Tagged: Darren O'Day

Non-Fan Fest stuff

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that Manny Ramirez is NOT going to be playing for the Rangers for the 2011 season! YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

The morning after I posted my anti-Manny blog, I got in the car to head out to Fan Fest. On my way out to Arlington, I heard that Manny had signed a one year deal with the Rays. It was a great way to start off the day!!

The blog I wrote yesterday about Fan Fest was already so long that I didn’t get to address this other stuff. So here are some other things I’ve been thinking about.

It was announced on Sunday that the Rangers reached a deal with Darren O’Day, so that’s one less arbitration candidate that the Rangers have to worry about. Now the only 2 arbitration-eligible players who have yet to sign are Josh Hamilton and Frank Francisco.

I hope they don’t pay Frankie Frank a lot of money. After his monumental crash early last season and the subsequently unimpressive remainder of 2010, I kinda wish Frankie would go away. Instead of spending money on him, we could put money towards a better use.

I’m not sure why they can’t reach a deal with Josh Hamilton, because he was the AL MVP last year. He only wants $12 million, just pay it!

From what I understand, the arbitration process comes up with a salary placed on what similar players are getting around the league. But there’s no one to compare Josh Hamilton to; he’s the best.

Major League Baseball recognized him as the Most Valuable Player in the entire American League in 2010. So I don’t think it would be out of the question to find the guy with the highest salary in the AL, then pay Josh more than that. Seriously.

Alex Rodriguez made $33 million dollars last year, but he wasn’t the MVP. Josh Hamilton was. Josh Hamilton is only asking for $12 million in 2011. Just pay it! It’s better than $34 million!

They were fine with offering Adrian Beltre a 6-year/$96 million deal, so why not Hamilton? Well they probably shouldn’t offer Hamilton a 6-year contract, because he’s pretty injury-prone.

But how about a 3-year deal where they pay him $12 mil for 2011, $13 mil for 2012, and $14 mil for 2013? And add in lots of incentives based on the number of games he plays, homer he hits, his batting average, etc.

Now it’s easy for me to give Hamilton someone else’s money. But I thought the Rangers weren’t supposed to be cash-strapped any more. I think the Rangers need to realize that they’re looking a gift horse in the mouth, put on their big boy pants and pay the man.

So, was I the only one who was sad to hear that Vernon Wells will be with the Angels next year? I mean, how did the Rangers miss out on that one?

Vernon Wells is a beast, and I would absolutely LOVE to have him in a Ranger uniform. I mean, he’s FROM here!!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Vernon Wells was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the LA Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

But maybe he wants a more active role that we would have available here in Texas. Wells is an outfielder, and the Rangers are pretty set in the outfield.

Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, and Julio Borbon are our 4 outfielders, not to mention Mitch Moreland (if he’s not at 1B) and Craig Gentry waiting at AAA.

For at least the next 3 years, Adrian Beltre will be our 3rd baseman and Michael Young will be the DH. So we can’t put Wells at DH.

Wells also has 4 years left on his contract for a hefty $86 million dollars. I think any team would be leery about taking on a paycheck that big.

I get all the reasons why, but it’s still upsetting. I like Vernon Wells.

It makes me feel better to know that Wells didn’t chose to go to the Angels, though. It wasn’t like he was a free agent; he was traded. He was happy with the Blue Jays. Yes, he waived his no-trade clause to accept the trade, but he didn’t go seek them out.

Ooh, hey! I just got an email from Jamey Newberg saying that the Blue Jays have traded Mike Napoli to us for Frank Francisco! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

But wait, isn’t Mike Napoli a catcher? We already have Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor. I guess the Rangers’ recent lack of good catching taught them a lesson, and they don’t want that to happen again.

After having Salty spend so much time injured and Taylor Teagarden unable to step up, the Rangers were lucky that they were able to get Matt Treanor during Spring Training of 2010.

And then we had to go after Bengie Molina mid-season, and we traded Salty away. So I guess they want to make sure they don’t get caught in a lurch again.

Maybe Napoli can work as the other right-handed big bat the Rangers were hoping to add. So maybe he’ll DH on the days when Young is at 1B. Or something.

I don’t know how it’s all gonna work out, but I know that I like it. Way to go, JD!!!

Seriously, guys, how amazing is our GM?!? It’s all coming together, and I’m starting to really get pumped for the 2011 season!!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 22 days
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Fan Fest

Since Fan Fest was going to be different this year, I was pretty apprehensive. But the overall verdict is….. I LIKED IT!! Make sure to keep that in mind while I’m complaining about the autograph process in future paragraphs, okay?
I had planned to get up early on Saturday morning to wait in line for autographs, but I couldn’t sleep on Friday night. So when my alarm went off on Saturday, I decided to call an audible and reset my alarm for 10:00 instead.
I headed out to Arlington later than expected, but I was feeling great because of the extra rest.
When I arrived, it took me a good 15 minutes to find a parking space, and I only found that one because of dumb luck. Then when I tried to enter the Convention Center, I was told that I was entering through the exit and that I had to walk around the building. Lovely!

