Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rangers Offseason Analysis

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks. I have been out of town in Cincinnati and in Disney World.

This week I will analyze the moves that the Rangers have made so far this offseason, along with giving them a grade, on an A through F scale, with A being the best, and giving them an importance grade, on an A through F scale, based on how important the move is for the Rangers, with A being the most important.

On November 21st, the Rangers signed closer Joe Nathan on a 2-yr, $14 million deal with a club option worth $9 million for a third year.

ANALYSIS: I think that this is a really good move by the Rangers. They are getting a guy in Nathan who has the potential to be the best closer in baseball, as before his Tommy John surgery he was posting ERAs of 1.58, 1.88, and 1.33 consecutively. And while he struggled coming off of the injury last year, he did improve towards the end of the year. He also makes the Rangers all-around pitching staff better, as his signing allowed the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation, which may move Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen, leaving the Rangers with a new potential ace in the rotation and another dominant set-up man alongside Mike Adams. They may have overpaid just a little bit to sign Nathan, but I still like the move, especially with all of the positive ramifications it creates.

On December 1st, the Rangers traded C Taylor Teagarden to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RHP Randy Henry.

ANALYSIS: While I will miss Taylor, as he is a really good guy and a good defensive catcher, I am happy he will get the opportunity to back up Matt Wieters in Baltimore. However, this is not a big loss at all for the Rangers, as he was spending almost all of his time at Triple-A and the Rangers obviously had no confidence in him, as they even traded for an emergency third catcher for September in Matt Treanor. Taylor had only 34 big league at-bats last year. Randy Henry is a right-handed relief pitcher who had a very good year last year, posting a 2.22 ERA between Low-A and High-A, including a 0.82 ERA against right-handed batters while in High-A. Despite a good season last year, Randy doesn’t figure to have a significant future with the Rangers.

On December 9th, the Rangers signed 2B Alberto Gonzalez to a minor league contract.

ANALYSIS: This is a nice pick-up as a guy to replace Esteban German, who went to Japan. Alberto is a utility infielder with plenty of major league experience that they can have in the minors as an emergency man in case there is an injury amongst the Rangers infield (cough, Kinsler). Alberto isn’t all that great, but he provides some good depth. He did have 247 at-bats last year, however, and while he hit only .215, he played good defense, and hit well with runners in scoring position, with a .278 average.

On December 19th, the Rangers won the bidding for the rights to negotiate with Japanese SP Yu Darvish with a $51.7 million bid.

ANALYSIS: I love this move. Darvish has all the pitches to be an ace. He throws up to 96 miles per hour, and reportedly has 4 plus pitches, which is just ridiculous. He posted an ERA of 1.44 this past year for the Nippon Ham Fighters. That was the best ERA of his career, and it is hard to set a new low when you have ERAs of 1.82, 1.88, 1.73, and 1.78 in your first four seasons. He has thrown for 200+ innings in four of his five seasons, which shows that he can be a workhorse, and he had a ridiculous amount of strikeouts (276) in 2011. Another thing I like about him is that he is only 25 years old, unlike most pitchers who come out of Japan who are already veterans. Now, the Rangers obviously haven’t signed Yu yet, as they only won the right to negotiate with him, but I think he is worth the amazing amount of money it will take to get him.

On December 21st, the Rangers traded RHP Ryan Kelly to the San Diego Padres in exchange for C Luis Martinez.

ANALYSIS: Like the pick-up of Alberto Gonzalez, this trade adds good depth in the minor league system at a position where depth is needed. Also, like Gonzalez, Martinez has some major league experience, and is much, much better defensively than at the dish. He hit just .203 last year in 59 at-bats for the Padres, but he played very well defensively, committing no errors, and throwing out a decent percentage of base-stealers. The loss of Tucker isn’t a big deal, either, as he did not have a place on the Rangers, and even if there were injuries, he would be well down the list for a potential call-up.

Come back next week for more offseason analysis.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Pre-Season Predictions vs. Results

This week I will compare my preseason predictions with what ended up happening.

AL East:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
1/5 (20%)

I bought into the Red Sox hype coming into the year, and so their late-season collapse really hurt me here. Also, the Rays huge comeback hurt me, as I figured there was no way they’d be any good after losing Garza, Pena, Crawford, and Bartlett.

AL Central:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
1/5 (20%)

Wow, was Minnesota bad. They won the division last year and basically returned the exact same team. However, almost every single one of their pitchers pitched worse than last year, and Mauer was injured and out most of it. Also, I learned never to buy into the White Sox. Too old.

AL West:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
2/4 (50%)

I actually did pretty well predicting this division.

Winner: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Runner-up: Robinson Cano, NYY
Winner: Justin Verlander, DET
Runner-up: Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Percentage Correct:
0/2 (0%)
I didn’t get either right, but my predictions weren’t terrible as they finished 6th and 7th in voting.

AL Cy Young:
Winner: Clay Buchholz, BOS
Runner-up: CC Sabathia, NYY
Winner: Justin Verlander, DET
Runner-up: Jered Weaver, LAA
Percentage Correct:
0/2 (0%)
This one didn’t work out as I wanted, as I went out on a limb on Buchholz. Not only did he get injured, he struggled beforehand. Bad pick.

AL Rookie of the Year:
Winner: JP Arencibia, TOR
Runner-up: Brent Morel, CWS
Winner: Jeremy Hellickson, TB
Runner-up: Mark Trumbo, LAA
Percentage Correct:
0/2 (0%)
This is always a tough award to predict, but Arencibia was highly disappointing.

NL East:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
3/5, 60%

I was awesome on this division. First one over 50%. Yes!

NL Central:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
0/6 (0%)

Oh, man. That was bad. I don’t even want to talk about this one. 0 for 6.

NL West:

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

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

Percentage Correct:
1/5 (20%)

Despite the percentage, I feel pretty good about this division, as nobody could’ve predicted the Diamondbacks’ run. Also, I didn’t jump on the Colorado bandwagon like everybody else was.

Winner: Ryan Braun, MIL
Runner-up: Jay Bruce, CIN
Winner: Ryan Braun, MIL
Runner-up: Matt Kemp, LAD
Percentage Correct:
1/2 (50%)
I got this one right.

NL Cy Young:
Winner: Roy Halladay, PHI
Runner-up: Cliff Lee, PHI
Winner: Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Runner-up: Roy Halladay, PHI
Percentage Correct:
1/2 (50%)
Since my 1 and 2 finished 2 and 3, I feel pretty good about this one.

NL Rookie of the Year:
Winner: Freddie Freeman, ATL
Runner-up: Brandon Belt, SF
Winner: Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Runner-up: Freddie Freeman, ATL
Percentage Correct:
1/2 (50%)
Yet another successful NL Awards prediction. I was great with those last year, too.


ALDS Predictions:
Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins
Texas Rangers over New York Yankees

ALDS Results:
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees

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

Not bad, not bad. Too bad I bought into the Sox.

NLDS Predictions:
Philadelphia Phillies over Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds over Atlanta Braves

NLDS Results:
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks
St. Louis Cardinals over Philadelphia Phillies

Percentage Correct:
Teams: 1/4, 25%
Series Results: 0/2, 0%

This is embarrassing.

ALCS Prediction:
Boston Red Sox over Texas Rangers

ALCS Result:
Texas Rangers over Detroit Tigers

Percentage Correct:
Teams 1/2, 50%
Series Results: 0/1, 0%

I will never again pick against my team.

NLCS Prediction:
Philadelphia Phillies over Cincinnati Reds

NLCS Result:
St. Louis Cardinals over Milwaukee Brewers

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

This was a very surprising NLCS, so I don’t blame myself for not predicting it.

World Series Prediction:
Philadelphia Phillies over Boston Red Sox

World Series Result:
St. Louis Cardinals over Texas Rangers

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

I went with the common prediction, the Phillies and Sox, and it came back to bite me. The popular predictions never come to be.

Overall Percentage Correct:
16/63 (25%)

Come back next week for offseason analysis.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Updated Top 50 Rangers All-Time List

This week I will post an updated version of my Top 50 All-Time Rangers List, which I had done at the end of the 2009 season and updated after the 2010 season. Below you will find my new list, along with where those players were previously. Below the list is my reasoning for players that moved up on the list.

1. Ivan Rodriguez: 5754 AB, .305 AVG, 217 HR, 842 RBI, 1,747 career Rangers hits, 866 R, .489 SLG, 352 2B, 2806 TB, 28 3B, MVP (99), Silver Slugger (94-99), Gold Glove (92-01), All-Star (92-01)

2. Michael Young: 6 200-hit seasons (03-07, 11), 2061 H (franchise leader), 917 RBI, 169 HR, 1667 G (franchise leader), 6788 AB (franchise leader), .304 AVG, 1006 R (franchise leader), 388 2B (franchise leader), 3060 TB, 52 3B (franchise leader), All-Star MVP (06), Gold Glove (08), All-Star (04-09, 11), Batting Title (05) [was 3]

3. Juan Gonzalez: 5435 AB, .293 AVG, 372 HR (franchise leader), 1,180 RBI (franchise leader), 878 R, .565 SLG% (franchise leader), 1595 H, 320 2B, 3073 TB (franchise leader), MVP (96, 98), Silver Slugger (92, 93, 96, 97, 98), All-Star (93, 98), HR King (92, 93), RBI Leader (98) [was 4]

4. Rafael Palmeiro: 5830 AB, .290 AVG, 321 HR, 1039 RBI, 1,573 G, 958 runs, 805 BB (franchise leader), .519 SLG, 1692 H, .378 OBP, 321 2B, 3026 TB, Silver Slugger (99), Gold Glove (99), All-Star (91, 99), 200-Hit (91), Hit Leader (90)

5. Nolan Ryan: Rangers Hall of Fame, 51 W, 939 K, 3.43 ERA, .567 W%, All-Star (89), K-Leader (89, 90)

6. Kenny Rogers: Rangers Hall of Fame, 528 G (franchise leader), 133 W, 1909 IP, 1201 K, .581 W%, Gold Glove (00, 02, 04, 05), All-Star (95, 04, 05) [was 7]

7. Charlie Hough: Rangers Hall of Fame, 139 W (franchise leader), 1452 K (franchise leader), 344 G, 98 CG (franchise leader), 11 shut-outs, 2308 IP (franchise leader), 3.68 ERA, All-Star (86) [was 6]

8. Alex Rodriguez: 482 consecutive games, MVP (03), best Rangers career slugging percentage, 156 HR, .305 AVG, 1863 AB, Hank Aaron Award (01-03), Silver Slugger (01-03), Gold Glove (02, 03), All-Star (01-03), 200-Hit (01), HR King (01-03), RBI Leader (02)

9. Ruben Sierra: 4580 AB, .279 AVG, 180 HR, 742 RBI, 3 100-RBI seasons with the Rangers, 1 200-hit season with Rangers (91), 2 .300 batting average seasons with Rangers, 325 consecutive games played, 90 SB, 645 R, 1281 H, 44 3B, Silver Slugger (89), All-Star (89, 91, 92), RBI Leader (89)

