Saturday, December 30, 2006

McCarthy Acquired and Danks Traded

Texas acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Chicago White Sox in a five-player deal last Saturday in which the Rangers traded John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner to Chicago for Brandon McCarthy and outfielder David Paisano.

The Rangers traded:

Danks: Last year John split the season in AA and AAA where he went 9-9 with a 4.34 ERA. His career minor league record is 21-30 and his career era is 4.20. He averaged 0.4 walks per inning last year and is 21 years old. It is possible he will make the White Sox starting rotation sometime this year.

Masset: Nick has done OK in his minor league career (career ERA of 4.53 over 6 seasons), with a strong 2006 after a rough 2005. He made his major league debut last year, with a 4.15 ERA in 8 appearances, and might make the White Sox bullpen out of spring training next year.

Rasner: Jacob has only played for two years and is 7-21 with a 6.14 era. He’s probably just one of those throw-in guys.

The Rangers received:

McCarthy: McCarthy had the tenth most innings pitched by a relief pitcher in the AL last year. He is 7-9 with a 4.39 ERA in his career (parts of two seasons). The White Sox planned to have him start in 2007 and he will be part of the Rangers’ starting rotation.

Paisano: David Paisano is only 19 and has never played in the US. He has only played in the Venezuelan Summer league. Last year he did great when batting with two outs and also did great at the end of the season after struggling at the beginning. For more of his stats go to:

Trade evaluation:

You won’t be able to tell if this trade is good or bad for sure for a few more years. It definitely makes the Rangers stronger for 2007. Right now, the stats of Danks aren’t too promising that he’ll be great, but he seems like a guy with great stuff that can make adjustments at different levels. He might be a good major league pitcher and possibly even great. The Rangers weren’t going to get anything out of Danks this year but they will with McCarthy. McCarthy is very home-run prone and is going to a hitters’ ballpark but is also a huge prospect. We can’t tell if Paisano is going to be good or not since he’s never played in the US. Masset probably will be a decent-to-solid bullpen guy and Rasner was just thrown in there. This is a good trade for the 2007 Rangers but whether it’s a good long-term trade depends on whether Danks and McCarthy reach their potential in the major leagues.

Grade: B

Come back next week for an interview with Rangers broadcaster and former player and GM Tom Grieve.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Newberg Bound Edition Release Party

This week, I will describe what happened at the Newberg Bound Edition release party on December 13th.

It was held at the Tin Star in downtown Dallas, and the 2007 Newberg Report Bound Edition was sold for the first time at the event. Eleanor Czajka was in charge of selling the books and was very friendly like always.

This year’s Bound Edition is great. The cover is the best one yet in my opinion and was done by Marty Yawnick. The inside was designed by Devin Pike and has the usual good stuff, including:
- The Newberg awards, where Jamey ranks the top players in the Rangers minor league system for 2006. Jamey does really nice write-ups on the background of each player.
- The Newberg reports from the past year.
- The stats for every player at every level of the Rangers organization.
- Write-ups on rules for major league rosters, like the Rule 5 Draft.
- Forewords by CJ Wilson, Nick Masset’s mom, and Michael Schlact’s dad.

The food at the event was great. I had the kids’ chicken nuggets and they were great. The fries were awesome. My dad had the bacon cheeseburger taco and really liked it. Tin Star is run by Barry Newberg, Jamey’s brother, and he runs the place well.

The players that were there were John Danks, Kameron Loe, Taylor Teagarden, CJ Wilson, and Ian Kinsler. The first thing they did was sign autographs. They signed for about two hours.

After that, they did a Q&A session. Some of the questions and answers are below.

Q: To Ian: Who is the toughest pitcher you’ve faced in the big leagues?
A: Johan Santana, Mike Mussina, and Jose Contreras.

Q: To all: What are the best and worst minor league parks you’ve played in?
A: Best – Round Rock and Frisco
Worst – Savannah, Little Rock, and Clinton

Q: To John: How do you feel about the change in the Rule 5 Draft rules.
A: He said he didn’t like it because it will push back his being added to the 40-man roster.

Q: To Kameron, Ian and CJ: What is the most surprising thing about life as a ballplayer?
A: CJ said how much you’re focused when you’re out there. Ian said how much you’re catered to. Kameron said how aware you are that you’re in the major leagues.

Q: To all: What was the chemistry like last year on the Rangers?
A: There wasn’t much chemistry on the team last year and the main part of the chemistry that was there was Mark DeRosa.

After the Q&A session, players stood around talking with the fans.

It was a really great event. In addition to the players, a bunch of people from the Rangers and local media were there, including Jeff Cogen, Jeff Evans, Evan Grant, Kat O’Brien, and Danny Fine. You can see pictures at Eleanor's website at

Come back next week for a probable interview with Rangers broadcaster, former GM, and former player Tom Grieve.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hot Stove Report

This week, I will be doing a hot stove report. I will analyze the Kenny Lofton, Marlon Byrd and Eric Gagne signings. I will also analyze the players the Rangers are trying to get and give the percentage chance of the Rangers signing them.

Players the Rangers are going after:

Barry Zito:
Zito is a fly ball pitcher but has performed great in Ameriquest field the past two years. He is a great overall pitcher and could really help our rotation.

Percentage of us signing him: 56.4%

Mark Mulder:
Mulder is a really good pitcher that could help us with our rotation. But he’s going to miss the first couple months of the season. He might or might not rebound quickly off of his surgery.

Percentage: 32.6%

Gagne, Lofton and Byrd Sign

Eric Gagne:
Gagne set the record for most consecutive saves without blowing a save. He has been great but missed most of the last two years due to injuries. He could rebound well and do great and he could do awful. But he will probably be determined to do well since it’s a one-year deal. It’s a good risk because it’s a one-year deal for not too much money.

Grade: A-

Kenny Lofton
Lofton was the best center fielder left in free agency when we got him. He is a great one-year guy to get. This might be his last year, too (probably not). He will fill our hole at center field and lead-off hitter. He also has a really good attitude and has been a consistent winner. The last two years have been among the best of his career. He hit .335 in 2005 and .301 in 2006. He has a career .299 batting average.

Grade: A+

Marlon Byrd
Byrd has a lot of potential but hasn’t performed very well in the majors yet. If Rudy can get him to reach is full potential he could be a very good pick-up. His best year was 2003 when he hit .303 as a starter. Since that year, he has played poorly. His career batting average is .263. If he makes the active roster, it will be as a fifth outfielder.

Grade: B+

Come back next week for a report on the Newberg Bound Edition Release Party with CJ Wilson, Kameron Loe, Ian Kinsler, John Danks, and Taylor Teagarden.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jon Daniels Trade Analysis and Comparison with John Hart Trades

This is an analysis of the trades Jon Daniels has made as Rangers GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or draw. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level. These are graded as of today. Some of them are too recent to really evaluate. At the end, I’ll compare Jon’s record so far to John Hart’s.


1. November 16: Acquired RHP Jon Leicester from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later (Clint Brannon).
Draw – Neither player has done anything for these teams at the major league level.
Record: 0-0-1

2. December 8: Acquired LHP Fabio Castro, for INF Esteban German.
Win – Castro is a really good player. German is good but not as good. Anyway, behind Kinsler, German wasn’t going to get playing time anytime soon.
Record: 1-0-1

3. December 12: Acquired RHP Vicente Padilla from the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later (Ricardo Rodriguez).
Win – Padilla has proved to be a really good pitcher. Rodriguez ended up being dropped by the Phillies. Plus, if we didn’t have Padilla last year, we probably wouldn’t have him this year.
Record: 2-0-1

4. December 13: Acquired OF Brad Wilkerson, OF Terrmel Sledge and RHP Armando Galarraga from the Washington Nationals in exchange for INF Alfonso Soriano.
Loss – Soriano ended up having a terrific year. Wilkerson had an awful year. Galarraga got injured and Sledge immediately got traded.
Record: 2-1-1


5. January 4: Acquired RHP Adam Eaton, RHP Akinori Otsuka and C Billy Killian in exchange for RHP Chris Young, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and OF Terrmel Sledge.
Loss – Eaton got injured and pitched awful when he got back and Killian’s in the minors. Young had a career year and Gonzalez did great. Gonzalez wouldn’t play 1st but would’ve been a good DH. Otsuka has been great but not as good as Young and Gonzalez.
Record: 2-2-1

6. March 31: Acquired LHP John Rheinecker and INF Freddie Bynum from the Oakland A's in exchange for RHP Juan Dominguez
Win – Dominguez had an awful year and has a bad attitude and Rheinecker ended up pitching well.
Record: 3-2-1

7. March 31: Sent INF Freddy Bynum to the Chicago Cubs for LHP John Koronka and a player to be named later or cash considerations. I can’t tell if we ever sent another player to the Cubs.
Win – Koronka did great the 1st half of the year and Bynum didn’t do anything.
Record: 4-2-1

8. April 1: Traded David Dellucci to Philadelphia for RHP Robinson Tejeda and OF Jake Blalock
Win – Tejeda looks to be a pretty promising pitcher while Dellucci had a down year.
Record: 5-2-1

9. May 11: Acquired OF Freddy Guzman and nonroster RHP Cesar Rojas from the San Diego Padres for nonroster RHP John Hudgins and nonroster OF Vince Sinisi.
Draw – Neither team has gotten much major league contribution.
Record: 5-2-2

10. May 13: Acquired INF Enrique Cruz and a player to be named later (ended up being cash) from the Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Brian Shouse.
Loss – Cruz stayed in the minors all year. Shouse had a 3.97 ERA in 59 games for the Brewers.
Record: 5-3-2

11. May 31: Acquired INF/OF Jerry Hairston, Jr. from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for INF Phil Nevin and cash considerations.
Win – Nevin continued playing awfully while we got some good (and sometimes bad) defense out of Hairston.
Record: 6-3-2

12. June 1: Acquired nonroster 1B Jason Hart from the Twins for a PTBN. I can’t tell if we ever sent anyone to the Twins.
Draw – Neither team got any major league contribution.
Record: 6-3-3

13. June 29: Acquired LHP Daniel Haigwood and cash considerations from the Philadelphia Phillies for LHP Fabio Castro.
Loss – Castro had great potential while Haigwood doesn’t have nearly as much potential.
Record: 6-4-3

14. July 28: Acquired OF Carlos Lee and OF Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee in exchange for RHP Francisco Cordero, OFs Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix and nonroster LHP Julian Cordero.
Win – We filled Cordero’s spot with Otsuka and Mench wasn’t doing well. Nix hasn’t been good in the major leagues so far and Julian Cordero is a minor prospect. Cruz has outstanding potential. We didn’t get much out of Lee though and now he’s gone.
Record: 7-4-3

