Saturday, August 30, 2008

Guardado Traded and August Awards

This week I will evaluate the Eddie Guardado trade and give my August Awards.

Eddie Guardado Trade Evaluation:
Eddie Guardado was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Short-season A pitcher Mark Hamburger:

Mark Hamburger was 1-2 with a 4.17 ERA and 13 saves in 14 opportunities for Elizabethton. He struck out 40 batters in 36.2 innings and only walked 13. He held righties to a .221 average. In 2007 he signed with the Twins as an undrafted free agent. He went to Mesabi Range Community College. Eddie Guardado had a 3.65 ERA for the Rangers in 49.1 innings and was the Rangers’ dominant 8th inning pitcher before being named the closer recently.
Grade: B- – Eddie Guardado would have been a free agent at the end of the year so the main question is whether Hamburger is better than what we could have gotten for Eddie as draft pick compensation for losing him as a free agent. Hamburger seems like a marginal prospect.

Rangers Awards:

Rangers MVP: Josh Hamilton, TEX: .295 AVG, 29 HR, 116 RBI: Josh is what kept the Rangers in the playoff chase for a while and without him the Rangers wouldn’t have been anywhere as good this year.
Runner-up: Ian Kinsler, TEX

Rangers Cy Young: Vicente Padilla, TEX: 12-7, 4.98 ERA, 105 K: Vicente has gotten 12 wins this year, but has struggled mightily of late.
Runner-up: Scott Feldman, TEX

Rangers ROY: David Murphy, TEX: .275 AVG, 15 HR, 75 RBI: Even though Chris Davis has done so well, David Murphy still has 35 more RBI’s than him, so David is still my ROY, although that might change in a month.
Runner-up: Chris Davis, TEX

AL Awards:

AL MVP: Carlos Quentin, CWS: .290 AVG, 36 HR, 100 RBI: Carlos is leading baseball in homers, has 100 RBI’s after August and has a pretty good batting average.
Runner-up: Josh Hamilton, TEX

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, CLE: 19-2, 2.43 ERA, 145 K: He’s leading the league in wins, and has a great ERA and has only lost two games.
Runner-up: Roy Halladay, TOR

AL ROY: Evan Longoria, TB: .278 AVG, 22 HR, 71 RBI: Evan is having a great year and is putting up all these stats after being in the minors the first month of the season.
Runner-up: David Murphy, TEX

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, TB: He’s taken a last place team and made them a first place team in just one year.
Runner-up: Ron Gardenheier, MIN

NL Awards:

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, STL: .356 AVG, 28 HR, 87 RBI: Albert is having a good year when you just look at the regular stats, but when you look at his .464 OBP he becomes the MVP, in my opinion.
Runner-up: Ryan Braun, MIL

NL Cy Young: Brandon Webb, ARI: 19-5, 2.96 ERA, 157 K: Brandon is leading the league in wins by three wins, has an ERA under three, and has over 150 strikeouts already.
Runner-up: Ryan Dempster, CHC

NL ROY: Geovany Soto, CHC: .285 AVG, 20 HR, 78 RBI: When you’re a rookie and you hit 20 home runs and 75 RBI’s with a .280 or above batting average through August, you’ve got to be considered Rookie of the Year.
Runner-up: James Loney, LAD

NL Manager of the Year: Tony La Russa, STL: He has taken a team that really didn’t have much talent and made them a playoff contending team.
Runner-up: Jerry Manuel, NYM

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think is the best player that the Rangers traded for in 1991 and 1992?
Jose Canseco – 83%
Charlie Leibrandt – 17%
All others – 0%

Come back next week for Part 8 of the Tom Grieve Trade Analysis.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tom Grieve Trade Analysis Part 7

This week I will continue the analysis of all the trades Tom Grieve made as the Rangers GM. I posted part 6 on May 18 of this year, if you want to see my last post of this. This time I will analyze all of the trades Tom Grieve made as GM in 1991 and 1992.

41. 7-21-91 The Montreal Expos traded Oil Can Boyd to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later, Jonathan Hurst, and Joey Eischen. The Texas Rangers sent Travis Buckley (minors) (September 1, 1991) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

Loss – Oil Can Boyd went 2-7 with a 6.68 ERA in only 62 innings with the Rangers. Travis Buckley never made it to the majors and Jonathon Hurst only pitched 26.1 innings in his career, but Joey Eischen had a very good career as a relief pitcher. He played 13 years and had a 3.67 career ERA.

