Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tanner Scheppers Interview

This week I interviewed Tanner Scheppers, and I will post that along with some analysis on the Arthur Rhodes signing.

Tanner Scheppers Interview:

Tanner is one of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers’ system (Jamey Newberg ranks him as the number 2 prospect in the Rangers’ system). 2010 was his first full year with the Rangers, and he split the year between double-A Frisco and triple-A Oklahoma City. Expect to see Tanner in Arlington sometime in 2011. I would like to thank Tanner for doing this interview for me. He is a great guy, and I really appreciate him spending some of his time answering my questions.

Me: What are the three biggest differences between the independent league (St. Paul Saints) and the minor leagues?

Tanner: One, you get paid more in the minor leagues, two, the competition’s a little bit better, and, three, the atmosphere.

Me: Why did you decide not to sign with the Orioles in 2005 or with the Pirates in 2009 when they drafted you in the second round?

Tanner: Out of high school, I just don’t think I was ready. I really wanted to at least start my education through college. With the Pirates, it just really didn’t work out. They didn’t offer me anything and didn’t have any intentions to sign me, so it just forced me to go to independent ball.

Me: Right, so you went to the St. Paul Saints then. And when the Orioles didn’t draft you, you went to Fresno State, right?

Tanner: Yeah

Me: Can you please give three major differences you’ve experienced between starting and relieving and why? And which one do you enjoy more?

Tanner: I think for my future, I would really like to be a starter. One difference between starting and relieving is that, as a starter, you have a five day routine, you know when you’re going to throw, you prepare your body and get in a good workout routine. Relieving, you’re possibly pitching in any given situation on any day. Another thing is the mindset on attacking hitters. As a starter, you know you may have to go longer in a game, as opposed to relief, where you might just use your fastball and blow guys away. And then another thing would be… Hmm, you know, really I can only think of those two.

Me: Yeah, I like starting more, too.

Tanner: Do you?

Me: Because, when you’re relieving, you normally don’t get more than an inning and I don’t like that.

Tanner: Yeah, absolutely.

Me: What do you think are some of the reasons for the difference between your first half this year, where you had an ERA right around 1.00, and your second half, where your ERA was much higher?

Tanner: You know, I think it was just that it was my first full year and I had never really experienced how long the season actually was. I think I just ran out of gas mentally and physically. But now, being able to look towards the future, I feel like I can prepare myself a lot better, knowing what I have ahead of me throughout the year.

Me: Yeah, the schedule in the bigs is a lot longer than college.

Tanner: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I just never really experienced anything like that.

Me: That’s kind of how I was in my first year of select ball. We played like 40 more games than we did in rec ball. Did you notice any difference between Double-A and Triple-A hitters, and if so, what was it?

Tanner: I think the main difference is that you have more experienced players up there and they’re a lot more patient and they really capitalize on mistakes you make on the mound. They wait for what they want and they attack when they get it.

Me: When the prospect ratings come out with you near the top, do you pay any attention to them, or do you try just to ignore them?

Tanner: I just try to ignore them as best as possible and focus on what I need to do mentally and physically to get ready for the year.

Me: What were the three best parts of participating in the Futures Game this past season?

Tanner: You know, it was really cool because I was at the ballpark that I grew up going to, being from that area. And it was cool to be able to have a lot of my family and friends there, and being able to pitch in a big league stadium.

Me: Because you’re from California and it was in Anaheim, right?

Tanner: Right. I grew up like 30 minutes south of there.

Me: That’s pretty neat. In 2007, you were named to the first-team all WAC. What happens after you get named on that team? Is there a presentation or something to that extent, or do they just name the team and that’s it?

Tanner: They have an end-of-year banquet where they present players and awards for the year.

Me: Do they give you a trophy or anything?

Tanner: They give you a plaque.

Me: When you were recruited to Fresno State, they recruited you as a shortstop. Were you glad or disappointed when they switched you over to middle relief?

Tanner: You know, at first, I was a little disappointed, but it really grew on me and I just fell in love with the art of pitching.

Me: Right, because in your senior year in high school, I think you hit .460 or something and were team MVP, but you were also a good reliever. So I could see being disappointed but I can also see where Fresno State was coming from.

Tanner: Yeah, they had my best interests in their minds. So really, it ended up working out.

Me: It did. What are some of the differences between pitching in the Arizona Fall League and pitching in Spring Training?

Tanner: Just the atmosphere. You actually have people coming to the games and you have all the guys competing for a job (in spring training).

Me: What is the atmosphere in the Arizona Fall League like?

Tanner: It’s pretty relaxed. It’s for development and getting experience. It makes it really fun, when, really win or lose, you’re getting as much out of it because you’re getting better at the game of baseball.

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

Tanner: I think it would probably be my very first start of the year, against the Albuquerque Isotopes I think. I threw four innings of shutout baseball, and I think it was my best performance of the year.

Me: That’s a pretty solid first start.

Tanner: Yeah, it was nice.

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

Tanner: Oh wow. To be honest, I think I would really rather not answer this question. I hope you understand.

Me: Yeah, that’s fair. Can you please rate each of the ballparks in the Rangers organization that you’ve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Tanner: Frisco’s a 10. The atmosphere, the family atmosphere, the stadium, and the facility are unbelievable for double-A. And Oklahoma City was really nice. It was a little older park. I’d probably give it a 9. They had good crowds and the field was always done really beautifully. Both places were really fun to play.

Me: Yeah, my grandparents and I saw you get a save up in Oklahoma City this year. We stayed out in the hotel above left field, where we could see into the ballpark from our room. It was very neat.

Tanner: Yeah, that’s a cool little place.

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

Tanner: Probably just the travel and everyday grind. Playing every day and traveling different places, whether it’s on a bus or a plane. Probably just the everyday grind of that.

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

Tanner: I can’t even think of one really that sticks in my mind.

Me: You mentioned earlier that you’re from near Anaheim, so were the Angels your favorite team growing up?

Tanner: I actually grew up as a Dodgers fan. They were just a little further up the freeway.

Me: What sports did you play growing up?

Tanner: I played basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and baseball.

Me: Which one do you feel you were best at?

Tanner: Baseball.

Me: What is your best pitch and how was it developed?

Tanner: My fastball is my best pitch. It just kind of developed as I got bigger and stronger and got older. The velocity just came.

Me: When you were in high school, in your senior year, you were named to the Orange County All-Star team and you were also your team’s MVP. Which one meant more to you?

Tanner: Probably the Orange County All-Star.

Me: So, was there an actual All-Star game that you got to pitch in?

Tanner: Yeah, there was a game there.

Me: Thanks a lot for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Tanner: Hey, you’re welcome man.

Thanks again to Tanner for giving me so much of his time and for the great answers to my questions.

Arthur Rhodes:

I really like this move. Yes, he’s old, but have you seen his stats? He was an All-Star last year, with an ERA for the season of 2.29. The last three seasons, his ERAs have been tremendous, at 2.04, 2.53, and 2.29. I think that this is a terrific move, and the bullpen needs this, because with Feliz and Ogando possibly moving to the rotation (I think Feliz will be a starter and Ogando will stay in the ‘pen), the depth out there could be pretty thin. Plus, if you delete his stats from the 2000 playoffs, he has a 1.25 ERA in 14.1 innings of work during the playoffs. That’s pretty solid.

Come back next week for most likely another interview.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Newberg Book Release Party

This past Thursday, Jamey Newberg held his annual Book Release party at Sherlock’s out in Arlington. This year, he had Derek Holland, Matt Thompson, Joe Wieland, and Tanner Scheppers signing autographs and participating in a Q&A session. It was a lot of fun as usual. This week I will give a recap of the night and give some analysis on Cliff Lee going to Philadelphia.

Newberg Night:

My dad and I got to Sherlock’s at 4:30 for the 6:00 event, and there were already plenty of people there. We got a table and ate with Ted Price (, and Jamey Newberg came over and ate and chatted with us for a while. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, which was good, along with some decent fries. Two years ago at the event, the news broke that AJ Burnett was going to sign with the Yankees, but there was no big news this time, just the fact that I shouldn’t have benched Vincent Jackson on my fantasy team. Devin Pike ( and Eleanor Czajka ( also came over and sat at the table with us for a little while as people were getting their autographs. It was fun talking with and hanging out with them. Scott Lucas ( was there too but I didn’t get the chance to talk with him much. I also spent some time at the Newberg Book Table with my friend Ryan Wolfson, who introduced me to potato skins, by giving me one, which made me end up getting my own order of potato skins.

After I finished eating the potato skins, I got autographs from the four players (Derek Holland, Joe Wieland, Matt Thompson, and Tanner Scheppers), and they were all extremely nice. I was towards the end of the line, so not too long after I got my autographs, the Q&A session started. Here are the highlights from the session:

Me: This question is for Tanner. What are the three biggest differences between the independent league, where you pitched for the St. Paul Saints, and the minor leagues? (This is one of the two questions I asked during the Q&A)

Tanner: One, you get paid more in the minor leagues, two, the competition’s a little bit better, and, three, the atmosphere.

Q: How do you keep your composure when there are so many trade rumors out there and you’re the centerpiece of so many of them?

Tanner: You can’t really worry about trade rumors. You’re a Ranger as long as you are. If it happens, it is what it is.

Derek: The main thing is not to worry about it. It’s a rumor, remember that. It’s not true until it happens. The best thing is not to worry about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Like Tanner said, you’re a Ranger until you’re told otherwise.

Q: Derek, you shut down the Yankees twice in the playoffs. Tell us how you did it.

Derek: The main thing is to keep throwing strikes. They’ve got to hit your pitch and, sure enough, they weren’t hitting it.

Jamey: Matt, if you had turned the Rangers down and gone to TCU, who would the ace of the Frogs’ staff have been last year, you or Matt Purke?

Matt: Go Frogs. They had a great year over there obviously and they’ll have another great year this year.

Q: This question is for Tanner. I read in an interview that you’re still going to be a starting pitcher. Is that correct? How does that make you feel? Do you have a preference?

Tanner: I definitely like the opportunity to start. Going into spring training, that’s what they’re telling me I’m going to do. All I can do is go out there and prepare as a starter and see what happens.

Eleanor: Joe, will you miss pitching in Bakersfield and what are your memories of pitching with the team?

Joe: Will I miss pitching in Bakersfield? No, definitely not. That league is a hitters’ league and unfriendly to pitchers. But I did kind of like how we started games at 7:45, because the sun was in the hitters’ eyes. It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll miss it.

