Tagged: Chris Davis

OFFICIAL 1st game of 2010!!

Wow. Opening Day yesterday was absolutely amazing!

I knew it was going to be crowded, since the game was sold out, but I was stunned at how fabulous it felt to look up into the stands and see all of the seats filled! My heart swelled with pride!

Another thing that surprised me was how supportive the Rangers’ fans were as a whole. I mean, we watched as our players endured a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings, and we were down 0-3. It was looking pretty bleak. But as soon as the Rangers started showing signs of life, the fans backed them up, cheering so hard that my heart swelled even bigger.

We arrived at the Ballpark at 10:00 a.m., right after the gates opened. And as we were walking up to the gates, I realized I had left my digital camera in the car. Doh! So that’s why I don’t have pictures to post. I took some with my phone, but now I don’t know how to get them off my phone and on my computer. Oh well.

We collected our Opening Day magnetic schedules and several Rangers’ “It’s Time” stickers for the car window. We headed to the Majestic Grand Slam Gift Shop, and found a 3x t-shirt for Daddy that was blue with red sleeves and said “Rangers” in block letters across the front. Daddy was ecstatic, and he’s convinced that he was able to find that shirt because Chuck Greenberg ordered it specifically for him.

Then we headed down to watch the Rangers take batting practice, but I actually spent more time scanning the crowd on the field for familiar faces. Richard Durrett was interviewing Chuck Greenberg, and I saw Evan Grant wandering around. JD even stuck his head out of the dugout for a little bit. But no TR Sullivan. Hmm, where were you TR?

Daddy and I went to find our seats, and we were pretty impressed. We were in section 243, all the way in the corner of the ballpark on the 1st base side. Seriously, our seats were literally in the corner, so Daddy and I had extra leg room. Which is always good, ’cause Daddy is 6’5″ with bad knees. So he has to stretch his legs out.

We just sat for a while, then Daddy decided he was hungry and he went off to find us some hot dogs. I stayed in our seats and read my program. (Vlad was on the cover, holding 2 baseball bats that were on fire! Awesome!)

When Daddy finally got back, he told me he had seen my friend “Dustin Traig” who reads my blog. I had to think about this for a minute, then I said “Oh, do you mean Dustin Troxell?” “Yeah!” he said, “That was it!” Then I had to explain to him that Dustin wasn’t just some random person that reads my blog, but that he was in band with me in high school. I didn’t know that Dustin read my blog! Hi Dustin!!

The coolest part of the pre-game ceremony was when Sgt. Dana Bowman parachuted onto the field. He is retired now, but he was a member of the Army’s Golden Knights when he had both legs severed in a mid-air training accident 15 years ago. 9 months later, he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the Army. He delivered the ball to Roger Staubach, who threw the first pitch of the game.

I couldn’t help feeling optimistic, even though the Rangers couldn’t seem to get anything started at first. The guy sitting next to us kept joking around and saying things like, “Okay, Little Miss Rangers’ blog, their pitcher’s got a no-hitter going. It’s not looking good.” But I’d just say, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll be alright.”

In the bottom of the 7th, Shaun Marcum walked Josh Hamilton, and I knew it was all over for the Toronto Blue Jays. Vlad followed with the first hit of the game, a single. Runners on 1st and 2nd, down 0-3, Nelson Cruz coming up to bat.

I turned to my dad and said, “Nelly is exactly who you want coming up to bat in this situation!” And he came through, hitting a 3-run homer and tying the game 3-3!

Then in the top of the 8th, the Blue Jays got another run across. But I still wasn’t too worried. I just knew the Rangers could do it!

Bottom of the 9th, down 3-4, we had to do something. And Michael Young was leading off. No problem.

Young started the rally by leading off with a double. Josh Hamilton struck out. Vlad got a single, and we had runners at the corners with 1 out. Then Nelson Cruz came up to bat, and he tied the game up for the 2nd time that afternoon (4-4) by hitting a double, scoring Young and moving Vlad to 3rd base.

