Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Experiences with the Rangers Hitters

This week I will give my experiences with all of the Rangers hitters.

Hank Blalock:
I’ve met Hank a few times. The first time was after the 2003 season, when he was doing autographs at the RoughRiders ballpark. I asked him what it was like to hit a home run in the All-Star game and he told me it was awesome. He also signed for me before a game once. Before a Spring Training game in 2006, he signed a card for me and then gave me a pair of his batting gloves. Hank doesn’t really talk very much but is nice.

Frank Catalanotto:
I only met Frank once and it was a long time ago, during his first time with the Rangers. He was signing autographs in the Gold Club. He seemed really nice. I also saw him once at a Q&A ‘Meet the Ranger’ Junior Rangers session.

Nelson Cruz:
I only met Nelson once, and he didn’t seem to like giving autographs. I was trying to get his autograph from behind the dugout last season. He said that he would sign after batting practice. I reminded him when he was walking back in and he signed my ball. He didn’t respond when I tried to talk to him and rolled the ball back over the top of the dugout and disappeared when he was done so he wouldn’t have to sign for anyone else. Still, I was glad he was willing to sign.

Jerry Hairston:
I haven’t met Jerry much, but when I have he’s always very friendly. I got his autograph before a game last year when he signed for a line of people. In Spring Training this year, I saw him at a Diamondbacks Spring Training game. He was there to see his brother Scott Hairston. My dad, granddad, and I talked to him for 5-10 minutes. He was great and seemed really happy to talk. The next day at workouts, he recognized me, and came over to say hello. I told him that Victor Diaz was the last autograph I needed to get to have the whole Spring Training roster. He told Victor, and I got Victor’s autograph. Then, about a week ago, he signed for me and my friend at a Ranger game.

Matt Kata:
I’ve only met Matt once, and he was kind of rude. Before a Spring Training game this year, I asked for an autograph and he said he would sign after he warmed up. After he warmed up, I asked again and he said he would sign after the game. After the game, I asked again and he walked right past me. I reminded him that he had said he would sign, and then he sighed, rolled his eyes, came over, signed, and ignored me when I thanked him.

Ian Kinsler:
Ian is a great guy. He has done an interview for my blog, and is always willing to sign for kids. He does a lot of autograph events too. Whenever I call out to him, he always comes over and talks to me. He is the nicest hitter on the team, although Michael Young and Jerry Hairston are both very nice too.

Gerald Laird:
I’ve met him three times, and he was nice every time. One time it was at a Redhawks game in Oklahoma City, and he came over and signed for me. Another time, he was at a Rangers autograph event at the RoughRiders stadium and the last time it was at a Rangers’ Spring Training game in Frisco.

Kenny Lofton:
I’ve only met Kenny twice, and I’ve learned that he’s nice until you ask for autographs. At Spring Training I talked to him after warm-ups on the backfields and he was really nice, asking me how I was. But when I asked him for his autograph, he seemed unhappy and said ‘just one’. He didn’t sign for anyone else at Spring Training that day and we noticed during the week that he basically never signed. At a Rangers game this year, he was nice and came over to sign for me and my friends when I asked. He seemed to get mad because he took a ball from my hand, when I wanted him to sign my card, so he had to stop, take the card, and give me the ball back. He then gave the card back, saying that he had already signed it. It was one of those cards that has a preprinted autograph on it. My dad told him that it wasn’t an autograph and was just printed on the card. He took the card back and signed it but that somehow made him so grumpy he walked off on one of my friends. So, Kenny seems like he can be nice but gets unhappy easily.

Sammy Sosa:
I’ve gotten Sammy’s autograph twice this year. Once during Spring Training, when he signed for me when he was walking between stations during workouts. Like with what happened with Kenny, I was the only one to get his autograph that day. Then at a game earlier this year, he signed for a long time for a huge line of people and I was able to get his autograph again. He doesn’t talk to you when he signs. During Spring Training, I saw him tell people he would sign for them after the game but then leave after the 5th or 6th inning without signing.

Chris Stewart:
I’ve only met Chris once and it was at Spring Training this year. He was one of the last two players at the game. I tossed a ball down to him when he said he would sign, and when I talked to him he seemed friendly.

