that say about the $5 million Texas invested into bringing him there. On the other hand, Feldman is making a pretty penny this year as well ($6.5 million).
I keep hearing Oswalt is steadfast in not wanting to be a bullpen piece. Feldman has been both a long reliever and a starter this season. In the end, I think Feldman deserves the starting position, but I think Oswalt is the one who keeps his spot, even though he’s been shelled hard, particularly last night against the Angels.
I’m sure that question will be answered within an hour of my posting this. Whoever loses their spot in the rotation, though, is going to be publicly upset.
Last minute addendum: Rangers just announced Neftali Feliz needs Tommy John surgery. No Feliz in 2012 or 2013. Good luck, Nefti!
For two weeks, Rangers fans have been expecting something BIG. For two weeks, the media has been expecting something BIG.
Of course, the Rangers front office doesn’t listen to the fans and the media, at least not in the trade speculation department. Nope, they go out and do what they do and think strictly about making the team better.
So in the midst of every Rangers fan saying, besides a top of the rotation pitcher, that Texas needs help on offense, Jon Daniels went out and got a new catcher who was hitting for a lower batting average than the one they designated for assignment. Needless to say, there was a bit of head-scratching going on there.
Following the Rangers 15-8 thumping at the hands of the Angels, Texas announced they had reached an agreement on a trade to bring Geovany Soto over from the Cubs in exchange for AA pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named later or cash. Meanwhile, the Rangers designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment, giving them ten days to trade him or release him.
At first glance it was a head-scratcher. Sure, Torrealba is batting in the low .220′s, but Soto is at .195 for the year. As much as the offense has scuffed and sputtered the month of July, where does it make sense to trade for a guy hitting under the Mendoza line?
Here’s the deal, though. Soto has more extra base power in his bat. Since there’s not that much difference between .195 and .220, you might as well get some pop out of the hits. The front office, though, wasn’t even thinking about the offensive numbers. What they saw was a catcher who’s better defensively than Torrealba, one who will throw out more runners trying to steal and one who will allow fewer passed balls.
While Torrealba was being praised earlier this season for improving his game-calling, he was proving woefully weak throwing out runners and was even tagged as too nonchalant in going for pitches in the dirt, resulting in passed balls.
It could be this is the only move the Rangers make before the deadline. It won’t be from lack of trying. If they fail to land that big pitcher they’ve reportedly been coveting, it’ll be because Jon Daniels is a victim of his own success. So much has been made of the deal Daniels made with the Braves years ago that resulted in Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz that every team is looking to make that kind of haul for their star players. Daniels, though, is unwilling to part with Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt or Martin Perez to get that TORP. I happen to agree with him. Much as I want Texas to get that Championship on the third try this year, it can’t be at a price that could weaken Texas in the long run.
After 3 PM Central Time today, the only deals that can be made involve putting players on revocable waivers. If another team claims them, you can either withdraw the waivers or make a deal. As much as it might have been sacrilege to say it over the past five years, I’m going to offer a bold thought that I could see happening after today. What if the Rangers made Michael Young available through the revocable waiver process? Young is having his worst career year ever and the saber crowd of Rangers fans has been yelling for his departure. If someone claims Young, they work out a deal that includes pitching. Meanwhile, the Rangers bring Olt and his power bat up from AA for the stretch.
Trading Young outright before the deadline today would probably rile the non-saber fan base too much. Make it a waiver deal, when most fans understand a lot of roster people are put on revocable waivers every year and it might make it more palatable to the base.
Hey, it may never happen, but it would be a bold move on the part of the front office. At the same time, I’m bracing myself for possibility that Geovany Soto is going to be the only “big” move this year.
With two outs in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the White Sox and runners on first and second, Nelson Cruz hit a three-run shot that gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead in a game they would eventually lose 9-5. The Cruz missile was a significant moment in the weekend, although we did not know it at the time.
Since then, the Rangers have managed not a single hit with runners in scoring position. The official tally is now at 0-29 and counting. It’s a miracle that 1) the Rangers have scored 5 runs in that time; and 2) that they actually managed to win Sunday night’s game.
What has become a putrid offense in the month of July scored their last five runs on a solo home run, an error, and three groundouts. So many chance, almost all of them wasted. Friday night, Texas had the bases loaded and one out. Couldn’t convert. Twice on Saturday, they had a runner on third with one out and once a runner on third with nobody out. Couldn’t get a hit. Sunday, the Rangers loaded the bases in both the first and second innings and couldn’t get a runner home. They also had a runner on third with one out twice and a runner on third with two outs once. Two of those three times, they got a run home but not via a hit.
It’s that type of offensive ineptitude that allowed the White Sox to take two of three from the Rangers and win the season series, 6 games to 3. If not for the sparkling work of Scott Feldman on the mound Sunday, it’s conceivable the White Sox could have swept the Rangers for the second straight time. Feldman had what was perhaps the best game he’s ever had in a Rangers uniform, going eight innings on only 88 pitches, striking out five and walking no one in picking up his fifth straight victory after losing his first six decisions of the year. Better yet, the Angels lost two of three to the Rays, so they gained no ground on the Rangers. In fact, the Angels dropped to third after the A’s took two of three from Baltimore, so now it is Oakland in second place at 4 1/2 games behind.
