Sunday, January 29, 2006

Fan Fest Summary

Yesterday (January 28), the Rangers had their annual Fan Fest, otherwise known as the Winter Carnival. They had autographs, Q&A sessions, and other activities. In this blog entry, I will summarize my day and put some questions and answers from the Brad Wilkerson Q&A session.

At 10am, as me and my dad were walking, we saw three incredibly long lines and luckily we weren’t in any of them. We were in a short line for Frisco RoughRiders pitcher John Danks and Rangers pitcher CJ Wilson at the Newberg table. CJ Wilson was not scheduled to come but Newberg got him to sign autographs. John and CJ both are really good characters and John even remembered me from the banquet the night before.

At 11am, we went to the Brad Wilkerson Q&A session. Here are some of the questions and answers. These are not the exact words.

Q: Who was your favorite teammate of all time to play with?
A: Vladimir Guerrero because he would always work as hard as he could. Brad Wilkerson once saw him throw a ball from deep right field to 20 rows behind home plate.

Q: How was it to have Frank Robinson as your manager?
A: It was tough at first because the players are different than when Frank Robinson played. It was also great because he’s a Hall of Famer, so all of the players learned a lot from him.

Q: How do you compare American fans with Canadian fans?
A: American fans have more knowledge of the game and Canadian fans are louder than the American fans. Canadian fans are also more into the hot dogs, especially on dollar hot dog day.

Brad seemed very nice and like he might be an easy autograph target during the year.

Once the interview was over at 11:30am, we hurried over to the Newberg table so we could get Joselo Diaz and Nick Trzeniak’s autographs. You can read about Joselo Diaz in my blog entry ‘Diaz and Anderson Sign’. Nick Trzeniak was in the Padres’ organization last year and he seemed very friendly.

After that, we stayed at the Newberg table to get High-A Bakersfield Blaze catcher Justin Hatcher’s autograph. He was very friendly and he tended to talk pretty fast.

I met Kathleen O’Brien, the Rangers writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at the Newberg table after getting Justin Hatcher’s autograph. She was friendly and gave me advice on how to write when I grow up.

At 1pm, me and my dad had lunch and went back to the Newberg table to get Josh Lewin and Jon Daniels’ autographs (both unscheduled). Josh Lewin and Jon Daniels have both been very nice to me and never wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

As me and my dad were walking out of the Diamond Club, we saw how empty the lines were for new Rangers first base coach Bobby Jones, new Rangers reliever and former Cub Jon Leicester, and Rangers reliever Erasmo Ramirez. We went downstairs to get autograph tickets for these players and coach. We went back to the Diamond Club and got their autographs.

At 2pm, we were in a big rush to get through Rangers bullpen coach Dom Chiti and Rangers bench coach Don Wakamatsu’s autograph line so we could get to the Buck Showalter and Jon Daniels Q&A session on time.

Sure enough, after we got the autographs, we had plenty of time to get to the Q&A session. Maybe a little too much time because we saw part of the Baseball Comedy Improv, which started at 2 o’clock. I will give you the question and answer of the question I asked Buck Showalter. These are not his exact words either.

Q: Not including current Rangers, what were your favorite players to manage?
A: Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, and David Cone

At 3, we waited in line in case Thomas Diamond and Travis Metcalf came to the Newberg table because they had said that they might be there. They weren’t able to make it.

As we were leaving, we got Jose Guzman, Dave Hostetler, and Pete O’Brien’s autographs even though we didn’t have an autograph ticket for them. They were very nice to sign for people that didn’t have tickets.

That was the end of our day at Fan Fest. The Rangers organized this very well but must have been disappointed with the rainy weather keeping people from running the bases, catching pop flies, and throwing in the bullpen. The Newberg table was definitely the best table for me.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Baldiris Acquired

The Rangers claimed AA 2B and 3B Aarom Baldiris of waivers from the New York Mets last week. He played for the Binghamton Mets. Here are last year’s stats:
.275 AVG
63 RBI (2nd on team)
11 HR
495 AB (1st on team)
131 G (1st on team)
.341 OBP
.416 SLG
19 E (most on team)
7 SB (6th on team)
81 SO (5th most on team)
45 BB (2nd most on team)
206 TB (2nd most on team)

Baldiris started his career in 2000 and has lifetime minor league stats of:
.299 AVG
283 RBI
33 HR
1957 AB
535 G
.371 OBP
.417 SLG
45 SB
295 SO
221 BB

Aarom in my eyes has potential as a average hitter and MAYBE a power hitter if he keeps improving his power numbers like he did last year. In 2006 I think his potential impact is what Marshall McDougall did last year. In his career I think he has a 50-50 shot at helping a team in the majors.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ballpark Rankings

I’ve seen games at 21 of the current major league ballparks. Below, I have listed my 10 favorite ballparks of the 21 current ballparks I have seen, ranked in order. I think that these 10 ballparks are very nicely done and that is why they are my top 10 ballparks.