Mark Teixeira:
I met Mark at an autograph event his rookie year at a sports card shop. They were selling 500 autograph tickets for $5 each and I got number 498. He was really friendly and when I told him that I thought he should be rookie of the year, he agreed. At the end of that season, I saw him and told him that I was going to go as him for Halloween. He told me he thought that was really cool. I got his autograph again before a game last year, when he was signing for a line of people. At Spring Training this year, he was really nice when I asked him to answer a poll question for my blog. This year, I came within one person of getting his autograph before a game, but he stopped when I was second in line. Mark doesn’t like to sign much but when he does, he seems pretty nice. He seems to basically like to only sign for kids.

Brad Wilkerson:
The first time I met Brad was at the Rangers Winter Awards Banquet in 2006. He was very nice and he signed an autograph for me. The next time I met him was at a Rangers Spring Training game in Frisco that same year. My friend and I asked him for an autograph and he said he had to go do an interview but would come back. After the interview, he came straight back to sign for me and my friend. It was really good that he kept his word. As I’ve said, either keep your word or don’t give a word.

Michael Young:
Michael Young is really nice. I’ve met him 5 times. Four times I got an autograph and the fifth time he was really nice and gave me a bat. The first time I met him was in 2001 on Fan Appreciation Day, when Rangers were giving out autographed cards. I also have gotten his autograph at two other autograph events and he came over to sign for me before a game a couple of years ago. At Spring Training this year, he was nice about answering a poll question for my blog and gave me a bat.

Results of last week’s poll.
Question: Who do you think is the nicest pitcher on the team?
Feldman – 13%
Gagne – 4%
Loe – 17%
McCarthy – 4%
Millwood – 4%
Otsuka – 22%
Wilson – 35%
Everyone else – 0%

Come back next week for my April awards.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Haigwood Traded and My Experiences with the Rangers Pitchers

Friday night I went to a Rangers game with my friends for my birthday party. I got seven autographs, including Sammy Sosa, Kenny Lofton and Mike Piazza. Mike signed for about 5 minutes with this huge line, and then I decided to go over and try, even though I thought the line was too long for me to have a chance. About 10 minutes later, I was within 10 people and he started leaving. As he walked away, he saw how disappointed I was and told me and another kid who was right in front of me to come up and get his autograph. Nick Swisher also signed for about 10-15 minutes and I was the last one to get an autograph, again, but not the same way. Sosa and Lofton both signed for 10-20 minutes, so yesterday there were a lot of autographs. C.J. Wilson signed for my friends and Scott Feldman came over to wish me a happy birthday. The game was terrible (16-4 A’s) but we had a great time. We saw Eleanor from the Newberg report. She has a good new blog at

This week, the Rangers traded Daniel Haigwood, who had been DFA’d, to Boston for pitcher Scott Shoemaker. Haigwood was the pitcher we got last year for Fabio Castro and had been DFA’d to make roster room for Jamey Wright last week.

Daniel Haigwood LHP:
Daniel’s career numbers are:
35-18 W-L
3.43 ERA
478 IP
475 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 (the Diamondbacks one) and Fabio Castro (who we eventually traded to get Haigwood).

Scott Shoemaker RHP:
Scott’s career numbers are:
19-10 W-L
4.19 ERA
247.1 IP
204 SO
Scott signed during his 5th year of college in 2004 and has been in the minors since. He has a very good slider, a good curveball and a decent fastball. He doesn’t throw many balls and gets ahead in the counts.

Trade Evaluation:I think this was a good trade after Haigwood didn’t work out for us so that we’d get something if he was taken in waivers. Shoemaker could be a good middle reliever or long reliever someday, but would need another pitch to be a starter.
Grade: A- for this trade, but it’s still very disappointing that we ever got Haigwood in the first place instead of holding on to Castro, who is a much better prospect than these two pitchers put together.

This week I will tell my personal experiences with each of the Rangers pitchers.

Joaquin Benoit:
I’ve only met Benoit once and it was a couple years ago when he gave me an autograph when I asked before a game. He didn’t talk much, but he probably doesn’t speak good English.

