Tagged: Joe Mauer

New owners and a new catcher

On Saturday, January 23rd, a deal was finally struck between Tom Hicks and the Greenberg/Ryan group for the sale of the Texas Rangers!! YAY!!

Of course, there are still a lot of hoops left to jump through, but it looks like this sale is actually going to happen! They still have to get the approval of the MLB, as well as Tom Hicks’ 40 creditors, so the sale may or may not be finalized by Opening Day.

All of the approvals seem like a no-brainer to me. Let’s say you had loaned someone a whole bunch of money, and they had no way to pay you back except by selling off some stuff. Wouldn’t you be okay with them selling said items in order to get you the money they owe? Duh.

The Rangers also signed catcher Toby Hall to a minor league contract on Friday. He will provide some catching depth in case Salty has problems coming back after his TOS surgery last fall. Hall has an invitation to come to Spring Training, so he’s hoping for a chance to prove himself and make it on the big-league roster.

Hall has played 686 major league games behind the plate. He missed all of 2009 after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He has played with the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, the LA Dodgers, and the Chicago White Sox. He was drafted in 1997 by Tampa Bay, and he was their Opening Day starting catcher for 5 consecutive years (2002-2006), which was a record for TB.

He has thrown out 28% of attempted base stealers. That’s the 4th highest percentage among catchers with at least 600 games from 2000-2009 in the American League. The only 3 guys with a better percentage are Pudge, Joe Mauer, and Bengie Molina.

Pretty impressive.

24 days until Spring Training

Originally published Monday, January 25, 2010 

Playoff races

Well, the playoffs have been disappointing for me so far. Since my Rangers aren’t in it, I’ve had to pick other favorites in the ALDS and NLDS races. Here are the contenstants, with my picks in bold:

ALDS – Minnesota Twins & New York Yankees,
           LA Angels & Boston Red Sox
NLDS – Colorado Rockies & Philadelphia Phillies,
           LA Dodgers & St. Louis Cardinals

I want Minnesota to beat out the Yankees, because I’m really proud of the stretch run they made to get to the playoffs. Joe Mauer is the obvious AL MVP pick. And the Yankees are evil, flat out. But unfortunately, the Yanks are already beating the Twins 2 games to none. Next they’ll go play in the Metrodome, and the Twins are heavily favored to win there, but the Yankees only need to win one more to knock the Twins out of it. And if there’s a need for Game 5, it will be played in the Bronx. {Sigh}

I’m rooting for the BoSox in their match-up, because their my 2nd favorite team behind the Rangers, but they’re down 2 games to none against the Angels. Although that doesn’t bother me too much, because the Angels are a respectable team. Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and Chone Figgins are all stand-up guys, and the Angels have beloved former Rangers Darren Oliver and Gary Matthews, Jr. But I hate Mike Scioscia, even though I have to admit that he might be worthy of Manager of the Year. And the Angels’ heart-wrenching loss of Nick Adenhart could make anybody a little misty. So if the Angels make it to the World Series, I won’t be too torn up, but I’d rather see the BoSox.

I can’t make a pick between the Rockies & the Phillies. I like the Rockies because I used to go camping in Colorado a lot when I was a kid, and I can remember when the Rockies were formed. Also, Jim Tracy has done a very remarkable job as their manager this year, and his son, Chad Tracy, is in the Rangers’ minor league system (he plays for the AA Frisco RoughRiders). But one of my best friends since childhood is Rachel, and her fiance is a Phillies fan, and they could be back-to-back winners. I don’t have anything against either team, so I find it very difficult to pick a side in that match-up. Each team has won one game, so they’re tied up.

And finally, I hate the Dodgers for 3 reasons. 3rd – they have Manny Ramirez. What a jerk. 2nd – their manager is Joe Torre, who used to manage the Yankees. Hate the Yankees. And the #1 reason why I hate the Dodgers – they picked up Vicente Padilla after the Rangers dumped him. Ugh, I HATE Padilla!!! I get all riled up just thinking about it. But you know what? They deserve each other. I’ve been rooting for the Cards because I’m anti-Dodgers and because they have Albert Pujols. I mean, how can you not love Albert Pujols?? He’s gonna be the NL MVP. But, of course, the Dodgers have won 2 games against the Cards.

