Tagged: Blake Beavan

Off-day ramblings

Yesterday was an off-day, so there was no Rangers’ game for me to dissect today. Instead, I want to address a couple of things that I’ve meant to talk about but haven’t gotten around to.

First and foremost is the Rangers’ ownership situation. Today is August 3, and an auction for the team is set to take place tomorrow (August 4). It is very rare for a major league ball club to be auctioned off, so this kind of puts us in uncharted waters.

I have been planted firmly in the Greenberg/Ryan camp from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed. I still really want them to get the team, but apparently, it doesn’t seem likely that they will get the team.

All of this ownership stuff has been very confusing, what with the bankruptcy situation and all of the angry creditors and such. So I’m not even pretending to know what’s going on or what might happen.

But other people (who may or may not know more than I do) don’t seem to think that the Greenberg/Ryan group will be victorious tomorrow.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is said to be deeply rooted in the mix of other potential bidders. The notion of Cuban getting the Rangers absolutely infuriates me.

Yes, he has plenty of money. He’s been very smart with his money. After the Tom Hicks Debacle and dealing with a team that has been flat broke for the past several years, this appears to be quite an attractive possibility.

But ultimately, you have to realize that Mark Cuban is a tool. And we don’t need another George Seinbrenner in Texas.

I’m not trying to imply that George Steinbrenner was a tool. But he did get really involved with the Yankees in areas that ownership doesn’t usually go. He was known to be hotheaded, hiring and firing people at the drop of a hat.

George Steinbrenner set up the Yankees so that they have the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball by $44 million dollars. A-Rod is being paid $33 million this year, which is almost the entire budget of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2010 (the Pirates are at $34.9 mil).

I’m not saying that there should be a salary cap in baseball. But I am saying that if you have a bottomless pit of money, then players are just going to start asking for more and more money just because they can. And it drives up prices all over baseball.

This is the whole premise behind why I hate the Yankees. I realize that the Yankees have a rich history, especially going back to the days of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and Yogi Berra and Lou Gehrig.

But now they’re just the team that has the most money, and the elite players go there because they’ll get paid the most there.

The Yankees have the top 4 players with the highest salary in all of baseball (A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira), and just their 4 salaries alone is over $100 million. That’s just ridiculous.

Cuban, like Steinbrenner, has more money than God. And Cuban is way too emotionally invested in every aspect of the game. But then again, Steinbrenner actually liked baseball. Cuban doesn’t. I’m just going off of what Cuban has done with the Mavericks.

Yes, it’s true that since Cuban has done great things with the Mavericks. Since he bought them 10 years ago, they have been to the playoffs every single year. He has paid obscene amounts of money to get great basketball players to come to Texas.

But he also sits courtside at every game (home and away), screaming obscenities at the officials and at the other team’s players. He has had to pay at least $1.665 million in fines because of 13 separate incidents, including as recently as May 22 when he spoke out against LeBron James. The Rangers don’t need that kind of publicity.

Okay, I’m going to stop ranting now. I hope that what I’ve just said makes sense. When I get this heated over a subject, sometimes I make connections in my head that don’t exactly translate to the written word.

In other news, the Rangers are 8 games up on both the Angels and the A’s, because Oakland won yesterday and LA had an off-day (just like the Rangers did).

I kind of feel bad for poor Seattle, because they’re 22.5 games back in the AL West. I was predicting them to be more of a threat this year than the Angels and the A’s.

Speaking of Seattle, Justin Smoak has recently been demoted to AAA Tacoma, where he can hang out with fellow trade-bait Blake Beavan. Beavan was recently promoted from Seattle’s AA affiliate to AAA Tacoma.

Michael Schlact posted a great blog today about the impact of all of these trades on the Rangers’ minor league system. It’s a great insider’s perspective. You can read it here.

It’s probably about time I started talking about Rich Harden. I was not at all impressed with how he started off the season for the Rangers, and I was about ready to give up on him when he surprised everyone with a breakout performance in Oakland on Monday, May 3.

I was willing to give him a bit of leeway after that stellar game, but by the end of May, I had given up hope again. I was praying that the Rangers would get wise and send him back to AAA until he learned his lesson.

And in the middle of June, Rich went on the DL with a “left glut strain.” I’m sure Rich was a little sore, but he may not have been injured enough to actually go on the DL under normal circumstances.

I think the Rangers said, “Okay, here’s the deal, Rich. You’re not producing. So you can either:
  1)go straight to AAA (do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200) or
  2)go on the DL, get some rest, get your act together, and try again.”

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Rich was legitimately injured. Either way, he made his post-DL debut on this past Saturday in Anaheim, and he was the same guy from May 3 against Oakland!