Bruce Chen:
I’ve only seen Bruce twice and it was at Spring Training. One time I asked him for an autograph and the other time I asked him for an opinion poll and both times he was very willing and nice.

Scott Feldman:
Scott is a great guy and is always willing to sign for kids. He’s always very friendly and talks to them. I met Scott when he was in Frisco and talked to him a lot there, and he always remembers me when he sees me in Arlington. Scott was nice enough to let me interview him. CJ, Kam, Otsuka and Scott are probably the nicest pitchers on the team.

Eric Gagne:
I’ve talked to Eric twice, once at the Winter Awards Banquet when he was very nice and signed, and the other time it was at a Frisco game when he was the exact opposite. You can read about that on my April 7th post.

Kameron Loe:
Kameron is one of the nicest guys on the team and has always been great to me. Whenever he saw me at Spring Training workouts this year, he made sure to come over and say hi when he finished his work. He also does a lot of autograph appearances for the team. He signs autographs before games a lot.

Ron Mahay:
Ron is also very friendly. Whenever I talk to him, he’s always very nice and doesn’t ignore you, like some players do. He usually will sign autographs before games. I’ve gotten his autograph a few times.

Brandon McCarthy:
I’ve only met Brandon once and it was at the Winter Awards Banquet. He was very nice and gave me an autograph.

Kevin Millwood:
I haven’t met Kevin much, but when I have, he’s pretty friendly but doesn’t talk much. I got his autograph twice during 2006 Spring Training and again at TicketStock this year.

Akinori Otsuka:
Akinori will sign pretty much no matter what. He’s always very friendly and will talk to you. At Spring Training this year, he talked to me for about 5 minutes before a workout. I’ve seen him climb into the stands to get to a kid who wanted his autograph. I’ve gotten his autograph 3 or 4 times before games since he’s been here.

Vicente Padilla:
I have only met Vicente once, when he signed an autograph for me. It was at Spring Training in 2006. He was working out and I asked him to sign for me when he was done. When he was done, he remembered and looked around for me and called me over.

Robinson Tejeda:
I have only met Robinson once and he signed an autograph for me at the Winter Awards Banquet. Last year, I didn’t get his autograph after he was called up the first time, so I sent a letter to the Redhawks asking him to sign a picture for me. He sent it back to me with his autograph, which I thought was really nice.

C.J. Wilson:
CJ is a great guy, one of the three nicest guys on the team. He always shows up for autograph events, talks to me, and signs for people. He was even nice enough to let me interview him.

Results of last week’s poll:

Question: Who do you think is the best hitter on the Rangers other than Young and Teixeira?
Blalock – 6%
Catalanotto – 3%
Cruz – 0%
Hairston – 0%
Kata – 0%
Kinsler – 81%
Laird – 0%
Lofton – 6%
Sosa – 3%
Stewart – 3%
Wilkerson – 0%

Come back next week for my experiences with the Rangers hitters.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Analysis of Rangers Hitters

A couple days ago, I went to Jamey Newberg’s brother, Barry Newberg’s new restaurant, Mooyah Burgers. They serve burgers, fries and shakes. Their burgers are some of the best I’ve ever had. Their fries are good if you put more salt on them. I haven’t had a shake, but my dad had one and said that it was good. I really recommend it because the burgers are awesome. It is on Park and the Tollway (see

This week I will analyze all the hitters on the Rangers active roster.

Hank Blalock:
Hank was a huge prospect when he came up and did very well his 1st and 2nd full years. He has steadily declined every year and has always done well in the 1st half and declined in the 2nd half. He has been an All-Star 2 times in his career. I think he will get a little better this year but not too much, because he’s indicating that he’s going to listen to Rudy better.

Frank Catalanotto:
Frank 1st became a starter in 2001 and played very well. 2001 was also his 1st year without some kind of injury. He has hit .300 or over four years during his career, 1 year with the Tigers, one year with the Rangers, and two with the Blue Jays. He has a weak arm which limits his outfield fielding ability. He doesn’t hit many home runs at all. His career high for one season is 13. In his 10-year career, he only has 72 total.

