Thursday, March 23, 2006
Q: Who were the 3 toughest pitchers to hit?
A: Roger Clemens, Jim Palmer, and Catfish Hunter
Q: Who were the 3 toughest pitchers to catch?
A: Charlie Hough, Danny Jackson, and Kevin Brown
Q: Who was the favorite manager you ever played for?
A: Dick Howser (Kansas City 1985-86)
Q: Who were your top 3 favorite teammates?
A: Don Sutton, Buddy Bell, and Scott Sanderson
Q: What is your biggest regret from your baseball career?
A: At first, Jim said he didn’t have one because he played in such a way that he didn’t have one. After that, he said that it was not being able to play in the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington.
Q: How does it feel to be in the Rangers Hall of Fame?
A: He said it was a pretty big privilege to be in the same group as Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, and Johnny Oates.
Q: What was your favorite moment as a Texas Ranger?
A: His favorite moment as a Texas Ranger was his first major league game versus the Oakland A’s in 1974. He caught Fergie Jenkins, who he watched when he was growing up (when Fergie was a Cub). The Rangers won and Jim had a couple of hits. Jim also threw out Bert Campaneris.
Q: What are your favorite ballparks?
A: Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, and Kansas City
Q: What are your least favorite ballparks?
A: Anaheim, Oakland, and Philadelphia
Q: Which stadiums have the worst facilities for broadcasters?
Q: Who do you think the next Rangers retired number should be?
A: Jim said that this was a good question. He also said that it wouldn’t be his because Michael Young is wearing his old number.
Q: Who do you think should be the next Rangers Hall of Fame inductee?
A: Toby Harrah
Q: Who was your favorite player growing up and why?
A: Ernie Banks as a Cub because Jim saw most of his games as a kid in Illinois. Ernie seemed to always be friendly and was a good player.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the baseball camps for kids that you sponsor?
A: He enjoys seeing the excitement of kids.
Q: Can you please describe your current job? (Jim is Executive Director to the President for the Rangers)
A: Jim works 60 hours a week in an intense job. He’s involved with all departments and he enjoys it.
Jim was really nice. I know how busy he is and it was really generous of him to take some time for this interview with me.
Come back next week for my predictions of what will happen in the regular season and playoffs.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Last week, I did a play-by-play analysis of the March 7th Rangers Spring Training game. This week, I will summarize my Spring Training trip as part 2 of 2.
Day 1, Monday, March 6th:
1. My dad, my granddad and I went straight from the airport to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to see the Cubs @ A’s game.
2. The stadium was very plain and boring and the bleachers were very uncomfortable.
3. There were more Cubs fans than A’s fans which surprised me even though the Cubs have die-hard fans because it was at the A’s stadium.
4. The weather that day was very nice for baseball.
5. It was also awesome to be watching baseball in March.
6. Chicago won the game 12-3.
7. After the game we went to our hotel, Embassy Suites.
8. For dinner we went to IHOP. They probably had the worst service of any IHOP I’ve ever been to because it took about 45 minutes for them to get the food to us and our waitress only checked on us one time.
Day 2, Tuesday, March 7th:
1. We went to the Rangers @ Cubs game at Hohokam Park in Mesa early the next morning to get autographs which are so easy to get in Spring Training.
2. The autographs that I got and the details of the game are in my previous blog.
3. Jon Daniels introduced us to Scott Servais and Thad Levine after the game.
4. After that we went to Scottsdale to see the World Baseball Classic Canada @ South Africa game at Scottsdale Stadium.
5. The stadium at the game was empty.
6. If you ever go to Spring Training check both sides of the stadium for parking because at that game there was $15 parking on one side and free parking on the other.
7. Canada had a lot of MLB players while South Africa had none.
8. The crowd was on Canada’s side as I had thought.
9. When we left halfway through the game the score was 1-0 in Canada’s favor.
10. Canada ended up winning the game 11-8.
Day 3, Wednesday, March 8th:
1. We went to the Rangers workout to get autographs. These are the players I got: Jose Silva, Adam Eaton, D’Angelo Jimenez, Kameron Loe, Marshall McDougall, Kevin Walker, Chris Baker, Phil Nevin, John Wasdin, Rick Bauer, and Jamie Burke.
2. Workouts are great. They are right beside the stadium in Surprise. You get to walk right by the players as they move from field to field. You also get to get autographs and watch them workout. For the autographs, you have to wait until a break in the workout. But when you ask them during their workout if they’ll sign after they’re done, they do a great job of remembering.