This did not put me in a great mood. But I eventually got around the building and found Will Call to pick up my ticket. As soon as I entered, I asked where I needed to go for autographs.
After walking around aimlessly for a while trying to find where the lady was talking about, I finally figured out the general area where I was supposed to be.
Let me first explain how the autographs were set up at Fan Fest. There were 4 autograph stages (A, B, C, and D) where players would be signing autographs at their specified times. They had players signing 2 at a time, so for example Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis were each signing at stages B and C, respectively, from 12:00-1:00.

So if you wanted to get both Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis, you were screwed. You had to have a special colored wristband to get an autograph, and 200 wristbands were given out for each player. Each person could only have one wristband at a time, and you were required to be already waiting in line for your player when the autograph time started.
After you got your autograph, there was a person standing there to cut off your wristband. Then you could head back over to the wristband area to try to get a wristband for another player’s autograph.

This should have worked out pretty well, because the Rangers had publicised that they wouldn’t start handing out wristbands for a specific player until 2 hours before his autograph session. But I heard that the fire marshal said that all the people lined up waiting to get their wristbands were blocking the exits, so they had to start handing out all the wristbands.
They also had only 4 lines (for stages A, B, C, and D), so you had to know what stage your player was going to be at. But if someone was waiting for either Michael Kirkman (signing on stage C at 2:00) or David Murphy (signing on stage C at 4:00), they were in the same line. It was madness!
After asking around for awhile, I realized that since Kirkman was signing before Murphy, I could go to the front of the line to get a Kirkman wristband.

I got there at a little before noon, and I ended up getting a Kirkman wristband for the 2:00 signing. I also wanted to get Darren O’Day (3:00) and Engel Beltre (4:00), but I couldn’t get those wristbands until after my Kirkman session was over.
Jamey Newberg 
So then I had 2 hours to kill before the autograph session, but I had to make sure I was in the line for Kirkman before 2:00. I decided to visit Jamey Newberg’s booth to see what he was up to.
Jamey and I talked for a little while, and unfortunately I allowed my displeasure about the autograph situation to overflow a little.
I said something like “I don’t know if I like this new Fan Fest. It’s kind of ridiculous!”
He cocked his head to the side, narrowed his eyes, and grinned at me. “But it’s also kinda awesome, right?” That helped me to realize that I was the one being ridiculous, and I needed to chill and try to have a good time. Thanks, Jamey!
Fergie Jenkins
Jamey had a prime spot, right between C.J. Wilson’s Children’s Charities and the Hall Of Fame Booth with Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry. So Jamey just got to soak in the greatness all day!
CJ Wilson 
The gracious C. J. stopped by his booth just before I got there, and he spent quite a while signing autographs for various kids. I was going to get in line, but then some official-looking guy said that C.J. had to leave soon, and the line was already too long.
I already have a C.J. Wilson autographed ball, but the 1st pen he tried to sign with ran out of ink, and the end result doesn’t look anything at all like C.J.’s signature. Oh well.
Gaylord Perry
Fergie and Gaylord Perry were also signing autographs, but you had to donate $20 to the Texas Rangers Foundation for each autograph. I would have done it if it had been the beginning of the month, but it was the 22nd, and I don’t get paid again until the 1st. Dangit!
On the other side of Fan Fest, there was a big stage that had been set up for Q&A Sessions all day long, and I realized that this was a good place to be. Not only because I learned some great stuff, but also because I got to sit down!
There were several different sessions scheduled, including ones with Nolan Ryan, members of the coaching staff, Rangers’ wives, Chuck Greenberg, former Rangers, and Nelson Cruz.

I listened to some or all of several of these Q&A’s, and I really enjoyed them. It made me feel special as a fan to get the opportunity to ask questions, and I learned a lot by listening to the questions that other fans asked.

There was also a little corner by the stage where the Rangers’ Foundation was selling various Rangers memorabilia. They were selling a bunch of things I already have at a reduced rate, like a 2010 Rangers’ Media Guide that I paid $10 for at the beginning of the season was going for $1.

They also had a Rangers’ cookbook that I already own, as well as some old Hank Blalock bobbleheads from a few years ago.
But the things I purchased were some baseball-themed potholders ($1 each) and an autographed Jarrod Saltalamacchia baseball. Score!

I had wanted to get Salty’s autograph for the past couple of years, but when we traded him to Boston and I thought that my chance had passed. But they had at least a dozen baseballs with his John Hancock, as well as countless other autographed baseballs that were completely illegible, and each was only $15.

If they had taken the time to decipher some of those autographs, they probably could have sold a bunch more!
Right next to the old Rangers’ memorabilia was the “photo booth” where different current and former Rangers’ players would take some time to take pictures with the fans. There was no publicised schedule for the photo stage, so you just had to get in line and hope for the best.
I got in line for Mark McLemore, but his picture with the guy in front of me was his last one. Aww, man! I was upset, because I had no idea who the next guy would be or if I would want my picture taken with him.
Matt Treanor
But then Matt Treanor walked up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked up to have my picture taken with him, I explained that I had been waiting for Mac, but that I was glad to get to have a picture with him instead.
He was so sweet; he said, “Do you want me to get him back up here?” and he made a move to call Mac back to the stage. I laughed. “Oh, no!” I said. “I’m glad it’s you!”

