Sunday, July 26, 2009

July Awards

This week I will give my July Awards. The awards are for who I think should win if the season ended today.


MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.313 AVG, 13 HR, 39 RBI): Michael is the only Ranger with at least 300 AB’s to be hitting above .280, which is really pretty sorry. He also has a solid amount of home runs. I think that definitely makes him Rangers MVP.
Runner-up: Nelson Cruz, TEX (.268 AVG, 23 HR, 55 RBI)

Cy Young: Kevin Millwood, TEX (9-7, 3.44 ERA, 82 K): He is tied for the Rangers lead in wins, but leads the team in innings pitched, and leads the starters in ERA. I think that’s pretty deserving of being the Rangers Cy Young.
Runner-up: Scott Feldman, TEX (9-3, 3.59 ERA, 53 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.254 AVG, 3 HR, 17 RBI): He’s my Runner-up of AL ROY and he’s definitely my Rangers ROY.
Runner-up: Darren O’Day, TEX (2-1, 1.99 ERA, 30 K)


MVP: Justin Morneau, MIN (.313 AVG, 24 HR, 79 RBI): Justin is leading the American League in RBI’s, is tied for 3rd in home runs, and is hitting over .310. He’s also struck out just 11 more times than he has walked. He’s the only top 10 home run hitter in the AL hitting over .290. That, to me, makes him an easy choice for AL MVP through July.
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, DET

Cy Young: Zack Greinke, KC (10-6, 2.04 ERA, 146 K): Even though he’s fallen to a tie for seventh in wins with only ten, he is still 1st in ERA by 0.41 points. That’s a pretty large margin, not to mention the fact that he is tied for 2nd in the AL in strikeouts.
Runner-up: Felix Hernandez, SEA (11-3, 2.45 ERA, 137 K)

Rookie of the Year: Jeff Niemann, TB (9-4, 3.61 ERA, 59 K): Jeff is tied for 11th in the AL in wins with an ERA well below 4.00, which ranks 15th in the AL. With his weak competition, to me, he’s pretty obviously ROY so far.
Runner-up: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.254 AVG, 3 HR, 17 RBI)

Comeback Player of the Year: Jarrod Washburn, SEA (8-6, 2.71 ERA, 78 K): Jarrod went 5-14 with an ERA over 4.50 last year, striking out only 87 batters all season long in 153.2 innings pitched. This year he is 8-6 and is 5th in ERA with 78 strikeouts.
Runner-up: Victor Martinez, CLE (.287 AVG, 14 HR, 64 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, DET (52-44, 1st place): This year the Tigers have gone from last place last year to first place this year. That is pretty deserving of Manager of the Year.
Runner-up: Ron Washington, TEX (53-42, 2nd place)


MVP: Albert Pujols, STL (.325 AVG, 34 HR, 91 RBI): Albert is going for the NL triple crown, and is only two spots away in batting average from doing so. I think when you’re doing that, you have to be the MVP, no matter how good the other players in the league are doing.
Runner-up: Prince Fielder, MIL (.308 AVG, 24 HR, 86 RBI)

Cy Young: Matt Cain, SF (12-2, 2.27 ERA, 108 K): Even though Matt is only 14th in the National League in strikeouts with 108, he is tied for first in wins with 12 and 2nd in ERA. In my opinion, he is the most balanced pitcher among all three stats and deserves the Cy Young Award.
Runner-up: Tim Lincecum, SF (10-3, 2.45 ERA, 168 K)

Rookie of the Year: Pablo Sandoval, SF (.324 AVG, 15 HR, 58 RBI): Pablo is 4th in the NL in batting average, which, if that was all he did, should get him ROY, anyways. But that’s not all he does, as he’s also tied for 21st in RBI’s and tied for 22nd in home runs.
Runner-up: JA Happ, PHI (7-1, 2.97 ERA, 71 K)

Comeback Player of the Year: Todd Helton, COL (.321 AVG, 11 HR, 60 RBI): Todd was injured for much of last year, but is still hitting 57 points higher than last, and has hit 4 more home runs and gotten 31 more RBI’s than last year in only 7 more games.
Runner-up: Felipe Lopez, MIL (.306 AVG, 6 HR, 25 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Jim Tracy, COL (35-15, 2nd place): Since Tracy took over as Rockies manager, he has been 35-15, and has taken them from 18-29 to the NL Wild Card leader. That’s a pretty good coaching job there.
Runner-up: Bruce Bochy, SF (52-45, 3rd place)

Come back next week for a summary of Newberg Night at the ballpark. Since Newberg Night is not until Sunday, next week’s post will be out a day later than usual, on Monday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

T.R. Sullivan Interview

On July 7th, I interviewed reporter and Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan. TR does great work covering the Rangers for and you can read his articles on He also writes one of my favorite Rangers blogs, Postcards from Elysian Fields ( TR has written a book, with Mel Didier, called ‘Podnuh, Let Me Tell You a Story’, which I’ve read and recommend. You can buy it at TR is a friend of mine and has helped me a lot over the last few years since I started writing this blog. I would like to thank TR for taking the time for this interview.