3. At the end we talked to Thomas Diamond and he invited us to dinner. Thomas is a great guy with a great personality.
4. The way the workouts work is this: They stretch just before 10:00, then they split up into pitchers and hitters to do their workouts.
5. On fun days (once every two weeks) the pitchers play a game on their knees. There are two teams. One team hits while the other fields. The fielders are on their knees around the base paths with none in the outfield. Somebody tosses a ball to a hitter who tries to hit a grounder. If the fielder gets it, the hitter’s out. If the hitter completely misses the ball, he’s out. If it’s a liner to the outfield or a pop fly, the hitter’s out and has to go get it. If it is gettable and no one gets it, the hitter’s not out but the person who made the error is out of the game. The way you score is by hitting a grounder that gets by everyone. Usually when that happens, it’s a high chopper that the fielders can’t reach because it’s too far over their heads
6. By the batting cage I talked to Buck Showalter and Evan Grant. I also talked to a Newberg Report reader named Thomas, who said he had read my blog.
7. The workouts ended at 11:30 and then we went to the stadium to see the A’s @ Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
8. That stadium was probably the nicest one we saw.
9. In the game we got to see Edinson Volquez pitch awesome, just mowing down hitters.
10. Later in the game Jon Daniels came and sat with us for an inning (another great guy).
11. While Jon was sitting with us Adam Hyzdu hit a homer.
12. The Rangers won 10-3.
13. After the game I got Laynce Nix’s autograph.
14. Since we had about an hour to spare before dinner we went to Barnes & Noble.
15. When it came time for dinner we went to Red Robin to eat with Thomas Diamond. It was really fun!!! We all had burgers and fries.
16. After dinner we went to Peoria Stadium to see Japan face off against the Mariners in a WBC exhibition game.
Day 4, Thursday, March 9th:
1. We went back to the Rangers workouts and I got these autographs: Brian Anderson, Kevin Milwood, Frank Francisco, Ryan Bukvich, Vicente Padilla, Phil Nevin, Kameron Loe, Armando Gallaraga, D’Angelo Jimenez.
2. At the end of the trip, the only players that were on the 65-man Spring Training roster that I didn’t get (either on this trip or sometime in the past) are: Aarom Baldiris, Jesse Carlson, Antonio Alfonseca, Omar Beltre (wasn’t even there), Akinori Otsuka (at WBC), and Erubiel Durazo (at WBC).
3. After the workouts we went to Tempe Diablo Stadium to see the Giants @ Angels.
4. The Angels Spring Training stadium was great on the outside but was nothing special on the inside.
5. That game was the 1st game Barry Bonds was back. Barry struck-out and singled. Barry left after the third inning.
6. The Angels were the victors by the score 6-5.
7. After the game, we went straight to the airport so we could fly home.
This trip was awesome and is definitely in the top 10 trips I’ve taken. Come next week for my predictions on what will happen during the regular season.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Before the game I got a lot of autographs. I got Hank Blalock (who also gave me his batting gloves), Joselo Diaz, Mike Nickeas (who also gave me a ball), Brad Wilkerson, Nate Gold, Gerald Laird, Wes Littleton, Adrian Brown, Nick Trzesniak, Josh Rupe, Jason Botts, Adam Hyzdu, and Ron Mahay.
The Cubs Spring Training stadium (Hohokam Park) was very nice. You could see mountains in the background and it had a nice concourse.
Here is a summary of each at-bat during the game:
Brad Wilkerson: He came up to start the game. He had a good eye and walked against Greg Maddux after starting off with a 1-2 count.
Adrian Brown: Brown hit a fairly hard hit ball to short, which resulted in a fielder’s choice. Wilkerson broke up a double play with a good slide.
Hank Blalock: Blalock knew the strike zone and walked on 5 pitches vs. Maddux.
Phil Nevin: Nevin had a good eye and forced a walk vs. Maddux by fouling off 2, keeping him alive.
David Dellucci: Dellucci struggled, striking out on 3 pitches.
Mark DeRosa: DeRosa hit a screaming liner right to the short-stop for the out.
Vs. Juan Pierre: Rupe changed his speeds which forced a weak bunt for an out.
Vs Neifi Perez: He mainly threw fastballs high in the zone. Neifi hit a hard liner that Adrian Brown caught on the run.
Vs. Marquis Grissom: Rupe threw high and inside to Marquis. After Grissom hit a ground ball, D’Angelo Jimenez threw to 1st for the out.
D’Angelo Jimenez: D’Angelo chased a low pitch forcing him to hit a soft high-bouncer to 1st for the out.
Gerald Laird: Laird was fooled on a slow pitch getting him to pop out.
