Sunday, April 30, 2006

April Awards

This week I will give out my awards for the month.

Rangers awards:

Hank Blalock: 93 AB, 18 R, 31 H, HR, 19 RBI, .333 AVG, .398 OBP, .527 SLG.
I chose Blalock because he has been good in all the categories instead of just one.
Contenders: Michael Young, Phil Nevin, Kevin Mench.

Cy Young:
Vicente Padilla: 2-1 W-L, 3.64 ERA, 29.2 IP, 13 BB, 22 SO.
Vicente was the player I chose because he leads the team in ERA, and is 2nd in strike-outs. Also, he has been the most consistent pitcher in the rotation.
Contenders: John Koronka.

Rookie of the Year:
John Koronka: 3-1 W-L, 4.25 ERA, 29.2 IP, 10 BB, 20 SO.
I decided to go with John because the only other 2 rookies on the team are Ian Kinsler (injured) and Drew Meyer (only 11 AB). Plus, he has had a pretty good year.

AL awards:

MVP: Chris Shelton: 89AB, 16 R, 30 H, 10 HR, 20 RBI, .337 AVG, .410 OBP, .809 SLG.
Contenders: Jim Thome, Miguel Tejeda.

Cy Young: Jose Contreras: 4-0 W-L, 1.45 ERA, 37.1 IP, 8 BB, 17 SO.
Contenders: Mike Maroth, Brad Halsey, Curt Schilling

NL awards:

MVP: Albert Pujols: 80 AB, 26 R, 28 H, 14 HR, 32 RBI, .350 AVG, .495 OBP, .925 SLG.

Cy Young: Greg Maddux: 5-0 W-L, 1.35 ERA, 33.1 IP, 6 BB, 24 SO
Contenders: Bronson Arroyo

Come back next week for an analysis of the ‘80’s decade on the Rangers Hall of Fame ballot.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rangers Hall of Fame Predictions Part 1 of 3

The ballots for the 2006 Rangers Hall of Fame induction are out and I will describe and analyze each player on the ballot in three different blog entries. This year, fans are allowed to vote for one player from each of three decades. If you think nobody from one decade is deserving but two people from another are, you can still only choose one player per decade.

This week, I will look at the players from the 1970’s decade.

Decade 1 (1970’s) candidates: Jeff Burroughs, Tom Grieve, Mike Hargrove, Toby Harrah, Al Oliver, and Gaylord Perry.

Jeff Burroughs:
Burroughs played for the Rangers from 1972-1976 and won the AL MVP and all-star starter in ’74. He is tied for the Rangers record for most grand slams in a season with 3 other players at 3 in 1973. Jeff had his career year in 1974 batting .301 but in the rest of his career in a Rangers uniform he never batted .280 or higher. Three of those below .280 batting averages were .185, .226 and .237. Also, he never had an on-base percentage over .400. I don’t think he will make the Rangers Hall of Fame because he only had 1 great year and other than that he wasn’t very good. But I do think he’ll make it within the next 5 years because he’s very popular because he got the AL MVP.
Percentage chance of being voted into the Rangers Hall of Fame 6%

Tom Grieve:
Grieve played for the Rangers from 1972-1977 before moving on to the Mets. He was the Senators’ first pick of the ’66 draft and was the Rangers player of the year in 1976, when he hit .255, slugging 20 home runs and driving in 81. He joined the Rangers’ front office in 1980 and became GM in 1984. He ended his GM career after the 1994 season and since then has been the Rangers’ TV analyst. I think Tom will be inducted this year because of his incredible popularity. Not only did he play for the Rangers but he has been the GM and a broadcaster. For all but two years of their existence, he has been involved with the Rangers. He also is a really great guy and is always willing to talk to the fans.
Percentage 75%

Mike Hargrove:
Hargrove played for the Rangers from 1974-1978. In ’74, he was called up from A ball and was the AL Rookie of the Year when he hit .323. He led the Rangers in hits in 1976 (155) and 1977 (160) and led the team in average from 1975-77. He is 9th on the Rangers all-time batting average list at .292 and 5th on their all-time walks list at 435. Hargrove is 10th on the Rangers all-time slugging percentage list at .409 and 1st on their all-time on-base percentage list with .399. Hargrove was an All-Star in 1975. I think Mike would be one of the most deserving players on the ballot if he had been here more than 5 years. I don’t think that he has enough popularity to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
Percentage 4%