Record: 9-9-23

42. 8-30-91 The Pittsburgh Pirates traded a player to be named later and Kurt Miller to the Texas Rangers for Steve Buechele. The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Hector Fajardo (September 6, 1991) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

Loss – Kurt Miller never played for the Rangers, and Hector Fajardo played 3 and a half seasons with the Rangers and the ERA’s for the seasons he played significant time in were 5.68 in 19 innings (1991), 6.91 in 83.1 innings (1994), and 7.80 in 15 innings (1995). Steve Buechele had one more good year in ’93 when he hit .272 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI’s (after he had been traded to the Cubs.

Record: 9-10-23

43. 5-25-92 The Milwaukee Brewers traded Edwin Nunez to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later. The Texas Rangers sent Mark Hampton (minors) (September 15, 1992) to the Milwaukee Brewers to complete the trade.

Tie – Mark Hampton never made it to the majors and Edwin Nunez only played half a season with the Rangers and had a 5.58 ERA in that time.

Record: 9-10-24

44. 8-31-92 The Oakland Athletics traded Jose Canseco to the Texas Rangers for Ruben Sierra, Jeff Russell, Bobby Witt, and cash.

Loss – Jose Canseco played a little over two years with the Rangers. He hit .233 in his first partial year with the team (22 games), had to get Tommy John surgery halfway through his second season (after making a pitching appearance), and played very well in the ’94 strike-shortened season (.282, 31 HR, 90 RBI). Ruben Sierra played well with the A’s. In ’92 he hit .277 with 3 HR in 27 games as the A’s won their division and then hit .333 with 7 RBI in the NLCS. He only hit .233 in 1993 but had 22 homers and 101 RBI. He had an All-Star year in ’94 (.268, 23 HR, 92 RBI). Jeff Russell had a 0.00 ERA in 8 games down the stretch for Oakland in 1992 before becoming a free agent after the season. Bobby Witt had 14 wins and a 4.21 ERA in ’93.

Record: 9-11-24

45. 12-9-92 The Atlanta Braves traded Charlie Leibrandt and Pat Gomez to the Texas Rangers for Jose Oliva.

Win – Jose Oliva only played in 89 games in his career and had a career batting average of .178. Pat Gomez never played for the Rangers, but Charlie Leibrandt had one solid year with the Rangers where he threw 150.1 innings with a 9-10 record and a 4.55 ERA in 1993 (the last year of his career).

Record: 10-11-24

46. 12-16-92 The San Diego Padres traded Terry Bross to the Texas Rangers for Pat Gomez.

Tie – Terry Bross never played for the Rangers and Pat Gomez only pitched 79 career innings and had a 1-3 record.

Record: 10-11-25

Come back next week for my August Awards.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cincinnati/Indianapolis Trip Summary

From August 8-12th I was in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. This week I will summarize my trip.

On Friday, we had an early flight, so I woke up at about 6:20, got ready, and my dad, and my little sister, and me went to pick up my grandparents. After we picked them up we headed to the airport. We went through security and waited for our plane. Our plane took off about 20 minutes late, but it was still fine. We flew into Cincinnati and checked into an Embassy Suites in Covington, KY and went to our rooms. We hung out around there for about half an hour before heading over to the Reds Hall of Fame. Our hotel was on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River so we had to walk across a bridge to get to the Hall of Fame, which is right next to the Reds’ stadium. The Reds H.O.F. is very well done. When you first get there you go into a theatre that’s decorated like a baseball park and watch a short video about the history of the Reds. The room is very neat and so is the film. Then you go to the stairs that take you up to the main level of the museum. As you walk up the stairs, you see a collection of thousands of baseballs - one for every one of Pete Rose’s hits. It’s amazing how many hits he had. When you get to the top they have a room dedicated to the recently deceased Joe Nuxhall called The Ol’ Lefthander. Joe was a pitcher for the Reds and then a broadcaster for many, many years. They have a few other rooms, including a room that celebrates great Cincinnati teams through the years. In that room, they have a scene called the Great Eight, with life-sized statues of the Big Red Machine celebrating together. That room also has trophies for the Reds’ five World Series championships. There’s also a broadcast booth where you can make the call on some big moments in Reds’ history and people outside the booth can hear you. My dad and I made the call for Pete Rose’s 4192nd (record-breaking) hit. Lastly they have a big room with plaques for all the members in the Reds Hall of Fame, and that’s a very neat room. This year’s inductions included Barry Larkin and Cesar Geronimo. The plaques are suspended from the ceiling and are in order of when the players played. They’re a lot like the Cooperstown plaques. The Reds have done a great job on their museum and Hall of Fame.