Joaquin Arias: Arias took a low pitch then hit a soft liner to left that was caught for the third out.
Vs. Jacque Jones: Rupe threw a fastball down in the zone forcing Jones to ground out to DeRosa (2B).
Vs. Todd Walker: Rupe couldn’t fool Todd or blaze his fastball by him which allowed Walker to hit a long single down the left-center alley.
Vs. Matt Murton: Rupe tried faster pitches, allowing a single over the shortstop’s head.
Vs. John Mabry: Again, Rupe tried faster pitches. Mabry hit a 2 RBI double, leading me to think that Rupe had been figured out. Score: 2-0 Cubs.
Vs. Ronny Cedeno: Rupe fooled Ronny with different speed pitches. Joaquin Arias and D’Angelo Jimenez had bad communication on a ground ball and bumped into each other, allowing Cedeno to get to first.
Vs. Dennis Anderson: Anderson hit a breaking ball to second for a double play.
Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson led off the inning with a good eye. He forced a 5-pitch walk on tempting pitches from Ryan Dempster.
Adrian Brown: Brown also had a good eye, forcing a talk on the mound with two straight balls. He hit a high fly ball to left center for the out.
Hank Blalock: Hank hit a hard liner to center for a single.
Phil Nevin: Nevin hit the first pitch and grounded into a double play.
Vs Juan Pierre: Rupe had bad control. He had to pitch low in the zone, which forced a grounder to DeRosa for the out.
Vs. Neifi Perez: Rupe had bad control against him too. When Rupe gained his control, Neifi hit a deep fly ball to right for an out.
Vs. Marquis Grissom: Rupe had a good start for this at-bat. Later in the at-bat, he couldn’t get Marquis to chase balls out of the zone and allowed a blooper to right for a single.
Vs. Jacque Jones: Rupe threw down and in until he was behind with a 3-0 count. When it got to 3-1, he threw another down and in fastball. Gerald Laird threw a strike to second, catching Marquis Grissom stealing.
David Dellucci: Two of Eyre’s fastballs blew right by him. He hit a soft grounder and was tagged out going to first, even though he ran faster than usual.
Mark DeRosa: DeRosa had a good eye but then swung at pitches low in the zone. He stuck out with a fastball blowing right by him.
D’Angelo Jimenez: Jimenez hit a frozen rope that the second baseman dove and caught.
Vs. Jacque Jones: He threw fastballs low in the zone, fooling him and striking him out on seven pitches.
Vs. Todd Walker: Ron threw fastballs out of the zone, walking Todd.
Vs. Matt Murton: Mahay pitched low, forcing a high chopper up the middle for a fielder’s choice.
Vs. John Mabry: Mahay threw fastballs too low or too inside but recovered with two straight strikes. Mabry still walked with a full count.
Vs. Ronny Cedeno: Mahay threw five straight fastballs and two of those fooled him. With two strikes, Cedeno had a foul tip on a breaking ball in the dirt for a strikeout.
Gerald Laird: Gerald crushed a triple to deep center against Brownlie. It would have been a homer if the hitter’s backdrop wall wasn’t about as tall as the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
Joaquin Arias: Joaquin was fooled by the outside pitch. He hit a high sacrifice fly to center field. Score: 2-1 Cubs.
Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson forced an 0-2 count to a 2-2 count with a good eye. He had a hard hit ball almost to the warning track for an out.
Adrian Brown: Adrian beat out a perfect bunt down the third-base line. The Cubs’ third baseman gave up and didn’t even hustle because of Brown’s speed and how great the bunt was.
Hank Blalock: Blalock hit the first pitch to deep left center for an out.
Vs. Jake Fox: Mahay threw fastballs on the outside corner. He threw a hanging pitch that was stomped for a ground rule double. The umpires had originally called it a homer but Showalter got it turned around.
Vs. Juan Pierre: Pierre had a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch.
Vs. Neifi Perez: Mahay threw a low changeup forcing a pop fly to second.
Vs. Angel Pagan: A breaking ball fooled Angel, forcing him to hit a ground-out to short.
Phil Nevin: Nevin held back his swing on a tempting pitch from Boehringer. On the next pitch, he was fooled and swung way off. His at-bat resulted in a high home run down the left field line. Score: 2-2.
David Dellucci: David had a good eye and stayed with it, fouling off a couple of pitches back behind home plate. Later in the at-bat, he crushed a liner that rocketed into the Rangers bullpen for a home run. Score: 3-2 Rangers.
Mark DeRosa: Mark had a good eye. He worked a 3-0 count and walked on five pitches. Ruddy Yan pinch-ran for DeRosa.