Toby Harrah:
Harrah played for the Rangers from 1972-1978 and 1985-1986. He has the highest on-base percentage for a season at .432 in 1985. He’s 5th on the Rangers all-time list for number of games played. Harrah ranks 9th on the Rangers all-time home run list with 122 and 2nd on their all-time stolen base list with 143. He is 6th on the Rangers all-time RBI list with 546 and is also 6th on their all-time runs list with 582. Toby ranks 2nd on the Rangers all-time walks list with 668 and 7th on their all-time hits at 1086. He also is 4th on the Rangers all-time OBP list at .361. He was an All-Star in 1975 and 1976. Toby has a lot of Rangers records and probably is the most deserving player in the decade but doesn’t have the popularity to have a good chance of being inducted this year because of Tom Grieve and Gaylord Perry.
Percentage 9%

Al Oliver:
Oliver played with the Rangers from 1978-1981. He is the Rangers all-time leader in career batting average, hitting .319 as a Ranger. He led the team in batting average in 1978, ’79, and ’81 and finished in the league’s top 8 in hitting all of his 4 years with Texas. He hit .324 in 1978, 2nd in the AL. He was an All-Star in 1980 and 1981. Once again, I don’t think he was here long enough or has the popularity to be inducted in 2006.
Percentage 5%

Gaylord Perry:
Perry played with the Rangers from 1975-1977 and 1980 (1975 and 1980 were not full seasons here). Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry ranks 2nd on the Rangers all-time shutouts list with 12 and 2nd on their all-time ERA list at 3.26. In 1976, 21 of his 32 starts were complete games. I think that he didn’t play enough years here to be a no-brainer for the Rangers Hall of Fame. He had good stats here but was not a pitcher that could mow down every hitter. I think it is between him and Tom Grieve to be inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame this year from the 1970’s decade but only because of their popularity.
Percentage 38%

Come back next week for my Rangers awards of the month. Soon after that, I’ll continue this Hall of Fame analysis.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Interview with Jon Daniels and Buck Showalter

On April 1st, 2006, I was named the Texas Rangers Fan of the Year at the Rangers Welcome Home Luncheon. It was very exciting and I got to do an interview session with Jon Daniels and Buck Showalter. My questions and their answers are below.

1. What players have the best chance of being put on the 40-man roster at the end of the season to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft and why?

Jon: “Grant, you’re about seven months ahead of us right now. Buck and I have a deadline at 11 o’clock tonight we’re trying to figure out still. But two guys I’d put on your radar screen are John Danks and Thomas Diamond.”

Buck: “Travis Metcalf.”

2. Jon, during this off-season, which trade that wasn’t finished was the most disappointing and why?

Jon: “Certainly the one that was the most public and went down the line the farthest was the Josh Beckett trade. In hindsight, looking back on it, we signed Millwood, traded for Vicente Padilla, and obviously traded for Eaton and were able to keep Hank Blalock and keep our young pitching. In the end, it probably worked out best for us but that was the one we really went back and forth on the most.”

3. Buck, can you please describe the perfect player to manage and why?

Buck: “Probably a Mike Young type of guy. Self starters. We’re kind of at the mercy of the mothers and fathers of the world. By the time I get them at 24 or 25 years old, they’ve pretty much formulated how they treat people, go about their business, and handle things. We’ve got a lot of guys on the team that way. The word ‘sincere’ comes to mind. They have a lot of character. It’s important to them to please their teammates and be part of something special. You have to have a certain amount of skill to play at this level but I think the other attributes you bring push you to the next level, which makes you near and dear to other people because of the way they go about their business and Michael is one of those guys.”

4. Jon, what are your 3 proudest transactions as GM or assistant GM and why?

Jon said that number one was the Brad Wilkerson trade, partly because we also got Armando Galarraga in the minors and it was a good chance to get Ian Kinsler in the lineup. Number two was putting together the leadership team, including Thad Levine, Scott Servais, Mark Connors, and Dom Chiti. Number three was signing Kevin Millwood because he brings a lot of leadership along with his pitching skills.

5. Jon, what were your thoughts on the Juan Dominquez trade?

Jon: “One of the questions we’ve gotten is how do you factor in the idea that you’re trading within the division? There are some teams and some management groups that don’t want to do it at all and some guys that are a little more willing to. I was concerned first and foremost with our end of the deal. We got two left-handed pitchers that we like quite a bit, and John Koronka is probably the leading candidate to pitch for us here in Arlington in a week. Great makeup and good attitude. I talked to him on the phone last night and he’s ecstatic to be a Ranger, ecstatic to be back. Hopefully if we do see Juan Dominguez in the big leagues in Oakland, it will mean that Zito, Blanton, and Harden all got hurt.”