15. July 30: Acquired RHP Luis Mendoza from Boston for LHP Bryan Corey.
Draw – Corey had pitched great for us at the beginning but had already been designated for assignment when traded, so it was good to get something for him. Mendoza’s a regular minor leaguer. Corey had 16 appearances for Boston with a 4.57 ERA.
Record: 7-4-4

16. July 30: Acquired C Miguel Ojeda from Colorado for cash considerations.
Win – Ojeda played decently for us while all we had to do is send cash to Colorado. Ojeda might be the backup catcher in 2007.
Record: 8-4-4

17. July 31: Acquired OF Matt Stairs from the Royals for nonroster RHP Joselo Diaz.
Draw – Neither player did much for the teams.
Record: 8-4-5

18. July 31: Acquired RHP Kip Wells from Pittsburgh in exchange for nonroster RHP Jesse Chavez.
Win – Chavez hasn’t made the majors yet and isn’t much of a prospect, while we got a few good starts out of Wells before his injury.
Record: 9-4-5

19. August 30: Acquired OF Victor Diaz from the New York Mets for Minor League C Mike Nickeas.
Draw – Neither player has played in the majors since the trade. Neither has much potential to make a major league impact with their teams.
Record: 9-4-6

20. September 1: Traded Triple-A 1B Randall Simon to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations.
Draw – Neither team got much at all.
Record: 9-4-7

Comparison between Hart and Daniels:

John Hart:
Record: 7-11-18
Percentage of trades that were wins: 19%
Number of trades: 36 in 4 years (average of 9 trades per year)

Jon Daniels:
Record: 9-4-7
Percentage of trades that were wins: 45%
Number of trades: 20 in 1 year

These stats lead me to think that Daniels is a better and more aggressive GM, while Hart is a laid back GM who does not make very good trades most of the time. Almost half of Hart’s trades didn’t make any difference.

Come back next week for a hot stove report special. Also coming up soon will be a write-up of the Q&A session at the Newberg Bound Edition release party.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

John Hart Trade Analysis Part 4 of 4

This is part 4 of a 4 part analysis of the trades John Hart made while he was Rangers GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or draw. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.

2004 (continued):

31. July 31: Player TBNL traded to New York (NL) for Scott Erickson and cash considerations.
Draw - Neither team got a benefit from this trade.
Record: 7-10-14


32. March 30: OF Ramon Nivar traded to Baltimore for LHP Matt Riley and C Keith McDonald.
Draw – Both teams have gotten 7 games from the players they acquired.
Record: 7-10-15

33. March 30: Future considerations traded to Chicago (NL) for infielder Cody Ransom.
Draw – Neither team has gotten anything out of the deal.
Record: 7-10-16

34. May 22: RHP Vlad Nunez traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later.
Draw – There was no impact on either team.
Record: 7-10-17

35. July 21: RHP Matt Lorenzo traded to Atlanta for RHP Kevin Grybowski.
Draw – Grybowski did awful in his one Ranger year. Lorenzo finished off the year with the single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. After that year the Braves cut Lorenzo.
Record: 7-10-18

36. July 30: RHP Chan Ho Park and cash traded to San Diego for 1B/DH Phil Nevin.
Loss – Nevin did next to nothing for us and Park still has some good outings. Even though neither player performed too well, Park did better than Nevin. The Padres actually got a decent year out of Park in ’06. Park posted a 7-7 record with a 4.81 ERA. Nevin went 38-for-176 with 9 HR’s and a .216 batting average in ’06 before being traded to the Cubs.
Record: 7-11-18

Come back next week for an analysis of the trades made so far by Jon Daniels and comparison of John Hart and Jon Daniels trades.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

John Hart Trade Analysis Part 3 of 4 and Catalanotto signed

This is part 3 of a 4 part analysis of the trades John Hart made while he was Rangers GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or draw. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.


26. Feb. 5: Infielder Mike Lamb traded to Yankees for righthander Jose Garcia.
Loss – Lamb became a very good player with the Astros while Garcia struggled with the Rangers. Lamb was actually part of the major league team. Garcia was a minor leaguer.
Record: 6-9-11

27. Feb. 16: Shortstop Alex Rodriguez traded to Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and (on Mar. 23) shortstop Joaquin Arias.
Loss - A-Rod was the best player in baseball. Soriano’s a good player who has defensive struggles and doesn’t always hustle. Arias may be good but hasn’t done anything at the big league level. We’re also sending the Yankees about $9 million per year for A-Rod.
Record: 6-10-11

28. Apr. 2: Player to be named later traded to Cubs for infielder Santiago Perez.
Draw – We never sent anybody to the Cubs but Perez never made it to the majors.
Record: 6-10-12

29. Apr. 3: Catcher Einar Diaz, righthander Justin Echols, and cash traded to Montreal for righthander Chris Young and catcher-infielder Josh McKinley.
Win – Diaz and Echols have never done much and cash doesn’t mean much. Young pitched great while he was here and McKinley never made it to the majors.
Record: 7-10-12

30. Jun. 10: Catcher-infielder Josh McKinley traded to Montreal for catcher Ben Margalski and infielder Seth Taylor.
Draw: None of the players involved ever made it to the majors.
Record: 7-10-13

Frank Catalanotto signed:

On 11/21/06 the Rangers signed Frank Catalanotto. He signed a three-year contract for $13 million with an option for a fourth year. He is a Type-A free agent so the Rangers will definitely give up a 1st round draft pick, either for Frank or for another higher-ranked free agent. Here are his 2006 stats compared to Mark DeRosa’s. I will give the better stat a win and the worse stat a loss.

G 128-Loss
AB 437-Loss
H 131-Loss
HR 7-Loss
2B 36-Loss
3B 2-Tie
SB 1-Loss
AVG .300-Win
OBP .375-Win
SLG .439-Loss
OPS .816-Win

Record 3-7-1

G 136-Win
AB 520-Win
H 154-Win
HR 13-Win
2B 40-Win
3B 2-Tie
SB 4-Win
AVG .296-Loss
OBP .357-Loss
SLG .456-Win
OPS .812-Loss

Record 7-3-1

Even though Mark had a better year than Frank, I think this was a good move for the Rangers. Mark had one really good year but Frank has been good for a few years, including with the Rangers from 2000-2002. Also, Mark didn’t want to be a utility guy anymore.

Come back next week for part 4 of 4 of the John Hart series and any free agent signings and/or trades.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

John Hart Trade Analysis Part 2 of 4

This is part 2 of a 4 part analysis of the trades John Hart made while he was Rangers GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or draw. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level. The first part of this series can be found in my September 23, 2006 blog.


15. Mar. 16: Lefthander Derrick Van Dusen traded to Cleveland for infielder Marshall McDougall.
Draw – Both have done next to nothing at the major league level.
Record: 3-4-8

16. Mar. 24: Cash sent to Milwaukee for infielder Manny Alexander.
Win - Alexander filled in at the major league level as a utility guy. Since we got him for free, I’ll call it a win.
Record: 4-4-8

17. Mar. 30: Catcher Fernando Lunar traded to Kansas City for outfielder Odannys Ayala.
Draw – Neither have done anything in the majors.
Record: 4-4-9

18. May 9: Player to be named later traded to Cubs for righthander Alan Benes. Benes returned to Chicago on June 4 for infielder Steve O'Sullivan.
Draw – The deal has done nothing for either side.
Record: 4-4-10

19. May 27: Righthander Esteban Yan traded to St. Louis for outfielder Rick Asadoorian.
Loss – It may not have been much but at least the Cardinals got a good performance from Yan every once in a while. Asadoorian never made it to the majors.
Record: 4-5-10

20. Jun. 6: Outfielder Ruben Sierra traded to Yankees for outfielder Marcus Thames.
Loss – Sierra did well for the Yanks while Thames barely contributed to the Rangers.
Record: 4-6-10

21. Jul. 1: Outfielder Carl Everett traded to White Sox for three players to be named later, identified on Jul. 24 as righthanders Frankie Francisco and Josh Rupe and outfielder Anthony Webster.
Win – It was in the middle of Everett’s All-Star season, but Francisco did well his first year and Rupe is doing well now. Webster is still a prospect. Everett has not done too much after being traded. Francisco and Rupe should be key pieces to the bullpen going into 2007.
Record: 5-6-10

22. Jul. 10: Cash sent to San Diego for infielder-outfielder Jermaine Clark.
Draw – Cash is barely worth anything and Clark barely did anything with the Rangers.
Record: 5-6-11

23. Jul. 11: Righthander Ugueth Urbina traded to Florida for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, lefthander Ryan Snare, and outfielder Will Smith.
Loss – Urbina went on to win the World Series with Florida and was a big contributor. Gonzalez never had much impact at the major league level with Teixeira in front of him. Snare never made it to the majors with the Rangers, and Smith was a big prospect but we eventually released him. The trade looked good at the time but when you really look at it now, it wasn’t very good. It wasn’t a really bad trade because Urbina was in the last year of his contract, but I’ll still give it a loss.
Record: 5-7-11

24. Jul. 18: Outfielder Ryan Ludwick traded to Cleveland for righthander Ricardo Rodriguez and outfielder Shane Spencer.
Win – Ludwick has done next to nothing for the Indians as did Spencer for the Rangers. But Rodriguez had a quality season in 2004.
Record: 6-7-11

25. Jul. 30: Outfielder Doug Glanville traded to Cubs for outfielder Jason Fransz.
Loss – Glanville actually gave the Cubs something, while Fransz gave the Rangers nothing.
Record: 6-8-11

Come back next week for part 3 of this series unless there are any major trades or free agent signings to break down.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Free Agent Analysis Part 4 of 4 and Ron Washington Hired

This is part four of a series where I will examine the free agents and name the top players the Rangers should go after. This week, I will examine the free agent relief pitchers and catchers.