10. Fergie Jenkins: Rangers Hall of Fame, 90 CG, 93 W, 17 shut-outs (franchise leader), 1410.1 IP, 895 K, 3.56 ERA, .564 W%, 25-Game Winner (74), T-Win Leader (74)

11. Gaylord Perry: 55 CG, 12 shutouts, 575 K, 3.26 ERA

12. Al Oliver: 163 games played in one season, .319 career Rangers batting average (highest), 337 RBI, 49 HR, Silver Slugger (80, 81), All-Star (80, 81), 200-Hit (80)

13. Rusty Greer: 3829 AB, .305 AVG, 119 HR, 614 RBI, 643 R, .387 OBP

14. John Wetteland: Rangers Hall of Fame, 150 saves (franchise leader), All-Star (98, 99)

15. Mike Hargrove: .399 career Rangers OBP (highest), .293 AVG, ROY (74), All-Star (75)

16. Jim Sundberg: Rangers Hall of Fame, 4685 AB, 482 R, 544 BB, 431 RBI, 54 HR, Gold Glove (76-81), All-Star (74, 78)

17. Josh Hamilton: .311 AVG (2nd), 99 HR, 378 RBI, 33 SB, MVP (10), All-Star (08-11), Silver Slugger (08, 10), ALCS MVP (10), Batting Champion (10), RBI Leader (08) [was 21]

18. Toby Harrah: Rangers Hall of Fame, .257 AVG, 122 HR, 143 SB, 4188 AB, 546 RBI, 582 R, 668 BB, All-Star (75, 76) [was 17]

19. Julio Franco: 98 SB, .307 AVG, 55 HR, 331 RBI, All-Star MVP (90), Silver Slugger (89-91), All-Star (89-91), 200-Hit (91), Batting Title (91) [was 18]

20. Buddy Bell: Rangers Hall of Fame, 3623 AB, .293 AVG, 87 HR, 499 RBI, 471 R, Silver Slugger (84), Gold Glove (79-84), All-Star (80-82, 84), 200-Hit (79) [was 19]

21. Mark Teixeira: 153 HR, 499 RBI, 426 R, .533 SLG, Silver Slugger (04), Gold Glove (05, 06), All-Star (05) [was 20]

22. Ian Kinsler: .275 AVG, 124 HR, 395 RBI, 136 SB, 558 R, All-Star (08, 10), 30-30 club (09, 11) [was 37]

23. Larry Parrish: 149 HR, 522 RBI, .264 AVG, All-Star (87) [was 22]

24. Pete O’Brien: 3351 AB, .273 AVG, 114 HR, 487 RBI [was 23]

25. Will Clark: .308 AVG, 397 RBI, 77 HR, All-Star (94) [was 24]

26. Kevin Brown: 40 CG, 78 W, 1278.2 IP, 742 K, 3.81 ERA, .549 W%, 78-64, All-Star (92), 21-Game Winner (92), T-Win Leader (92) [was 25]

27. Bobby Witt:104-104, 1680.2 IP, 1405 K, 4.85 ERA [was 26]

28. Jeff Russell: 445 G, 134 saves, 3.73 ERA, 42-40, Rolaids Fireman of Year (89), All-Star (88, 89), Save-Leader (99) [was 27]

29. Francisco Cordero: 49 saves in a season, 356 G, 117 saves, 21-20, 3.45 ERA, 393 K, 297 IP, All-Star (04) [was 28]

30. Jose Guzman: 66 W, 24 CG, 1013.2 IP, 715 K, 66-62, 3.90 ERA [was 29]

31. Danny Darwin: 224 G, 55-52, 872 IP, 566 K, 3.72 ERA [was 30]

32. Rick Helling: 68-51, 1008 IP, 687 K, .571 W%, 4.86 ERA, 20-Game Winner (98), T-Win Leader (98) [was 31]

33. CJ Wilson: 43-35, 3.60 ERA, 52 SV, 708 IP, 637 K, All-Star (11) [was 41]

34. Nelson Cruz: .271 AVG, 106 HR, 323 RBI, 52 SB, All-Star (09), ALCS MVP (11), 14 playoff HR (franchise leader), 27 playoff RBI (franchise leader) [was 50]

35. Matlack: 3.41 ERA, 43-45, 493 K, 915 IP [was 32]

36. Doc Medich: .538 W%, 50-43, 3.95 ERA, 790.1 IP, 322 K [was 33]

37. Neftali Feliz: 74 saves, 2.55 ERA, 162.2 IP, 164 K, ROY (10), All-Star (10), 0.95 WHIP (franchise leader, 100+ IP) [was off list]

38. Hank Blalock: .272 AVG, 150 HR, 525 RBI, All-Star (03, 04) [was 34]

39. Comer: 3.80 ERA, .574 W%, 39-29, 205 K, 575.2 IP [was 35]

40. Bert Blyleven: 11 shut-outs, 2.74 ERA (lowest), 23-23, 326 K, 437 IP [was 36]

41. Bump Wills: 161 SB (franchise leader), .265 AVG, 30 HR, 264 RBI [was 38]

42. Mickey Rivers: .303 AVG, 22 HR, 168 RBI, 200-Hit (80) [was 39]

43. Aaron Sele: .649 W% (highest), 37-20, 4.50 ERA, 417.2 IP, 353 K, All-Star (98) [was 40]

44. Steve Foucault: 35 saves, 26-25, 3.22 ERA, 231 K, 382.2 IP [was 42]
45. Colby Lewis: 38-36, 4.90 ERA, 578 IP, 492 K, 2.34 playoff ERA [was off list]

46. Jeff Burroughs: .255 AVG, 108 HR, 412 RBI, MVP (74), All-Star (74), RBI Leader (74) [was 43]
47. Elvis Andrus: .271 AVG, 11 HR, 135 RBI, 102 SB [was off list]

48. Scott Feldman: 33-33, 4.75 ERA, 604 IP, 337 K [was off list]

49. Dean Palmer: 154 HR, .247 AVG, 451 RBI [was 44]
50. David Murphy: .281 AVG, 57 HR, 256 RBI, 41 SB [was off list]

Bumped Off List:

Gary Ward: .293 AVG, 41 HR, 200 RBI, All-Star (85) [was 45]
Jim Kern: 37 saves, 17-18, 2.59 ERA, 236.1 IP, 196 K, Rolaids Fireman of Year (79), All-Star (79), Save-Leader (79) [was 46]
Jeff Zimmerman: 32 saves, 17-12, 3.27 ERA, 228.2 IP, 213 K, All-Star (99) [was 47]
Tom Henke: 58 saves, 11-12, 3.55 ERA, 169 K, 172.1 IP [was 48]
Steve Buechele: .240 AVG, 94 HR, 338 RBI [was 49]

Reasons for Players Who Moved Up:

Michael Young (from 3 to 2): Michael had another great year, and now has way more hits than Juan Gonzalez (the previous number 2) did, and he also set a few more franchise records.

Kenny Rogers (from 7 to 6): Charlie Hough (the previous number 6) was just barely above him before this year, and the only reason he was above Kenny was because he was in the Rangers Hall of Fame and Kenny wasn’t. This year, when Kenny got inducted, Hough no longer had that.

Josh Hamilton (from 21 to 17): Josh kept his batting average at second in franchise history while improving his power numbers and making another All-Star game.

Ian Kinsler (from 37 to 22): Ian had yet another solid season, and not only did he add a lot to his power totals, but he put a second 30-30 season on his resume.

CJ Wilson (from 41 to 33): CJ made his first All-Star game as a Ranger, while lowering his ERA by a large amount and adding a couple hundred more strikeouts to his total.

Nelson Cruz (from 50 to 34): While Nellie had a solid regular season, the real reason he moved up was because of his playoffs. This year he added an ALCS MVP and brought up his home run and RBI totals in the playoffs to 14 and 27, both franchise records.

Neftali Feliz (from off list to 37): Nefty moved himself way up the Rangers save list, had another great year, and lowered his WHIP even farther, making him the franchise leader, all following a year where he won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Colby Lewis (from off list to 45): Just like Cruz, Colby didn’t get himself on the list with his regular season play (where he struggled), but with his once again dominant postseason pitching.

Elvis Andrus (from off list to 47): Elvis doesn’t have great numbers at the plate, hitting around .270 in his career with almost no power, but he has already stolen over 100 career bases, and has played stellar defense.

Scott Feldman (from off list to 48): Scott didn’t do a whole lot in the regular season this year, but he had just missed out on the list last year, and he added a couple of wins to his total this year, and a decent amount of innings and strikeouts. He also pitched well in the playoffs.

David Murphy (from off list to 50): David raised his power numbers and still has a solid career average, but at #50 on the list, he wasn’t competing with too much.

Come back next week for my analysis on the Rangers offseason so far.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Free Agent Pitcher Predictions

This week I will make my free agent predictions for pitchers. Last week I made my hitter predictions, and just like last week, I will include where I think the pitcher will go along with my reasoning for it. Also, I have predicted the pitchers’ locations assuming the Rangers do not get Prince Fielder, as I no longer believe that they will sign him.

SP Mark Buehrle, CWS (13-9, 3.59 ERA, 109 K)
GOING TO: Miami Marlins
REASONING: The Marlins have been very aggressive so far this offseason, having already offered contracts to Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, along with Buehrle. While I don’t think they’ll land the other two, the Marlins seem to be going all-out for a big splash this year to try and get the fans excited to come to their new ballpark, and I think they will end up over-paying to try and get a pitcher who is only solid, like Mark Buehrle.

SP Yu Darvish, JAP (18-6, 1.44 ERA, 276 K in Japan)
GOING TO: Toronto Blue Jays
REASONING: The Blue Jays have the cash to spend this offseason and are trying to make a run at the playoffs within the next couple of years, and their main focus is going to be on pitching during free agency. Darvish will be a very expensive player, coming from Japan and considered to be the best pitcher in free agency by many scouts, as teams will have to bid to even get the rights to negotiate a contract with him, but I think that Toronto will be willing to do that.

SP Edwin Jackson, STL (12-9, 3.79 ERA, 148 K)
GOING TO: New York Yankees
REASONING: The Yankees can obviously afford Edwin, and he is definitely the kind of pitcher the Yankees always seem to like. Edwin is a guy with very high potential, throws a hard fastball, and is capable of greatness. However, some qualities that the Yankees have been prone to overlook, like mental toughness, Edwin lacks.

SP Hiroki Kuroda, LAD (13-16, 3.07 ERA, 161 K)
GOING TO: Los Angeles Dodgers
REASONING: The Dodgers seem to be the only team that Hiroki is interested in signing with. He has played there his whole career, and turned down trades this July with his no-trade clause because he wanted to stay in LA. It has been reported that if he doesn’t play for the Dodgers that he’ll be back in Japan. I think he stays in America and stays with the Dodgers.

SP Roy Oswalt, PHI (9-10, 3.69 ERA, 93 K)
GOING TO: Texas Rangers
REASONING: The Rangers have expressed interest in Oswalt, who wants a two-year deal and is coming off of a year full of back problems. Texas also fits the profile of a team that Roy wants to go to. Roy wants to stay close to home, in Mississippi. Check. He really wants to win a World Series for the first time in his career, and his agent said it mostly came down to him getting an opportunity to get a ring. Check.