He allowed just one run over 7 innings of work, and he only threw 88 pitches (62 for strikes). He ended up getting the W, and I would venture to say that it is only the 2nd win that Harden has actually earned this year.

Scott Feldman has generally been producing like Rich Harden had been this year, meaning that he just hasn’t had commanding stuff, wasn’t going deep enough in games, and has been generally ineffective. But with Harden and Derek Holland both on the DL, there wasn’t really anyone who could take his place.

Something had to be done about Feldman, though, if the Rangers were going to continue their post-season bid. I figured that Harden would make a couple of starts until Derek Holland came off the DL to permanently take Harden’s/Feldman’s spot in the rotation.

But instead, Rich blew everyone away with his performance. Now let’s just hope it stays that way. But I suppose if Harden tanks again, we can still replace him with Holland.

Tonight kicks off a 3-game series in Seattle, followed by a 3-game series in Oakland this weekend. Then the Rangers come back home, but they have to face the Yankees and the Red Sox. Yikes.

Tonight it’s Colby Lewis (9-7, 3.40 ERA) against Seattle’s Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.20 ERA). According to the numbers, they seem about equal. So I guess we’ll have to see!

I’m actually grateful that the game doesn’t start until 9:10 Central tonight, because after I leave work today I have to ride the DART bus/train for an hour to Garland so that I can pick up my car from the shop. Hey, at least the A/C is finally fixed! Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 61-44
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 11
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4-game skid & ‘Riders win

me with Duece

Today was the Rangers’ 3rd off-day in a week’s time, and since it was a Monday in which I didn’t have to go to work, I invited my dad to a RoughRiders game. It was really hot, but I had a great time!

First, though, I should address the Rangers’ dismal road record. They have lost their last 4 games in a row, including being swept in Minnesota. If the Rangers want to be taken seriously, they HAVE to start winning on the road.

Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Derek Holland started the Rangers’ last 3 games, respectively. Colby and C.J. each threw a pretty darn good game, but they couldn’t get enough run support.

I know C.J.’s line for his game didn’t look very good, considering that he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, but his performance was actually a lot better than that. It was good to see the old C.J. again, after his last mediocre start, not to mention his meltdown 2 outings ago.

Derek Holland had to come out after throwing only 43 pitches in Sunday’s game, and he has been placed on the DL. Tommy Hunter will likely be called up to pitch in his place.

The Rangers are going to Chicago next to face the ChiSox, and they would have to sweep them in order to split the road trip. That would be nice, but I’m not counting on it.

Especially since Harden and Feldman are starting the first two games of the 3-game series.

Blake Beavan

Okay, enough about that. Back to the RoughRiders game today! Blake Beavan was on the mound today, and the ‘Riders won 9-6 over the Tulsa Drillers.

We got there at 2:45 for a 4:00 start. I would have liked to get there at 2:00, since I love to get to ballgames early, but it’s a good thing we didn’t get there that early.

Apparently, they don’t open the gates to the general public until 1 hour before the game starts, unlike at the big league parks. And they also don’t let you bring food or coolers inside the ballpark. What??

I thought this was kind of goofy, but hey, whatever. The funniest part was that they handed out little soft-sided coolers on our way out of the ballpark as the give-away item. Tell me if that makes sense.

Josh Leuke

Anyway, the players started warming up and playing catch about half an hour before the game started, and I went down to watch them. Some of them came over to sign autographs for the little kids, so I jumped in there and got 5 autographs!!

Marcus Lemon and Jacob Kaase

Tanner Roark, Brennan Garr, Josh Leuke, Marcus Lemon, and Jacob Kaase. Yes! Each on their own baseball. Great stuff!

As I returned to our seats, I noticed that Dad was talking to 2 people. When I walked up, he said “Katie, I want to introduce you to Blake Beavan’s mother and grandfather.” What?? Awesome!

They were both very sweet, and Michelle (Blake’s mom) gave me a hug before they left to sit in their seats behind home plate. So now, not only did I get a chance to meet Blake last year, but I now know 3 members of his family!

The ballgame started off kind of boring, with no score until the bottom of the 4th inning. But that innings saw 2 home runs by the ‘Riders (one a 3-run homer and one a 2-run shot) along with a bases-clearing double. Yes, the ‘Riders scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning!

The score was 8-0 for awhile, but Blake gave up 4 runs in the top of the 7th inning. He still had a pretty nice outing, especially considering that his boys gave him an 8-run lead to work with.

The Drillers got another 2 runs in the top of the 8th, but the ‘Riders added on another run somewhere in there.

In the top of the 9th, I went to wait by the ‘Riders dugout to try to get some more autographs. The usher in our section said that I would have an even better chance of getting autographs after the game, especially if the ‘Riders won.