Grade A:
Javy Lopez
Dan Kolb

Grade B:
Robert Fick
Mike Lieberthal
Mike Piazza
Gregg Zaun
Joey Eischen
Alan Embree
Aaron Fultz
Eddie Gaurdado
Darren Oliver
Mike Remlinger
J.C. Romero
Scott Schoenweis
Antonio Alfonseca
Joe Borowski
Chad Bradford
Doug Brocail
Mike DeJean
Octavio Dotel
Keith Foulke
Ryan Franklin
LaTroy Hawkins
Dustin Hermanson
Scott Sauerbeck
Roberto Hernandez
Kevin Jarvas
Matt Mantei
Troy Percival
Cliff Polite
David Riske
Felix Hernandez
Rudy Seanez
Justin Speier
Russ Springer
Tanyon Sturtze
David Weathers

Grade C:
Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Paul Bako
Rod Barajas
Gary Bennett
Henry Blanco
Todd Greene
Doug Mirabelli
Bengie Molina
Todd Pratt
Kelly Stinnett
John Halama
Ray King
Steve Kline
Kent Mercker
Terry Mulholland
Arthur Rhodes
Mike Stanton
Ron Villone
Jamie Walker
Jim Brower
Geremi Gonzalez
Steve Karsay
Jose Mesa
Jeff Nelson
Julio Santana
Rick White
Scott Williamson

Grade D:
Einer Diaz
Mike DiFelice
Vic Darensbourg
Chris Hammond
Mike Holtz
Tom Martin
Matt Herges
Brian Meadows
Guillermo Mota

Grade F:
Tim Laker
Chris Widger
Giovanni Carrara
Jason Grimsley
Esteban Yan

Top relief pitchers or catchers that the Rangers should go after:

1. Dan Kolb: He is a very good set-up man.

2. Robert Fick: He can fill the empty back-up catcher spot and back-up the infield.

3. Darren Oliver: He is a good long relief pitcher and can fill in at starter every once in a while.

4. Scott Schoenweis: He is a very good relief pitcher.

5. Gregg Zaun: He can fill our back-up catcher role.

6. Octavio Dotel: He has been a great relief pitcher.

7. Tanyon Sturtze: He is a good long relief pitcher and can fill in at starter every once in a while.

8. Antonio Alfonseca: He was good before his injury last year.

9. Alan Embree: He is a good set-up man.

10. Russ Springer: He has done very well with the Astros.

Also, this week, the Rangers named Ron Washington their new manager. I don’t know enough about him to really give a good opinion but I am a little worried that he wants Barry Bonds. He seems to be very popular with his former players so will hopefully be someone that our players will like and play hard for.

Come back next week for part 2 of the John Hart series, where I’m analyzing all of the trades John Hart made.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Free Agent Analysis Part 3 of 4

This is part three of a series where I will examine the free agents and name the top players the Rangers should go after. This week, I will examine the free agent outfielders.

Grade A:
Carlos Lee
Alfonso Soriano
Gary Sheffield
Trot Nixon

Grade B:
Jim Edmonds
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Frank Catalanotto
David Dellucci
Ryan Klesko
Jay Payton
Dave Roberts

Grade C:
Darin Erstad
Kenny Lofton
Juan Pierre
Barry Bonds
Jose Cruz, Jr.
Cliff Floyd
Luis Gonzalez
Todd Hollandsworth
Terrence Long
Eli Marrero
Shannon Stewart
Rondell White
Preston Wilson
Eric Young
Jeromy Burnitz
Jose Guillen
Gabe Kapler
Matt Lawton
Matt Stairs
Michael Tucker
Bernie Williams

Grade D:
Steve Finley
Ricky Ledee
Jose Valentin
Moises Alou
Richard Hidalgo
John Mabry

Grade F:
Quinton McCracken
Jacob Cruz

Top outfielders that the Rangers should go after:

1. Alfonso Soriano: He can fill our DH roll, play outfield and back up Kinsler at the same time.

2. Trot Nixon: He can play good defense and be a decent batter.

3. Gary Matthews, Jr.: Gary played great last year, he fields great and bats good.

4. Jim Edmonds: He has been a good center fielder for the Cardinals and we could use a veteran with some leadership skills.

5. Frank Catalanotto: He can play every outfield position.

6. David Dellucci: He can play every outfield position.

7. Jay Payton: He is a great fielder and a decent hitter.

8. Dave Roberts: He could give us some more outfield speed.

9. Kenny Lofton: He is a decent one-year guy.

10. Ryan Klesko: He still has some playing abilities in him.

Come back next week for the last part of this series (catchers and relief pitchers. I forgot to do catchers earlier with the rest of the infield).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Free Agent Analysis Part 2 or 4

This is part two of a series where I will examine the free agents and name the top players the Rangers should go after. This week, I will examine the free agent infielders.

Grade A:
Sean Casey
Aubrey Huff
Julio Lugo

Grade B:
Ronnie Belliard
Mark DeRosa
Ray Durham
Mark Loretta
Rich Aurilia
Nomar Garciaparra

Grade C:
Shea Hillenbrand
Travis Lee
Joe McEwing
Doug Mientkiewicz
Kevin Millar
Todd Walker
Craig Wilson
Craig Biggio
Miguel Cairo
Chris Gomez
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Tony Womack
David Bell
Mark Bellhorn
Aaron Boone
Pedro Feliz
Alex Gonzalez
Tony Graffanino
Wes Helms
Joe Randa
Scott Spezio
Alex Cora
Desi Relaford

Grade D:
Jeff Conine
Erubiel Durazo
Brian Jordan
Phil Nevin
Eduardo Perez
J.T. Snow
Daryle Ward
Dmitri Young
Manny Alexander
Damian Easley
Damian Jackson
Adam Kennedy
Chris Woodward
Edgardo Alfonzo
Tony Batista
Geoff Blum
Russell Branyan
Vinny Castilla
Jeff Cirillo
Lou Merloni
Royce Clayton
Craig Counsell
Ramon E. Martinez
Jose Hernandez
Tomas Perez
Jose Vizcaino

Grade F:
Jeff Bagwell
Fernando Tatis

Top infielders that the Rangers should go after:

1. Sean Casey: He can fill our DH roll and back-up Teixeira at the same time.

2. Aubrey Huff: He can fill one of our empty outfield spots (he plays outfield and infield).

3. Rich Aurilia: There is a good chance that Blalock will get traded and he would fill 3B or he could take the job the last half of the season.

4. Mark DeRosa: He has been a great utility guy for us.

5. Todd Walker: He can play every position except pitcher and catcher.

6. Kevin Millar: He can play a little outfield.

7. David Bell: There is a good chance that Blalock will get traded and he might fill 3B or he could take the job the last half of the season.

8. Alex Gonzalez: He could give us some more infield defense and back up Young and Kinsler.

9. Scott Spezio: He is a good clutch hitter.

10. Desi Relaford: he would be a good prospect.

Come back next week for part three for this series.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Scott Feldman Interview

This week I did an interview with Scott Feldman, the Rangers relief pitcher. I met Scott last year when he was with the RoughRiders. He was always very friendly and would take time to talk with me in the bullpen before the games. Even since being called up to the Rangers, he’s still always willing to talk to me and has always remembered me.

The interview is below:

1. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
It’s tough to pick out 3 but I'll just say I haven't come across any bad ones yet. The guys out in the bullpen are who I spend most of my time with during the season and we have a pretty good time hanging out.

2. Can you please rate the ballparks in the Rangers organization that you’ve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?
Frisco was a 10. I think people that have seen it or played there can tell why. OKC was also nice but I'd rate it lower than Frisco. My first stop in the minor leagues was Bakersfield. The set up wasn't the best but it was a good time and I'll always remember my first home ball park in the minors.

3. Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?
Vlad Guererro because there isn't a right way for anyone to pitch that guy, he hits everything. I remember him hitting a slider a foot and a half off the plate and getting a single against me. Derek Jeter, not because he hit a homer off me, but mainly after seeing him play in person I realized what a great player he was. If spring training counts I'd say Mike Young. If you’re a Ranger fan you know why.

4. What is the biggest adjustment you had to make when you started facing major-league hitting?
I tried to do exactly what got me there in the first place. Throw strikes and be aggressive. Obviously the hitters are better but if you make good pitches and get ahead in the count you have a good shot at getting some outs.

5. What is the toughest thing about major league life and why?
For me the toughest thing so far has been the back and forth thing from Texas to Oklahoma. I’m hoping to have a consistent year next year and try to stay in
Texas for the entire time. I like traveling but I've worn the path out pretty good from Arlington to OKC.

6. How did it feel to be the Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year for two straight years and to set the college of San Mateo’s school records for wins and ERA?
All that stuff in college was a lot of fun. I had great coaches, great teammates and made a lot of great friends. It was a lot of fun to be on those teams and play 10 minutes from where I grew up. And we had some pretty good teams in ‘02 and ‘03.

7. Why did you decide to not sign with Houston when they drafted you in 2002?
When Houston drafted me in ‘02 it was a draft and follow. That said, I thought I would end up signing with them prior to the ‘03 draft but it didn't work out. I’m not complaining, I love being with the Rangers.

8. Why did you decide to sign with the Rangers in 2003 instead of going to the University of Tennessee like you planned?
I signed with the Rangers because I wanted to play pro ball and get my career started. When I didn't get drafted until the 30th round, I thought I'd end up going to Tennessee, but the Rangers wanted to sign me and l really wanted to get started.

9. What was the recovery process for your Tommy John surgery like?
None of the rehab process was too much fun, but the thing that bothered me the most was not being able to play. Since I was 4 or 5 years old I was always playing baseball so it was weird to not be able to play.

10. What was it like to be called up to the Rangers in late 2005?
Getting called up in ‘05 was awesome for me. I look back on it now and I can remember how I didn't sleep at all the night I found out. The lack of sleep probably helped me relax because I wasn't that nervous during my first outing.

11. What is your best pitch and how was it developed?
My best pitch is probably my fastball. The one that I need to develop is my change-up.

12. What’s been the best game so far of your professional career and why?
My best game in the minors was the perfect game in AA with A.J. Murray and Steve Karsay. In the big leagues my favorite game was 1/3 of an inning against the Giants. All my family and friends were there and unfortunately they got to witness one of the worst calls of all time. But it was still cool to play in the stadium I grew up going to against the team I grew up idolizing.

13. What was your favorite team growing up?
The Giants and 49ers

14. What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?
I played hoops, football, soccer and golf. Now I mainly just golf and I’m really not that good but I have a lot of fun playing. I have had a couple 7 hour rounds with Kam Loe because he likes to take 5 practice swings per shot.

15. What are your hobbies?
My hobbies during the beginning of the off season are relaxing, hanging out with family and friends and trying to take a vacation.

I would like to thank Scott for being so nice and letting me interview him. Come back next week for part 2 of the free agent special begun last week.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Free Agent Analysis Part 1

This is part one of a series where I will examine the free agents and name the top players the Rangers should go after. This week, I will examine the few agent starting pitchers.

Grade A starting pitchers:
Barry Zito
Roger Clemens
Mike Mussina
Jason Schmidt

Grade B starting pitchers:
Mark Buerhle
Ted Lilly
Jamie Moyer
Mark Mulder
Andy Pettitte
Greg Maddux
Vicente Padilla
Kerry Wood
Gil Meche
Jeff Suppan

Grade C starting pitchers:
Jaret Wright
Randy Wolf
Tony Armas Jr.
Adam Eaton
Orlando Hernandez (El Duque)
Byung-Hyun Kim
Steve Trachsel
Tim Wakefield
John Wasdin
Woody Williams
Jamey WrightJason Marquis

Grade D starting pitchers:
Bruce Chen
Shawn Estes
Mark Redman
David Wells
Pedro Astacio
Miguel Batista
Rick Helling
Jason Johnson
Joe Mays
Brian Moehler
Tomo Ohka
Ramon Ortiz
Chan Ho Park
Sidney Ponson
Aaron Sele
John Thompson
Jeff Weaver
Kip Wells
Paul Wilson

Grade F starting pitchers:
Scott Erickson
Jose Lima

Top 10 starting pitchers that the Rangers should go after:

Jason Schmidt: Jason is a former Spring Training teammate of Kevin Millwood and that might help bring him here.