The Rangers put in David Murphy to pinch-run for Vlad, and the Blue Jays intentionally walked Chris Davis to load the bases. So it was gonna fall to the bottom 2 guys in the order to get something done. When Saltalamacchia stepped into the batter’s box, I noticed Joaquin Arias warming up in the on-deck circle. Uh-oh. I prayed for Salty to take care of business.

But no need to worry. Salty hit a screamer to the base of the wall in center field, which scored Murphy from 3rd. And those 90 feet were all we needed, even though that hit would have been at least a double. The Rangers won it in walk-off fashion, 5-4. Uh-may-zing!!

The Rangers have an off day today, but they’ll be playing game 2 against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, then they’ll finish off the series on Thursday afternoon. Next the Mariners will be coming in for Fri-Sat-Sun, and I’ll be at the game on Saturday night.

So I’ve been to 2 Rangers games in 2010, and we’ve won them both!

My Rangers’ record: 2-0
Rangers’ overall record: 1-0
Days ’til my next game: 4

Fan Fest: Saturday 1/30/10

The alarm on Matt’s cell phone went off at 9:00 Saturday morning. I threw a pillow across the room in hopes of hitting Matt, but it didn’t work. He just muttered “What the hell?” as the pillow went sailing past his bed, and he hit the snooze button. I was just glad the noise had stopped. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not a morning person. And I had been up pretty late the night before.

A few minutes later, I remembered that we were supposed to go to Fan Fest, and I was wide awake. “Matty, wake up!” I sang to my brother. “Hmm? What?” “It’s Fan Fest, Matty!!” “Okay, okay!” he said, finally sitting up.

As we got up to get ready, I warned him, “It’s going to be really cold today, so you need to dress warm.” “Got it,” he said, as he pulled his jeans on over his pajama pants. I just shook my head and laughed. “I guess that’s kind of like wearing long johns.”

Before we left the hotel room, I called the Omni Fort Worth again to see if anyone had turned in my phone. No such luck. We packed up our stuff, checked out, got our complimentary breakfast (which was pretty good, btw), and headed to the Ballpark at around 10:00. By the time we got there and parked and got in, it was about 10:30. And it was COLD!!

I was wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt with my Chris Davis shirt over it, and my Rangers hoodie. And that was it. No gloves, no hat, no overcoat. That’s what a lifetime of Texas winters will do to you. I was woefully unprepared.

As soon as we got inside the Ballpark, we headed to the big Rangers shop behind center field. After looking around for a while, we discovered that they didn’t have any gloves. Lovely. I considered buying some socks to put on my hands before ultimately deciding against it. But I did find a red Rangers toboggan-type hat for $20. Sold!

First Matt and I headed to the Cuervo Club to see what Jamey Newberg was up to. It was just past 11:00, so the people waiting to see Tanner Scheppers and Zach Phillips had already been allowed to go inside. Yep, that’s where I wanna be!

As I waited in line, my ADD/excitement/love of baseball took over and I began talking to various other people waiting in line, which really shocked my brother. He’s not really into baseball, so he’s not usually around me when I’m in my element, and he’s used to me being more quiet and reserved. Ha! 🙂

