Sunday, December 27, 2009

All-Time Rangers #16-20

This week I will continue my Top 50 Rangers All-Time List, with numbers 16-20. My last entry in this series was on November 1st.

20. Mark Teixeira: 153 HR, 499 RBI, 426 R, .533 SLG (2nd, min. 3000 plate appearances), Silver Slugger (‘04), Gold Glove (‘05, ‘06), All-Star (‘05)
Mark is 7th all-time in Rangers history in home runs and 11th in both RBI’s and runs. But his best stat as a Ranger is his .533 slugging percentage, which is second in Rangers history behind only Juan Gonzalez. Mark also won a Silver Slugger Award in 2004, won Gold Glove Awards in both 2005 and 2006, and was an All-Star in 2005 with the Rangers. Even though he did not leave very well, his stats make him the 20th best Ranger of All-Time. Of course, Mark’s greatest contribution as a Ranger may be what we got in return for him from Atlanta.

19. Buddy Bell: Rangers Hall of Fame, 3623 AB, .293 AVG, 87 HR, 499 RBI, 471 R, Silver Slugger (‘84), Gold Glove (‘79-‘84), All-Star (‘80-‘82, ‘84), 200 Hit (‘79)
Buddy Bell is 9th all-time in batting average (with at least 1500 at-bats) with a .293 batting average, and he is also 17th in home runs and tied with Mark Teixeira for 11th in RBI’s. He is 9th all-time in Rangers history in at-bats, and also won one Silver Slugger, six Gold Gloves, was an All-Star four years, and got 200 hits in one season as a Ranger.

18. Julio Franco: 98 SB, .307 AVG (3rd), 55 HR, 331 RBI, All-Star MVP (‘90), Silver Slugger (‘89-‘91), All-Star (‘89-‘91), 200 Hits (‘91), Batting Title (‘91)

Julio won a batting title as a Ranger in 1991 with a .341 batting average, and also made the All-Star game that year. He also played in the All-Star game in ‘89 and ’90 and won a Silver Slugger in all three of those All-Star years. He was the All-Star MVP in 1990 and had 200 hits in 1991. His .307 career Rangers average is 3rd All-Time, and his 98 stolen bases place 5th in Rangers history.

17. Toby Harrah: Rangers Hall of Fame, 122 HR, 143 SB (2nd), 4188 AB, 546 RBI, 582 R, 668 BB (2nd), All-Star (‘75, ‘76)
Toby was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame this year, as he had the second most stolen bases and walks in franchise history, the 11th most home runs in Rangers history, the 7th most RBI’s and runs, and the 7th most at-bats, as well as two All-Star appearances. That gets him up to #17, but he needs better than a .257 career average to go any further.

16. Jim Sundberg: Rangers Hall of Fame, 4684 AB, 482 R, 544 BB (3rd), 480 RBI, 60 HR, Gold Glove (‘76-‘81), All-Star (‘74, ‘78)
Jim is also a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, and he definitely deserves it, even though he hit just .252 as a Ranger. He is 5th All-Time in at-bats (1st when he retired), 9th all-time in runs (2nd when he retired), 3rd in walks with 544 (2nd when he retired), 13th in RBI’s (4th when he retired), and he also won six Gold Gloves as a Ranger, and made it to two All-Star games.

Come back next week for #11-15 on my All-Time Rangers List.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Newberg Bound Edition Release Party

On Thursday night Jamey Newberg held his annual Newberg Report Bound Edition Release Party. It started at six and ended at ten, and it was very nice of the players to stick around since it was supposed to end at nine. It was a blast. It was held at Sherlock’s Pub & Grill in Arlington, the same place as last year. The crowd was the biggest yet, at about 600 people, and the players signing autographs were Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, and Rusty Greer. They signed autographs and did a Q&A session. They were all incredibly nice and I would like to thank them for being there.

My dad and I got there at 5pm and it was a good thing we did because the people who got there at 6pm waited in line for over two hours to get their autographs. We’ve been going to this event for six years and it’s gotten bigger each year.

After eating dinner and getting autographs, my dad and I sat and talked with Ted Price, who does the great Rangers Podcasts at, for a couple of hours while waiting for the autograph line to die down and the Q&A session to start. That was a lot of fun. TR Sullivan also came and sat with us for a while, so we got to talk with him too, which is always great. Eleanor Czajka and her mom were selling the books at the party, and Eleanor joined us at our table for a while too. Eleanor is one of my friends and I always enjoy seeing her (and reading her blog at I also got to talk with Jamey some while I was getting the autographs. Devin Pike was there too. He started a new website at Devin helped run the Q&A session and made all the announcements. Scott Lucas also sat with us at our table for a little while and so did Grant Smith, who does sports art (see, and I enjoyed talking to them. All of these people are very nice and it’s always fun to see them at the Newberg events.

Jamey’s book is terrific as always. The forewords this year are by Peter Gammons and Kevin Goldstein. Jamey included his prospect rankings (top 72, plus breakdowns of the players in each position that are on those lists), his breakdown of 2009, what to look forward to in 2010, his 20 players who could break out in 2010, all his reports for the season, the final 2009 statistics, the 2009 draft, and his awards for the 2009 season. And his kids, Erica and Max, did a great job writing the ‘About My Dad’ section again. It is well worth the $25.

The autograph session started at about 6:00 and went until around 9:40. After that, there was a 20-minute Q&A session with Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Derek Holland, and Tommy Hunter (Scott Feldman and Rusty Greer had to leave before the Q&A session). Each of the players gave very good answers, and were very nice to stay late to do the session. Below is a recap of the session.

The Marines collected toys for the Toys for Tots charity at the event. Ian Kinsler is the spokesperson of the Rangers’ Toys for Tots drive this year and kicked off the Q&A with a few words about the charity and the importance of helping kids have a good Christmas.

Jamey let me ask the first question of the Q&A.

Me: This question is for Chris. When you tied the California League record hitting streak of 35 games in 2007, were you happy with the tie or were you frustrated that you didn’t break the record?

Chris: To be honest with you, I was really surprised that I tied the record. I mean 35 games is a long time. There was actually one game where I hit the ball in the six-hole and, I mean when you look at me the first thing you think of is not speed, but on this particular day I dove into first base and beat it out to make it 28 games and I was like ‘I’m happy, I don’t even care what happens now’. I was happy to get 35 games and, you know what, I think someone demolished (the record) this year.

Q: How good were you guys in youth baseball (10-14 years old)?

Ian: I was OK. I was good. I was a skinny, small scrawny kid that played shortstop. I wasn’t anything special really. I tried to pitch and got lit up. I stuck at shortstop. At 13 years old, my dad made me choose between being a position player or a pitcher. I decided to be a position player.

Chris: I was awesome.

Derek: I was not awesome. I was the kid in the outfield picking flowers.

Tommy: I was the catcher.

Q: This question is for Derek Holland. When the Rangers play in the World Series in 2010, do you think you can pitch a shut-out?

Derek: (Laughing) I really don’t just think, I know that I can do that.

Q: Do you guys feel more excitement around this off-season compared to last off-season?

Chris: Yes, I do think we have what it takes.

(Ian says something to Chris that we couldn’t hear.)

Chris: You know, it’s really sad when I’m the most educated person up here. I am from East Texas and 2nd grade was very good to me. To answer your question, yes we are very excited about this season. For the last few years, we’ve been saying that it’s a good time to be a Rangers fan, but 2010 is really the season we’ve been setting up for. I don’t want to put any pressure on anybody out here but we look to make a good run on it this year,

Ian: Every year you go to spring training thinking you’re going to win the World Series. Every team does. With that being said, I’m going into my 5th year and this is the most excited I’ve been going into spring training. This is really the year I think we’re going to gel.

Q: This is for Chris. I hear you’ve been working with Clint Hurdle. Can you compare him to Rudy?

Chris: Rudy’s great and Clint is a really good dude. It’s kind of hard to form my opinion yet, because I haven’t spent much time with Clint. As far is Rudy’s concerned, I love Rudy to death. I’m going to miss him. He’s seriously one of the best in the business. Clint’s different in how he approaches the job. He’s a lot more motivational. He’s a very positive person and I think he’s going to be good for our young hitters. I think we’re really excited about working with him.

Q: What did you think about the Mariners picking up Cliff Lee and having to face that one-two punch of him and Felix Hernandez? What team are you most worried about in the AL West?

Ian: We don’t really concern ourselves with that. We as an offense have to produce runs somehow. There really isn’t extra thought that goes into it. When you’re in the big leagues, it’s very difficult to win, no matter who you’re facing. Obviously the Angels are the team to beat in the West because they won it last year.

Chris: I think the AL West is one of the strongest divisions, just as far as pitching is concerned. I know the Yankees have a lot of great pitchers, but the West is very competitive every year because we have teams with great offense and pitching. It’s not just one or the other. The Rangers have been known as an offensive team for a long time but last year we were probably better known for our pitching. But I think as far as next year is concerned, the Mariners have made a lot of moves in the offseason and are going to challenge in the AL West. From our standpoint, our plan as a hitter just needs to be to go out there and execute to the best of our ability.

Q: I have a question for Derek and Tommy. What’s a good age to learn how to throw a curve ball?

Tommy: Fastballs and change-ups is what we threw when we were younger. You don’t need to worry about curveballs until you’re older.

Derek: (Joking) If you’re left-handed, never throw one. All fastballs, down and away.

Jamey: I asked these guys about a month ago if they could do this and they all said ‘What time to you want me there?’ They do this for you guys. They asked what kind of time I needed from them and I said 6-9pm. Well, it’s 10pm now and four of these guys are still here. I want to thank them again for sharing their time with us.

I would like to thank Jamey for hosting this great event.

Come back next week for numbers 16-20 on my all-time Rangers list.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rangers Moves

This week the Rangers made many moves. The first was a trade with the Tigers in which they traded a player to be named later or cash considerations to Detroit for left-handed-reliever Clay Rapada. They then traded Kevin Millwood and $3 million dollars to Baltimore for Chris Ray and a Rule-5 draft pick that ended up being Ben Snyder. They then signed Rich Harden. Last, they seem to be on the verge of trading Max Ramirez to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell and $9 million. I will cover all of these, even the Ramirez/Lowell one, which isn’t a done deal.