Andy Pettitte: Andy can still pitch well.

Vicente Padilla: Players always have a good chance of staying with the same team.

Jamie Moyer: He’s a veteran, but he can still pitch well.

Jeff Suppan: He pitches well in clutch situations.

Ted Lilly: He is a lefty that can pitch well.

Gil Meche: He’s an underachieving pitcher that could reach his potential soon.

Jaret Wright: He’ll go to the highest bidder.

Tony Armas Jr.: Not very many teams will want him because he had a bad ERA last year. But I think it was just an off year for him.

Steve Trachsel: His ERA is usually in the mid-4.00’s.

Come back next week for either an interview with Rangers reliever Scott Feldman or part 2 of this series.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

End of the Season Awards and Buck Showalter Fired

This week I will give my end of the season awards and analyze the dropping of Buck Showalter. Here are my awards:

NL MVP: Ryan Howard: .313 AVG, 58 HR, 149 RBI: He leads the ML in homers and RBI’s and has a batting average over .300.

AL MVP: The Big Hurt: .270 AVG, 39 HR, 114 RBI: He doesn’t have a bad batting average, but has great power numbers and one of the major reasons they made the playoffs.

NL Cy Young: Derek Lowe: 16-8, 3.63 ERA, 123 SO, 218 IP: Derek has a very good ERA, is tied for the NL lead for wins, and if it wasn’t for him the Dodgers wouldn’t have made the playoffs.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana: 19-6, 2.77 ERA, 245 SO, 233.2 IP: He got a pitchers’ triple crown.

Rangers MVP: Michael Young: .314 AVG, 14 HR, 103 RBI: Michael got over 200 hits again, with a .314 AVG and over 100 RBI’s.

Rangers Cy Young: Kevin Millwood: 16-12, 4.52 ERA, 157 SO, 215 IP: He has 16 wins, a decent ERA and over 200 IP.

Rangers Rookie of the Year: Ian Kinsler: .286 AVG, 14 HR, 55 RBI: He got a .286 batting average as a rookie.

Here is my analysis of the dropping of Buck Showalter:

Buck was 248-244 over the past three years as the Rangers manager. He didn’t do too bad and I think he has a good strategy and knowledge of the game so I think they should have given him one more year because he never had a truly bad season. Also, he wasn’t the type of manager who gets ejected a lot and ruins the team for the rest of the game.

Come back next week for a free agents special.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

John Hart Trade Analysis Part 1 of 4

This is part 1 of a 4 part analysis of the trades John Hart made while he was Rangers GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or draw. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.

A lot of this information came from Jamey Newberg’s article about John Hart before the 2005 season and from my dad and from my dad’s friend, Tim Breeding.


1. Nov. 27: Player to be named later traded to White Sox for infielder Herbert Perry; lefthander Corey Lee sent to Chicago to complete the trade on Dec. 17.
Win - Perry had one strong year for Texas (the year we got him). That led to Hart re-signing him for two years, during which he was hurt all the time. But since they got good major league production out of him during the time of the trade, I score it a win. I think it’s a win because they gave up nothing and got something.
Record: 1-0-0

2. Dec. 13: Lefthander Darren Oliver traded to Boston for outfielder Carl Everett and cash.
Draw - Everett was an All-Star during his second year with Texas (they traded him a week or so before the All-Star game, so he appeared as a member of the White Sox). However, Everett did so bad during his first year with the team, had such a bad attitude, and made so much money, that there’s no way I can score this a win.
Record: 1-0-1

3. Dec. 18: Righthander David Elder traded to Cleveland for lefthander John Rocker.
Loss - I think it is a loss even though Elder probably wouldn't have made an impact in Texas. Rocker was not good as a Ranger, posting an ERA of 6.66 in his one season with the club, while Elder had a 3.13 ERA in 23 innings for the Indians in that 2002 season. They combined for 3.1 big league innings in 2003, and didn't pitch in the majors in 2004.
Record: 1-1-1


4. Jan. 14: First baseman Carlos Pena and lefthander Mike Venafro traded to Oakland for lefthander Mario Ramos, catcher Gerald Laird, outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and first baseman Jason Hart.
Win - Pena and Venafro haven’t done much since leaving the Rangers. Laird looks like a solid batter and throws out most base runners trying to steal off of him.
Record: 2-1-1

5. Mar. 18: Righthander Justin Duchscherer traded to Oakland for righthander Luis Vizcaino.
Loss - Duchscherer is an All-Star, while Vizcaino never played for the Rangers.
Record: 2-2-1

6. Mar. 24: Righthander Luis Vizcaino traded to Milwaukee for lefthander Jesus Pena.
Loss - Vizcaino had a great season in the Brewers bullpen in 2002, a terrible one in 2003, and another solid year in 2004. Pena was awful in 2002, with a .311 opponents' average and a 7.26 ERA for the Redhawks.
Record: 2-3-1

7. Mar. 25: Player to be named later traded to Atlanta for lefthander Rich Rodriguez. No player was ever given up to complete the deal.
Draw - No big deal. Rodriguez posted a 5.40 ERA in 16.2 innings for the Rangers in 2002.
Record: 2-3-2

8. Apr. 3: Lefthander Juan Moreno traded to San Diego for shortstop Jason Moore.
Draw - Moreno only pitched six innings for the Padres in 2003 and I’ve seriously never heard of Jason Moore.
Record: 2-3-3

9. Apr. 4: Outfielder Chris Magruder traded to Cleveland for outfielder Rashad Eldridge.
Draw – Eldridge never made it to the majors and Magruder didn’t do much for the Indians.
Record: 2-3-4

10. Apr. 9: Lefthander Andy Pratt traded to Atlanta for lefthander Ben Kozlowski.
Draw – Neither player pitched over 10 innings for the Braves or Rangers and they both had bad ERA’s.
Record: 2-3-5

11. Apr. 22: Cash sent to San Francisco for outfielder Calvin Murray.
Win - I’ll give this a win because Murray was OK and we gave up nothing for him. It’s always good to get a player for nothing.
Record: 3-3-5

12. Jul. 31: Outfielders Gabe Kapler and Jason Romano traded to Colorado for outfielder Todd Hollandsworth and lefthander Dennys Reyes.
Draw – This trade didn't do a lot of good for anyone. All four players would move on to a different team the next season.
Record: 3-3-6

13. Aug. 18: Righthander Ismael Valdez traded to Seattle for lefthander Derrick Van Dusen and infielder-outfielder Jermaine Clark.
Draw – Neither minor leaguer did much in the Rangers’ system, and the Rangers brought Valdez right back in the off-season.
Record: 3-3-7

14. Dec. 6: First baseman Travis Hafner and righthander Aaron Myette traded to Cleveland for catcher Einar Diaz and righthander Ryan Drese.
Loss – Travis Hafner is an All-Star while Diaz barely did anything for the Rangers and Drese had 1 good year.
Record: 3-4-7

I’ll be taking a week off. Come back in two weeks for my regular season awards. Part 2 of the John Hart series will be the week after that.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jamey Newberg Interview

This week’s blog entry is an interview with Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report (

1. Who do you think the Rangers will add to the 40-man roster this off-season to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft?

The only two definites are John Danks and Thomas Diamond. Nate Gold might be the biggest bubble candidate; others include Johnny Lujan, Kevin Mahar, Ben Harrison, Emerson Frostad, Travis Metcalf, Anthony Webster, and Tug Hulett. Alexi Ogando will be eligible but has too many questions to be much of a risk.

2. Which 5 position players in the Rangers minor league system do you think have the best change of being on the 25-man roster next year?

Assuming you mean at some point during the season, as opposed to Opening Day...I’d say Jason Botts, Joaquin Arias, Freddy Guzman, Victor Diaz, and, hmm, maybe Anthony Webster.

3. Which 5 pitchers in the Rangers minor league system do you think have the best change of being on the 25-man roster next year?

Assuming you’re not counting guys like Kam Loe and John Koronka.... John Danks, Nick Masset, Thomas Diamond, Erasmo Ramirez, and Kea Kometani. But don’t rule out Eric Hurley at the end of the season.

4. What do you think are the Rangers top 3 off-season priorities?

Externally: the rotation, an eighth-inning monster, and a clean-up hitter. Internally: get Michael extended, keep GMJ, keep DeRosa.

5. What do you think were the best surprises for the Rangers major league team in 2006?

Certainly Matthews and DeRosa establishing themselves. Littleton, Wilson, and Rupe. Laird and Kinsler – though they weren‘t really surprises.

6. What do you think were the best surprises for the Rangers minor league system in 2006?

Masset, Harrison, Gold, Frostad, Herrera, Kometani.

7. What do you think were the biggest disappointments for the Rangers major league team in 2006?

Wilkerson and Cordero, and nobody else was close. Unless you count Eaton’s injury.

8. What do you think were the biggest disappointments for the Rangers minor league system in 2006?

Metcalf. Mayberry’s first half. Whittleman. Galarraga’s health.

9. What is your prediction for where Thomas Diamond will play in 2007 and why?

Diamond needs a full year in AAA. What he does with that assignment may determine whether he’s a big league starter or a set-up man.

10. What is your prediction for where Steve Rowe will play in 2007 and why?

Rowe’s role as a terrific influence on the young pitchers in Frisco may mean he’s back with the Riders in ‘07.

11. How did the Newberg Report get started?

Back in 1998, I used to post minor league updates on the Dallas Morning News message board (usually about Jeff Zimmerman, Doug Davis, Ruben Mateo, and Jason Romano)...some people on that board suggested I send out an email with updates so they wouldn’t have to check the message board just to see if I’d posted something new. The mailing list started with 6 or 8 recipients.

12. How much time do you spend on it per week?

Probably 15 hours a week, not counting time I spend watching the Rangers play.

13. What are the three hardest things about doing the Newberg Report?

1. The time. There’s never really much time off; there’s as much news to write about in the off-season as there is during the season. And I’m balancing it along with family, which is the most important part of my life, and my real job. I’m a partner at a Dallas law firm, which is a very time-consuming, stressful job on its own.

2. The book. Between September and October every year, putting the Bound Edition together can be draining. Don’t get me wrong: I love doing the book. But it wipes me out.

3. Trying to stave off getting into a rut with my writing.

14. What are the three most fun things about doing the Newberg Report?

1. Getting to know great people in the game, from front office guys to players to media members.

2. Getting to know players’ parents when their sons are just starting out in the minor leagues. It’s a long, hard road, and the start of it is always an unmistakable combination of excitement, pride, anxiety, and faith.

3. C’mon – this is baseball! How could it not be a blast?

15. How long do you plan to do it?

Easy answer: Until you push me aside!