Tanner Scheppers and Jamey Newberg

When I got up to the first table (Jamey Newberg and Tanner Scheppers), I said hi to Jamey. “Hi, Katie, are you having a good day today?” he asked. “Oh yeah,” I said, “it’s cold, of course, but we’re having fun.” I introduced my Matt to Jamey and handed Tanner a baseball to sign. “Oh, Katie, did you ever find your cell phone?” Jamey asked. “No,” I explained, “I called the Omni this morning, and nobody turned it in. Oh well.”
Zach Phillips
We headed to the next table, where Eleanor Czajka was sitting with Zach Phillips. I guess she couldn’t hear Jamey (because of all the stuff that was going on), so she said, “Hi, Katie. Did you find your phone?” “No, not yet,” I said. “But I’m going to keep calling them until they find it!”
After Zach signed a baseball for me, he posed for a picture with Eleanor. But she made me promise that I wouldn’t put it on my blog, so I had to cut her out. She was making a funny face anyway, because she was talking while I took the picture. But I did what you asked, Eleanor!! 🙂
As Matt and I left the Cuervo Club, he looked at me in amazement. “They actually knew you by name, and they asked if you found your phone!” he said. “Well, yeah,” I replied. “I told you that I hung out with them after the awards ceremony last night.” “But still… that was just cool! They’re, like, important! And you know them!” I just laughed.
Where do you want to go next?” Matt asked. “I’m not waiting out in the cold for any autographs,” I said. “So I guess we should head off to the Rangers’ workout room!”
“Hungry,” Matt grunted. “Dude, it’s only 11:30! You ate breakfast like an hour ago!” He just shrugged. “Okay, fine,” I said. “Let’s go check out some of the concessions.”
After Matt had eaten a bratwurst with grilled onions, we headed off to the weight room. We followed the signs, and we discovered a line of people waiting to use the indoor batting cages. We weren’t interested in batting practice, so we passed them by and walked right into the exercise room. And there was no one there!
They had marked off an aisle running down the center of the room so that people wouldn’t mess with the machines. But it didn’t seem like too many people were interested in the equipment, because we were the only ones in there.
I thought that more people would be interested, because this is a room that people don’t typically get to see that the players use often. I mean, I thought it was cool! But apparently, no one else did!
After we left the weight room, we went outside to stand in line to see the clubhouse. And that’s where we ended up having the most fun! One of the things I love about my brother is that he’s hilarious, and every time we get together, it’s like we’re 5 years old again. He grabbed the camera and took a self-portrait.
Then he decided we should take pictures of our feet, like Forrest Gump. What? I don’t really remember that from Forrest Gump, but Matt is the movie guru, so if he says that Forrest Gump took pictures of his shoes, I believe him. Whatever! 🙂

I tried my hand at taking a self-portrait, like Matt, but they didn’t turn out very well. So he thought he would take one for me. He’s 6’2″, so his arms are a little longer than mine. And apparently I wasn’t too impressed.

Matt took this one right before we got to go into the locker room/clubhouse. I was excited, obviously. And cold. And lacking sleep. And bored. But after a few more minutes, I got to the doorway! They weren’t letting people actually go inside the clubhouse, but just inside the doorway to take pictures.

It’s a good thing that Matt is tall, and he was able to take this picture of me. But then they were shoo-ing us out the door. I wish we could have walked around the room a little. I mean, it’s the offseason, so it’s not like any of the lockers were being used for anything.

Anyway, after we left the clubhouse, we went across the hallway to the dugout. And that was so cool! I’ve never gotten to go into the dugout before, and it gave me chills thinking about all the players who have sat on that bench. Or maybe it was just the weather giving me chills. 😉
Then we got to walk out onto the field, and we had the option to run the bases. I really wanted to, but the average age of people running the bases was approximately 6 years old, so I felt kind of stupid. I usually am up for any opportunity to embarrass myself, but it was freakin’ cold out there, and I wanted to let the kids have their fun. So I just got pictures of the kids sliding into home.
This was on a plaque inside the hallway leading to the dugout. I had to take a picture of it because I love Pudge, and he won 10 Golden Gloves with the Rangers! I mean, come on! That’s pretty darn impressive! All of the other guys are pretty impressive too. Except for Juan Benitez. Sorry, Juan, but you’re the only one that I don’t know.
Then we headed over to check out my seats. I bought a 16-game mini plan for the 2010 season, and I had already picked out my seats over the phone, so I wanted to see them in person.
And they were better than I had hoped! They are in the Corner Box, on the 1st base side, in row 22 on the aisle. The view was spectacular. Fabulous! Matt was just impressed by the fact that my section is close to the “Beers of the World” concessions. {Sigh}

