Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rangers vs. Angels Spring Training Game and Nippert Acquired

This week I will analyze the trade the Rangers made this week and do a play-by-play analysis of one of the games I went to while I was at Spring Training.

On Friday, the Rangers traded Class-A pitcher Jose Marte to the Diamondbacks for relief pitcher Dustin Nippert.

Nippert is out of options so the Rangers have to put him on the team. He has three years of major league experience and has a career 2-3 record with a 6.23 ERA. He has made 46 total appearances, 10 as a starter and 36 as a reliever. Dustin was a starter at first, but the D’Backs converted him to a reliever. His career minor league record is 33-25, with a 3.42 ERA. Jose Marte struggled last year, with a 5.23 ERA between Clinton and Bakersfield. I think that this is a good trade, because Nippert could be a good reliever and make some spot starts instead of having to bring a minor leaguer up for one appearance. We didn’t give up much, either, since Marte is a marginal prospect.

Basically, this trade ended Robinson Tejeda’s career with the Rangers. Nippert is taking the last bullpen spot, which Tejeda was fighting for. Since Tejeda is out of options, the Rangers were forced to DFA him. It’s very unlikely that Tejeda will clear waivers, so he’ll be out of the organization. I still think this is a good trade because Nippert has better control and better offspeed pitches than Tejeda.

Grade: B+ – this is a low risk trade with good upside

Here is my play-by-play analysis of the Rangers/Angels spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 21st. I didn’t start taking notes until the very end of the 1st inning, so my analysis will start with the last batter of the 1st inning.

Top 1st:
Sidney Ponson vs. Chone Figgins: Single. Tied 0-0, 0 outs

Ponson vs. Howie Kendrick: Double-play. Tied 0-0, 2 outs

Ponson vs. Maicer Izturis: Ground-out. Tied 0-0, 3 outs

Bottom 1st:
Angels pitcher: Jered Weaver

Ian Kinsler: Fly-out. Tied 0-0, 1 out

Michael Young: Ground-out. Tied 0-0, 2 outs

Josh Hamilton: Way in front of a curveball for strike 2, and then took a fastball right down the middle of the plate for strike 3. Tied 0-0, 3 outs

Top 2nd:
Sidney Ponson: High speed seems to be 93-94 MPH, and he works really quickly.

Ponson vs. Garret Anderson: He threw three straight balls outside and then Garret flew out.
Frank Catalanotto: Frank made a great catch. Tied 0-0, 1 out

Ponson vs. Torii Hunter: Sidney threw a good inside pitch for a ground-out. It was a one-pitch at-bat. Tied 0-0, 2 outs

Ponson vs. Casey Kotchman: The first pitch was a ball, and the second pitch was on the inside part of the plate and forced a ground-out.
Ian Kinsler: Bobbled an easy grounder. Tied 0-0, 3 outs

Bottom 2nd:
Angels pitcher: Jered Weaver

Hank Blalock: Took first two pitches for a 1-1 count, then chased one out of the zone and flied out to center. Tied 0-0, 1 out

Milton Bradley: This was his spring debut. He swung at a ball on his first pitch, and took the next two for strikes. He looked terrible, very slow, and looked overwhelmed. He was very late for three straight fastballs. Tied 0-0, 2 outs

David Murphy: Struck out looking. Tied 0-0, 3 outs

Top 3rd:
Ponson vs. Howie Kendrick: Left a pitch up in the zone and Howie cranked it off the wall for a double. Tied 0-0, 0 outs

Sidney Ponson: Best pitch seems to be fastball.

Ponson vs. Robb Quinlan: Ponson had a good mix and got Robb Quinlan in front for groundout. Tied 0-0, 1 out

Sidney Ponson: Was a good ground-ball pitcher.