After the Hall of Fame, we went into the stadium where we had club level tickets and ate at the 4192 Club (named after Pete Rose’s record breaking hit). They had decent food. I got a pizza and so did my sister. If you ever go there, don’t get the chili cheese dog. They are mini-hot-dogs that take about three bites to eat and the still cost $3.50. After that we went to the gift shop to get me a shirt. At the Reds, they have no adult smalls anywhere in the ballpark, so I had to get an adult medium. We went back to our seats just in time for the first pitch. The club level in Cincinnati is so much nicer than the Rangers because the concourses are air conditioned and they have TV’s so you can watch the replays of close plays (which they don’t show those on the jumbotrons anywhere).

This was our third game at the Reds’ new ballpark (Great American Ballpark) but our first since 2003 (its first year). My dad is from Cincinnati so he's a big Reds fan. The ballpark is in a good location, right on the river and on the edge of downtown. From our seats, we could look out of the ballpark and see the river. There’s a neat restaurant in the outfield that looks like a steamboat and fireworks and smoke come out of the smokestacks during the game.

We saw the Reds play the Astros. The game was a very good one that included two 4-run innings, five home runs, and 15 strikeouts by one team.

First 3 innings: In the top of the first, Kaz Matsui led off the game with a solo homer to give him 5 on the year. Carlos Lee also hit a solo homer in the top of the first off of Johnny Cueto (one of the Reds’ big pitching prospects) to give Lee 28 on the year. The Reds were scoreless in the bottom of the 1st and were also scoreless in the bottom of the 2nd. In the top of the second the Astros had men on 1st and 2nd with no outs, men on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and the bases loaded with 2 outs, but failed to score a run. In the top of the 3rd the Astros scored no runs, but in the bottom of the 3rd the Reds scored 4 runs. Here is what the Reds did play-by-play that inning:
- David Ross walks
- Johnny Cueto bunts for a base hit
- Jeff Keppinger hits a 2-RBI double
- Joey Votto grounds out
- Jay Bruce flies out
- Brandon Phillips hits his 17th home run of the year with Jeff Keppinger still on second
- Adam Dunn strikes out

Innings 4-6: Nobody scored in the 4th inning, although the Astros got men to second and third. In the top of the 5th the Astros forced a walk, got hit by a pitch and then singled with two outs to score Carlos Lee and cut the Reds’ lead to 4-3. The Reds didn’t score in the bottom half of the 5th. Johnny Cueto didn’t come back out in the 6th as he had 109 pitches through five innings. Cueto gave up 3 runs (all earned) on 9 hits in his five innings of work, but did strike out nine. Neither team scored in the sixth, although both teams got a man to at least second.

Innings 7-9: In the top of the second the Astros scored two runs due to a costly error by Nick Masset. Masset is a former Ranger who was traded to the White Sox along with Jon Danks for Brandon McCarthy, but more recently traded to the Reds along with Danny Richar for Ken Griffey, Jr. Masset had two outs and nobody on and then made the error. Humberto Quintero then made him pay with his first homer of the year to give the Astros a 5-4 lead. Nick Masset would leave after the inning, going two innings, allowing two runs (0 earned) on 3 hits while striking out three. The Reds would respond quickly, though, tying it up in the bottom half of the seventh on a Jeff Keppinger sacrifice fly to give him three RBI’s on the day. The eighth and the ninth were both scoreless so it then went to extras. Mike Lincoln would leave the game for the Reds after the ninth, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out two, to give the Reds’ pitching staff 14 strikeouts through nine.

10th inning: In the top of the tenth Francisco Cordero (another former Ranger) would come on to pitch and would just get massacred. He gave up four runs in total and he had two outs and nobody on base. After that the Astros’ inning went like this:
- Miguel Tejada doubles
- Lance Berkman walks
- Carlos Lee drives in two with a double (giving him his 100th RBI for the year)
- Hunter Pence hits a two-run homer
- Ty Wigginton grounds out to end the inning

In the bottom of the tenth, Javier Valentin and Jeff Keppinger both flew out and then Joey Votto grounded out to end the game.

The final score was 9-5 Astros. It turns out that we saw one of Adam Dunn’s last games as a Red (he was traded to Arizona later that weekend) and one of Carlos Lee’s last games of the year (he was injured later that weekend).

After the game, there were fireworks and it was probably the best fireworks show I’ve seen other than Disney World and Disneyland. My little sister tried to stay awake but fell asleep before the fireworks were over. We then walked back to our hotel and went to bed.