Trade Evaluation (PTBNL or CC for Clay Rapada): Clay is 28 years old and is on the 40-man roster. He has only pitched 27.1 major league innings, and has a 4.94 ERA in those innings. He was 4-2 with a 2.76 ERA with AAA Toledo last year in 45.2 innings. In 2008 with Toledo, he had a 2.31 ERA in 35 innings pitched. This seems like a good trade to me, since we are giving up very little (and possibly nothing but cash) for a good left-handed pitcher. This is such a low-risk trade, there’s almost no way it could end up bad, but could end up very well.
Grade: A

Trade Evaluation (Millwood for Ray and Snyder): Chris Ray was dominant three years ago, as he had a 2.73 ERA with 33 saves and 51 strikeouts in 66 innings. Then in 2008, he had a 4.43 ERA along with 16 saves in 42.2 innings before getting injured and having to go through Tommy John surgery. When he came back from the surgery last year he had a 7.27 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched. But it’s normal for players to struggle in their first year back after Tommy John surgery. If he can come back from the surgery to his ’07 form, this could end up being a great trade, since we used the freed-up money to get Rich Harden, but it is also a risky one, because if he can’t come back from his surgery and pitch well, then we basically gave up Millwood for Rule-5 pick Ben Snyder. Ben Snyder, being a Rule-5 draft pick, has to stay on the major league team the whole season, or else he will return to his former team (the Giants). He has never pitched in the majors before, but with AA Richmond last year, he had a 2.88 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 97 innings pitched. He can also be a spot starter, as he started five games for Richmond. But we had to give up a lot, as Millwood went 13-10 last year for the Rangers, with a 3.67 ERA in 198.2 innings pitched. That was after having an ERA over five each of the two seasons before that. The Rangers did a good job with the money from trading Millwood, by signing Harden, and hopefully trading for Lowell, but I wish that they had gotten more for Millwood, and that they didn’t have to act like a small-market team by trading away money to make other moves. All in all, I think this trade was just okay.
Grade: B-

Free Agent Signing (Rich Harden): Rich had a solid year last year, going 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA for the Cubs in 141 innings pitched. That was after having a 10-2 record with a 2.07 ERA between Oakland and Chicago in 2008 in 148 innings. He is very injury-prone, as he has not thrown 150 innings in a year since 2004, but when he does pitch, he can be dominant. This is a very good signing, if he can stay healthy, as he could put us over the top and deep into the playoffs.
Grade: A+

Trade Evaluation (Ramirez for Lowell): If it goes through, this is a great trade, as Max Ramirez’ stock seemed to be dropping, and he didn’t seem to fit into the Rangers plans for the future anymore. He only hit .234 with 5 home runs and 43 RBI’s in AAA Oklahoma City in an injury-plagued 2009, and really seemed to fall out of the plans. Mike Lowell will be a great addition to the Rangers, if he can stay healthy, as he has problems with his hip. He hit .290 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI’s in 2009 with Boston, with almost identical stats in 2008, after having a career year in 2007, hitting .324 with 21 home runs and 120 RBI’s. Lowell can play third, first, and he can DH. It is not clear whether he will start or be a utility man yet next year, but either way this is a great trade.
Grade: A+

Come back next week for a summary of the Newberg Bound Edition Release Party.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Free Agent Outfielders

This week I analyzed the top free agent outfielders on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.

OF Garret Anderson – Garrett had a down year last year, as he had the lowest batting average of his career, the least amount of RBI’s in his career, and had less than 15 home runs for the first time since 2004 (his lowest total since 1997). He hit .268 with 13 HR’s and 61 RBI’s. But he still qualified as a Type B free agent. The Braves could use him, but don’t necessarily need him.
Good fits – Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants

OF Marlon Byrd – Byrd had a career year last year, leading the Rangers in RBI’s with 89 RBI’s. He also had a .283 average with 20 home runs. He qualifies as a Type B free agent. The Rangers could really use him back and offered him arbitration, but with Tom Hicks’ money situation, it doesn’t look like he will be coming back to Texas.
Good fits – Rangers, White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Giants

OF Jason Bay – Jason qualifies as a Type A free agent, and had a great year last year. He was an All-Star, as he hit .267 with a .384 OBP, 36 HR’s, and 119 RBI’s. The Red Sox need Jason and will be willing to offer him a lot of money to stay in Boston after the way he has played for them in the past one and a half years (after being traded from Pittsburgh).
Good fits – Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, Cubs

OF Johnny Damon – Johnny also qualifies as a Type A free agent, as he hit .282 with a .365 OBP, 24 HR’s, and 82 RBI’s last year for the Yankees. Johnny is asking for a three to four year contract from the Yankees, but the Yanks are only willing to go up to two years at this point. But there is still a good chance he will stay with the Yankees.
Good fits – Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs

OF Jermaine Dye – Jermaine is a Type A free agent, but he will be asking for more money than most will be willing to give him, as he is old, at age 36, and he hit just .250 last year with 27 HR’s and 81 RBI’s, which would explain why the White Sox declined his option. He definitely will not go back to Chicago.
Good fits – Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs

OF Matt Holliday – Matt is the best outfielder, if not the best player, in free agency this offseason, so he obviously qualifies as a Type A free agent. He hit .286 with 11 HR’s and 54 RBI’s for the A’s last year, and hit .353 with 13 HR’s and 55 RBI’s for the Cardinals. He will probably want to go to a hitter’s ballpark since he had so much success in St. Louis last year. The Cardinals probably will not resign him since Albert Pujols will be a free agent next year, but there is still a chance the Holliday will stay a Cardinal.
Good fits – Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Cubs

Come back next week for #16-20 on my All-Time Rangers List.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Agent Infielders

This week I analyzed the top free agent infielders on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.

1B/3B Russell Branyan – Russell only hit .251 last year, but he also hit 31 home runs with 76 RBI’s in just 431 at-bats. He was a huge part of the Mariners’ success in the early part of the year, hitting .333 in April, and .317 in May, with 11 home runs and 23 RBI’s in those two months. The Mariners need Branyan as they don’t have another good option at first base for this year, so I think he will go back to Seattle.
Good fits – Mariners, Yankees (as DH), Braves, Giants

1B Adam LaRoche – Adam had a great year after being traded to the Braves in 2009. With the Braves he hit .325 with a .401 OBP, 12 HR, and 40 RBI’s in 212 at-bats. He is a Type B free agent, so the Braves would get compensation if he signed with another team. But I don’t think he will sign with another team, because in Atlanta he was well-liked, played well, and the Braves can’t afford to lose him, as their second best option is Barbaro Canizares.
Good fits – Braves, Giants

2B Orlando Hudson – Orlando hit .283 last year, well down from his .305 average in 2008. He is not much of a power hitter, as his career high is just 15 home runs, and last year he hit only 9. The Dodgers will definitely try to keep him, as Ronnie Belliard is a free agent also, but I’m not sure if he’ll stay, since he was only a platoon player with Belliard in last year’s playoffs.
Good fits – Angels, Tigers, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants

2B/SS Marco Scutaro – Marco had a very good year last year, as he hit .282 with a .379 OBP, 12 HR, and 60 RBI’s. He is always a very good fielder, and he had a .984 fielding percentage. He had an OBP over .390 in every month except for June (.328) and September (.310). He could change a team with a poor middle infield from a borderline playoff team to a definite playoff team.
Good fits – Angels, Twins, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants

2B/3B/SS/OF Mark DeRosa – Mark had a down year last year (hitting .270 with Cleveland, .228 with St. Louis). But the three previous years, he had averages of .296, .293, and .285, respectively with 44 home runs and 233 RBI’s total. The Cardinals might not bring him back, since they will have to pay Pujols big next off-season, and Mark will probably want to start somewhere, and not be on the bench.
Good fits – White Sox, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants

3B Chone Figgins – Chone is on the Angels’ top priority list along with John Lackey. Chone had a very good year last year, hitting .298 with 5 home runs and 54 RBI’s along with a .395 OBP. That was following a down year in 2008, when he hit just .276. Chone is a good lead-off hitter who could help a lot of clubs, even though he was just 3-for-35 in last year’s playoffs.
Good fits – Angels, Twins, Phillies

SS Orlando Cabrera – Orlando qualifies as a Type A free agent, and the Twins will probably not be looking to keep him in Minnesota, as they traded for JJ Hardy earlier in the offseason. Orlando had a fine year batting average wise, hitting .280 with the A’s, and .289 with the Twins. But he did not have a very good on-base percentage, with only a .318 OBP with Oakland, and a .313 OBP with Minnesota. He also is not much of a power hitter, with just 9 home runs and 77 RBI’s total last year. He is a good player, but he will probably want a contract larger than what he deserves.
Good fits – Tigers, Cardinals

SS Miguel Tejada – Miguel is also a type A free agent, and he will also want a large contract. The Astros almost surely will not resign him for next year, as they are not considered a contender for next year, or anytime in the near future. He had a very good year last year, hitting .313 with 14 home runs and 86 RBI’s. He is 36, so he probably won’t get a long-term contract.
Good fits – Angels, Tigers, Red Sox, Cubs

Come back next week for free agent outfielders.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Free Agent Starting Pitchers

This week I analyzed the top free agent starting pitchers on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.

John Lackey – Lackey qualifies as a Type A free agent, which means that whichever team signs him would have to give up their first-round pick, unless they have one of the top 14 picks (in which case they would give up their second-round pick). Lackey has had an ERA under 3.85 every year since 2005. He has been consistently good, and could push a borderline playoff team into elite status.
Good fits – Twins, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers

Erik Bedard – Bedard is very injury prone and qualifies as a Type B free agent, so he will probably sign with a team who has enough depth to recover if he gets injured again. Other teams with big budgets could also go after him. Bedard hasn’t thrown 90 innings since ’07, and has never thrown 200 in his career. He would be a risky sign, but could also turn out to be a big addition.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs

Justin Duchscherer – Duchscherer is also a Type B free agent, but he is coming off an injury. He didn’t pitch at all last year, but in 2008 (his only season of starting so far) he was great, with a 2.54 ERA on the year. When he pitches, he is dominant. There are a lot of teams who would love to have this guy on their team.
Good fits –Twins, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies

Kelvim Escobar – Escobar is about as injury-prone as you get, as he has thrown 5 innings in the past two years. But when he has pitched, he’s been effective. In the last three years where he’s pitched a substantial amount of innings, his ERA has been 3.40, 3.61, and 3.93. He is likely to just sign a one-year contract since he is always injured.
Good fits – White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, D-Backs

Rich Harden – Rich qualifies as a Type B free agent. Harden had a let-down, although solid, year in 2009. After having a 2.34 ERA with the A’s, and a 1.77 ERA with the Cubs in 2008, he had only a 4.09 ERA for the Cubs in ’09. He still had a solid year, and he would be a solid #2 starter wherever he goes.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers

Joel Pineiro – After a horrible year in 2008 (5.15 ERA), Pineiro had a breakout 2009, winning 15 games with a 3.49 ERA. He did well enough to qualify as a Type B free agent, but it looks as if he’ll go somewhere else instead of staying in St. Louis.
Good fits – Braves, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees

Randy Wolf – Randy qualified as a Type A free agent, after he had a great 2009 for the Dodgers, throwing 214.1 innings, with a 3.23 ERA. But the Dodgers can’t afford to lose him, so it’s unlikely that he will leave LA. He has also never left the National League, so an AL team would be unlikely.
Good fits – Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, Braves

Come back next week for free agent infielders.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brennan Garr Interview

This week I interviewed Rangers pitcher Brennan Garr. Brennan has been in Frisco for the last couple of years, and I have gotten to know him there. He is a great guy and I would like to thank him for doing this interview for my blog.

Me: Can you please describe the whole experience of the Arizona Fall League and what that experience has been like so far?

Brennan: So far it has been a great experience. The part I have enjoyed the most is meeting different players from other organizations. A lot of the guys have been in the big leagues before so I have been really trying to pick their brains and learn as much as I can from them. Another thing I like is being able to wear the big league uniform and I feel proud to represent the Rangers.

Me: When you were in college, did you enjoy hitting or pitching more?

Brennan: That’s a tough question. I really enjoyed hitting in college because I was successful at it and I liked the feeling of hitting a home run, but when I got the chance to pitch, I liked that better because the game was always on the line and the feeling of striking someone out to end the game and get the save was it for me.

Me: Why do you think the Rangers chose to use you as a pitcher, even though you led Northern Colorado in batting average, hitting .346, and had 44 RBI’s in just 46 starts?