Me: When did you decide that you wanted to cover sports for a living?

TR: I went to the University of San Francisco as a business major. When I came home for the summer after my freshman year, my father and I were casually talking in the kitchen one day. He looked out the window and simply said, “With your knowledge of sports, you should be a sportswriter.” I didn’t say anything back. But I agreed with him and when I went back to school, I joined the school newspaper.

Me: How did you prepare yourself to be a journalist?

TR: I only had one journalism class in school but I worked on the school newspaper for three years. I read newspapers, mainly the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sporting News, and I studied the work of many great sportswriters. The three best were Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jimmy Cannon from New York and of course Peter Gammons. When I got to Texas, there were many good ones to study including Jim Reeves, Randy Galloway, Gil LeBreton, Blackie Sherrod and many others. My all-time journalism hero is Dan Rather of CBS. I loved his book, ‘The Camera Never Blinks’. It’s my journalism bible.

Me: What led you to working at the Fort-Worth Star Telegram?

TR: My first job was at the Denison Herald, a small town on the Red River. I loved it there but after four years, I wanted to move to a bigger paper. With my future wife Helen’s help, I sent my resume and clips to 17 papers in Texas and Oklahoma. The Star-Telegram hired me in 1985 to do high school statistics for them.

Me: What led to you leaving the newspaper business to work for

TR: It was made clear to me at the Star-Telegram that they wanted me to cover the Rangers forever. That was fine with me but I decided that if I was going to do that, I should do it for an Internet company and one that would ensure my family’s future.

Me: What are the major differences between writing for versus the newspaper?

TR: Not much, other than the deadlines are easier working for MLB.Com. In both places, there are good and bad, but I pretty much write the same way for both entities. The three things I miss about the newspaper is that many old-time baseball guys don’t read me as much, I can’t help cover other sports in the winter, and I don’t have columnists behind me. Plus I really love the city of Fort Worth.

Me: What is a typical day like in your job?

TR: Usually I am at the Ballpark at 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. But there are a lot of phone calls, e-mails and text messages sent all through the day, plus surfing the Internet. The clubhouse is open at 3:30 to interview players and we usually talk to Ron Washington at 4:15 or so. From 5-7 p.m. I am writing my pre-game stuff. After the game, it’s another 60-90 minutes of writing before I head home. I usually get home after midnight.

Me: What are the three most fun things about your job?

TR: 1. Watching a Major League baseball game every night. After 21 years, that never gets old.
2. Covering big events like the All-Star Game and World Series, or watching a historical event like a no-hitter. I miss covering the World Series with Jim Reeves at the Star-Telegram.
3. Hanging out with writers from other cities. I am fortunate to have a great group of colleagues at and many friends at other newspapers. Plus guys around here like Jeff Wilson, Anthony Andro and my old pal Evan Grant.

Me: What are the three toughest things about your job?

TR: 1. Standing around a Major League clubhouse waiting to talk to players. I like interviewing players but there is an awful amount of time standing around and waiting for people. I hate that worse than anything in my life. After 21 years, I am still very uncomfortable walking into a Major League clubhouse.
2. Stupid mistakes in my stories like misspellings. All writers do it but it still bothers me greatly.
3. Being away from my family, especially during Spring Training. I love the regular season – 162 is my favorite number - but I’m not a big fan of Spring Training. Much of the stuff written in Spring Training ends up being totally irrelevant once the season starts.

Me: How has the sports writing business changed since you started your career as a journalist?

TR: The internet changed everything. Now you have to rush everything onto the Internet rather than do a much more thorough job of reporting. Blogs also changed everything. Opinion, commentary and promotion have become more important than journalism. Fan blogs like you, Jamey and Eleanor are great – a huge boost for the game and fun to read - but too many “professional” journalists in all areas prefer the shrill of blogging to old-fashioned journalism.

The other thing has been the proliferation of statistics. That’s not a bad thing but what bothers me greatly is the disdain that numbers crunchers and baseball writers have for each other. It’s like both sides consider themselves far smarter and far superior to the other side instead of mutual respect.

Me: What is your best memory of being a journalist?

TR: Having the honor as BBWAA President of inducting Peter Gammons into the Hall of Fame in 2005 in Cooperstown. I remember standing in the tent behind the stage waiting for the event to begin. There were Peter, myself, a couple of Hall of Fame officials and 50 of the greatest baseball players in history. Nobody else.

Me: What is the most fun season you’ve covered and why?

TR: The 1996 season – the first division title – was far and away the best season ever.

Me: What is the most fun game you’ve covered and why?

The four division series games against the Yankees in 1996. Those were the four best games I’ve ever watched. I have never been so caught up in a baseball game as I was for those four games. I didn’t want that series to end.

