Saturday, August 25, 2007

Doug Melvin Trade Analysis Part 3

This is part 3 of an analysis of the trades Doug Melvin made while he was Rangers GM. This week I will cover 1997. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or tie. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.

18. 7/25/97 The Kansas City Royals traded Tom Goodwin to the Texas Rangers for Dean Palmer.

Loss – Even though Dean only played one full year with the Royals he had his career high for home runs with 34 and his second best in batting average (for full years) batting .278. Tom had one good year for the Rangers batting .290, but the other two years he hit .237 and .259.

Record: 5-4-9

19. 7/29/97 The Anaheim Angels traded a player to be named later and Jim Leyritz to the Texas Rangers for Ken Hill. The Angels sent Rob Sasser (October 31, 1997) to the Rangers to complete the trade.

Loss – the Angels got 2 and a half decent years out of Ken including one 9-6 year. The Rangers got 86 total at-bats out of the two players they received put together.

Record: 5-5-9

20. 7/29/97 The San Francisco Giants traded Chad Hartvigson (minors) to the Texas Rangers for Cory Bailey.

Tie – The Giants got about 15 innings out of Bailey while Hartvigson never made it to the majors.

Record: 5-5-10

21. 8/12/97 The Florida Marlins traded Rick Helling to the Texas Rangers for Ed Vosberg.

Win – Vosberg only pitched 12 innings for the Marlins, and the Rangers got 4 and a half solid years out of Rick, his record being 64-45, including one 20 win season.

Record: 6-5-10

22. 10/31/97 The Anaheim Angels traded Matt Perisho to the Texas Rangers for Mike Bell.

Loss – Mike Bell never made it to the majors with Anaheim, while Matt lost us so many games (with a Rangers ERA well over seven) that it would have been better for him to not be on the team.

Record: 6-6-10

23. 11/6/97 The Boston Red Sox traded Mark Brandenburg, Bill Haselman, and Aaron Sele to the Texas Rangers for Damon Buford and Jim Leyritz.

Win – Mark Brandenburg never played for us after the trade and we only got 105 at-bats out of Haselman (during this stint with the Rangers), but out of the two years Aaron Sele played for us, he had a 37-20 record and was an All-Star. Neither Buford or Leyritz did much of anything with Boston.

Record: 7-6-10

24. 12/19/97 The Chicago White Sox traded Alan Levine and Larry Thomas to the Texas Rangers for Benji Gil.

Loss – Alan Levine and Larry Thomas pitched 58 innings total for the Rangers, and Benji Gil had three solid years as a back-up for the Angels.

Record: 7-7-10

Results of last week’s poll:
What do you think Kea Kometani's role should be?
Closer – 33%
Starter – 29%
Set-up – 29%
Other Reliever – 8%

Come back next week for my August Awards.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kea Kometani Interview

This week I interviewed Frisco RoughRiders pitcher Kea Kometani. Kea was drafted by the Rangers in 2005 and spent that year as a starter with Spokane and Clinton. He started 2006 in Bakersfield and was called up to Frisco after 10 starts. He started the 2007 season in Frisco as a starter but was converted to a reliever early in the season. Since then he’s had 28 relief appearances with 8 saves.

I got to know Kea last summer when he got called up to Frisco. He’s always friendly and happy to talk and volunteers to sign autographs for kids a lot. He agreed to let me interview him and spoke with me this weekend from Wichita.

1. Which achievement from last year are you most proud of: tying for 1st in wins in all the Rangers minor leagues, coming in 5th for strikeouts, or being 6th in ERA?

Kea said that he hadn’t thought about it too much but that it was probably the wins. He lost his first five starts in double-A and didn’t have much confidence after that. He was proud that he came back from that rough start.

2. What was the key to your success during your last year at Pepperdine, when you went 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA after going 11-9 with a 4.59 ERA your first three years?

Kea said that it was mostly having more experience and using those experiences. He was also more confident starting. He became a starter for the first time in his junior year.

3. What were your 1st thoughts when you broke Pepperdine’s school record with 32 appearances in a year?

“It was cool.” Kea thought it was cool to be able to accomplish something that others before him didn’t. It showed durability and allowed him to help his team.