Brennan: I think they chose me because I had a lot more potential to be playing in the big leagues as a pitcher because I was very raw, only throwing, I think, 33 innings in my college career and my arm was very fresh.

Me: What did you change in your approach in 2007 after you had a 6.35 ERA in April, but then had a 1.29 ERA in May, a 2.38 ERA in June, and a 1.13 ERA in July of that year?

Brennan: Well, I was very fortunate to have Danny Clark as my pitching coach in Spokane my first year and then having him in 2007. When I struggled in April, we looked over some video and since he knows me and knows my mechanics very well he found something I was doing. We fixed it and made an adjustment. From then on I was locating my pitches, throwing strikes, and being confident.

Me: Were you excited to make the 2007 Midwest All-Star team or would you rather have had the off days?

Brennan: I was really excited about making the team. My parents flew out to see me throw and it was a good feeling knowing I had a good first half of the season and was rewarded by being able to go to the game. It was also cool meeting guys from other organizations and I still see a lot of those guys now when we’re playing each other.

Me: You’ve had a lot of success when pitching with runners in scoring position (for example you had a .150 batting average against with runners in scoring position in 2008). What do you do to change your approach with runners in scoring position that leads to this success?

Brennan: When I have runners on I have a different kind of focus that I can’t really explain. I get a little angry when runners are about to score on me and I feel like I have a lot more conviction with my pitches during that time. Also, having runners not score is a big thing for me as a reliever because it is an important part of my job when coming out of the pen.

Me: How disappointed were you to be put on the High-A team to start the ’09 season after pitching all of ’08 in Frisco?

Brennan: I was very disappointed, but I wanted to take advantage of what I could by being back in Bakersfield. I never got down or felt like I was getting messed around with by the organization. I got a lot out of pitching again in High-A. I was able to work on mechanics, throw pitches in counts that I normally wouldn’t and learned a whole lot more on how to pitch.

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

Brennan: I did notice a difference. I thought the 3-4-5 hitters were a lot better and all the hitters were a lot more patient. I really learned the importance of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters.

Me: What meant more to you, being the D-1 MVP in both 2005 and 2006, being named Division-I First Team All-Independent, or being on the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for National Player of the Year? Why?

Brennan: Being on the Brooks Wallace Watch List was pretty exciting for me because I felt like it was hard to get recognized since I was from a smaller D-1 school. Also, when I got to pro ball and looked back at that list, there are some really good players on that list and I felt honored to be a part of that.

Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?

Brennan: There was a game in Spokane that I really remember. I remember it because I threw 4.1 innings and struck out like 9, I think, didn’t give up any runs, and at that time I was very young as a pitcher and I had never thrown that many innings before and still haven’t.

Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

Brennan: That’s a hard one because I have met so many good friends, but I’ll try to name three. Andrew Laughter, Beau Jones, and Chris Gradoville (I played with him one summer in college ball). My favorite Latin players are: Pedro Strop, Jumbo Diaz, and Kendy Batista

Me: Can you please rate each of the ballparks in the Rangers organization that youʼve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Brennan: Spokane – 8 - great atmosphere. Great place to start.
Clinton – 6 - the field was in great shape. The locker room was redone and huge. The town was terrible and smelled.
Bakersfield - 3 - Didn’t like the town, the field was in bad shape, no fans. Only good thing was the travel was easy.
Frisco - 9 - best field I have ever played in. There are a lot of fans. The city is great with a lot of things to do.

Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

Brennan: Being away from family and friends for so long.

Me: Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?

Brennan: Hank Conger- Played against him all the way up through the system. Hitter you have to be careful with.
Tommy Everidge - I played with him one summer college season, so we know each other, so it was always a cat and mouse game with him every at bat.
Eric Young Jr.-Tough hitter. Very hard to strike out. Very fast

Me: What was your favorite team growing up?

Brennan: Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were a new team in Denver while I was growing up, so I followed them closely. I loved watching the Blake Street Bombers. (Todd Walker, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, and Vinny Castilla)

Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?

Brennan: Besides baseball, I played basketball and was on the golf team in high school. I was better at golf.

Me: What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?

Brennan: I have been pretty fortunate with injuries. Nothing major. In college I tore my meniscus in my knee and had to have surgery, but was playing again in 4 weeks and it hasn’t bothered me since.

Me: What are your hobbies?

Brennan: In the off season I do a lot of small game, big game, and waterfowl hunting. I also do a lot of ice fishing in the mountains of Colorado. I still play golf also.

I would like to thank Brennan again. It was very nice of him to take his time while he’s in Arizona for the Arizona Fall League to do this for me.

Come back next week for a free agent special.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Entry This Week

I just got back from a trip to Indianapolis and am taking the week off. We had a family reunion for my great grandfather's 95th birthday.

I will say that I'm disappointed both that the World Series is over and that the Yankees won. And am I the only one that got tired of hearing talk about how 'long' the Yankees and their fans have been waiting for a championship? I think most fans would be pretty happy to 'endure' a 9 year wait between championships.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

#21-25 All-Time Rangers List

I’m rooting against the Yankee and, also, I’m rooting for a long World Series.

I don’t like the 2-3-2 playoff format. The team with home field advantage shouldn’t have the chance of not coming back home if they lose one of the first two games.

The Rangers made the unfortunate decision to close the Legends of the Game Museum. Yesterday was its last day before closing permanently. I don’t understand this decision. The museum was unique part of the ballpark and from what I’ve read was profitable. They plan to turn the top two levels into meeting rooms, which is lame. They plan to turn the bottom floor into a Rangers Hall of Fame (open during home games), which is a great idea. But they could have done that and still left the rest of the museum in place. Half of the second floor was already dedicated to Rangers history, so they could have turned that area into the Rangers Hall of Fame and left the rest of the museum alone. There used to be a lot of things you could do at the Ballpark in the off-season. My dad and I would sometimes go to the museum on a Saturday morning in the winter and then eat lunch at the Fridays that used to be in right field. We could then walk around the stadium and read the bricks that outlined each year’s teams, showing each player on the team (with stats) and any awards won by team members. Now the museum is closed, the restaurant is closed, and they tore up all of the bricks (except for two years’ worth, which sit by themselves looking odd and lonely). Now the only thing you can do there during the offseason is shop at the team store. That’s really sad.

This week I will continue my Top 50 Rangers All-Time List. I will do numbers 21-25. My last entry in this series was on August 16th.

25. Bobby Witt: 104-104 (3rd in wins), 1680.2 IP (3rd), 1405 K (2nd), 4.85 ERA

Bobby appeared in 430 games for the Rangers over parts of 11 seasons, which included 2 different stints with the team. He started with the team in 1986 and was part of the Jose Canseco trade to Oakland in 1992. He returned to the club in August 1995 as part of a trade with the Marlins. He was a major part of the Rangers’ first-ever playoff team, going 16-12 in 1996. He was later sent to the Cardinals during the 1998 season. Bobby is 3rd on the Rangers’ all-time list in wins, is third in innings pitched with 1680.2 IP, and is third in strikeouts with 1405 of them. If it weren’t for him having 104 losses (the same amount of losses as he has wins) and a 4.85 ERA (not at all a great ERA), he’d be higher on the list. But the stats he has are good enough to get him #25 on this list. He also had a cool moment in 1997, when he hit a home run at Dodger Stadium during the first year of interleague play, becoming the first AL pitcher to homer in years. Bobby was a good guy (I got to meet him once) with a tough attitude, and I’m glad he was able to win a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in his last year as a player.

24. Kevin Brown: 40 CG, 78 W, 1278.2 IP, 742 K, 3.81 ERA, .549 W%, 78-64 W-L, All-Star (‘92), 21-Game Winner (‘92), T-Win Leader (‘92)

Kevin was 78-64 as a Ranger, a .549 winning percentage - very solid. He also had a 3.81 ERA, which is very good. He had a great season in 1992, as he won 21 games, which was tied for the league lead, and was an All-Star. He also threw 40 complete games, and struck out 742 in 1278.2 innings pitched. If he had stayed a Ranger for maybe even just one more year, he would’ve easily cracked the top 20 on my list. But he left the Rangers after 8 years to go to Baltimore as a free agent in 1995, later taking his sunny personality to Florida for their first championship season.

23. Will Clark: .308 AVG (2nd), 397 RBI, 77 HR, All-Star (‘94)

Will is 2nd all-time among Rangers in batting average with a .308 average. He also had 77 home runs and 397 RBI’s as a Ranger. He was an American League All-Star in 1994, his first season with the Rangers. Clark was only with the Rangers for five years (in between Rafael Palmeiro’s two runs with the club), but was a key part of the 1996 and 1998 playoff teams (both with his stats and with his leadership). He did not play well in the postseason with the Rangers, going 3-for-27 between the two years. He was also hurt a lot, playing more than 125 games only once. His batting average plus his contribution to the Rangers’ first two playoff teams is what got him so high up on this list.

22. Pete O’Brien: 3351 AB, .273 AVG, 114 HR, 487 RBI

Pete O’Brien had 3,351 at-bats as a Ranger over seven seasons, which is a lot of at-bats with one team. He also had a decent batting average, as he hit .273 in his career as a Ranger. His power numbers as a Ranger are very good, though, as he had 114 home runs, and 487 RBI’s. Even though his batting average is just average, his power numbers make him #22 on this list.

21. Larry Parrish: 149 HR, 522 RBI, .264 AVG, All-Star (‘87)

Larry Parrish’s average as a Ranger wasn’t all that hot, at just .264, but his power numbers are very good and make up for that. He hit 149 home runs as a Ranger over seven seasons, and he also had 522 RBI’s. He made the All-Star team in 1987, and that was his only All-Star game as a Ranger. His power numbers deserved to be higher on this list, but with a .264 batting average, you can only go so high.

Come back next week for a ‘Predictions vs. Results’ Special.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

World Series Predictions

This week I will give my predictions for the World Series for both the Phillies vs. Yankees scenario and for the Phillies vs. Angels scenario.

Phillies vs. Yankees: Philadelphia in 7
Here’s how I would have it playing out:
Game 1: CC Sabathia (NYY) over Cliff Lee (PHI) in New York
Game 2: Cole Hamels (PHI) over AJ Burnett (NYY) in New York
Game 3: Pedro Martinez (PHI) over Andy Pettite (NYY) in Philadelphia
Game 4: Cliff Lee (PHI) over CC Sabathia (NYY) in Philadelphia
Game 5: AJ Burnett (NYY) over Cole Hamels (PHI) in Philadelphia
Game 6: Andy Pettite (NYY) over Pedro Martinez (PHI) in New York
Game 7: Cliff Lee (PHI) over CC Sabathia (NYY) in New York

I think that Cliff Lee will be the difference-maker in this series. Nobody so far has been able to match up with CC Sabathia this postseason, but Cliff Lee is pitching just as well as CC right now, and I think will win two out of three times facing CC. AJ Burnett and Cole Hamels have both been struggling this postseason, so I think they are about equal. Both Pedro and Pettite are good clutch pitchers, and so I have them splitting, too.