1. Wrigley Field (Cubs) because everything about that ballpark is historic. The ivy on the outfield wall, the Wrigley Field sign outside of the stadium, and the scoreboard. No other ballpark could match up with this one.

2. Fenway Park (Red Sox) because of the Green Monster and everything historical. Also, Fisk’s pole and Pesky’s pole are so historical. It is cool being able to look around and see so much history. Not just the old history put being able to see players that could go into the hall of fame someday play there (like David Ortiz).

3. Petco Park (Padres) because the way they built the stadium is so nice and organized. The left outfield wall is very old-time looking. They have a section of seats in sand and they have a park out past the outfield. It doesn’t have anything going against it.

4. Kauffman Stadium (Royals) because the fountains in the outfield are so neat. It is a nice little addition to a ballpark with a cool scoreboard and a nice looking field.

5. Yankee Stadium (Yankees) because it has SO much history. It has the plaques in the outfield and even has a historic name (the house that Ruth built). It is so old and has so much meaning. The only two things I have against it are the team is a Rangers enemy (not that that was part of it being this low) and it isn’t attractive from the outside.

6. Great American Ballpark (Reds) because the smoke shooters are so cool, along with everything else. Nothing is boring, all it holds is excitement. When you see the special additions you get into the game (not that you’re not into the game). You can also see the river flowing back behind the stadium.

7. Citizen Bank Park (Phillies) because it had cool statues on every corner of the stadium. It had so much character to it. Also, the games for kids in Ashburn Alley are so cool and you earn prizes depending on how well you do.

8. Turner Field (Braves) because on the outside, there are statues and plaques for every retired number, pennants, and Braves Hall of Fame names. On the inside, you can see downtown Atlanta from your seats and it has a Braves Hall of Fame and Museum.

9. Camden Yards (Orioles) because it has plaques in the ground of the outfield concourse to represent the home runs hit onto Eutaw Street. It is a nice looking ballpark with a neat feel to it.

10. Ameriquest Field (Rangers) because it has a cool bell that rings after every home run and a home run porch that looks neat. Also, it is the park of my favorite team and I have a mini-plan to the Rangers every year, so I’m there a lot of the time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Autograph Rankings

I really enjoy getting to meet the Rangers players and have had a lot of success as an autograph seeker. Some players are nicer about giving autographs than others. I have put together a ranking of the top 10 nicest Rangers about giving autographs, along with honorable mentions.

1. Rusty Greer – Rusty always made himself available to give autographs to the public. He never just signed without talking to you and he always seemed interested in you as a person. He always had a nice approach to giving autographs and even if he couldn’t at the time, he wouldn’t ignore you like some other players do. One time, I met him at a Halloween party at the Ballpark and he was so willing to give autographs when we asked him. Also, he spent a lot of time just talking to my Daddy and me and asked us questions about ourselves.

2. Jeff Zimmerman – Like Rusty Greer, Jeff made himself available to give autographs to the public by being at lots of autograph events and always talked to you as a person. He was always nice and was never grumpy and it seemed like he never woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

3. Francisco Cordero – The Rangers do not have many players who will just go sign autographs before a game on their own. He is one of the three people on my list who does this. He is not one of the people who enjoys talking to you but he will sign plenty of autographs. I have seen him many times just start signing on his own. A line would start piling up and he would just sign and sign until close to game time.

4. Ricardo Rodriguez – Like Francisco, he will go sign autographs before a game on his own without being asked. He does not sign autographs until close to game time but he does sign autographs after the rest of the players are already gone. He’s also not one of the ones who talks very much but he still signs plenty.

5. Justin Thompson – Last year, when Justin was a RoughRider, all you had to do to get an autograph was go up to him and he would ask you if you wanted an autograph. One time, I asked Justin if I could have his autograph after the game. We later overheard his wife telling him that they needed to hurry and leave right after the game. Justin still remembered that he promised me and took my card and signed it before leaving. He autographed for me so many times that I gave him a $5 gift card to Blockbuster. After that, he always remembered me as soon as he saw me and he would never go one time without saying thank you. Later in the year, I saw him in Oklahoma City after he got called up and he still remembered me when he saw me. Again, like Jeff and Rusty, he would always take time to talk to you and treat you as a real person.

6. John Rocker – John Rocker has a bad reputation but when I got to meet him before a game when he was in the bullpen one time, I got his autograph and he was so nice. I saw him before games more during the year and he was always very nice. He always took time to talk to me and ask me how I was doing. This is a good example that people with bad reputations can still be nice on the inside.

7. Chris Young – He will sign autographs without being asked but doesn’t do it as much as Francisco and Ricardo. He talks to you very nicely while he is signing.