Taylor Teagarden

But nobody stopped to sign any autographs after the game, not even for the numerous kids around me. I thought everybody had left the field to go to the clubhouse when I noticed Taylor Teagarden coming out of the dugout with his bag full of catching equipment.

Since my dad has a much louder voice than I do, I told him to yell “Taylor!” When Taylor looked over at us, I raised the baseball and pen I was holding.

Taylor looked kind of dubious at first, as if he was thinking “Why do they want my autograph?” or something, but he headed over to us.

He signed my ball, but instead of staying to sign some of the kids around me, he just turned around and headed to the clubhouse. I was surprised that he didn’t sign more, but I’m not gonna lie; I felt kinda special that I was the only one to get an autograph!

Okay, that’s about it. Like I said earlier, the Rangers are playing 3 games against the Chicago White Sox starting Tuesday night. Then they’re coming back home for a weekend series against the Rays, and I’m going to Saturday’s game.

I’m excited to go to another Rangers’ game, but it’s gonna be hot. The game was supposed to start at 7:05, but they changed it to a 3:10 start because it’s going to be on national television. Lovely.

Oh well. I need to quit whining. Texas summers are hot, and I have a heck of a lot more games to go to before the summer’s over.

And on the upside, I think Tommy Hunter will be starting on Saturday! Go Rangers!!

My Rangers’ record: 6-3

Overall Rangers’ record: 26-25

Days ’til my next game: 4

Jamey Newberg/Carson Leslie/Michael Young/Chuck Greenberg

When TR Sullivan wrote his story about me, Chuck Greenberg read it and remarked that he would like to meet me. I know, right?! How amazing is that?! Anyway, since then, we had been emailing back and forth. On Thursday January 28th (the day before the Rangers’ Awards Banquet), I sent Chuck Greenberg an email asking him if he was planning on attending the banquet. I told him that I was going, and perhaps we could finally meet and I could interview him.

He said that he hadn’t seen his wife in about 3 weeks, so he was planning to go home to Pittsburgh over the weekend, but that he would be back for Jamey Newberg’s Q&A on Tuesday. Yes!!

I had heard that Jamey Newberg was planning on doing a 2nd Book Release Party in January, since his first one on December 17th was so hugely successful, but that it wasn’t going to be an autograph event like the first one. Jamey would instead turn it into a Q&A event with Michael Young. Michael would sign 5 copies of this year’s Newberg Report (which I already own) and 5 copies of some book by somebody named Carson something (which I didn’t know anything about), and they would auction those off to the highest bidders.

Well, that counted me out. I don’t have enough money to be a high bidder. For anything. No matter how great the cause.

But then I heard that Chuck Greenberg was going to attend the Q&A. Not from Chuck, but from Jamey. That made it more interesting.

Craig and Annette Leslie

But the final deciding factor was when I met Annette and Craig Leslie at the banquet. Words cannot express how wonderful and caring and strong and altogether beautiful they are. Seriously, they’re amazing. And yet so humble and unassuming. Okay, that’s enough. I said “words cannot express,” and yet here I am trying to come up with words.
 
Anyway, when I talked to Annette and figured out that their Carson was the Carson that Jamey was talking about, I knew I had to go. And I wanted a copy of his book!
So I went to http://www.carrymecarson.com/, which Annette had told me about. I decided to just buy an (unsigned) copy of the book at the Q&A session instead of ordering it online and then having to wait for it to ship to me.

I also started writing out questions to ask Chuck Greenberg, just in case I got an interview, but I couldn’t think of very many. I asked my newound Facebook friend, Megan Nemec, to help me out. Megan is a girl who loves baseball like me, and she started following my blog last August when I posted something on my blog about meeting Blake Beavan (who happens to be Megan’s cousin). Megan came up with some suggestions, and she also contacted Blake for some ideas. So I had a pretty impressive batch of questions. I was ready.

I noticed an annoying tickle in my throat on Monday that sometimes caused spontaneous bouts of coughing, but I remember thinking, ‘At least it’s still a weak cough, and it hasn’t turned into one of those deep, echoing, hoarse coughs. When it progresses to that stage, you’re in trouble.’ When I woke up on Tuesday, I discovered, ‘Hey, whaddaya know! It’s progressed to that deep cough! Lovely!’ But I had to go to work, and if I was going to work I might as well go to the Q&A session afterwards. It was too big an opportunity to miss.

I told my dad that I was going to the Q&A, and that I might get to interview Chuck Greenberg, and he decided that he wanted to meet me there. Okay, that’s good. At least I won’t be alone.

I can’t do a complete play by play; I’m just gonna give what I consider to be the highlights. If you’d like to watch the entire thing, the Q&A session was broadcast on the internet and you can see it at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/4405103.