The offenses of both these teams are the best two in all of baseball. Here’s how I break down their lineups:
1: Derek Jeter (NYY) over Jimmy Rollins (PHI) – Jimmy Rollins just isn’t himself this year, and, even if he was, he’s still no Derek Jeter.
2: Shane Victorino (PHI) over Johnny Damon (NYY) – Shane Victorino is hitting .361 this postseason while Johnny Damon is only hitting .211.
3: Chase Utley (PHI) over Mark Teixeira (NYY) – Mark Teixeira has only a .256 OBP this postseason, while Chase Utley has a .439 OBP.
4: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) tied with Ryan Howard (PHI) – Even though A-ROD has better stats so far, Ryan has been to the World Series, while A-ROD has not.
5: Jayson Werth (PHI) over Hideki Matsui (NYY) – Jayson already has 5 home runs this postseason, while Matsui only has 1.
6: Raul Ibanez (PHI) over Robinson Cano (NYY) – Robinson has only five RBI’s, while Raul Ibanez has nine.
7: Jorge Posada (NYY) over Pedro Feliz (PHI) – Pedro is hitting .161 this postseason. That’s horrible.
8: Carlos Ruiz (PHI) over Nick Swisher (NYY) – Carlos is hitting .346 with a .500 OBP so far this postseason, while Swisher is hitting .103.

Phillies vs. Angels: Philadelphia in 6
Here’s how I have it playing out:
Game 1: Cliff Lee (PHI) over John Lackey (LAA) in Anaheim
Game 2: Joe Saunders (LAA) over Cole Hamels (PHI) in Anaheim
Game 3: Pedro Martinez (PHI) over Jered Weaver (LAA) in Philadelphia
Game 4: Cliff Lee (PHI) over John Lackey (LAA) in Philadelphia
Game 5: Joe Saunders (LAA) over Cole Hamels (PHI) in Philadelphia
Game 6: Pedro Martinez (PHI) over Jered Weaver (LAA) in Anaheim

John Lackey couldn’t quite match up with CC, so I don’t think he’ll be able to match up with Cliff Lee. Even though Joe Saunders isn’t that great, Cole Hamels has been horrible this postseason, so I have Joe winning both their match-ups, and then Pedro is just a good clutch pitcher.

The Phillies offense, in my opinion, is better than the Angels offense by a fairly large margin:
1: Jimmy Rollins (PHI) over Chone Figgins (LAA) – Figgins has two hits this postseason and is hitting .065.
2: Shane Victorino (PHI) over Bobby Abreu (LAA) – Bobby is hitting only .267 this postseason, which is only because Victorino is hitting .361.
3: Chase Utley (PHI) over Torii Hunter (LAA) – Torii is hitting only .276 with only one home run this postseason.
4: Ryan Howard (PHI) over Vladimir Guerrero (LAA) – Howard tied the record for most consecutive playoff games with an RBI earlier this postseason with 8. Vlad can’t match that.
5: Jayson Werth (PHI) over Juan Rivera (LAA) – Jayson has 5 home runs. Juan has none.
6: Raul Ibanez (PHI) over Howie Kendrick (LAA) – Howie has worked no walks this postseason, and that really hurts his OBP.
7: Kendry Morales (LAA) over Pedro Feliz (PHI) – Even Kendry’s .200 batting average is better than Pedro’s .161 batting average.
8: Carlos Ruiz (PHI) over Mike Napoli (LAA) – Carlos is hitting .346 with a .500 OBP. Mike is hitting .154 with a .267 OBP.

Come back next week for my Results vs. Predictions Comparison.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

End-of-Season All-Stars

This week I will give my all-stars for the year in both the NL and AL.

AL Starters:

C: Joe Mauer, MIN (.365 AVG, 28 HR, 96 RBI): He leads all catchers (with at least 7 at-bats) in batting average at .365. He also leads all catchers in home runs and is second in RBI’s.

1B: Mark Teixeira, NYY (.292 AVG, 39 HR, 122 RBI): Mark leads all first basemen in RBI’s, is tied for the lead in home runs, and has a very solid batting average.

2B: Aaron Hill, TOR (.286 AVG, 36 HR, 108 RBI): Aaron has a solid batting average, and leads all AL second baseman in both home runs and RBI’s.

SS: Derek Jeter, NYY (.334 AVG, 18 HR, 66 RBI): Derek leads all shortstops in batting average, is tied for 4th in RBI’s, and is 1st in home runs.

3B: Michael Young, TEX (.322 AVG, 22 HR, 68 RBI): Michael leads all AL third basemen in batting average, and has solid power numbers at 22 home runs and 68 RBI’s.

OF: Jason Bay, BOS (.267 AVG, 36 HR, 119 RBI): Jason leads all AL outfielders in both home runs and RBI’s, so, even though he’s only hitting .267, he’s still deserving.

OF: Michael Cuddyer, MIN (.276 AVG, 32 HR, 94 RBI): Michael is third among AL outfielders in home runs and has 94 RBI’s, so even though his average is a little low, he still deserves it.

OF: Bobby Abreu, LAA (.293 AVG, 15 HR, 103 RBI): Bobby has 103 RBI’s, a .293 batting average, and, most impressive, a .390 on-base percentage.

SP: Zack Grienke, KC (16-8, 2.16 ERA, 242 K): Zack had the lowest ERA in the majors, had 242 strikeouts, and had 16 wins with the Royals.

AL Reserves:

C: Victor Martinez, BOS (.303 AVG, 23 HR, 108 RBI)
1B: Miguel Cabrera, DET (.324 AVG, 34 HR, 103 RBI)
Kendry Morales, LAA (.306, 34 HR, 108 RBI)
2B: Ben Zobrist, TB (.297 AVG, 27 HR, 91 RBI)
Robinson Cano, NYY (.320 AVG, 25 HR, 85 RBI)
SS: Jason Bartlett, TB (.320 AVG, 14 HR, 66 RBI)
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE (.308 AVG, 6 HR, 68 RBI)
3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.281 AVG, 33 HR, 113 RBI)
Alex Rodriguez, NYY (.286 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI)
OF: Nick Markakis, BAL (.293 AVG, 18 HR, 101 RBI)
Shin-Soo Choo, CLE (.300 AVG, 20 HR, 86 RBI)
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA (.352 AVG, 11 HR, 46 RBI)
Marlon Byrd, TEX (.283 AVG, 20 HR, 89 RBI)
P: Felix Hernandez, SEA (19-5, 2.49 ERA, 217 K)
CC Sabathia, NYY (19-8, 3.37 ERA, 197 K)
Justin Verlander, DET (19-9, 3.45 ERA, 269 K)
Roy Halladay, TOR (17-10, 2.70 ERA, 208 K)
Scott Feldman, TEX (17-8, 4.08 ERA, 113 K)
Jon Lester, BOS (15-8, 3.41 ERA, 225 K)
Jon Danks, CWS (13-11, 3.77 ERA, 149 K)
Josh Beckett, BOS (17-6, 3.86 ERA, 199 K)
Andrew Bailey, OAK (26 SV, 1.84 ERA, 91 K)
Mariano Rivera, NYY (44 SV, 1.76 ERA, 72 K)
Joe Nathan, MIN (47 SV, 2.10 ERA, 89 K)
Brian Fuentes, LAA (48 SV, 3.93 ERA, 46 K)
Jonathon Papelbon, BOS (38 SV, 1.85 ERA, 76 SV)
David Aardsma, SEA (38 SV, 2.52 ERA, 80 K)

Players per Team:
New York Yankees – 6
Boston Red Sox – 5
Texas Rangers – 3
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 3
Minnesota Twins – 3
Tampa Bay Rays – 3
Seattle Mariners – 3
Cleveland Indians – 2
Toronto Blue Jays – 2
Detroit Tigers – 2
Baltimore Orioles – 1
Kansas City Royals – 1
Chicago White Sox – 1
Oakland Athletics – 1

NL Starters:

C: Brian McCann, ATL (.281 AVG, 21 HR, 94 RBI): Brian leads all NL catchers in home runs and RBI’s, and also has a very respectable batting average.

1B: Albert Pujols, STL (.327 AVG, 47 HR, 135 RBI): Albert leads NL first basemen in batting average and home runs, and is 3rd in RBI’s.

2B: Chase Utley, PHI (.282 AVG, 31 HR, 93 RBI): Chase is second among NL second basemen in RBI’s, is tied for 1st in home runs, and has a solid batting average.

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA (.342 AVG, 24 HR, 106 RBI): Hanley leads NL shortstops in batting average, RBI’s, and is second in homers.

3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (.292 AVG, 33 HR, 106 RBI): Ryan has a good batting average, leads NL third basemen in RBI’s, and is 2nd in home runs.

OF: Ryan Braun, MIL (.320 AVG, 32 HR, 114 RBI): Ryan has a great batting average, leads all NL outfielders in RBI’s, and is 4th among NL outfielders in home runs.

OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (.297 AVG, 26 HR, 101 RBI): Matt Kemp is solid in batting average, home runs, and RBI’s, and is one of the only ones to be solid in all three categories.

OF: Carlos Lee, HOU (.300 AVG, 26 HR, 102 RBI): Carlos is hitting .300 (a century-mark), had 100 RBI (a century-mark), and had 25 homeruns (another century-mark).

SP: Chris Carpenter, STL (17-4, 2.24 ERA, 144 K): Chris leads the NL in ERA, and is up there in wins with 17.

NL Reserves:

C: Miguel Montero, ARI (.294 AVG, 16 HR, 59 RBI)
1B: Prince Fielder, MIL (.299 AVG, 46 HR, 141 RBI)
Ryan Howard, PHI (.279 AVG, 45 HR, 141 RBI)
2B: Brandon Phillips, CIN (.276 AVG, 20 HR, 98 RBI)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL (.297 AVG, 32 HR, 92 RBI)
Miguel Tejada, HOU (.313 AVG, 14 HR, 86 RBI)
3B: Pablo Sandoval, SF (.330 AVG, 25 HR, 90 RBI)
Mark Reynolds, ARI (.260 AVG, 44 HR, 102 RBI)
OF: Adam Dunn, WAS (.267 AVG, 38 HR, 105 RBI)
Andre Ethier, LAD (.271 AVG, 31 HR, 106 RBI)
Jayson Werth, PHI (.268 AVG, 36 HR, 99 RBI)
Raul Ibanez, PHI (.272 AVG, 34 HR, 93 RBI)
Justin Upton, ARI (.300 AVG, 26 HR, 86 RBI)
P: Adam Wainwright, STL (19-8, 2.63 ERA, 212 K)
Tim Lincecum, SF (15-7, 2.48 ERA, 261 K)
Ted Lilly, CHC (12-9, 3.10 ERA, 151 K)
Johan Santana, NYM (13-9, 3.13 ERA, 146 K)
Ubaldo Jimenez, COL (15-12, 3.47 ERA, 198 K)
Bronson Arroyo, CIN (15-13, 3.84 ERA, 127 K)
Josh Johnson, FLA (15-5, 3.23 ERA, 191 K)
Ross Ohlendorf, PIT (11-10, 3.92 ERA, 109 K)
Heath Bell, SD (42 SV, 2.71 ERA, 79 K)
Francisco Cordero, CIN (39 SV, 2.16 ERA, 58 K)
Ryan Franklin, STL (38 SV, 1.92 ERA, 44 K)
Brian Wilson, SF (38 SV, 2.74 ERA, 83 K)
Jonathon Broxton, LAD (36 SV, 2.61 ERA, 114 K)
Trevor Hoffman, MIL (37 SV, 1.83 ERA, 48 K)

Players per Team:
St. Louis Cardinals – 4
Philadelphia Phillies – 4
Milwaukee Brewers – 3
Los Angeles Dodgers – 3
Arizona Diamondbacks – 3
Cincinnati Reds – 3
San Francisco Giants – 3
Colorado Rockies – 2
Houston Astros – 2
Florida Marlins – 2
Washington Nationals – 2
Chicago Cubs – 1
New York Mets – 1
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
San Diego Padres – 1
Atlanta Braves – 1

Come back next week for playoff predictions.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

End of Season Awards

This week I will give my end-of-the-season awards.