Jamey: I’ve got one for Joe. Your first camp with the Rangers was also Nolan Ryan’s first camp since he came back to the organization. There were stories that he took a real liking to you the first time he saw you and I assume that involved a couple of conversations you had with him. Just talk about what that was like, being just out of high school and Nolan Ryan’s talking to you about pitching.

Joe: Everything he said, I took to heart. He’s got the best advice to offer. It’s incredible having a guy of his stature taking an interest in you. It helped me out quite a bit.

Q: I know Derek’s going to take ‘awesomeness’ to Surprise. What’s the one thing that the rest of you are going to take to Surprise?

Joe: I’m going to bring my toe shoes. If anybody doesn’t have toe shoes, I recommend it.

Matt: I’m just going to laugh at Wieland’s toe shoes.

Tanner: I’m going to bring Rangers attitude to Surprise. And a mountain bike.

Q: Do you guys pitch because you can’t hit or do you pitch because you’re a better pitcher than hitter?

Tanner: I’m a better pitcher than hitter.

Matt: I couldn’t hit to save my life.

Joe: Definitely a better pitcher.

Derek: Forget these guys. I’m both. Actually, I’m pretty much lying. I’m 0-for-6 so far. But you know what? Actually, I might get to face Cliff Lee. It’d be awesome to take him yard.

Q: If Cliff Lee hit you with a pitch, would you charge the mound?

Derek: I think it’d be even funnier if I just laughed. No, I won’t charge. He’s a nice guy.

Q: Tanner, you played in St Paul, which is an amusing little ballpark. What was it like playing for Bill Murray and, while you were there, did they still have the target with the guy hanging from it in right field?

Tanner: My two highlights in St. Paul are midget wrestling and dog day.

Q: Derek, a couple of years ago, you were at a Newberg event but were still in the farm system. A couple of years later, you’ve pitched in the World Series. What’s going through your head?

Derek: I was in awe. There’s no feeling to describe it. It’s breathtaking. But then again, the way I was taught by Bengie, who’s one of the greatest leaders of all time, is that the game doesn’t change. It’s always the same. It’s just like a regular season game. You just have more media. The game stayed the same. I was very composed. It’s just a little different atmosphere. That’s it.

Devin: You always hear that pitchers have their favorite catchers. At the major league level, you might have that luxury but, in the minors, you might have up to six catchers during the course of the season. So do you have the ability to express a preference for who you’d rather work with?

Joe: I don’t really think we have that luxury. I haven’t asked. I feel it would be disrespectful to the other catchers.

Matt: If you have a good relationship with your manager and pitching coach, you can tell them who you’re more comfortable or have a better connection with. If you recommend it, they can try to work to it as much as they can.

Tanner: Yeah, there are definitely catchers I connect with more than others. But it’s the manager’s decision and you go with what he says.

Q: Derek, first pitch in the majors or first pitch in the World Series? Which one’s better?

Derek: This will be easy. First pitch in the majors, because I threw a ball in the World Series. I threw 11 of them I think, which was very frustrating. Anyway, the debut definitely has more meaning because it’s the first step in the big leagues, so to me it was more important.

Q: Who was your favorite team or player growing up?

Tanner: Favorite team growing up was the Dodgers. Favorite player growing up was Nomar Garciaparra.

Jamey: The Texas Rangers were my favorite team. Probably Buddy Bell was my favorite player.

Matt: Texas Rangers for me as well. Rusty Greer was probably my favorite player.

Joe: I honestly didn’t have a specific favorite team. You guys might hate me for this but Alex Rodriguez was my favorite player.

Derek: Growing up, I was a big Braves fan. Chipper Jones was my favorite player and I wanted to be just like Andy Pettite.

Q: What’s your opinion on the DH?

Derek: I love the DH. It takes a lot of pressure off the pitcher. A lot of pitchers let a bad at-bat affect them when they go back out to the mound. To me, the DH helps out.

Joe: Since I have yet to hit professionally, I’ll have to say designated hitter. Having that extra bat in the lineup really helps out.

Matt: I really don’t have an opinion because I’ve never faced an opposing pitcher when he’s hitting, but I like the DH when I’m in the dugout and our team’s hitting.

Jamey: I’m actually a National League guy. I love interleague play when we’re traveling. I like that brand of baseball better when the bullpen strategy is what it is.

Tanner: It’s nice offensively to have a DH.

Q: I’ve heard it said that Ranger fans are unresponsive to the plays on the field. Derek, is that true? And do you really hear what we’re saying or not saying?

Derek: Personally, yeah, we can hear you guys, and that’s good. We have the greatest fans, just so you guys know. But one thing that I am going to ask, and I know that a lot of guys get irritated with this so don’t take it the wrong way, but the wave needs to go. When I was in the bullpen in the playoffs against the Rays, we had a close game and we were ahead and fans were too busy doing the wave instead of getting behind us. Do it when we’re up by a lot, that’s all I ask. The wave is great, just do it at the right time, that’s all. Please don’t take any offense to it. We like the wave – just do it at the right time.

Q: How much is the defense up the middle determined by what pitch is thrown versus the scouting report on the batter?

Derek: It’s not mainly about the pitch but more about the scouting report.

Q: Jamey, how do you not get in trouble with your wife?

Jamey: I’m really very blessed. Obviously my wife’s very tolerant of all this stuff that I do. But the last few years because of our son Max being more insane about the game than I was at his age, I think she’s given up. She actually kind of jumped aboard, and she had a great time rooting for a baseball team this year, which has never been the case before.

Me: Matt, what adjustments did you make following the 2008 season to lower your WHIP by more than 2 base runners per inning?

Matt: Really, I had a tough time coming out of high school. In high school, it was really about throwing it over the plate somewhere. I signed late, came into the Arizona Rookie League, and found out quick. My first professional pitch was about 93 or 94 mph and it was about 150 back at my face. I tried to make the adjustment over that offseason. I think I made some really good improvements.

Q: Tanner, do you prefer relieving or starting?

Tanner: Right now, definitely starting because that’s what they want me to do.

Q: Matt, do you realize you’re the only guy from Burleson to make it this far?

Matt: I did not know that. I’m competing with Kelly Clarkson.

Q: Now that there are expectations for this team, how does it change your offseason and your approach to the game?

Derek: If you would have come into that clubhouse after we lost, you would have seen that next year is going to be unbelievable. We are very hungry for this. We got a taste of it and now we want the whole thing. We’re not worried about pressure or any of that kind of stuff. We know what we have to do and we’re going to make sure we do it.

Joe: Being in the minor leagues, it was a lot of fun to be able to look up at the big league team and see them win their division and go to the World Series. I got to go to two games in San Francisco and it was just an unbelievable experience. It gave me that much more fire to improve and make adjustments and advance. Watching those guys, it looked like a blast and it’s something I want to experience. Hopefully in the next few years I’ll be able to get that chance.

Matt: Yeah, it was really exciting to watch these guys take care of business this year, just like they’ll do next year. At the lower levels, when the big league club has a season like they had and will continue to have, it makes us want to push ourselves harder so that one day we can come join them and be successful with them.

Jamey: Maybe less Rally Minka. Or more. My approach isn’t going to change.

Q: Derek, who is the most feared big league hitter in a clutch situation that you would not want to face?

Derek: If we’re going to use anybody, I can go ahead and say Josh Hamilton. But if one of us is pitching, then I’m going to say, and I know you guys aren’t going to like this at all, but Derek Jeter. You have to tip your hat to him. He’s one tough guy to get out.

Jamey’s book is awesome as always and is the most complete coverage of the Rangers’ 2010 season that you’re going to find. I highly recommend it. The forewords this year are by Chuck Greenberg and Brad Sham. Jamey included his prospect rankings (top 72, plus breakdowns of the players in each position that are on those lists), his 20 players who could break out in 2011, all of his reports for the season, and the 2010 draft. It is well worth the $25. You can order it off his website (

Cliff Lee:

Disappointed? Yes. A little frustrated? Yes. But, do I think the Rangers handled everything right? Yes to that, also. Although it is disappointing that Lee is with the Phillies, I feel that the Rangers did exactly what they should have done throughout the entire process. They gave Lee a very good offer, and upped it and upped it to match the Yankees, but then knew exactly when they would be giving him too much, and stopped right before that. Personally, I think it’s cool that Cliff decided to take less money to go to Philadelphia just because he liked it there. I just find it disappointing that the Rangers weren’t the team that he liked playing for the most and weren’t the team that he’d take a pay cut to go to.

As far what we should do now that Cliff Lee is off the market, I’m not really sure. But here’s what I don’t want to do:

1. Trade for Zack Greinke – He has a social anxiety disorder, and who knows how he will handle a new situation and pitching for a contending team. Plus, I think he’s overrated, as he had an ERA above 4.00 last season for the Royals.

2. Trade for Matt Garza and Consider Him an Ace – Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Matt Garza. I think he’s a fine pitcher, and I wouldn’t mind having him. But I don’t think that he’s an ace. I think he’d be a very good #2 pitcher, but, I’m sorry, as far as aces on playoff teams go, a 3.91 ERA
(Garza’s 2010 ERA) just doesn’t cut it. So, trading for him I have no problem with, but not as an ace.

3. Sign Carl Pavano and Count on Him as Ace in the Playoffs – Once again, I see nothing wrong with Pavano. Actually, I like the guy. I mean, he screwed up the Yankees, so what’s not to like? Anyway, I think Pavano would be a great guy to sign. As your #1 in the regular season, he’d be great. He eats up innings (221 last year), and he consistently gives you quality starts. But, come playoff time, when he is matched up against CC Sabathia or Jon Lester or Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee, he won’t win you those games. So Pavano as regular season #1: Fine. But Pavano as postseason #1: Bad.

4. Do Nothing – Our pitching staff just isn’t good enough without one more pitcher. Here’s the Rangers rotation:
CJ Wilson: Great #2, not sure about #1
Colby Lewis: Great #3, Not-So-Good #2
Derek Holland: Potentially Fantastic #4, Risky #3
Tommy Hunter: Fine #5, Mediocre #4

Come back next week for an interview with Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Outfield/DH Free Agent Special

This week I will give some analysis and predictions for the top free agent outfielders/DHs. Once Cliff Lee makes his decision, I’ll post some analysis on that, so come back during the week for an update.

Magglio Ordonez (.303 AVG, 12 HR, 59 RBI)
Prediction: Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are pushing hard for Magglio and seem to be willing to pay him some serious dough. Ordonez had a very good year last year, and if you eliminate his injury that kept him out for half the season, his power numbers would pace out to be 24 home runs and 118 RBIs. Those are pretty good numbers, and I don’t see the Tigers letting him go.