When we got to Sherlock’s, it was standing room only. I saw Annette Leslie, and I was able to get her attention and wave to her. Then I snagged a barstool and settled in to listen, and Daddy took his spot standing behind my stool. I decided that I would save all my questions for my would-be interview with Chuck Greenberg later.

Chuck Morgan mentioned that everybody on the internet wanted to know where Chuck Greenberg got the Rangers zip-up jacket he was wearing. It looked like my Rangers hoodie, but without the hood.

After that, Daddy decided that he didn’t want to bother with stepping up to the mic, so he just hollered out, “Why don’t you carry any clothes in men’s sizes?” When everybody turned to look at him, he explained that he was only able to find 2 shirts at the Rangers’ store in 3XL. See, Daddy is 6’5″ and weighs 300 pounds. He’s a big guy.

“Well, there’s an easy way to fix that,” Chuck said, and everybody in the crowd started laughing (my dad included), because they thought Chuck was saying that Daddy needed to lose weight. Which he does, but Chuck quickly recovered, “No, I didn’t mean that! I meant that we can just order more!” So we all got a good laugh out of that! 馃檪

Soon after Michael Young arrived, Jamey announced that they were going to start the auction. He said that they had sold out of unsigned copies of Carson’s book (DANG IT!), so if anybody still wanted to go home with a copy that night, they would have to buy a signed one. I groaned.

my book!
Daddy tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Do you want one?” I just stared at him with my mouth hanging open and nodded. “Really?” I asked. “Sure, it’s for a good cause,” he said, and a look of resolve came over his face.
Then professional auctioneer Luther Davis took the stage, and things got kind of crazy. But I ended up with one of the 5 books! Daddy even got Michael to make it out to me specifically! Thanks Daddy!! [I’m about halfway through the book now, and the only problem is that the signature is starting to smudge and rub off! Oh no!]

As they continued to auction off signed copies of Jamey’s book, as well as various autographed balls, bats, and other items, I noticed that Chuck was talking to some fans on the side of the stage. So I walked over to them and just waited for them to finish their conversation.

A few sentences in, Chuck glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and cocked his head towards me. “Katie, is that you?” he asked. I just smiled and nodded, pleased that he had recognized me.

After the other fans stepped aside, Chuck turned to me and shook my hand. “It’s so good to finally meet you, Katie!” he said. I took a moment to let that sink in. Chuck Greenberg, the new owner of the Texas Rangers, was excited to meet me. Whoa.

Chuck suggested that we do our interview after the Q&A session was over and the place had cleared out a bit. Hey, once he confirmed that we were doing the interview, I was willing to wait all night if necessary!

And, after everything else had been auctioned off, Chuck literally sold the shirt off his back (okay, it was the jacket off his back) and donated the proceeds to Wipe Out Kids Cancer! What a great guy! Before they began the auction, someone asked what size the jacket was. Chuck stepped up to the mic and said, “It’s a 3XL, for my friend in the back.” Nice. 馃檪 That jacket was a hot commodity, and it ended up selling for $500!

me with Chuck Greenberg

Chuck spent 30-45 minutes after the event was over talking to fans and taking pictures with people. He was so nice, and I didn’t mind waiting. Then I finally got my interview!!
 
My dad even jumped in and asked a question! I didn’t record this; I just took notes, so these aren’t necessarily direct quotes. Just FYI.
 
 

Me: How long have you been interested in baseball?

CG: My aunt took me to my first game when I was 5 years old.

Me: Did you play any sports growing up?
CG: I played baseball, football, and basketball when I was growing up, and my sons played baseball, football, and hockey.

Me:Why the Texas Rangers?
CG: The Rangers are the most attractive opportunity for someone who loves baseball. I believe the Rangers are the greatest sleeping giants in all of sports.

Dad: Katie and I are big fans of Ron Washington. What do you think about the job he’s done as manager?
CG: One thing I’ve noticed about Ron is how hard the team plays for him for a full 27 outs. They really push themselves for him, and that says a lot.

Me: How did you become partners with Nolan Ryan?
CG: I meet his son Reed through my experience in the minor leagues, and as soon as I heard that the Rangers were up for sale, I knew I wanted him to be involved. I knew all along that if Nolan aligned himself with another buyer, I had to bow out. I never would have gone up against him. But Reed was the one who helped to get the two of us together.

Me: I think someone asked a question along these lines earlier, but I couldn’t hear the answer. After this year, do you or Nolan plan to add your minor league teams to the Rangers’ system?
CG: You know, honestly, we haven’t even thought about that yet. Right now we’re trying to focus on the business at hand and get this deal taken care of.

