Tagged: Jamey Newberg

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

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

Speculation and confirmation

Since just about everyone I know is aware of my passion for baseball, I am often engaged in baseball conversation while I am at work, family functions, and amongst my friends. I am generally considered to be the “baseball expert” among my friends and family, and it seems that everyone wants to ask me:

“What do you think will happen with Cliff Lee?”

So please believe me when I say that I have though long and hard about my answer to this question, since it’s been asked of me so often in the last 2 months or so. And my answer is:

There’s no way to know. I hope the Rangers can keep him, but I have no way of knowing what he’ll decide. Everyone is saying ‘I think he’ll go to New York because of {fill in the blank}’ or ‘I think he’ll stay in Texas because of {fill in the blank}.’

But no one can know except Cliff Lee. Maybe he wants to stay in Texas because of the team chemistry, or because we made it to the World Series this year, or so he can be as close to home as possible.

Or maybe he grew up watching the Yankees and always wanted to play for them. Maybe he’s more swayed by the team history of the Yankees and how many world championships they have.

Maybe he’ll go to whatever team will pay him the most money. No one knows for sure.

So imagine my excitement when the great Jamey Newberg echoed my philosophy!! I’m on the Newberg Report email list, and this tidbit was included in Sunday’s email:

With all apologies to the writers we all choose to trust, “baseball people” who are talking to them don’t know where Lee is going to sign. Some have more dependable opinions than others, just like writers, but Lee knows the answer to the question today (probably), Braunecker knows the answer (probably, but maybe a degree or two less so than Lee), and beyond that, Lee’s family and anyone else he wants to entrust the answer to fit in the category of reliable sources on November 28. And they’re not talking.

Exactly what I’ve been thinking, Jamey!! I’m usually excited to hear about trade rumors, especially since I’m starting to really miss baseball, and ANY information is better than no information.

But I’ll drive myself crazy if I try to dissect this Cliff Lee thing and try to predict where he’ll go. So I’ll move on to stuff that has actually been confirmed.

The Rangers have finally gotten their big name catcher for 2011-2012: Yorvit Torrealba.

Torrealba has played mostly in the National League, but he is generally known to work well with pitchers and he has a pretty good batting average for a catcher (.271 last year).

He doesn’t do too well with throwing out base-stealers, but that doesn’t mean that base-runners run rampant when he’s behind the dish.

Torrealba will be making $3 million in 2011 and $3.25 million in 2012.

Matt Treanor is a free agent this off-season, but I’m guessing he’ll be back with the Rangers in 2011. Treanor may not be a frontline catcher, but he is a solid choice for a tandem situation, and according to Torrealba’s past performances, I think that’s what will be needed.

Torrealba played 92 games for the Padres in 2010, and his season-high is 112 games (2007). But the regular season is 162 games. So if Torrealba will be starting somewhere around 90-110 games for the Rangers, we’ll need a good backup to catch the remaining 50-70 games.

That’s a significant number of games. I would hate to give such a hefty job to Taylor Teagarden, and Treanor definitely proved in 2010 that he is nothing if not dependable.

The Rangers have added some righties to the bullpen.

Today, it was reported that the Rangers signed right-handed relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama to a one-year deal with options for 2012 and 2013. Tateyama is a 12-year veteran of the Japanese Major Leagues, and he will turn 35 this winter.

He will come to Spring Training on the 40-man roster, but he is not guaranteed a spot in the bullpen. He’ll have to earn it, just like everybody else.

Earlier this week, the Rangers avoided going to arbitration with right-handed reliever Mark Lowe by agreeing to a 1-year/$1.2 million dollar contract.

Lowe was traded to the Rangers along with Cliff Lee from the Mariners on July 9, 2010. He spent most of his time with the Rangers recovering from a previously-existing injury, so we haven’t gotten to see a lot from Lowe yet.

The annual Winter Meetings will begin this upcoming Monday, and hopefully a lot more of the rumors that are floating around will be nailed down.

The Rangers may have filled their hole at catcher, but there are a lot of other things to be decided, including but not limited to:
1) Cliff Lee
2) Vladimir Guerrero or another DH
3) the Zack Greinke possibility

Stay tuned! I’ll post more stuff as I learn about it!