Nelson Cruz:
Nelson is a huge prospect, and all we have left from the Carlos Lee trade. Nelson has the potential to be a huge power hitter. From what I’ve seen of him, which is very little, he let’s mistakes stick with him a little too long. If he reaches his potential, he’ll be great, but if he doesn’t, he’ll probably come nowhere close to it.

Jerry Hairston:
Jerry went into Spring Training this year fighting for a job and won a job by batting almost .500. He was what we got in return for Phil Nevin in a trade with the Cubs. Since then, Hairston has been more important to the Rangers than Phil Nevin was to the Cubs. Hairston has been a primary starter two years in his career, both with the Orioles. He’ll be a big part of the Rangers this year, filling in almost everywhere when a starter needs rest. I think he’ll bat better than last year’s .205 with Texas and will be solid defensively.

Matt Kata:
Matt has played with the Diamondbacks, Phillies and now Rangers. His best year so far was his rookie year, when he batted .257 and hit 7 HR with 29 RBI’s. He also played the most games in a season in his career, playing in 78 games. I don’t think he’ll play much, considering that he’s the 25th man, but will play well for his amount of playing time.

Ian Kinsler:
Ian had a very good rookie year last year, batting .286 with 14 HR’s and 55 RBI’s in 120 games. This year he has gotten off to a great start, batting .357 with 5 HR’s and 9 RBI’s in 9 games. Right now he’s on pace to bat .357 with about 80 HR’s and 144 RBI’s. Like Alfonso Soriano, he can make great plays on hard balls, but on easy balls he loses focus and sometimes makes errors.

Gerald Laird:
Of active catchers that have played at least 130 games, Gerald has the 4th highest percentage of throwing out baserunners trying to steal. Only Yadier Molina, Pudge, and Henry Blanco are higher. Last year was his 1st year of playing a large portion of the season, and he batted great, hitting .296. Now that he finally has the starting catcher job to himself, I expect him to continue to be strong on offense and defense and to keep improving at calling games.

Kenny Lofton:
Kenny has a weak arm that many teams will challenge. He has good speed and almost no power. He struggled in Spring Training and is struggling so far this year. But he has hit over .300 each of the last two years, so hopefully will bounce back and have another strong year.

Sammy Sosa:
Sammy took a year off last year after playing poorly for the Orioles the year before. He has been quickly declining every year since the 64 home-run year in 2001. He had a great Spring Training, which is why he’s on the team. If he hits 10 more home runs he’ll have 600. I expect him to come back and hit between .260 and .280 with about 25 homers.

Chris Stewart:
This is the second year Chris has been in the majors. Last year he was 0-for-8. He got his first major league hit this year and it was an RBI single. We got him in a trade with the White Sox in the offseason (for minor league pitcher Johnny Lujan). Chris is a strong defensive catcher.

Mark Teixeira:
Mark has 2 Gold Gloves and 1 All-Star appearance. He is one of the Rangers’ best players. He hits over or around .300 and hits about 30-40 home runs. Last year, he got a lot of doubles. He’s made a habit of starting slow and ending the year great. I predict Mark will do about the same as last year, but hit about 5 more homers and get about 10 more RBI’s.

Brad Wilkerson:
Brad never was a good hitter when it came to batting average, but last year he struck out about 1 time in 2.8 at-bats. This year he is striking out a lot again. I think he will do the same as last year and lose his platoon job.

Michael Young:
Michael has gotten over 200 hits for the past 4 years. He led the league in batting average in ’05. He doesn’t hit for much power, but he’s not real low on it, either. He is a 3-time All-Star. I expect him to be an All-Star once again and get over 220 hits.

Results of last week’s poll:

Question: Who do you think is the best Rangers bullpen pitcher?
Benoit – 14%
Chen – 0%
Feldman – 5%
Gagne – 9%
Loe – 5%
Mahay – 0%
Otsuka – 60%
Wilson – 5%
Wood – 2%

Come back next week for my personal experiences with each of the Rangers pitchers.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Analysis of Rangers Pitchers

Yesterday, my dad, granddad and I went to Opening Day, and then my dad and I went to the RoughRiders game. Rangers Opening Day is always great and is a lot of fun, especially when it’s a pitching duel and the Rangers win, like yesterday. It was very, very cold at the RoughRiders game and I got all the RoughRiders players’ autographs that I didn’t have.