Me: Fair enough. You also touched on this earlier, but what are your ideas about improving the stadium?
CG: The Ballpark is beautiful, but we just want to update it a bit. Like the video board, for example. We’re interested in doing anything that enhances the fan experience. We want to deliver better value. It won’t happen in 2010, but we’re really looking for that ‘Wow factor.’

Me: Your experience as a minor league owner has allowed you to be more accessible to fans, and you’ve already shown interest in doing that with the Rangers. How do you plan on making the transition to ‘the Bigs?’ Is it overwhelming?
CG: I don’t really know how I’m going to handle it yet. I guess we’ll figure it out as we go along. It has be a little overwhelming at times, but one thing I want to convey is that I’m a fan as well.

Me: What is the most interesting piece of fan advice that you’ve gotten so far?
CG: The biggest thing that I’ve noticed has just been an overall feeling of anticipation and a sense of hope. People here are ready to believe.

At this point, Chuck expressed his worry that he wasn’t being gracious enough to his host, Jamey Newberg. They were supposed to eat dinner and have a beer together, and Chuck didn’t want to make a bad impression. So I decided that I had taken up enough of his time, and I asked him my final question:

Me: I need a job. What have you got for me?
CG: You need a job? [Laughs] Let me finish the sale first!

I would like to thank Chuck Greenberg for being so gracious to me and granting this interview. I would also like to thank Michael Young, Chuck Morgan, Jake Krug, Luther Davis, Jamey Newberg, Eleanor Czajka, and Annette and Craig Leslie for donating their time to raise money for Wipe Out Kids Cancer. And a special thanks to Michael Young and his wife, Cristina Barbosa Young, for matching the donations raised through the auction.

2009 Rangers: The Almost-Playoffs Year

It’s easy as a fan to be angry that the Rangers aren’t going to the post-season. And I know that all of the Rangers’ players, coaches, and staff really wanted to make it happen this year. It’s easy for me to be angry because they almost got there. But I have to remember how far they’ve come. And look forward to the future.

*We are already guaranteed at least a .500 season, even if we lose every single game from here on out. How many years could we say that before?

*We have the #1 farm system in all of baseball. Next year we probably won’t be ranked #1 again, but that’s okay. It takes a few years for prospects to develop. We already got some big-league usage out of Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Julio Borbon, Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz, Scott Feldman, Kevin Richardson, Esteban German, Pedro Strop, and Chris Gentry, who all started the 2009 season in the minors. Just think about how Justin Smoak, Martin Perez, Kasey Kiker, Max Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Beau Jones, Johnny Whittleman, Marcus Lemon, Mitch Moreland, Omar Poveda, and Tanner Scheppers can help our ball club in the future!

*Our pitching was excellent this year, which it hasn’t been for a very long time. And we have a very young pitching staff, so we have years to look forward to Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, Neftali Feliz, Pedro Strop, Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, Kasey Kiker, Blake Beavan, Omar Poveda, Beau Jones, Martin Perez, and Tanner Scheppers. And we have Mike Maddux for next year.

*New ownership is scary, because nothing is guaranteed, but it will be really nice to finally have some flexibility where payroll is concerned. Some ballplayers are way overpaid, but we can’t expect our entire team to be happy with the league-minimum salary forever.

*Salty had surgery to correct his Thorasic Outlet Syndrome today, giving him several months to heal before next season. So even if we can’t keep Pudge for next year {shudder}, we’ll have a revitalized Salty

*Can I just take a second to say thank you to Jon Daniels for the Mark Teixeira trade? Seriously, dude. Thank you. Can you imagine what our ballclub would look like without Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones? And the Braves’ didn’t even keep Tex for very long. Fabulous job, JD!

I was really excited about the idea of making it to the post-season this year, but it just wasn’t meant to be. But I’m really excited about next season. And next year, I can start with my baseball obsession in April, instead of waiting until July, like this year. A full 6 months of baseball!! I can’t wait!!

Sunday night’s RoughRiders’ game

[Sorry for the different sizes of photographs. Some came from my camera and some came from Richard Durrett]

A few weeks ago, I read on the Dallas Morning News’ Rangers’ Blog about a special ticket deal that they were doing for Rangers’ bloggers. And who has a blog about the Rangers? Why, I do, of course! 馃檪 For $15, you could get seats right by the RoughRiders dugout, all-you-can-eat hotdogs/burgers/chicken sandwiches/chips/drinks, and a special meet-and-greet with Blake Beavan before the game. Sound familiar?
Blake Beavan
No, of course it doesn’t. No one actually reads this thing. I’m doing it for my own amusement. Anyway, it sounded remarkably similar to the deal we got when we went with Evan Grant to see a RoughRiders’ game a few weeks ago. With Evan, the tickets were free, but the food wasn’t, so I spent about the same amount of money. And the last time I met Blake, I didn’t get to get his autograph, but I DID THIS TIME!! YAY!!!
 