Mark McLemore
After my picture with Matt Treanor, I realized that Mark McLemore was still off to the side talking to some people. When it was my turn, I explained that I had been the next person in line. “Well, I can’t leave you hanging,” he said. “You were the next person!”

The area between the big Q&A stage and the photo booth was also a great spot to catch various Rangers’-affiliated people for pictures.

Jim Sundberg
Jim Sundberg was walking through the crows unnoticed, and as he passed by me, I asked, “Sunny, would you mind taking a picture with me?”
“Sure!” he said. Then I felt kinda bad because a lot of other people realized who he was and they wanted pictures too. Oops!

Richard “Hoggy” Price

I also spotted Richard “Hoggy” Price, and I’ll bet that some of you hardcore Rangers’ fans don’t even know who he is. He’s the Rangers’ clubhouse manager, and I explained that I had seen him on Rangers Insider.
“Yeah,” he said with a wink and a smile, “I try to avoid the camera as much as possible, but sometimes they get me.” I told him I appreciated all the stuff he does behind the scenes that most people never know about, and he was very nice. He even gave me his business and said to call him if I ever needed help getting an autograph or something!
Michael Kirkman 
Then I realized that I needed to get in line for my Michael Kirkman autograph, so I headed over to the other main room. I got there around 1:45, but I ended up talking to the girl in front of me, and the line seemed to move quickly after that.
After Kirkman signed my ball and handed it back to me, I said “Thanks! This will be worth something someday!” He smiled, and I said “You’re gonna be great. I have a good feeling about you.”

After I got my autograph, it was about 2:30, and they had already given out all of the wristbands to the day’s remaining autograph sessions. Sad!

Chuck Greenberg
I decided to head back to the other room to see what else was going on, and I ran into Chuck Greenberg again, for what was probably the 4th time that day. I finally thought to get a picture with him. I’ve known him for a year, but we’ve never taken a picture together!
I was just wandering around when I saw a booth for the Texas Rangers Women’s Club. My friend Rachel had mentioned that we should check them out, so I went over to get some information.
The lady I talked to said they have women of all ages, and that they volunteer at various games at the Ballpark. As a member, I can work as many or as few games as I want, and unless the game is sold out, I can stay and watch the game for free!
They’re also the ones who hand out the promotional items, and my favorite thing was that she said we get each of the promotional items for the games we work, even the ones for kids 13 and under!
They also help with charitble events, have special TRWC events and get to have group outings at Rangers’ games. I almost feel guilty, as if I’m stealing something! It seems too good to be true.
She said the yearly dues are $22, but for your first year you have to pay a one-time-only badge fee of $7. I think I can handle $29!! Although I spent way too much money at Fan Fest, so the lady said I could take a form and just mail it in with a check after I get paid next. Yessss!!
Emily Jones and Nelson Cruz 
Next it was time for Nelly Cruz’s Q&A session, so I headed over to take a seat. This isn’t a very good picture, but it’s Emily Jones and Nelly onstage.
Someone asked Nelly why he wasn’t playing Winter Ball, and he responded “That wasn’t my decision; it was the Rangers’. I just want to play ball all the time. It’s harder to stay in shape when I’m not playing.”
So that was interesting. I guess the Rangers don’t want him to get injured playing Winter Ball and have it affect his Major League season, which makes sense.
Chuck Morgan
After Nelly’s session was over, I made one last loop around to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While I was making my rounds, I spotted Chuck Morgan, and he was gracious enough to take a picture with me too!
The whole autograph thing was total chaos, and I sincerely hope it is fixed for next year’s Fan Fest. Chuck Greenberg mentioned that they might need to get a bigger venue, and I agree. But the next venue needs to have a whole separate area dedicated only to autographs, with plenty of room for people to wait in line.

And the Rangers should actually wait until 2 hours prior to the autograph session to hand out wristbands, so that people can have a chance to get more than one autograph all day!
They should also have a lot more lines, with each one dedicated to each player. The 4-stage setup worked out pretty well, but waiting in line for your player’s stage alongside other people who were waiting for another player at the same stage was bad. It just created a lot of confusion, both for the fans and for the poor people working the event who didn’t know what was going on either.
Okay, enough with the griping. I had planned to attend Sunday’s Fan Fest as well, (since I had purchased a 2-day pass), but I was so exhausted after Saturday that I ended up deciding that I needed to use Sunday to rest and get ready for the work week. Just another example that I’m getting old. {Sigh}
With the Rangers making it to the World Series in 2010, it was necessary to change Fan Fest to accomodate all of the extra people attending. The Arlington Convention Center was nice because it’s right next to the Ballpark, and because it was indoors. It just still wasn’t big enough.
All of the booths and events that were at this year’s Fan Fest may have been present before, but if they were, they were hidden in various nooks and crannies around the Ballpark. I really liked how most things were easy to find (besides the correct autograph line), and I had fun.
This year’s Fan Fest was geared more towards children, with indoor batting cages, speed pitch, a game where you try to steal home, pitching and hitting instructional clinics by Rangers’ coaches, and a Home Run Derby.
But I thought it offered plenty for the grown-up Rangers fan too. I enjoyed the Photo Booth and the Q&A sessions, and at least I got one autograph! Dang this entry was long!
Pitchers and catchers report in: 23 days

Ouch!