Me: Which players have been the most fun to interview and why?

TR: He’s not a player but I enjoyed talking to Doug Melvin more than anybody. When the Rangers trained in Port Charlotte, I used to do my work in a work room just down the hall from Doug’s office. Late in the day, after everybody had gone home, he would come by and we’d talk baseball for an hour or so. Every day. We’d talk about what I was writing, what was going on with the Rangers and what was happening in baseball. Right now, I follow the Brewers very closely.

Me: What would be your advice to someone who wants to get into sports journalism?

TR: Read as much as possible and learn to ask good questions. You’d be surprised some of the terrible questions asked of people. Dan Rather said that good journalists should spend their time crafting good questions in their heads. I tell young reporters to always have good questions ready because you never known when you’ll have access to somebody.

Me: What do the Rangers need to do to win the division this year?

TR: Beyond maintaining what has gone well so far, I think they need a strong second half from Vicente Padilla, Hank Blalock and Josh Hamilton. They need the bullpen to hold up. They need one more starter to emerge.

Me: What do you think the Rangers need to do at the trading deadline?

TR: I’ve heard they want a right-handed bat, a right-handed reliever and another starting pitcher. If they can make one big trade, I would prefer it be for a starting pitcher.

Me: With all of the praise for the Rangers farm system, it seems like they might be poised for a long-term run of success. What’s your opinion on that and what do they need to do to turn that potential into reality?

TR: I think they have a tendency to rush players through the system and to the big leagues before they are ready. Certainly there have been players like Mark Teixeira and Ivan Rodriguez who have flourished but that still bothers me. I was once told young players should get 2,000 at-bats or 500 innings in the minors before coming to the big leagues. I think that’s a good benchmark.

Me: Who are the next players in the Rangers’ minor league system that will make an impact with the Rangers at the major league level?

TR: I’ve heard great things – who hasn’t - about Martin Perez at Class A Hickory but I don’t consider anybody a serious prospect until they succeed at the Double A level. I think Neftali Feliz and Julio Borbon are the closest. Personally I really like catcher Manuel Pina and pitcher Omar Poveda. I was impressed with Poveda in Spring Training.

Me: How will the Rangers make room for Justin Smoak when he’s ready?

TR: Hank Blalock is a free agent at the end of the season. If the Rangers don’t re-sign him, I think that will take care of that issue.

Me: Do you think Josh Hamilton should move to one of the corner outfield spots long term? If so, who’s the Rangers’ center fielder of the future?

TR: Borbon is the early favorite to be the Rangers center fielder of the future but I would still try to keep Marlon Byrd when he becomes a free agent. Yes, Hamilton should move to one of the corners.

Me: Who do you think should be the Rangers’ closer?

TR: You can’t go wrong either way but I’d say Frank Francisco because C.J. Wilson can go multiple innings earlier in the game.

Me: Which Rangers do you think should have made the All-Star team that did not make it?

TR: Kevin Millwood, although I am a great admirer of Tim Wakefield. I don’t think people realize how close Scott Feldman came to putting up the kind of numbers that would have deserved at least consideration. If he had started the season in the rotation…

Me: What was your favorite team growing up and why?

TR: The Boston Red Sox. My all-time favorite player was Carl Yastrzemski. My dad was from Massachusetts and I was eight years old when the Red Sox won the pennant in 1967. That’s when I really fell in love with baseball. Yastrzemski’s season in 1967 is the single greatest ever by a Major League player.

Me: Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?

TR: I played first base and outfield into high school. I got to try out with the Cincinnati Reds and didn’t do well. I was a much better softball player than a baseball player.

I would like to thank TR again for giving me so much of his time and for the great answers.

Come back next week for a trade deadline special.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Anthony Andro Interview

On June 29th, I interviewed Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Anthony Andro. Anthony is one of the beat writers for the Rangers and his material is now carried in the Dallas Morning News as well. He also does a blog with Jeff Wilson at Anthony does great work and I’ve really enjoyed getting to read his Rangers coverage in the Morning News. I would like to thank him for giving me so much of his time for this interview.

Me: When did you decide that you wanted to cover sports for a living?

Anthony: Probably when I was sixteen, when I was a junior in high school. I started working for my school paper in Plano and then I started working for the city paper in Plano when I was about seventeen. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since.

Me: Did you cover sports for your school paper and the city paper in Plano?

Anthony: That’s all I covered. The name of the school paper at Plano East was The Panther Print and then I also covered sports for the Plano Star-Courier. They used me on weekends. And then my senior year of high school, I was the sports editor at the school paper and I worked for the city paper then as well.

Me: That’s pretty cool.

Anthony: Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Me: How did you prepare yourself to be a journalist?