SP Javier Vazquez, FLA (13-11, 3.69 ERA, 162 K)
GOING TO: Retired
REASONING: It has been reported that if Javier doesn’t get at least a $10 million dollar contract with Miami he will retire. With the Marlins going after so many top free agents, I don’t see them giving him that contract.

SP CJ Wilson, TEX (16-7, 2.94 ERA, 206 K)
GOING TO: Washington Nationals
REASONING: The Nationals, much like the Marlins and Blue Jays, are planning on making some major free agent splashes this offseason, in order to both make a playoff run and to get their fans excited. I think the Nats will be willing to offer CJ the most money, and so I think that’s where he goes. I think CJ would rather go to the Yankees or Rangers, but the Yanks don’t seem overly interested, and I don’t see the Rangers giving him the kind of money that Washington will.

CP Heath Bell, SD (43 SV, 2.44 ERA, 51 K)
GOING TO: San Diego Padres
REASONING: Heath loves it in San Diego, and didn’t want to leave at the trade deadline. I don’t think he’ll want to leave now, either. He is willing to take a major home-town discount and the Padres want him back. I don’t see him leaving.

CP Francisco Cordero, CIN (37 SV, 2.45 ERA, 42 K)
GOING TO: Cincinnati Reds
REASONING: Co-co has been in Cincinnati for four years now and seems to enjoy it there. The Reds aren’t going after any big free agents this offseason, so they have the means to keep Francisco for a playoff run with a solid team next year, and I think they will use their resources to keep Cordero.

CP Ryan Madson, PHI (32 SV, 2.37 ERA, 62 K)
GOING TO: Texas Rangers
REASONING: With the Rangers looking to move Neftali Feliz into the rotation next year, they are trying to get a closer this offseason, and Madson is one of the better ones available via free agency. He had a great year in his first full season in a closer role in 2011, and is a clutch pitcher in the playoffs. It is a very good fit.

Come back next week for my updated Top 50 All-Time Rangers List.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Free Agent Hitter Predictions

This week I will post the first of two editions of my free agent predictions, this one on the hitters. Next week I will make my pitcher free agent predictions.

1B Prince Fielder, MIL (.299 AVG, 38 HR, 120 RBI)
GOING TO: Texas Rangers
REASONING: This is a perfect fit for both Prince and the Rangers. Prince is only 27 and still has another big contract after this one, and the hitter’s ballpark that Texas has will be appealing. Also, his agent has said that Prince wants to play in the AL so that he can DH some, and the Rangers fit that bill, too. The biggest question I have here is not whether Prince wants the Rangers, it’s how badly the Rangers want Prince.

1B Albert Pujols, STL (.299 AVG, 37 HR, 99 RBI)
GOING TO: St.Louis Cardinals
REASONING: With Tony La Russa gone, I think there is a good chance that Albert signs with the Cubs, but I just don’t see the Cardinals letting that happen. Pujols means too much to the Cardinals organization for them to let him go, so they will probably be willing to give him some big bucks.

1B Carlos Pena, CHC (.225 AVG, 28 HR, 80 RBI)
GOING TO: Milwaukee Brewers
REASONING: With the Brewers most likely losing Prince Fielder but still having a good team that is close to playoff talent even without Prince, they will definitely go after a guy like Carlos Pena to try and fill the hole in the lineup that Fielder will leave behind. Pena is a good home run hitter, and would help the Brewers batting order in the clean-up spot.

2B Aaron Hill, ARI (.246 AVG, 8 HR, 61 RBI)
GOING TO: Arizona Diamondbacks
REASONING: Aaron is asking for more money than the Diamondbacks are willing to give him right now, but he should still stay in Arizona, as no teams are willing to give him the money he wants. Also, he is an important piece for Arizona, and was fantastic for them after he was traded to the D-backs, hitting .315 in his 33 games with Arizona last year.

2B Kelly Johnson, TOR (.222 AVG, 21 HR, 58 RBI)
GOING TO: Detroit Tigers
REASONING: Kelly had a pretty good year last year and the Tigers will be looking for a second baseman, as both Ramon Santiago and Carlos Guillen are free agents this year. Kelly would be a good pick-up for them, and would add some very good power into their line-up. However, a problem with this scenario may be that, since Kelly probably won’t get much more than a one-year deal, he might want to sign with a team that has a better hitter’s park.

SS Jose Reyes, NYM (.337 AVG, 7 HR, 44 RBI)
GOING TO: San Francisco Giants
REASONING: While I think Jose Reyes will be a bust for any team that signs him, since he gets injured so often, there will be teams willing to give him big bucks, and I think the Giants are one of those teams. They have the money to do so, and are in a dire need of offense, something that Reyes supplies when healthy. This seems like a very good fit.

SS Jimmy Rollins, PHI (.268 AVG, 16 HR, 63 RBI)
GOING TO: Philadelphia Phillies
REASONING: I don’t think that any teams will be willing to give Jimmy a big pay day as, not only is he injury-prone like Jose Reyes is, but he hasn’t been very productive since his MVP year in 2007. However, the Phillies don’t have any viable options to replace him, and he is an important figure in their clubhouse, so I think they will be willing to give him a decent-sized contract to keep him.

3B Aramis Ramirez, CHC (.306 AVG, 26 HR, 93 RBI)
GOING TO: Miami Marlins
REASONING: The Marlins are supposedly trying to spend a lot of money this offseason with the new ballpark coming next year, and Ramirez would fit a need on their roster. I think that Miami would be willing to give him the three or four year deal Aramis is looking for, and they will definitely be willing to give him the money he is looking for.

LF Josh Willingham, OAK (.246 AVG, 29 HR, 98 RBI)
GOING TO: Chicago White Sox
REASONING: With Juan Pierre in free agency and the White Sox not showing a whole lot of interest, they definitely have a need at left field. They also have the means to go out and get a very good left fielder, and there aren’t many good left fielders to be had this year. Josh is coming off a very good year in Oakland and would be a great fit in Chicago.

CF Grady Sizemore, CLE (.224 AVG, 10 HR, 32 RBI)
GOING TO: Texas Rangers
REASONING: The Rangers could use a center fielder in a one-year scenario, buying time for Leonys Martin to get ready in the minors, and Grady Sizemore fits the bill. Grady probably won’t be too expensive this offseason, and shouldn’t get more than a one-year deal. The Rangers have already been listed as one of the favorites to land Sizemore, and I think they will end up with him.

RF Carlos Beltran, SF (.300 AVG, 22 HR, 84 RBI)
GOING TO: Boston Red Sox
REASONING: The Red Sox definitely need a right fielder this offseason, and with their money, they will probably try to go after the best one, and that is Carlos Beltran. Carlos had a good year last year, and even though he is injury-prone, the Sox will probably still be willing to pay him the money.

RF Michael Cuddyer, MIN (.284 AVG, 20 HR, 70 RBI)
GOING TO: Philadelphia Phillies
REASONING: There have been numerous reports that have said that the Phillies are willing to do whatever it takes to get Cuddyer. They could definitely use him, as not only does Philadelphia need a right fielder (which Cuddyer is), they also need a first baseman for the first couple months of the year with Ryan Howard out, and Cuddyer plays that position also.

RF Jason Kubel, MIN (.273 AVG, 12 HR, 58 RBI)
GOING TO: Tampa Bay Rays
REASONING: The Rays have to go and get a bat this offseason with a DH spot that was terrible last year, and both Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon in free agency. Kubel fits their team perfectly, as he is just a solid hitter, which puts him at a contract that they can afford, and he can play both left and right field, as well as DH.

DH David Ortiz, BOS (.309 AVG, 29 HR, 96 RBI)
GOING TO: Boston Red Sox
REASONING: While David is very frustrated with the Red Sox right now, chances are that he’ll stay. He wants a three-year deal, and nobody will give that to him, but the Sox will probably be the most willing to give him a large deal. Also, he has been in Boston for a while, and I just don’t see him leaving.

Come back next week for my pitcher free agent predictions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Free Agent Wish List

This week I will post my free agent wish list. I have listed the six free agents that I want the most, the reason why I want them, the contract I would be willing to give him, and whether that contract will be enough to get him.

I did not post anything on the World Series, because I am still too depressed to think about it.

1. Prince Fielder, MIL

Prince is not only one of the best hitters in baseball, but would fit perfectly into our lineup. The Rangers lineup is righty-heavy, and is only lacking a first baseman and center fielder as far as hitting goes. Mitch Moreland is an average player both offensively and defensively, and that may be all he will ever be. And you can’t go wrong with Prince Fielder, as he is an unbelievable hitter. This past season, he hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs. The year before that, he had a down year, hitting just .261 with 32 home runs and 83 RBIs. But in 2009, he had a monster year, hitting .299 with 46 homers and 141 RBIs. He has now had an OBP of over .400 for three consecutive years, which is unheard of.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: 8 years, $225 million, $28.125 million per year
Will That Be Enough: Probably, most offers are rumored to be at 7 years and around $180 million

2. Yu Darvish, JAPAN

Darvish is probably the most talented available pitcher this off-season. He is 25 and currently pitches for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. He is widely believed to be headed to the US this offseason, and the Rangers are one of the favorites to land him. Darvish has absolutely dominated Japanese hitters, with a 1.81 career ERA. In his four seasons, he has had ERAs of 1.82, 1.88, 1.73, and 1.78 in 207.2, 200.2, 182, and 202 innings pitched, respectively. He averages 9.2 strikeouts per 9 innings in his career. Scouts have said that he has as many as four plus pitches, and I would love to have him on the Rangers. He should be a true ace.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: $55 million posting fee, 5 years, $75 million, $15 million per year
Will That Be Enough: Probably, $55 million should be the top bid, and then Darvish would definitely accept 5 years, $75 million

3. CJ Wilson, TEX

CJ posted a 2.94 regular season ERA, was an All-Star, and threw 223.1 innings, but I still don’t consider him to be an ace even with those ace-like numbers. He is a great pitcher, and I would love to have him back, but his 0-3 postseason with a 5.79 ERA are not numbers that an ace would have in the playoffs. I would want to bring him back even if we get Yu Darvish, but I don’t want to give him ace money regardless of what happens with Darvish. The best-case scenario here would be to bring him back as our number 2 starter.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: 4 years, $65 million, $16.25 million per year
Will That Be Enough: Probably not, 5 years, $75 million has been rumored from some teams

4. Michael Cuddyer, MIN

Cuddyer would be a very good fit on a Rangers team that already has great hitting. Obviously, if the Rangers got Prince Fielder, which would be awesome, Cuddyer would not be considered by Texas. However, Michael plays first base and would definitely be an improvement over Moreland, and Cuddyer can also play right field if/when Nelson Cruz gets hurt. Michael made his first All-Star team this year, hitting .284 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs. He is a very, very solid player that I would love to have. He is also known for being a great leader and is supposed to be great for a clubhouse.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: 3 years, $35 million, $11.67 million per year
Will That Be Enough: Probably, the highest offers rumored are 3 years, $30 million; only a home-town discount would make that offer not be enough

5. Ryan Madson, PHI

While the Rangers have a great closer in Neftali Feliz and a great replacement closer in Mike Adams if Feliz moves to the rotation, it would be good to get either a closer or an 8th-inning man in free agency so that Feliz can move to the rotation without the bullpen taking a major hit. And Madson fits that bill. He has been both a closer and a set-up man, but would almost surely be a closer if the Rangers were to sign him in free agency. Last year, Madson had 32 saves and a 2.37 ERA, and in 2010, as a set-up man, Madson had a 2.55 ERA. On top of regular season success, Ryan has pitched well in the postseason, with a 2.31 ERA in 35 career playoff innings on 33 appearances.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: 3 years, $25 million, $8.3 million per year
Will That Be Enough: Probably not; there are so many teams looking for closers this year, Madson will probably end up with around $10 million a year

6. Grady Sizemore, CLE

I know, he’s injury-prone, he hasn’t hit over .250 since 2008, and he strikes out way too much. But, still, on a one-year deal, Grady would be a great get, as long as you weren’t expecting the 2005-2008 form. What Grady still provides, when he is healthy, is unbelievable defense, very good speed on the basepaths, and some solid pop. And on a one-year deal, that allows him to play center next year, and then in 2013 Leonys Martin can take over, since he should be ready by then. Last year, Grady hit just .224, but he still had 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in only 71 games. Over a full season, those power numbers are about 25 homers and 80 RBIs. Those are very good power numbers to go along with his great defense.