Since this game was scheduled for a Sunday night, I knew my dad wouldn’t be able to go, since he works till 8:00 on Sundays. And most of my other friends are sick of my baseball obsession, so I decided to be a big girl and go by myself. And maybe I could meet some other people who are as obsessed with baseball as I am, and I wouldn’t feel so crazy!
 
Blake Beavan (in the gray)
First was the Q&A with Blake Beavan. We were in one of those outside seating areas with picnic tables all around, and he and Richard Durrett (the DMN Rangers’ Blog guy) were just sitting at a table kind of in the middle. There were some other fans just sitting around eating before the game, with no idea that one of the team’s starting pitchers was sitting among them. And how would they know? He wasn’t wearing his uniform; he was in regular clothes (a polo shirt and jeans).
Richard started off by asking Blake some questions, and then Richard said he didn’t want to be the one asking all the questions; he wanted us to get in there too. I was sitting at a table kind of in front of Blake, with two other guys that I didn’t know. Richard looked right at the guys and said, “Come on, guys, I know you have some questions.” But they didn’t say anything, so I piped up. “How many pitches do you have, and are you working on developing any more pitches right now?” Richard obviously didn’t expect this from me, and he looked at me and nodded with raised eyebrows, kind of like “wow, I’m impressed! Good question!”
 
Blake Beavan
Of course I wasn’t able to process most of the answer, because I was looking at Blake Beavan, and oh my gosh. I remember he said that he had 4 pitches: a 2-seamer, a 4-seamer, and 2 others I don’t remember. He’s not really working on any other pitches specifically right now, but he’s always trying to improve the pitches he has. He said that he’ll probably want to try and develop a 5th pitch somewhere down the road, but not now. Maybe a slider or something? I don’t remember. I think I picked my chin up off the ground long enough to mutter something like, “Four sounds like a good number to me.” Stupid! He’s freakin’ 20 years old!! He was born in 1989. He’s waaaay too young for me. But I have this weakness for guys who are in the 6’4″/6’5″ range height-wise. And man, is he pretty!
Blake Beavan
Anyway, I learned a lot of stuff from the questions people asked, but I know that no one reads my blog anyway, so it’s kind of pointless to go over it all in detail right now.
The highlights:
-Blake has a pitching regimin worked out for him by his pitching coach that he follows during the off-season
-He practices with Kevin Millwood (Rangers’ starting pitcher) during the off-season
-His goal is to make his big-league debut at 21 years old
-During the season, they have to throw bullpen sessions of about 50-60 pitches on some of their off days, so they don’t get 5 full days of rest. At most, it’s 3 days of rest.
-On some of the games when he doesn’t start, he has to “chart” during the game instead of hanging out in the dugout/bullpen with his teammates. I asked him what “charting” was, but I didn’t get most of the answer, because he was standing next to me at that point and I was looking at his eyes atop his 6’5″ frame. Oh my! But from what I gathered, it’s kind of like keeping score. They have to track everything that happens in the game.
Blake Beavan
After I got Blake to autograph a baseball for me, he was just standing there looking bored, and I didn’t want to leave yet, so I hung back. Everybody else was leaving to go get food, and that’s when I asked him why he wasn’t wearing his uniform, and he told me about charting. As I was talking to him, another girl/lady walked up with something for him to sign. She didn’t have a pen, so I loaned her one of my stolen Olive Garden pens. And that’s how I met Sara!
 
yeah, I’m the fat one on the left! 馃檪
Since I was there by myself, I knew I needed to open up and talk to people. So we started talking on the way to get something to eat, and she mentioned how nice Blake Beavan is to look at. A girl after my own heart! I soon realized that she is like me: someone who is very interested in the game, but also enjoys stopping to take in the scenery along the way. And when I’m with my dad, I can’t say stuff like that.
 
I just want to take a moment to address the fact that I have loved baseball since before I was aware that it sometimes happens to be filled with attractive guys. At 11 years old, I wasn’t looking at Pudge saying, “ooh, he’s hot!” Ugh. I still don’t say that. Sorry, Pudge, but the love I have for you is purely from your performance on the field. I have always been pretty good at separating my “crushes” on players from their performance in the game. Although you’re always a little bit prouder when the player you think is cute does a good job on the field. 馃檪
 
