Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rangers Fan Fest Summary

The Rangers had their Fan Fest yesterday (January 27th). My dad and I spent the day there and I will describe what happened in this week’s blog.

9:00 am: We got in line a little before 9am, which was when they were supposed to open the gates. We ended up being in line with Shirley (The Cookie Lady), who was very nice, as always, and gave cookies to me and my dad. It was very chaotic getting in. They had a piece of paper you had to sign before you could get in but they didn’t tell you anything about it. They had no organization to it and just had people standing around with clipboards at different spots towards the front of the line. You had to figure out on your own that you had to sign the clipboard. Then you had to go into a mob of people to get to the clipboard and shove your way to the front because there was no line for getting to those people. Then you had to go into another mob to get a wristband (that you didn’t end up needing for anything) from other people standing around, near the people with clipboards. Then you had to wait in a line to get in. It took over half an hour to get into the ballpark. Because of that, we missed two Q&A sessions, including the Mark Teixeira one.

10:00 am: I went to the Newberg table and got Chris Davis’ autograph. Like usual, the Newberg table had my favorite autograph guests. Jamey and Eleanor were there and I got to talk to them a lot during the day, which was great. Then I went and checked out the booths. T.R. Sullivan of was at one. He’s very nice and has a great blog at Then I talked to Roger Emrich. He’s a great guy and does sports on KRLD.

11:00 am: I went back to the Newberg Table and got Nate Gold’s autograph. After that, we had lunch. I caught the very end of the John Lombardo / Scott Servais Q&A session. They said that the biggest difference between Buck Showalter and Ron Washington is that Buck paid a lot of attention to the minors while Ron focuses on the guys on the 25-man roster.

12:00 pm: I was at the broadcasters’ Q&A session. Eric Nadel said that the best move this off-season was the Brandon McCarthy trade. He said that the most disappointing one was to see Gary Matthews, Jr. go even though he agreed that it was too much money. After that I stayed for the Comedy Improv. A very nice photographer for the Rangers, Brad, leads the Improv. They did 5 different things and were very funny. I was brought up to be in Storytime, where there is a pointer who will point at a member of the Improv and he will make up part of a story. Then the pointer will point at someone else and that person will continue the story. They let me be part of it and it was really fun.

1:00 pm: I went back to the Newberg table and got Eric Hurley’s autograph. I then went back to the booths and met Mike Ogulnick, who does Rangers sports for KRLD. He was really friendly and I enjoyed meeting him.

2:00 pm: I watched part of another Improv then stayed for the Jeff Cogen Q&A session. I asked when they were going to update the bricks outside the ballpark that have all of the player information (stats and awards) from each year of the Rangers. The last year they updated it was 1997. Jeff agreed that they needed to update it and said that he would take care of it. I also learned that the Rangers and away team are going to switch batting practice times when the Rangers are at home, so the visitors will bat first and the Rangers second. They’re doing this so that more fans can watch the Rangers take batting practice.

3:00 pm: I went back to the Newberg table and got Thomas Diamond’s autograph. Then I got CJ Wilson’s autograph and he said that I could interview him sometime soon for a blog entry. And the last thing I did before we left was get Rich Hand’s and Larry Hardy’s autographs.

It was a great day as always at the Fan Fest. I particularly enjoyed the Q&A sessions, the Improvs, and talking to people like Jamey, Eleanor, Roger, and T.R. during the day.

Come back next week for an interview with CJ Wilson (if it’s done).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

AL West Off-Season Analysis

This week I will analyze every team in the AL West’s off-season, rank their off-seasons and give my projected 2007 standings for the AL West at this point.


Players gained:
Chris Resop
Phil Seibel
Shea Hillenbrand
Gary Matthews Jr.
Justin Speier

Players lost:
Adam Kennedy
Curtis Pride
J.C. Romero
Tim Salmon

The Angels haven’t done much this off-season. After losing Adam Kennedy, their 2nd base position won’t be very good, but they have a better outfield. They will be about the same this year as last year.


Players gained:
Donnie Murphy
Alan Embree
J.J. Furmaniak
Mike Piazza
Scott Dunn

Players lost:
D’Angelo Jimenez
Steve Karsay
Randy Keisler
Jay Payton
Matt Roney
Scott Sauerbeck
Frank Thomas
Barry Zito

The A’s have had an awful off-season. They haven’t gained much but have lost a lot. When you lose your #1 pitcher and your best hitter, you’re not going to be anywhere near as good. The Indians lost their #1 pitcher (Kevin Millwood) and fell apart. But with losing both your #1 pitcher and your best hitter, along with one of your best fielders, you’re not going to be anywhere close to what you were before.