Vladimir Guerrero (.300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers want him back and Vlad wants to come back. Guerrero wants a multi-year contract, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to give that to him. And as with all one-year contracts, he’ll go where he wants to go, and that’s in Texas.

Jim Thome (.283 AVG, 25 HR, 59 RBI)
Prediction: Minnesota Twins – Thome was a big part of the Twins’ success last year, and obviously still has it. He it 25 home runs in 108 games last year, which is a very impressive ratio (about 1 home run every four games). He also hit for a solid batting average, and I just don’t see the Twins letting him go, or any other teams jumping in and blowing him away.

Hideki Matsui (.274 AVG, 21 HR, 84 RBI)
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays – Here’s a rundown of who all the Rays have lost this offseason and who they will and might lose:
Lost – Joaquin Benoit
Lost – Carlos Pena
Lost – Carl Crawford
Will Lose – Rafael Soriano
Will Lose – Grant Balfour
Will Lose – Randy Choate
Looking to Trade – Matt Garza
Looking to Trade – Jason Bartlett
After all of those losses, they have to add someone, right?

Come back next week for a recap of Newberg Night and come back during the week after Cliff makes his decision.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Free Agent Special: Infielders

This week I’ll give my predictions on where the top free agent infielders this year will wind up and give some quick analysis on the Rangers’ acquisitions from this week.

This past week the Rangers signed Yorvit Torrealba to be their starting catcher. I think that this is a very good move for the Rangers, especially when you consider that John Buck and Victor Martinez are already gone. Yorvit hit .271 last year with 7 home runs and 37 RBIs. In 2009, he hit .291, making the past two years some of the best hitting years in his career. He is good at working with pitchers, brings a veteran presence, but has lots of trouble throwing out baserunners. On the bright side defensively, though, he almost never makes an error, so he won’t give teams any free bases on passed balls or errors.

The Rangers also signed Yoshinori Tateyama this week. Over his 11 Japanese seasons, all with the Nippon Ham Fighters, he has a 3.43 ERA. Last season, he had a 1.80 ERA and a .213 BAA. He has had good statistics while in Japan and was scouted by the same people that scouted Colby Lewis while in Japan. He is 35, and I like this deal, because at the very worst, he does nothing for us and we get rid of him, but at the very best, he becomes a reliable reliever out of our bullpen.

Free Agent Infielders:

Paul Konerko (.312 AVG, 39 HR, 119 RBI)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers are in need of a first baseman/DH and Konerko fills that role. It is a good fit, and the Rangers are trying hard to get him. He had a great year last year and wants this next deal to be his last, so the Rangers would have to make a long-term commitment to get him. The biggest challenge for the Rangers for Konerko would be the White Sox, even though they already signed Adam Dunn.

Carlos Pena (.196 AVG, 28 HR, 84 RBI)
Prediction: Chicago Cubs – The Cubbies lost their starting first baseman when they traded Derrek Lee last season, and they really seem to appreciate strong defense at that position, which Pena has. They also seem to like power, and Pena has that, too. Personally, I don’t think a guy that hit below .200 deserves anywhere near as much attention as he’s getting, but apparently some teams don’t care about average, they just care about home runs.

Adrian Beltre (.321 AVG, 28 HR, 102 RBI)
Prediction: Oakland Athletics – They apparently gave him a 5-year offer a few weeks back, and feel that they need him to be a contender. I don’t see Beltre turning down 5 years and a lot of money, although I don’t think that would turn out well for the A’s, given that in non-contract years he tends to struggle, and there would be four of those.

Russell Martin (.248 AVG, 5 HR, 26 RBI)
Prediction: New York Yankees - Russell, despite being a two-time all-star, is really not all that great of a starting catching option right now. He hit below .250 last year, exactly .250 in 2009, and has power numbers that have declined each of the past three years. If I’m a GM, I’m staying away from this guy, but the Yankees really want him to be their back-up catcher, and when the Yankees really want somebody, they normally get him.

Miguel Olivo (.269 AVG, 14 HR, 58 RBI)
Prediction: San Diego Padres – Olivo has been a very solid catcher over his career, getting 10+ homers each of the past five seasons, and has been very consistent. The Padres lost Yorvit Torrealba to free agency, and their other catcher, Nick Hundley has never played over 85 games in a season, and has never hit .250 or higher, so the Padres, especially after trading away Adrian Gonzalez, could really use some help at the plate (and behind it). Olivo can do just that.

Come back next week for my free agent special on outfielders.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Free Agent Special: Pitchers

This week I will give my predictions on where the top free agent pitchers will end up.

Starting Pitchers:

Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA, 185 K)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers need Cliff, as their rotation looks great with him, but mediocre without him. Cliff helped carry the Rangers to the World Series last year, and Texas is a much better destination as far as family goes compared to New York. If that factors into his decision, I think he will stay with the Rangers.

Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA, 117 K)
Prediction: Minnesota Twins – Carl was a huge part of their team last year, and they are interested in re-signing him. And even more important, they’re not located in New York and they aren’t called the Yankees.

Erik Bedard (DNP)
Prediction: Houston Astros – The Astros’ owner is looking to find players to sign so that he can sell his team for the $800 million that he’s asking for. He’s reportedly trying to sign Pavano, De La Rosa, and others of that talent level, but I see him settling for a guy like Bedard.

Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 4.22 ERA, 113 K)
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers are supposedly very interested in De La Rosa, and it would make sense, since Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, and Doug Davis are all free agents, and were all on the Brewers last year.

Justin Duchscherer (2-1, 2.89 ERA, 18 K)
Prediction: Oakland Athletics – Justin is extremely injury-prone, as he has only pitched in 28 innings in the past two years, but when he does pitch, he is effective, and I don’t see the A’s letting him go.

Brandon Webb (DNP)
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals – The Cards need pitching, and they need it bad. To this point, they have almost exactly the same team that didn’t get it done for them last year, so even with the re-signing of Jake Westbrook, they are definitely interested in Webb.

Relief Pitchers:

Grant Balfour (2.28 ERA, 56 K)
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays – With the Rays probably losing Rafael Soriano, and having already lost Joaquin Benoit, they have to keep somebody.

Jesse Crain (3.04 ERA, 62 K)
Prediction: Minnesota Twins – It looks as if Matt Guerrier won’t stay with the Twins, which will make them need Crain even more than before.

Frank Francisco (3.76 ERA, 60 K)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers seem to want him back, and I don’t think that Frankie will get a better offer anywhere else.

Matt Guerrier (3.17 ERA, 42 K)
Prediction: Boston Red Sox – Boston has shown some serious interest in Guerrier, and they could really use him, so they’ll probably give him some good money.

Arthur Rhodes (2.29 ERA, 50 K)
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds – Rhodes was such a big part of the Reds playoff run last year, I can’t see them letting him go to another team.

Rafael Soriano (45 SV, 1.73 ERA, 57 K)
Prediction: Anaheim Angels – Soriano was, in my opinion, the best closer in all of baseball last season, and the Angels need a closer. Not to mention that they are willing to spend a little bit of money.

Come back next week for my free agent special on infielders.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Season Predictions vs. Results

This week I will compare my predictions from before the season started (from my March 13th post) to the actual results of the season, which was fun for me to do, especially since I got so many right.

AL East:

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. New York Yankees (Wild Card)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

Percentage Correct:
0/5, 0%

There’s no way that I could’ve predicted all the injuries that the Red Sox had, so that prediction wasn’t too bad, but I don’t know what I was thinking putting the Orioles ahead of the Blue Jays.

AL Central:

1. Minnesota Twins
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Cleveland Indians

1. Minnesota Twins
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Kansas City Royals

Percentage Correct:
3/5, 60%, correctly picked 1st through 3rd place

The Indians were only 2 games better than the Royals, and, really, they’re both so bad that it really doesn’t matter.

AL West:

1. Texas Rangers
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Oakland Athletics

1. Texas Rangers
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Seattle Mariners

Percentage Correct:
2/4, 50%, correctly predicted Texas to win the division

The Mariners were a hot pick at the beginning of the season, with the offseason additions of Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, and Chone Figgins, and I bought into it. I guess I forgot that you need to score at least a run a game to be able to win.

NL East:

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Florida Marlins
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves (Wild Card)
3. Florida Marlins
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals

Percentage Correct:
5/5, 100%

Nailed it. If only I had picked the Braves to win the wild card, it would’ve been perfect.

NL Central:

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Houston Astros

1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Houston Astros
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

Percentage Correct:
0/6, 0%

Wow. I just got 100% correct in the East, and now I follow it up with this. Ouch. I figured that with the Cardinals rotation, they would win the division, and that of course the Cubs wouldn’t be that bad, right? Well, obviously they were that bad. But the real question here is: Why didn’t I put the Pirates in last place? Note to self: Don’t predict the Pirates to finish out of last place until after they actually do.

NL East:

1. San Francisco Giants
2. Colorado Rockies (Wild Card)
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres

1. San Francisco Giants
2. San Diego Padres
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Percentage Correct:
1/5, 20%, correctly predicted the Giants to win the division

I don’t blame myself too much for this one, because the Padres were supposed to be the worst team in baseball, so I wasn’t the only one predicting them in last place. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but how should I have known a team with so little talent would do so well? They’re like the opposite of the Cowboys.

Winner: Joe Mauer, MIN
Runner-up: Evan Longoria, TB
Winner: Josh Hamilton, TEX
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, DET
Percentage Correct:
0/2, 0%
Josh hit .268 and only played in 89 games last year. Normally, that doesn’t turn into an MVP the next year, but I’m glad it did. I just didn’t predict it.

Al Cy Young:
Winner: Cliff Lee, SEA
Runner-up: Zack Grienke, KC
Winner: Felix Hernandez, SEA
Runner-up: David Price, TB
Percentage Correct:
0/2, 0%
Right team, wrong player. I picked Cliff Lee of Seattle to win the award, but it ended up being Felix Hernandez who won the award. But then my runner-up, now that was bad. Grienke had an ERA over 4.00 this year, and I predicted him to be the runner-up in the Cy Young voting. Not even close.

AL Rookie of the Year:
Winner: Austin Jackson, DET
Runner-up: Carlos Santana, CLE
Winner: Neftali Feliz, TEX
Runner-up: Austin Jackson, DET
Percentage Correct:
1/2, 50%
Austin Jackson was a good choice, as I predicted him to finish first, and he ended up finishing second, and then after him, my runner-up was Carlos Santana. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, who knows where he’d have finished, because he was playing well when he went down. Then, also, when I made my predictions, Neftali Feliz was not the Rangers’ closer, so I didn’t expect him to break the rookie saves record, or get anywhere near it.