4. What was the key to being named your conference’s best control pitcher?

Pitching is a lot about repetition. It showed that his practice and workouts were paying off and showing on the field.

5. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

- Doug Mathis because he lives with him and has played with him all three years in the organization.
- Michael Schlact because they lived together in Clinton and they’ve played on a lot of teams together.
- Emerson Frostad because he’s played with him all three years and they hung out last winter in the winter league.

6. Can you please rate the ballparks in the Rangers organization that you’ve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?
- Spokane: 6 or 7 – it’s older but there are a lot of fans and it has a good atmosphere.
- Clinton: 4 – it’s old. He said that they’ve redone the stadium recently and he’s heard it’s nicer.
Bakersfield: 4.5
Frisco: 9

7. Who are the toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?

- Billy Butler because he’s a great hitter and had tough at-bats against him.
- Alex Gordon: “He was successful against me.”
He mentioned that both of them were tough because they were consistent.

8. What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with and why?

“Luckily I’ve been pretty healthy.” In college he had a shoulder injury where it hurt to warm up but he only missed one game.

9. What’s the biggest difference between college and minor league hitting?

Kea said it was the talent level. You have to work on location a lot more in the minors. You can get guys out on bad pitches in college.

10. What are the biggest differences between starting and closing?

Starting is definitely different. You will face each batter three of four times. You only face each batter once when closing. As a starter, giving up a run or two in an inning is no big deal as long as you recover. But as a reliever, you aim for no runs. One mistake as a reliever can ruin your whole outing. Relieving is tough because every pitch is a big deal. You have to be locked in from the beginning. If you’re brought in for three outs and strike out the first two guys and then give up a homer to the third guy, you didn’t do your job.

11. What do you think has been your best professional game and why?

During a start last year Kea gave up five runs in the first inning. But he came back and got through eight innings with no more runs and the team won.

12. Did you notice a difference between single-A and double-A hitters and, if so, what is it?

“Plate discipline.” Guys in double-A won’t chase pitches as much so you have to get it over the plate. Plus there are more guys with power in the lineup.

13. What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

Being on the road and being away from family.

14. Do you see yourself using your economics degree from Pepperdine someday and, if so, how?

Kea said that if he weren’t in baseball he’d want to be in business. He worked at Morgan Stanley in the offseason as a financial advisor. He would also be interested in real estate. Kea had a 3.8 GPA in college.

15. What are the three biggest differences between living in Hawaii and living in the continental US?

- There’s not much ocean in Texas. You only see the ocean in Corpus Christi in the Texas League.
- The weather’s cold early in the season and then gets really hot. In Hawaii it’s 75-90 degrees all of the time.
- There are no mountains in Texas.

16. What was your favorite team growing up?

The Braves. They won the division every year and he liked watching Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine.

17. What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?

Kea played football for one year as a freshman in high school but was too skinny. He’s played baseball since he was 7. He was a first baseman until his junior year in high school. He played volleyball in high school. He said he was actually better at volleyball than baseball.

18. What are your hobbies?

Going to the ocean, fishing, hanging out at the beach and playing Xbox.

I would like to thank Kea for taking time out from his road trip to do this interview.

Results of last week’s poll:
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – 31%
AT&T Park - 17%
Fenway Park - 14%
Wrigley Field – 14%
Camden Yards – 6%
Miller Park – 6%
Other – 6%
PNC Park – 6%
Yankee Stadium – 3%
All others – 0%

Come back next week for part 3 of the Doug Melvin trade analysis.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Baseball Trip to Cleveland and Pittsburgh

This week I will describe my annual baseball trip with my dad.

Wednesday August 1st:

On Wednesday my dad and I flew to Cleveland to see the Rangers play two games against the Indians. There were four flight delays (weather, mechanical, flight in front delayed, and then a plane with a broken wheel in front of us on the runway). There were also two gate changes. We were on a small plane (American Eagle) and our flight took off two hours late.