old uniforms

Then I was finally hungry, so I decided to get a hotdog. Matt decided that he was hungry again too, so I ended up buying two hot dogs. And I bought us each some hot chocolate, since it was so freakin’ cold. But Matt drank out of my cup after partaking in his thoroughly disgusting habit of smoking a cigarette, and he totally ruined it for me. It made the hot chocolate taste all smoky. Blech! Maybe this will finally shame him into quitting!
Nolan Ryan 🙂
Next we went to see Darren Oliver’s Q&A session in the Rangers Ballpark Theater, which is near the Lower Home Run Porch in right field. I think this might be where the Legends of the Game Museum used to be, but I’m not sure. We got there early, and in order to warm up a little, we looked around at what was left of the museum.

Darren Oliver

I was really excited to listen to Darren Oliver’s Q&A, because Darren was with the Rangers when I first started watching baseball. The Rangers drafted him in 1988, and he made his major league debut in 1993. But what I remember most is his years as a starter for the Rangers, from 1996-1998. I even got to ask him a question! It was something about when and why he made his transition from starter to reliever.
He knew the year immediately, but I can’t remember now which year he said it was. He said he felt like it was time for him to either move into a relief role “or stay home,” and that his management/coaches were ready and willing to help him make the transition. Then I sucked up to him by telling him that he obviously handled the transition really well, because he was great as a starter and even better as a reliever.

After the Q&A, I wanted to see Tommy Hunter and Darren Oiver at the Diamond Club, but it was really cold and my brother was ready to go home, so we just left. I called the Omni Hotel again once more from Matt’s phone before we left, but they still hadn’t found my phone. And luckily, none of my fingers fell off because of frostbite, so I think I had a pretty good day!

Next time, I’ll be talking about Jamey Newberg’s 2nd book release party that took place last Tuesday. I got to interview Chuck Greenberg one-on-one after it was all over!! YAY!!!

Ron Washington’s lineup

At Vlad Guerrero’s press conference yesterday, Ron Washington revealed his lineup for the 2010 Rangers. And it’s nearly identical to the lineup I envisioned yesterday.

my lineup
CF Julio Borbon (L)
3B Michael Young (R)
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
DH Vladimir Guerrero (R)
RF Nelson Cruz (R)
2B Ian Kinsler (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)
SS Elvis Andrus (R)

Wash’s lineup
CF Julio Borbon (L)
3B Michael Young (R)
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
DH Vladimir Guerrero (R)
2B Ian Kinsler (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
RF Nelson Cruz (R)
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)
SS Elvis Andrus (R)

The only difference is that in my lineup, Nelson Cruz would bat 5th, before Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis. In Wash’s lineup, Cruz bats 7th, after Kinsler and Davis.

Wash wants to alternate between lefties and righties as much as possible, so this lineup makes sense… if Salty always bats lefty. If he doesn’t, then you’ve got 3 righties in a row. But because Salty is a switch hitter, our opponents won’t know for certain if they’ll get 3 righties in a row, and that’s the beauty of it. If they bring in a right-handed relief pitcher, Salty can bat lefty. And vice versa.

See, in my lineup, you’ve got Vlad, Nelly, and Kinsler in a row, and they’re all righties. Predictable. I just think Nelly is better suited to the 5 hole (in the middle 3rd of the order), Kinsler hits best 6th (albeit a small sample size), and CD belongs in the bottom 3rd of the order. But that’s just my opinion. Ron Washington probably knows more about it than I do.

We got big bad Vlad!!

Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero has signed a one-year $5 million dollar contract for the 2010 season with the Texas Rangers, with incentives and a $1 mil buyout. Yay!! I didn’t think we’d actually be able to land Vlad! I’ve been focusing on Jermaine Dye, because he seemed more realistic, and he’d have been able to play some defense too. Vlad is a phenomenal hitter, but unfortunately he has some truly abysmal defense. That’s okay; he can DH for us.