AL Manager of the Year:
Winner: Ron Washington, TEX
Runner-up: Ron Gardenheire, MIN
Winner: Ron Gardenheire, MIN
Runner-up: Ron Washington, TEX
Percentage Correct:
2/2, 100%
Wow, that’s pretty good. I got both of the names right, just in the wrong order, and, personally, I think that Ron should’ve won, and that my preseason prediction should have been exactly right on this one.

Winner: Albert Pujols, STL
Runner-up: Joey Votto, CIN
Winner: Joey Votto, CIN
Runner-up: Albert Pujols, STL
Percentage Correct:
2/2, 100%
I was very close on this one, too. I went out on a limb and chose Joey Votto as my runner-up, and I was wrong, but not in the way I would’ve thought, as he will most likely actually win the award. The only thing I missed on this one was the order, as Votto was first and Pujols was second.

NL Cy Young:
Winner: Adam Wainwright, STL
Runner-up: Tommy Hanson, ATL
Winner: Roy Halladay, PHI
Runner-up: Adam Wainwright, STL
Percentage Correct:
1/2, 50%
I was very close on Wainwright here, but I very much whiffed on Halladay, and I completely underrated him, although Tommy Hanson did have a solid year.

NL Rookie of the Year:
Winner: Jason Heyward, ATL
Runner-up: Madison Bumgarner, SF
Winner: Buster Posey, SF
Runner-up: Jason Heyward, ATL
Percentage Correct:
1/2, 50%
Once, again, I was one off on a prediction. I predicted Heyward to win, and he finished in second, but still, that’s pretty good.

NL Manager of the Year:
Winner: Jim Tracy, COL
Runner-up: Bruce Bochy, SF
Winner: Bud Black, SD
Runner-up: Dusty Baker, CIN
Percentage Correct:
0/2, 0%
Come on, I predicted the Padres to finish in last place, so there’s no way I would’ve predicted their manager to win manager of the year.

ALDS Prediction:
Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox: Rangers in 5
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins: Yankees in 4

ALDS Result:
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Rangers in 5
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins: Yankees in 3

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 3/4, 75%
Series Results: 2/2, 100%

That might be the closest prediction to being right out of anyone. That’s pretty good.

NLDS Prediction:
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies: Cardinals in 4
San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Giants in 5

NLDS Result:
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds: Phillies in 3
San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves: Giants in 4

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 2/4, 50%
Series Results: 1/2, 50%

The one series that I missed on was a series in which I had two teams that didn’t even make the playoffs facing each other. It’s hard to get that one right when that happens.

ALCS Prediction:
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers: Yankees in 7

ALCS Result:
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers: Rangers in 6

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 2/2, 100%
Series Result: 0/1, 0%

Wow, I can’t believe that I got both of these teams right. Not bad.

NLCS Prediction:
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants: Giants in 5

NLCS Result:
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants: Giants in 6

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 1/2, 50%
Series Result: 1/1, 100%

I did pretty good here, too.

World Series Prediction:
New York Yankees vs. San Francisco Giants: Giants in 6

World Series Result:
Texas Rangers vs. San Francisco Giants: Giants in 5

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 1/2, 50%
Series Result: 1/1, 100%

Wow. I picked the eventual champion back in March. My preseason predictions were a success, if I do say so myself.

Come back next week for a free agent special.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Season Awards

This week I will give my awards for the 2010 season.

Rangers Awards:

MVP: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.359 AVG, 32 HR, 100 RBI) – Come on, he’s the AL MVP, so he has to be the Rangers MVP.
Runner-up: Vladimir Guerrero (.300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI)

Cy Young: CJ Wilson, TEX (15-8, 3.35 ERA, 170 K) – CJ had the most wins on the team, the lowest ERA out of players on the team for the entire season, and the most innings pitched out of pitchers on the team the whole season.
Runner-up: Colby Lewis, TEX (12-13, 3.72 ERA, 196 K)

Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz, TEX (40 SV, 2.73 ERA, 71 K) – Once again, I have him winning the ROY, so he has to win it for his own team.
Runner-up: Mitch Moreland, TEX (.255 AVG, 9 HR, 25 RBI)

AL Awards:

MVP: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.359 AVG, 32 HR, 100 RBI) – He led the majors in batting average by 23 points, had 30+ home runs, has 100+ RBIs, and led his team to the playoffs. That has all the makings of an MVP.
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, DET (.328 AVG, 38 HR, 126 RBI)

Cy Young: Clay Buchholz, BOS (17-7, 2.33 ERA, 120 K) – I know he won’t win the award since he doesn’t have many innings, but I think he should. He is second in the AL in ERA, leads the #3 guy in that category by a lot, and has 4 more wins than the #1 guy in that category. I think that he’s being way overlooked here.
Runner-up: Felix Hernandez, SEA (13-12, 2.27 ERA, 232 K)

Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz, TEX (40 SV, 2.73 ERA, 71 K) – He was third in the AL in saves this year, so the fact that he is not only one of the top rookies, but one of the top closers in baseball makes this choice pretty obvious for me.
Runner-up: Austin Jackson, DET (.293 AVG, 4 HR, 43 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Ron Washington, TEX (90-72, 1st place) – Although I might not agree with some of his in-game decisions, he did a good job taking this team to the playoffs, and deserves this award.
Runner-up: Ron Gardenheire, MIN (94-68, 1st place)

NL Awards:

MVP: Joey Votto, CIN (.324 AVG, 37 HR, 113 RBI) – He’s in the top three in each of the three major categories, and his team made it to the playoffs. It’s hard to go against him.
Runner-up: Carlos Gonzalez, COL (.336 AVG, 34 HR, 117 RBI)

Cy Young: Roy Halladay, PHI (21-10, 2.44 ERA, 219 K) – Here’s a Cy Young checklist:
20+ wins – 21 check
3.00- ERA – 2.44 check
200+ IP – 250.2 check
200+ K – 219 check
I think that those numbers are Cy Young worthy.
Runner-up: Adam Wainwright, STL (20-11, 2.42 ERA, 213 K)

Rookie of the Year: Neil Walker, PIT (.296 AVG, 12 HR, 66 RBI) – Everybody is saying that it should be Jason Heyward, but, no, I don’t think it should. Walker has a much better average, and only 6 less homers and 6 less RBIs, so I think that he should get the award, even though I know that he won’t.
Runner-up: Jaime Garcia, STL (13-8, 2.70 ERA, 132 K)

Manager of the Year: Bud Black, SD (90-72, 2nd place) – The Padres are not a very talented team, and yet they were one win away from the playoffs. I give the credit for that to the manager.
Runner-up: Dusty Baker, CIN (91-71, 1st place)

Come back next week for my season’s predictions compared to this season’s results.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

World Series Wrap-up and Off-season Checklist

This week I will give a small recap on the World Series and then a trip report on the Aggie victory over OU this week. I will also give my checklist for the Rangers this offseason.

World Series Recap:

The World Series was disappointing to lose, but the season was so great it doesn’t feel as bad as I thought it would. The Rangers just got flat-out outplayed. The Giants pitched better, hit better, and fielded better than the Rangers, and, really, it’s almost impossible to win a World Series when you score 1 run or less in three games. The starting pitching for the Rangers was okay, obviously Cliff Lee got lit up in Game 1 and Tommy Hunter struggled in Game 4, but in the other three games it was great, so that was one good area. It was a great year, and I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to three more playoff wins on top of this year’s number next year.

Rangers Offseason Checklist:

Below are the players that I would most like to have, in order, at our positions of need for this offseason, along with their 2010 season stats.

1. Cliff Lee – 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 185 K
2. Zach Grienke (in trade) - 10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K
3. Rich Harden – just kidding

#4 Starter (might not sign someone here, but it would be nice):
1. Jon Garland – 14-12, 3.47 ERA, 136 K
2. Hiroki Kuroda – 11-13, 3.39 ERA, 159 K
3. Erik Bedard – DNP (injury)
4. Justin Duchscherer – 2-1, 2.89 ERA, 18 K
5. Jorge De La Rosa – 8-7, 4.22 ERA, 113 K
6. Brandon Webb – DNP (injury)
7. Jake Westbrook – 10-11, 4.22 ERA, 128 K

1. Joaquin Benoit – 1.34 ERA, 1 SV
2. Scott Downs – 2.64 ERA, 0 SV
3. Grant Balfour – 2.28 ERA, 0 SV
4. Matt Guerrier – 3.17 ERA, 1 SV
5. JJ Putz – 2.83 ERA, 3 SV
6. Arthur Rhodes – 2.29 ERA, 0 SV
7. Frank Francisco – 3.76 ERA, 2 SV
8. Jason Frasor – 3.68 ERA, 4 SV
9. Jesse Crain – 3.04 ERA, 1 SV
10. JC Romero – 3.68 ERA, 3 SV
11. Ron Mahay – 3.44 ERA, 0 SV
12. Kyle Farnsworth – 3.34 ERA, 0 SV

Catcher (as if Bengie retires):
1. John Buck - .281 AVG, 20 HR, 66 RBI
2. Miguel Olivo - .269 AVG, 14 HR, 58 RBI
3. Yorvit Torrealba - .271 AVG, 7 HR, 37 RBI
4. Ramon Hernandez - .297 AVG, 7 HR, 48 RBI
5. Rod Barajas - .240 AVG, 17 HR, 47 RBI

1. Adam LaRoche - .261 AVG, 25 HR, 100 RBI
2. Aubrey Huff - .290 AVG, 26 HR, 86 RBI
3. Vladimir Guerrero - .300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI
4. Jim Thome - .283 AVG, 25 HR, 59 RBI
5. Ty Wigginton - .248 AVG, 22 HR, 76 RBI
6. Russell Branyan - .237 AVG, 25 HR, 57 RBI
7. Carlos Pena - .196 AVG, 28 HR, 84 RBI
8. Lyle Overbay - .243 AVG, 20 HR, 67 RBI

Trip Report:

WHOOP! This weekend my dad, my uncle, and I drove down to College Station to see the Aggies play the Sooners at Kyle Field. It was a blast. We got there late Friday night and checked in to our hotel, a Hampton Inn, and almost immediately went to sleep. On Saturday morning, we got up and hung around the hotel for a while, watching Louisville, my second team, beat Syracuse 28-20. Fear the Bird. We then went to eat lunch at Double Dave’s Pizzaworks, which was great. They used to have some locations in Dallas, but they all closed down, making visiting one a treat. They have very good pizza, but their pepperoni rolls are the highlight, and are the best ones I’ve ever had. We then drove over to the movie theatre and saw Mega Mind, which was good. After that, it was time to walk over to the game.