D’Angelo Jimenez: Jimenez hit a grounder between first and second, moving Yan to second base. Drew Meyer pinch-ran for Jimenez.
Gerald Laird: Laird hit a single into short right field, loading the bases. Kevin Mahar pinch-ran for Laird.
Joaquin Arias: Joaquin hit an RBI fielder’s choice to the shortstop. Score: 4-2 Rangers.
Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson struck out looking after fouling off four 1-2 pitches.
Adrian Brown: Adrian hit a hard-hit grounder for an out.
Vs: Michael Restovich: Restovich crushed the first pitch for a home run in center, next to the hitters’ backdrop. Score: 4-3 Rangers.
Vs: Eric Patterson: Joselo had bad control with his fastball but still forced Eric to ground out on nine pitches.
Vs. Adam Greenberg: Joselo fooled him with down and in fastballs. He then threw two straight balls that were low and out of the zone. Adam came back with a good bunt down the first base line and the Rangers barely got him out.
Vs. Brandon Sing: Joselo almost hit him with his fastball but still got him to pop up to second later in the at-bat.
Jason Botts: Botts looked and three low and inside pitches from Corey and then fouled one off into the stands. Botts forced a walk with what probably is the biggest strike zone in major league camp.
Ian Kinsler: Kinsler let a pitch by and then popped out to center.
Adam Hyzdu: Hyzdu took a ball and then hit a hard liner to center for a single. Botts was tagged out trying to go to third.
Ruddy Yan: Ruddy took a tempting inside pitch. He then hit a high chopper up the middle for the third out.
Vs. Ojeda Augie: Durocher threw a strike on the inside corner and Ojeda hit a soft short flair that Kinsler made a good play on for the out.
Vs. Kopitzke: Durocher allowed a bloop single on a fastball.
Vs. Felix Pie: Durocher lost control of his fastball but then blew two right by him. Durocher then tried to fool him with his changeup but it was out of the zone. The next pitch caught the outside corner for a strikeout.
Vs. Casey McGehee: McGehee hit a ground-out to second on the first pitch.
Drew Meyer: Meyer crushed a towering home run over the right field fence on the second pitch. Score 5-3 Rangers.
Kevin Mahar: Mahar hit a solid foul ball on a 2-2 count but then a fastball blazed right by him for a strikeout.
Travis Metcalf: Metcalf was walked on a wild pitch.
Nick Trzesniak: Nick watched two pitches go right over the heart of the plate and then struck out swinging.
Nate Gold: Gold knew the strike zone, taking two balls. He then blooped a single to right.
Jason Botts: Botts took two balls, then fouled one off. He took strike two and then struck out swinging on the next pitch.
At this point, I stopped taking notes so that I could get ready to say hi to Jon Daniels and get autographs after the game. The final score was 6-5 Rangers. The last Rangers run was scored by a Drew Meyer sacrifice fly.
After the game I waited by the team bus for autographs and I got D’Angelo Jimenez, John Hudgins, Drew Meyer, Derek Lee, and Jayson Durocher.
Come back next weekend for a summary of my whole trip.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Botts did good last year going 8 for 27 with 3 RBI’s in 10 major-league games. He did struggle with 13 strike-outs though. Botts struggles against right-handers but dominates left-handers. Last year for the Rangers he struggled in the clutch going 1 for 6 (.250) and did good with no one on going 4 for 11 (.364). He needs to outplay Laynce Nix to make the 25-man active roster out of camp.
Percentage 14.3% chance of making the 25-man active roster at the end of Spring Training
Like, Botts, Brown is going to have to outplay Laynce Nix to get a roster spot. He is 286 for 1098 (.260) with only 84 RBI’s and 11 HR in his lifetime career as a major-leaguer. He was drafted out of High School and has played for the Pirates, Red Sox, and Royals. He spent last year in Triple-A Iowa.
Dellucci was 10th in the AL in walks in 2005. He is going to make the team but he is fighting for the lead-off spot with Wilkerson and is most likely to share the DH and outfield jobs.
Hyzdu struggles with his hitting but is gold glove caliber defensively. If he makes the team, it will be because of his glove and not because of his bat. In his career as a hitter, he has a .229 average in 354 major league at-bats with the Pirates, Padres, and Red Sox. He has a .995 fielding percentage and has made 1 error in 158 games.
Gary Matthews Jr.
According to sports.espn.go.com, Matthews has learned a lot from Rudy Jaramillo. He learned how to hit well consistently against right-handers. He will make the team unless he can’t recover from his side injury.
Mench has proven himself a good major league player so he will be on the roster unless he gets injured.