Anthony: My major in college at Texas A&M was journalism and it was a lot of English. My minor was English because you obviously have to do a lot of writing. And I worked at the school paper at Texas A&M, The Battalion, for two years. I was a sports writer at The Battalion too. So from the time I was sixteen, all I’ve ever done is written sports. So when I graduated from college, I took a job as a sports writer in Port Arthur, which is a little town, and all I did there was cover sports. In a little town like that you cover everything. And then I went from Port Arthur to Fort Worth.

Me: Good school choice (A&M).

Anthony: Thanks.

Me: What led you to working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram?

Anthony: My wife was also a journalist and in 1999, she got a job offer from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. We were both in Port Arthur and so we basically found a job for me up here with the Home Town Star, which was a little community paper they used to do. So I came up here with her in 1999 and worked on the Home Town Star and then in 2000, they moved me over to the regular Star-Telegram ,working on high school sports.

Me: Is your wife still working for the newspaper?

Anthony: No, my wife’s a teacher. She quit the newspaper business last summer.

Me: Have you done anything different in your writing since your stories began being carried by The Dallas Morning News as well as the Star-Telegram?

Anthony: No, the way it works, whatever we write for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, the Morning News takes too, so we don’t get any assignments from the Dallas Morning News. Basically they just take whatever we write and they use that if they want to. They don’t have to use any of our stuff but it seems like they use almost all of it. We don’t get any assignments from them and they’re not allowed to assign us anything to do.

Me: What is a typical day like in your job?

Anthony: It depends. If it’s a Rangers home game, I get to the park about 3 o’clock and the locker room opens at 3:35 and we’re typically downstairs from about 3:35 until about 5 o’clock. And then we come upstairs and put a lot of stuff on the blog for both papers and then we have to do pregame notes for; we send in stuff to ESPN for them to use. Then we work from about 5 until 6 and then we eat and then at about 6:30 we sit down to get ready to watch the game. If I’m writing the lead, I wait until the game’s over to write my story. If I’m doing the notes and the spotlight, I write all that stuff during the game and normally have to send that in around 9:30. If we’re on the road, the Rangers hit later, so you arrive at the park at the same time but you’re at the locker room later. If I’m at a NASCAR race, it’s different because you’re at the track all day. You get to the track about 9 in the morning and you leave about 10 o’clock at night. So NASCAR’s a lot longer. That’s where I’m going Wednesday (July 1). I need to go to Orlando for the Daytona race this weekend.

Me: Which sport do you like covering better?

Anthony: I think the Rangers. I grew up in Plano and Richardson and I’ve always been a Rangers fan so I used to go to Rangers games as a kid. It’s a lot of fun for me now to get to cover the team I grew up watching. It’s cool to talk to Jim Sundberg, who used to be one of my favorite players when I was a kid. I get to talk to him almost every day now and it’s just different. So it’s a lot of fun to get to do something that you wanted to do your whole life.

Me: What are the three most fun things about your job?

Anthony: The number one thing is I get paid to watch baseball. You can’t beat that. The number two thing is probably interacting with players. This is my third year to do it, so you have an idea what they’re like and you get to know them a little better. And the third thing is the writing. Writing on deadline is a lot of fun. The pressure of doing it is a lot of fun.

Me: How long does it normally take you to write a story?

Anthony: If a game ends at 10 o’clock, we have to have the game story in by 11. A lot of the time, towards the end of the game, you’ll start writing it because you have a pretty good idea where the game is going, so you have a little bit of a head start. If the game ends at 10:45, you have 15 minutes to write it so you don’t always get quotes for the paper.

Me: Wow, that’s not much time.

Anthony: No but like I said, it’s one of the more fun things about it.

Me: What are the three toughest things about your job?

Anthony: Being away for spring training for six weeks, being away from your family, is tough. Also, it’s kind of like the movie Groundhog Day – you do the same thing every day. You’re there at 3 o’clock, you’re in the locker room at 3:30, you watch baseball, so if you’re really not into doing that, I could see how it could get boring. And then the toughest thing now is the way the newspaper business is with layoffs and that kind of thing. There’s just a little bit of uncertainty in journalism and the newspaper business right now.

Me: How has the newspaper business changed since you started your career as a journalist?

Anthony: There’s a lot less people working the newspaper business because of all of the layoffs. The online stuff has changed everything because you don’t write for the morning paper a lot of the time anymore. You write for blogs and you like to get stuff online as quick as you can. It’s about breaking stories because it’s not an am news cycle anymore – it’s a 24-hour news cycle. So that’s probably the biggest change – you’re constantly writing stuff because you don’t want to get beat on something and because online you have the opportunity to break stuff a little easier.

Me: Do you like writing online or for the paper better?

Anthony: I think I still like writing for the paper better because it’s still fun to get up in the morning and get the paper and see your name in the paper. Online can be a little more gratifying because if you break something, you’re really first to have it out there. But the difference is, in the old days with the newspapers, if you beat somebody you could have the whole day before them. Now if you beat somebody online, you might only beat them by five minutes because they can see your story and they can chase for that same story.

