Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kameron Loe Interview

This week I did an interview with Rangers pitcher Kameron Loe.

1. Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?
Kameron mentioned Justin Morneau, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome because all three have excellent recognition of the strike zone, are very strong, and have long arms that allow them to reach balls out of the strike zone.

2. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
- CJ Wilson – they’ve been roommates for three years, are very good friends, have a lot of common interests (like martial arts and video games), and talk baseball a lot.
- Brandon McCarthy – they’re good friends mostly because they have the same sense of humor.
- Nick Masset – Nick is a real good friend. They lived together in spring training and instructional camp. Kameron said that Nick is very kind hearted.

3. Why did you decide not to sign with Philadelphia when they drafted you in 1999 and why did you decide to sign with the Rangers when they drafted you in 2002?
Kameron said that he was drafted by Philadelphia out of high school but really wanted to go to college. He told the scouts that if he wasn’t drafted in the first 2-3 rounds, he would go to college. It was going to take a certain amount of money for him to give up college. Philadelphia drafted him low anyway to see if he was bluffing but Kameron did what he said he would. After three years of college, he knew he was ready. He didn’t care about the money. He just wanted to play baseball.

4. What was the key to your success in 2003, when you went 7-3 with a 1.67 ERA between Clinton and Stockton, after going 4-4 with a 4.47 ERA in rookie ball the year before?
The biggest difference was experience pitching against wood bats. In college, he was taught not to pitch inside because aluminum bats don’t break and hitters can still get power on inside pitches. So he pitched away from hitters in the rookie leagues. After learning that he could pitch inside, he had more success. Also he read ‘The Mental Game of Baseball’, which he says really helped him. He thinks the book helped him get to the big leagues quicker.

5. What was it like to be called up to the Rangers for the first time in September 2004 in the middle of a pennant race?
Kameron said that it was ‘awesome for a number of reasons’. He didn’t expect a call-up. He finished the triple-A season and was sent home. He was in the car with his mom in LA and got a call. The Rangers were playing in Anaheim and they invited him to the field to work out with the team and said they might activate him. Since it was in his home town, he was able to pitch in front of his friends and family.

6. What is the best thing about being a major league ballplayer and why?
‘You get to spend half of the year just focusing on baseball.’

7. What is the biggest adjustment you had to make when you started facing major-league hitting?
Kameron said it was learning to throw off-speed pitches more. In the minors, he could just throw his fastball.

8. What was the recovery process for your injury in 2006 like?
‘Frustrating.’ They didn’t really know what was wrong with his elbow. First they tried to rehab it with no medications. After a month with no improvement, he got a cortisone shot and his arm was better in three days. But he needed to get his arm strength and location back. That took a long time, longer than the healing process.

9. What did you work on last offseason that led to you having such a dominant spring training?
Kameron said that he felt challenged and had to rise to the challenge to win a spot. He had to show that he was the best guy for the job. Also, he was in better condition because his offseason conditioning was more baseball specific. He also thought having more experience made a difference.

10. What did you think when you started the season in the bullpen this year?
He was a little disappointed. But he had been in the bullpen before and decided he’d be the best bullpen guy he could.

11. What do you think is working well for you this season and what are you still working on?
Working well: Fastball, slider, and changeup. He thinks he’s having much better success with his changeup.
Still working on: Pitching inside to lefties and holding runners.

12. What’s it like to room with CJ Wilson?
Kameron said that CJ is a smart guy. They’re good friends and he’s a good roommate. He’s fairly clean and they don’t crowd each other. Also, both are from California so they have that in common.

13. Do you take your pet snake with you on road trips?
No, he just feeds her one rat before a road trip and makes sure her water is full.

14. What is your best pitch and how was it developed?
He thinks his best pitch is his sinking (two-seam) fastball. He learned it at 13 years old when a coach taught it to him. He started pitching at 11 but only threw a four-seam fastball. With the two-seam fastball he started to get a lot of grounders.

15. What do you think your long-term role with the team will be and why? What would you prefer your long-term role to be and why?
He thinks he will be a starter and that’s what he wants to be. His entire career until the majors was as a starter. His body is conditioned to go deep into games and his arm can take it. His cardiovascular system is good and he has enough pitches to be a starter. He said ‘I love to have my own game’.