What I Would Be Willing To Give: 1 year, $7.5 million
Will That Be Enough: Definitely, nobody will be willing to give him a multi-year deal, and the Indians just turned down a $9 million option, showing that they won’t go that high. And it doesn’t sound like anyone else will, either.

Come back next week for my free agent predictions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

World Series Predictions

This week the Rangers won the ALCS over the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 2 (which I predicted would happen) and punched their ticket to the World Series for the second straight year. I was there Saturday night to see them clinch and will be there this weekend for the World Series. I am so pumped and can’t wait for Wednesday, when the Series starts.

Below are my predictions for both potential World Series scenarios.

Rangers vs. Cardinals:

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Chris Carpenter, STL in St. Louis

CARDINALS WIN – While Carpenter has only had one good start out of three so far this postseason, he still has a 3.71 postseason ERA, and had a great start in his only ever World Series appearance, going 8 scoreless innings. Also, CJ has been really struggling so far in these playoffs, with an 8.04 ERA, allowing 6 home runs, and allowing 6 earned runs in 2 of his 3 outings. He is doing this despite ending the year with a 1.21 September ERA. However, in his only World Series start last year, he allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings.

Game 2: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. Jaime Garcia, STL in St. Louis

RANGERS WIN – Colby will probably start Game 2 since it will be on the road, and he had a 3.43 road ERA this year compared to a 5.54 ERA at home. So far these playoffs he has had one great start and one bad start, totaling up to a 3.86 ERA. In his career, he has a 2.37 playoff ERA, and had a great start and picked up the win in his start in the World Series last year. Meanwhile, Jaime has struggled so far in the playoffs, with a 5.74 ERA. He didn’t get out of the 5th inning in either of his two NLCS starts, and I see those struggles continuing against this great Rangers lineup.

Game 3: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Edwin Jackson, STL in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – While Edwin Jackson has done well so far in these playoffs, I don’t think that will continue. I think the Rangers offense will get to him early and often, and get to the bullpen early in the game. Meanwhile, Holland has been awful so far in these playoffs, with a 5.27 ERA, and I think the Cards will get to the Rangers bullpen early, too. Both bullpens have been great so far in the postseason, and so I give this game to the Rangers based on the hitting edge. By the way, I think that Scott Feldman should take Holland’s spot in the rotation.

Game 4: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. Kyle Lohse, STL in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – While Harrison hasn’t gone deep into either of his two starts, he has allowed only 2 runs in 5 innings in each game, which is enough to let the Rangers shutdown bullpen win the game. Kyle Lohse, however, has been awful in the playoffs so far, with a 7.45 ERA, and 9 runs, 8 earned, in just 9.2 innings. In his 8 career playoff outings, Lohse has a 5.09 ERA.

Game 5: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Chris Carpenter, STL in Arlington

CARDINALS WIN – Carpenter shows up big in big games, and CJ hasn’t shown that this postseason.

Game 6: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. Jaime Garcia, STL in St. Louis

RANGERS WIN – Lewis has been good on the road and in the playoffs in his career, but the major reason the Rangers win this one is because of the run support Colby should get.

Rangers win World Series 4 games to 2.

Rangers vs. Brewers:

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Zack Grienke, MIL in Milwaukee

RANGERS WIN – This one will probably be a very high scoring game, as CJ has an 8.04 playoff ERA and Grienke has a 6.48 playoff ERA, and both are facing prolific offenses. I think the difference here will be that CJ has World Series experience while Grienke does not.

Game 2: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. Randy Wolf, MIL in Milwaukee

RANGERS WIN – Once again, Colby will probably go in Game 2 since he has been much better on the road than at home this season. And while Colby has been good in the playoffs throughout his career, Randy Wolf has not and has an 8.10 ERA this postseason, allowing 4 home runs in 10 innings to offenses that are nowhere near as powerful as the Rangers’. Also, the Rangers bullpen is better than the Brewers, which should have a big effect in this one, as I don’t expect either starter to go deep into the game.

Game 3: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Shaun Marcum, MIL in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – While Holland has not been good in these playoffs, with a 5.27 ERA, and having no starts in which he has gone more than 5 innings, Shaun Marcum has been much worse. In two starts so far, Shaun has a 12.46 ERA, allowing 7 runs, all earned in 4.2 innings in his first start, and 5 runs, all earned in 4 innings in his second start. Also, the Brewers were 39-42 on the road during the season, and are 1-4 on the road so far in the playoffs.

Game 4: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. Yovani Gallardo, MIL in Arlington

BREWERS WIN – Gallardo has been the only good pitcher for the Brewers in the playoffs so far, with a 2.84 ERA, but even he has had a bad start, allowing 4 runs in 5 innings in his first NLCS start. Unfortunately for the Brewers, he will have to pitch Game 7 of the NLCS (if there is one), most likely making him the Game 4 starter. And while Harrison hasn’t been bad, he hasn’t been good, either.

Game 5: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Zack Grienke, MIL in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – This should be another high scoring game, but the Rangers get the edge due to the Brewers’ road struggles and the team’s experience.

Rangers win World Series 4 games to 1.

Come back next week for more World Series coverage.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

LCS Predictions

I had a great weekend in Arlington last weekend (two Rangers playoff games plus a Cowboys game) and am about to head out for tonight’s ALCS game, followed by another one tomorrow night. It’s definitely a good time to be a Rangers fan.

This week I made my predictions for the two League Championship Series.


Rangers vs. Tigers

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Justin Verlander, DET in Arlington

TIGERS WIN – While neither pitcher has pitched too well so far in the playoffs, CJ with a 10.80 ERA and Verlander with a 5.00 ERA, this one should be a pitchers’ duel. However, Justin has the upper edge in this one as he is definitely the best pitcher in the American League right now. Both starters have only faced the other team once so far this year. However, if it can be a 1 or 2 run Tigers lead and Verlander gives the ball to the bullpen, the Rangers could definitely make that up, as the Tiger bullpen has been shaky so far this postseason.

Game 2: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Max Scherzer, DET in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – Derek and Max each allowed just 1 earned run in their first postseason start this year, and they both picked up the win. They also both finished the year off well. However, Derek had both a better year and a better finish to the year than Scherzer did. Also, Scherzer didn’t exactly shut the Rangers down when he faced them this year, as he allowed 9 runs, all earned, in 17 innings in his 3 starts on the year against the Rangers.

Game 3: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. Doug Fister, DET in Detroit

RANGERS WIN – While based on the pitchers’ regular seasons, it would appear as if Detroit had a huge advantage in this game, that actually is not the case. During the season, Colby had a 4.40 ERA, including a 4.66 September ERA. Meanwhile, Doug Fister had a 2.83 ERA, including a 0.53 September ERA, a month in which he went 5-0. But Doug has been awful so far in the playoffs, and in 2 games against the Yankees in the ALDS, he went a total of just 9.2 innings, allowing 7 runs, a 6.52 ERA. And in Colby’s first start, he backed up his clutch pitching in last year’s playoffs (where he went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings), by allowing only 1 run on 1 hit in 6 innings of work.

Game 4: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. Rick Porcello, DET in Detroit

RANGERS WIN – Matt has the edge in this match-up in both the regular season and postseason stats. While Harrison had a very good regular season, with a 3.39 ERA, Porcello really, really struggled, as he posted a 4.75 ERA. Also, Rick had a bad first start of the postseason, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings, while Matt allowed 2 runs in 5 innings in his only start so far. Also, the bullpen should play an important role in this game, with Porcello not known for going deep into games, and the Rangers have an advantage in this category.

Game 5: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Justin Verlander, DET in Detroit

TIGERS WIN – Once again, it should be a pitchers’ duel, and I could see the Rangers pulling out a close one here, but Verlander is just too good. The guy won the pitching triple crown this year and should be the MVP of the league.

Game 6: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Max Scherzer, DET in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – Derek has pitched better than Scherzer this year, and has a knack for pitching very well in big games.



Brewers vs. Cardinals

The Cardinals have not yet announced their pitching rotation, but they will be outmatched in most games. In game 1, they will be facing Zack Greinke, who has an 11-0 record and a 3.13 ERA at home this year. They will also have to face Shaun Marcum, who posted a 3.54 ERA, and Yovani Gallardo, the ace, who had a 3.52 regular season ERA, and has a 1.29 ERA so far this postseason. The Brewers also have a dynamite offense, with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, both MVP candidates, anchoring the lineup. Not to mention Milwaukee’s shut-down bullpen.

However, the Cardinals do have a solid rotation, with Jaime Garcia (3.56 ERA), Chris Carpenter (3.45 ERA), Kyle Lohse (3.39 ERA), and Edwin Jackson (3.79 ERA). But, they just do not have the offense or the bullpen to match up to the Brewers, and it would be very surprising to me if the Cards won this series.


Come back next week for more playoff coverage.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

End Of Season Awards

This week the Rangers defeated the Rays 3 games to 1 in the ALDS. They will play either the Yankees or the Tigers in the ALCS, and I think they match up well with both teams. I will make my predictions once I know which team they will face.

This week I will do my end-of-season awards for the AL, NL, and Rangers.


MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.338 AVG, 11 HR, 106 RBI) – Michael led the Rangers in batting average, and was second in the AL in that category. And while he didn’t have many home runs, he still got over 100 RBIs.
Runner-up: Adrian Beltre, TEX (.296 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI)

Cy Young: CJ Wilson, TEX (16-7, 2.94 ERA, 206 K) – CJ led the team in ERA, strikeouts, and tied for the team lead in wins. He obviously deserved this one.
Runner-up: Derek Holland, TEX (16-5, 3.95 ERA, 162 K)

Rookie of the Year: Craig Gentry, TEX (.271 AVG, 1 HR, 13 RBI) – Craig played well, as he stole 18 bases on 18 attempts, played great defense, and had a respectable batting average. But, he won this award because of weak competition. The runner-up had 8 at-bats on the year.
Runner-up: Leonys Martin, TEX (.375 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI)


MVP: Justin Verlander, DET (24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 K, 251 IP) – Verlander was amazing, and despite being a pitcher, he deserves the MVP. He had 24 wins, which is a crazy number nowadays, to go along with a league-leading 2.40 ERA, and 250 strikeouts in an astounding 251 innings pitched.
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, DET (.344 AVG, 30 HR, 105 RBI)

Cy Young: Justin Verlander, DET (24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 K, 251 IP) – If he won my MVP, he obviously is going to win the Cy Young. He won the pitching triple crown.
Runner-up: Jered Weaver, LAA (18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 K)

Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, TB (13-10, 2.95 ERA, 117 K) – Hellickson had an ERA in the 2.00s on a playoff team in his rookie year. That is just unbelievable.
Runner-up: Mark Trumbo, LAA (.254 AVG, 29 HR, 87 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Joe Madden, TB (91-71, wild card) – Joe brought a team back from the largest September deficit ever for a playoff team. This one is a no-brainer.
Runner-up: Jim Leyland, DET (95-67, AL Central Champs)


MVP: Ryan Braun, MIL (.332 AVG, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB) – Braun’s stats might not be quite as good as Matt Kemp’s, but the difference is that while Braun is on a playoff team, Kemp was on a 3rd-place team. Braun hit over .330, and was a 30-30 man this year. He had an amazing year.
Runner-up: Matt Kemp, LAD (.324 AVG, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB)

Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 K) – Kershaw won the pitching triple crown in the National League, so there is no way you can pick against him. He had 21 wins, the best ERA in the major leagues, and almost 250 strikeouts.
Runner-up: Ian Kennedy, ARI (21-4, 2.88 ERA, 198 K)

Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, ATL (46 SV, 2.10 ERA, 127 K) – Despite a late-season collapse by Kimbrel, he still had an incredible season. He set the rookie saves record with 46, had an ERA just above 2.00, and had a crazy 127 strikeouts in just 77 innings pitched.
Runner-up: Josh Collmenter, ARI (10-10, 3.38 ERA, 100 K)

Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, ARI (94-68, NL West Champs) – Gibson manages a team that was projected to finish in last place this year, after finishing in the cellar of the division last year, and made them into the runaway NL West Champions. He definitely deserved to be the NL Manager of the Year.
Runner-up: Tony La Russa, STL (90-72, wild card)

Come back next week for my ALCS and NLCS series predictions.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rangers Playoff Prediction

This week I will give my predictions on how the ALDS will go for the Rangers in all of their 3 possible match-ups, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. My Rangers rotation is just my prediction of what it will be. CJ Wilson is locked into the #1 spot, but after that, numbers 2-4 are up in the air. I decided to go with Harrison at #2, Colby at #3, and Holland at #4. I chose that order because Harrison has the best ERA of the three and has been pitching well of late. Even though he has struggled this year, I still put Colby at #3 just because he was so good in the playoffs last year.

Rangers Playoff Match-Ups:

Rangers vs. Yankees

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. CC Sabathia, NYY in New York

RANGERS WIN – CC Sabathia is a very good pitcher, but usually struggles against the Rangers, allowing 13 runs in 19.1 innings against the Rangers this season. In the ALCS last year against the Rangers, CC allowed 7 runs on 17 hits in 10 innings. Meanwhile, in CJ’s only start against the Yankees this year, he allowed only 2 runs and struck out 10 in 8 innings of work.

Game 2: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. Ivan Nova, NYY in New York

YANKEES WIN – I don’t think the Yankees will leave New York down 2 games to nothing. Harrison has had a good year, but so has Ivan Nova. Harrison has a slightly better ERA, but I think the Yankees’ home-field advantage, and their determination after losing Game 1, will just be too much and will help them win in a close one.

Game 3: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. AJ Burnett, NYY in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – While Colby hasn’t pitched very well this year, with a 4.45 ERA, AJ Burnett has been worse, with a 5.28 ERA. The Rangers have all the edges in this game, a better starting pitcher, a better bullpen, home-field advantage, and at worst an even line-up. Also, Colby pitched great last year in the playoffs, going 3-0, with a 1.71 ERA, including 2 wins and a 1.98 ERA against the Yankees.

Game 4: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Freddy Garcia, NYY in Arlington

RANGERS WIN – Freddy Garcia has had a very good year overall for the Yankees, but it the month of September, he has a 7.36 ERA and has a 5.40 ERA in 4 career divisional series starts. Meanwhile, Derek has an ERA of 3.92, including a 1.63 September ERA and didn’t allow a run in 5.2 innings against the Yankees last year in the playoffs. I don’t think this series goes back to New York.


Rangers vs. Red Sox

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. Josh Beckett, BOS in Arlington

RANGERS WIN: Both CJ and Josh have had great years this year, both of them have ERA’s under 3.00, but the difference between the two is that Beckett has a 4.24 September ERA while CJ has a September ERA of 1.27 and has been unhittable. Also, CJ has allowed only 2 earned runs in 12.1 innings against Boston this year, and Boston is falling apart, with a 5-18 record in September.

Game 2: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. Jon Lester, BOS in Arlington

RANGERS WIN: Once again, this is a matchup of two pitchers that have similar numbers on the year, with Lester at a 3.49 ERA and Harrison at a 3.46 ERA. However, once again, they have pitched very differently of late, with Lester at a September ERA of 5.96 and Harrison’s September ERA at 2.92. Lester has just been bombed of late, and all reports say that he just doesn’t have the stuff he did at the beginning of the year.

Game 3: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. John Lackey, BOS in Boston

RANGERS WIN: Colby really hasn’t pitched well this year, with a 4.45 ERA in 194 innings, but he is on a team that is both hitting and playing well right now. The same thing can’t be said for John Lackey, who really needs help, as his season ERA is 6.49, including a 10.70 September ERA. The Red Sox are in bad shape for any game that Lackey starts in.


Rangers vs. Rays

Game 1: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. James Shields, TB in Arlington

RANGERS WIN: This one might just be 0-0 going into extra innings. Both pitchers have ERAs under 3.00, and have pitched fantastic in September. Also, they have both pitched well against the teams they are facing, as CJ has allowed 5 runs in 21.2 innings against the Rays this year, while Shields has allowed just 1 run in 17 innings against the Rangers this year. In the end, I think this match-up is just so even that I will give it to the home team.

Game 2: Matt Harrison, TEX vs. David Price, TB in Arlington

RAYS WIN: Matt Harrison has had a good year so far, and has pitched well of late, and his numbers might actually be close to David Price’s on the year, but he just isn’t a match for Price. David has pitched well against the Rangers this year, going 15 innings and allowing 5 runs, and has lots of playoff experience.

Game 3: Colby Lewis, TEX vs. Jeremy Hellickson, TB in St. Petersburg

RAYS WIN: Despite pitching lights-out in the playoffs last year, Lewis has struggled so far this year, and the 2011 Lewis is what I think we will see in this year’s playoffs, not the 2010 playoff Colby. Meanwhile, Hellickson has had an amazing year, with a 2.90 ERA, including a 2.28 September ERA and a 2.48 August ERA, so he has been almost unhittable for a couple of months now.

Game 4: Derek Holland, TEX vs. Wade Davis, TB in St. Petersburg

RANGERS WIN: Derek has been lights-out so far in September and he tends to pitch well in big games. He has lowered his ERA down under 4.00 on the year, and I think he would pitch a gem against the weak Rays line-up. Meanwhile, Davis has a 4.45 ERA, and allowed 7 runs on 12 hits in just 2.2 innings in his only start against the Rangers this year.

Game 5: CJ Wilson, TEX vs. James Shields, TB in Arlington

RAYS WIN: I gave the first showdown between these two to CJ, so I’ll give the second one to Shields since they are so evenly matched.


Come back next week for my playoff predictions and my end-of-season awards.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

August Awards

This week I will post my August Awards.

Rangers Awards:

MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.336 AVG, 11 HR, 90 RBI) – Michael leads the team in batting average (2nd in the AL) and RBIs. He has had a fantastic season, and is on pace to get to both 200 hits and 100 RBIs this year.
Runner-up: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.300 AVG, 19 HR, 76 RBI)

Cy Young: CJ Wilson, TEX (14-6, 3.28 ERA, 173 K) – CJ leads the Rangers in wins (14), ERA (3.28), and strikeouts (173), and has pitched well enough this year to be named to the All-Star team. This decision was a no-brainer.
Runner-up: Alexi Ogando, TEX (12-7, 3.68 ERA, 115 K)

Rookie of the Year: Craig Gentry, TEX (.235 AVG, 0 HR, 7 RBI) – Craig won this by process of elimination. He plays great defensively, and has played in the majors. That got him this award.
Runner-up: Leonys Martin, TEX (.500 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

AL Awards:

MVP: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS (.342 AVG, 23 HR, 103 RBI) – Adrian leads the league in batting average and is 2nd in RBI. He is having a great season, and is making my pre-season prediction of him for MVP look very good.
Runner-up: Curtis Granderson, NYY (.271 AVG, 38 HR, 107 RBI)

Cy Young: Justin Verlander, DET (21-5, 2.34 ERA, 224 K) – You know a pitcher is having an unbelievable season when there is talk about him being MVP. Verlander leads the AL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts, and is on track for the pitching triple crown.
Runner-up: Jered Weaver, LAA (16-7, 2.49 ERA, 176 K)

Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, TB (11-10, 3.01 ERA, 106 K) – Jeremy is having a great rookie year, with an ERA just barely above 3.00, and without any really good offensive rookies this year, I think he definitely deserves this year’s ROY.
Runner-up: Mark Trumbo, LAA (.256 AVG, 25 HR, 77 RBI)

NL Awards:

MVP: Matt Kemp, LAD (.320 AVG, 31 HR, 102 RBI) – Despite playing on a very bad team, I still think that Kemp deserves to be the MVP. His numbers this year are incredible, as he is 4th in the NL in average, tied for 4th in home runs, and 3rd in RBI.
Runner-up: Ryan Braun, MIL (.331 AVG, 25 HR, 91 RBI)

Cy Young: Ian Kennedy, ARI (18-4, 2.96 ERA, 167 K) – Kennedy leads the National League in wins with 18, and on top of that, he has an ERA under 3.00 and is right on the verge of 200 innings for the season. Ian has had a great year.
Runner-up: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (17-5, 2.45 ERA, 212 K)

Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, ATL (42 SV, 1.60 ERA, 112 K) – Craig has already broken the rookie saves record set last year by Neftali Feliz (40), has a good chance at 50 saves on the season, has an ERA well below 2.00, and has a ridiculous 112 strike-outs in 67.2 innings.
Runner-up: Freddie Freeman, ATL (.291 AVG, 18 HR, 64 RBI)

Come back next week for part 3 of my ballpark rankings.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Myrtle Beach Trip Report

After my trip to Phoenix, my dad and I flew up to Myrtle Beach and met up with my mom, sister, grandma, and granddad, at my grandparents’ condo in Myrtle Beach. My family goes up there once every year, and I always really enjoy the trip. This week I have posted my trip report.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans:

A couple of days before the end of our trip, my dad, granddad, and I went to see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans play. The Pelicans are, for the first time, the High-A affiliate of the Rangers this year (in previous years they were a Braves affiliate). We go see a Pelicans game every summer, so I was very excited to see the Rangers’ prospects there.