Me: What is your best memory of being a journalist?

Anthony: The best memory for me was when I first started working in Fort Worth, one of the first things I covered was the Dallas Desperados, the Arena Football League team when they had their first year here, and I got called by Roger Staubach, who was my favorite athlete growing up. He called me on the phone and he said, ‘Hey Anthony, this is Roger Staubach’, and to me that was the coolest moment because you’re actually talking to someone who you grew up idolizing.

Me: Wow, that’s one more call from Roger Staubach than I have.

Anthony: (laughs)

Me: What is the most fun season you’ve covered and why?

Anthony: You know, this season has been a lot of fun just because the Rangers have been in first place so much. It’s a good clubhouse to deal with to begin with, but since they’re doing so well, they’ve had a lot more attention, which has made it a lot more fun. And everybody’s in a good mood when they’re winning, so it’s made it a lot of fun.

Me: What is the most fun game you’ve covered and why?

Anthony: The best game I ever covered was a high school basketball game when I was in Port Arthur. It was I think the 1995 Class 4A State Championship with Port Arthur Lincoln against Austin Anderson. They had Stephen Jackson, who plays for Golden State, on that team. There were like five guys who went on to play Division 1 college basketball. Also, it was an overtime game that Port Arthur Lincoln won. It was a great game.

Me: That’s some good talent there.

Anthony: Yep.

Me: Which players have been the most fun to interview and why?

Anthony: On the Rangers right now, the best guy to talk to is probably Eddie Guardado, just because he’s so funny. The best people for just honest answers are probably Kevin Millwood and Marlon Byrd because they’re just going to tell you how things really are. There’s not a bad interview in that clubhouse right now. But Eddie’s the most fun and Marlon and Kevin are going to be the most upfront people with you.

Me: What would be your advice to someone who wants to get into sports journalism?

Anthony: You have to be ready to be online. You have to know how to do different things with multi-media like shooting videos and putting audio online. You have to be ready to be very versatile. When I started I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff but now I shoot videos and we stick audio on there, stuff that I wouldn’t have even thought about doing a couple of years ago but that you have to do now. You just have to be prepared to be able to do a lot of different things.

Me: Do you like to do videos or just the sound bites more?

Anthony: Well the videos are fun. We had a lot of success with them in spring training when we shot a lot of batting practice and pitching videos. Readers seemed to like that a lot, so that made it fun. The audio clips are a lot of the same things we’ll use in the paper but the videos you’re only going to see online.

Me: What do the Rangers need to do to win the division this year?

Anthony: Before the season I would have said that they’d need to pitch better but right now their pitching is great. They’ve got to start being a little more consistent on offense. They’d probably tell you that too. They’re just not hitting the ball well as a team. Maybe when Josh Hamilton comes back that will be the difference, but as long as their pitching pitches like they have been and their defense stays steady, if they can find a way to hit, they can beat the Angels and Seattle pretty easily.

Me: What do you think the Rangers need to do at the trading deadline?

Anthony: Because of the way the payroll works out, I don’t think that they can do much. It may be calling up Neftali Feliz and a small move to get another arm in the bullpen. They’ve been really lucky with Darren O’Day and Jason Grilli, the guys they didn’t have to pay much to get at all, so that’s two good arms in the bullpen. If CJ’s good and Frankie’s good and Jason Jennings, that’s five solid arms in the bullpen, Maybe they need one more. Everybody needs starting pitching but I don’t know that they can afford to go out and get starting pitching. I wouldn’t trade away much to get it right now, that’s for sure.

Me: Speaking of CJ and Frankie, which one do you think is the better closer?

Anthony: I’ll tell you what, CJ’s looked really good this year and so has Frankie, so it’s a hard call. They’ve both looked so good. Right now, CJ’s pitching better, but Frankie’s still got to get some more innings under his belt. Frankie was the best closer in baseball I think the first month and a half of the season.

Me: With all of the praise for the Rangers farm system, it seems like they might be poised for a long-term run of success. What’s your opinion on that and what do they need to do to turn that potential into reality?

Anthony: I wouldn’t rush them. I wouldn’t rush Feliz, I wouldn’t rush Manny Pina, I wouldn’t rush Justin Smoak. Let those guys get their time in the minor leagues because you don’t want them to come up here and struggle. You want them to come up here and have the best chance at success that they possibly can. If you bring people up too early, that tends to mess people up. There’s no reason to rush it. Let things play out the way they’re supposed to play out and don’t push things.

Me: So if the Rangers traded Blalock, would you rather have them call up Smoak or someone else and what do you think they would do?

Anthony: Well, if they traded Blalock, I’m sure what they’d probably do is give Andruw Jones a lot of the DH at-bats and leave Chris Davis at first base. I don’t think they would call up Smoak. I don’t know what they would do, if they would bring up another outfielder or utility infielder, but I don’t see there’s a reason to call up Justin Smoak this year.