16. What is the funniest or strangest thing that’s happened to you because of the Newberg Report?

Meeting Mack Brown this past April and having him tell his wife that I know more about his recruiting efforts every year than anyone else on the planet. I’m a faithful Longhorn alum but I had to break it to Mack that he was thinking of Jamie Newberg, who writes about college football for Strange moment.

17. Have there been any really unpleasant stories from doing the Newberg Report?

A few. There was one player in the system many years ago who wasn’t crazy about what I was writing and said some unpleasant, irrational things. Privately, it was hard for me to get behind him as a player after that, and I did begin to question whether I should keep the project going. There have also been the inevitable disagreements with readers and journalists from time to time, but I generally don’t let those get to me.

18. What was your favorite team growing up and why?

My love of baseball developed following the Rangers; they’ve always been my team. I was a big fan of Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Kal Daniels, and as a result I was a fan of the Brewers in the late 70s and early 80s and the Reds in the late 80s, but Texas was always far and away the team I cared about the most.

19. What do you like and not like about being a lawyer?

It’s an extremely challenging profession, and I love that about it. There are real chances to help people. You get to be around a lot of very intelligent, hard-working people. On the other hand, if you’re not careful, the adversarial nature of litigation can change who you are for the worse, and can affect your family – that’s one huge reason that I throw myself into baseball as well. It’s a good balance.

20. Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?

I played Little League and BBI as a kid and then at Hillcrest High School. I tried to walk on to the University of Texas baseball team, and came close to making it, but ultimately my “career” ended at that point. From age 5 until my senior year in high school, I was a shortstop. My coach moved me to the outfield for my senior year (and I wish now that someone had done so earlier – I would rather play the outfield than step up with the bases loaded). I also pitched my junior and senior years in high school. When I tried out at UT, it was in the outfield.

I would like to thank Jamey for doing this interview. Jamey has been very nice to me and it was really nice of him to help me with this blog by doing this interview. I thought he had a lot of interesting answers. I was really interested that he thought Anthony Webster might be on the team next year and that Johnny Lujan might be on the 40-man roster.

Come back next week for part 1 of an analysis of the trades made by John Hart when he was Rangers GM.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Diaz Acquired and Simon Traded

Last week, the Rangers made two trades. I will analyze each of these trades below.

Trade #1: On August 30th, the Rangers acquired OF Victor Diaz from the New York Mets for Minor League C Mike Nickeas.

Victor Diaz:

In 2001, he started his MiLB career with the GCL Dodgers.

GCL Dodgers:
53 games, 195 AB, 3 HR, 31 RBI, .354 AVG, .414 OBP, .533 SLG

In 2002, Diaz played with single-A South Georgia and the double-A Jacksonville Suns.

South Georgia:
91 games, 349 AB, 10 HR, 58 RBI, .350 AVG, .407 OBP, .521 SLG
Jacksonville Suns:
42 games, 152 AB, 4 HR, 24 RBI, .211 AVG, .258 OBP, .336 SLG

In 2003, Victor was traded to the Mets organization and he did great with the double-A Binghamton Mets.

Jacksonville Suns:
85 games, 316 AB, 10 HR, 55 RBI, .291 AVG, .353 OBP, .462 SLG
Binghamton Mets:
45 games, 175 AB, 6 HR, 23 RBI, .354 AVG, .382 OBP, .520 SLG

In 2004, he was called up to the MLB for the very first time.

Norfolk Tides (triple-A):
141 games, 528 AB, 24 HR, 94 RBI, .292 AVG, .332 OBP, .491 SLG
New York Mets:
15 games, 51 AB, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .294 AVG, .321 OBP, .529 SLG

Most of his career MLB games came in 2005, mostly due to an injury by Mike Cameron.

Norfolk Tides:
42 games, 170 AB, 10 HR, 34 RBI, .300 AVG, .353 OBP, .541 SLG
New York Mets:
89 games, 280 AB, 12 HR, 38 RBI, .257 AVG, .329 OBP, .468 SLG

In 2006, Victor was back in the minors for most of the season and had an OBP of less than .300 with the Tides.

Norfolk Tides:
103 games, 379 AB, 8 HR, 38 RBI, .224 AVG, .276 OBP, .330 SLG
New York Mets:
6 games, 11 AB, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .182 AVG, .182 OBP, .273 SLG

Mike Nickeas:

In 1984, Mike’s dad Mark played with the Dallas Sidekicks. He scored a goal in the team’s first win and led the team in blocked shots.

In 2004, Mike played with short-season-A Spokane and had his best year yet, mainly because of June and July.

Spokane Indians:
62 games, 233 AB, 10 HR, 55 RBI, .288 AVG, .384 OBP, .494 SLG
In June, Mike had a .378 AVG and in July he had a .323 AVG.

In 2005, Mike was called up to Frisco.
Frisco Roughriders:
68 games, 242 AB, 5 HR, 24 RBI, .202 AVG, .263 OBP, .302 SLG
AZL Rangers:
6 games, 21 AB, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .286 AVG, .400 OBP, .476 SLG

In 2006, he had a decent year.

Bakersfield Blaze:
17 games, 64 AB, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .297 AVG, .395 OBP, .359 SLG
Frisco Roughriders:
39 games, 113 AB, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .248 AVG, .382 OBP, .363 SLG

Trade Evaluation:
I don’t think either of them will do much in the majors, but Mike works with pitchers really well. I think Diaz’s future in this organization is to be part of a future trade. He will probably be evaluated by the Rangers in major league spring training next year, and he could possibly make the 2006 team as a backup outfielder. I think Nickeas’ role in the Mets organization will be to help the Mets’ minor league pitchers reach their potential.
Grade: B-

Trade #2: On September 1st, the Rangers traded Triple-A 1B Randall Simon to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash.

Randall Simon:
Randall is known to me as the guy who hit the bratwurst at Miller Park.
In 2006 his stats for the triple-A Redhawks after being acquired late in the season were:
19 games, 63 AB, 1 HR, 7 RBI. .317 AVG, .389 OBP, .444 SLG

Simon has played parts of 8 years in the majors, with Atlanta, Detroit, the Cubs, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia. His career stats are:
522 games, 1595 AB, 49 HR, 237 RBI, .284 AVG, .321 OBP, .424 SLG

Trade Evaluation:
If Randall is to ever be in the MLB again it would be as a back-up DH or back-up 1B. But it’s better than cash.
Grade: C-

Come back next week for an interview with Jamey Newberg.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

August Awards

This week I will be giving out my awards if the season were to end now.

Rangers MVP:
Michael Young: .307 AVG, 12 HR, 86 RBI
Runner-up: Gary Matthews, Jr.
Last month: 1st – Gary Matthews, Jr., 2nd – Michael YoungRangers

Cy Young:
Vicente Padilla: 13-8 W-L, 4.16 ERA, 164.1 IP, 129 SO
Runner-up: Akinori Otsuka
Last month: 1st – Vicente Padilla, 2nd – Akinori Otsuka

Rangers Rookie of the Year:
Ian Kinsler: .289 AVG, 9 HR, 43 RBI
Runner-up: Wes Littleton
Last month: 1st – Ian Kinsler, 2nd – John Koronka

Jermaine Dye: .331 AVG, 39 HR, 107 RBI
Runner-up: Paul Konerko
Last month: 1st – Jim Thome, 2nd – David Ortiz

AL Cy Young:
Chien-Ming Wang: 16-5 W-L, 3.66 ERA, 187 IP, 62 SO
Runner-up: Barry Zito
Last month: 1st – Roy Halladay, 2nd – Johan Santana

Carlos Beltran: .286 AVG, 39 HR, 112 RBI
Runner-up: Albert Pujols
Last month: 1st – David Wright, 2nd – Lance Berkman

NL Cy Young:
Brad Penny: 14-7 W-L, 3.88 ERA, 160 IP, 120 SO
Runner-up: Chris Carpenter
Last month: 1st – Brad Penny, 2nd – Tom Glavine

Come back next week for analysis of recent Rangers trades.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Jim Miller

This week I am posting an interview and report on Tulsa Drillers closer, Jim Miller.

Jim was an 8th round draft pick in 2004 out of Louisiana-Monroe University. That year he won the Northwest League’s Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award.

In 2005 he was awarded the Doug Millon award, which is given out to the Colorado farm system’s best performer. He was also named the California league’s best reliever by Baseball America in 2005 and was also ranked in the league’s top 20 prospects and in the top 30 for the Rockies. He made 2 appearances for Team USA in the Regional Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2005. Also, he did not allow a run in his 1st 11 Texas League appearances.

Jim began his minor league career in 2004 with a 1-1 record and 0.97 ERA and 17 saves in 37 innings for class-A Tri-City. In 2005, he was mainly in Class-A Modesto, where he went 1-3 with a 3.78 ERA and 25 saves in 47.2 innings. Later in 2005, he moved to double-A Tulsa, where he went 1-1 with a 0.60 ERA and 9 saves in 15 innings. So far in 2006, he is 0-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 41.1 innings despite him missing the first two months of the season with an injury. He has 11 saves in 2006.

I spoke with Jim briefly in the bullpen at a recent RoughRiders game in Frisco. He was very friendly and was willing to answer my questions until it was time for him to warm up.

The interview is below.

1. What is the toughest team to pitch against?

2. Who are the toughest hitters you’ve faced?
Alex Gordon, Mitch Maier, and Billy Butler (all on Wichita).

3. What is the nicest Texas League park?
Corpus Christi

4. What is the nicest park in the Rockies’ minor league system?
Modesto is the best pitchers’ park and Drillers Stadium is the best hitters’ park.

5. How fast do you pitch?
Jim said that he pitches 93-94 mph and the fastest he has ever pitched is 98 mph.

6. At what age should a pitcher begin learning different pitches?
Jim said that a changeup can be learned at a young age, a curveball and slider at 14-15, and a forkball in the 20’s.

Come back next week for my August awards.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Will Carroll Interview

This week I interviewed Will Carroll (Baseball Prospectus writer). Will does a column called ‘Under the Knife’ for Baseball Prospectus ( where he describes and analyzes different baseball injuries. For the last few Newberg Days at the Ballpark, Will has flown to Dallas to do Q&A sessions and is always very interesting and friendly.

The interview is below.

1. How serious is Kip Wells’ injury?

Will said that this is a tough question right now because there’s not much information on his injury. Injuries below the waist are always a concern for pitchers because that’s where a pitcher’s drive comes from. He said that the Rangers weren’t expecting much from Wells so anything they get from him is a plus. He’s not too worried about the Wells injury because the Rangers have some starting pitching depth in the minor leagues to call up. When talking about their pitching depth, he mentioned Diamond, Danks, and Hurley, but I don’t think he was saying they were all ready to be called up.