All three of my picks are down 2 games!! Maybe I should just stop watching, because I’m apparently bringing mad mojo.

One game playoff

I know the Rangers are done for the season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good baseball to watch. Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers had a one-game playoff to see which team won the AL Central Division and advanced to the post-season. The game started at 4:00 Central, and I tried to listen to it on the radio, but I kept getting called away from my desk. Stupid work. {grumble, grumble, grumble}

But man, it was a great game! The Twins ended up winning 6-5 in the bottom of the 12th inning! I was able to watch it from the bottom of the 8th inning on (once I got home from work). I found myself rooting for the Twins, mainly because I respect how far they had to come to make it to this playoff chance. At one point in September, they were 7 games back! But they played their way back into it. They won 16 out of their last 20 games before last night’s game! That’s how I wish my Rangers had done it. 🙂

And of course the Twins have Joe Mauer, the obvious choice for this year’s MVP. They also have Justin Morneau (out with a stress fracture), and Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young, and Alexi Casilla, and Nick Punto, and Denard Span, and Orlando Cabrera…

But I would have been happy for the Tigers too. Gerald Laird, their catcher, used to play for the Rangers. And I like Curtis Granderson; he’s a great player. And Magglio Ordoñez, and Placido Polanco, and Brandon Inge, and Aubrey Huff, and Carlos Guillen, and Miguel Cabrera… these are all names I know and respect for their baseball talent.
And even though it’s not my Rangers, I still feel like I should do a game summary, just because the game was that good! So here we go!
The game took place in the Hubert H. Humphry Metrodome in Minnesota, and over 55,000 Twins fans were there to show their support. Rick Porcello (a candidate for Rookie of the Year) was the starting pitcher for the Tigers, and Scott Baker took the mound for the Twins.
Curtis Granderson
In the top of the 3rd inning, Curtis Granderson of the Tigers worked a walk with one out. Then Placido Polanco grounded out, moving the runner to 2nd base. After that, Magglio Ordoñez singled in Granderson. Runner on 1st base, 1-0 Tigers, with 2 outs.
Miguel Cabrera
Then Miguel Cabrera hit a home run to center field. He and Ordoñez crossed the plate, bringing the score to 3-0. Things weren’t looking to hopeful for the Minnesota Twins.
But in the bottom of the frame, Matt Tolbert (Twins) scored on a throwing error by Tigers’ pitcher Rick Porcello during a failed pickoff attemp, and Tolbert was able to get home. That put the score at 3-1 Tigers.

Jason Kubel
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jason Kubel (of the Twins) hit a solo home run to make the score 3-2, and that put the Twins within a run.
Orlando Cabrera
Then in the bottom of the 7th inning, Nick Punto (of the Twins) started off the inning by hitting a line drive to left field for a single. One batter later, Orlando Cabrera hit a home run, putting the Twins on top 4-3. That’s two 2-run home runs by a guy named Cabrera in the same game! (They’re not related. Miguel Cabrera plays for the Tigers and Orlando Cabrera plays for the Twins. Confusing, I know.)

Magglio Ordoñez
But in the top of the 8th inning, Magglio Ordoñez (Tigers) hit a solo home run to tie the score at 4-4. Things were starting to get pretty dramatic!
Brandon Inge
In the top of the 10th inning, Aubrey Huff (of the Tigers) was hit by a pitch, so he took first base. Then later in the inning, Brandon Inge hit a double, plating one run. The Tigers took the lead 5-4! There was a lot of celebration in the Tigers’ dugout, because it looked like the Tigers would be winning the game.

Michael Cuddyer
But the Tigers couldn’t stop the Never-Say-Die Twins from scoring in the bottom of the frame, to tie up the score again. Michael Cuddyer started off the bottom of the 10th inning with a triple to center field. Matt Tolbert came up later in the inning with a single, which scored Cuddyer from 3rd base.
Delmon Young
The Tigers had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the 12th inning, but they couldn’t score. Then in the bottom of the 12th, Carlos Gomez (of the Twins) led off with a single. The Tigers decided to intentionally walk Delmon Young, putting runners on 1st and 2nd. Alexi Casilla hit a single to right field, and Delmon Young came in for the winning run. It was a walk-off win for the Twins!
The Twins flew to New York late last night, and they will play their first post-season game with the New York Yankees tonight at 6:07.