Players gained:
Sean Burroughs
Chris Reistma
J.J. Putz
Jose Vidro
Miguel Batista
Horacio Ramirez
Sean White
Jose Guillen

Players lost:
Gil Meche
Carl Everett
Matt Lawton

The Mariners have gotten a lot of great players and have barely lost anyone.


Players gained:
Frank Catalanotto
Eric Gagne
Kenny Lofton
Vicente Padilla
Chris Stewart
Guillermo Quiroz
Brandon McCarthy
Marlon Byrd

Players lost:
John Danks
Nick Masset
Rod Barajas
Mark DeRosa
Carlos Lee
Gary Matthews Jr.
Kip Wells

The Rangers have lost a lot but gained a lot. They have probably gained a little more than they lost but it’s about even.

Off-season rankings:
1. Mariners
2. Rangers
3. Angels
4. A’s

Projected standings:
1. Angels
2. Rangers
3. A’s
4. Mariners

Sosa Signing

I think this was a good signing. It’s not much money. It’s not a big risk. If he doesn’t play well in Spring Training that’s okay. If he does, he makes the team and helps. There’s not much reasoning against signing him, in my opinion, when it’s for such little money.

Come back next week for a recap of the Fan Fest

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stewart Acquired

This week the Rangers traded minor league right-handed pitcher Johnny Lujan to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Chris Stewart. In order to make room for Stewart on their roster, the Rangers designated Drew Meyer for assignment.

Johnny Lujan:

Johnny performed great in college and in the minors until last year when he had a 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA in 38 appearances with the Blaze. Before last year he was a good prospect and dominated the league with a very low BAA. Last year his BAA was .281. In this three-year minor league career, he is 7-9 with a 3.68 ERA in 83 appearances, including 6 starts.

He was a 12th round draft pick out of New Mexico College even though he had an ERA just above 1.60. He struggled before and after his minor injury last year. Last year he also became much more home run prone. He had been a ground ball pitcher but was a fly ball pitcher last year. So if he stayed here and pitched in the majors he probably wouldn’t do very well unless he recovered his previous form.

Chris Stewart:

Chris went through the Chicago system surprisingly fast. His batting is okay (.252 average in 5 minor league seasons) but his fielding is outstanding. Last year, he threw out 52 percent of base runners and threw out Grady Sizemore 2 out of 2 times. He went hitless in the majors last year (8 at-bats after a September call up) but hit well in the minors (.265 in 272 AAA at-bats).

Chris will compete for the back up job in Spring Training but being the only one with options he is the least likely to get the job. He is a very good catching prospect even if he doesn’t make the team this year. But being behind Gerald Laird he will probably be a back-up catcher for the time he’s in Texas.

Trade Evaluation:

Lujan has a very good potential but chances are he won’t reach his potential, while Stewart has a lower potential and has already reached it. Stewart will be a back-up catcher in the majors or a starting catcher in the minors for the time he’s in Texas. Lujan probably wouldn’t pitch well here (since this is a home run stadium and he has become a fly ball pitcher) while Stewart will probably bat well here (because it’s a hitters’ ballpark). I think this is a good trade for both teams because Chicago already has both Pierzynski and Toby Hall locked up for two years.

Drew Meyer is not that great of a prospect. He hasn’t gotten much better in the minors over what he was in college. His potential seems to be as a utility player in the majors, at most. He has really struggled hitting above the AA level but is a great fielder. Hopefully Meyer will make it through waivers and the Rangers will keep him.

Grade: A

Come back next week for an analyzation of every team in the AL West’s off-season so far.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tom Grieve Interview

This week I interviewed Texas Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve. The results of the interview are below.

1. Which job has been your favorite – being a player, GM, or broadcaster?

Tom said that it was definitely being a player. It wasn’t really a job to him. He’s loved everything else but nothing is close to being a player. It was his dream since he was a kid and he made lifelong friends as a player. He’s also enjoyed everything else and considers himself lucky that he’s never had anything that he would really consider to be a job.

2. What is your best memory of being a player?

Tom’s best memory as a player is his first major league game versus the Yankees at Yankee Stadium after he got called up with the Senators. He grew up as a Yankees fan, reading their box scores every morning. He saw his first major league game at Yankee Stadium. Tom grounded out to shortstop in his first major league at-bat.