More Newberg Night stuff…

Jamey posted his own recap of the event, and he remembered a lot more things than I did. Check it out here: http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=1940

And here are the pictures I promised you from my new Facebook friend Len:

The crowd waiting to get started. I am not pictured (thank goodness)!


JD. Kevin Goldstein is to his immediate right (in the awesome fedora).


The beautiful ballpark from our seats

It never even occurred to me to bring a camera, and I was too excited as a fan to take notes during the Q&A. I just wanted to listen and soak it all in. So thank you to Len for the pictures!
It was an amazing experience, and I am DEFINITELY going next year! The price for admission into Newberg Night was only $30, and that included a ticket to both the Q&A and the game. 
The game tickets by themselves are normally $50-$60 for that section of the ballpark (Lower Box, 1st base side). So I got a half-price ticket to the game, plus I got to be a part of a 3-hour Rangers’ Q&A for free!
Jamey said that he’s already looking to see if there’s a bigger room we can use for the Q&A, since the room we used was busting at the seams with 400 or so people in attendance. And this year, the event sold out in only 48 hours. Awesome!

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!!

HAPPY “PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT” DAY!!

The day that I’ve been anticipating since last October is finally here!! YAYYYYY!!! It’s too bad that I can’t be in Arizona to watch as my boys resume baseball activities, but I’m at least comforted by the knowledge that they’re literally getting back in the swing of things. I know it’s a silly pun, but hey, try to cut me some slack. I’m doing good just to stay seated as I type this entry. It won’t be long now!

Jeff Wilson wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News today announcing the beginning of Spring Training, and it included the following schedule, which I found to be helpful.

RANGERS SPRING TRAINING
Today: Pitchers and catchers report
Friday: First workout
Feb. 23: Position players report
Feb. 24: First full-squad workout
March 4: Charity game, vs. Kansas City
March 5: First exhibition game, vs. Kansas City
April 5:Opening day, vs. Toronto, 1:05 p.m.

I also thought it was interesting that Jeff mentioned in the article that of the 57 Rangers that are attending Spring Training, 30 of the are pitchers. That’s more than half! I knew there were going to be a lot of pitchers at Spring Training, and that the competition for the remaining 2 slots in the starting rotation would be tough, but yikes!

Now, granted, a bunch of those guys are minor league invitees to the big league camp (like Kasey Kiker and Tanner Scheppers), so they aren’t actually competing for a spot in the rotation. And a bunch more of them are strictly relievers (like Darren Oliver and Frank Francisco), so they’re not competing either.

But there are still a whole bunch of guys competing for 2 rotation slots. Neftali Feliz (R), C.J. Wilson (L), Tommy Hunter (R), Derek Holland (L), Matt Harrison (L), and Brandon McCarthy (R) are definite contenders. Other possibilities include Luis Mendoza, Guillermo Moscoso, Dustin Nippert, and Doug Mathis (all righties).

If you want to read the rest of the article, you can go here. It’s pretty interesting. He also talks about the competition between Salty, Taylor Teagarden, and Toby Hall for the starting catcher’s role. Minor league catchers Max Ramirez, Kevin Richardson, and Emerson Frostad are also attending camp.

Jamey Newberg reports here that the Rangers supposedly offered minor league contracts to Rod Barajas and Jose Molina, but they each turned the offer down. But I know JD is still trying to get a veteran catcher as an insurance policy, so I know we haven’t heard the last of the Rangers’ catching situation.

Randy Galloway with the Fort Worth Star Telegram posted this article yesterday, where he talks with Nolan Ryan about the upcoming season.

Biggest concern

Ryan: “It’s at catcher. It’s the biggest issue we’ve got. We don’t know where we are with Salty’s [Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s] health. We’ll get a better feel for that this spring.

“We’ve worked hard at trying to acquire a catcher [in the off-season], it just hasn’t panned out, although not for a lack of effort. It’s something we continue to pursue.”

Ryan admits that losing Pudge Rodriquez in free agency to a huge contract (huge, considering his age) from the Washington Nationals (two years, $6 million) “left us without someone we could use from the standpoint of proven insurance.”

Pudge was asking the Rangers for a two-year commitment at $3 million, but because the organization had a split on retaining him, plus was pinching dimes, no offer was made. Then the Nationals way overpaid.