6. What is your prediction on who the Rangers will face in the World Series this October and why?

Buck: “I guess it should be Japan. They’re supposed to be the best team in the world now. But that would be a cop-out to say Japan since we can’t play them. I like the Cardinals a lot. I think they’re pretty special. I think Tony does a great job. They don’t have many holes and the ones they do, I think Walt Jocketty and them do a great job with.”

Jon: “I’ll go with the Braves. Fourteen straight division titles, it’s hard to argue with, and they’re building from within like us.”

7. Which players surprised you the most this spring and why?

Buck: “I’m not supposed to be surprised. I’m trying not to be. We had a lot of pitchers in camp that we didn’t know and hadn’t seen throw before. I think Fabio Castro from the Rule 5 Draft with the White Sox in A ball last year went to winter ball and cut it up down there. There was a lot of unknown about what we were going to get there. I thought he was very impressive for a 21-year old young man that, as we speak, we’re trying to figure out how to keep. I say Fabio just because it was an unknown as much as anything. Also, not knowing if Alfonseca was going to be able to get back where he was physically before having arm trouble. I think Coco probably had his best spring in his time as a Ranger. He handled everything from Day 1. I think that bodes real well. I was real ecstatic with the way Otsuka went about his business. He came to Texas when he didn’t have to, came to our camp when he didn’t have to before he went to Japan. It was very important for him. I’m very happy with him.”

Jon: “I was real encouraged by the way Kam Loe came into camp and didn’t let up from where he was last year. And two younger players I held in high regard before camp but really put themselves farther on the map. John Danks at age 20, who got serious consideration to come up here. He was that impressive staring down Barry Bonds in Scottsdale one day and not backing down from him. And Travis Metcalf, who was our player of the year last year in the minor leagues, but was in his first year in big league camp and he more than held his own.”

8. What was your biggest disappointment of the spring (other than Adam Eaton’s injury) and why?

Jon: “I think it was probably that Roger Clemens said he was going to wait until July to decide if he was going to play.”

Buck: “I agree.”

I would like to thank Buck and Jon for allowing me to interview them. I really enjoyed doing the interview and had a great day at the luncheon.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dellucci and Dominguez Traded

Last Friday, the Rangers traded pitcher Juan Dominguez to the A’s for pitcher John Rheinecker and infielder Freddy Bynum. Then they immediately traded Freddy Bynum to the Cubs for pitcher John Koronka.

John Koronka
Koronka is pitching his first game for the Rangers tonight. He has pitched one season in the majors (for the Cubs in 2005) and had a 7.47 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched. In his 8-year minor league career, he has a 4.39 ERA in 905 innings pitched. But what’s surprising is he’s still only 26 years old. Koronka was drafted by Cincinnati when he was 18 and stayed there until he was 23 years old. He then moved to the Cubs organization. His best season was with Stockton (the Reds high-A team) in 2002 when he posted a 3.07 ERA and struck out 69 in 73.1 innings pitched. I think Koronka can do well if he can do a good job of changing speeds.

John Rheinecker
Rheinecker was off to a great start last year in triple-A with a 1.77 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 45.2 innings pitched. In late May, he tore a tendon and didn’t return for the rest of the season. If he can recover, he can be a decent major league pitcher because he has performed consistently well at triple-A over the last three years. According to, he could be the number 5 starter for the Rangers if he can do well in triple-A.

This trade could just be depressing if Juan Dominguez goes on and is a great major leaguer, which he has the potential to do. But he has a bad attitude and he’s not very dependable. Also, if Dominguez had been given the number 5 spot in the Rangers rotation, it might have made the players feel like they could get away with anything. It was good to get rid of Dominguez for two guys that have good potential.

Last Saturday, the Rangers traded outfielder David Dellucci to the Phillies for pitcher Robinson Tejeda and outfielder Jake Blalock.

Robinson Tejeda
Tejeda had a good spring, posting a 3.86 ERA. He has pitched one year in the majors and went 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 85.2 innings pitched. He struck out 72 and threw 51 bases on balls. He allowed 67 hits, 5 of which were homers. In the minors he has been decent throughout his 7 years, posting a career 27-46 record along with a 4.13 ERA in 597.2 IP. He has struck out 523 batters and walked 256. Overall this pitcher looks pretty decent and is a pretty good pick-up.

Jake Blalock
Jake is Hank Blalock’s brother and was drafted as the #5 pick in the 2002 draft out of high school. He has never played in the major leagues and his highest level is class-A. He has a career .268 batting average and a .420 SLG. Blalock has a .345 OBP. I think he might make it to the major leagues but if he does, it will probably be as a role player.