It ended up being an amazing night.

I had gotten to know Chuck Greenberg, the Pelicans’ owner, from his days with the Rangers last year (my interview with Chuck last August is at http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/2010/08/chuck-greenberg-interview.html). I shot him an e-mail the day before I went to the game to see if he would be there, and while he said no, he wasn’t in town, he did get me in touch with the Pelicans’ GM, Scott Brown. Scott was extremely nice and set me up to be on the Pelicans’ pre-game show on the jumbotron. However, since it was raining that day (causing a 40 minute rain delay), the pre-game show never happened. Instead, I talked with the Pelicans’ radio play-by-play broadcaster, Tyler Maun, who also does the pre-game show, before the game. He told me that he’d like to have me on the radio for part of the game, which is broadcast on the Myrtle Beach ESPN radio station. Obviously, I was excited.

He told me to come up in the bottom of the 2nd, so I watched the first inning from our seats. At the top of the 2nd, we made our way up to the press box and found the radio booth. After the top of the inning, Tyler invited me into the booth, gave me a headset, and started interviewing me when the inning resumed. I was on the air with him through the end of the 3rd inning, so I got to be on the broadcast for an inning and a half. It was so much fun and I really, really enjoyed it. While I was on air, I realized that Tyler Maun was a very good play-by-play guy, with a good voice for it and skilled at providing descriptions of the plays. He is also a very nice person with deep baseball knowledgeable. I think he should be considered for the open broadcasting spot for the Rangers this off-season.

I put a couple of segments of my time on the radio broadcast on YouTube here and here.

A couple of innings after we got back to our seats, Scott Brown (the Pelicans GM) came to our seats to introduce himself. He is really great guy and very friendly. We talked with him for a little while, and then he took me down to the gift shop and gave me a Pelicans t-shirt (actually, a shirt from the Rangers spring training game in the stadium earlier in the year), which was really nice of him.

We also realized that Jon Daniels was at the game, as we saw him sitting a few rows in front of us. I said hello to him and was able to talk with him for a few minutes between innings. He was in the area for a few days, watching Hickory and Myrtle Beach.

It was just an all-around great night. I would like to thank Chuck, Scott, and Tyler for all of their friendliness and hospitality. I was amazed at how generous everyone was.

However, while my night was great, the Pelicans’ night wasn’t so great. The Pelicans lost to the Kinston Indians 9-3, and Kennil Gomez had a very poor start for Myrtle Beach, going 4.2 innings, allowing 7 runs, 4 earned, on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 hit batsmen. The offense didn’t do much either, as Vincent DiFazio was the only one who had a good night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run.

If you’re ever in South Carolina, I recommend seeing a Pelicans game. They have a very nice ballpark. It’s one of the better minor league parks I have been to. They have very wide seats there, which is nice. They also have a good amusement area out in left field for small kids, with a bounce house. They have lots of Pelicans history along the concourse, including a spot where they have a plaque for every Pelican who has ever played in the major leagues and banners showing every Opening Day line-up the Pelicans have ever had. It’s always a fun experience.


Every year when we go down to Myrtle Beach, my dad, granddad, and I have a putt-putt competition. Myrtle Beach has what has to be about the best putt-putt in the world. This year we went to 9 different courses, which were:

1. Mutiny Bay – a pirate-themed course with a show in which a pirate ship on the water and a fort shoot cannonballs at each other, making big splashes in the water, and in which the fort eventually gets hit and shoots up fire.

2. Mayday – an airplane-themed course with some very tough holes, and lots of much-needed shade.

3. Dinosaur Adventure – obviously a dinosaur themed course, which really isn’t all that good, as there is no shade, and just a few dinosaurs, only one of which moves.

4. Dragon’s Lair – a medieval times themed course, which is really awesome, as you play in a castle with turrets for some of the holes. There is also a hole with a jester that makes jokes and laughs at you, and there is a show with a dragon.

5. Molten Mountain – this one is volcano-themed, and has half of its holes indoors and air-conditioned, which makes it fantastic.

6. Lost Treasure – in this course you go through ancient ruins and dinosaur fossils and old pirate towns, and kind of follow in an archaeologist’s, named Professor Hacker, footsteps. You start every game by taking a small ride on a mine train through caves, where you see explorers digging for gold. The ride drops you off at the first hole.

7. Captain Hook – a Peter Pan themed course, in which you play holes in the Lost Boys’ cave, or in Captain Hook’s boat (complete with an audio-animatronic Captain Hook and crocodile), or by an audio-animatronic Peter Pan. It is a very neat course. In one cave, you can hear Tinker Bell calling out for help. If you follow the voice, it takes you to Captain Hook’s cabin, where you can see an animated Tinker Bell trapped under glass, asking you to free her.

8. Jurassic Golf – this one is themed after Jurassic Park and is very, very neat, with many moving dinosaurs, and almost every hole is by either water, a dinosaur, or some sort of rock formation.

9. Hawaiian Rumble – another volcano-themed course, but this one only has 18 holes.

The competition was great this year, especially since I won. We use a point system, based on first and second place finishes. I was down by 1 point on my granddad going into the last day, but I had a great putting day to come back and win the tournament for the second straight year.


When we first arrived, our first meal was Georgio’s Pizza, like it is every year. Georgio’s is probably the best pizza I’ve ever had. I ate sausage and pepperoni pizza.

Staying with food and pizza, we also ate at Ultimate California Pizza on our trip (which is not associated with California Pizza Kitchen). We also go there every year, and their pizza is great, too, although not quite up to Georgio’s caliber. I got the Hollywood, which is a pizza with 4 different meats.

Obviously we went down to the beach every day, since we were staying in Myrtle Beach in a condo with an ocean-view. We normally would do putt-putt in the morning, hang around in the afternoon when the beach was packed and hot, and then go down to the beach in the evening. Most nights when we would go down to the beach, my 6-year-old sister, Kate, and I, would play in the sand, jump waves, and then go into the lazy river before going back up to the room.

One afternoon, my mom, dad, sister, and I went to Pirate’s Voyage, a dinner show where pirates have competitions. Unfortunately, our side lost, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the outcome was decided beforehand. Anyways, the food was good, and my little sister really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, it was eventually time to come home and start school again. But it was a great way to end the summer.

Come back next week for my August Awards.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Phoenix Trip Report

Last week my dad and I took our annual baseball trip, this time to Phoenix. While there, I got to see games at the Diamondbacks’ stadium (Chase Field) plus a couple of Arizona Rookie League games.

Sunday, August 7th:

My dad and I had an extremely early flight that left at 6:00 in the morning, which forced me to wake up at 3:30 AM, which is always loads of fun. We got to the airport around 4:30, and everything went very smoothly, with no delays or anything. Due to the time difference, we arrived in Phoenix at 6:30am local time but were lucky enough to be able to check into our hotel, Embassy Suites, early. We also got to eat breakfast there, and their breakfast is amazing. They have outstanding omelets, very good bacon and sausage, and good potatoes.

We left the hotel around 10:30am to get to the Diamondbacks stadium when the gates opened at 11:00 for a 1pm game. The D-backs stadium is Chase Field and is very nice. When we got there, we walked around the outside of the stadium to see if there was anything interesting to see. The west side of the stadium has a plaza with a large number of plaques set in the ground detailing big moments in baseball history. There are also a few plaques detailing big moments in Diamondbacks’ history, including their first game, their first win, their first playoff appearance, and their World Series appearance and championship. Personally, I think they should only have their franchise’s history, as it seems a stretch to me to have plaques’ about baseball history that has nothing to do with their team. Also, there are lots of other big Diamondbacks’ moments that they don’t mention, such as their 2002 and 2007 playoff appearances and Randy Johnson’s perfect game and Cy Young awards. I’d rather see that information when outside the D-backs’ stadium than information about Johnny Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters for the Reds, which happened decades before the local team existed. The history is a nice touch, I just think it could have been executed better. Another idea would be to include information about Cactus League spring training history, sort of like the Rays have leading up to their stadium in Tampa.

We went inside when the gates opened. I was very impressed by their ballpark. It was nice and it was air-conditioned, as they have a retractable roof, and has lots of nice little touches. Out in right field, where we came in, they have Uptown, named for their star player, Justin Upton. They have lots of Upton pictures and Uptown signs. As we walked around the outfield we saw the pool in right-center field, and walked behind their ginormous scoreboard, which is out in dead center. Out in left field, they have a burger stand called Fatburger, which is a burger franchise that hasn’t made its way to Dallas yet. We stopped and ate there. My dad and I both agreed that it was a good burger. They also have open concourses, which means you can see the game even when getting concessions, and wide concourses. As we were walking around, we saw a great variety of food, almost all of it good. The ballpark also had a very good old-timey feel to it with the brick walls. When we went to the upper deck, we took a look at the kids play area, which had a wiffle ball park, batting cages, and a couple of other things. Right next to the play area, the Diamondbacks had Baxter’s house. Baxter is the Diamondbacks mascot, a bobcat, and his house was very detailed. They had a hole in the wall for his mouse, a fridge stocked with food, and lots of other small details. There is an area out front for the kids to meet Baxter in.

The team did a good job displaying their playoff appearances and championship. In the entry plaza, there’s a display case where you can see their championship trophy from 2001, along with other memorabilia from those games (jerseys, bats, balls). There’s also a TV above the display case showing highlights from the 2001 World Series. Inside the stadium, their four division championships, their NL pennant, and their championship are prominently displayed and easy to see and read. Compare this to the Rangers ballpark, where the Rangers fly tiny flags for each of their playoff appearances, including an AL championship flag that cannot possibly be read from the stands.

The one thing that I didn’t like about Chase Field was how cavernous it felt. The upper deck probably went up about 50 rows, and it felt a little like a football stadium because of that.

We also got to see a very good game. The Dodgers were in town to play Arizona and the pitching match-up was Clayton Kershaw vs. Ian Kennedy, both teams’ aces. The Diamondbacks scored two runs in the bottom of the first on a Kelly Johnson 2-run home run to take the lead. The 2-0 score stayed that way until the top of the 5th, when a Dodgers solo home run by James Loney cut the lead in half. Kennedy would struggle in the next inning, too, allowing 2 runs, both earned, in the 6th. Ian also pitched the 7th, and his final line was 7 innings, 3 earned runs, 3 K. The Dodgers didn’t hold their 3-run lead long, though, as Cody Ransom hit his 1st home run of the season on a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 7th off of Clayton Kershaw, which sent him to the showers. David Hernandez and JJ Putz each pitched a scoreless inning to finish the game.