2. How serious is Brad Wilkerson’s injury?

He called it “pretty bad.” There are rotator cuff and labrum issues but they won’t know exactly what’s going on until they open him up. He’s had MRI’s but doctors don’t always agree on interpreting MRI’s. Will said that he’s not too worried because position players tend to come back from shoulder injuries. He mentioned how well Richie Sexson has come back. Also, Wilkerson will be in his contract year next year so Scott Boras will make sure he gets in the right rehab programs.

3. How close is Frank Francisco to recovering?

“I wish I had a good answer to that.” There have been a number of pitchers with Tommy John setbacks this year. Even a one-day setback can result in a two-month delay as they prove themselves and get physically ready again. “You just don’t know with these guys. I don’t have a good answer.”

4. Will Kameron Loe’s injury affect the rest of his career?

“You certainly hope not.” He said that it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on because there aren’t many pitchers as tall as Loe to compare with. Loe has overcome this sort of thing before. Will thinks that Loe will probably be a reliever because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy as a starter. I asked if Kameron Loe would be a good closer. Will thinks that he has the stuff to do it but might not have the temperament. He mentioned Thomas Diamond as someone who does have the right temperament.

5. Do you think Adam Eaton has fully recovered from his injury?

“It certainly looks that way.” Will has seen no indication that he’s had any problems whatsoever since returning.

6. What is the worst possible injury a player can have?

His first reaction was to say taking a pitch off the head but then he mentioned that lots of people have come back from that. So, he changed his answer to back injuries. They’re tough to diagnose and treat and are very painful. They take away a player’s power and can take a long time to heal.

7. Who do you think will win the World Series and against who?

Will thinks the Yankees will be tough to beat and are clearly the favorite. He doesn’t like how the A’s look, especially with Huston Street going down. He thinks that really opens up opportunities for the Rangers and Angels. In the NL, no one looks good. He has no confidence in the Dodgers and thinks Glavine’s injury will really hurt the Mets.

8. How do you get all your information about player injuries?

“A lot of phone calls.” He talks to doctors and team sources and reads beat reports. He said it’s a 24 hour/day job and is getting more complex.

9. How did you get your Baseball Prospectus job?

“Luck and hard work.” He was doing ‘Under the Knife’ and got noticed. He had a unique product available when Baseball Prospectus went to their Premium Content model and they thought he could help them. He hopes he has.

10. According to you might be moving to ESPN. Is this true?

Will said, “I am not allowed to comment at this stage.”

11. What I’ve read is that you’ve been seen coming out of ESPN offices and have started resigning from your current jobs, so it sounds like the rumor is true. Can you please comment on the story?

Will hesitated at this point and said that he could tell me that he’s not resigning from Baseball Prospectus and that nothing is changing there. He also commented that working at ESPN would be great. He said that he couldn’t comment beyond that.

12. Come on, the stories make it sound like it’s true. What can you tell me about it?

Will said that the opportunity to move to ESPN would be welcome and also mentioned that he’s covered football in the past.

13. I’m just a kid – can you give me a break and let me know if the rumors are true?

Will said, “I won’t say that you’re wrong. I hope to be able to announce something later this week.”

14. If you begin work with ESPN, will you still be covering injuries? If so, for which sport?

Will said that he will still be covering injuries because that’s his niche. He says he’ll do whatever his employer(s) ask of him in that area.

15. Which show will you be on and how often will you be on?

Will said, “I can confirm I’m talking about TV possibilities.” He also said that he thinks he would fit into lots of ESPN’s shows. He especially mentioned that ESPN has made a big commitment to doing shows about fantasy sports. He said that he thought he could fit into a fantasy sports show at ESPN.

He also mentioned that he would like to work on Baseball Tonight but that there was nothing planned near term.

16. How did this change come about?

He said that he couldn’t comment on this.

17. What made you decide to add this job?

Will said that it was just an additional opportunity and that he really can’t comment.

18. What is the biggest difference between covering football and baseball?

Will said that the biggest difference is the timing. Baseball is played every day so a one-week injury can cost a player 6 games, while in football it would only cost him one game. He also said that in football there are different sorts of injuries than in baseball (for example, there are more collision injuries in football). Also, in football, there are more contextual issues related to injuries. An injury to an offensive lineman not only impacts that player, but also how the other members of the offense play as they compensate for the lineman’s injury. For example, the running back may have more blocking responsibilities and the quarterback may have to release the ball quicker, giving the wide receiver less chances to catch the ball.

19. When are you going to make the move to ESPN?

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to announce something later this week.”

Based on the information he gave me, I think Will Carroll will begin working for ESPN and will work on some of the fantasy football shows that they’re in the process of developing. I think his role on these shows will be to analyze injuries that occur to players and how those injuries will affect not only the injured player’s fantasy performance but also the performance of other players on their team. I think that he will begin his work at ESPN before the football season starts. It is also clear that he will continue his current Baseball Prospectus work.

I would like to thank Will for doing this interview. It was really really nice of him. Be sure to check out his work at Baseball Prospectus and, soon, at ESPN.

Come back next week when hopefully I’ll finally post a story on and brief interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Josh Lewin Interview

This week I interviewed Texas Rangers broadcaster Josh Lewin. The results of the interview are below.

1. What do the Rangers need to do to win the division?

Josh said that the number one thing they need to do is stay healthy. Whoever is healthiest and pitching the best in the last two weeks of the season will probably win the division. That’s when all of the AL West teams will be playing each other, so if a team can go 10-4 in the last two weeks, they’ll probably win the division.

2. How did the move from the Tigers to Rangers broadcast booth come about?

After the 2001 season, the Rangers were looking for a new direction. Josh said that he was contacted by the Rangers and asked what his contract situation was with the Tigers. He was a free agent so he went to Arlington to check it out. He loved what he heard from the team and thought the area would be a good place to raise a family. He flew back to Detroit to talk to his family. His wife is from Houston and liked the idea of moving back, so they did.

3. What was your favorite team growing up and why?

Josh said that he grew up back East and was an Orioles fan. He was also a Cubs fan during his college years because he was in Chicago. The Tigers were also in the mix because his dad had a job in Detroit. Those were his three favorites growing up. Interestingly, Josh’s first major league job was broadcasting for the Orioles, his second was for the Cubs, and his third was for the Tigers, so he ended up working for all three of his favorite teams. He said that the Rangers are his favorite team now.

4. What are the three biggest differences between broadcasting for the Tigers vs. Rangers?

The Rangers have more of a family feel and he feels more a part of what’s going on. He also mentioned that he was lucky to leave Detroit right before their 119 loss season. The heat in Texas was another difference that Josh mentioned.

5. Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?

Josh was a middle infielder and played second base and shortstop. He said that he wasn’t very good and he realized pretty quickly that he wouldn’t be a player. The highlight of his playing was when he made the All-Star team at 11 and tripled in the All-Star game.

6. How did you prepare yourself to be a broadcaster? What education did you have?

Josh’s college degree is in journalism. He did that instead of broadcasting because he figured if he can express himself on paper, he can do it when talking. He said that it taught him how to organize his thoughts. Another key was doing broadcasting for minor league baseball because he learned his way around the clubhouse and learned the politics of baseball. He said the best thing is to just get out there and broadcast for some baseball team somewhere.

7. Can you please describe the differences between broadcasting baseball, hockey and football?

Baseball is all about the story you can tell. There’s very little action. Football is very regimented. You describe the down and distance and the play and then let the color analyst talk for a while. Hockey is very fast. You have to be able to recognize the players and describe the action quickly.

8. What are the three most fun things about your job?

- The travel is great even though it can be a grind.
- The people you meet and not just the famous ones. He said you meet a lot of really nice people, like Brian Shouse and John Wasdin.
- Having a free pass to watch ballgames.

9. What are the three toughest things about your job?

- The travel – you miss your family and also get sick a lot from traveling on airplanes.
- Staying fresh and upbeat for 162 games, even during 12-2 games.
- Not getting to be there for what your kids do, like missing his 8-year-old’s birthday parties. He said he thought he had only been to two so far.

10. What is the most fun season you’ve announced and why?

Josh said that so far, his first year of announcing AAA ball full-time in Rochester, NY is his favorite. He was only 21 and was the number 1 guy for the first time. The team was in first place wire to wire. There were lots of future Yankees on the team, like Bernie Williams.

11. What is the most fun game you’ve announced and why?

Josh mentioned a few games:
- The David Dellucci game-winning hit in 2004.
- Cal Ripken’s last game.
- The game where Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record.
- Barry Bonds’ 70th home run.
- Barry Bonds’ 714th home run.

12. What is the best play you’ve announced and why?

Josh said it might be Gary Matthews Jr’s catch earlier this year, even though the audio on the Fox broadcast was messed up so no one heard his call.

13. How did you end up being the radio broadcaster for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings at age 16?

Josh said that the team had a GM who was like Bill Veeck. He knew Josh had been hanging around the team and hired him to do one inning of every home game. It started as a PR move but grew into a serious job. He started doing the middle three innings of home games, then the middle three innings of all games, and then became the main broadcaster.

14. Who have been the funnest players to interview and why?

Josh said that Cal Ripken was very interesting to interview. He was always thoughtful and Josh usually learned something from him.

15. What is a typical day like in your job?

- Does a lot of research either in the hotel or his home office.
- Spends some quality time with his family.
- Works out.
- Thinks about the stories of the game.
- Gets to the ballpark between 3:30-4 and talks to the players to get information.
- Broadcasts the game from 7 until 10 or 10:30.
- Gets back home or to the hotel at around 11:30.
- Watches highlights.
- Gets to bed about 1am.

16. What recommendations do you have for someone trying to get into sports broadcasting and journalism?

Josh said that the main thing is to work at it. He said that he practiced in front of his TV with the sound turned down a lot growing up and that practice is the most important thing.

I would like to thank Josh for doing this interview. It was really nice of him to take time from his day during the Rangers’ last road trip to talk to me.

Come back next week for an article and short interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller, which has been delayed a few times.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Five Rangers Trades

This week I will describe and analyze all 5 of the trades the Rangers made over the past week.

Trade 1: The Rangers traded minor league pitcher Joselo Diaz to the Royals for Matt Stairs.

Matt Stairs:
Stairs’ stats this year are:
8 HR
33 RBI
.258 AVG.
This year his fielding percentage is 1.000 and is 2-10 as a Ranger.
Over his career, Stairs has a .266 average with 215 home runs over 15 seasons.

Grade of Matt Stairs: 8.2

Joselo Diaz:
Joselo has posted these numbers with the Redhawks:
0-0 W-L
3.28 ERA
35.2 IP
46 SO
Joselo has allowed 2 ER in 2 IP for the Omaha Royals so far.

Grade: 7.1

Trade Evaluation:
Matt Stairs is a good player while Joselo is just another relief pitcher and probably wouldn’t have had much impact with the Rangers.
Grade of trade: A+

Trade 2: The Rangers traded minor league pitcher Jesse Chavez to the Pirates for Kip Wells.