When we got to Cleveland we got our bags and checked into our hotel, which was a Hampton Inn in walking distance of Jacobs Field. Almost immediately after we dropped our bags off in our room we went to the ballpark.

We got there when the gates opened at 4:30, but you could not leave the outfield area until 6:00 so by then batting practice was just wrapping up. And when they did let us out of the outfield you couldn’t go by the dugout or the first aisle next to it, which made it almost impossible to get autographs.

The Rangers ended up winning the game in 10 innings. Rheinecker pitched poorly allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He ended up throwing 89 pitches. Rheinecker also gave up 2 home runs, one to Casey Blake and one to Jason Michaels. The Indians’ Paul Byrd didn’t do well either, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 throwing 107 pitches. Frank Catalanotto had a big game going 2-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs and Jarrod Saltalamacchia had two RBI’s in his 1st game as a Ranger. Even though the Rangers scored 9 runs, they stranded 12 runners. After 9 innings the game was tied 6-6. The Rangers scored 3 runs in the top of the tenth (1 on a throwing error, 1 on Botts’ sac fly, and one on a Byrd single) and CJ Wilson shut the Indians down 1, 2, 3 to get his second save of the year. The game lasted 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Thursday August 2nd:

On Thursday my dad and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the morning. It was really cool and my three favorite things about it were:
- The walkway with all the people in the Hall Of Fame
- The Beach Boys exhibit
- Giant guitars that they had inside and all around downtown, each painted different

My two least favorite things were:
- The all-clothes display
- The Doors exhibit

After that we went to the noon Rangers-Indians game. Before the game I got Salty’s autograph. Kason Gabbard didn’t do too well in his 1st game as a Ranger getting the loss allowing 3 runs on 8 hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched. After Gabbard was pulled, Wes Littleton came in and allowed 2 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Wes gave up a solo shot to Victor Martinez. The Indians’ Jake Westbrook pitched great, improving his record to 2-6 and allowed 0 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings lowering his ERA to a terrible 5.40. The Rangers only got men on base 8 times all game, one of the times on an intentional walk (the Rangers’ only walk of the game). The Rangers only got two extra base hits. The Rangers eventually lost 5-0. This game only took 2 hours and 46 minutes.

Right after the game it poured and hailed. This was while we were driving to Canton to see the football Hall of Fame two days before the inductions. The Hall of Fame was awesome and while we were there I got one of the Hall of Famers’ autographs (Charlie Sanders, who was getting inducted that weekend). I liked everything in the Hall of Fame except the video, but my three favorite things were:
- the Super Bowl room
- getting Charlie Sanders’ autograph and
- the room with the busts of all the Hall of Famers

Afterwards we ate at a restaurant called Damon’s Grill near Canton. It had good food and it had a trivia game that was really fun. My dad and I came in 4th place both times we played and about 25 people played it both times. Afterwards we drove back to Cleveland.

Friday August 3rd:

On Friday my dad and I took a tour of Jacobs Field, but we couldn’t go onto the field or into the dugout because of the rain the day before. Instead they took us to the visitors’ clubhouse, which was pretty cool.

My three favorite things at Jacobs Field are:
- Heritage Park, which is a new area they built this year. It has plaques for all the members of the Indians Hall of Fame, plaques on the ground describing great moments in Indians history, and a wall showing the 100 best Indians players of the Indians’ first 100 years.
- The Bob Feller statue and
- How it’s open to downtown

My least favorite things at Jacobs Field are:
- The gate times (you can only be in the outfield seats until an hour before the game)
- The jumbotron (it’s junky with a lot of ads) and
- The out-of-town scoreboard doesn’t show all the games at once. It rotates between them.

Afterwards we went to the site of old League Park, where the Indians played from 1910 to 1946. The ticket office and part of the stadium wall are still there but are very run down. It’s also in a bad area of town. There’s nothing where the field was except a field of grass.

After that, we drove to Pittsburgh. At the Pittsburgh Hilton, our room wasn’t ready until 90 minutes after check-in time and when we got to our room there was only one bed even though we asked for two, there was no chest to put your clothes in, and you couldn’t see out the windows. I wouldn’t recommend it, even though it’s in walking distance of PNC Park.