Gerald Laird: Good throw gets Kendrick stealing on first pitch. Tied 0-0, 2 outs

Ponson vs. Bobby Wilson: Good pitch got him out in front for fly-out. Tied 0-0, 3 outs

Bottom 3rd:
Angels pitcher: Jered Weaver

Frank Catalanotto: Took the first two pitches for strikes and then got good contact and hit one high off the wall for a double. Tied 0-0, 0 outs

Gerald Laird: Got a quick 0-2 count, and singled into the outfield on a check-swing, drives in Catalanotto. Rangers 1-0, 0 outs

Ben Broussard: Started with an 0-2 count for the third straight batter. He then took the first ball of the half-inning.
Gerald Laird: Picked off. Rangers 1-0, 1 out
Ben Broussard: Grounder up the middle for single. The Rangers had three straight hits after 0-2 counts. Rangers 1-0, 1 out

Ian Kinsler: Line-drive single on first pitch. Torii Hunter botched after one bounce. Rangers 1-0, 1 out

Michael Young: Walk. Rangers 1-0, 1 out, bases loaded

Josh Hamilton: Chased the first pitch out of the zone and fouled it off, and then was way out in front of two change-ups for a strike-out. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs, bases loaded

Hank Blalock: Chased a curveball swinging for the fences and screwing himself into the ground, and chased a pitch that was at about the height of his chin for strike three. Hank looked very bad in this at-bat.
Rangers 1-0, 3 outs

Top 4th:
Ponson vs. Chone Figgins: First pitch infield chopper. Awful communication as Kinsler, Broussard, and Ponson were all going for the ball with no one covering first base. Sidney finally went to first, but then he injured his ankle. Rangers 1-0, 0 outs

Rangers pitching change: Franklyn German in for Sidney Ponson.

Franklyn German vs. Reggie Willits: First-pitch ball.
Gerald Laird: Gunned down Chone Figgins trying to steal 2nd. Rangers 1-0, 1 out
German vs. Reggie Willits: German made Reggie look silly on third pitch and he hit into a high pop-out.
Michael Young: Misjudged the ball and back-pedaled the whole way. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

German vs. Maicer Izturis: Walked him after a 1-2 start to the count. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

German vs. Garret Anderson: 1-1 count.
Gerald Laird: Good speed on throw trying to throw out Izturis, but the throw didn’t go far enough and it bounced over Michael Young’s glove and into the outfield.
German vs. Garret Anderson: Fly-out. Rangers 1-0, 3 outs

Franklyn German: Franklyn threw a lot of balls in the inning.

Bottom 4th:
Angels pitcher: Jered Weaver

Milton Bradley: Struggled again against fastballs, and chopped one into the ground for an out.
Rangers 1-0, 1 out

David Murphy: 1-2 count, chased one way out of the zone for strike-out. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

Frank Catalanotto: Liner to center for single, made good contact. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

Gerald Laird: Chopper up the middle not hit very well, but he still got robbed by Weaver for the third out. Rangers 1-0, 3 outs

Top 5th:
Rangers pitching change: Kam Loe in for Franklyn German.

Loe vs. Torii Hunter: Good pitch made Torii chop it to third for first out.
Hank Blalock: Nice play. Rangers 1-0, 1 out

Loe vs. Casey Kotchman: Good pitch, Casey chopped it into the ground.
Hank Blalock: Good defensive play as the ball went very high in the air after one bounce, but Blalock’s good throw beat the runner. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

Loe vs. Howie Kendrick: Pop-up landed between Kinsler, Broussard and Murphy for single, although it wasn’t a bad defensive play. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

Loe vs. Dee Brown: Fly-out to left. Rangers 1-0, 3 outs

Bottom 5th:
Angels pitcher: Jered Weaver

Ben Broussard: Good hit, opposite-field single. Rangers 1-0, 0 outs

Ian Kinsler: Good sacrifice bunt, moves Broussard to second. Rangers 1-0, 1 out

Michael Young: Started off with a 2-2 count and didn’t swing at a single pitch, very patient, fouled the next pitch off, then takes a ball for a full count. Chased outside pitch and grounded up the middle to Weaver and moved Broussard to third. Rangers 1-0, 2 outs

Josh Hamilton: Lined out to second. Rangers 1-0, 3 outs

Top 6th:
Loe vs. Bobby Wilson: Starts with 2-0 count, and then Kam threw an awful pitch that was hit for a home run. Tied 1-1, 0 outs