Oh man, that was painful. I hate feeling that helpless.

Every night that the Rangers play, I’m hoping for a win. It’s never a guarantee. But when your team is up 6-1 going into the 6th inning, you feel like they have a pretty good chance of coming away with the W.

I guess the Rangers forgot that they were playing the Yankees last night. No lead is safe.

Cliff Lee got the start for the Rangers, going up against Javier Vazquez. And Cliff gave a very “Cliff Lee” performance for the first 6 innings. It’s just that we’re used to seeing a very good 8 or 9 innings from Cliff, and last night that didn’t happen.

The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the 1st inning, and then the Yanks even up the score 1-1 in the top of the 4th.

In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Hamilton led off with a double. Two outs later, Josh was still standing on 2nd base when the Yankees decided to intentionally walk David Murphy. I guess they learned their lesson from the night before!

Bengie Molina drew an unintentional walk next, loading the bases. Then Mitch Moreland stepped in and hit a 2-RBI infield single, putting the Rangers up 3-1. Nice!

In the bottom of the 5th, Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single, followed by another single from Michael Young and a double from Josh Hamilton. 4-1 Rangers, no outs, men on 2nd and 3rd.

Vlad came up next and grounded out. Then Nelson Cruz got a single to load the bases, followed by a 2-RBI single by David Murphy. 6-1 Rangers!

Next came Bengie Molina, who popped out to right field. Nelly made a dumb move after that by trying to tag up at 2nd base and advance to 3rd, but he was out by about 10 feet, ending the inning (and the Rangers’ scoring).

It would have been nice if the rally had been allowed to continue, because as it turns out, 5 runs wasn’t enough of a lead. And the Rangers didn’t score any more runs in the game.

In the 6th inning, Cliff Lee started running into a little bit of trouble. He allowed a lead-off triple to Derek Jeter, and they Jeter was able to score on a wild pitch. 6-2 Rangers.

But Cliff seemed to settle down after that, and he struck out the next 3 batters to end the 6th.

In the bottom of the 7th, Cliff started running into a lot of trouble, which is extremely unusual for him. He allowed a double to Robinson Cano to start off the inning, then he struck out Jorge Posada.

After that, he gave up a single to Austin Kearns. Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out. If it had been anyone on the mound other than Cliff Lee, Wash probably would have pulled him right there. But Cliff Lee gets a longer leash. As he should.

Then Lance Berkman hit a ground rule double (the ball bounced over the fence), which scored Cano. 6-3 Rangers, men on 2nd and 3rd, one out. The last straw was when Brett Gardner hit a single to center field, allowing Austin Kearns to score.

6-4 Rangers, men on 1st and 3rd, one out. And Cliff Lee was done after 6 1/3 innings.

Darren O’Day came in to strike out Jeter, then Wash brought in Darren Oliver, who struck out Nick Swisher, ending the torturous inning.

But the damage was already done. And it would only get worse.

Frankie Frank came in to pitch the 8th inning, and he immediately gave up a solo home run to Marcus Thames. Just like last night. Only last night it was A-Rod who hit a solo homer to start off the 8th inning.

When is Ron Washington going to realize that this year’s Frank Francisco is not last year’s Frank Francisco?? Yes, he was our closer last year, and a good one at that. But this year, he just doesn’t have it.

Frankie struck out A-Rod next, then he walked Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada back to back. Due to the Rangers’ defensive prowess, they got of of the inning by turning a double play. But the home run Frankie allowed put the score at 6-5 Rangers going into the bottom of the 8th.

We already know that the Rangers didn’t score in the 8th (or 9th), because I said earlier that their 5th inning rally was the last time the Rangers scored for the night. Onto the top of the 9th.

Neftali Feliz came in to pitch (of course), and I was a little scared because of the one-run margin, but not very scared because I knew that even if the Yankees scored, we would still have the bottom of the 9th and even extra innings, if necessary.

Besides, Neftali hadn’t blown a save since May (3 months ago)! No problem, right? Wrong.

Neffy walked the first batter he faced, Lance Berkman. Then he gave up a single to Brett Gardner, followed by a single by Derek Jeter. Jeter’s hit allowed one run to score, tying the game up 6-6.

Nick Swisher was the next batter, and he struck out. He was the last batter that Neftali saw, and Wash opted instead for Alexi Ogando. 6-6, men on 1st and 3rd, one out.

Ogando allowed a single to Marcus Thames, which put the Yankees over the top 7-6. Ogando struck out A-Rod, then there was yet another pitching change.

This time Wash went with Matt Harrison, and he struck out Robinson Cano. Then it was the Rangers turn to… do nothing.

Mariano Rivera come in to pitch the bottom of the 9th, but that wasn’t as scary because the Rangers beat Mo the night before.

Elvis Andrus hit a lead-off triple, which gave the crowd a burst of energy. But unfortunately Elvis had to stand on 3rd base as Michael Young got a shallow fly ball out, and then Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero both grounded out. Game over.