8. Tom Evans – I sent Tom a get well card when he was hurt in 2000. I got a letter from him containing two autographed baseball cards as a thank you for my get well card.

9. Michael Young – If you call him over before the game, he will usually come over and sign for you. While he is signing, he’ll talk to you very nicely. He doesn’t act like he’s in a hurry. Also, he’s very good at going to Rangers autograph events.

10. Brian Shouse – Brian always makes himself available to sign autographs. He doesn’t go into the dugout and hide himself from the crowd, making it so he doesn’t have to sign. Last year, when I was in Kansas City for a Royals game against the Rangers, there was a rain delay. During the delay. Brian was out throwing with Ron Mahay. He stayed out in the rain to sign autographs for me and the rest of the Rangers fans.

Honorable Mention:
- Sandy Alomar Jr.
- David Dellucci
- Jim Sundberg
- Thomas Diamond

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Diaz and Anderson Sign

According to the Newberg Report, the Rangers have signed LHP Brian Anderson and RHP Jose Diaz to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training.

According to Brian Anderson has a 4.74 career ERA and has a career record of 82-83. Last year he had a 6.75 ERA with a 1-2 record. He only played 6 games because he got injured and had Tommy John surgery on July 21st. Anderson is unlikely to pitch until June and since he is signed to a 1 year deal he might not do much for the Rangers. He has played 14 years for 4 different Major League teams (Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, and Arizona Diamondbacks). His best year ERA wise is 2003 when he had a 3.80 ERA for Cleveland and Kansas City. His best year record wise is 1999 when he had an 8-2 record for Arizona.

Jose Diaz had a 9.13 ERA with a 2-2 record and 22 strike-outs in 18 games for the Royals’ AA Montgomery Biscuits as a reliever. He had a 0.00 ERA with a 0-0 record and 19 strike-outs in 8 games for the Indians’ AA Akron Aeros. He also had a 3.89 ERA with a 1-2 record and 44 strike-outs in 20 games for the Indians’ AAA Buffalo Bisons. For his career he has a 3.71 ERA and a 21-21 record with 340 strike-outs in 303.1 innings pitched. He started his career by signing with the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 2001.

I think that Brian Anderson has a chance to play in the majors as a mid-season call-up if one of our pitchers is struggling. Jose Diaz I think will be a good addition to the RoughRiders or Redhawks for the season.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Comparing 2005 vs. 2006 Position Players

In my previous blog, I compared the starting pitchers from last season with the projected starting pitchers for 2006. In this blog, I will compare the 2005 starting lineup and bench with the 2006 projected starting lineup and bench.

Here is the 2005 starting lineup and bench, along with their stats and my grade of their performance (I'm sorry the formatting isn't better - I don't know how to do nice formatting on this website):

Position/Player/AVG/HR/RBI/OBP/My Grade
DH David Dellucci .251 29 65 .367 B-
SS Michael Young .331 24 91 .385 A+
1B Mark Texiera .301 43 144 .379 A+
3B Hank Blalock .263 25 92 .318 B
2B Alfonso Soriano .268 36 104 .309 A-
OF Kevin Mench .264 25 73 .328 B
OF Gary Matthews .255 17 55 .320 B-
OF Richard Hidalgo .221 16 43 .289 C-
C Rod Barajas .254 21 60 .306 B-

Position/Player/AVG/HR/RBI/OBP/My Grade
DH Phil Nevin .237 12 55 .287 D
SS Mark DeRosa .243 8 20 .325 B-
1B Adrian Gonzalez .227 6 17 .272 C-
3B Marshall McDougall .167 0 0 .167 D-
OF Laynce Nix .240 6 32 .267 C
C Sandy Alomar .273 0 14 .306 C+

Here is the projected 2006 starting lineup and bench, along with their 2005 stats and my grade of their performance:

Projected Starters:
Position/Player/AVG/HR/RBI/OBP/My Grade
DH David Dellucci .251 29 65 .367 B-
SS Michael Young .331 24 91 .385 A+
1B Mark Texiera .301 43 144 .379 A+
3B Hank Blalock .263 25 92 .318 B
2B Ian Kinsler* .274 23 94 .348 B+
OF Brad Wilkerson .248 11 57 .351 A-
OF Kevin Mench .264 25 73 .328 B
OF Gary Matthews .255 17 55 .320 B-
C Rod Barajas .254 21 60 .306 B-
* Ian Kinsler stats are from AAA

Projected Bench:
Position/Player/AVG/HR/RBI/OBP/My Grade
OF Adam Hyzdu .194 0 4 .286 C+
SS Mark DeRosa .243 8 20 .325 B-
C Gerald Laird .225 1 4 .262 C+
DH Phil Nevin .237 12 55 .287 D

Overall, I think the Rangers have stayed at the same level of hitting but have improved on defense. If you put this with their improved pitching, they are a better team overall.