Yeah, the Nationals did way overpay. But it makes me wonder if Pudge would have stayed in Texas if the Rangers had agreed to 2 years at $3 million. I mean, sure, he got double the money from the Nats. But he says Texas is his home. Hmm.

I also wanted to give you guys some information about when tickets go on sale, because a friend asked me about that on Facebook today (shout out to my firefighter/paramedic friend Wade Woody!) Since I have a mini-plan, I got an email yesterday saying that I can buy single game tickets (including Opening Day) on February 24 starting at 9 a.m. But in order to let you guys know what to do if you DIDN’T buy a mini-plan like me, then you can see below.

Season Ticket Holder Opening Day Presale
As an existing season ticket holder, you will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to 2010 Opening Day at Rangers Ballpark, online only, prior to the Rangers public onsale.
Date & Time: Your presale will be held on Tuesday, February 23 from 9:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.
Limits: There is a strict four-ticket limit for Opening Day, which is April 5, 2010 vs. Toronto.
Plans: Season Ticket Plans that qualify for the presale are as follows:
Full Season Plan Accounts
40- and 28-Game Accounts
This presale is for Opening Day tickets only.

Season Ticket Holder Single Game Presale
As an existing season ticket holder, you will have the opportunity to purchase 2010 Texas Rangers tickets prior to the Rangers public onsale.
Date & Time: Your presale will be held from Wednesday, February 24 at 9:00 a.m. until Friday, February 26 at 5:00 p.m.
Limits: There is a strict four ticket limit for Opening Day, which is April 5, 2010 vs. Toronto.
Plans: Season Ticket Plans that qualify for the presale are as follows:
Full Season Plan Accounts
40-Game, 28-Game and Mini Plan Accounts

Inside Pitch Single Ticket Presale
As an Inside Pitch member, you will have the opportunity to purchase 2010 Texas Rangers tickets prior to the Rangers public onsale.
Date & Time: Your presale will be held from Monday, March 1 at 9:00 a.m. until Friday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m.
Limits: There is a strict four ticket limit for Opening Day, which is April 5, 2010 vs. Toronto.

Miscellaneous Single Ticket Presale
As a member of one of the Rangers valued partners, you will have the opportunity to purchase 2010 Texas Rangers tickets prior to the Rangers public onsale.
Date & Time: Your presale will be held from Wednesday, March 3 at 9:00 a.m. until Friday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m.
Limits: There is a strict four ticket limit for Opening Day, which is April 5, 2010 vs. Toronto

Single Game tickets will be available to the general public on Sat., March 6th at 9 a.m. CT.

Just in case you’re wondering what Inside Pitch is and how you sign up: Inside pitch is an email newsletter from texasrangers.com. If you want to sign up, go here.

Days ’til the first full team workout: 6

Pre-Spring Training excitement

On Monday, I started writing a blog about the Rangers’ roster crunch. I started trying to predict which 2 players would be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Alexi Ogando and Omar Beltre at the end of Spring Training, as well as trying to predict who would make the active roster for Opening Day. But I was having trouble wading through it all, and I didn’t finish the blog post. I left it so that I could come back and finish it later.

But yesterday, the amazing Jamey Newberg published the same kind of post on his website, which is infinitely better than my post would have been. After reading his predictions, I wondered why I had such a hard time deciding about my own predictions. Read it. It’s spectacular.

http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=1717

That’s why he’s a lawyer and I’m a secretary. I mean, I have an English degree, but he has an uncanny ability to cut through all the fluff and give you a straight answer. Love it!!

I found out this morning that Jim Bibby died yesterday at 65 years of age. Sad. He threw the very first Ranger no-hitter on July 30, 1973, and he pitched in Game 4 of the 1979 World Series, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles for the title. Thanks to Wes Wilson for letting me know.

Pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring Training TOMORROW!!! But most of them are already there now, and some have been there for weeks. I think the entire team is supposed to have their first workout on February 24th (next wednesday), which is also the day that I can order my tickets to Opening Day. EEEEEEEE!!!! (sorry, I tried to suppress the squeal, but it didn’t work)

Ahem. I have control of myself again.

Okay, people. It may not be baseball time in Texas yet, but it’s almost baseball time in Arizona. Are you ready? ‘Cause I am!!