The Rangers are off tonight, and I don’t know if they need it, but I sure do. Even though it was only a 2-game series with the Yankees, both games were emotionally exhausting. I’m excited to watch some mindless television tonight and recuperate.

Something good happened for the Rangers today, though. The Greenberg/Ryan group (Rangers Baseball Express) were officially approved this morning, so the team has actually changed hands! Goodbye, Tom Hicks! Don’t let the screen door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

Tomorrow night it’s Tommy Hunter (9-1, 3.01 ERA) against the Red Sox Josh Beckett (3-2, 6.21 ERA). According to the numbers, Tommy should dominate, but Josh Beckett has been an excellent pitcher in the past. This season, he’s just missed 2 months because of a back strain.

I remember last year when Tommy Hunter went up against Josh Beckett in Arlington, and Tommy did a beautiful job and ended up getting the win. That was July 21, 2009. Let’s see if he can do it 2 years in a row!

Overall Rangers’ record: 65-48
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 2

Lots o stuff

Wow. Just yesterday I posted my prediction for the Opening Day rotation, but last night I checked TR Sullivan’s blog and found out that I was apparently completely off. The lefties and righties are still interspersed, like I predicted they would be, but their placement does not appear to reflect skill level. Just to recap, this is what I predicted:

Rich Harden (R)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)

Here’s what Mike Maddux envisions for the 2010 rotation:

Rich Harden (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)

Rich Harden
Both rotations list Rich Harden as the ace. Duh. But everything else is different.
Usually, the starting rotation reflects a pitcher’s skill level. You’ll often hear the terms “top-of-the-rotation pitcher” and “back-of-the-rotation pitcher” when speaking of starters, and it is generally understood that pitchers at the top of the rotation are more skilled than the pitchers at the back of the rotation.

CJ Wilson

C.J. has done an amazing job in Spring Training, and he has a lot of years of experience in professional baseball either as a starter or reliever. But he does not qualify as a No. 2 starter. For Pete’s sake, he’s been competing for a job all Spring Training! Yeah, he’s worked as a starter in the past, but those experiments all failed. Until he proves himself as a starter, he shouldn’t be our No. 2 man. He should be our No. 5 man.
Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman was guaranteed a starting job at the end of the 2009 season. He should be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. Given, Feldman didn’t begin the 2009 season in the starting rotation, but he was our best pitcher last year. He had a 17-win season! Come on, people!
Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis is the Rangers’ only pitcher with a multi-year contract. He has been tearin’ it up in Japan for the last 2 years. He was guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation in 2010. And Maddux puts him as the No 5 starter??? I had him as the No. 4 starter, but only because I wanted to diversify the rotation with a lefty. As far as talent goes, he should be the No. 3 starter of this Rangers’ rotation.
Matt Harrison
Sure, Matt Harrison spent most of the 2009 season on the DL. But he was one of the Rangers’ starting pitchers on Opening Day in 2009, and he amazed in the Arizona Fall League immediately after the end of the 2009 regular season. Plus, he comes into 2010 a full 30 pounds lighter than he was in 2009. That shows dedication. But we knew Harrison was competing for a spot as a back-of-the-rotation starter, so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings that Maddux lists Harrison as his No. 4 man. I only had him at No. 3 because he’s a lefty.

So, to summarize, I think my rotation is better. But then again, Mike Maddux has a pretty stellar reputation. I mean, look at what he did for the Rangers’ pitching staff in his very first year as pitching coach: he brought the team ERA down a whole run. That’s pretty impressive! I trust his judgement, but there was so way I could let this slide without getting my 2 cents in first.

I would also like to interject here at Evan Grant’s projected starting rotation is identical to mine. Grant came up with his prediction on Monday, March 22, but I looked at it just now, and it looks exactly like mine! I guess great minds think alike! It also goes to prove that my assumptions weren’t completely baseless.

Tommy Hunter

On a related note, Tommy Hunter finally admitted today that he won’t be able to open the season as one of the Rangers’ starters. TR Sullivan predicted this first late last week, almost immediately after his injury last Thursday evening.

Anyway, today Tommy grudgingly admitted that he wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day. But he does think he’ll be ready by April 8, just 3 days later. Wishful thinking?? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

With the starting rotation pretty much figured out, Evan Grant has predicted the following 7 players for the Rangers’ bullpen: RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Dustin Nippert, and RHP Doug Mathis.

Jamey Newberg thinks it will be RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Dustin Nippert, RHP Doug Mathis, and RHP Chris Ray.

As much as I admire Evan and Jamey, I think the Rangers will need more than one lefty in the bullpen. Darren Oliver is a fabulous pitcher, but I’m not sure he will be able to fill all of the club’s needs for a lefty reliever by himself.

Derek Holland

Derek Holland will almost certainly find himself starting in AAA. The Rangers will want to keep him stretched out as a starter in case he’s needed in the Bigs in 2010. Ben Snyder seems to be the only other viable lefty option, but he has been unimpressive so far in Spring Training. Maybe Jon Daniels will sort through other teams’ “trash piles” and grab another lefty reliever off waivers or the Rule 5 Draft. JD’s always got something up his sleeves. 🙂

Brandon McCarthy
While I agree that Brandon McCarthy is worthy of the big league club, he may prefer to stay a stretched out as a starter down in AAA rather than join the big league ballclub. Doug Mathis can fill the Rangers’ needs for a long reliever/spot starter. And I don’t know anything about Chris Ray, since he was only acquired by the Rangers this off-season (received in the trade for Kevin Millwood).