Vlad has been known as “the Ranger Killer” because of his outstanding career slash line of .394/.471/.705 when hitting in Rangers Ballpark. So it’s great to have him on our team, if for no other reason than we won’t have to play against him! And I think he’ll inspire the entire lineup to be better. I mean, when you have a bat like Vlad’s, everyone looks bad in comparison, so they’ll all have to step it up a notch.

David Murphy
But it makes me feel bad for David Murphy, because he’ll be relegated to back-up duties. Hopefully he’ll still get to play in a good number of games while spelling Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon, and Nelson Cruz in the outfield. And maybe he can DH for Vlad once in a blue moon.
Khalil Greene
The Rangers also signed Khalil Greene over the weekend to a one-year deal for $750,000. Who?? Well, maybe you know who he is, but I had no idea. So this is what I found out: He has played primarily in the national league (5 years for the San Diego Padres) until last year when he went to the St. Louis Cardinals. He made $6.5 mil in 2009. But he spent over 2 months as a Cardinal on the DL while suffering from social anxiety disorder. So he has the potential to be a great backup utility infielder for us, if he’s healthy.
This is what the Rangers’ lineup for 2010 will probably look like:
CF Julio Borbon (L)
3B Michael Young (R)
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
DH Vlad Guerrero (R)
RF Nelson Cruz (R)
2B Ian Kinsler (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)
SS Elvis Andrus (R)

Or maybe Ian will bat 2nd and Young-Hamilton-Guerrero-Cruz will all get pushed back. Or maybe Kinsler and Cruz switch. Or maybe Salty and CD switch. For sure, Borbon will lead off, and Young-Hamilton-Guerrero will bat together, and Elvis will bat 9th.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
The only thing that the Rangers might still need to add is a veteran catcher. But Salty saw Dr. Greg Pearl last week (the one who did his surgery for Thorasic Outlet Syndrome), and he was cleared to start throwing again. So he may be fine. And we have Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez as backups in case he isn’t fine. I feel pretty good about this.

I mean, obviously, I would rather have Marlon Byrd instead of Vlad Guerrero and Pudge instead of Taylor Teagarden and Omar Vizquel instead of Khalil Greene. But then again, that’s what we had last year, and it didn’t necessarily work out. So we’ll see. I still think 2010 is the year.

Newberg book signing, a.k.a. meeting TR  Sullivan

Oh… my… gosh!!! Thursday night was amazing!
Chris Davis 
Daddy and I arrived at Sherlock’s in Arlington at about 5:55 to get autographs for our copies of Jamey Newberg’s 2010 Bound Edition. The signing was slated to start at 6:00.

But next year, I’m taking off a half-day from work so that I can get there extra early just to get in line. Because it was ridiculously crowded.

Rusty Greer, Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland
There were 600 people there.
Six hundred
That’s a lot of people for one restaurant. Daddy and I got there at about 6, like I said, but we didnt make it up to the stage to get our autographs until 8:30. Two and a half hours standing in line. And we’re both crippled!!
Rusty Greer, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Jamey Newberg
Well, not crippled, but I’ve had my pelvis broken in 3 places (which is no fun, let me tell you) and Daddy is considered 50% disabled due to an injury he got while he was serving in the Navy in Vietnam.

So needless to say, we’re both hurting the next day. But it was sooooo worth it!

Chris Davis. Isn’t he pretty?? Ugly hat though.
By the time we even made it into the main dining room, Scott Feldman had already left. No bueno! So I didn’t get his autograph. But I got Jamey Newberg, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, and Ian Kinsler’s autographs!

I already had Derek Holland and Rusty Greer’s autographs. I had Jamey sign the book (cause he wrote it… duh), and I had all the players sign baseballs.

me with Rusty Greer

Then I got a picture with Ian Kinsler, Rusty Greer, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Chris Davis. The picture of me with Rusty came out the best!

And on top of all that, I got to meet TR Sullivan!