Me: Who are the next players in the Rangers’ minor league system that will make an impact with the Rangers at the major league level?

Anthony: The two obvious ones would be Smoak and Feliz. I’m sure Feliz will be up here sometime this year and probably pitching in the bullpen, so he could be that arm they need at the trade deadline. He could be like Joba Chamberlain was for the Yankees a few years ago. I think Smoak could help this year but I just don’t know that there’s really a need to push it.

Me: How will the Rangers make room for Justin Smoak when he’s ready?

Anthony: Well, Hank Blalock’s probably going to be gone after this year. If that’s the case, you have Smoak and Chris Davis. You could let Smoak DH. You could let Chris DH.

Me: Do you think Josh Hamilton should move to one of the corner outfield spots long term? If so, who’s the Rangers’ center fielder of the future?

Anthony: Right now, if he moves – which he doesn’t want to do, he wants to play center field – I guess Borbon would be the center fielder of the future. He’s hitting pretty well in the minors but I don’t think that’s anything that’s going to happen this year. The Rangers are going to have an outfield spot to fill after this year because Marlon Byrd will be a free agent, depending on how Nelson Cruz and David Murphy develop this year. Because if Nelson Cruz is your every day right fielder, you have a problem with Hamilton if he wants to play center next year. My guess though is that the next outfielder that comes up that makes an impact will be Borbon, and Hamilton needs to move, just because he’s getting older and it will be less taxing on his body to move to a corner spot. (Note: this interview took place before Borbon was called up to the majors.)

Me: If he did move to one of the corner spots, do you think he would play left or would they move Nelson Cruz to left?

Anthony: I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of arm Nelson Cruz has for left field. He has a strong arm but it’s not the most accurate so far. That’s a question I don’t think I can answer. I don’t know what they would do. It really depends on what Josh wants to do. If Josh wants to play center field, they’re going to have a hard time convincing him to move to one of the corner spots.

Me: What was your favorite team growing up and why?

Anthony: My two favorite baseball teams growing up – I had two – were the Chicago Cubs and the Rangers. The Rangers because I grew up here. The Cubs because I was born in Chicago and it was my dad’s favorite team growing up.

Me: That’s not that good because over the last 100 years you’ve had zero World Series championships.

Anthony: That’s right but I did get to watch all three of the Cubs/Rangers games here at the ballpark two years ago, so that was kind of like my World Series.

Me: So you got to see Sammy Sosa’s 600th.

Anthony: I got to see Sammy’s home run. We were in the stands for that game – my wife, my son, and I.

Me: Yeah, we were there the night before he hit it.

Anthony: We were down the third base line when it happened.

Me: Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?

Anthony: I played for like two years when I was 7 and 8. I played every position but I was not any good at it.

Me: Thanks again for doing this interview.

Anthony: No problem.

I would like to thank Anthony again for giving me so much of his time and for giving such great answers.

Come back next week for an interview with reporter and Rangers beat writer TR Sullivan.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

My All-Star Teams

This week I’m providing my All-Star teams. The stats are as of Thursday, July 2nd. The All-Star Selection Show will be Sunday at noon on TBS.



My pick: Victor Martinez, CLE (.313 AVG, 14 HR, 57 RBI): Even though Victor’s batting average is well below Joe Mauer’s .392 batting average, Victor has 13 more RBI’s and 96 more at-bats. Both Mauer and Martinez have 14 home runs, so if Mauer wasn’t injured at the start of the season, he would almost surely be the starter, and not Victor.
It will be: Joe Mauer, MIN

My pick: Justin Morneau, MIN (.309 AVG, 19 HR, 64 RBI): Justin is 3rd among balloted AL first basemen in batting average, and is tied for 3rd in home runs, but he leads them all in RBI’s with 64, and that is the most important one, in my opinion. He is very good in all three major hitting categories, and I think that is worthy of being the starting first baseman in the All-Star Game.
It will be: Either Kevin Youkilis, BOS or Mark Teixeira, NYY

My pick: Aaron Hill, TOR (.301 AVG, 19 HR, 56 RBI): Aaron leads all AL second basemen in RBI’s with 56, and is tied with Ian Kinsler for 1st in home runs with 19. Also, out of all the AL 2nd basemen on the ballot with at least 225 at-bats, he leads them in batting average at .301. So he is either in first or tied for first in all three major hitting categories, so that makes him the obvious choice here.
It will be: Either Dustin Pedroia, BOS or Ian Kinsler, TEX

My pick: Jason Bartlett, TB (.362 AVG, 7 HR, 36 RBI): Jason obviously leads all balloted shortstops in batting average at .362, and then just to add to that, he is second only to Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox in RBI’s among AL shortstops. He is also 3rd in home runs. There isn’t too much competition at the shortstop position when it comes to All-Stars this year, which just makes this decision that much easier.
It will be: Derek Jeter, NYY