The game started off great, with a bad snap going over the Oklahoma QB’s head for a safety on the very first play of the game. Then, on the Aggies’ drive following the kickoff, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown to go up 9-0. After a late first half field goal, and a kickoff return for a touchdown to start off the second half to give the Aggies a 19-0 lead, the Sooners scored 17 unanswered points and cut the lead to 19-17. But in the 4th quarter, the Aggies once again dominated. They had a great drive that ended with an incredible Cyrus Gray 23 yard TD run, with about 4 broken tackles in the play. At this point the Aggies were up 26-17, but then on A&M’s next possession, they scored another touchdown on a 64-yard TD pass to Ryan Swope, and that finished the deal, as Texas A&M crushed the #8 ranked Oklahoma Sooners by a final score of 33-19. That was a very, very fun game, and it was my first Aggies football game ever. I think I picked a good game to go to.

Come back next week for my 2010 Season Awards.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Updated World Series Prediction

This week I will give my prediction on the rest of the World Series, but it will be a fairly short post due to the busyness of my weekend. This weekend I am going to two World Series games and a Cowboys game, and I can’t wait.

World Series Prediction:

Game 3 – Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants (SF 2-1)
Reason: Colby has an ERA under 2.00 this postseason and has been great, and I think that Sanchez will have lost all his confidence after his last performance and get lit up.

Game 4 – San Francisco Giants over Texas Rangers (SF 3-1)
Reason: I just don’t have any confidence in Tommy Hunter, and despite Bumgarner’s .306 BAA these playoffs, Tommy has a .333 BAA and has a 6.14 ERA. That doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence.

Game 5 – Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants (SF 3-2)
Reason: Come on, Cliff Lee and two straight bad starts together is impossible, right? Anyway, Lincecum has allowed at least 3 runs in 3 straight starts.

Game 6 – Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants (TIE 3-3)
Reason: CJ has been dealing all postseason with the exception of one game, and I don’t see any way that Matt Cain goes an entire game without allowing an earned run again. That streak has got to end at some point.

Game 7 – Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants (TEX 4-3)
Reason: I went back and forth on this one, because the crowd will be so crazy, but I just don’t know if Sanchez will get his act back together or if he will continue to struggle. But for us, I’m worried about Colby in this one, because he has not pitched on the road once this postseason. All of that makes for a very up-in-the-air game in a possible Game 7 situation.


Come back next week for a World Series recap on the soon-to-be 2010 Champion Rangers, and a trip report of an Aggie victory over the Sooners.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

World Series Prediction and Analysis

This week I will make my World Series predictions and my position-by-position analysis, which finally includes the Rangers. I can’t wait for it to start. This is awesome.

Position-by-Position Analysis (the Number 2 and 3 starters might be switched, as it hasn’t been announced, but I’m listing it as I think it should be):

Number 1 Starters:
Cliff Lee (TEX) <-- Tim Lincecum (SF)
Analysis: Cliff Lee is probably the best postseason pitcher of this decade. The guy is amazing. In his career, he is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in the playoffs, and this year, he is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Not to mention his regular season success. Wow. Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum for the Giants is pretty good himself, winning each of the last two Cy Young Awards in the National League. And, overall in this year’s playoffs, he’s been great, with a 1.93 ERA, but in two NLCS starts, he allowed 6 runs (5 earned) in just 14 innings, which isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. I don’t see any way that you can go against Cliff Lee here.

Number 2 Starters:
CJ Wilson (TEX) --> Matt Cain (SF)
Analysis: This one is extremely close, and in the series, I see them each winning one game. But I think that a slight edge goes to Matt Cain, just because he hasn’t allowed an earned run yet in these playoffs in 13.2 innings of work. But CJ has been great these playoffs too, despite having a bad start in his last outing. Other than that start, CJ has been simply masterful, allowing only 3 runs in 13.1 innings, and, in my opinion, one of those runs is on Jorge Cantu for not taking the ball to the bag, and then another one of those runs was given up by the bullpen.

Number 3 Starters:
Colby Lewis (TEX) <-- Jonathon Sanchez (SF)
Analysis: Sure, it’s nice to have a guy going out there in Game 3 with a 1.45 playoff ERA in 18.2 innings. And, sure, it’s nice to have a guy with a 2-0 record in the postseason, and it’s also nice to have a guy that just dominated the Yankees in the biggest start of his career. And all of that is what Colby Lewis has done so far, but that’s still not the major reason that I’m giving him the edge. It’s because I think that Jonathon Sanchez will just get lit up, after completely losing his composure and his confidence in a 2-inning, 2-run performance in Game 6 of the NLCS.

Number 4 Starters:
Tommy Hunter (TEX) --> Madison Bumgarner (SF) or
Derek Holland (TEX) <-- Madison Bumgarner (SF)
Analysis: Madison Bumgarner is not a bad pitcher, with a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings so far this postseason, but he should not shut you down, as he has a .306 batting average against in the playoffs and is still yet to face the best hitting team that the Giants will play. So if we can just have a solid performance by our starter in that game, I think that the Rangers will win. The thing is, I don’t see Tommy Hunter doing that (playoff stats: 0-1, 2 GS, 6.14 ERA, 7.1 IP), as he has just been horrendous. But I do see Derek Holland (playoff stats: 1-0, 2.61 ERA, 10.1 IP) having a solid, if not better, performance in a possible start, especially against the Giants’ offense.

Bengie Molina (TEX) <-- Buster Posey (SF)
Analysis: Even though Buster Posey was much better in the regular season, the playoff stats and experience are making me go away from Posey. Buster hit only .217 in the NLCS, and has only 3 RBIs this entire postseason, which isn’t what you expect from one of your biggest offensive producers. Meanwhile, Bengie, apart from being great with the pitching staff, is hitting .333 in these playoffs and has hit one big home run in each series so far.

First Base:
Mitch Moreland (TEX) <-- Aubrey Huff (SF)
Analysis: Once again, even though Huff was much better in the regular season, his playoff stats compared with Moreland are making me go against him. Huff has hit only .256 this postseason, including a .250 NLCS, had a .280 OBP last series, and is yet to get an extra-base hit these playoffs, which leads him to an awful .256 SLG. Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland, after hitting .200 in the ALDS, hit a tremendous .389 in the ALCS, and compared with Huff, has the same power numbers, a much better average, a better on-base percentage, a better slugging percentage by far, and has plenty less strikeouts.

Second Base:
Ian Kinsler (TEX) <-- Freddy Sanchez (SF)
Analysis: Ian has been great in these playoffs with a .342 batting average, 3 home runs, and 9 RBIs. Possibly even more impressive, though, would be his .409 on-base-percentage, which is outstanding. On the other side, Freddy Sanchez has been okay, with a .268 batting average, but has been awful at every other stat, with no home runs, one RBI, and a .302 OBP. I think that Ian definitely has the edge between those two.

Third Base:
Michael Young (TEX) <-- Mike Fontenot/Pablo Sandoval (SF)
Analysis: The main reason for this is not Michael’s .333 batting average in the ALCS, even though that is very good, but the Giants’ incompetence at the position. Mike Fontenot is hitting .214 in the playoffs so far, with no RBIs, and Pablo Sandoval is also hitting .214 in the playoffs with 2 RBIs. That’s just awful.

Elvis Andrus (TEX) <-- Juan Uribe/Edgar Renteria (SF)
Analysis: Elvis didn’t need to have hit safely in every playoff game so far for the Rangers to have the edge in this match-up, and he didn’t need his .333 playoff average either. Once again, the Giants are just incompetent at the position. Yes, Juan Uribe hit a home run to send the Giants to the World Series, and a walk-off sacrifice fly, but he is hitting .143 in the playoffs, and has an OBP under .200, and that’s just embarrassing. And Edgar Renteria isn’t much better, with a .167 playoff batting average, and has no extra-base hits. That’s incompetence at its highest.

Left Field:
David Murphy/Vladimir Guerrero (TEX) <-- Pat Burrell (SF)
Analysis: Yes, I know that when Vlad plays the outfield, he will be in right and Cruz will be in left, but for the sake of position consistency, I put Vlad in left field since he will split time with Murphy when playing in SF. Once again, the Giants player in left field just hasn’t hit in these playoffs, as Burrell is hitting .207, and has struck out 11 times. I know Vlad has struggled, hitting .267 with 11 strikeouts, and I know David Murphy has struggled, hitting .200, but neither of them have struggled that badly.

Center Field:
Josh Hamilton (TEX) <-- Aaron Rowand/Andres Torres (SF)
Analysis: Come on, when your center fielder is the ALCS MVP, and should be the AL MVP, you’re going to win hands-down. Josh hit .350 last series with 4 home runs and 7 RBIs, and had an OBP of .536 after you calculate the 13 walks he had in the series (5 of those were intentional walks). I mean, those numbers are just ridiculous. So when the Giants’ center fielders are hitting just about the best on their team at .286 (Aaron Rowand) and .250 (Andres Torres), it’s not really gonna matter. Good luck beating out Josh at that position, Giants.

Right Field:
Nelson Cruz (TEX) <-- Cody Ross (SF)
Analysis: As far as this post goes, the Giants got very unlucky to have their only good hitter at the moment playing right field, because that’s where Nelson Cruz plays. Cody Ross hit .350 with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs in the NLCS against the Phillies. But even that has been outdone by Nellie, who has hit .375 this postseason with 5 home runs and 8 RBIs. That doesn’t even take into account just how good Cruz’s defense is. Cody, you play the wrong position for this post.

Neftali Feliz (TEX) --> Brian Wilson (SF)
Analysis: Yes, you’re seeing right, this is an arrow pointing to the right after nine straight pointing to the left. But it is a pretty obvious choice, with Brian Wilson having 5 saves this postseason with no earned runs, and Neftali Feliz still not having a save. He did get hit hard in a game against the Rays in the ALDS, but other than that game, he hasn’t allowed a baserunner, so maybe he’ll end up being better than Wilson, but I’m definitely not predicting it.

World Series Prediction:

Game 1: Texas Rangers win (TEX 1-0)
Reason: Cliff Lee. What else do I need to say?