Kip Wells:
Kip has been injured for a lot of this year, but so far his stats are:
2-5 W-L
6.10 ERA
41.1 IP
18 SO.
Kip allowed one earned run in five innings in his Ranger debut.
During his career, Wells is 57-74 with a 4.43 ERA with 176 starts.

Grade: 7.9

Jesse Chavez:
Jesse has been in AA almost all of this year and his stats are:
2-5 W-L
4.42 ERA
59 IP
70 SO.
Jesse is not a major prospect but has a great ability to get strike-outs.

Grade: 5.2

Trade Evaluation:
This was a great trade. Chavez wasn’t that much of a prospect and we got a decent major league pitcher that has taken a spot in our starting rotation.
Grade of trade: A+

Trade 3: The Rangers traded relief pitcher Bryan Corey to the Red Sox for minor league pitcher Luis Mendoza.

Luis Mendoza:
Luis was sent to AA, and his stats for the Portland Sea Dogs this year were:
1-5 W-L
6.38 ERA
48 IP
29 SO.
He went 5 innings giving up 2 ER in his Roughrider debut and is only 23 years old.

Grade: 5.9

Bryan Corey:
Bryan started in AA, then moved to AAA and then to the MLB where his stats were:
1-1 W-L
2.95 ERA
18.1 IP
13 SO.
Bryan started out great and then fell apart at the end. He has already been Designated for Assignment (DFA’d) by Boston after only one appearance.

Grade: 6.1

Trade Evaluation:
We traded about the same talent that we got back. I’m glad to get anything for Corey since he was DFA’d by the Rangers.
Grade of trade: B

Trade 4: The Rangers obtained catcher Miguel Ojeda from Colorado for cash.

Miguel Ojeda:
Miguel had 74 AB with the Rockies this year and posted these numbers:
2 HR
11 RBI
.230 AVG.
Miguel has played in parts of 4 seasons in the majors including part of one with the Mariners and 2+ seasons with the Padres. He has a career .222. average with 15 home runs over 207 games.

Grade: 6.6


Grade: 0.1

Trade Evaluation:
We traded pretty much nothing for our probable back-up catcher for next year.
Grade of Trade: A+

Trade 5: The Rangers traded minor league catcher Nick Trzesniak to Florida for future considerations.

Nick Trzesniak:
Nick has spent most of the year with Oklahoma posting these numbers:
1 HR
12 RBI
.255 AVG.
Nick wasn’t a real big prospect and we got Miguel Ojeda to replace him. He has recently been injured, playing in the Arizona Rookie League on a rehab assignment.

Grade: 4.8

Future Considerations:

Grade: 0.9

Trade Evaluation:
We traded Nick Trzesniak for what could be nothing depending on how long he stays there.
Grade of Trade: D+

Come back next week for a short interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller unless the Rangers make another trade.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lee and Cruz Acquired

This week the Rangers traded Coco Cordero, Julian Cordero, Kevin Mench, and Laynce Nix to the Brewers for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. This week I will discuss my thoughts on the trade and grade each player from 1-10 (10 being the best).

Carlos Lee:
Lee’s career stats are:
212 HR
747 RBI
.284 AVG.
His stats this year are:
28 HR
81 RBI
.288 AVG.
Carlos was a National League Silver Slugger in 2005 and an all-star in ’05 and ‘06. He started his major league career on May 7, 1999, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. Lee recorded the 1st hit at the Cardinals’ new Busch Stadium. His brother, Carlos, plays in the White Sox minor league system.

Grade of Carlos Lee: 9.8

Nelson Cruz:
Nelson’s career minor league numbers are:
97 HR
431 RBI
.287 AVG.
Nelson was the Brewers' minor league player of the year last year. This year he has been in Triple-A Nashville, where he hit .302 with 22 doubles, 20 home runs, 73 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 104 games.

Grade: 8.7

Francisco Cordero:
This year, Cordero has put up these numbers:
7-4 W-L
4.71 ERA
49.2 IP
55 SO.
Francisco lost his closing job earlier this season, and has blown nine saves already this year. But the Brewers' bullpen is slumping, and their closer, Derrick Turnbow, lost his job to Dan Kolb, so Cordero might become a closer again in Milwaukee.

Grade: 6.3

Kevin Mench:
So far this year, this is Kevin’s stats:
12 HR
50 RBI
.284 AVG.
Mench is on pace to get a career-high 80 RBI’s. His power numbers will probably drop in Milwaukee because he will leave Ameriquest Field.

Grade: 6.9

Laynce Nix:
Laynce’s minor league stats this year are:
10 HR
55 RBI
.269 AVG.
Nix was considered a big prospect a few years ago, but has really struggled in the majors. He is very good defensively but not very good offensively.

Grade: 5.2

Julian Cordero:
Julian’s stats for the LumberKings this year are
2-5 W-L
2.91 ERA
68 IP
49 SO
Julian is a pretty good pitcher but not one of the main prospects.

Grade: 6.1

Trade Evaluation:
To me, this trade is good if we make the playoffs or sign Lee for multiple years. It is also good if Cruz becomes a great player. This trade gives the players more confidence, so it gives us a better chance in two ways of making the playoffs.
Grade: A

Come back next week for a short interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller unless the Rangers make another trade.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Steve Rowe Interview

This week I did an interview with Steve Rowe, the Roughriders relief pitcher. He was very nice and did the interview on his birthday as he was walking down the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The interview is below:

1. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

He said that it would probably have to be some of his roommates, like Kameron Loe, Sam Narron, Wes Littleton, and Bryan Corey. He ended up picking Jason Andrew, because he was his first roommate and they shared a similar situation, and Dustin Smith, because he’s a great guy on and off the field, they were roommates for a while, and they had a lot of fun together.

2. Can you please rate the ballparks in the Rangers organization that you’ve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Steve said that the Ballpark in Arlington is the best for obvious reasons. He gave the Oklahoma City ballpark a 9 because it has a great clubhouse, is a nice park and has great fans. He gave the Frisco ballpark an 8 for the park but a 3 for the field because the playing service is ‘hard as a rock’. He gave Bakersfield a 1 and Stockton a 5. He said that the Texas League has very good ballparks.

3. Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?

- Juan Richardson (Springfield Cardinals) – he’s faced him twice and given up two homers.
- Nick Swisher – he hit Steve pretty well in the California League.
- Joseph Koshansky (Tulsa first baseman) – Steve said that he thinks he’ll be in the big leagues soon.

Steve also mentioned Billy Butler of the Wichita Wranglers.

4. Did you notice a difference between single-A and double-A hitters and, if so, what is it?

The hitters are more patient and won’t chase balls out of the zone as much.

5. Did you notice a difference between double-A and triple-A hitters and, if so, what is it?

Same answer – he said that the hitters get more patient as you get higher in the farm system. Guys don’t hit the ball further or harder. The ones who are the most successful have the most plate discipline.

6. What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

The road trips, but Steve said they weren’t that bad in the Texas League. He said that being away from his family and the long bus trips are hard.

7. What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?

Steve said that he hasn’t been hurt since he’s been a pro so he can’t really say. He tore his ACL in high school.

8. What were your thoughts when you were undrafted out of college?

Steve said that he wasn’t expecting to go high up in the draft so he wasn’t upset.

9. How did you end up in the Rangers organization?

The Rangers called Steve the night of the draft and offered him a contract. He said that he was very excited.

10. How did it feel to dominate the California League in 2003 when you didn’t allow an earned run after June 12?

He didn’t realize that he had that streak going until after the regular season was over, so he didn’t really notice it. He said he had some luck, some good defense, and some good calls. Steve said that it was a fun year because he was on a good team with a lot of guys that were fun to be around, like Dustin Smith.

11. How exciting was it to win a championship in AA in 2004?

Steve said that it was the most fun he’s ever had. The last two months, they felt like they couldn’t lose a game. ‘It was a blast.’ He mentioned that a lot of those guys are in the big leagues now. He had never really won a championship in anything and it was a great feeling.

12. Were you excited to go to the AA All-Star game in 2004 or would you rather have had the days off?

It’s always an honor to be asked to play with the best players and an honor to be seen as one of the best in the league. It was a lot of fun, especially after going undrafted. He said that it gave him a reason to believe that reaching the big leagues wasn’t so far out of reach.

13. Do you still want to become a pilot?

At first Steve thought this was a funny question because he thought I asked him if he still wanted to be a pirate. He said that being a pilot would be cool but he didn’t see himself doing it anytime soon.

14. What was your favorite team growing up?

He had two. He grew up in Houston but his parents are from Ohio and were Reds fans. They would go see the Reds play in the Astrodome when they came to town. But Steve became an Astros fan in high school.

15. What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?

- Football – he was a quarterback in high school
- Baseball – always his favorite
- Basketball – he didn’t play past junior high
- Golf

16. What are your hobbies?

Steve said that he doesn’t really have much free time. He plays golf once or twice per road trip and once every other day in spring training. He also plays Guitar Hero on PlayStation and likes to play cards.

Steve also mentioned at the end of the interview that one of his motivations is to play long enough for his kids to remember seeing him play.

I would like to thank Steve for being so nice and letting me interview him.

Come back next week for a short interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller, unless there is a Rangers trade to discuss.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mid-Season Awards

This week I will give out my mid-season awards. Stats are as of the All-Star break.

Rangers MVP:
Gary Matthews, Jr.: .328 AVG, 10 HR, 47 RBI
Runner-up: Michael Young
Last month: 1st – Hank Blalock, 2nd – Michael Young

Rangers Cy Young:
Vicente Padilla: 8-5 W-L, 4.44 ERA, 107.1 IP, 90 SO
Runner-up: Akinori Otsuka
Last month: 1st – Akinori Otsuka, 2nd – Kevin Millwood

Rangers Rookie of the Year:
Ian Kinsler: .320 AVG, 7 HR, 26 RBI
Runner-up: John Koronka
Last month: 1st – John Koronka, 2nd – Ian Kinsler

Most Disappointing Rangers Hitter:
Mark Teixeira: .275 AVG, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 71 SO
Runner-up: Brad Wilkerson

Most Disappointing Rangers Pitcher:
Kevin Millwood: 8-5 W-L, 4.83 ERA, 110 IP, 75 SO
Runner-up: Robinson Tejeda

Jim Thome: .298 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI
Runner-up: David Ortiz
Last month: 1st – Travis Hafner, 2nd – Jim Thome

AL Cy Young:
Roy Halladay: 12-2 W-L, 2.92 ERA, 129.1 IP, 72 SO
Runner-up: Johan Santana
Last month: 1st – Mike Mussina, 2nd – Scott Kazmir

Most Disappointing AL Hitter:
Richie Sexson: .218 AVG, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 92 SO
Runner-up: Mark Teixeira

Most Disappointing AL Pitcher:
Jeff Weaver: 3-10 W-L, 6.29 ERA, 88.2 IP, 62 SO
Runner-up: Carlos Silva

David Wright: .316 AVG, 20 HR, 74 RBI
Runner-up: Lance Berkman
Last month: 1st – Albert Pujols, 2nd – Alfonso Soriano

NL Cy Young:
Brad Penny: 10-2 W-L, 2.91 ERA, 108.1 IP, 82 SO
Runner-up: Tom Glavine
Last month: 1st – Brandon Webb, 2nd – Bronson Arroyo

Most Disappointing NL Hitter:
Carlos Delgado: .252 AVG, 22 HR, 56 RBI, 74 SO
Runner-up: Bobby Abreu

Most Disappointing NL Pitcher:
Oliver Perez: 2-10 W-L, 6.63 ERA, 76 IP, 61 SO
Runner-up: Jorge Sosa

Come back nest week for an interview of RoughRiders pitcher Steve Rowe.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Road Trip to the new St. Louis Cardinals Stadium

The week of June 26th, my dad and I went on a road trip to St. Louis to see a Cardinals game and made two stops to see minor league games. In this week’s blog, I’ll describe and analyze the stadiums we visited.