Rangers Awards:

MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.322 AVG, 22 HR, 68 RBI): Michael Young is the Rangers’ MVP even after missing most of September. If he hadn’t done that, he would’ve gotten 200 hits, possibly 25 home runs, and probably 75 RBI’s. That’s pretty good, but he doesn’t even need that to be the MVP.
Runner-up: Marlon Byrd, TEX (.283 AVG, 20 HR, 89 RBI)

Cy Young: Scott Feldman, TEX (17-8, 4.08 ERA, 113 K): Scott Feldman threw the second most innings on the team, had the second most strikeouts on the team, the most wins on the team, and the second best ERA among starters on the team, and he didn’t even start the first month of the season.
Runner-up: Kevin Millwood, TEX (13-10, 3.67 ERA, 123 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.267 AVG, 6 HR, 40 RBI): Elvis should be the AL ROY, so he’s obviously the Rangers ROY.
Runner-up: Julio Borbon, TEX (.312 AVG, 4 HR, 20 RBI)

AL Awards:

MVP: Joe Mauer, MIN (.365 AVG, 28 HR, 96 RBI): He missed the first month of the season, is ‘only’ (by MVP standards) tied for 16th in the AL in RBI’s, and is ‘only’ tied for 17th in the AL in HR’s. But his .365 batting average makes up for all of that and more. In my mind, he’s the obvious choice.
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, DET (.324 AVG, 34 HR, 103 RBI)

Cy Young: Zack Grienke, KC (16-8, 2.16 ERA, 242 K): He is on the Royals and he still has 16 wins. That’s pretty incredible. He leads all of baseball with a 2.16 ERA. He’s also 2nd in the AL in strikeouts with 242. I think that those two categories will make up for the three extra wins that CC and Verlander have on him.
Runner-up: Justin Verlander, DET (19-9, 3.45 ERA, 269 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.267 AVG, 6 HR, 40 RBI): Elvis may not have the best stats out of all the rookies, but he has the most stolen bases and the best defense by far out of all of them. And he had a solid average to go along with that.
Runner-up: Gordon Beckham, CWS (.270 AVG, 14 HR, 63 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, MIN (87-76, 1st place): Ron took a team that really wasn’t very good to the playoffs and had a huge run at the end to get them there. I don’t think there’s much more to say.
Runner-up: Mike Scioscia, LAA (97-65, 1st place)

NL Awards:

MVP: Albert Pujols, STL (.327 AVG, 47 HR, 135 RBI): Albert Pujols was 3rd in the NL in RBI’s. He was 3rd in the NL in batting average. He was 1st in the NL in home runs. He was 1st in the NL in on-base percentage. And he’s 1st in the NL for my MVP vote.
Runner-up: Prince Fielder, MIL (.299 AVG, 46 HR, 141 RBI)

Cy Young: Chris Carpenter, STL (17-4, 2.24 ERA, 144 K): Chris leads the NL in ERA at an outstanding 2.24, and is second in the majors only to Zack Grienke. He also has 17 wins and, to me, had a better season than the other Cy-Young-worthy Cardinal.
Runner-up: Adam Wainwright, STL (19-8, 2.63 ERA, 212 K)

Rookie of the Year: Garrett Jones, PIT (.293 AVG, 21 HR, 44 RBI): Garrett is a Pirate, I know. And Pirates don’t win awards, I know. And the Pirates don’t have anyone most people in Pittsburgh have ever heard of, I know. But Garrett leads all NL rookies with 21 home runs, has 44 RBI’s, and has a solid .293 batting average. This is probably the only time you’ll see me say a Pirate should win an award, so read this closely. A Pirate deserves to win this award.
Runner-up: J.A. Happ, PHI (12-4, 2.93 ERA, 119 K)

Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, COL (72-42, 2nd place): The Rockies were 20-28 when he took over from Clint Hurdle and now they are 92-70 and in the playoffs. I’d have to say that makes him a deserving manager.
Runner-up: Tony La Russa, STL (91-71, 1st place)

Come back next week for a playoff analysis.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Playoff Predictions

The Rangers finished their season today with a record of 87-75, twelve games over .500. If they were in the AL Central, they would’ve won it. In fact, they have the 4th-best record in the AL. This was a great season. The pitching and defense were great, but the offense let them down. They played great against the good teams, but struggled against the bad teams. That’s the sign of a talented young team, but it cost us the playoffs, because ultimately it’s hard to make the postseason when you’re losing to teams like the A’s. But nothing should take away from the fact that it was a great season. I can’t wait for 2010, when the Rangers will win the AL West.

Following are my playoff predictions.


Colorado vs. Philadelphia: Colorado in 4

The Rockies will have a good #1 starter in the playoffs. Ubaldo Jimenez was on the ’07 playoff team for the Rocks and had a 2.25 ERA in his three postseason starts. This year he is 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA and 198 strikeouts. The Rockies will have a solid (not great, but solid) #2 starter. Aaron Cook was also on the ’07 team, and had very similar numbers this year. He had a 4.12 ERA (4.16 this year) in 166 IP (158 this year). They will also have good #3 and 4 guys. Jason Marquis is 15-12 with a 3.95 ERA this year, and even though he has given up four or more runs in 3 of his last 4 starts, he has three years of playoff experience and should get back on track. Jorge De La Rosa is 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA. He has also pitched well of late, pitching 6 quality starts in his last 8 games. The Rockies can also hit, as they are 2nd in the AL in runs scored.

Unlike the Rockies, the Phillies might not have a shut-down #1 guy. Cole Hamels has really struggled this year, as he is 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. And even though he did well in the playoffs last year, he was hot going into them then. He isn’t now. He has had three straight bad outings. And Cliff Lee, after a hot streak after the trade to the Phils, has really struggled since. He has had only one quality start in his last seven outings. He’ll need to get it back on track in his first year of the playoffs (and I don’t think he will). The #3 starter, Joe Blanton, has a 4.05 ERA and has allowed five runs in six innings of work or less in both of his last two starts. J.A. Happ, a rookie, might be the best in the group. But he probably won’t even pitch if they’re behind in the series when it comes to his turn. He has a 2.85 ERA this year, and is hot. He has allowed three runs or less in 9 of his last 10 starts. The Phillies have won games off of their NL-leading offense, but that doesn’t help as much in the playoffs. That’s why I think the Rockies will win.

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles: St. Louis in 3

Chris Carpenter is an NL Cy Young candidate and the NL ERA leader. Adam Wainwright is an NL Cy Young candidate and is the MLB wins leader. Joel Pineiro is 4th in the NL in wins. They have Albert Pujols. They have Matt Holliday. They have allowed the 3rd least runs in the NL. That is all it takes and more to beat a team that is 38-35 since the All-Star break. The Cardinals are 42-28 since the All-Star break. I think that pretty much explains my prediction.

The Dodgers, as I said above, are only 38-35 since the All-Star break and are extremely cold. They are 3-7 in their last 10. They also don’t have great pitching. Their number one starter has a 4.03 ERA (Chad Billingsley), and although that’s a good number 2, it’s not a good number 1. And even though Randy Wolf has done well this year, he has never been to the playoffs, so he might struggle under the pressure. And while Kershaw has done well, this is his first full season in the majors and also his first playoffs. Hiroki Kuroda is out for the first round. Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier are all in slumps. They just don’t have a good team.


Detroit/Minnesota vs. New York:

The Yankees are not going to get by the Tigers or Twins in my opinion. The Tigers have great pitching and the Twins are hot. The Yankees’ playoff rotation consists of CC Sabathia, who has struggled mightily in the playoffs in his career, AJ Burnett, who has gotten only two wins in his last ten starts, and Joba Chamberlain, who is still young, unpolished, and inconsistent. That is not good. And you just can’t live off the home run, and runs in general, in the playoffs like you can in the regular season. I think that they have a great regular season roster, but that when it comes to the playoffs, they don’t have a very good team. It would be different if CC had pitched better in the playoffs before, or if AJ Burnett wasn’t pitching the way he has been lately.

Boston vs. Los Angeles: Boston in 4

The Red Sox have a good playoff pitching staff. Josh Beckett just came back from injury, and Jon Lester is still pitching well. Clay Buchholz is also pitching well. Those three are solid for the playoffs, but compared to the Angels’ rotation, they are incredible. The Red Sox also have a pretty good offense. Here are the first six:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. Kevin Youkilis
4. Jason Bay
5. Victor Martinez
6. Mike Lowell (.353 AVG with 2 HR’s and 15 RBI’s in ’04 playoffs)

Normally, pitching wins you series, but, against the Angels, it could be either pitching or hitting.

The Angels have some of the worst pitching in the AL. It’s the 5th worst in the AL and worst in the playoffs. John Lackey has allowed 12 runs in his last 13 innings (three starts). Ervin Santana has a 5.10 ERA. Joe Saunders has a 4.62 ERA. Jared Weaver has the lowest ERA of the group (3.75), and he’s the #4 guy. Plus, their offense is old. Very old. They depend too much on guys like Vladimir Guerrero, and Torii Hunter, who’s coming off an injury. I just don’t see them going anywhere playoff-wise.


St. Louis over Colorado in 6


Detroit/Minnesota over Boston in 7

World Series:

St. Louis over Detroit/Minnesota in 6

Come back next week for my Championship Series Analysis.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Museum Closing

This week will be a very short post. I’ll be back next week with a regular post.

Tom Hicks has decided to close the Legends of the Game Museum at the ballpark at the end of the season. I think that that is just wrong. Since Hicks is trying to sell the club, he should let the next owners decide what to do with it. But Hicks decided to close it himself. There is a petition website at, so if you want to go sign up for it, there it is. The Legends of the Game Museum is one of the things that makes the Ballpark unique and it’s one of the nicest baseball museums around.

Also, recently, I have gotten to go to the TV booth with Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve a couple of times. We won an ‘inning in the booth with Josh and Tom’ at the charity auction at Newberg Night in August. The first time I went was a rain-out game, but that was awesome, because my dad, my granddad, and I got to hang out in the press box through the whole delay (about three hours). While everyone was waiting out the rain delay, we got to talk with Josh, Tom, Evan Grant, TR Sullivan, Eric Nadel, Anthony Andro, etc. It was a blast. And then they invited us back (gave us a rain check), so I got to go up there again recently to watch them do an inning. I would like to thank Josh and Tom for letting me be up there for so long during the rain delay, and then inviting me back for another inning on top of that. It was very nice of them.

Come back next week for my playoff predictions (assuming that they are all clinched on Sunday) or my post-season All-Stars.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

AL Playoff Race Special

This week I will do an AL Playoff Race Special. I will cover every team that I think is still in contention for the playoffs.