At the Reds-Pirates game that evening they were giving out Josh Gibson statues, so my dad and I both got one. The gates opened at 5:00 PM, but you can’t get to any seats until 5:30. I got two autographs (Bobby Livingston and Javier Valentin).

The Reds hit four home runs during the game, including Ken Griffey’s 589th career home run and Adam Dunn’s 29th home run of the year. The Reds’ Matt Belisle pitched well, getting the win, improving his record to 6-8, allowing three runs in six innings pitched. Ian Snell of the Pirates got the loss (7-10) allowing 6 earned runs in 5 innings, throwing 104 pitches, including over 30 in the 1st. The Pirates’ reliever, Jonah Bayliss allowed 6 runs in 3 innings, throwing 63 pitches. Both Jeff Keppinger and Scott Hatteberg had three RBI’s in the game for the Reds. Ken Griffey and Alex Gonzalez both had three hits in the game. Only two of the Reds starters didn’t get at least one RBI in the game (Matt Belisle and Norris Hopper). The Reds won the game 13-4.

Saturday August 4th:

On Saturday we took a tour of PNC Park. Their Club Level is amazing, much better than the Rangers’. The concourse of the Club Level is all enclosed, carpeted, and air-conditioned. My three favorite things of PNC Park are:
- The openness – you can see the river and downtown from most seats
- The out-of-town scoreboard, which shows all games including the inning, number of outs, and runners on base, and
- The statues – they have statues of Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, and Honus Wagner outside the stadium and seven Negro League players (including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige) inside the stadium.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the bullpen placement. One bullpen is right in front of the other.

Afterwards, we saw the Exposition Park base paths in a parking lot. The Pirates played there from 1891 to 1909 and they have the location of home plate and the bases painted in one of the parking lots between the Pirates and Steelers stadiums. Then we went to the location of Forbes Field, where the Pirates played from 1909 to 1970. It was awesome. They still have Forbes Fields’ outfield wall standing, the flag pole that was in play in front of the wall, and home plate (in the floor of a building that’s where the infield used to be). There’s also a plaque in the ground showing where Bill Mazeroski’s home run went out in the 1960 World Series.

They were giving away Homestead Grays T-shirts at the Pirates game, which was Matt Morris’ Pittsburgh debut. He pitched well but his stats don’t show it. He allowed 5 runs in 6 1/3 innings. He also went 2-for-3 with a home run. Bobby Livingston pitched really well for the Reds allowing only 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings, but he went 0-for-2. Adam Dunn, Javier Valentin, and Edwin Encarnacion all had 2 RBI’s for the Reds while Nate McLouth had three RBI’s and Jason Bay had 2 for the Pirates. Ken Griffey struck out three times. Jack Wilson, Adam Dunn, Jeff Keppinger, Ronny Paulino, Edwin Encarnacion, Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, and Matt Morris all had a home run in this game. Going into the bottom of the ninth,, the Pirates were winning 7-6, so they brought their closer Matt Capps in for his 1st save opportunity since July 5th and he allowed a solo shot to the 1st batter he faced, which made it go to extras. Capps came out again and allowed a 2-run homer by Adam Dunn. In the bottom of the tenth the Pirates got one run, but lose 9-8.

Sunday August 5th:

On Sunday, we flew home with no problems. We had a great trip.

If you go out to the ballpark this month, there’s a nice article about me on page 9 of the August Rangers game program.

Results of last week’s poll:
Which player that the Rangers got has the most potential?
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 44%
Engel Beltre – 24%
Kason Gabbard – 12%
Elvis Andrus – 9%
Neftali Perez – 6%
Matt Harrison – 3%
Beau Jones – 3%
David Murphy – 0%

Come back next week for part three of the Doug Melvin trade analysis series.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Teixeira and Gagne Traded

This week I will analyze the Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne trades.