Inside the RoughRiders’ dugout
Okay, enough of that. On to the game. I soon realized that I was sitting all by myself, with no one in the seats surrounding me. Geez, do I smell or something?? I thought all the DMN blog seats would be together. I watched the first couple of innings, but then I got bored, so I went to find Sara. The seat next to her was empty, so I sat there for the rest of the game and we talked for most of the game, about baseball and the players and about life in general. Aww, good times! I made a new baseball friend! The picture to the left was taken when I walked down and snuck a peak inside the RoughRiders’ dugout.
The RoughRiders ended up shutting out the Midland RockHounds 7-0, and Johnny Whittleman had a 3-run homer! I found out about an interesting tradition that they have at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, where they take up a collection for a player if he gets a home run, because those poor minor league guys get no money. I wish I’d had more cash on me, but I chipped in all I had, which was a dollar. I thought that was really cool!
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
I had heard during Saturday night’s radio broadcast of the Rangers’ game that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Rangers’ catcher, would be making a rehab start with the Frisco Roughriders on Sunday. [He’s been on the 15-day DL with a mild case of Thorasic Outlet Syndrome.] And sure enough, he was there! I really would have loved to have the opportunity to get his autograph, but I never really got an opportunity. This is a picture I took of Salty’s first at-bat, but you can’t really tell it’s him. Oh well.

Batting Coach Brant Brown, Salty, and Chad Tracy (1B)
I could have easily walked up to Salty while he was in the dugout, but the players aren’t allowed to sign autographs during the games. I know this because I tried. Well, not with Salty, but with Jose Diaz, a pitcher. I recognized Diaz from a tv show I watched chronicling one of the RoughRiders’ road trips earlier this season. But no dice; I wasn’t able to get the autograph from Diaz. I looked for Salty after the game, but he came out after the 7th inning, and he must have snuck back to the clubhouse when I wasn’t looking. This picture is just before Salty’s 2nd at-bat. He was 0-for-2 on the night with a walk and a run scored.
 
Salty behind the plate 
 The game was scoreless through 5 innings, and it seemed like a very long game. Not that that was bad! I really enjoyed myself, and normally “time flies when you’re having fun.” Last night’s weather was fabulous too. The temperature was in the 80’s at the beginning of the game and in the 70’s at the end of the game, with not too much humidity and a light breeze. Perfect!
Marcus Lemon
 After the game, I tried to get some autographs, but most of the players just headed off the field. Marcus Lemon (the 2nd baseman for the RoughRiders) stayed, and he was very nice to the fans. There was a dad was there with his little boy, and Marcus had a couple of baseball bats that he was carrying. And he gave one of the bats to the little boy! Aww!
 
Marcus Lemon is a name I’ve heard thrown around quite a bit when I’ve heard people talk about Rangers’ prospects. But unfortunately, since he’s a 2nd baseman and our infield is pretty much sewn up for the near future, he may have to get traded to another team to see any big league playing time. He signed a baseball for me. Really nice guy.
 
Johnny Whittleman came over for a little while to join Marcus in signing autographs, but left soon after. He is normally the RoughRiders’ 3rd baseman, but he was DHing last night. And in the 8th inning, he got a 3-run homer to seal the deal for the ‘Riders! So I got the autographs of Blake Beavan, Marcus Lemon, and Johnny Whittleman last night, which join my growing collection of RoughRiders autographs along with Beau Jones and Mitch Moreland!
 

RoughRiders game

Last week, I checked Evan Grant’s D Magazine blog (as I do frequently) to get some up-to-date news on the Rangers. So imagine my surprise when I saw that the most recent post was entitled “Act now on a special invitation!” There weren’t many details, but it said that the event would have to do with the Frisco RoughRiders (the Texas Rangers’ AA minor league team) and it would be on Monday night, August 10. I emailed Evan to get more info, like it asked. And I found out that I might be able to get free tickets to the RoughRiders’ game and talk baseball with Evan. I definitely expressed interest, and I was told that he would get back to all the responders to tell them if they had tickets or not.
Evan Grant
I had all but forgotten about this when I got an email from Evan Grant at about noon yesterday. Now, remember, I took the day off work yesterday because I couldn’t quit throwing up. Could I really make it to a RoughRiders game? This was a huge opportunity, to hang out with a journalist who travels with the Rangers and get to pick his brain about all sorts of things. Plus, free tickets to a baseball game! Score! But I just didn’t know if I could do it.
Well, my mom dropped off the PowerAde, and it helped sooo much! I could tell that I was seriously dehydrated, because as I drank it, the inside of my body kind of felt like a sponge soaking up the liquid. I slowly drank the PowerAde for a few hours, and I had no problems with that, so I tried some crackers. And they were good! I hadn’t realized I was hungry! After that, I knew I was going to be okay. I was still weak, but I hadn’t thrown up in 8 hours, and I was keeping food down. So I jumped in the shower and started getting ready. My car was still in the shop, so I had to catch the DART bus to the DART train station to get to my dad’s house. I had a few minutes on the train where I thought “oh no, I’m getting nauseous, maybe this wasn’t a good idea!” But I was already committed, I was going to finish this. I picked up my car, and luckily they cleaned the carpets and got rid of the musty mildewy gross smell in my floorboards, or else I might have lost it all over again. So Daddy and I headed out to Frisco.