3. What is your best memory of being a GM?

The Winter Meetings in 1989. Tom made trades for Rafael Palmeiro to play first base and Julio Franco to play second base and signed Nolan Ryan.

4. What is your best memory of being a broadcaster?

Tom said that it’s hard to pick out one thing that stands out as an analyst. The play-by-play guy makes the calls and tends to have more memorable moments. Nothing really stands out but if he had to pick one game, it would be David Dellucci’s big hit against the A’s in late 2004. Also, working with Mark Holtz in 1996 in Tom’s first full season as a broadcaster. He learned a lot from Mark and enjoyed being involved with and interviewing the team when they clinched their first playoff appearance.

5. What was the key to your big year in 1976, when you led the team in so many categories (home runs, slugging percentage, and total bases)?

This was Tom’s second year of getting to play every day. He started playing every day in late 1975. 1976 was the only full season where he played daily and he felt like that gave him the chance to get comfortable and find his rhythm as a player. Also, he was older and more mature by this point.

6. What is your opinion of the Rangers off-season so far and what do they still need to do to win the division?

Tom feels that Jon Daniels has done well and worked hard. The starting pitching rotation hasn’t been better in years. They have four starters already in Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, and Tejeda. They also have a strong bullpen. The team has had lots of emphasis on scouting, minor league development, and Latin America, which will pay dividends. The main thing they need to do is sort out the outfield in the spring.

7. What changed in order for you to become such a big power hitter in ’74-’76?

He never looked at himself as a power hitter but says that it was harder to hit home runs back then. Hitters now are much bigger and stronger, plus coaching and hitting instructors have made hitters more technically sound. Tom says that the main reason he hit for more power those years was the opportunity to play more often.

8. What have been your favorite and least favorite ballparks you played in or broadcasted from and why?

As a player, his favorite was Fenway Park. Tom is from Massachusetts, so he had a lot of family there. Plus he loved the history and tradition at the park. He also loved playing in Yankee Stadium because he grew up a Yankees fan.

As a broadcaster, he likes Seattle and Anaheim because you don’t have to worry about the weather and the booths are comfortable.

9. What is the biggest difference between Jon Daniels and John Hart?

One obvious difference is that Hart was an older, veteran GM, while Daniels is much younger and less experienced. Also, Hart was a minor league player and Daniels never played professional ball. Daniels has been much more available to fans and the media. He returns calls and answers e-mail. Hart hurt himself by not being available to the fans and media. He also was very sensitive to criticism. His approach to the media and fans hurt him, and Daniels has learned from Hart’s mistakes.

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

The Yankees because all of his friends were Red Sox fans and Tom wanted to be different. His favorite players were Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin. He could hear all of the games on the radio. His mom also became a Yankees fan. She’s still a Yankees fan but Tom isn’t anymore.

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

He gets to enjoy all of the good things about baseball without any of the bad stuff. He gets to travel, know the players, and be around baseball, but doesn’t have to be involved in the hard GM duties, like hiring and firing people and giving performance reviews. Also, the offseason is a vacation now. As a GM, he had no time off all year. He felt pressure all year because of the responsibility he had to the team and fans.

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

Tom doesn’t think there’s anything hard about his job. If he had to pick things, it would be the travel, sleeping in hotels, and doing interviews (because he says he’s not a professional). Broadcasting is easy and natural for him.

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

On the road, he wakes up early, eats breakfast, works out, and hits golf balls or goes golfing. In the afternoon, he goes somewhere by himself for lunch and then relaxes and prepares for the game. He hangs out in the hotel and takes the team bus to the park. At the park, he spends time on the field and in the box preparing. He has a bite to eat and then does the game. He goes back with the TV crew to the hotel, watches TV and goes to bed.

At home, it’s not much different, except after the game, he’ll watch the end of West Coast games on DirectTV before going to bed.

Tom said that he’s kind of boring because he likes having routines.

14. What was it like to play for Ted Williams?

Ted was a very difficult manager to play for. He didn’t like being a manager and was just waiting for his time as manager to be over. He thought he could make people into .300 hitters and was frustrated that he couldn’t. He didn’t spend much time at the park and wasn’t very patient with players. He was a brilliant guy and interesting to talk to. Tom liked him but thought he was a difficult guy to play for.

Come back next week for recaps of every team’s offseason in the AL West so far.