Loe vs. Chone Figgins: 1-2 count, good pitch, chopped to second for out. Tied 1-1, 1 out

Loe vs. Reggie Willits: Four-pitch walk. Tied 1-1, 1 out

Loe vs. Maicer Izturis: Single up the middle, men on first and third. Tied 1-1, 1 out

Loe vs. Garret Anderson: Kam’s control seems off, Garret hits into a sacrifice fly. Angels 2-1, 2 outs

Loe vs. Torii Hunter: Deep fly-out.
Josh Hamilton: Great catch on warning track. Had to make running catch and then crash into the wall. Angels 2-1, 3 outs

Bottom 6th:
Hank Blalock: 0-2 count, liner to second, got past second baseman, but hit hard enough to be counted as a hit, not an error. Angels 2-1, 0 outs

Milton Bradley: Grounded into double play, and practically walked down the first base line, even though it was a 3-6-3 double play. Angels 2-1, 2 outs

David Murphy: Worked a full count, then reached at one out of the zone and flied out to center.
Angels 2-1, 3 outs

Top 7th:
Loe vs. Casey Kotchman: Line drive up the middle for a single. Angels 2-1, 0 outs

Loe vs. Erick Aybar: 0-2 count.
Gerald Laird: Easily gunned down Kotchman at second even though the pitch was in the dirt.
Angels 2-1, 1 out
Loe vs. Erick Aybar: Three-pitch strike-out. Angels 2-1, 2 outs

Loe vs. Dee Brown: Ground-out to second. Angels 2-1, 3 outs

Bottom 7th:
Frank Catalanotto: 0-2 count, good hit to warning track, but good defensive play for out. Angels 2-1, 1 out

Gerald Laird: Foul ball for pop-out. Angels 2-1, 2 outs

Ben Broussard: Fouled a ball off his foot, but stayed in the game. He singled up the middle on the next pitch. Angels 2-1, 2 outs

Ian Kinsler: Ground-out to short. Angels 2-1, 3 outs

Top 8th:
Rangers pitching change: Robinson Tejeda in for Kam Loe

Tejeda vs. Bobby Wilson: First pitch popped out to third in foul territory. Angels 2-1, 1 out

Tejeda vs. ?: Deep fly ball misread by Josh Hamilton and turned into a triple. Angels 2-1, 1 out.

Tejeda vs. Reggie Willits: 0-2 count, worked to 3-2, and then Reggie hit a sacrifice fly.
Angels 3-1, 2 outs.

Tejeda vs. Maicer Izturis: Fly-out to center. Angels 3-1, 3 outs

Bottom 8th:
Michael Young: Liner to right for single. Angels 3-1, 0 outs

Josh Hamilton: Liner to left for single. Angels 3-1, 0 outs

Hank Blalock: Double-play. Angels 3-1, 2 outs

Milton Bradley: Late on second pitch, and third pitch. Worked the count full. Nice defensive play got him out. Angels 3-1, 3 outs

Top 9th:
Tejeda vs. Juan Rivera: Double. Angels 3-1, 0 outs

Tejeda vs. ?: Ground-out. Angels 3-1, 1 out

Tejeda vs. Casey Kotchman: Good play by Ramon Vazquez, jumped and caught liner. Angels 3-1, 2 outs

Tejeda vs. Erick Aybar: RBI single. Angels 4-1, 2 outs

Tejeda vs. ?: Walk. Angels 4-1, 2 outs

Rangers pitching change: Elizardo Ramirez in for Robinson Tejeda

Ramirez vs. Bobby Wilson: Fly-out. Angels 4-1, 3 outs

Bottom 9th:
Nelson Cruz: Strike-out. Angels 4-1, 1 out

Kevin Mench: Pop-out. Angels 4-1, 2 outs

Adam Melhuse: Ground-out. Angels 4-1, 3 outs

Results of last week’s poll:
Do you think instant replay should be implemented in baseball?
Yes – 50%
No – 33%
In playoffs - 16%

Come back next week for my season predictions.

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