In other news, the Rangers have made what appears to be a bit of progress in finding a utility infielder. Hernan Iribarren, who was nabbed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, cleared waivers with the Rangers today and was outrighted to AAA. So apparently they don’t see Iribarren making the big league club.

Also today, the Rangers announced that they had traded pitcher Edwar Ramirez (recently acquired from the Yankees and rumored to be trade bait) to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Gregorio Petit. Petit’s experience has been primarily at shortstop, which is what the Rangers have been looking for.

This search for a utility infielder has been exhausting. The Rangers will need 2 guys to do what Omar Vizquel (SS/2B/3B) and Hank Blalock (1B) did last year. First there was an almost-trade for Mike Lowell (1st/3rd baseman) in the early off-season, but he failed the physical, so that put the kibosh on those dealings. Then we got Khalil Greene, and it looked like everything was going to be just fine.

Wrong.

The Rangers had an influx of new infielders vying to win the SS/2B job, but they all seemed to be lacking. Joe Inglett, Mitch Hilligoss, Hernan Iribarren, and Erik Morrison joined Esteban German, Joaquin Arias, and Ray Olmedo in the pursuit of a utility infielder for the Rangers. But none of them were a very good fit.

Now that a month of Spring Training has passed, Matt Brown is looking like the frontrunner for the backup 1st/3rd baseman, and he has shown quite a bit of pop in his bat this Spring Training. Could Gregorio Petit be the SS/2B the Rangers have been searching for?

TR Sullivan doesn’t think so. He predicts that Petit will play SS in AAA, now that Ray Olmedo has been traded away. And apparently, the Rangers are still looking at veteran infielders Augie Ojeda (Diamondbacks), Ramon Vazquez (Pirates), Kevin Frandsen (Giants), and Willie Bloomquist (Royals).

Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is planning to get into a Spring Training game next Monday, March 29. This will give him one week to practice in game situations before Opening Day. This sounds great. I just hope Kinsler’s ankle really is okay by Monday, and he doesn’t cause more health problems for himself that end up keeping him out of regular season games. If he does have to miss, I guess we’ll be seeing our newly minted utility infielder sooner than we thought!

 
The only other question remaining for the starting lineup? Catcher. It will be the best/healthiest two out of Salty, Taylor Teagarden, and Matt Treanor. Who knows?

I just know I’m excited for the season to start. Vlad Guerrero in a Rangers jersey!!! SqueeeeEEEEE!!!

12 days ’til Opening Day!!

report card

I checked T.R. Sullivan’s blog today, and he had a kind of report card for this year’s players. I agree with most of what he says, but we differ on a few things. This is his report card:

Starters
Kevin Millwood – Manager has already said he is the Opening Day pitcher in 2010
Scott Feldman – What an amazing season.
Derek Holland – This kid is going to be fine. Can’t wait for his next start.
Tommy Hunter – Tommy, meet Nolan Ryan, the resident conditioning fanatic.
Brandon McCarthy – The Big Tease. He has talent but at what point do the Rangers say uncle?
Matt Harrison – He was pretty good before he got hurt
Neftali Feliz – The Rangers will try him in the rotation. Bet he makes it
Dustin Nippert – His numbers will work every year
Guillermo Moscoso – Should be Opening Day pitcher at Oklahoma City

Relievers
Frank Francisco – Needs warning label: handle with care.
C.J. Wilson – Most Valuable Reliever
Darren O’Day – Transaction of the Year
Jason Grilli – Wasn’t the same after he got hurt
Doug Mathis – Can he fill middle relief role?
Eddie Guardado – No finer person in baseball
Pedro Strop – Needs more time. Just not ready
Willie Eyre – Taking long road back from injuries

Catchers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Should still be No. 1 on depth chart
Ivan Rodriguez – Would you give him $4 million for two years?
Taylor Teagarden – Should have been in Triple A
Kevin Richardson – He is from Seattle area. He should have started one game this weekend.

Infielders
Chris Davis – Only one other player is a bigger key for Rangers in 2010.
Ian Kinsler – Absolutely nothing wrong with 101 runs and 86 RBI.
Elvis Andrus – He lived up to it all
Michael Young – Turns out he can still hit…and play third.
Omar Vizquel – He has one definite vote for the Hall of Fame.
Esteban German – A nice fifth player if the Rangers had the room
Hank Blalock – Hank’s Homies bid you adieu. It was fun while it lasted.

Outfielders
Josh Hamilton – Obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010
David Murphy – Forget Rusty Greer all right? Anybody think he can be Paul O’Neill?
Julio Borbon – Definitely the kind of player the Rangers desperately need
Nelson Cruz – He is a good player. Can he be a great one or is this enough?
Marlon Byrd – Loved watching him tell the rookies to turn off the football game on Sunday and turn on baseball.
Andruw Jones – Next.
Craig Gentry – Off to Triple A to bide his time.