On the way to St. Louis, we stopped at Tulsa to see the RoughRiders play the Tulsa Drillers at Driller Stadium

Here are my thoughts on Driller Stadium:
Bad – The stadium was very plain and boring.
Bad – The stadium was made of all metal.
Bad – The metal made lots of noise as people walked up and down the aisles.
Bad – There were not many good choices for food.
Bad – The Drillers had no gift shop. They only had a gift stand.
Bad – About half of seats that they have are bleachers.
Good – The stadium has a Wall of Fame behind home plate that includes eight different famous Drillers (players, owners, and coaches) including Pudge, Juan and Sosa.
Interesting – The parking lot was inside an old horseracing track next to the ballpark.

Here is a description of the RoughRiders game in Tulsa that we saw:
– The RoughRiders won 10-4.
– Steve Rowe started for the RoughRiders, giving up 3 earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched with 3 strikeouts.
– Jesse Carlson had great movement and pitched very well, going 1.2 innings with two strikeouts and no runs allowed for the hold.
- Kevin Richardson, Adam Morrissey, Jim Fasano, and Luke Grayson homered for the RoughRiders.
- Adam Morrissey (2 for 5 with 2 RBI) and Luke Grayson (1 for 3 with 3 RBI and a walk) both had great games.

St. Louis:
We saw the Cardinals play the Indians at the new Busch Stadium. We saw the game from a party room suite.

Here are my thoughts on the new Busch Stadium:
Good – The sidewalk outside the ballpark has bricks describing big moments in Cardinals history.
Good – The Cardinals sell individual tickets to suites, called Party Rooms. They are very nice and they come with food and beverages but they cost $90 apiece, which is way too high.
Good – On the outside concourse, they hung the scoreboards from old Busch Stadium, still showing the scores from the last game at that stadium.
Good – The Cardinals have cushioned seats for the more expensive tickets.
Good – The displayed their retired numbers in two different places.
Good – They displayed their World Series and National League pennants on top of the home team and visiting team dugouts.
Good – The Cardinals had nicer bathrooms than most ballparks.
Good – They displayed some old Cardinals logos (from older jerseys) around the stadium.
Good – The Jumbotron was pretty cool.
Good – Above the bullpen, they show the pitcher’s stats for the game and for the season at all times.
Bad – When you’re on the concourse, you can’t see the game.
Bad – The out of town scoreboard doesn’t show inning-by-inning scores.
Bad – The Cardinals hadn’t finished moving the statues over to their new ballpark. They moved Stan Musial but not any of the others.
Bad – The gift shops were lame. They hadn’t finished building their main team store.
Bad – The Cardinals made it extremely hard to get autographs. They won’t let you into the lower-level seating area before the game unless that’s where your tickets are.
Bad – They only had two escalators in the whole ballpark.

Here is the description of the game:
- The Indians won 3-1.
- David Eckstein had a very good game, as he was 3-for-4 with 3 singles and an RBI.
- This was the Cardinals’ 8th loss in a row.
- Sabathia pitched 8 innings, allowing 1 earned run and with 4 strikeouts.
- 2 of the 3 Indians’ runs came off of a homer by Ronnie Belliard in the top of the 1st.
- Travis Hafner was 0-for-2 with 2 walks and a strikeout.
- Pujols was 1-for-4.

The next morning, we took a tour of new Busch Stadium. It was very interesting and we got to go in the Cardinals’ dugout and out on the warning track. There were a lot of bugs in the dugout.

Then we went to the Cardinals Hall of Fame, which is across the street from the future site of Baseball Village (which is next door to the new stadium and on the site of the old stadium). It was very interesting, with replicas of some of the old ballparks, information on all the World Series and playoffs they’ve played in, plaques of everybody in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, memorabilia from Cardinals history, and Cardinals merchandise. The Bowling Hall of Fame is in the same building and they have a real bowling alley in the basement. My dad and I bowled there and I won.

We then went to visit the sites of some of the old Cardinals ballparks.

First we went to the site of Sportsman’s Park, which was the home of the St. Louis Browns from 1902 to 1953 and of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1920 to 1966. Now the site is a Herbert Hoover Boys Club.
Good – The building had a painted sign on the outside of the building, which had very interesting information about the old stadium. The sign had information on World Series that had been played there and great players that had played there.
Bad – All they have there now is a football field even though we had read that the baseball diamond was still there.

Then we went to the site of Robison Field, which was the home of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1893 to 1920. There’s a high school where it used to be. They had a plaque in the yard that was just put up in early June of 2006 that has information about the old ballpark.

On the way back from St. Louis, we went to my dad’s friend’s house and we all went to a Springfield Cardinals game in Springfield, Missouri. The Cardinals played the Wichita Wranglers.

The Springfield Cardinals stadium was very nice and new looking. It’s almost as nice as the RoughRiders but not quite as nice.

Here is a description of the game:
- The Wranglers won 4-3.
- The Wranglers pitcher was Junior Herndon, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery. He went 8 innings, giving up 3 runs and with 6 strikeouts.
- Stuart Pomeranz was the Springfield pitcher and he is a big prospect. He went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs.
- Nick Stavinoha was another big Springfield prospect and he played DH. He was 1-for-3.
- Juan Richardson played 1B and is another big Springfield prospect. He was 0-for-3 with one walk and two strikeouts.
- Alex Gordon played 3B for the Wranglers and is one of their big prospects. He was 0-for-3.

This was a great trip and I really enjoyed all the games.

Come back next week for my mid-season awards.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Newberg Day Summary and Castro Traded

Yesterday was the Newberg Day at the ballpark. It was a great day. I will describe the day and at the end, I will analyze the Fabio Castro trade.

The day started off with a Will Carroll Q&A session at the Legends Museum. Will is a specialist in injuries and steroids for Baseball Prospectus. He won a Sporting News award and has written 2 books, one on avoiding injuries for young pitchers and one on steroids called The Juice. One thing I thought was interesting was that a minor league system does good to produce 2 major league players a year.

Then they had a prize drawing for people who helped in the toy drive. I won a Dennis Quaid autographed picture and a prop from the movie, The Rookie.

After that was a Jon Daniels Q&A session. As usual, Jon was very friendly and did a great job answering questions. Below are some notes I took on what I thought were interesting topics.

Question: Can you please name one player from each position that would be called up to the Rangers if someone gets injured?

C: Jamie Burke, Nick Trzesniak, Tom Gregorio
1B: Move DeRosa to 1st
2B: Drew Meyer
3B: Drew Meyer
SS: Drew Meyer (for a short-term need), Joaquin Arias (for a long-term need)
OF: Drew Meyer, Adam Hyzdu, Laynce Nix

Question: What were your thoughts on the Castro trade?

- They weren’t 100% sure about Castro.
- Haigwood is a big prospect.
- It’s touch to carry Rule 5 guys. Only 2 or 3 from the last 10 years made it through the whole season.
- They think that they got a guy in Haigwood who is about the same level of prospect as Castro. The difference is that they don’t have to carry Haigwood on the active roster.
- There were 3 serious offers for Castro.

Question: Do you think Kameron Loe’s performance this season is just a fluke and what do you think his long-term role is?

Answer: Jon hopes it is a fluke. He thinks that Loe’s long-term role is in the bullpen.

Question: Who is the next spot starter?

Answer: Edinson Volquez.

Questions: What do you think Enrique Cruz’s role is?

Answer: Jon thinks that Cruz will be an MLB utility player.

At the end of the session, Jamey told us that I was throwing out the first pitch and that I needed to go to suite 32A immediately. We rushed there and met someone who was waiting for us. She took us into the tunnels below the stadium and then we went through the umpire’s tunnel onto the field. We were standing on the infield warning track through all the pre-game ceremonies. After the national anthem, they announced my name over the speakers and I jogged out to the mound. I threw the pitch from the pitcher’s rubber for a strike. It was really exciting and I was glad I threw a strike.

After that, we went up to the suite to watch the game. We watched the game with Jamey Newberg, Will Carroll and Bob Sturm. The Rangers lost 9-5. Once again, there was a bad umpire call against the Rangers that cost them 7 runs. Craig Biggio had a strikeout because he had gone all the way around with his swing. But the home plate umpire called it a foul ball although he clearly did not hit the ball.

It was a really fun and exciting day and I thank Jamey Newberg and Jon Daniels and Will Carroll and the other Newberg volunteers (like Eleanor and Alan) for making it happen.

Castro/Haigwood Trade Evaluation:

The Rangers traded Fabio Castro to the Phillies for Daniel Haigwood. Castro was with the Rangers’ major league club (taken in the Rule 5 draft) until they designated him for assignment and Haigwood was with the Phillies’ AA club (the Reading Phillies).

Daniel Haigwood LHP:
Daniel’s career numbers are:
32-11 W-L
3.36 ERA
332 IP
333 SO.
Daniel started his pro career in 2002, when he was an all-star for the Arizona League White Sox. Haigwood has spent 3 of his 4 seasons with the White Sox (making it to AA in 2005), becoming teammates with Chris Young and Fabio Castro. This year he has a 2-5 record with a 3.54 ERA and 85 strike-outs in 84 IP.

Fabio’s career numbers are:
16-10 W-L
2.40 ERA
195.2 IP
203 SO.
Fabio started his pro career in 2003 and this was his 1st year to get out of A-ball. So far this year his stats at the major league level are a 3.18 ERA with 7 SO in 11.1 IP.

Trade Evaluation:
I think this trade was very good considering that we don’t need to use a spot on the active roster for Haigwood like we did with Castro. Haigwood has a pretty good ERA and strikes out a lot of batters. It’s disappointing to lose Castro but I understand the Rangers’ reasoning.
Grade: B+

Come back next week for a recap of my trip to St. Louis to see the new Cardinals ballpark, with stops for minor league games in Tulsa and Springfield.