Last night, we saw Eric Gagne pitch for the RoughRiders on his rehab assignment. Before the game I asked him to sign a ball that I’m getting the Rangers to sign as a prize for the Newberg charity toy drive this summer. He told me that he was going to sign for me after the game. I knew he would be gone as soon as he was done pitching and he knew he would be gone as soon as he was done pitching. Just like I figured, Eric pitched to three batters and then left the park as soon as he was done. This happens all the time, when a player says that they will sign after the game when they know that they’ll be gone before it’s over. We see it happen in Spring Training a lot. Why didn’t he just say that he had to pitch and couldn’t sign instead of saying something he knew wasn’t true? Players don’t have to sign for anyone but they should either be a man of their word or don't give a word.

This week I will analyze all the pitchers on the Rangers active roster.

Joaquin Benoit:
Joaquin takes a lot of time between pitches, which sometimes hurts the concentration of players fielding behind him. He needs to be more consistent, instead of having one game where he pitches 5 innings and they get 1 hit total and then another game where he gets no outs, allows 3 runs and leaves the game with the bases loaded. His inconsistency is the reason he isn’t normally put into close games (at least with Buck, we don’t know yet with Ron).

Bruce Chen:
Bruce is very home-run prone, which really hurts his chances, especially since he’s in a hitters’ park. He’s probably going to be replaced be Gagne or Wright. He allowed the most home runs by anyone in the AL last year. He, like Benoit, is inconsistent which also holds him back. He might improve if he goes back to AA ball where he isn’t thinking about the win as much as trying to improve on his weaknesses.

Scott Feldman:
Scott did great in ’05, but had an up and down year in ’06. His wind-up is strange, which helps him against more easily distracted batters. His fastball is about as fast as Kevin Millwood’s, so he doesn’t usually overpower hitters. He will be used as a middle reliever. I think he will have a good year and will be used more and more as the year goes on.

Kameron Loe:
Kameron became a starter for the Rangers in late 2005 and did a great job. He did good enough to go into last year as the #3 starter. He really struggled and got sent down to the minors after an injury, where he was the rest of the year. He had a great Spring Training this year and made it into the bullpen, when he was expected by many to not make the team at all going into Spring Training. He will probably join the starting rotation some time this year.

Ron Mahay:
Ron’s 1st two years with Texas were great, but he then struggled in ’05 and did well again in ’06. Like Feldman, he’s not an overpowering guy, but gets people out with control and getting them to ground out. He’ll mostly be used as a situational lefty.

Brandon McCarthy:
Brandon was a huge prospect with Chicago (White Sox) when he got traded. He had been in the majors, but never for a full season. He has not done particularly well in the majors, but seems to be getting better and less home run prone.

Kevin Millwood:
Kevin had an off year (for him) last year with a 4.52 ERA after being the AL ERA leader in ’05. He has good movement and control with a fastball at around 92. He is not a strike-out pitcher, but is good at getting ground balls.

Akinori Otsuka:
Akinori was the Rangers Pitcher of the Year last year, getting many saves and almost never blowing one. He also does well with precision and control and doesn’t get many strike-outs.

Vicente Padilla:
Padilla is an overpowering pitcher that can’t be hit on a good day and serves meatballs on a bad day. He is very inconsistent, especially at the end of the year. He can hit the high 90’s with a fastball. Last year was arguably his best year yet.

Robinson Tejeda:
Tejeda, like Padilla, was a pitcher from the Phillies that we acquired last year. He started the season poorly, walking an average of 8 per 9 innings. He finished off the year great after being in the minors for a while, except for a few spot starts, and has the only good starting pitcher performance for the Rangers so far this year.

C.J. Wilson:
CJ is a very good prospect who can be any type of bullpen pitcher: long reliever, middle reliever, set-up man, situational lefty and closer. He can shut down hitters with any of his pitches, except for maybe his Spring Training experiment, the gyroball.

Mike Wood:
Mike is a former Royals pitcher who has an ERA in the mid-5’s. He will probably be replaced by Gagne or Wright.

Overall, I predict the Rangers to go 84-78 and go 25-20 in the division.

Come back next week for an analysis on the hitters.