Game 2: San Francisco Giants win (TIE 1-1)
Reason: I don’t see them leaving their home park down 0-2.

Game 3: Texas Rangers win (TEX 2-1)
Reason: As I said earlier, I think Sanchez will get lit up due to a loss in confidence.

Game 4 w/ Holland: Texas Rangers win (TEX 3-1)
Reason: Holland has had a very good postseason, especially in the ALCS, and with Bumgarner’s .306 BAA, I see the Rangers scoring a few runs off him.

Game 4 w/ Hunter: San Francisco Giants win (TIE 2-2)
Reason: I don’t trust Hunter at all. He has averaged 3.2 innings per start in these playoffs. Ewwww.

Game 5: Texas Rangers win (Either TEX 4-1 or TEX 3-2)
Reason: Once again, Cliff Lee.

Game 6: Texas Rangers win (Either not necessary or TEX 4-2)
Reason: I don’t see CJ losing both of his starts in this series to Matt Cain.

If Derek Holland starts Game 4: Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants 4-1
If Tommy Hunter starts Game 4: Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants 4-2

Come back next week for more World Series analysis.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This is great. It’s the first time that the Rangers have been in the playoffs since 1999, and they are going to the World Series. I was at the game Friday, and it was so exciting that it’s hard to describe it. That place was rocking. That must have been the most exciting game I’ve been to in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of games. The only other series-clinching win that I’ve seen would be when the Dallas Stars beat the Anaheim Ducks a couple of years ago. That was awesome, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to the experience. I just still can’t believe that the Rangers are in the World Series, and I can’t wait ‘til the Series starts. I’ll be there for games 3, 4, and (if needed) 5.

Come back at the end of the NLCS for my World Series prediction. Go Rangers!

Friday, October 15, 2010

ALCS Prediction

This week I will give my predictions for the American League Championship Series between the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees and for the NLCS.


Game 1: New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) @ Texas Rangers (CJ Wilson)

Winner – Texas Rangers
Analysis: CC Sabathia is perceived to be a good playoff pitcher, but, really, I don’t think that he is. In his career, he has had 11 postseason starts, and has an ERA of 4.41. He allowed 3 runs in 6 innings in his only start so far this postseason. In his playoff career, he has been lit up four different times and has dominated only three different times. When you’re getting lit up more than you’re dominating, and you’re an ace, I’d consider that bad pitching. Meanwhile, in CJ Wilson’s only playoff start, he went 6.1 innings, allowing no runs, and just four base-runners. One other note that should affect the whole series - the Yankees threw out a horrible 15% of base-stealers this season, while the Rangers have already stolen 6 bases this postseason. That’s a good sign.

Game 2: New York Yankees (Phil Hughes) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis)

Winner – New York Yankees
Analysis: Despite having an 8.53 ERA last postseason, Phil Hughes has still had many good playoff outings, with a 1.59 postseason ERA in 2007, and seven shutout innings in his first career playoff start earlier this year. I could definitely see Phil Hughes struggling in this game, but I don’t think that it will happen that way. On the other side, Colby Lewis didn’t allow any runs in his first ever playoff appearance and allowed just two hits, but still didn’t do his job, because due to his five walks, he couldn’t even record an out in the sixth inning before getting pulled. I think the Rangers have a good chance in this one, but I see the Yankees recording the win.

Game 3: Texas Rangers (Cliff Lee) @ New York Yankees (Andy Pettite)

Winner – Texas Rangers
Analysis: The Rangers have Cliff Lee going in this game. That should be enough analysis for this prediction, but I’ll give some stats anyway. Cliff Lee is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA, with 54 strikeouts and 6 walks in 56.1 career playoff innings. That’s pretty good. Yes, I realize that Andy Pettite has 19 career playoff wins, but that is more due to quantity than quality. Andy has a 3.87 postseason ERA in his career. Not bad, but when you have started in 41 playoff games, you’d be doing pretty bad if you didn’t have 19 wins, so I don’t put too much stock into that.

Game 4: Texas Rangers (Tommy Hunter) @ New York Yankees (AJ Burnett)

Winner – Texas Rangers
Analysis: Tommy struggled in his first playoff outing, going only 4 innings, and allowing 3 runs, 2 of them earned, and I don’t see him being all that great in this game either (maybe 6 or 7 innings with 3 or 4 runs allowed). But with AJ Burnett going for the Yankees, that should be enough to pick up the victory. Burnett went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA for the Yanks this year, and looked even worse than that. Not to mention that his postseason ERA last year was just about the same at 5.27. That’s awful, and I don’t see those numbers changing in this one.

Game 5: Texas Rangers (CJ Wilson) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia)

Winner – Texas Rangers
Analysis: Once again, CC’s career playoff stats are not very good, with a 4.41 career playoff ERA, and he finished off the season with a 4.11 ERA in the year’s final 30 games. That’s worrisome for Yankees fans, and great for Rangers fans. And that’s not to mention CJ Wilson’s road ERA this season. On the road this year, CJ had a 2.91 ERA. That’s incredible, and not only has he proven that he’s a good road pitcher during the regular season, but he’s done that in the postseason, too, as his first start in the playoffs was on the road in Tampa, so I don’t see why that would change now.

Prediction: Texas Rangers 4, New York Yankees 1


Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies 4, San Francisco Giants 3

Come back next week for World Series predictions, which will hopefully include the Rangers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playoff Experience and Game 5 Prediction

This weekend, I got to go to both of the Rangers home playoff games, the first ones in my life in the first playoff series of my life that I will be able to remember (with me being 3 the last time they made the playoffs). This week I will describe that experience and give my Game 5 prediction. It will be a short blog because I’m just mentally and emotionally drained from the two losses, and my brain still feels fried from the sun beating down on it all game today.

On Saturday night, the ballpark was amazing. I’d been to Cowboys and Stars playoff games, but I think that baseball definitely has the best playoff atmosphere. There was just a special feeling in that place, and it was awesome. Saturday also was a game that through 7 innings was amazing, and really got the fans into it. Even though I feel like Colby didn’t do his job, going only five innings, it was still kind of neat when the whole ballpark chanted his name, or ‘O’Day’, or’ MVP’ throughout the game. I had never experienced anything like that where so many fans were so into the game. After the Ian Kinsler home run to give them a 2-1 lead with only 6 outs left to clinch the series, that place reached his height, and the excitement couldn’t have gotten any higher. Of course, after that, the game didn’t go so well, but it was still a lot of fun to be at and to experience.

On Sunday afternoon, the ballpark was still excited, but it was nowhere near Saturday night’s levels, and except for a few pitches, it just felt like a bad Opening Day game. I think that was probably due to the heat, the horrible game, and the previous night’s game. It was a very frustrating game, especially when you kept looking up at the scoreboard and seeing the runners left on base total get higher and higher almost every inning and not see the Rangers’ runs get higher at all. I left that game very disappointed and frustrated.

Game 5 Prediction:
Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2

I don’t see David Price having two straight bad starts at home, but I also do see Cliff Lee having two straight great starts on the road. Also, so far in this series, the Rays have scored one run on eight hits in the two games started by lefties and have a lot of left-handed starters on offense. I can’t wait for the game and am looking forward to hopefully the first playoff series win in franchise history.

Come back next week for more postseason analysis, which will hopefully include the Rangers.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Position-by-Position Analysis and Playoff Predictions

First, I messed up last week when giving my game-by-game Rangers/Rays series predictions. I thought that Tommy Hunter would be named the game 3 starter but it’s going to by Colby Lewis, with Hunter starting game 4. I’m now predicting the Rangers to win in 4 games instead of 3.

This week I will give my position-by-position analysis for the Rangers and Rays starting line-ups, along with who I think has the edge, and I will also give my playoff predictions for this October.

C: John Jaso, TB (.263 AVG, 5 HR, 44 RBI) vs. Bengie Molina, TEX (.248 AVG, 5 HR, 35 RBI)
Advantage: Bengie Molina
Analysis: Jaso’s stats are better for the year, but in the last 30 days, Jaso is hitting just .206, and on top of that, Jaso is only a rookie. Meanwhile, Molina has hit .319 in the last 30 days, so, while I don’t think he’s all that good, I think that he is better, and he also has much more experience.

1B: Carlos Pena, TB (.196 AVG, 28 HR, 84 RBI) vs. Mitch Moreland, TEX (.255 AVG, 9 HR, 25 RBI)
Advantage: Mitch Moreland
Analysis: Pena has better power, and also has more experience, but I just cannot force myself to go with a guy batting under the Mendoza line, especially when that same guy is hitting .135 in the last 30 days, and, no, .135 is not a typo. It’s his recent batting average.

2B: Sean Rodriguez, TB (.251 AVG, 9 HR, 40 RBI) vs. Ian Kinsler, TEX (.286 AVG, 9 HR, 45 RBI)
Advantage: Ian Kinsler
Analysis: Ian has a better batting average, the same amount of home runs, more RBI’s, more experience, and most importantly, he isn’t hitting .159 in the last 30 days like Sean Rodriguez is.

3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.294 AVG, 22 HR, 104 RBI) vs. Michael Young, TEX (.285 AVG, 21 HR, 91 RBI)
Advantage: Evan Longoria
Analysis: This one is very close, as Michael is just barely behind him in all three major categories, but Longoria is the Rays’ best player and hitter, so I went with him. However, I have to wonder if Longoria will be healthy for the playoffs, as he is nicked up and hasn’t played in a few days.

SS: Jason Bartlett, TB (.254 AVG, 4 HR, 47 RBI) vs. Elvis Andrus, TEX (.265 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI)
Advantage: Elvis Andrus
Analysis: Bartlett is hitting only .254, and while Elvis’ average isn’t too much better, at .265, he has superior speed and hits .347 with a .440 OBP with runners in scoring position. That is clutch.

LF: Carl Crawford, TB (.307 AVG, 19 HR, 90 RBI) vs. David Murphy, TEX (.291 AVG, 12 HR, 65 RBI)
Advantage: Carl Crawford
Analysis: It’s impossible to go against Crawford here, with a .300-plus batting average, and solid power numbers and with Murphy a little banged up. Murphy has had a good season, but he doesn’t have the bat, speed, or glove of Crawford, so he is definitely the second best left fielder in this series.

CF: BJ Upton, TB (.237 AVG, 18 HR, 62 RBI) vs. Josh Hamilton, TEX (.359 AVG, 32 HR, 100 RBI)
Advantage: Josh Hamilton
Analysis: Come on, Josh is the most likely player to win the AL MVP, and has a batting average .122 points above BJ Upton’s batting average. Couldn’t be much easier to pick.