16. What’s been the best game so far of your professional career andwhy?
Kameron mentioned two games. The first was one of his starts in 2005 against the Twins in Minnesota. He pitched 8 innings, allowed no runs, and got the win. The second was this year against Toronto. He said he really battled in that game, giving up 1 run in 5 and 2/3 inning. He didn’t get the win but kept the team in the game and they won.

17. What was your favorite team growing up?
The Dodgers because he grew up in LA.

18. What are your hobbies?
Martial arts, kick boxing, playing video games, reading, talking to friends, camping, going to the beach, and taking vacations.

I would like to thank Kameron for giving me so much of his time to do this interview. I’ve gotten to talk to Kameron a lot at different Rangers events and games and he is always very friendly and willing to spend time with fans. For this interview Kameron was very nice and talked to me on the phone for half an hour in Oakland while he was taking the train to the game.

Results of last week’s poll:
Question: Who do you should be the MVP of all of baseball out of my league MVPs and runner-ups?
A-Rod – 75%
Prince Fielder – 13%
JJ Hardy – 13%
Jorge Posada – 0%

I’m taking a week off. Come back in two weeks for my next column.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

May Awards

I went to two baseball games last week. On Wednesday, I went to see the RoughRiders play Wichita in Frisco. It was a great game. Eric Hurley pitched a complete game shutout and the Riders won 8-0. The Riders had a 5-run 5th and Manriquez and Duran homered. On Friday, I went to see the Rangers play Boston. It was my first day off from school and my dad and I spent the day in Arlington, going to Six Flags and then the Rangers game. Before the game, I arranged an interview with Kameron Loe and got autographs from Robinson Tejeda, Joaquin Benoit, and Frank Francisco. It rained for a long time and the game was delayed by two hours. McCarthy really struggled and only lasted two innings. Once again, the Rangers fielded poorly. The Rangers lost 10-6.

This week I will give my May Awards. The awards are for if the season ended now.


Rangers MVP: Mark Teixeira: Teixeira is one of only two Rangers batting over .300 and has 8 homers.
Runner-up: Sammy Sosa

Rangers Cy Young: C.J. Wilson: Wilson has a 2.35 ERA, 23 IP and great WHIP.
Runner-up: Akinori Otsuka

Rangers Rookie of the Year: Chris Stewart
Runner-up: Kevin Mahar


AL MVP: A-ROD NYY: A-ROD has 19 home runs already.
Runner-up: Jorge Posada NYY

AL Cy Young: Dan Haren OAK: Haren is the AL ERA leader and has 5 wins.
Runner-up: John Lackey LAA


NL MVP: JJ Hardy MIL: He is tied for 1st in the National League for home runs, leads the NL in RBI’s and is batting .314.
Runner-up: Prince Fielder MIL

NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy SD: Peavy leads baseball in ERA, is tied for 2nd in the NL for wins, and is 2nd in the NL for strikeouts.
Runner-up: John Smoltz

Results of last week’s poll:
Question: Which team do you think will have the most starting All-Stars?
Yankees – 42%
Red Sox – 25%
Cardinals – 17%
Tigers – 17%

Come back next week for a possible Kam Loe interview.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Analysis of All-Star Ballot

This week I will analyze the All-Star ballot and say who I think will be the starter and who I think should be the starter.


1st base:

Should be: Prince Fielder, Brewers
Will be: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

2nd base:

Should be: Chase Utley, Phillies
Will be: Craig Biggio, Astros

Should be: J.J. Hardy, Brewers
Will be: David Eckstein, Cardinals

3rd base:

Should be: Chipper Jones, Braves
Will be: Chipper Jones, Braves


Should be: Russell Martin, Dodgers
Will be: Yadier Molina, Cardinals


Should be: Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee, Ken Griffey, Jr
Will be: Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Edmonds


1st base:

Should be: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Will be: David Ortiz, Red Sox

2nd base:

Should be: Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Will be: Robinson Cano, Yankees


Should be: Johnny Peralta, Indians
Will be: Derek Jeter, Yankees

3rd base:

Should be: A-ROD, Yankees
Will be: A-ROD, Yankees


Should be: Jorge Posada, Yankees
Will be: Pudge, Tigers


Should be: Vladamir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson
Will be: Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Ichiro

Also, I went back to Barry Newberg’s Mooyah Burgers yesterday. Their burgers are still great, plus now their fries are much better than they were when they first opened. They’re crispier and have more seasoning now.