The next morning we got up and, after a great Embassy Suites breakfast, drove to Indianapolis to see our family. My great grandparents and some of my dad’s cousins live up there and we got to see all of them. We saw the cousins once and went to see my great grandparents about five times. My great grandma was having her 91st birthday and my great grandparents were having their 70th anniversary. On Saturday I got to play with my cousin Sam (the son of my dad’s cousin), his little brother Tim, and his little sister Gracie. All three are younger than me. I played Star Wars with Tim, and bubbles with Gracie. I just talked with Sam. My great granddad really likes Snoopy, so he gave me and my sister a lot of Snoopy things to take home with us. All of my family is very nice and I’m glad I got the chance to go visit them.

On Sunday night we flew home to Dallas and drove home at about 10:00pm.

Also, on Tuesday night, my dad, my sister, and I went to a McKinney Blue Thunder game. This was our first time to see them and we wanted to check them out before the season was over. They’re a new minor league baseball team that plays in the Continental Baseball League, which only has four teams. They play at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney. The level of play is very, very low. It’s even below the Fort Worth Cats and Grand Prairie AirHogs. The stadium is at a park with a lot of little league fields and it pretty much is like a high school field. It has a statue of Joe DiMaggio outside the stadium, which is neat. There are about 1,000 seats in the stadium. You don’t even get tickets when you pay to enter - they just stamp your hand. The players roam around the concourse and use the same bathroom as the fans. The players and employees are very friendly. It was a good place to go to once, but it’s not a place that I would ever go to again.

Results of last week’s poll:
Out of Will Carroll’s three winners of the trade deadline, which one do you think did the best?
Yankees – 60%
Dodgers – 22%
Pirates – 18%

Come back next week for a Tom Grieve Trade Analysis.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Newberg Night

This week I will document the events from Newberg Night at the Ballpark (Sunday night August 4th).

Newberg Night started at 4:00 in the Legends of the Game Museum with a Q&A session with Will Carroll and Joe Sheehan. Will does a column called ‘Under the Knife’ for Baseball Prospectus ( where he describes and analyzes different baseball injuries. He also works for as the NFL injury expert and has written a couple of books, including ‘The Juice’. For the last few Newberg Days at the Ballpark, Will has flown to Dallas to do Q&A sessions and is always very interesting. Joe is a co-founder and author of Baseball Prospectus and this was his first time to do this event

Will and Joe answered questions for about 45 minutes and here are some of the questions and answers they covered:

Q: Who were the three biggest winners and losers of the trade deadline?
A: Will did the winners and said:
- The Yankees because they got Pudge to solve their catching problem and got Nady and Marte without giving up many prospects.
- The Dodgers because they got Manny without giving up much at all.
- The Pirates because they finally made a plan

Joe did the losers and said:
- The Orioles because they didn’t trade any of their veterans who weren’t a part of their future.
- Mariners because they didn’t trade Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre or some of their other players.
- Giants for not trading Randy Winn or Bengie Molina and some other veterans that are on their roster.

Q: What are your expectations for Neftali Feliz?
A: Will said he has a huge upside and was the biggest part of the Teixeira trade. He also said that the Rangers are doing the right thing by not rushing him and that 2010 should be the earliest year that he’s in the bigs.

Q: How much money are Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia worth?
A: They said that with both of them (especially Sheets) you make your best offer to them, but leave without pushing too hard for them.

Q: Which team do you think will win each division and why?
AL West: Angels
AL Central: Tigers
AL East: Rays

NL West: D’Backs
NL Central: Cubs
NL East: Mets

AL West: Angels
AL Central: Twins
AL East: Red Sox

NL Central: Cubs
NL East:Mets

Q: Who will be in the World Series?
A: Will said that it would be New York and Chicago without clarifying which ones. (I think he was just joking.)

At 4:45 Jeff and Cindy Kuster did a presentation on the Hello Win Column Fund. Cindy is the daughter of Mark Holtz, who used to broadcast for the Rangers. They have a charity to help people with cancer. They talked about what the charity is for and introduced an 11-year-old girl (Chalisa Smith, 11) who had just recovered from cancer. The little girl and her family were being hosted by the Kusters for that night’s game.

Jamey then gave away a bunch of prizes to people who had donated money to the fund. You could donate money as you entered the museum and you got a raffle ticket for every $10. Also, anyone who donated $20 got a set of Nolan Ryan books donated by the Kusters. After the raffle prizes, there was an auction for some more prizes. The best prize was being in the booth for an inning with Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve. My dad and granddad tried to win it for me but it sold for 600 dollars.