AL East:

1. New York Yankees (94-54, +6): They have basically won the division. They only play the Red Sox three more times, and have three games against the Royals and three games against the Rays. The Yankees have scored the most runs in all of baseball (845) and are one of only two teams that have score 800 runs on the year. But they have allowed the 6th most runs in the AL and if the season ended right now, they would have allowed the 2nd most runs out of all the playoff teams (and have allowed only three less than the Angels). Their playoff rotation will be CC Sabathia at #1, who has a career 7.92 playoff ERA in five starts, in which he walked 22 batters in just 25 innings and has allowed four home runs. #2 is AJ Burnett, who has won only one game in his last 10 starts. He also had a 6.03 ERA in August, and has a 4.97 ERA so far in September. #3 will probably be Andy Pettitte, who not only has an ERA over 4.80 in all but two months this season, but three of his last five starts have been horrible. A lot of people are saying that they are the playoff favorite, but I disagree, because the playoffs aren’t about hitting, they’re about pitching, and that’s why I have them losing in the first round if they end up playing the Tigers.

2. Boston Red Sox (87-59, -6 of div., +7 of WC): The Red Sox have pretty much clinched the Wild Card. They are seven games up on the Rangers, and don’t play the Rangers anymore this season. But the Red Sox also have a major problem. They are only 35-37 on the road, and, as the Wild Card, that means they will not have home-field advantage. They will most likely be facing the Angels, who are 44-27 at home. Not a good combination for Boston. They do have a pretty good top two in their rotation, though, in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. I just don’t see them getting by the Angels with that road record, though, and if they do get by them, I just don’t see them getting by the next team they play after that. They also have only a 28-21 record against lefties, and the Angels will have a lefty in their playoff rotation.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (75-73, E in div., -13 in WC)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (66-81, E in div., E in WC)

5. Baltimore Orioles (60-87, E in div., E in WC)

AL Central:

1. Detroit Tigers (78-69, +3): The Tigers are three games up on Minnesota, and play the Twins six more times this year, including four at home. Like the Yankees and Red Sox, though, the Tigers have a major fault. They have allowed more runs than they have scored. They have scored 670 runs (11th in the AL), and have allowed 673 runs (4th in the AL). But that can also be good, because that means that they have been successful in close games (26-20), which there seems to be a lot of in the playoffs. I think that they are a dangerous team in the AL for the playoffs because they have Justin Verlander (16-8, 3.34) who already has playoff experience, Jarrod Washburn (9-9, 3.78) who also has playoff experience, and Edwin Jackson (12-7, 3.37), who also has playoff experience. Two of those three pitchers were All-Stars this year (Verlander and Jackson), and one of them was a near miss (Washburn). If they decide to go with the four-man rotation, they also have Rick Porcello (13-9, 4.22). Even though they haven’t scored a whole lot of runs, Magglio Ordonez (playoff experience) has just started to turn it on, Miguel Cabrera (playoff experience) is hitting .330 with 30 home runs, Brandon Inge (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Curtis Granderson (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Carlos Guillen (playoff experience) has a .344 batting average in his three playoff years, Placido Polanco (playoff experience) has struck out only 38 times this year, Aubrey Huff has 83 RBI’s, and Adam Everett (playoff experience) is a great defensive shortstop.

2. Minnesota Twins (75-72, -3 of div., -12.5 of WC): I don’t think that the Twins will make the playoffs because of their pitching. If they do make the playoffs, I don’t think they’ll get out of the first round because of their pitching. If they do make it out of the first round, I don’t think they’ll get out of the second round because of their pitching. They won’t make it to the World Series. There is no way. Their number one pitcher has a 4.35 ERA (Scott Baker). Their number two pitcher has a 4.91 ERA (Carl Pavano). Their number three starter has a 4.34 ERA (Nick Blackburn). Their number four pitcher has a 5.71 ERA (Francisco Liriano). Their number five pitcher hasn’t thrown 75 innings yet this season (Brian Duensing). No matter how well Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hit, you can’t make up for that kind of pitching when you make it into the postseason (if they do make it there).

3. Chicago White Sox (72-76, -6.5 of div., E in WC)

4. Cleveland Indians (61-86, E in div., E in WC)

5. Kansas City Royals (60-87, E in div., E in WC)

AL West:

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (more commonly known as the dumbest name in baseball) (88-59, +7.5): The Angels, unless they have a Mets-esque meltdown, will win the West and play Boston in the first round of the playoffs. But I don’t think they’ll make it all the way to the World Series, because of their pitching. Unless the Marlins win the NL Wild Card, the Angels will have allowed the most runs out of all the playoff teams. You can’t win many playoff games by scoring 5, 6, 7 runs, because you normally can’t do that since you’ll only be facing the best pitchers on the other team. I just don’t see them going very far in the playoffs with that kind of pitching.

2. Texas Rangers (80-66, -7.5 of div., -7 of WC): Unless the Rangers have a Rockie-like run and the Angels have a Met-like meltdown, the Rangers will not make the playoffs this year. But the Rangers have stayed in the race for this long due to going completely opposite from their usual selves. There are only two teams in the AL that have allowed less runs than the Rangers. But the Rangers are only 8th in runs scored, and have picked some of the most inopportune times to be shut out or to score only one or two runs. But unlike the other five teams in the AL playoff race, the Rangers don’t really have a big Achilles’ heel when it comes to the situational records. But the one the Rangers do have (besides runs scored) is on-base percentage (.319). The Royals and the Mariners are the only American League teams with worse on-base percentages.

3. Seattle Mariners (77-71, -11.5 of div., -11 of WC)

4. Oakland Athletics (69-78, E in div., E in WC)

Come back next week for my end-of-season All-Stars.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NL Playoff Race Special

This week I will do an NL Playoff Race Special. I will cover all the teams who would make the playoffs if the season stopped right now in the NL. I think those four teams are the only ones that are really in contention for the playoffs, as I believe all of the races are currently locked up, outside of finding out between the Dodgers and Rockies who will be the NL West winner and who will be the NL Wild Card winner.

NL East:

1. Philadelphia (80-59, +6): Philly is in 1st place in the East and 21 games over .500 because they can score runs in bunches, and their pitching is good enough to win with that kind of run support. They have scored 700 runs this year, which is 2nd in the NL (behind the Rockies), and 6th in all of baseball (behind the Rockies, Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rays). But their pitching is why I don’t like them in the playoffs. They are 6th in the NL in runs allowed, which is sufficient to win you games in the regular season, but in the playoffs, they won’t be able to get that much run support, since they will only be facing the best pitchers. Also, Brad Lidge has blown 10 saves this season, and saved only 28, which means he blows the save 26.3% of the time that he gets the opportunity. That is just not a good playoff team, in my opinion.

2. Florida (75-66, -6 of div., -6.5 of WC)

3. Atlanta (73-68, -8 of div., -8.5 of WC)

4. New York (62-79, -19 of div., -19.5 of WC)

5. Washington (49-92, -32 of div., -32.5 of WC)

NL Central:

1. St. Louis (84-58, +10.5): St. Louis is like the exact opposite of Philadelphia (which is why I like them to do well in the playoffs). The Cardinals are 6th in the AL in runs scored, although it’s been much better than that since they traded for Matt Holliday. But then there is the fact that they’ve allowed the 3rd least amount of runs in the NL, behind only the Giants and the Dodgers (I don’t know how the Dodgers haven’t allowed more runs than that). And that will only get better in the playoffs with a 3-man rotation, when they throw out MLB ERA Leader Chris Carpenter, MLB Wins Leader (and also 4th in MLB ERA) Adam Wainwright, and 14-10, 3.21 ERA Joel Pineiro. That is going to be incredibly hard to beat. The three pitchers have a combined record of 48-20. That’s got to be the best playoff rotation in baseball. Another position where they are opposite from Philly is their closer. Ryan Franklin has converted 37 of 40 save opportunities, much unlike Brad Lidge of the Phillies. And if you need big hits in a close game (like a home run, maybe), they have Albert Pujols (47 HR’s), Matt Holliday (23 HR’s), Mark DeRosa (21 HR’s), Ryan Ludwick (20 HR’s), and Colby Rasmus (14 HR’s in only 406 AB’s). That’s a pretty good team.

2. Chicago (72-67, -10.5 of div., -8.5 of WC)

3. Houston (69-72, -14.5 of div., -12.5 of WC)

4. Milwaukee (67-73, -16 of div., -14 of WC)

5. Cincinnati (63-78, -20.5 of div., -18.5 of WC)

6. Pittsburgh (54-85, -28.5 of div., -26.5 of WC)

NL West:

1. Los Angeles (84-58, +2): Even though the Dodgers have allowed the 2nd least amount of runs in the NL, I’m going to say the same thing that I did at the beginning of the season. They don’t have enough pitching. Chad Billingsley is wearing down. He has seen his ERA go up in each of his last four starts. Randy Wolf has his first ERA under 4.20 since 2002, so you can’t count on him to keep it up. Hiroki Kuroda has an ERA of 4.00, and is just coming off a concussion from a line drive going off his head, so you don’t know how he’s going to recover. And, finally, Clayton Kershaw is 22 years old and in his 2nd major league season, so you don’t know how he’ll handle the playoff pressure. That’s their playoff rotation. There’s a question mark for all of them. That’s not a good rotation, in my opinion. I don’t care what the stats say, I just don’t see any way they can go deep in the playoffs with that rotation, no matter what the offense does (which probably won’t be much).

2. Colorado (82-60, -2 of div., +5.5 of WC): Colorado has been amazing since Clint Hurdle left and Jim Tracy took over as manager. They were so far out of it. Their season was pretty much over in mid-May. Then Tracy took over, and now they are five and a half games up on the Giants for the Wild Card, and have gotten all the way back to only two games back of the Dodgers in the division. That is incredible. They have scored the most runs in the National League, and are the hottest team in all of baseball. If they can keep their hot streak up (like they did in 2007), they have a chance to go all the way.

3. San Francisco (76-65, -7.5 of div., -5.5 of WC)

4. San Diego (63-79, -21 of div., -19 of WC)

5. Arizona (62-80, -22 of div., -20 of WC)

Come back next week for an AL Playoff Race Special.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pina and Smith Traded

This week Thomas Diamond was DFA’d by the Rangers, and the Chicago Cubs picked him up off of waivers, which puts him on their 40-man roster. I’d like to wish him good luck, and say that I was sad to see him go since he was such a nice guy. I hope he does really well with the Cubs.

The Rangers also made a trade this week. They traded C Manny Pina and OF Tim Smith to the Kansas City Royals for P Danny Gutierrez.

Danny Gutierrez: Danny was a big Royals prospect. He was ranked as the 7th best prospect in the system by Baseball America. They also ranked his curveball the best in the Royals’ minor league system, and ranked his control the best in the Royals’ minor league system. In 2008, Gutierrez went 4-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 90 innings pitched. He struck out 104 batters, and walked only 25, which is 4.16 strikeouts per walk, a very good rate. His batting average against was .246, which is a pretty good number, but not great. This year he has only pitched 27.1 innings due to injury, but has pitched well, striking out 25, and is 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA. This year he has a .173 opponents batting average, which is terrific, especially for a guy just coming off an injury. Apparently, Danny had some off-field issues with the Royals that made him available to be traded, and otherwise, there’s no way this trade would have been made.