Results of last week’s poll:
Question: Who do you think will show the biggest improvement the rest of the year off of my Going Up list?
Yankees – 61%
Phillies – 17%
Padres – 11%
Rangers – 6%
Blue Jays – 6%
Mets – 0%
Reds – 0%

Come back next week for my May Awards.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Team Projections

Last week I went to two baseball games and played one. On Tuesday, my dad took my little sister and me to the RoughRiders stadium to see a game. But when we got there, the traffic was really bad and we noticed that more people were leaving the ballpark’s parking lot than were coming in. It turns out that they forgot to cover the field the night before when it rained and the field was too muddy to play. So we went back the next night and saw them play. Doug Mathis pitched and he was great. He allowed no runs in 7 innings. Frisco won 2-1. Before the game, I tried to get autographs of the three players who joined the team since the last time I was there (Brandon Boggs, Bill White, and Jorge Vazquez). I got Boggs and White but a security guard wouldn’t let me ask for Vazquez’ for some reason.

On Saturday, I played a baseball game. I played third base the whole game. I caught two outs, tagged out a base stealer, and made no errors. I had two plate appearances. The first time I walked on 4 pitches with the bases loaded. The second time, I swung and hit the catcher in the arm with my bat, so I got to go to first base on catcher’s interference. So far this season, I have a 1.000 on base percentage. We won and are 2-0.

After the game, my dad and I went straight to the Rangers game. We got there during the first inning. It was Ian Kinsler bobblehead day and fortunately they still had a few left when we got there. Kameron Loe pitched well but the defense was very bad (3 errors) and we lost 6-3.

This week, I examined all of the teams in baseball and based on their current record and the strength of the rest of their schedule, I decided which teams I thought would improve their records, which would do worse, and which would stay the same. Below are the results of my analysis.

Going Up:
1. New York Yankees: The Yankees’ pitchers have gotten injured so much that it’s left their rotation a mess until the pitchers come back, and with the Yankees they’re not going to stay under .500 a whole season.
2. New York Mets: The Mets have one of the easiest schedules in baseball, along with maybe the best hitting in baseball. With a team that good combined with their schedule, there’s nowhere to go but up.
3. Philadelphia Phillies: You can’t have a team fighting for the wild card one year and not make many changes in the offseason with this good an offense do this bad the very next year.
4. Cincinnati Reds: Aaron Harang hasn’t been doing as well as he will yet and Adam Dunn isn’t hitting for much power. There’s no chance they’ll struggle this bad a whole year, and with the Pirates in their division they won’t stay in last place long.
5. Texas Rangers: A team can’t make three errors a game throughout a whole year. Plus, our hitters are coming out of their slump already.
6. Toronto Blue Jays
7. San Diego Padres

Going Down:
1. Kansas City Royals: The Royals have the hardest schedule in baseball, in my opinion, and are probably the worst team in baseball. If possible the way they’re playing they’ll plummet with that combination.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have one of the hardest schedules in baseball, probably because they can’t play themselves, and are one of the worst teams in baseball. Like in the Royals case, that’s one of the worst combinations to have.
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Devil Rays have the same combination as the Pirates and Royals, and are in a tough division.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have one of the toughest schedules in baseball and aren’t as good as their record shows.
5. Washington Nationals: The Nats have the same combination as the top three.
6. Boston Red Sox
7. San Francisco Giants
8. Baltimore Orioles
9. Chicago White Sox
10. Atlanta Braves
11. Los Angeles Angels

Staying the Same:
1. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are probably the best team in the AL, and have an average schedule. There’s no way they go down, but they probably won’t go up with how good their division is.
2. Houston Astros: The Astros players are performing to the expectations and they still can’t win. They have a better chance of going down than up, but will probably keep playing like this.
3. Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have tried getting all these big stars in, but just can’t win with anybody. They’re probably not going to go anywhere but stay right where they are.
4. Florida Marlins: The Marlins aren’t good enough to do any better than they are now, but not bad enough to go behind the Nats. They’ve got an average schedule so unless the GM makes another decision that isn’t understandable, they won’t go down, but the GM isn’t good enough to get them players that will bring them up.
5. Oakland Athletics: The A’s talent is right where their record shows - around .500. Unless they get somebody good at the trade deadline they’ll stay just behind the Angels and just in front of the Mariners.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
7. St. Louis Cardinals
8. Cleveland Indians
9. Seattle Mariners
10. Minnesota Twins
11. Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Colorado Rockies