With this game, I have now been to 26 of the current 30 major league ballparks (plus a few retired ones). All that I have left are the Marlins, Mariners, A’s, and Giants.

After the game, my dad and I drove to the Pink Pony, a very good steak place in Scottsdale that has some baseball memorabilia. But they were closed on Sundays, which was very disappointing, as we were both looking forward to it. We then ended up eating at the Embassy Suites manager reception, and got a quesadilla, which was mediocre. After dinner, we went and hung out in our hotel room.

Monday, August 8th:

When we woke up on Monday morning, we once again got to eat the awesome Embassy Suites breakfast. They may just have the best breakfast anywhere, and it’s at a hotel.

After we ate, we drove out to Surprise to see an Arizona League Rangers rookie game. It felt like Spring Training, driving up to Surprise and going to the Rangers’ backfields. It was a really fun and very different experience. They played the game at one of the Rangers backfields at their Spring Training complex (Nolan Ryan Field). We were the only fans there. All of the players who weren’t playing in the game were just sitting in the stands watching it. The Rangers won the game 4-3, and the star of the game was definitely Luis Mendez, the Rangers shortstop who not only played great defense, but homered and drove in 3 of the Rangers’ 4 runs. Like Mendez, Jimmy Swift, the second baseman, played outstanding defense in the game. The Rangers’ starter, Abel De Los Santos, also played a very good game, going 5 innings and allowing no runs, while striking out 5.

After the game, we stayed in Surprise to eat lunch at NYPD, New York Pizza Department. We go there every year during Spring Training, and we always love their pizza. Like normal, the pizza there was great, and as always, we ordered pepperoni and sausage.

When we got back to Phoenix, we stayed at the hotel for a couple of hours, and then went to the movie theater to see Captain America, which was great. It was one of the best, if not the best, movie this summer, in my opinion. It was a very old theater and didn’t even have stadium seating, but that didn’t end up mattering, as it was my dad, me, and only one other guy in the theater.

Tuesday, August 9th:

We woke up fairly early on Tuesday morning for a 9:30 AM tour of Chase Field. We got there earlier than we wanted to, which was fine, since we got to watch this neat contraption they had in front of the entrance. It had all sorts of ramps, with lots of balls going around them. Sometimes, the balls would trigger movement, like a circle of fans doing the wave or making a baseball player swing.

Only two people besides us went on the tour. The tour took us around the lower level, up to the club level, which was very nice, into the press box, into a suite, down into the tunnels, and into the dugout. We learned a lot about the ballpark on the tour. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes. After the tour, we ate lunch at Friday’s, which is actually in the ballpark, and got a table overlooking the field. It’s always cool eating at a restaurant that overlooks the ballpark. I wish the Rangers still had one. We just got an appetizer as we weren’t really that hungry.

After we ate, we drove to Goodyear to see an Arizona League Reds game. It was also played on the backfields, but this time the Reds’ ones. My dad and I walked around some, and the Reds have some really nice backfields. We got to the game at about the 4th inning and stayed there until it ended. The Padres beat the Reds, 7-3, with all of the games runs being scored in the 6th inning or later.

Once the game was over, we drove back to the Phoenix area, and after a couple of hours at the hotel, we headed back over to Chase Field for a Diamondbacks game. This time we sat in the club level, and the Diamondbacks have a great one. It is very old-timey looking, with bricks and powdery looking glass windows. It is also very comfortable, with nice furniture and lots of comfortable places to sit and eat. The concourse of the club level is basically a large air conditioned hallway, meaning that it’s always climate controlled, even when the roof is open. They definitely have a better club level than the Rangers.

This time, Arizona hosted the Astros, and had Jason Marquis pitching against Jordan Lyles. This one was a really good game. After the Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning, the Astros dominated innings 2-4. They scored 1 in the second, 3 in the third, and 3 in the fourth. JD Martinez and Brian Bogusevic each homered in the 3rd, while Carlos Lee and Humberto Quintero also picked up RBI singles in innings 2-4. Bogusevic also had an RBI double. However, from that point forward, it was almost all Arizona, as they scored 4 in the bottom of the 5th, on a Justin Upton 2-RBI double and a Miguel Montero 2-RBI single. The Diamondbacks also scored 4 runs in the 6th inning, and Upton was a big contributor again, this time with a 2-run homer. Earlier in the inning, Willie Bloomquist had hit a 2-RBI single. The Astros did score a run in the top of the 7th, though, to make it a one-run game on a Jimmy Paredes home run. The Diamondbacks weren’t done scoring runs though, as they scored 2 runs in the 8th inning with RBI doubles from both Ryan Roberts and Kelly Johnson, making the Astros’ lone run in the 9th unimportant. The final score was Diamondbacks 11, Astros 9, and it was tied for the biggest comeback in franchise history.

Wednesday, August 10th:

We once again had a very early flight, this time at around 7:00. We had to wake up at 4:15 and it was too early to enjoy an Embassy Suites breakfast. Once again, the flight went very smoothly. It was a great trip overall.

Come back next week for a Myrtle Beach trip report.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Rangers Trade Analysis - Deadline Deals

This week the Rangers made two trades before the trading deadline, and I will analyze both of them.

On July 30th, the Rangers acquired RP Koji Uehara and cash from the Orioles in exchange for 1B/3B Chris Davis and SP Tommy Hunter.

Evaluation: I really like this trade. Koji Uehara is a fantastic relief pitcher, one of the best in all of baseball, and the Rangers desperately needed relief help. Koji has a 1.72 ERA on the year, following up a good year last year in which he posted a 2.86 ERA. He has also struck out 64 batters in 48 innings this season and has held opponents to a .150 average, which is incredible. He will probably also be a Ranger next year, as his contract vests with about 10 more appearances this year for 2012. He has a 3.01 career ERA.

Meanwhile, the Rangers didn’t have to give up a whole lot to get him. I don’t think Chris Davis would ever have been a consistent role player for the Rangers, and I think if he plays well for the Orioles, it will have happened due to the change of scenery. Chris has a career .247 batting average, but has not had a good year in the majors since his rookie year in 2008 when he hit .285 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs. In 2009, he hit .238 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs. In 2010, he really struggled, batting .192 with just 1 home run and 4 RBIs in 120 at-bats, and before the trade this year, he was hitting .250 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs.

Tommy Hunter is a bigger loss than Davis, but I don’t think he will be missed too much. Tommy was a solid pitcher, with a 4.36 career ERA, but I think that he has reached his ceiling. I don’t think he’ll ever be much more than a #4 or #5 pitcher in a rotation, and the Rangers’ starting pitching is really stacked right now. The Rangers have Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Neftali Feliz as young pitchers with lots of potential in the majors right now that could be in the rotation next year to go along with Colby Lewis. Also, there is a good chance they re-sign CJ Wilson out of free agency, and they also have Martin Perez, one of the top prospects in baseball in Triple-A right now.

Grade: A+, the Rangers got a lot in this deal, but didn’t have to give up much to get it

On July 31st, the Rangers acquired RP Mike Adams from the Padres in exchange for SP Robbie Erlin and SP Joe Wieland.

Evaluation: I’m not as sure about this trade as I was about the Uehara deal. I really like Mike Adams, and think he is a great addition, but the Rangers gave up two major prospects to get him. However, Mike is arguably the best setup man in baseball, with an unbelievable 1.13 ERA in 48 innings this season. He has struck out 49 batters and held them to a .155 batting average this year. Mike has been dominant each of the past four years, posting ERAs of 2.48, 0.73, 1.76, and 1.13. Also, he has closer stuff and is an obvious candidate to step into Feliz’s closer role if Neftali goes to the rotation next year, as Adams is signed through 2012, which is another key part of this trade.

But while Mike Adams is a big addition, Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland are very significant losses. At this point Erlin and Wieland were probably the Rangers’ #2 and #3 pitching prospects, and while neither probably will ever be an ace, they are pretty surely going to be very solid #2-4 guys in a good rotation. After a great season in 2010, when Robbie Erlin had an ERA of 2.12 and struck out 125 batters in 114.2 innings, all of them with Low-A Hickory, Robbie started off 2011 with High-A Myrtle Beach. Erlin dominated with the Pelicans, and quickly got called up to Double-A Frisco after just 54.2 innings in which he had a 2.14 ERA. Since the call-up however, Robbie has struggled a bit, with a 4.32 ERA in 66.2 innings with the RoughRiders.

Joe Wieland, on the other hand, has been fantastic ever since he was called up to Frisco earlier this season, with a 1.23 ERA in Double-A before the trade. His last start in the Rangers organization was a no-hitter against the San Antonio Missions. He was called up earlier this year after starting off the season very well with Myrtle Beach, posting a 2.10 ERA in 85.2 innings of work. 2011 was a big improvement from last year for Joe, who pitched well in Low-A Hickory in 2010 with a 3.34 ERA, before struggling in the hitter-friendly California League with High-A Bakersfield, where his ERA spiked to 5.19. With his performance this year, Joe has quickly climbed most prospect rankings.

Grade: B, this was a great deal for the next couple of years, but the Rangers gave up two very good pitching prospects to get this deal done

Come back next week for my July Awards.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Newberg Night Report

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

he Q&A sessions were held in the Rangers Hall of Fame’s theater like usual. We got there at about 2:35 and went on up to the theatre, which was already almost completely full, even though the doors had just opened at 2:30. Jason Parks and Kevin Goldstein were the first Q&A session, which started at 3:30. They both did a great job, and it was Jason’s first year to be at the event. Here are a couple of the questions and answers:

Q: How would you rank the American League West farm systems?
A: (Kevin) I think you would have to rank the Rangers first right now. The Rangers are the best team in the West and also have the best system in the West, not only to bring people up, but to use another purpose of a prospect, which is being an asset to bring something in a trade. Those are equally important things. That said, Oakland and the Angels both have a very good farm system, and have things coming, and are not going to go away and start handing the Rangers division titles for the next decade. It’s going to be tough. Seattle’s system is just so-so. It’s not horrible, it’s just so-so, but at the same time, Seattle just called up Michael Pineda this year, who is pretty darn good, and Dustin Ackley this year is pretty darn good, so they’ve added an above-average position player and a potential stud starting pitcher. Their system’s done its job for a while, and even if it’s down a little bit, that’s ok. The Rangers still have a good system that’s one of the better ones in baseball, and while it’s not the best, it’s one of the better ones. They do a good job drafting and a crazy good job internationally.

Q: Where do you think Jurickson Profar will be in the next couple of years and who is he comparable to?
A: (Kevin) As young as he is, I think we’ll see him in High-A next year and Double-A in 2013, I don’t think he should have a big league timetable now. This kid is so young and is really, really good, and you look at what he’s doing in Low-A. Everyone always talks about how young Bryce Harper is, and Profar is six months younger than him. And he’s playing an elite, up-the middle position very well, hitting, stealing bases. I think he has the potential to be a shortstop who hits .280-.300 with 15-20 home runs, and 15-20 stolen bases, and that’s a massive talent, which is a $15-20 million dollars on the free agent market.