My take:
Derek Holland: I wouldn’t say I “can’t wait” for his next start. I think if he works hard during the off-season, he can have a stellar year. He has a lot of untapped potential.
C.J. Wilson: I would not call him the most valuable reliever. I think with C.J., you never know what you’re gonna get.
Pudge: I don’t think it will take that much money. I think $3 million for 2 years, or if the Rangers aren’t sure how long he’ll last, then around $1.5 mil for 1 year.
Ian Kinsler: His runs scored and RBIs are good, but he needs to be more reliable. And, most importantly, he needs to work on his swing in the off-season and find out whyhe’s popping everything up!!!
Esteban German: I don’t think it’s an “if the Rangers have room” situation. I think they’ll definitely need a bench player who can step up if anyone gets injured, and who can spell all 4 infielders at regular intervals. He has played mainly 2B and 3B, but he has big league experience at SS and 1B as well. He’s a true utility infielder.
Josh Hamilton: I don’t agree that he’s “obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” If he can perform, it will be great, but I don’t think we can depend on him to perform. You can never predict injuries. I don’t want to trade him, because I think he’s a great addition to a team, whether he can play or not. And when he’s good, he’s really good. But look what this Rangers team did this year without Josh Hamilton!
Julio Borbon: I wouldn’t say that the Rangers “desperately need” someone like Borbon. Borbon has a great OBP, and he’s excellent at stealing bases and manufacturing runs. But he’s got a weak arm for an outfielder, and he’s not good against LHP. Borbon is a lefty outfielder, and we already have Josh Hamilton and David Murphy that are left handed outfielders.
Craig Gentry: Gentry can be the perfect center fielder that the Rangers “desperately need” in 2011, but he needs more experience. If the Rangers decide to take a chance on Gentry like they did on Elvis, it could pay some amazing dividends. But I’m betting that the Rangers put Gentry in AAA all next year.
Marlon Byrd: I don’t know anything about the rookies watching football, but I think Marlon is the “biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” We need him next year. Not only is he an amazing player, he’s a revitalizing force in the clubhouse.

And the 2009 season ends with a whimper

Well, yesterday marked the end of the regular baseball season. Now I have to figure out which team I’m going to root for in the playoffs. I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s wrap up this game.

Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman took the mound for us yesterday, hoping to get his 18th win of the year. But unfortunately, he was going up against “King” Felix Hernandez, and the Rangers weren’t able to pull out a win for their ace. The final score was 4-3.
“King” Felix Hernandez
Feldman pitched 6 innings for the Rangers yesterday, and he did a good job of keeping the score low, knowing that the Rangers’ offense wouldn’t be able to do much to score against King Felix. But he couldn’t keep it low enough, it seems.
Scooter gave up one run in the bottom of the 3rd inning, but the Rangers were able to come back and get a run of their own to tie the score 1-1 in the top of the 5th inning. But the score didn’t stay tied for long.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Feldman allowed 2 singles followed by 2 doubles. That allowed 3 runs to score, putting the Mariners up 4-1. At that point, I thought for sure that the Rangers were done for. There was no way that King Felix would allow 3 or more runs to allow us to tie/win the game.

Hank Blalock
But then came the top of the 7th. Hank Blalock led off the inning, and Felix actually walked him, issuing his first walk of the night. Yes!! Every pitching coach will tell you that more often than not, walking the lead-off batter in an inning will come back to bite you.
Ian Kinsler
And it certainly came back to bite King Felix, although it didn’t cause quite as much damage as I had hoped. Ian Kinsler came up behind Blalock and hit a line drive to left field that turned into a double. Runners at 2nd and 3rd, no outs.

Chris Davis (my husband)
Then Chris Davis hit a ground ball for the first out of the inning, but it allowed Hank Blalock to score and Ian Kinsler to advance to 3rd base. That brought the score to 4-2 Mariners, with only one out.
Taylor Teagarden
Taylor Teagarden came up to bat next, and he sacrificed himself just like Chris Davis did to bring Ian Kinsler home. And that brought us to our final score of 4-3. If only CD or Taylor could have gotten on base instead of getting a sacrifice, we might have been able to keep the inning going! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

After Teagarden’s out, they pulled King Felix from the game, and the new pitcher (Randy Messenger) got the final out of the 7th inning. Miguel Batista pitched the 8th inning, and David Aardsma came on to close it out in the 9th. And King Felix got his 19th win of the season.

Darren O’Day                                                                                                                                               CJ Wilson
After Feldman left the game, Darren O’Day got 1 1/3 innings of work, followed by C.J. Wilson for the final 2/3 of an inning. They both did a great job, giving up no hits or walks and recording 2 strike-outs each. I’m almost positive that we’ll see C.J. again next year, but I’m a little anxious about Darren O’Day’s status as a Ranger. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I really hope they can bring him back, because he’s done a great job for us!
 