Blake Beavan
They opened the gates 30 minutes earlier than normal for us, and we got to have a Q & A with some of the players. I met Mitch Moreland (RF) and got his autograph, and I met Blake Beavan (P). I also got to meet the “voice of the Frisco RoughRiders,” Scott Garner. And then when I was walking around before the game started, I saw Beau Jones (P), and I said “Hey, I know you! I saw you on t.v.!” I had watched a t.v. special about the RoughRiders on FSN Southwest, and I quoted what he had said back to him. I think he was pretty impressed, and he gave me an autograph, even though I don’t think he was supposed to.

Daddy and I were able to stop by the gift shop before the game, and we each bought a RoughRiders T-shirt and a hat. Then we went to our seats, and I watched the game for the first few innings. The RoughRiders were playing the San Antonio Missions, and the Missions were leading 3-0 after the first inning. Then the Missions scored another 6 runs in the top of the 3rd inning, making it 9-0, and I gave up on watching the game. I drifted over to where some people in our group were talking to Evan, and I stayed there for the rest of the game. That was a lot more interesting!

 
Mostly I just listened, but I got to ask some questions too. Here are a few things Evan talked about:
Josh Hamilton’s latest controversy (which broke my heart, btw),
the Mark Teixiera trade,
Martin Perez (a highly touted High-A pitching prospect),
Neftali Feliz (21-year-old pitching phenom just up from AAA),
Ian Kinsler (2B, currently on the Disabled List for a sore hamstring),
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (our primary catcher),
chance that Julio Borbon (OF) will stay in the Bigs next year,
possible new ownership of the Texas Rangers,
Brandon McCarthy (pitcher on the DL),
the Roy Halladay almost-trade,
Marlon Byrd (OF),
Eddie Guardado (P),
high # of AAA players that have made it to the Rangers this year,
chance of Omar Vizquel playing/coaching for the Rangers next year,
Willie Eyre (P)
and many other things that I can’t remember right now.
 
I asked Evan the following questions:
Chris Davis
KB: What are Chris Davis’ chances of being called back up this year?
EG: They’ll call up Davis at the first of September. They’ll need another infielder, and he’s great defensively.
Yay!! Don’t worry Chris, you’re coming home soon!
 
Thomas Diamond
KB: Why do the Rangers have AA pitcher Thomas Diamond on their 40-man roster? You’d think they would only want AAA players, who actually have a chance of being called up, on the 40-man. Would Thomas really just skip right over AAA?
EG: They wanted to keep him from going anywhere in the Rule 5 Draft. There’s probably no realistic chance of him being called up to the Rangers right now.

.

KB: Why did you decide to give away free tickets to a RoughRiders game and hang out with a bunch of Rangers fans tonight? I mean, obviously we love it, because we get free tickets and a chance to talk to you. But why do you do it?
EG: I want to give Rangers fans more of a chance to find out what’s going with the team and ask questions. I want people to be able to go to Inside Corner on D Magazine’s website and feel like they can truly interact with it, instead of just reading the news. I know that readers like it when they comment on the website and I actually respond. I feel like I’m more than just a blogger; I’m a journalist who blogs about the Rangers, as opposed to a fan. Jamey Newberg does a fantastic job on his website blogging as a fan. I think it’s great that Rangers fans have so many ways to interact with the team, through things like Newberg Night and events like tonight.
 
[These aren’t his literal quotes, because I didn’t have a tape recorder. They’re just the main gist of his answers.]
 
When the RoughRiders were still losing 10-0 at the top of the 7th inning, we decided to call it a night. They ended up losing 14-0. Glad I didn’t stay! 馃檪 But I want to send out a big thanks to Evan Grant of D Magazine for a fabulous experience!
 
My daily Chris Davis fix:
my husband
 
Days since CD has been in the majors: 37

Newberg Report Night

I got this from the blog “Texas Rangers Trades” (http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/). Apparently the blog writer got to go to some kind of press conference or something about the Rangers. It was called “Newberg Report Night,” referring to Jamey Newberg. I didn’t know they had a “Newberg Report Night.” Anyway, there was some great info:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay for Chris Davis! At least they haven’t forgotten about him!

Last night’s game summary later. They lost right at the end… boo. BUT… Neftali Feliz awed everybody with a pretty spectacular MLB debut!

My daily Chris Davis fix:
my husband, Chris Davis
Days since CD has been in the majors: 30