Also, last week my blog was mentioned on, which is a new website that has an online talk show discussing current sports topics and referencing sports blogs. You can see the video that mentions my blog at

On 7/30/07 the Rangers acquired C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Elvis Andrus, LHP Matt Harrison, LHP Beau Jones and RHP Neftali Feliz from the Braves in exchange for 1B Mark Teixeira and LHP Ron Mahay

Mark Teixeira:
Even though Mark is a great player and has done great for the Rangers, he was going to be gone after next year and so they had to trade him. With Atlanta he has been moved to the cleanup spot following Franco Harris, Kelly Johnson, and Chipper Jones. I’m sure he’ll continue to be a great player but the Rangers weren’t going to be able to keep him.

Ron Mahay:
Ron had pitched 4 really good years for us in the AL and should do even better in the NL since there is no DH. Ron had been with the Rangers since 2003, with ERA’s of 3.18, 2.55, 6.81, 3.95, and 2.77.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia:
Jarrod can be the back-up catcher while being the starting 1st baseman at the same time. He can hit for power, but is better when nobody is on base. Jarrod has tended to hit better in day games this year, hitting .300 in 20 day games with 2 of his 4 home runs, while in night games he is batting just .245 in 32 night games with the other two of his home runs. Jarrod was doing great in May and June, hitting .313 in May and .327 in June, but hit .228 in July and is hitting .143 in the 5 August games. Jarrod was ranked the 36th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America at the beginning of the year and was also ranked the best prospect in the NL East.

Elvis Andrus:
I saw Elvis Andrus play in Myrtle Beach in May and he made one great play after another. He made a couple of diving plays, a couple of tough plays, and one sliding play. He’s only hitting .241 this year but he probably is the best fielder in all of the Rangers minor league system, possibly including the majors. Elvis was also ranked the 65th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America at the beginning of the year

Matt Harrison:
Some people have compared Matt to Tom Glavine as he has an 89-92 MPH fastball and an above-average change-up. He also likes to keep the ball low in the zone. This year Harrison is 5-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 116.2 IP and last year he was 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 158.2 IP. Matt was ranked the 90th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America at the beginning of the year.

Beau Jones:
Beau has a good fastball and a very good curveball but awful control as he has walked 125 in just over 200 innings. In 2005 Beau was taken in the first supplemental round.

Neftali Feliz:
Neftali was 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings this year with the Danville Braves. Neftali was ranked the 14th best prospect in all of the Rangers minor league system by Baseball America.

Trade Evaluation:
This trade was very good since we had to trade Teixeira and we got the three best prospects in the Braves minor league system (all three in Baseball America’s top 100) plus two other good prospects.
Grade: A+

On 7/31/07 the Rangers acquired LHP Kason Gabbard, OF David Murphy and OF Engel Beltre from the Red Sox for RHP Eric Gagne and cash.

Eric Gagne:
Eric was doing really well this year with 16 saves and a 2.16 ERA, but he was going to be a free agent at the end of the year so there was no point in keeping him.

Kason Gabbard:
Kason has done really well this year going 7-2 with a 3.24 ERA for the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) this year, and then going 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA between the Boston Red Sox and the Rangers this year (after his first Rangers start). He was 4-0 with a 3.73 ERA with Boston before the trade. In 2006 he went 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA for Boston.

David Murphy:
David is at most a 4th outfielder and in 24 career major league at-bats only has 6 hits. David is batting .280 with 9 HR and 47 RBI this year in 400 at-bats in Pawtucket. David is a lefty originally from Texas.

Engel Beltre:
Engel was ranked the 20th best Rangers prospect but is only in the Rookie League and is only batting .203 on the season with 5 HR and 14 RBI. Engel is very raw but has great potential. Engel is also a lefty. He has struck out 48 times in 148 at-bats this year.

Trade Evaluation:
We didn’t need Gagne for the rest of this year and we still got a very good major league ready pitcher, a back-up outfielder, and a great prospect for him.
Grade: A+

Results of last week’s poll:
Question: What position do you think the Rangers need to trade for the most?
Starting pitcher: 88%
Outfield: 10%
First baseman: 2%
All other positions: 0%

Come back next week for a description of the road trip I just took to see the Rangers in Cleveland and to see the Reds in Pittsburgh.