My pick: Evan Longoria, TB (.297 AVG, 16 HR, 63 RBI): Evan leads all AL third basemen in RBI’s by 11 and is 2nd in home runs, not to mention the fact that he is 4th in batting average. When you add all three of those things together, it sums up to an All-Star starter.
It will be: Evan Longoria, TB

My pick: Torii Hunter, LAA (.305 AVG, 17 HR, 59 RBI): Torii is 2nd among all AL outfielders in RBI’s, and leads the guy ahead of him in that category in batting average by 43 points. He also is in the top 5 in home runs among outfielders. He also is an outstanding defensive player. So far he has been the best all-around American League outfielder on the ballot, in my opinion, and so I think that definitely makes him a starter.
It will be: Jason Bay, BOS

My pick: Jermaine Dye, CWS (.294 AVG, 18 HR, 48 RBI): Jermaine is 4th among balloted AL outfielders in RBI’s with 48 behind Bay, Hunter, and Markakis, and is tied for 3rd in home runs with Curtis Granderson. And of those people ahead of him (or tied with him) in those two categories, only Hunter has at least 10 home runs and a better batting average than Dye.
It will be: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA

My pick: Jason Bay, BOS (.262 AVG, 19 HR, 69 RBI): Even though Jason is only hitting .262 so far this year, his power numbers make up for that, as he leads all American League outfielders in RBI’s by 10, and is tied with Nelson Cruz for the lead in home runs with 19. If it weren’t for his batting average, he’d probably be the top AL outfielder, but instead, he is only 3rd.
It will be: Josh Hamilton, TEX

Starting Pitcher:
My pick: Zack Greinke, KC (10-3, 1.95 ERA, 114 K): Zach leads all of baseball with a 1.95 ERA, and is tied for first in wins with 10 (and only three losses, which is really good). He is also tied for 2nd in the AL in strike-outs with Jon Lester. When you are only 16 strike-outs away from a pitching triple crown, like Grienke is, you’ve got to start in the All-Star game.


C: Joe Mauer, MIN (.392 AVG, 14 HR, 44 RBI)
1B: Kevin Youkilis, BOS (.314 AVG, 14 HR, 47 RBI)
Miguel Cabrera, DET (.331 AVG, 16 HR, 47 RBI)
2B: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.263 AVG, 19 HR, 51 RBI)
Robinson Cano, NYY (.300 AVG, 12 HR, 42 RBI)
SS: Derek Jeter, NYY (.307 AVG, 9 HR, 32 RBI)
3B: Michael Young, TEX (.315 AVG, 10 HR, 30 RBI)
Brandon Inge, DET (.275 AVG, 18 HR, 52 RBI)
OF: Nelson Cruz, TEX (.264 AVG, 19 HR, 47 RBI)
Adam Jones, BAL (.305 AVG, 12 HR, 44 RBI)
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA (.368 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI)
Nick Markakis, BAL (.298 AVG, 8 HR, 52 RBI)

Roy Halladay, TOR (10-2, 2.56 ERA, 95 K)
Felix Hernandez, SEA (8-3, 2.54 ERA, 104 K)
Kevin Millwood, TEX (8-5, 2.80 ERA, 74 K)
Justin Verlander, DET (8-4, 3.54 ERA, 130 K)
Edwin Jackson, DET (6-4, 2.49 ERA, 84 K)
Dallas Braden, OAK (6-7, 3.13 ERA, 67 K)
Brian Fuentes, LAA (3.49 ERA, 23 SV, 30 K)
Joe Nathan, MIN (1.44 ERA, 21 SV, 39 K)
Jonathon Papelbon, BOS (1.80 ERA, 20 SV, 34 K)
Mariano Rivera, NYY (2.76 ERA, 20 SV, 40 K)
David Aardsma, SEA (1.45 ERA, 16 SV, 47 K)
George Sherrill, BAL (2.51 ERA, 17 SV, 31 K)

Players per Team:
Detroit Tigers – 4
Texas Rangers – 4
Baltimore Orioles – 3
Boston Red Sox – 3
Minnesota Twins – 3
New York Yankees – 3
Seattle Mariners – 3
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 2
Tampa Bay Rays – 2
Toronto Blue Jays – 2
Chicago White Sox – 1
Cleveland Indians – 1
Kansas City Royals – 1
Oakland Athletics – 1 (and I only have 1 because it’s required)



My pick: Brian McCann, ATL (.310 AVG, 8 HR, 33 RBI): McCann leads all National League catchers on the ballot with at least 100 at-bats in batting average by far, and is 2nd only to Bengie Molina of the Giants in RBI. Even though his stats aren’t that good, his poor competition makes him All-Star-starter worthy.
It will be: Yadier Molina, STL