I hate losing a good guy like Dellucci but right now, his value is the highest it will probably ever be. Also, we need starting pitching more than another outfielder. This trade could be really good if Tejeda can become a good major league pitcher.

News Flash
R.A. Dickey was optioned and Rick Bauer was called up. The Rangers also re-signed Erubiel Durazo.

Come back next week for a summary of my interview with Jon Daniels and Buck Showalter at the Rangers Welcome Home lunch.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

2006 MLB Season Predictions

In this week’s entry, I am predicting the final standings for the teams in the major leagues as well as the playoffs. Listed below are teams in each division along with my predictions for what place they’ll finish in.

AL West

1. Angels

Bartolo Colon
John Lackey
Jeff Weaver
Kelvim Escobar
Ervin Santana

Comments: The Angels have O.K. hitting to go along with one of the best rotations in the league. That should get them in 1st place unless the veterans’ skills start to wear off.

2. Rangers

Kevin Millwood
Vicente Padilla
Kameron Loe
R.A. Dickey
John Koronka

Other Potential Rotation Candidates:
Robinson Tejeda
John Rheinecker

Comments: The Rangers have the best pitcher in the A.L. as part of their good starting rotation. As long as the pitchers hold the opposing team to 5 runs or less, we should win the games because of our great hitting.

3. Athletics

Barry Zito
Rich Harden
Joe Blanton
Danny Haren
Esteban Loaiza

Comments: The A's don't have a good offense and their pitching has a downfall at the #3 spot.

4. Mariners

Jamie Moyer
Felix Hernandez
Jarrod Washburn
Joel Pineiro
Gil Meche

Comments: The Mariners hitting is O.K. but plays in a major pitcher's stadium to decrease the amounts of runs they score. Also, Seattle's pitching isn't very good and gets hit around plenty.

AL Central

1. White Sox

Mark Buehrle
Freddy Garcia
Jon Garland
Jose Contreras
Javier Vazquez

Comments: The White Sox won the World Series last year and might even have a better team this year.

2. Indians

C.C. Sabathia
Cliff Lee
Paul Byrd
Jake Westbrook
Jason Johnson

Comments: The Indians came on strong at the end of last year and didn't lose any big playmakers besides Kevin Millwood.

3. Twins

Johan Santana
Brad Radke
Carlos Silva
Kyle Lohse
Scott Baker

Comments: Even though Minnesota has good pitching, they will need to get good hitting if they want to win this tough division.

4. Tigers

Kenny Rogers
Jeremy Bonderman
Mike Maroth
Nate Robinson
Justin Verlander

Comments: The Tigers have Kenny and Pudge but other than that they don't have any stars. They struggle at offense and pitching, which will take a few years to overcome.

5. Royals

Scott Elarton
Joe Mays
Jeremy Affeldt
Denny Bautista
Runelvys Hernandez

Comments: The Royals only have 4 players I can name off the top of my head (David DeJesus, Angel Berroa, Desi Relaford, and Mike Sweeney) because the others haven’t made a name for themselves.

AL East

1. Blue Jays

Roy Halladay
A.J. Burnett
Ted Lilly
Gustavo Chacin
Josh Towers

Comments: I think with the additions of A.J. Burnett, James Baldwin, B.J. Ryan, Jason Phillips, and Benjie Molina, it will be enough to get them past the Yankees.

2. Yankees

Randy Johnson
Mike Mussina
Shawn Chacon
Jared Wright
Chien-Ming Wang/ Carl Pavano

Comments: Even with the signing of Johnny Damon I don't think they will do good enough to beat Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays.

3. Red Sox

Curt Schilling
Josh Beckett
Matt Clement
Tim Wakefield
David Wells

Comments: The Red Sox still have a good team but they lost a lot of good players: Johnny Damon, Chad Bradford, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and Matt Mantei.

4. Devil Rays

Scott Kazmir
Mark Hendrickson
Casey Fossum
Seth McClung
Doug Waechter

Comments: The D'Rays finished their season last year on a good note and if they can keep that going for part of the year that should be enough

5. Orioles

Rodrigo Lopez
Erik Bedard
Kris Benson
Daniel Cabrera
Bruce Chen

Comments: The Orioles now have Leo Mazzoni but it still might not help this team enough to get back into 4th with the way the D'Rays finished last year.