Game Notes:
Marlon Byrd
*Marlon Byrd wasn’t in the lineup for this game. Marlon wasn’t able to play because of his strained hip capsule, which sidelined him for a few games last week and had been bothering him for a few weeks. I was sad not to see Marlon Byrd playing yesterday, because he might not be back next year. I hope the Rangers can get him back, but the financial situation is in dire straits.
Michael Young

*Michael Young was also missing from the lineup yesterday, but he’s guaranteed to come back next season. Michael couldn’t play because he had to rush home since his wife, Cristina, was in labor with their second child. Congratulations, Mike and Cristina!!
Nelson Cruz
*Nelson Cruz wasn’t in the lineup either, because of his sprained ankle. I had predicted a few days ago that Nelly probably wouldn’t be back again this year, but he’s coming back next year too, so it’s okay.
*Hank Blalock WAS in the lineup yesterday, playing 1st base, and that was great to see because it was almost certainly Hank’s last game in a Rangers’ uniform. And it was good that Hank got on base and was able to score a run for the Rangers. I wish Hank all the best luck next year, and in the rest of his baseball career. He was an integral part of our team for many years, and I hope he finds a home that makes him happy!
*We will probably need to win at least 10 more games next year than we did this year in order to make it to the post-season.

Well, this is usually where I would talk about the upcoming pitching matchup, but there are no more upcoming games for the Rangers. But there is still post-season baseball to be played.

Joe Mauer
The next game that I’m excited to see is the one-game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers to see who wins the AL Central. Both teams finished the regular season tied at 86-76. I’m not sure who I want to win, but I think I’m leaning towards Minnesota because of Joe Mauer. He’s a lock to win the AL MVP this year!

Curtis Granderson
But I’ll be happy if Detroit wins too, because Gerald Laird plays for them now. Curtis Granderson is really good too, and he does a lot of charity work. He just seems like a good guy. Whoever wins will go up against the Yankees, so I’ll be rooting for either team to kick the Yankees out of contention!

I would also like to point out here that my Texas Rangers finished the season with a record of 87-75, meaning that if we were in the AL Central Division, we would be going to the playoffs. But we’re not in the AL Central. We’re in the AL West, even though Texas is in the central part of the U.S. That’s why I don’t think that there should be divisions. All the teams in the AL should just play all the other teams in the division an equal number of times, and the top 4 teams should go to the playoffs. Just my opinion. 🙂

Game 2 loss in Seattle

Tommy Hunter took the mound for the Rangers yesterday, and even though he did much better in this outing than in his last outing, he got the loss. Poor guy.

Tommy Hunter
Tommy Hunter kept the Mariners scoreless through his first 3 innings, but he gave up 1 run each in the 4th and 5th innings, which was all the Mariners needed to get the win. Tommy gave up 2 runs on 9 hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work against the Mariners yesterday, but he unfortunately didn’t get very much run support from the Rangers’ offense, with just one run in 9 innings by the Rangers.

The Mariners took the lead in the bottom of the 4th inning with a solo homer by Ken Griffey, Jr. It was Griffey’s 19th home run of the year (his second off Tommy Hunter this year), for a major league total of 630.

Ichiro Suzuki
Then, in the bottom of the 5th inning, Tommy got into a bit of a pickle by giving up a lead-off double to Josh Wilson. Then Ichiro hit a single to put runners at the corners wit no outs.Then Franklin Gutierrez got an RBI single to left field, scoring Wilson and putting the Mariners up 2-0.
Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli came in next with the difficult job of getting 2 outs with the bases loaded, and he pulled it off without letting any more runs score! He struck out Adrian Beltre swinging and got the next batter to fly out to center field, ending the inning. Way to go, Grilli!
Neftali Feliz
Neftali Feliz came in to pitch an inning of scoreless relief in the 6th inning, and he did a good job in what was most likely his last outing of this year. He gave up one walk and he hit a batter, but he was able to get out of the innng without any damage.

Elvis Andrus
In the top of the 7th inning, Elvis Andrus got an RBI double for the 2nd night in a row to put the Rangers on the board. Chris Davis started off the inning by getting a double, and then Andruw Jones came up behind him and worked a walk. Elvis Andrus hit a fly ball to right field that should have tied the game at 2, but it bounced out, making it a ground-rule double and forcing Andruw Jones to stop at 3rd base with no outs. The Rangers had 2 runners in scoring position with no outs, but they weren’t able to get anyone else home.
Darren O’Day
Darren O’Day and C.J. Wilson each pitched an inning of scoreless relief, but the Rangers weren’t able to do anything else offensively, and the Rangers ended up losing the game 2-1. Darren O’Day is ending this season with an ERA of 1.99, doing a fabulous job for much of 2009. I really hope we can bring him back next year!

Scott Feldman
Today’s pitching matchup: Scott Feldman (17-7) against “King” Felix Hernandez (18-5). This game will be the Battle of the Aces. King Felix is really scary, so it will be interesting to see how Scooter and the Rangers do against him. Feldman’s name was mentioned in Cy Young contention a few times this year, but with his performances of late, he is no longer in serious contention. King Felix is still a front-runner for the Cy Young, though, so hopefully the Rangers can do something against him. Scott is 2-0 against the Mariners this year, and if he Rangers can win this game, they will end the season with 88 wins. That just sounds better than 87 (probably because it IS better).