Still, this Rangers fan is getting very pessimistic despite the fact my team still has the second best record in the American League. This month, the Rangers offense stands at a .242 batting average with 71 runs scored, worst in the AL by a whopping 21 runs! The vaunted offense has only hit 18 July home runs, less than anyone except the Mariners who have also hit 18. The only reason they’re even 9-12 this month is because the pitching staff is 5th in ERA for July and has thrown two shutouts.
Rehabbing Neftali Feliz was pulled from his Sunday start with Round Rock when his elbow started acting up again. He joins Colby Lewis on the list of Rangers pitchers who will not be available the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the Angels made the big move of the weekend, picking up Zack Greinke from the Brewers. He will provide a big boost to their starting pitching. The good news is he pitched Sunday against the Rays (and lost!), so Texas will not have to face him in this week’s big 4-game set at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. At best, Texas will only see Greinke twice in the regular season.
It’s beginning to look doubtful the Rangers will pick up an impact starting pitcher by the trade deadline tomorrow. Latest rumors have Texas working on stretching out Alexi Ogando to be a starter again and looking at the relief market. The way the offense has been going lately, I still think it would behoove the Rangers to find a bat to help them in the stretch run. Josh Hamilton has been so bad of late that he was benched on Saturday after being booed by the home fans following another one of his gruesome at-bats Friday. Sunday he amazed one and all by not only not striking out, but taking some pitches and walking twice. He also was moved from third to fifth in the line-up.
No, things haven’t been looking so good in Rangers Land as of late. Still, I take comfort in this. Texas mostly stood pat to start the 2012 season. The Angels spent a small fortune to get Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Mike Trout came up and is having an MVP-like season. Now they’ve gone and gotten Greinke. Still, here it is July 29th and the Rangers are up 5 on the Angels. A year ago at this time, they were up only 2 on LA. Maybe it’s being done with smoke and mirrors, but my boys are still getting the job done. I’m not guaranteeing Texas will retain the AL West crown, particularly in light of the way they’ve been playing lately. But I can’t say I’m betting against them either.
What was strangest about this All-Star break was the extra day. Over 40 years of following baseball and if there’s one thing I’m used to, it’s a three-day All-Star break. Having the extra day was, well, disconcerting. There wasn’t much of anything to write about, although some ideas for the future popped into my head. In the end, this weekend has been my All-Star break, letting a few games digest in my mind before trying to come up with anything noteworthy to write about.
As has been increasingly frustrating, the Rangers didn’t score a lot of runs in their first three games back. In fact, the 4-spot they put up on Sunday was them highest output of runs they’ve had over the past ten games. Definitely not Rangers-worthy offense. On the other hand, the pitching staff is getting ready to return to a semblance of normalcy. Derek Holland came off the DL just prior to the break and started the first game on Friday, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Colby Lewis returns on Wednesday against the A’s. In the relief corps, Alexi Ogando has been pronounced fit to go and will be in the bullpen come Tuesday. Koji Uehara could possibly join him there on the same day. That would leave just Mark Lowe and Neftali Feliz as hurlers on the DL and Feliz made his first rehab start on Sunday. Meanwhile, Matt Harrison keeps rolling along, tossing his second shutout of the season on Sunday in a 4-0 win to keep the AL lead in wins with 12.
Texas started the second half by taking two of three in Seattle and putting another game of space between themselves and the Angels, who lost two of three to the Yankees. The game they lost is the one that gets me weirded out. Texas lost the game, 7-0, as Felix Hernandez tossed a three-hit shutout. I can deal with the loss itself, even the shutout since it was King Felix on the mound. What has me weirded out is what the deal is with Yu Darvish and the Seattle Mariners.
For the season, Darvish is a fine 10-6 with 3.96 ERA. Yeah the ERA could be better, but all in all, Darvish has performed at expectations or maybe even a little better for a pitcher in his first year in the American bigs. Here’s the thing, though. Take away his three starts against the Seattle Mariners and Darvish is a pretty impressive 9-4 with a 3.09 ERA. The league as a whole is only hitting .231 against Darvish. Take away the Mariners offense and it’s a miserly .218.
Yes, inexplicably, one of the worst offenses in the American League is hitting Darvish at a .294 clip. In three games against Seattle, Darvish is 1-2 with an ERA of 9.00. Ichiro alone is hitting .600 against his fellow countryman. Just about 25% of Darvish’s 57 walks on the season have been to Mariners batters. On balls in play (BABIP), the league is at .300, which is considered average. The Mariners BABIP against Darvish is .352.
Who knows what it is. Does facing another Japanese legend like Ichiro affect his concentration or is all this just a fluke? I remember years ago, someone asked Hall of Famer Tom Seaver about the toughest hitters for him to face and he surprisingly answered Tommy Hutton, who had a .248 career average and only 22 home runs in 12 seasons. Seaver said it didn’t matter what he threw, Hutton would hit it. Maybe the Mariners are Yu Darvish’s Tommy Hutton. The way it’s going, I’m just glad the odds are pretty good he won’t have to face Seattle in a playoff game.