Tommy Hunter and me
He commented on one of my blogs a few months ago, but when I sent him an email, he never responded. So last night when I saw him, I asked him if that was really him who commented on my blog. And he said that yes it was him, and he apologized profusely for not responding to my email.
me with Chris Davis
I was just glad to find out that TR Sullivan actually read my blog and that he really liked it!

He told me to email him today and remind him about who I was, and that he’s put a link on his blog. And I was sooo excited about that!

Chris Davis, Jamey Newberg, Derek olland, Tommy Hunter
But it got even better from there!
Today I checked his blog, just to see if he said anything about the book release party last night. And he mentioned me… by NAME… three times!!!

Derek Holland, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter
He was first talking about the people he met last night, including “Katie and her father,” (that’s me).

Then he flat-out said “this is Katie’s blog. Check it out” and he posted a link. And I’ve had 500 hits just today!!!

Ian Kinsler and me
Then he ended the blog saying “one day there might just be a little magic in the air at the Ballpark in Arlington. If Katie can do it, the Rangers might just do it as well.”
BAM!!! How cool is that??
me with Derek Holland
Then he posted a comment on my blog saying that I should email him because he wants to talk to me about something. Hmm… interesting! Stay tuned!


Book signing, more trades, injuries, and ownership

My dad and I have decided that we’re going to Jamey Newberg’s book signing party on Thursday! We already pre-ordered the books, so they’ll be ready for us to pick up at the party. Rusty Greer, Ian Kinsler, Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, and Chris Davis will all be there to sign autographs. Yay!!

I have Rusty Greer & Derek Holland’s autographs already, but not the other 4 guys. Last year I almost got Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis’ autographs, but I couldn’t close the deal. Each player will sign up to 3 items per person, so I can get all of them to sign the book, baseballs, and Daddy’s glove. I hope it’s not too crowded. Anyway, moving on…

In another huge 3-team trade, Cliff Lee (formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies) is going to Seattle and Roy Halladay (formerly of the Seattle Mariners) is going to Toronto. The full details haven’t been released yet, but when you’re dealing with 2 high-quality starting pitchers like Halladay and Lee, the deal is sure to be enormous.

Great, that’s just what we need: for a team in our division to go into next year with Cliff Lee AND Chone Figgens.

John Lackey (formerly of the Angels) has been signed by the Boston Red Sox to a 5-year, $85 million dollar deal. That works out to $17 million per year. Yikes.

But don’t feel bad for the Angels yet. They may have lost John Lackey, but they signed DH/OF Hideki Matsui (formerly of the Yankees) to a one-year deal. Lovely.

The Rangers look like they’re in for a bumpy ride within the AL West this year.

No news on the Mike Lowell/Max Ramirez trade. Apparently it’s being held up because of all the injuries involved (i.e. Mike Lowell’s hip and thumb, Max Ramirez’s injured wrists).

After it appeared that Jim Crane had fallen out of the ownership race, he has suddenly emerged as the frontrunner. Around Thanksgiving, Crane, Gilbert, and Greenberg all submitted their original bids to buy the team.

Then they had a deadline of December 7th (last Monday) to submit bid modifications, which Gilbert and Greenberg did, but Crane didn’t. It was sort of assumed that Crane had taken himself out of the race. But then, last Thursday, Crane submitted his modifications 3 days late.

Crane’s proposal is rumored to be around $530 mil, and supposedly economics is what is driving this ownership deal. But Crane had a “handshake agreement” to buy the Astros in 2008 that fell through, and that makes Major League officials wary about him getting final approval to buy the Rangers.

Today is the deadline set by Comissioner Bud Selig for Tom Hicks to chose one bidder to go into final negotiations with. But Hicks has apparently been dragging his feet throughout this whole process, and he’s doing everything he can to try to find a way to keep the team. So he just might pick Crane to negotiate with, knowing that the deal might not go through, just to give himself more time to try to find a way to keep the Rangers. Who knows?