Manny Pina: Manny was a solid prospect for the Rangers. He was a very good fielder, but wasn’t too good a hitter or game-caller. This year with the Roughriders, he started off the year with an incredible April, as he hit .481, with a .518 on-base percentage, and a .731 slugging percentage. That was the highest April batting average in the minors. But since then, he is hitting just .216, with a .274 on-base percentage, and a .327 slugging percentage. He hit 8 home runs with 42 RBI’s as a ‘Rider in ’09. He also made the 2009 Texas League All-Star Team. He hit .267 with 3 home runs and 33 RBI’s combined between Bakersfield and Frisco in ’08. Manny will actually stay in the Texas league, as the Royals have the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the Texas League. If the RoughRiders sweep the Rockhounds, and the Naturals hold up their 2-game lead, then Pina could actually play against Frisco in the Championship Series if both teams win the first playoff series.

Tim Smith: Tim was also a solid Rangers prospect, and he also plays at a position that is very deep for the Rangers. Just like Pina, he will play on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Between Bakersfield, the Arizona League Rangers, and the Roughriders, Tim is hitting .321 this year, with 8 home runs and 53 RBI’s this year. He has a .392 on-base percentage, along with a .465 slugging percentage. In 2008, he hit .300, with a .359 on-base percentage, and a .450 slugging percentage. He had 13 home runs and 70 RBI’s last year, also. Due to the Rangers’ depth at the position, Tim was unlikely to play much of a role with the Rangers at the major league level.

Trade Evaluation: I think this is a very good trade. It seems like we are getting a lot more potential in return than we are giving up in this return. Plus, we are giving up players that play positions we are very deep at, so it isn’t too big a loss. The Rangers are doing exactly what you’re supposed to do with a deep farm system. As long as Danny Gutierrez gets his act together off the field, this trade should be a big W.
Grade: A

Come back next week for a playoff race special.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Awards

This week I will give my August Awards. These are who I would give my awards to as if the season ended today. Note all stats are as of 8/29.

Also, thanks to Scott Lucas for letting me fill in for him last week in writing the daily minor league report when I was in Hickory watching the Crawdads. If you didn’t get the chance to read those reports, I’ve included the description of the Crawdads game I saw below, along with a little more information from the trip.

Rangers Awards:

Rangers MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.327 AVG, 22 HR, 66 RBI): Michael leads the team in at-bats, hits, batting average, and walks. He’s also 3rd in home runs and tied for 2nd in RBI’s.
Runner-up: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.247 AVG, 28 HR, 73 RBI)

Cy Young: Scott Feldman (13-4, 3.87 ERA, 86 K): Scott is tied for 4th in the AL in wins, and he wasn’t even a starter in April, which is pretty incredible. He’s also 3rd among Rangers starters in ERA and is 2nd on the team in innings pitched behind Kevin Millwood.
Runner-up: Kevin Millwood, TEX (10-8, 3.63 ERA, 99 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.267 AVG, 5 HR, 26 RBI): Not only is he tied for 5th among AL rookies in batting average, 1st among AL rookies in stolen bases, tied for 4th in home runs, and tied for 5th in RBI’s, but he also has a shot at winning a Gold Glove. As a rookie.
Runner-up: Tommy Hunter, TEX (6-3, 2.95 ERA, 44 K)

AL Awards:

MVP: Joe Mauer, MIN (.372 AVG, 25 HR, 79 RBI): Joe missed the first month of the season and he’s still my AL MVP. He leads all of baseball in batting average at .372, a very, very high batting average. He also has 25 home runs, tied for 11th in the AL, and he has 79 RBI’s, 13th in the AL. Even though his power numbers don’t crack the top 10, his batting average makes up for that.
Runner-up: Aaron Hill, TOR (.289 AVG, 31 HR, 85 RBI)

Cy Young: Justin Verlander, DET (14-7, 3.38 ERA, 211 K): Justin leads the AL in strikeouts with 211, and is only behind Tim Lincecum in all the majors, and it’s pretty hard to have more strikeouts than Tim Lincecum. He is also tied for 2nd in the AL in wins, and is 7th in the AL in ERA. To me, that’s a Cy Young Award winner.
Runner-up: Scott Feldman, TEX (13-4, 3.87 ERA, 86 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.267 AVG, 5 HR, 26 RBI): Not only is he tied for 5th among AL rookies in batting average, 1st among AL rookies in stolen bases, tied for 4th in home runs, and tied for 5th in RBI’s, but he also has a shot at winning a Gold Glove. I think that should make him the AL Rookie of the Year.
Runner-up: Nolan Reimold, BAL (.276 AVG, 12 HR, 39 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, DET (68-59, 1st place): If the season ended now, the Tigers would have gone from last place in 2008 (yes, even behind the 75-87 Kansas City Royals) to 1st place in 2009. Even though, they are in a weak division (the Rangers would be in 1st, so it’s really not fair), that’s still a pretty big jump, and that deserves Manager of the Year.
Runner-up: Ron Washington, TEX (71-56, 2nd place)

NL Awards:

MVP: Albert Pujols, STL (.316 AVG, 41 HR, 108 RBI): You can tell that he is struggling (for him) right now, because I actually had to put some thought into this one. It was between him, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard. But Pujols leads the 3 of them in batting average and on-base percentage, leads all of baseball in home runs, but is last between the three of them in RBI’s, which made it competitive.
Runner-up: Prince Fielder, MIL (.305 AVG, 36 HR, 118 RBI)

Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, SF (13-4, 2.33 ERA, 222 K): Tim is tied for 4th in the NL in wins (which for him is actually not so good), but to make up for it, he leads all of the majors in strikeouts, and is one of only two players with over 200 strikeouts so far this year. He is also 2nd in the NL in ERA at 2.33, behind only Chris Carpenter.
Runner-up: Chris Carpenter, STL (14-3, 2.20 ERA, 115 K)

Rookie of the Year: Andrew McCutchen, PIT (.295 AVG, 10 HR, 43 RBI): I know, a Pirate getting an Award. Amazing, huh? Doesn’t happen very often. But, Andrew deserves it, as among NL rookies he is 2nd in batting average, tied for 3rd in home runs, 2nd in RBI, 3rd in SB, and 2nd in slugging percentage. I think that’s a solid resume for getting the ROY.
Runner-up: Garret Jones, PIT (.289 AVG, 15 HR, 30 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, COL (52-29, 2nd place) The Rockies were 20-28 when Tracy took over. Now they are 72-57. The Rockies were 8.5 games back of the wild card when Tracy took over. Now they are leading it by 2 games. The Rockies were 12.5 games out of the division lead when Tracy took over. Now they are 4 back. I think that pretty much explains my pick.
Runner-up: Bruce Bochy, SF (70-59, 3rd place)

I just got back from a week-long trip to Myrtle Beach with my parents, sister, and grandparents. My dad and I made the five-hour drive from Myrtle Beach to Hickory during the week for a one-night stay so that we could see a Hickory Crawdads game. The Rangers moved their low-A team to Hickory this year and we wanted to check it out. The Crawdads’ stadium is pretty old and fairly plain but a nice place to see a game. If you’re in the area, I recommend it. We saw the game (described below), stayed in a Quality Inn less than a mile away, and then drove back to Myrtle Beach the next morning. We also caught a little baseball action in Myrtle Beach, seeing a Pelicans game (the Pelicans are the Braves’ high-A team). It was a good trip and a good way to spend the last week before school. Here is my report from the Tuesday August 19th Crawdads game:

There was an announced crowd of 976 at L.P. Frans Stadium but there couldn’t have been more than 300 people in the stands. The Crawdads beat the team that must have the lamest team name (Drive) in the South Atlantic League. Cody Podraza went 2-for-5 with an RBI, and he was very aggressive on the base paths. He got on in the 1st after working an 8-pitch single. He then stole 2nd off the Drive catcher, who for the evening bounced 3 out of his 5 throws to 2nd base (and most of his warm-ups too). He took 3rd when the catcher's throw to 2nd just barely trickled by the 2nd baseman, when most players would have just stayed at 2nd. He also advanced from 1st to 3rd on an error by the 3rd baseman, where the ball didn't go far at all from bag, and just made it safely.

After Matt West made a two-base error on a ball that went right through his legs, he made up for it by getting an RBI single to cut the lead in half, which Eric Fry then turned into a tie game in the very next at-bat with an RBI single.

In the 9th inning, when the Crawdads were down 5-2, Cody Podraza singled in Leonel De Los Santos with one out to make it a 5-3 lead for the Drive. Podraza then stole 2nd again, followed by a Michael Hollander walk. Pinch-hitter Edward Koncel then struck out on three terrible pitches. Cristian Santana then came up and, with a 3-2 count and the team down to its final strike, he hit a no-doubt-about-it walk-off home run over the left field fence to end the game at 6-5 Crawdads.

Jared Bolden went 3-for-4 with 2 stolen bases in the game.

Jake Brigham started the game and went only 5 innings, allowing 3 runs, all earned, on 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 3. Carlos Pimentel then came in and pitched 4 very solid innings. He allowed 2 runs, but neither of them were earned, as in the 8th, Eric Fry, the RF, and Michael Hollander, the 2B, had a near collision that turned an out into a double, followed by a bloop single, and a ball thrown away to let the runner on 1st to go to 2nd, leaving men on 2nd and 3rd with 0 outs. He then got two outs, leaving both runners right where they were. He followed that by inducing a ground ball that would have gotten him out of the inning, but Michael Hollander booted it, costing the Crawdads two runs, on his 2nd rough play of the inning.

If it weren't for a perfect throw from Cristian Santana to nail a runner at home in the 9th to end the inning, he never would have been able to hit his walk-off home run.

Interesting facts about watching a game at the Crawdads’ stadium:
- Cristian Santana has the worst walk-up music ever. And this is on a team that, as a whole, has the worst walk-up music ever. Only two players have walk-up songs that aren’t painful.
-After the 5th inning, they have every kid in the entire stadium run across the outfield. I don't get the point of it, really.
-They have 56 ads on the outfield wall.
-If I counted right, 91 Crawdads have made the majors including: Jim Abbott, Chad Bradford, Joe Crede, Brendan Donnelly, Jon Garland, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Lee, Nate McLouth, Aaron Myette, Magglio Ordonez, Pete Rose Jr., Aaron Rowand, Chris Shelton, and Chris Young.
- The stadium is named after the founder of the Pepsi company.

Come back next week for a playoff race special.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#26-30 All-Time Rangers List

This week I will give numbers 26-30 on my Top 50 All-Time Ranger List. See my June 14th entry for the previous installment.

30. Rick Helling: 68-51, 1008 IP, 687 K, .571 W%, 4.86 ERA, 20-Game Winner (‘98), T-Win Leader (‘98)

Rick is 4th in winning percentage among Rangers pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched, and 2nd among starters with at least 500 IP. That’s pretty good by itself, but it’s even better when you’re 5th in team history in wins, 8th in innings pitched, and 8th in strikeouts. He also was tied (with Roger Clemens) for the league lead in wins in 1998 with 20. He helped lead the Rangers to the division title in 1998 and 1999 and pitched reasonably well in two losses to the Yankees, with quality starts in both games. The only think holding him back from moving up on this list is his ERA, which is 4.86, which is just 42nd in team history among pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched.

29. Danny Darwin: 224 G, 55-52, 872 IP, 566 K, 3.72 ERA

Danny is 8th in team history in wins with 55, even though he was only a starter in 3 of his 8 seasons as a Ranger. But when he did start, he went the whole way 22.3 percent of the time, which is very, very, very good. He is also 14th in appearances, 10th in innings pitched, and 10th in strikeouts. Not to mention the fact that he is 7th in ERA among pitchers with a minimum of 400 innings pitched.