RF: Ben Zobrist, TB (.238 AVG, 10 HR, 75 RBI) vs. Nelson Cruz, TEX (.318 AVG, 22 HR, 78 RBI)
Advantage: Nelson Cruz
Analysis: This one is almost as easy as the center field position was to pick. Nellie has had a great season, and if he wasn’t injured for much of the season, he probably would have had video-game stats. On the Rays’ side, Ben Zobrist is hitting just .238 for the season, and is hitting .192 in his last 30 games.

DH: Willie Aybar, TB (.230 AVG, 6 HR, 43 RBI) vs. Vladimir Guerrero, TEX (.300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI)
Advantage: Vladimir Guerrero
Analysis: Wow, this one is also a completely lopsided one. Vlad is an All-Star, with a .300 batting average, with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, compared to Aybar who is hitting .230, with a .192 recent batting average.

Advantage Totals: Texas Rangers 7, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Playoff Predictions:

Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 1 – Rangers have a better offense, better starting pitching, and a better bullpen. What more can you ask for?

Minnesota Twins 3, New York Yankees 1 – The Yankees just don’t have a very good rotation besides CC Sabathia, and the Twins are just an all-around solid team.

Philadelphia Phillies 3, Cincinnati Reds 0 – Not the Phillies again. I’m tired of them doing well, but with three, yes three, aces on their team, I don’t see them losing any games that they pitch in.

San Francisco Giants 3, Atlanta Braves 1 – The Giants have a playoff rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. Try beating that.

Texas Rangers 4, Minnesota Twins 2 – Here’s the pitching match-ups, and who I think is the best in each of those games:
Game 1 – Cliff Lee over Francisco Liriano
Game 2 – Carl Pavano over CJ Wilson
Game 3 – Brian Duensing over Colby Lewis
Game 4 – Tommy Hunter over Scott Baker
Game 5 – Cliff Lee over Francisco Liriano
Game 6 – CJ Wilson over Carl Pavano

Philadelphia Phillies 4, San Francisco Giants 1 – Once again, I just think that the Phillies’ pitching is too much, even for the Giants’ pitching staff.

World Series:
Philadelphia Phillies 4, Texas Rangers 2 – The Rangers might have the best pitching in the AL playoffs, but they’d only have the 3rd best in the NL playoffs, and the Phillies’ pitching is just too incredibly good, so I don’t see the Rangers winning this series.

Come back next week for more playoff coverage.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rangers-Rays Series Analysis and Playoff Roster Prediction

The Rangers clinched the AL West division title on Saturday, and I am pumped. I have waited as long as I can remember for the Rangers to make the playoffs, and now it’s finally happening. I’m so excited, and I can’t wait for October. We have tickets for all of the Rangers playoff games and I’m hoping for a deep run. I’ve been to hundreds of games but have never been to a major league baseball playoff game.

This week I’ll analyze the probable match-up of the Rays that the Rangers have for the playoffs in the first round and also give my Rangers playoff roster.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays:

Game 1: Texas Rangers 0 (Cliff Lee) at Tampa Bay Rays 0 (David Price)
I’ll give Lee the edge in this one, even though Price has had a better year, and the Rays are at home. Price has given up 3 runs in each of his last two starts, and has already thrown way more innings than ever before in his career. They both have postseason experience, and have both been great in the playoffs, but Price did it while coming out of the bullpen. Last year, Cliff Lee had a 1.56 postseason ERA, including a 1.10 divisional round ERA, and went 4-0. In 2008, David Price had a 1.59 ERA during the playoffs, but only pitched 5.2 innings, so has a small sample. In his one game against the Rangers this year, David Price allowed 2 runs over 6 innings of work. This one should be a very close, low-scoring game, but I’m going to say that the Rangers lead the series 1-0 after the game.

Game 2: Texas Rangers 1 (CJ Wilson) at Tampa Bay Rays 0 (Matt Garza)
So far this year, CJ has been much better than Garza, with a 14-7 record, and a 3.15 ERA, while Garza is 15-9, with an ERA just under 4.00, at 3.92. However, in Garza’s last start against the Rangers, he threw 7 shut-out innings, and in CJ’s only game against the Rays, he allowed 3 earned runs over only 5 innings. But I still give CJ the edge, with Matt Garza having a horrendous September, with a 6.41 ERA in the month. He wasn’t exactly sharp in the ’08 playoffs, either, as Garza had an ERA of 6.00 or more in 2 of his 4 playoff starts, including his divisional series start. So with Garza’s recent play, and his past postseason play, I’ll give the Rangers the win here, too.

Game 3: Tampa Bay Rays 0 (James Shields) at Texas Rangers 2 (Tommy Hunter)
I think that Tommy Hunter is a much better pitcher than Shields in this one, but I worry about his youth. I’ll still give him the win, though, as his ERA is 1.13 points better than Shields’ ERA, which is an awful 4.96, including a 6.86 ERA in his last four starts. Shields also leads the American League in home runs allowed. Tommy Hunter pitched very well in his only start against the Rays in which he wasn’t sick, allowing just one run in a complete game outing while pitching at home against them. So while I really didn’t think coming into this analysis that the Rangers would sweep the Rays, based on the three pitching match-ups, I predict that they will. I think that the Rangers have the edge in all three games pitching-wise.

Result: Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 0

My Playoff Roster:
C – Bengie Molina: He is one of the top two catchers on the team as far as playing time, so I don’t see him being left off.
C – Matt Treanor: Has done his job this year, and is solid defensively. I see him possibly splitting the time with Bengie.
1B – Jorge Cantu: Can play first and third, and still has the potential to be a good hitter.
1B – Chris Davis: He can be on the roster as an injury replacement and is hitting very well. Could split 1B time with Cantu in playoffs.
2B – Ian Kinsler: Our obvious starting second baseman.
SS – Elvis Andrus: No question about it.
3B – Michael Young: Who else?
UTIL – Andres Blanco: Showed he deserved it while Kinsler was injured, and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be on the roster here.
OF – Josh Hamilton: Hopefully he’ll be ready to go.
OF – Vladimir Guerrero: Big contributor, no question.
OF – Nelson Cruz: Assuming he doesn’t have any more hamstring problems.
OF – David Murphy: Has done a great job filling in for injuries, with .288 average and 11 HR’s.
OF – Julio Borbon: Solid this year, and we need the speed.
OF – Jeff Francoeur: Has been very good as Ranger,batting .299 against lefties. Definitely worth the spot.
SP – Cliff Lee: He’s our ace.
SP – CJ Wilson: 3.15 ERA. Enough said.
SP – Tommy Hunter: He’s our number three guy, ERA in the 3.00’s.
SP – Colby Lewis: 3.79 ERA. Don’t want just a three-man playoff rotation, too risky.
Closer – Neftali Feliz: Could have 40 saves by the end of the year, and should win ROY.
RP – Darren O’Day: 1.98 ERA.
RP – Alexi Ogando: 1.36 ERA.
RP – Darren Oliver: 2.52 ERA.
RP – Matt Harrison: Has done a nice job in long relief.
RP – Dustin Nippert: 0.77 ERA since coming back from injury.
RP – Michael Kirkman: 0.71 ERA since getting called up. Possible lefty specialist, but also has .050 batting average against with righties at the plate.

Come back next week for more playoff analysis - the Rangers/Yankees matchups if the standings change and a position-by-position analysis of the Rangers’ playoff opponent.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pennant Chase Special

This week the Rangers announced that the AAA team will be moved from Oklahoma City to Round Rock and that the High-A team will be moved from Bakersfield to Myrtle Beach. I am a little disappointed that the AAA team will move away from OKC, because that was a great stadium and a really fun place to see a game, and I always enjoyed seeing games there. But I am ecstatic that the High-A team moved to Myrtle Beach, and will now be called the Pelicans, because my family and I go to Myrtle Beach every summer, and already go see at least one Pelicans game every year. It is also a great place to see a game and will be an even better one now that it will be a Rangers affiliate. An interesting piece of trivia is that two of the Rangers’ affiliates will now have a mascot named Deuce – the RoughRiders have a mascot named Deuce who is a giant prairie dog and the Pelicans have a mascot named Deuce who is a real dog who takes baseballs out to the umpire between innings.

This week I will analyze all of the divisional chases for this season, and predict the winner of each one. The AL West, AL Central, and NL Central races are already pretty much over, so I will not analyze those.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays:

Right now, the Yankees are up by half a game, but have 13 of their last 14 games against teams with winning records, while the Rays have just 4 of their last 15 games against teams with winning records, so I really don’t think that the Yankees will win the division. Another reason I think the Rays will win the division is the fact that Andy Pettite hasn’t pitched since July and Phil Hughes’s monthly ERAs starting in June have been 5.17, 5.52, 4.22, and 6.59, a sign of fatigue. Their other pitchers have been struggling too, as AJ Burnett has a 5.08 ERA for the year, and Javier Vazquez has a 5.09 ERA for the year, including a 5.96 August ERA and 8.38 September ERA. Meanwhile, the Rays’ pitchers are David Price (1.55 ERA this month), Matt Garza (3.88 ERA this year, but 7.98 ERA this month, which I don’t put too much stock in because of his 1.27 August ERA), James Shields (struggling all year), Jeff Niemann (awful lately), and Wade Davis (3.50 ERA this month), which isn’t much better, but is a slight improvement over the Yankees’ staff. I think that the schedule will help the Rays win the division, and I predict them to be the 2010 AL East Division Champions.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves:

Right now, the Phillies are up by three games, and I see them winning the division, with both them and the Braves having the same amount of games against winning teams and having good pitching staffs. They have Roy Halladay (no stats needed), Cole Hamels (3.01 ERA, including 0.44 ERA this month), Roy Oswalt (2.90 ERA, including 1.53 August ERA and 1.59 September ERA), Joe Blanton (2.81 and 3.78 ERAs in the past two months), and Kyle Kendrick (4.78 season ERA). That is an amazing pitching staff. The Braves have good pitching, too, with Tim Hudson (2.61 season ERA), Derek Lowe (0.64 ERA this month), Tommy Hanson (3.62 ERA this year, with 2.77 September ERA), Jair Jurrjens (mediocre year), and Mike Minor (3-1). I wouldn’t be surprised if they both make the playoffs, with the Braves also in the wild card race, but right now I don’t think the Braves have much of a shot at the division championship, with the Phillies’ pitching.