I have billions of questions buzzing around in my baseball-obsessed mind, all of which will be resolved at some point during the off-season, but I feel the need to get them out. Then I can cross them off when they’ve been resolved and explain the answers. So here we go!
Ownership: Who will be the new owner of the Rangers? Will Nolan Ryan still be the team president? Will Nolan Ryan be a minority owner? Will Tom Hick stay on as a minority owner? Will new ownership affect (i.e. increase) our budget for the 2010 season?

Here’s what we know: There are 3 main groups, which are fronted by Chuck Greenberg, Dennis Gilbert, and Jim Crane. Greenberg’s group has included Nolan Ryan as a minority owner, so if he wins out, obviously Nolan will have a stake in the ownership and will stay on as president. But then again, it’s possible that if one of the other groups wins out, they’ll let him in as a partial owner. It is possible that the new ownership could fire Nolan as president, but I think that’s unlikely at this point. The fans love Nolan, and it wouldn’t make a good impression on the fans if their first move was to fire him. Tom Hicks has expressed interest in retaining a portion of his ownership as well, so we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. At this point, the budget for 2010 will be approximately the same as it was for 2009, so the new owners will have to meet that budget or increase it. It would be nice if we could have a little more leeway to get some big names to Texas for our playoff push next year.
Marlon Byrd: Will the Rangers re-sign him for 2010 and beyond?

Here’s what we know: Marlon says that he wants to stay with the Rangers. The Rangers want him to stay. He made a little over $3 mil in 2009, so he’ll want at least that much per year in his next contract. How much more is anybody’s guess. This is probably his only chance to negotiate a multi-year contract, and he’s probably wanting at least 3 years. But Marlon is already 32, so I’m sure the Rangers are anxious that health issues may mar his future playing time. And the Rangers don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around, so I’m sure that will affect how much progress is made towards contract negotion. But Marlon is a strong influence in the clubhouse, and Michael Young (team leader) is strongly campaigning for the Rangers to keep him. I think the Rangers will offer him something in the neighborhood of 4, 5, or 6 million dollars for the next 3 years, plus lots of incentives (i.e. bonuses if he plays at least x number of games, if he hits at least y home runs, or if he steals at least z bases, etc.). But if he wants something like $10 mil a year for 5 years, I think the Rangers will let him walk.
Ivan Rodriguez: Will Pudge be back?

Here’s what we know: The fans adore Pudge, and he said that he wants to finish out his career here. And even though he’s pushing 40, he’s still pretty darn good. He’s played on 2 World Series teams, and he has a lost of post-season experience (which the Rangers are seriously lacking). He has 13 Gold Gloves. But because of his age, the Rangers might be hesitant to offer him a multi-year contract, or to pay him a particularly hefty sum for 2010. Jarrod Saltalamacchia recently had surgery for Thorasic Outlet Syndrome, and while his prognosis looks good, there’s no telling how he’ll progress. Taylor Teagarden was unimpressive in 2009. Max Ramirez spent a lot of time on the DL in AAA. And the Rangers just outrighted Kevin Richardson to the minors. So it might be good to have him around. We acquired him as “strictly a back-up catcher” in August of 2009, but he ended up being our everyday catcher to close out the season. He made 1.5 mil in 2009. Will he accept $1 mil and a one-year contract? $5 million and a 2-year contract? We’ll see.
Omar Vizquel: Will he be back for 2010?

Here’s what we know: Omar has said that he wants to play next year, even though he’s the oldest active position player at 42 years old. He was a great mentor for Elvis Andrus in his rookie year (2009), but does Elvis still need him in 2010? He has 11 Gold Gloves, and his defensive work is truly beautiful. I swear, he looks like a ballet dancer out there sometimes! He played 63 games for the Rangers this year: 16 games at 2B, 27 games at SS, and 20 games at 3B, and he made NO errors. None, zippo, nada. That’s pretty amazing. He’s said he would be interested in returning, but he wants to shop around first.
Starting rotation: Which 5 pitchers will we go with in our starting rotation for 2010?