CC Sabathia
Tonight’s pitching matchup: CC Sabathia (NYY) against Brian Duensing (MIN). All of the logic says that the Yankees will win, since 1) the Yankees have home field advantage, 2) the Yankees have had more time to rest, and 3) CC Sabathia is a Cy Young candidate, and Duensing is a rookie. But these Twins are on a roll. And I hate the Yankees, so I would love for the Twins to just beat the tar out of them!

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. 🙂

Funny DMN comment

I was reading a post on the Dallas Morning News’ Rangers’ Blog today, and they were calling for people’s predictions during the Rangers’ upcoming series with the Minnesota Twins. A commenter named “Aardvark” posted the following comment, and I thought it was absolutely hilarious! You guys probably have no idea what all of this is about, because I only have a couple of readers anyway, and you guys don’t know about sports, but just in case:

Posted by Aardvark @ 1:58 PM Fri, Aug 28, 2009

The Rangers will win 2 out of 3.

Kinsler will have two home runs in the series and 12 pop-outs to the infield.

Pudge will pull a muscle crossing himself too quickly.

Joe Mauer will defy all odds and get 19 hits in just 13 at bats.

The home plate umpire will have to ask for help when he fails to see a pitch from Feliz.

Josh Lewin will relate Nick Punto to the Seinfeld episode about the Punto Mayo store.

Marlon Byrd will have to receive CPR after crashing into the center field wall and nearly suffocating after becoming entangled in the baggie.

Scott Feldman will just miss being hit in the face by a hard liner, saved only by the fact that he has no chin.

A beaned batter will charge the mound against Tommy Hunter and learn the definition of “Junior Olympic judo champion”.

Tom Grieve will once again get in trouble when he stumbles on the pronunciation of Jeff Manship’s name.

And speaking of Jeff Manship, his new bar will draw a totally different crowd than planned when he names it Manship Twinkie.

Oh my gosh, I literally laughed out loud several times when I read this at work today! I’m sure the lady who shares my office was thinking “What in the world is so funny?”

Pudge’s Triumphant Return… And Our Subsequent Loss

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez had a fantastic night last night. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, 2 singles, and a run scored. And, of course, the crowd went wild after each of these feats. When he first stepped up to the plate to bat, in the 3rd inning, he got a standing ovation. And he was sweet and humble, like always, before knocking a ground ball up the middle. I guess he really does feel at home in Arlington!

Unfortunately last night’s game mirrored the game from the night before, when we were leading 5-0, but the Twins came back to win it by rallying in the 6th inning. Except last night, we were winning 4-0 at one point, and then the Twins came back to win it by rallying in the 6th inning. The final score was 5-4 Twins.
Kevin Millwood
Kevin Millwood was pitching for us last night, with battery mate Pudge Rodriguez. And he seemed to have pretty good stuff for the first 4 or 5 innings. When we went into the 6th inning, we were leading 4-1. Then the Twins hit 2 doubles back-to-back, bringing the score to 4-2. Millie was able to get 2 outs after that run scored, but the Twins promptly responded with 2 more runs on 2 more hits, tying the score up at 4-4. Great.
Darren O’Day
Wash pulled Millwood and brought in Darren O’Day. O’Day gave up a single to center field, which Marlon Byrd came up with cleanly and fired to Pudge at home plate. But Pudge couldn’t catch the ball, and the go-ahead run slid across the plate, bringing the score to 5-4 Twins. Now, if this were any other catcher, Pudge would be catching flak from the announcers, the fans, the reporters, and everybody else for “losing the game.” But this is Pudge we’re talking about. He doesn’t mess up very often. (Well, at least we know he used to not mess up very often.) And all of his hits were a big part of why we were winning in the first place. Everybody here just loves him too much to turn on him.
Marlon Byrd
Besides, the Rangers could have rallied to get more runs in the bottom of the 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th innings, after the Twins took the lead, but they just couldn’t get anything done. They also had opportunities early in the game to get some more runs, but they let those slip by. Marlon Byrd led off the 2nd inning with a double, but was stuck at 2nd base all inning. Then later Marlon hit a triple with one out in the 5th, but they couldn’t bring him home. Poor Marlon had a pretty good game, the Rangers just weren’t able to make anything of it! There were 6 total Rangers left on base during this game, and the bottom line is that the Rangers couldn’t produce.