28. Jose Guzman: 66 W, 24 CG, 1013.2 IP, 715 K, 66-62, 3.90 ERA

Jose is 7th in Rangers history in wins with 66, only two behind Rick Helling, but in 7 less starts. He also has a very good ERA as a Ranger at 3.90, 14th in team history among pitchers with 400 innings pitched or more in their Rangers career. He also has 24 complete games as a Ranger, which ranks 9th in the Rangers record books. And don’t forget that he is 6th in innings pitched and 7th in strikeouts, so that just adds on to an already solid resume.

27. Francisco Cordero: 49 saves in a season, 356 G (3rd), 117 saves (3rd), 21-20, 3.45 ERA, 393 K, 297 IP, All-Star (‘04)

Co-Co Cordero is 3rd in both games and saves in Rangers history, and the 4th place Ranger in saves is nowhere close, 34 saves behind Cordero. Cordero also had 49 saves in 2004, only 4 behind Mariano Rivera for the major league lead in saves that season. He also made the All-Star team that season. He had a winning record as a Ranger, with a record of 21-20, and has 393 strikeouts in only 297 innings pitched, 11.9 strikeouts per every 9 innings pitched, which is a great rate.

26. Jeff Russell: 445 G (2nd), 134 saves (2nd), 3.73 ERA, 42-40, Rolaids Fireman of Year (‘89), All-Star (‘88, ‘89), Save-Leader (‘89)

Jeff Russell had a great Ranger career, ranking 2nd in both games and saves, behind only Kenny Rogers in appearances, and behind only John Wetteland in saves (only 16 saves back). He also won the Rolaids Fireman of the Year Award in 1989, was an All-Star in both 1988 and 1989, and was the AL saves leader in 1989 with 38. He also had 42 wins as a Ranger in his career, a pretty high number for a closer. He is 8th in ERA in team history among all players with at least 400 career innings pitched as a Ranger. He was also an important part of the bullpen in 1996, in his second stint as a Ranger, helping the team win their first division title.

I will be taking next week off, so come back in two weeks for my August Awards.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Myrtle Beach Trip Report

Last month my grandparents and I took a road trip to Myrtle Beach and stopped and saw some baseball on the way there and the way back. This week I’ll describe the baseball-related parts of the trip.

Birmingham Barons:

We left on July 9th and that day we drove to Birmingham and then saw a Barons game that night. The Barons are a double-A affiliate of the White Sox. The stadium (Regions Park) is very nice. It has a cool look to it on the outside and some nice history inside of it. On every entrance from the concourse to the seating area they have a picture of a player who had played baseball in Birmingham and some info about them, such as:
Michael Jordan
Frank Thomas
Willie Mays
Joe Crede
Bobby Jenks
Robin Ventura
Bo Jackson
Reggie Jackson

They also had some others that I had never heard of. The only bad thing I have to say about the stadium is that they have too many ads. They have two layers of them all around the outfield wall. They have some on the back wall. They even have ads as between-inning entertainment, and they have sponsors for the foul balls. So every time a foul ball was hit, the PA announcer would say something like “That foul ball is brought to you by AAA Batteries.” They also have horrible hot dogs. That had to be one of the worst hot dogs I’ve ever had, so if you go to see a Barons game, do not get a hot dog.

It was a good game. The Barons ended up beating the Mississippi Braves 7-3. The Braves’ #2 prospect (according to Baseball America), Jason Heyward went 1-for-3 with an RBI. The Braves’ #5 prospect, Freddie Freeman went 0-2 with a run and two walks, while the White Sox’ #5 prospect Jordan Danks (yes, he is John Danks’ brother) went 0-5 with two strikeouts. The Braves’ pitcher, Kyle Cofield had a no-hitter through three innings and looked great, but then lost it and ended up giving up 7 runs, all earned, on five hits and five walks in just 4.2 innings, raising his ERA to 4.00. Justin Cassel picked up the win for the Barons, as he went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs, only two of them earned, but he somehow managed to get no strikeouts. CJ Retherford had a good game for the Barons, going 1-2 with 3 RBI’s.
The Barons had some very interesting fans. In the section behind us there was a man who would just randomly start barking like a dog. Also, they shot out toy rockets to the fans one inning. One fan then turned around and shot his into the Barons dugout, and another shot his onto the field during the game.

Winston-Salem Dash:

The next day we drove up to Winston-Salem to see some relatives (my granddad’s brother Herb and his wife Annette), and while we were there we saw a Dash game (the Dash are also affiliated with the White Sox, their High A team). They played the Lynchburg Hillcats (affiliated with the Pirates). The Dash play at Ernie Shore Field also known as Wake Forest Baseball Park also known as some other name I can’t remember. The stadium is very, very old. My granddad saw a game there as a kid 50 years ago, when the Yankees with Mickey Mantle came to town for an exhibition game. They were supposed to have a new stadium this year that looked like it will be really nice, but it had some complications so it won’t open until next year.

It is a very small stadium, but we had great seats, as we were only four rows behind home plate. The game wasn’t so good, though, and it was very long. The Dash starting pitcher, Justin Edwards, was horrible. He allowed 8 runs, all earned, on 9 hits and 2 walks in just 2.1 innings. The White Sox didn’t have any of their top prospects playing in this game. Tyler Kuhn had a good game for them, though, as he went 2-4 with 2 RBI’s. The Pirates didn’t have any of their top prospects in this game, either. Matt McSwain, the starting pitcher for the Hillcats in this game, didn’t fare too well, either, as he allowed all 6 of the runs that the Dash scored in just 5 innings pitched, and allowed 9 hits. The bullpen for the Hillcats then threw 4 innings, and allowed only one baserunner. Chase d’Arnaud hit a grand slam in the 3rd inning. Matt Hague also hit a home run for Lynchburg in the game. The Dash ended up losing 12-6.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans:

After visiting some more relatives in Elkin (my grandma’s sister Margaret and some of Margaret’s kids and grandkids) and then spending a week at the beach, we went to a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game on our 2nd to last day before we started the drive back. They play at BB&T Coastal Field and are also affiliated with the Atlanta Braves (their High A team). They were playing the Dash. They have a very nice stadium, and I go to see the Pelicans every time I go to Myrtle Beach.

Once again, we had great seats, this time only two rows behind home plate, and with a very nice scout behind us that we talked to throughout the game. The game took forever, as it had been an hour by the time the 2nd inning was over, and an hour and a half halfway through the 3rd. Once again, the Dash had none of the organization’s top 10 prospects in the game. But the Pelicans had some of theirs. Their starting pitcher for the game, Cole Rohrbough, is the Braves’ #5 prospect (according to Baseball America). He lasted only 5.2 innings, and allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6. Craig Kimbrel, the Braves’ #10 prospect, also pitched in the game, and he also struggled, picking up the loss in two-thirds of an inning of relief where he allowed one run on one hit in the 11th. The Dash starting pitcher lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up 3 runs, but only 1 hit, as he walked 6 and must have thrown about 80 pitches. The game lasted 11 innings, but we only stayed for 6 and a half because the game lasted for sooooooooo long. The game ended up lasting 4 hours and 18 minutes.

Also, in the top of the 2nd inning, Salvador Sanchez of the Dash called time during the pitcher’s wind-up, and the pitcher then threw the ball straight at him even after he had stepped out of the batter’s box. And then in the bottom of the 2nd, the Dash pitcher had 2 outs and nobody on, and then did this:
-Hit by Pitch
-Walk to Score a Run
-Walk to Score a Run
After that he was taken out. Then later, in the 5th inning, that same Pelicans pitcher hit two batters (so either he has an anger problem or a control problem).

Atlanta Braves:

On our drive back home, we stopped in Atlanta to see a Braves game. They were playing the San Francisco Giants that night. Turner Field is really, really nice. I had been there once before with my parents but I was only two years old at the time so it was like I was going for the first time. It has Monument Grove outside the stadium, which has statues of former Braves players (like Hank Aaron) and all their retired numbers with information about each player. Also, in the parking lot they have the old stadium’s basepaths marked and the part of the wall where Hank Aaron’s record-breaking home run was hit (with a big 715 on it). So even before you step inside, the stadium’s really cool.

And then when we got into the stadium, a man who works for the Braves came up to us and asked us what we wanted to do. So we said we wanted to meet the players, and he took us down on the field for batting practice with about 30 other people, which was awesome. We got to stand behind a rope on the field right behind the batting cage and watch the Braves and then the Giants take BP. We were down there for about an hour. Apparently they do this every game and you can pay $50 to go down there, but we got to do it for free (I’m guessing because they hadn’t sold all of the spaces for that game), which is even better.

After watching batting practice, we went to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. It is really nice, and if you go to a Braves game, you should definitely go into the museum. They have all kinds of history about the Braves, from when they were in Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta. It’s very well done.

The game had a really good pitching match-up. For the Braves it was their #1 prospect Tommy Hanson pitching, and for the Giants it was Jonathon Sanchez in his first start after throwing his no-hitter. Hanson struck out 11 and allowed 3 runs in 7 innings, while Sanchez got 8 strikeouts while allowing 3 runs in 6 innings. In the top of the 2nd, Randy Winn had a two-RBI double to put the Giants up 2-0. But in the bottom of the inning, Garrett Anderson hit a solo home run, his 7th, to cut the lead down to 2-1. Then in the bottom of the 3rd, the Braves scored two more on Chipper Jones’ 11th home run of the year that put the braves up 3-2. In the 7th inning, the Giants tied it up at 3 on a Aaron Rowand sacrifice fly that scored Juan Uribe. But in the bottom half of that same inning the Braves scored 6 runs. Matt Diaz hit a 2-RBI triple to score Yunel Escobar and Garrett Anderson with still no out in the inning to bring up Casey Kotchman, who then singled Diaz home. The very next batter was pinch-hitter Ryan Church who came off the bench and hit a two-run home run, his 3rd of the year and 1st as an Atlanta Brave. Later in the inning Brian McCann drove in Nate McLouth with an RBI single to give the Braves a 9-3 lead. Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Braves scored two more runs, one on a Ryan Church RBI single, and another on a Nate McLouth sacrifice fly. The Braves ended up winning the game 11-3. Tommy Hanson got the win to improve his record to 5-0, while Sergio Romo got the loss, to make him 2-1 on the year.

Rickwood Field:

On our last day of driving before getting home, we stopped in Birmingham to tour Rickwood Field, which is an old Negro League ballpark that was used by the Black Barons and is still standing and kept up. It was built in 1910 and is the oldest standing ballpark in the US. The minor league Barons play one game a year there, called the Rickwood Classic, and the rest of the time the stadium is open for people to go in and see it. They have a self-guided tour brochure that helps you know what all to see. It is really awesome that they still keep it standing and in good shape and that they let people go in and see it. They still have all of the old signs on the outfield walls, so it’s fun to look out and see the 1950’s advertisements. They also have the same scoreboard as they used to and they keep the field open, so you can just walk right out onto the playing field. It has to be one of the better old ballpark sites around, if not the best (which I think it must be). I’m really glad I was able to do it, and if you’re ever going to be going through Birmingham, you should definitely go check it out.

It was a great trip and I would like to thank my grandparents for taking me.

Come back next week for #26-30 on my All-Time Rangers List.