My pick: Albert Pujols, STL (.337 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI): Albert leads all of baseball in both home runs and RBI’s, which is enough to make you an All-Star even if you were hitting .200, but he’s not doing that. He’s got the 4th best batting average in all of baseball at .337. That makes him a very, very obvious choice here.
It will be: Albert Pujols, STL

My pick: Chase Utley, PHI (.301 AVG, 17 HR, 52 RBI): Chase leads all NL 2nd basemen in home runs with 17 and is tied for the lead in RBI’s with Brandon Phillips with 52. That’s pretty good even without the .301 batting average, but with it, it pretty much makes him an All-Star lock, and a probable starter.
It will be: Chase Utley, PHI

My pick: Hanley Ramirez, FLA (.348 AVG, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 12 SB): Hanley leads all balloted NL shortstops in batting average. And in home runs. And in RBI’s. And in stolen bases. That is pretty amazing. And not only does he lead shortstops in batting average, he leads the entire National League in it. That is definitely the equation of an All-Star starter.
It will be: Hanley Ramirez, FLA

My pick: Pablo Sandoval, SF (.332 AVG, 11 HR, 40 RBI): Pablo is 2nd among NL 3rd basemen on the ballot with at least 100 at-bats in batting average at .332, only behind David Wright of the Mets. He is also tied for 3rd in that category in home runs and 5th in RBI’s. Even though he doesn’t lead any of those, he is the most balanced throughout those categories.
It will be: David Wright, NYM

My pick: Raul Ibanez, PHI (.312 AVG, 22 HR, 59 RBI): Raul leads all NL outfielders in home runs and RBI’s, and he is 4th in batting average among NL outfielders with at least 100 at-bats. That is definitely All-Star starter worthy.
It will be: Raul Ibanez, PHI

My pick: Ryan Braun, MIL (.330 AVG, 16 HR, 57 RBI): Ryan is 3rd among NL outfielders with at least 100 at-bats in batting average at .330, only 6 points behind the leader. He is also 3rd in home runs and 2nd in RBI’s behind only Raul Ibanez. To me, he pretty obviously deserves to start in the All-Star game.
It will be: Ryan Braun, MIL

My pick: Brad Hawpe, COL (.333 AVG, 13 HR, 56 RBI): Brad Hawpe is 2nd among NL outfielders with at least 100 at-bats in batting average behind only Carlos Beltran of the Mets (who is hitting .336), is 10th in home runs, and is tied for third in RBI’s with Adam Dunn.
It will be: Either Carlos Beltran, NYM or Alfonso Soriano, CHC (probably Beltran)

Starting Pitcher:
My pick: Tim Lincecum, SF (8-2, 2.37 ERA, 132 K): Tim Lincecum is 2nd in the National League in ERA, and leads all of baseball in strike-outs. He has a very good record to go along with that, too, as he’s tied for 5th in wins in the National League. To me, that is an All-Star starting pitcher, even though there are many deserving pitchers for this spot.

C: Bengie Molina, SF (.259 AVG, 10 HR, 46 RBI)
1B: Prince Fielder, MIL (.306 AVG, 20 HR, 74 RBI)
Todd Helton, COL (.312 AVG, 9 HR, 53 RBI)
2B: Brandon Phillips, CIN (.268 AVG, 11 HR, 52 RBI)
Freddy Sanchez, PIT (.315 AVG, 6 HR, 33 RBI)
SS: Miguel Tejada, HOU (.331 AVG, 6 HR, 42 RBI)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (.296 AVG, 13 HR, 44 RBI)
Mark Reynolds, ARI (.270 AVG, 22 HR, 57 RBI, 13 SB)
OF: Carlos Beltran, NYM (.336 AVG, 8 HR, 40 RBI)
Adam Dunn, WAS (.260 AVG, 20 HR, 56 RBI)
Justin Upton, ARI (.309 AVG, 14 HR, 45 RBI)
Matt Kemp, LAD (.302 AVG, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 19 SB)

Matt Cain, SF (9-2, 2.48 ERA, 88 K)
Dan Haren, ARI (7-5, 2.19 ERA, 113 K)
Johnny Cueto, CIN (8-4, 2.69 ERA, 78 K)
Jason Marquis, COL (10-5, 3.87 ERA, 51 K)
Josh Johnson, FLA (7-1, 2.76 ERA, 97 K)
Ted Lilly, CHC (7-6, 3.35 ERA, 88 K)
Heath Bell, SD (1.34 ERA, 22 SV, 36 K)
Francisco Rodriguez, NYM (1.59 ERA, 21 SV, 40 K)
Jonathon Broxton, LAD (2.15 ERA, 19 SV, 62 K)
Francisco Cordero, CIN (1.85 ERA, 19 SV, 29 K)
Ryan Franklin, STL (0.87 ERA, 19 SV, 22 K)
Huston Street, COL (2.91 ERA, 19 SV, 39 K)

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

Come back next week for an interview with Fort Worth Star-Telegram Rangers beat writer Anthony Andro.