Here’s what we know: Ron Washington has already said that Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman have guaranteed slots next year. But the other 3 are up for grabs. The possible candidates are: Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, Matt Harrison, Eric Hurley, and Guillermo Moscoso. I discussed the pros and cons about all these pitchers in a previous blog. But Wash has also said he would like to obtain another veteran starter this winter. So if he does that, then there will only be two spots up for grabs, making the competition even tougher. But can we get anybody good for relatively little money? And of course, as we all know, our starting rotation can change a lot during the year due to injuries, etc. I mean, look at our poor rotation in 2009! On Opening Day, it was Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kris Benson, Matt Harrison, and Brandon McCarthy. Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy both went on the 60-day DL, Kris Benson was a disaster, and we released Padilla because of all his foolishness. So you never know what can change throughout the season!
Acquisitions: Right-handed bat to play 1B and DH, left-handed relief pitcher

Here’s what we know: In addition to a veteran starter, Wash also said he’d like to pick up a right-handed bat who can play 1B or DH, as well as another lefty reliever. I’ve heard Jermaine Dye’s name brought up to fill that first role, and while he is right-handed, he has played mainly in the outfield. In 2005, he played 1B once and SS once for the Chicago White Sox. That’s it. But if we keep Marlon Byrd, we may not need another right-handed bat. CJ and Eddie are our only lefty relievers at this point, and Eddie’s probably not coming back (I’ll address that later), so it would be nice to have another one.
Batting coach: Who will replace Rudy Jaramillo?

Here’s what we know: Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are supposedly “constructing a list” of candidates to replace Rudy, and they plan on interviewing about 4 or 5 guys for the position. Some names that have been thrown around are Scott Coolbaugh (Rangers AAA batting coach), Rusty Greer (former Ranger), Will Clark (former Ranger), Julio Franco (managing in Mets farm league), Gary Pettis (currently our 1st base coach), Carney Lansford (fired by San Francisco last week), Clint Hurdle (former Colorado manager), Tim Wallach (Dodgers hitting coach in 2004), Thad Bosley (hitting coach in Oakland with Wash), Gerald Perry (hitting coach for Cubs, fired in June), Greg Colbrunn (minor league hitting coach for Yank
ees), Dave Hudgens (former A’s hitting coach), Mike Boulanger (Minor League hitting coach), and Toby Harrah (former Ranger, current hitting coach for Tigers). I’m sure there are a bunch of other names too that I haven’t heard yet. So obviously, there are a lot of choices. It’s just about finding a good fit.

Eddie Guardado: Is he really retiring?

Here’s what we know: He’s definitely thinking about it. But that’s about all we know. He didn’t pitch too well towards the end of the season, so as terrible as it sounds, I’m kind of hoping he retires. He’s a free agent, and I just don’t think it’s useful to pay him a significant amount of money for just one more year when he’s at the end of his career and losing his stamina.

Outfield: What will our outfield look like next year?

Here’s what we know: Marlon Byrd (righty) is a question mark. We have Josh Hamilton (lefty), Julio Borbon (lefty), David Murphy (lefty), and Nelson Cruz (righty). We also have Chris Davis (another lefty in the lineup) as our starting 1st baseman, and Salty is a switch hitter. So we could possibly have 5 left-handed bats in a 9-man line-up. That’s not so good. Borbon is rumored to be “the center fielder of the future,” but he has a weak arm. He’s supposed to be working on that this winter, but who knows? Josh Hamilton had a spectacular 2008, but he had trouble staying healthy this year. I don’t want to lose anybody, but I have this sneaking suspicion that we’re going to trade David Murphy. That hurts me, because he’s a good Texas boy, but I just can’t shake that feeling. And I have a feeling that Nelson Cruz could be great. I’m mean he could be Josh-Hamilton-in-2008-great. But what about Craig Gentry? He was the surprise September call-up from AA. It makes the most sense that he would at least begin next year in AAA, but it’s certainly an intriguing idea. He’s a righty, with an incredibly strong and accurate arm, and he’s supposedly speedy on the bases, but he needs to learn how to bat against big league pitching.