San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies

Right now, the Padres are up half a game on San Francisco, and one game on Colorado. But I don’t think that will keep up, and I actually think the Padres will finish 3rd. The main reason for that is the fact that the Padres pitching, which has kept them in first place, isn’t doing so well now. Here’s their rotation, and the stat that makes me worried about each one of them:
1. Mat Latos – 7.36 ERA this month
2. Clayton Richard – 6.00 ERA this month
3. Jon Garland – 5.40 ERA this month
4. Kevin Correia – 5.40 ERA this season
5. Wade LeBlanc – 6.47 ERA in August, 9.00 ERA this month

Meanwhile, the Giants’ rotation is amazing, with this rotation:
1. Tim Lincecum – 3.60 ERA, 2.36 ERA this month
2. Matt Cain – 3.08 ERA, 2.86 ERA this month
3. Madison Bumgarner – 3.27 ERA, 1.35 ERA this month
4. Jonathon Sanchez – 3.21 ERA, 0.47 ERA this month
5. Barry Zito – 4.02 ERA, 3.45 ERA this month

The Rockies’ rotation is passable, and their offense makes up for that:
Ubaldo Jimenez – 19-6, 2.84 ERA
Jason Hammel – 10-8, 4.45 ERA
Jorge De La Rosa – 4.25 ERA
Aaron Cook – 2.28 ERA this month
Esmil Rogers – 5.34 ERA

With the Padres’ offense never having been very good, they’ve had to rely on their pitching, and it seems that that is no longer there for them. At the end of the year, I see it being Giants, then Rockies, then Padres.

Come back next week for another pennant chase special.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Predictions for Final Standings

This week will be a short blog due to the plethora of homework I have to do, although I would much rather have a longer blog and less homework. For this week’s blog, I will give my predictions on what the standings will be at the end of the season, and give some analysis on the teams that I think will either move in or drop out of the playoffs.

AL West:
1. Texas Rangers (currently 79-63, +7.5)
2. Oakland Athletics (currently 71-70, -7.5)
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (currently 69-73, -10)
4. Seattle Mariners (currently 55-87, -24)

I think that this one is pretty obvious all the way around, with fairly large gaps between every team in the division.

AL Central:
1. Minnesota Twins (currently 84-58, +6)
2. Chicago White Sox (currently 78-64, -6)
3. Detroit Tigers (currently 71-72, -13.5)
4. Kansas City Royals (currently 58-83, -25.5)
5. Cleveland Indians (currently 58-84, -26)

This one is also a pretty obvious division as far as end-of-the-year standings, with a healthy gap between every team except for the Royals and Indians battling for last place. As far as that race, I think that the Royals are the better team of the two, so the Indians will finish in last.

AL East:
1. Tampa Bay Rays (currently 86-55, -0.5)
2. New York Yankees (currently 87-55, +0.5)
3. Boston Red Sox (currently 78-64, -9)
4. Toronto Blue Jays (currently 72-70, -15)
5. Baltimore Orioles (currently 55-87, -32)

Right now the Yankees are in first place, but I think that the Rays will be in first place by the end of the year, simply due to their schedules. To finish out the year, the Yankees have 16 games against winning teams, and only 3 against losing teams, and that team is the Orioles, who have a winning record under Buck Showalter. The Rays, on the other hand, have only 8 games against winning teams, and 13 games against losing teams. That is a huge difference to finish out the year.

NL West:
1. Colorado Rockies (currently 78-64, -2.5)
2. San Francisco Giants (currently 80-63, -1)
3. San Diego Padres (currently 80-61, +1)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (currently 71-72, -10)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (currently 57-85, -23.5)

Once again, I am basing much of this on schedules. The Padres are in first place now, but have a terrible schedule, with 14 games against winning teams, and 7 against losing ones, and they also have just 8 home games of their last 21 games. The Giants have the easiest schedule with 12-out-of-19 home games and 12-out-of-19 games against losing teams, but I give the Rockies the edge due to the extent of their hotness. They have won 9 of their last 10, and have a completely even schedule with 10-of-20 home games and 10-of-20 games against winning teams, so their schedule won’t get in their way.

NL Central:
1. Cincinnati Reds (currently 81-61, +7)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (currently 73-67, -7)
3. Houston Astros (currently 67-75, -14)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (currently 65-76, -15.5)
5. Chicago Cubs (currently 62-80, -19)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (currently 47-94, -33.5)

I don’t think that this division will change at all. The Reds are way up in the division, and I think the Cardinals have a better chance of being caught by the Astros than they do of catching the Reds. As for the battle for 3rd place, I don’t see the Brewers having enough pitching to even make up the 1.5 games between them and Houston.

NL East:
1. Atlanta Braves (currently 82-61, +0)
2. Philadelphia Phillies (currently 82-61, +0)
3. Florida Marlins (currently 72-69, -9)
4. New York Mets (70-72, -11.5)
5. Washington Nationals (60-82, -21.5)

The Braves and Phillies are exactly even to this point of the year, and as far as home games and amount of games against winning teams, their schedules are almost exactly even, but I give the Braves the edge due to the schedule anyway. I give them the edge because they have the best home record in all of baseball (51-20), and 7 of the 10 games that they have against winning team are at home, so almost all the road games they have are against losing teams.

Come back next week for a pennant chase special.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Jeff Francoeur Acquired and Oklahoma City Trip Report

On August 31st, the Texas Rangers acquired OF Jeff Francoeur and cash from the New York Mets in exchange for INF Joaquin Arias.

I like this trade. It’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely a helpful one. Jeff is not having a very good year so far, hitting only .237, but he has decent power numbers (11 HR and 54 RBIs). Although the addition wouldn’t look very good with those numbers by themselves, comparatively, it is pretty good. He is going to take at-bats away from mostly Jorge Cantu and Julio Borbon. In 57 at-bats with the Rangers, Cantu is hitting only .211, and has yet to get an RBI, even though he had 100 of them just last year. Borbon’s batting average isn’t all that bad (and .286 in the last 30 days, which is solid), but he will be losing at-bats against lefties not righties, and he is hitting only .231 against lefties, while Francoeur is hitting .280. That’s a very big difference, and is definitely an improvement.

Also, losing Joaquin Arias might be a good thing. In the trade that we got him in (the Soriano/A-Rod trade), he was a major prospect. That made Jon Hart decide to take Soriano and Arias over Robinson Cano (that hasn’t worked out well), but Joaquin never panned out. He wasn’t a very smart player, making way too many mental mistakes, and never really even played that well. His career on-base percentage is .319, and his power (or lack of it), is well below average, as he still has yet to hit a home run through 235 career at-bats. He also wasn’t very good defensively anymore (although he was definitely a decent fielder before he had shoulder surgery), and then, at least in my experiences with him, was not very fan-friendly. This trade should turn out real well, although there is always the outside chance that Arias will make it to his potential.

Grade: A, I think that Francoeur is a solid addition, and one that we didn’t have to give much up for.

A couple of weekends ago, my granddad, grandma, and I went on a road trip up to Oklahoma City to see a Redhawks game. It was a lot of fun, and I would like to thank them for taking me.

Saturday, August 14th:

We left for OKC at around 10:30 on Saturday morning, and got there around 2:00 in the afternoon. For lunch, we stopped at a Pizza Hut that was almost exactly halfway there. Pizza Hut is always good and is especially good with sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and canadian bacon. It was a good pizza. We also brought some snacks in the car, but I wasn’t very hungry after the pizza.

When we got to Oklahoma City, we went straight to our hotel, and it was awesome. We stayed at a Hampton Inn that was overlooking the ballpark. We were on the top floor on the side looking over the field, so we had a great view of the ballpark from our room, making it one of the neatest hotels outside of Disney World that I’ve ever stayed at.

At 3:45-ish, we left out hotel, and walked around the outside of the stadium, which is one of the better parts of the park. They have three main entrances, Mickey Mantle Plaza, Johnny Bench Plaza, and Warren Spahn Plaza. Each of the three has a statue of the player the plaza was named after, with some information on the player. It really adds a lot to the stadium, because there aren’t many minor league ballparks that have three statues, and I really like ballparks that display baseball history. They have the plazas dedicated to those players because they each had ties to the state of Oklahoma.

The only other entrance of the ballpark was the First Base Gate, and the cool thing with that one is that it opens three hours before the game starts so that you can see the players do their workouts before the game. We did that, and we were about the only people in the stadium. So at 4:00, we were in the stadium for a 7:00 PM game, which is very neat.

During the workouts, it was easy to talk to the players, since there were basically no fans there, so I got to talk to Doug Mathis and Chris Davis and have a lengthy conversation with Terry Clark, the Redhawks pitching coach, who I know from when he was the RoughRiders pitching coach. It was a lot of fun, and if you are ever at a Redhawks game, I recommend getting there early.

Our seats were in the Club Level, which was really nice, because it was a hot night, and between innings we could go up into the air conditioning if we wanted to (the Redhawks’ Club Level concourse is enclosed and air conditioned). We also had a very nice view of the game, since our section was right behind home plate.

The Redhawks won the game 4-3 over the Las Vegas 51s. Omar Beltre started the game for the ‘Hawks, and he looked very good. He went 7 innings, allowing two runs, only one earned, and struck out three. Zach Phillips came in to pitch the eighth, and was shaky, allowing two hits in the inning, but no one scored, and he ended up picking up the win. Tanner Scheppers pitched the 9th, and picked up save number 4 of the season in AAA, and he was even shakier that Phillips. There was a two-run lead when he came in, and after allowing a run to score, the tying run got to third base before he got the final out of the game. Chris Davis, Brandon Boggs, and Ryan Garko each picked up an RBI. Chris Davis only got one hit, but he was very impressive, not only in the game, but during the workouts that we saw. Hernan Iribarren probably had the best game of anybody, going 3-for-4 with a double, with Brandon Boggs and Max Ramirez each getting two hits each.

Sunday August 15th:

We woke up fairly early on Sunday morning, and went down to eat Hampton Inn’s free breakfast. They had their sausages that morning, and that made me happy, because that’s their best breakfast choice. When we got back up to the room, we packed up and headed out.

We drove around town, and around OU until about 11:30, when we went to go eat at a Red Robin in Norman, Oklahoma. We always eat at Red Robin in Surprise when we go to Spring Training, and it’s always very good, so we were very happy to see one. I got the burger and fries, and they are both great, while my grandparents both got salads. After we finished the meal, we ordered some shakes, and I learned that Red Robin has very good shakes, too.

When we were finished at Red Robin we headed on home and got back to Dallas at about 3:30. It was a great trip.

Come back next week for my Pennant Race Analysis.