(Jason) This is a guy who I think could be at Double-A right now. He could handle Double-A. Profar adjusts to the level he’s on well, which is why he was able to handle this advanced assignment to start the season, and that’s why he could handle an advanced assignment next season. He could start at Double-A next year, I wouldn’t be surprised, and could handle the major leagues by the time he’s 20.

After the Goldstein/Parks Q&A session, an auction was held that raised over $15,000 for the Shannon Stone Memorial Foundation. Following the auction was the main event, the Jon Daniels Q&A. Assistant GM Thad Levine was there as well and also answered a few questions. As usual, Jon did a great job, taking questions for more than 90 minutes. Here are some excerpts from the Q&A.

Q: How much of an information gap is there between the players that you have and the players that other teams have, as far as scouting goes?
A: We’ve tried to do as much as possible to narrow that gap. We don’t really talk about that, but at the end of the day that is our goal with our pro scouting. We scout their personal history, and that kind of stuff to try to help us know everything possible about players on other teams.

Q: (me) When you are working with agents on contracts, what are some of your biggest pet peeves?
A: (Jon) When they open their mouths.
(Thad) I think that one thing that we’ve done since we’ve been here is really try to forge relationships with everybody in the industry, whether it’s other GMs, other team’s scouts, agents, so I think for the most part we have done just that. We have pretty good relationships with agents. I think the biggest issue I have when you’re negotiating a player’s contract is when there is an early impass, when somebody says, ‘We’re at an impasse, there’s no way we’re gonna get a deal done’, and there’s no creativity in the flow of conversations. But beyond that, I think we’ve learned if you have the relationships beforehand and you treat each of these negotiations as the next building block of the relationship, then there’s no reason you can’t come to an agreement. It’s when they treat it as one isolated event instead of as a building block to a relationship; otherwise there’s nothing stopping you from getting a deal done.

Q: Do you enjoy the trading deadline or free agency period more?
A: Definitely the trading deadline, no doubt. What we do now is going to have an immediate impact on a pennant race. In November, what you do isn’t going to do anything to help your team win for a few months.

Q: What are some teams that you like and don’t like doing business with?
A: I can’t name specific teams, but there are teams that we casually keep in touch with year-round for no trade reasons or anything else, but just to catch up with, and there are some organizations that we don’t do that with.

Q: Is there a plan among MLB to improve the umpiring?
A: They changed the leadership on the baseball operations side this year to Joe Torre, who is in charge of all of baseball ops. He hired two vice presidents, who both have extensive experience working for clubs. It’s one of those deals where they’re not going to tell us specifically, or publicize, their specific training or repercussions for umpires, but I know they are pretty confident. You saw them change one of the umpiring groups recently and that made the news a little bit before the All-Star break. I think they’re going to be a little more proactive in addressing some of this stuff. One of the suggestions that Buck Showalter made was that they should take former ballplayers that want to stay in the game (RA Dickey was his example) and put them in an umpiring school to get them into the system.

Q: Is there any developmental difference between Bakersfield and Myrtle Beach?
A: It is such a better environment for developing players in Myrtle Beach. We’re thrilled going over there. It doesn’t change a guy’s developmental plan. We understand that a guy’s number in the California League are going to be different than the numbers in the Carolina League, but it doesn’t change how we approach certain guys, with the exception that we may be willing to keep a guy there a little longer, where otherwise we would have felt it may hurt a guy negatively staying in a bad environment.

A couple of additional interesting comments from Jon:
- They were looking for a way to bring Chris Davis up even before Beltre got hurt. He said that long-term, Chris could be a corner utility guy, as he can play 1B, 3B, LF, and RF.
- He doesn’t believe in giving free agent relievers big, long contracts (which I totally agree with). He said that it was risky, and that while it works out in some cases, it’s normally not worth the risk.

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

After the Daniels Q&A, we went to our seats for the game. The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays 3-0, and only got 6 baserunners in a complete game shutout for the Blue Jays’ Brett Cecil. Alexi Ogando started for the Rangers and was doing great until a 3-run 6th inning when Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Travis Snider each drove in a run. Offensively, Craig Gentry was the only Ranger to have multiple hits.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone that made this happen.

Come back next week for trade analyses or my July awards. Also, be sure to check out the Newberg Report minor league recaps this weekend. I’ll be filling in for Scott Lucas’ this Friday through Sunday.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rangers Notes

I will be posting a short blog this week, as I have spent the last three days playing baseball in a tournament up in Stillwater. My team played very well, and although we lost all four games, they were all close, and we were facing some of the best 16-year-old teams in the country, and my team is only 15. My dad and I drove up to Stillwater Thursday morning for our first game, which was at Guthrie High School, and their field was extremely cool. The center field fence was 702 feet from home plate, as the baseball and football fields were connected there, and right field had a hill going up to the fence, like at old Crosley Field. On Friday, we got to play at Oklahoma State’s field which was awesome, and we even got to hang out in the clubhouse before the game. It was a very fun trip. We even got to eat at Eskimo Joe’s.

I am very excited about the All-Star Game on Tuesday, as the Rangers will have five players in Phoenix (Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, Adrian Beltre, Alexi Ogando, and Michael Young), including two starters (Hamilton and Beltre). Beltre was moved into the starting role when A-ROD was removed from the roster due to injury, and Ogando replaced James Shields, who pitched on the Sunday before the All-Star Game, making him ineligible. 5 All-Stars is tied for the second most in franchise history with 2004 when the Rangers had Francisco Cordero, Michael Young, Alfonso Soriano, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Blalock, and is only behind 2010, when they had Cliff Lee, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Neftali Feliz, and Elvis Andrus. It is also a very fun game to watch, especially when your team has a lot of players in the game. Out of the five Rangers All-Stars this year, Josh Hamilton is probably the least deserving, as he has been injured for a large portion of the season, and has missed too much time to be a deserving All-Star, in my opinion. The two pitchers, CJ Wilson and Alexi Ogando, are both deserving with 9-3 records and very solid ERAs. Obviously Michael Young should be an All-Star, as he has an average well over .300 with plenty of RBIs. The main reason Adrian Beltre is on the roster is because of his power, as he is tied for 8th in the American League in home runs with 18, and is 2nd in RBIs, to go along with a decent .272 average.

Another good thing that has happened recently is how well the Rangers have been doing in the international free agent market. The Rangers have signed OF Nomar Mazara, who is supposed to have incredible power, for $5 million, OF Ronald Guzman, one of the most sought after international players, to $3.5 million, and SP Pedro Payano to $600 thousand. Also, they are close to signing SP Yohander Mendez, a Venzuelan lefty who Baseball America projected to be one of the top 20 international prospects in terms of signing bonuses, to more than $1 million. It is very exciting to see the new ownership group being willing to spend so much money on prospects, and I can’t wait to see these guys in Frisco and, hopefully, in Arlington.

Also, while I was in Stillwater, I was very sad to hear the news about Shannon Stone, the Rangers fan who fell over the left field fence at the ballpark and passed away. This is a terrible thing to have happened, and I hope this kind of thing never happens again.

Come back next week for the third edition of my ballpark rankings.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

June Awards

This week I will post my June Awards. The stats are as of Friday, July 3rd.

My dad, granddad, and I have been to three Rangers games in the last couple weeks, and have managed to see Derek Holland pitch in all of them, including the 5-runs-in-2/3-inning game against Florida. I think that they should give Derek one more start, and if that doesn’t go well, they should move Derek to the bullpen and Tommy Hunter into the starting rotation. Holland has an ERA over 5.00 and that is extremely poor, especially for someone with so much talent.

Also, Darren O’Day didn’t looked too good in his first game back from the DL, which worries me that the Rangers can’t count on him to be their bullpen help. Jon Daniels definitely still needs to trade for some relievers, and the sooner the better.

Rangers Awards:

Rangers MVP: Michael Young, TEX (.318 AVG, 7 HR, 53 RBI) – Michael has had a great year, with a batting average well above .300 and a very good number of RBIs, which was good enough to get him on the All-Star team.
Runner-up: Adrian Beltre, TEX (.259 AVG, 14 HR, 57 RBI)

Rangers Cy Young: CJ Wilson, TEX (8-3, 3.14 ERA, 100 K) – CJ has been extremely consistent this season, as I can’t remember the last time he had a bad start, and certainly deserved the All-Star selection that he got.
Runner-up: Alexi Ogando, TEX (7-3, 2.87 ERA, 65 K)

Rangers Rookie of the Year: Craig Gentry, TEX (.258 AVG, 0 HR, 6 RBI) – The Rangers have not had a whole lot of rookies contribute this year, so while Gentry hasn’t done much, he’s done more than any other Rangers rookie.
Runner-up: Yoshinori Tateyama, TEX (1-0, 1 SV, 3.71 ERA, 14 K)

AL Awards:

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS (.352 AVG, 16 HR, 71 RBI) – Adrian may not have crazy home run totals, but he leads the AL in RBIs and batting average.
Runner-up: Paul Konerko, CWS (.321 AVG, 21 HR, 61 RBI)

AL Cy Young: Jered Weaver, LAA (9-4, 1.97 ERA, 106 K) – Jered has 9 wins, which is towards the tops of the American League, along with an ERA that is sub-2.00.
Runner-up: Justin Verlander, DET (11-3, 2.32 ERA, 130 K)

AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda, SEA (7-5, 2.65 ERA, 99 K) – Michael Pineda, as a rookie, was a possibility to make the AL All-Star team with a winning record, 99 K’s and an ERA below 3.00.
Runner-up: Jeremy Hellickson, TB (7-7, 3.18 ERA, 66 K)

AL Manager of the Year: Manny Acta, CLE (42-37, 2nd place) – The Indians were supposed to be a bad team this year, and I predicted them to be in last place, but they just keep hanging around and are in second place right now.
Runner-up: Jim Leyland, DET (44-38, 1st place)

NL Awards:

NL MVP: Matt Kemp, LAD (.331 AVG, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 22 SB) – Matt has incredible numbers, with a batting average way over .300, great power numbers, and 22 stolen bases.
Runner-up: Prince Fielder, MIL (.302 AVG, 21 HR, 69 RBI)

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, PHI (10-3, 2.40 ERA, 123 K) – Roy is tied for the NL lead in wins, and has an ERA well under 3.00. However, the thing that puts him ahead of Jair Jurrjens in my opinion, is his 123 strikeouts compared to Jair’s 55.
Runner-up: Jair Jurrjens, ATL (10-3, 2.07 ERA, 55 K)

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, ATL (23 SV, 2.63 ERA, 65 K) – Craig has had a fantastic season, with 23 saves a very good ERA and an unbelievable 65 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched.
Runner-up: Dillon Gee, NYM (8-1, 3.32 ERA, 51 K)

NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, PIT (41-39, 3rd place) – Clint has come to a team in the Pirates that has been awful for years, was predicted to be in last place, and has them in 3rd with a winning record. He has done a great job.
Runner-up: Kirk Gibson, ARI (44-38, 2nd place)

Come back next week for the third edition of my ballpark rankings.