Result of last week’s poll:
Question: Who do you think should be the Rangers Cy Young winner so far?
Tejeda – 37%
Otsuka – 26%
Wilson – 16%
Benoit, Eyre, Loe, and Padilla – 5% each
Everyone else – 0%

Come back next week for an analysis of the All-Star ballot.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

April Awards

This week I went to two Rangers games. The first one was the first game of the Yankees series on Tuesday. It was a bad game. The Rangers couldn’t pitch, hit, or field. They lost 10-1. The second one was the first game of the Blue Jays series. It was the exact opposite. The Rangers got great pitching from Brandon McCarthy and Willie Eyre, great hitting, and great fielding. They won 7-1. Also, before the game, I got autographs from Frank Thomas and Royce Clayton. I was the only one to get Royce. Frank signed for a long line of people and I was the last one he signed for. I now have a streak of 4 players where I was the last person to get an autograph (Mike Piazza, Nick Swisher, Royce Clayton, and Frank Thomas). Also, today my baseball season started. I’m on the Durham Bulls. I played third base and went 1-for-1 at the plate with a walk and a run scored. We won 8-7.

This week I will give my April awards. All the stats and explanations are as of April 30th.

Rangers MVP:
Ian Kinsler: .298 AVG., 9 HR, 22 RBI: He’s tied for second in baseball and is the only Rangers hitter batting over .260.
Runner-up: Sammy Sosa

Rangers Cy Young:
Robinson Tejeda: 3-1, 3.82 ERA, 21 SO, 30.2 IP: He’s been the only consistent starter.
Runner-up: Akinori Otsuka/Ron Mahay

Rangers Rookie of the Year:
Chris Stewart: .214 AVG, 0 HR, 2 RBI: He’s the only rookie on the team.
Runner-up: No other rookies

Rangers Biggest Underachiever:
Michael Young: .215 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI: a .300 hitter shouldn’t be batting .215 through April.
Runner-up: Mark Teixeira

A-ROD: .355 AVG, 14 HR, 34 RBI: He tied the baseball record for the most home runs in one April.
Runner-up: Ian Kinsler
Last year’s MVP award: My pick – Frank Thomas, Actual – Justin Morneau

AL Cy Young:
Josh Beckett: 5-0, 2.48 ERA, 28 SO, 32.2 IP
Runner-up: Roy Halladay
Last year: My pick – Johan Santana, Actual – Johan Santana

Adrian Gonzalez: .309 AVG, 7 HR, 25 RBI: He’s got over a .300 AVG and is on pace to hit 42 HR’s.
Runner-up: Jimmy Rollins
Last year: My pick – Ryan Howard, Actual – Ryan Howard

NL Cy Young:
John Maine: 4-0, 1.35 ERA, 30 SO, 33.1 IP: He’s leading the MLB in ERA and is getting plenty of strike-outs.
Runner-up: Aaron Harang
Last year: My pick – Derek Lowe, Actual – Chris Carpenter

AL Biggest Underachiever:
Paul Konerko: .198 AVG, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 22 SO: Konerko is hitting .198 and only has 3 HR’s.
Runner-up: Johan Santana

NL Biggest Underachiever:
Trevor Hoffman: 6.23 ERA, 1-2, 5 saves, 2 blown saves, 4 BB: Hoffman has a 6.23 ERA, 2 losses and 29 percent of the time he has blown the save.
Runner-up: Carlos Zambrano/Carlos Delgado

Results of last week’s poll:
Questions: Who do you think is the nicest hitter on the Rangers team?
Kinsler – 46%
Teixeira – 12%
Young – 12%
Sosa – 8%
Hairston – 4%
Laird – 4%
Stewart – 4%
Wilkerson – 4%

Come back next week for my predictions for each team for the rest of the year.