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.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Newberg Report Night Summary

Last night was Newberg Report Night at the ballpark. As always, it was lots of fun and Jamey did a good job of putting it together. I would like to thank Jamey Newberg and Eleanor Czajka for making it happen, and Will Carroll, Kevin Goldstein, and Jon Daniels for doing the Q&A sessions.

The Q&A sessions were held in the Legends of the Game Museum’s theater like usual. We got there at about 2:45 and went on up to the theatre. Will Carroll and Kevin Goldstein (both from Baseball Prospectus) were the first guests and were already up there hanging out when we arrived, even though they weren’t supposed to start until 4:00. They started taking questions at about 3:00 and went for 90 minutes. Will was great as always. This was the first time I had met Kevin. Both of them seem to know everything that’s going on in baseball and they’re funny too.

Here are some of the questions that I asked and their answers:

Q: What was the strategy of the Mariners and Reds at the trading deadline, when they both traded prospects for veterans, and then traded veterans for prospects?
A: Mariners: They have a long-term strategy, and they think that the Mariners are way ahead of where they thought they would be, although Will and Kevin are still trying to figure out the Jack Wilson trade.
Reds: They don’t understand what the Reds did with getting Scott Rolen. They said that they are confused by it and that the Reds got him because they could for a reasonably cheap price, even though Kevin wonders what it does for the team.

Q: What was the most surprising trade to you?
A: The Jake Peavy trade because nobody saw it coming and there were no rumors whatsoever. They also said that it might be the best trade and that it came so quickly, they didn’t even talk to the medical people because apparently this deal got done in minutes.

Q: What teams do you think are best at starting pitching and relief pitching?
A: Starting Pitching: Red Sox and Giants
Relief Pitching: Brewers

Will and Kevin also said that if the Rangers traded Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter, Wilfredo Boscan, and Thomas Diamond, it would be about the equivalent of what the White Sox gave up for Peavy, and if the Rangers traded Wilfredo Boscan and Tommy Hunter, it would be about the equivalent of what the Tigers gave up for Jarrod Washburn. Kevin also said that he could see Justin Smoak and Kasey Kiker coming up to the majors around this time next year.

After the Will and Kevin Q&A, Jamey auctioned off some prizes, with proceeds going to the Hello Win Column Fund. They raised thousands of dollars, which was great. There were two items that were very exciting for me personally. First, I won an inning in the TV booth with Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve! That was awesome. Second, I had donated one of the items for auction (a baseball with autographs from a lot of different Rangers players) and it went for $200.

Then, at 5:00, Jon Daniels came in and did 90 minutes of Q&A. When Jon kicked off the Q&A he said ‘I typically open up with Grant but his questions are usually a little challenging so I’m going to warm up with a few others first.’

I was able to ask the following three questions:

Q: Can you please name 3-5 minor leaguers who are most likely to be called up and have an impact on this year’s pennant race, including at least one who’s not currently on the 40-man roster?
A: ‘A handful of guys have the chance to play some role for us either as part of a September call-up or earlier. I think guys like Julio Borbon, Doug Mathis, and Guillermo Moscoso have done nice jobs while they’ve been up here. I think (Neftali) Feliz is certainly an option. Esteban German has had a very good year for us. I think he has the chance to help us in some regard. He’d be a nice guy for any contending club to have on their bench down the stretch.’ (Note that Mathis and Feliz were activated for that evening’s game.)

Q: The Rangers have managed to remove a number of players from their 40-man roster over the last couple of years, get them through waivers, reassign them to the minors, and then repurchase their contracts later to help the major league team, like Nelson Cruz and Doug Mathis. Is there a key to the timing of these moves that increases your chances of keeping the player?
A: ‘Absolutely. Nelson Cruz cleared waivers right at the beginning of the season. That’s the toughest time to claim a guy on waivers just because you have your roster set, your big league club’s set, and you’re breaking camp. Unless it’s a slam dunk upgrade, everyone just says ‘hey, let’s go with our own’ rather than taking someone else’s discard. So I think that’s probably the easiest time to slide a guy through waivers. Mathis was a non-tender re-sign. In that situation, it’s basically explaining to the player the options and, if they agree to resign with you at that point, you can give them some things that they might not get as free agents. That’s more of a leverage situation than anything.’

Q: Can you name three Rangers prospects that are not on most people’s radars who have made their way onto your radar?
A: ‘I’ll put (Jurickson) Profar on there. I’ll put Leury Garcia on there, shortstop at Hickory. And I’ll put Tim Murphy on there.’