Nix is trying to recover from two injuries and has not been able to do it yet. The Rangers might decide that he needs some time in the minors to help recover before he comes up. He will have to outplay Jason Botts, Adam Hyzdu, Adrian Brown, and Ruddy Yan consistently in Spring Training to earn a spot on the 25-man active roster. Even if he does recover, he has never had an average over .255 in the majors.
Wilkerson will make the team no matter what. But what he is fighting for is the lead-off spot (against David Dellucci). He gets plenty of walks but also plenty of strike-outs.
Yan is a former infielder that was moved to the outfield. He has lots of speed and can cover lots of ground. He has 351 stolen bases in 722 minor league games. He hadn’t hit for average before 2005, when he hit .316 in Triple-A and .300 in Double-A. Before that, he had hit .267 in Double-A. He will have to show good defensive skills and be able to put the ball wherever he wants to to make the team.
My prediction of which outfielders will be on the active roster is the following:
Brad Wilkerson – RF
Kevin Mench – LF
Gary Matthews – CF
Layne Nix – backup
David Dellucci – backup and DH
Next in line:
Come next week for a summary of the two Rangers Spring Training games I will see this week.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Arias is a big prospect but probably needs some time in AAA before he’s ready. He hit .315 in 499 AB with 5 HR, 20 SB, and 17 BB last year with Frisco. Last year in Spring Training, he hit .889 with 3 RBI’s in 9 AB. He should be able to have success as a major-leaguer in his career but I don’t think now is the time.
Percentage 5.6% chance of making the 25-man active roster at the end of Spring Training
Aarom really doesn’t stand a chance because of his opponents. He has never played in the majors and needs some experience. I think this is what he might do in the future: Aarom in my eyes has potential as an average hitter and MAYBE a power hitter if he keeps improving his power numbers like he did in 2005 (11 home runs in 495 at-bats, compared to 4 home runs in 487 at-bats in 2004). 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.
Blalock is a proven major leaguer and will make the team unless he gets injured.
DeRosa will be a back-up all-around infielder unless he gets injured. He decided not to participate in the World Baseball Classic so that he could fight for the second base job. I still think Kinsler will get the job because he is a good prospect and is younger, which could make him more durable than DeRosa.
Durazo has been a power hitter in the past. Last year, he had Tommy John Surgery. Even though he had that he seems to be hitting well in camp. This is what Rudy Jaramillo said about his camp, "The power is there, the only question was his health. But he's definitely showing the power and the bat speed that he's shown in the past." I think that he will have to have a great Spring Training for him to make the active roster. If not, he probably will be the person to come up if someone gets injured.
The Rangers don’t expect Jimenez to do much. He has lost some of his skills going from a .270 AVG in ’04 (563 AB) to a .229 AVG in ’05 (105 AB). With Kinsler and DeRosa fighting for the same job he probably won’t make the team.
Ian is the #1 candidate for the second base competition. He should make the team unless Jimenez has an outstanding Spring Training. Even though he only hit .274 last year in AAA, he still has a .304 career minor league average. He had a career high in homers (23) and at-bats (530) last year.
McDougall has good career minor-league statistics with a .281 AVG in 2161 AB with 69 HR, 380 RBI, 238 BB, 415 SO, 52 SB, 339 R, a .349 OBP, and a .460 SLG in 6 years. In the majors he has only had 18 AB but hit .167 with 10 of his 15 outs being strike-outs. He will have to do really good to make the active roster.
Metcalf was only in high-A last year and probably won’t make the team. Last year, he did win the Rangers Minor League Player of the Year Award.
Last year, Nevin had his worst year since 1998. He had a .237 batting average in 380 at-bats along with 12 homers, 55 RBI’s, and 46 runs. He has been said to be hitting very well in camp. According to cbs.sportsline.com, Rudy Jaramillo said, "Nevin's swinging the bat real well. He's on a mission. I expect to have a big year from him." Hopefully he’ll be able to take that into the regular season. His biggest competition is Durazo, but Nevin will probably get the job because his salary is guaranteed and Durazo’s is not.
Teixeira is the best first-baseman in the American League and is debatably the best first-baseman in the MLB (along with Albert Pujols). With this, he will make the team unless he gets injured.
Michael was the league batting champion in ‘05 and will make the team unless he gets diagnosed with injury.
My prediction of which infielders will be on the active roster is the following:
Mark Teixiera - first baseman
Ian Kinsler - second baseman
Hank Blalock - third baseman
Michael Young - shortstop
Phil Nevin - designated hitter
Mark DeRosa - back-up infielder
Next in line:
Come back this weekend for the outfielders.