NL West

1. Dodgers

Derek Lowe
Brad Penny
Odalis Perez
Brett Tomko
Jae Seo

Comments: The Dodgers have great pitching. The ERA for the pitchers last year were 3.61 (Lowe), 3.90 (Penny), 4.56 (Perez), 4.48 (Tomko for the Giants), and 2.59 (Seo). In hitting, they made several improvements, so they probably will finally be able to get 5-8 runs in their pitcher-friendly stadium. They added Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton, and Bill Mueller, but they lost Milton Bradley. The Dodgers have a very good team that I think is better than the others in the division.

2. Padres

Jake Peavy
Chris Young
Woody Williams
Chan Ho Park
Dewon Brazelton
Comments: The Padres surprisingly struggle at pitching. They also struggle at hitting, leaving their only strength to be at defense.

3. Giants

Jason Schmidt
Matt Morris
Noah Lowry
Matt Cain
Jamey Wright

Comments: The Giants have a good first couple of starters. Their offense is about average if you take away Barry Bonds. They probably need to get a little more hitting and a little more pitching to get up to second place.

4. Rockies

Jason Jennings
Aaron Cook
Jeff Francis
Josh Fogg/Zach Day/Sunny Kim

Comments: The Rockies are in a major hitting ballpark but I think this year, the pitching is just good enough to get in front of the Diamondbacks.

5. Diamondbacks

Brandon Webb
Russ Ortiz
Orlando Hernandez
Miguel Batista
Claudio Vargas

Comments: The Diamondbacks struggle in all areas. They have two good pitchers (Webb and Ortiz) but other than that, there are no players that put up big numbers.

NL Central

1. Cardinals

Chris Carpenter
Mark Mulder
Jeff Supan
Jason Marquis
Sidney Ponson

Comments: The Cardinals aren’t the team they were last year but they are still a great team in a division that I think will struggle.

2. Cubs

Carlos Zambrano
Shawn Marshall
Greg Maddux
Glendon Rusch
Jerome Williams

Comments: The Cubs have very good pitching and decent hitting but I think that they will just slimly pass the .500 mark.

3. Astros

Roy Oswalt
Andy Pettite
Brandon Backe
Wandy Rodriguez
Ezequiel Astacio

Comments: The Astros still have good starting pitching, but it is not as good as the great starting pitching that they had last year. Losing Clemens will probably take their confidence down a notch. I think that they are about 1 game down from the Cubs.

4. Reds

Aaron Harang
Eric Milton
Bronson Arroyo
Brandon Claussen
Dave Williams

Comments: The Reds have better starting pitching than last year because they got Bronson Arroyo and Dave Williams. But they still struggle at pitching and will probably be under the .500 mark.

5. Brewers

Ben Sheets
Doug Davis
Chris Capuano
Tomo Ohka
Dave Bush

Comments: The Brewers struggle at pitching and offense and are around the middle in overall skill in the league.

6. Pirates

Zach Duke
Oliver Perez
Ian Snell
Paul Maholm
Sean Burnett

Comments: This team struggles very much at all cylinders. They are one of the worst teams in the league if not the worst.

NL East

1. Braves

John Smoltz
Tim Hudson
John Thomson
Jorge Sosa
Horacio Ramirez

Comments: The Braves still have great starting pitching and I just can’t go against them after they’ve won 14 straight division titles.

2. Phillies

Jon Lieber
Brett Myers
Cory Lidle
Ryan Franklin
Ryan Madson

Comments: The Phillies have a good offense and finally started to come through last year. I think with a lot of the National League teams going down in skills that the Phillies will finally make the playoffs again.

3. Mets

Pedro Martinez
Tom Glavine
Brian Bannister
Steve Trachsel
Victor Zambrano

Comments: The Mets have put together good teams but haven’t had a breakthrough year in a long time. I think this year they will do better but will still not meet their potential.

4. Nationals

Livan Hernandez
John Patterson
Ramon Ortiz
Pedro Astacio
Tony Armas

Comments: The Nationals have decent starting pitching to go along with a very good power hitter in Alfonso Soriano.

5. Florida

Dontrelle Willis
Scott Olsen
Jason Vargas
Sergio Mitre
Brian Moehler

Comments: The Marlins once again ruined a very good team and will go from a pretty good winning record to an awful losing record.

AL Playoffs

Round 1:
White Sox beat Angels 3 games to 2
Blue Jays beat Indians 3 games to 0

Round 2:
Blue Jays beat White Sox 4 games to 2

NL Playoffs

Round 1:
Cardinals beat Phillies 3 games to 0
Dodgers beat Braves 3 games to 1

Round 2:
Dodgers beat Cardinals 4 games to 3

World Series:
Dodgers beat Blue Jays 4 games to 2

Come back soon (early this week) for my thoughts on the Juan Dominguez and David Dellucci trades.