At 5:00, Jon Daniels came to start his Q&A session. Here are some of the highlights:

Q: If it’s 2010, Padilla and Millwood are gone, and the only players you can get are ones that are currently in your system - who do you think would be in the starting rotation and why?
A: I asked this question and, before he answered, Jon asked me what I thought. I said Tommy Hunter, Eric Hurley, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Kasey Kiker. Jon said that that was a good list and also mentioned Derek Holland and Brandon McCarthy and said some of the people currently in the rotation are possibilities. Allen Cordrey filmed the Q&A session and sent me this link that shows Jon answering this question:

Q: Can you describe your relationship with Nolan Ryan?
A: Jon said that it’s a good relationship and that Nolan’s involved just the right amount. He brings Nolan in on decisions when it makes sense on a day-to-day basis. He also mentioned that people don’t realize how many things Nolan is involved in for the Rangers, including real estate, fan experience, branding, uniforms, and ticket prices.

Q: What do you plan to do with Nelson Cruz?
A: He would come up if they had an outfield injury or needed a bat.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment of the season?
A: The biggest disappointment was the start of the season because they had such high hopes out of spring training, and to start of the year so poorly wasn’t fun. The biggest surprise has been the resiliency of the players. He said they never give up.

Q: What are the priorities for this offseason?
- To sort out the catching and outfield situations
- Starting pitching
- Closer is not an off-season priority

Jon also said that:
- We shouldn’t read anything into the fact that the Rangers took a lot of college pitchers in this year’s draft. It’s not a new draft strategy. It had to do with the players that were on the board.
- He would like to have Milton Bradley back next year.
- Chris Davis is staying in the majors

At about 6:30, after the interviews, we went to our seats to watch the game. I was one row in front of Scott Lucas, Jamey Newberg, Will Carroll, Rob Cook, and Eleanor Czajka. Joe Sheehan was two rows behind us. I enjoyed talking to all of them and they were all really nice. I got to talk with them during the whole game. Will and I talked about fantasy football a lot and he helped me prepare for my draft.

It was a good game. It was close and the Rangers walked away victorious. In the top of the 1st, Luis Mendoza just didn’t have it as he allowed 3 runs to score. Joe Inglett grounded out to second to start off the game and that’s when Mendoza started to really struggle as he walked Marco Scutaro, then Alex Rios singled, then Lyle Overbay had an RBI double, Adam Lind had a sacrifice fly and then Matt Stairs had an RBI single that forced the pitching coach to the mound. After that, Mendoza got Brad Wilkerson to ground out.

In the bottom half of the inning the Rangers went down 1-2-3. So after one it was Blue Jays 3, Rangers 0. In the top of the second Luis Mendoza, really started to settle down as he got three straight groundouts in the inning. Josh Hamilton got hit by a pitch to start off the second inning, but then Marlon Byrd grounded into a fielder’s choice that was almost a double play ball and then David Murphy did ground into a double play. Both halves of the third were 1-2-3 innings. To lead off the 4th Adam Lind singled, followed by another single off the bat of Matt Stairs that moved Lind to 3rd. Brad Wilkerson then grounded out to second, but drove in Adam Lind. The next two hitters went down easily, so after the top of the 4th the Blue Jays were winning 4-0. In the bottom half, though, Ian Kinsler led off with a walk, followed by the Rangers’ first hit of the ballgame, a Gerald Laird two-run homer off of Blue Jays rookie David Purcey. Michael Young then grounded out, followed by a Josh Hamilton walk, but Marlon Byrd and David Murphy couldn’t drive him in. After the fourth it was Blue Jays 4, Rangers 2.

In the bottom of the 5th Chris Davis had a solo homer with one out, followed by Travis Metcalf hit by a pitch, and Ian Kinsler fly out and then Gerald Laird’s 2nd home run of the game. After five, the Rangers were leading 5-4. Nobody scored again until the bottom of the eighth. Michael Young singled to start off the inning, which brought the pitching change (Jesse Carlson came in). Jesse threw a wild pitch that moved Young to second and then he moved Young to third by committing a balk. Josh Hamilton then walked and Marlon Byrd had an RBI double. David Murphy then popped out and Brandon Boggs was intentionally walked. Chris Davis then got an RBI single and loaded the bases. Ramon Vazquez then had a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-4 and that would be the final score of the ballgame, as in the top of the 9th Eddie Guardado retired the Blue Jays on four batters and gave the Rangers the win.

Newberg Night was a blast and I would like to thank Jamey for organizing it and Will, Joe, and Jon for doing the Q&A sessions.

Results of last week’s poll:
Which player from each league do you think has had the best year so far?
Josh Hamilton – 100%
Both others – 0%
Brandon Webb – 50%
Ryan Braun – 38%
Jair Jurrjens – 12%

I’ll be taking a week off. Come back in two weeks when I’ll continue work on the Tom Grieve trade analysis for the first time in a while, unless the Rangers make a trade.