Other interesting comments from Jon in answer to questions:
· After receiving a huge round of applause when someone thanked him for not trading some of the guys that were rumored to be traded, Jon said ‘I’ll do nothing more often. That was awesome.’
· Jon was asked why he didn’t wait a month or so to promote Elvis so that he could keep control of him for an extra year. He said that they looked at it and talked about it but it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. To tell Elvis that he’s the shortstop but that they were going to wait a few weeks because they wanted to exploit his arbitration eligibility didn’t feel right. There are certain times you make business decisions and separate your emotions from those decisions, but they were telling this 20-year old kid that they believed in him and he would be a big part of the club. Plus they were telling the players on the big league club ‘Hey, trust us on this’. He felt it would have been talking out of both sides of their mouth. They would rather deal with the financial consequences than create a potentially divisive situation.
· When asked about the media not giving much coverage to the Rangers, he said that he doesn’t totally buy into it just being because Dallas is a football town. A lot of it is because the Rangers haven’t won to create the fan base and interest. He feels that the media will cover whoever the fans tell them to cover.
· They’re still watching Ben Sheets to see if he’s an option for next year.
· When asked if the starting center fielder for next year is in the organization, he said that candidates internally are Hamilton, Byrd, and Borbon. He feels that one of them will very likely be starting for the Rangers in center field next year.
· When asked why Borbon was brought up earlier this year if he wasn’t going to play, Jon said that he doesn’t completely buy into the philosophy that you shouldn’t call a top prospect up if he isn’t going to play every day. He feels that Borbon got a lot out of the experience.
· He typically goes out to see the A clubs once per year. He sees Frisco and Oklahoma City more often.
· 90% of trade rumors reported are inaccurate.
· When asked who would be called up if Salty or Teagarden were hurt, Jon said that Max Ramirez would be recovered from his injury soon. Manny Pina would also be considered, especially since he’s Rule 5 eligible this year. Richardson and Frostad could also do the job in the short term.
· Main internal candidates for the starting rotation next season are Kevin Millwood (he expects him to vest his option), Scott Feldman, Vicente Padilla (the club has an option on him), Matt Harrison, Brandon McCarthy, Derek Holland, and Tommy Hunter. Others in the mix are Neftali Feliz, Dustin Nippert, Guillermo Moscoso, and Doug Mathis. The position will be high on the list of priorities during the off season.
· When asked if it bothers him when a player like Halladay doesn’t want to come to Texas, he said that it does a little bit but that it’s sort of like his answer about media coverage. The team needs to win first and then people will be more interested in coming here.
· The cost to put a dome on the ballpark is prohibitive plus the ballpark wasn’t engineered to facilitate something like that. There’s a company that said they can put a screen over the park to lower the temperature 10 degrees. But odds are that there’s really not a realistic option to help with the heat.
· Benoit is throwing. There’s a chance he could be back in September but it’s unlikely.
· People need to keep in mind that Josh Hamilton is still recovering from surgery.
· They’re not trying to preach a philosophy of more pitches per plate appearance. He doesn’t think that it directly correlates to success. Getting a good pitch to hit is directly correlated to success.
· They’ve discussed moving McCarthy to the bullpen to ease the strain on his shoulder. They’re focusing on a starter’s routine during his rehab, which allows them to go either way with it. He’s pitched in the bullpen successfully in the big leagues. It will depend on what their needs are when he’s ready to come back.
· They’re not sure why Blake Beavan’s velocity is down but he’s 20 years old and time is on their side. They’re going to let him keep pitching and see if it improves.
· He would be in favor of moving the deadline for signing draft picks up to June 30th. It would be a challenge to sign them quicker but it would let them have the rest of the summer to focus on other things and also let the players start playing and getting on with their development sooner.
· Chris Davis is still very much in their plans. He will be a strong consideration for a September call-up, if not before then.
· Eric Hurley’s on pace to be 100% for spring training.
· Jurickson Profar will likely be developed as a position player not a pitcher. He thinks he’ll be one of the top shortstop position player prospects in the game.
· He expects that Tanner Scheppers would start out higher than Low-A to start his minor league career.
· Right now, Chris Davis is better defensively than Justin Smoak.

Like usual, Jon did a great job answering the questions and I would like to thank him for giving us so much of his time.

After the Daniels Q&A, we went to our seats for the game. I got to talk to Will, Kevin, Jamey, Eleanor, Scott and Courtney Lucas, and Barry Newberg a lot during the game (and Ted Price and Adam Morris a little too). It’s really cool to watch a game and talk baseball with all of those people.

It was a very good game, as the Rangers won 4-2. Scott Feldman picked up the win, to make him 10-4 on the season. He allowed 2 runs, both earned, on just 5 hits, and he lowered his ERA to 3.91 on the year. CJ Wilson picked up his 13th save on the year, on one of the strangest last outs I’ve seen. It was a 1-2 count with 2 outs and Jack Wilson at the plate, and CJ threw him a breaking ball in the dirt that he swung at, and the ball got away. But he thought that he tipped the ball, so he didn’t run. But Salty ran and got the ball and tagged Wilson out, as none of the umps saw him tip the ball.

The Rangers scored all of their runs on homers. In the bottom of the 1st, David Murphy crushed a ball into the upper home run porch to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Then, after the Mariners scored two runs in the top of the 6th, Michael Young hit a solo home run to tie the game at 2, which would change when Salty came up in the 7th, as he hit a two-run home run off the foul pole in right to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead, which would be the final score. And Scott Feldman’s 7 innings are even more noteworthy since he was pitching on short rest. That’s pretty good.

We didn’t get to see Feliz make his major league debut, but we did get to see him going to the bullpen before the game carrying a pink backpack.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone that made this happen. It was a blast.

Come back next week for a report of a recent baseball road trip I took.