Joe Mauer

The Rangers won the first game in this series and lost the next two. So now, they have to win the game tonight if they want to split the series. And they shouldn’t have split this series. They should have won this series. There’s no way that we will be able to catch up with the Angels if we don’t start beating the teams that we know we can beat. I mean, Justin Morneau hasn’t even been playing during this series, and they’re still beating us! The one-two punch of Mauer and Morneau can be pretty devastating, but without half of the “M & M boys,” they shouldn’t be doing this much damage.
Hank Blalock
Things of note:
*Hank Blalock worked his second walk since the All-Star Break last night! I’m very proud of you Hank!
*Last night, Wash pulled Julio Borbon from the game (who was DHing) after 3 at-bats and replaced him with… Andruw Jones?? Seriously?? And, of course, Andruw was 0-2 in last night’s game. Borbon has been doing a fabulous job of getting on base, and then stretching that into extra bases by stealing at least once. Let the kid play!
Julio Borbon
*Nelson Cruz comes off the DL today, and Julio Borbon is the most likely candidate to be sent down to AAA. It would only be for a couple of weeks, since we can bring him back on September 1 (when the MLB goes from the normal 25-man roster to the expanded 40-man roster). But the Rangers still have some baseball to play before September, and I don’t know if we can afford to lose Julio right now. He’s the only player in the past 56 years to have multiple three-steal games over the first eight games of his career. The kid is a firecracker! I personally think they should send down Andruw Jones. He doesn’t seem to be doing much for us up here anyway. Just my opinion.
Derek Holland
Tonight’s pitching matchup: Our Derek Holland (6-7) against Anthony Swarzak (3-6). Even though Derek has a losing record, I feel pretty confident with him on the mound. He’s won 3 out of his last 4 starts, including a complete game shutout in Anaheim. He was pretty shaky earlier in the season, and I was the first one to jump on the “let’s get rid of Derek Holland” bandwagon, zealously weilding my torch and pitchfork. But since his spectacular start against the Seattle Mariners on July 30th, he’s been a force to be reckoned with, and he’s really shown a lot of maturity. Swarzak is coming off his 3rd straight loss. I’d like to think that this Rangers team won’t let a team like the Twins come in and win a series against us in our own ballpark, but I don’t know what their deal has been these last 2 days.
My daily Chris Davis fix:
Chris Davis
Days since CD has been in the majors: 46

Game 2 loss against Twins

One of the very few downsides to a team that’s doing as well as the Rangers are doing right now is that when they actually do lose, it seems like it hurts more. I guess it’s because we’re not as used to losing this year. But when the Rangers lose a game, it’s like, “What?? They lost?”

Even though the Rangers weren’t able to notch another W, last night was still triumphant because of the return of Pudge. I’m still glowing about that. The news had apparently already spread, and there were fans with “Welcome Home Pudge” posters all over the place. Even though he didn’t play last night (he just sat in the dugout), the whole place looked to be buzzing with energy. It’s really sad that the Rangers couldn’t pull this one out. They are now tied with Boston for the AL Wild Card. The final score was 9-6.

Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman definitely didn’t have his best stuff, but he seemed to be doing pretty well with the stuff he did have for awhile. The Rangers leapt out to an early 5-0 lead after the bottom of the 3rd inning, helped in part by a 3-run homer by Ian Kinsler. Joe Mauer hit a solo home run in the top of the 4th, making it 5-1, but the game didn’t really start to unravel until the 6th inning. By the time Scooter left the mound, after getting the first 2 outs of the 6th inning, the Twins has evened up the score 5-5.
Wash finally got Feldman out of there and brought in Jason Jennings from the bullpen. And JJ promptly loaded the bases before getting the final out of the inning.
Omar Vizquel
The bottom of the 6th was pretty interesting, and the Rangers briefly re-took the lead (6-5) on a boneheaded move by Twins reliever Philip Humber. Omar Vizquel and Julio Borbon were both able to get on base with singles, and then Michael Young hit a soft ground ball back to the pitcher. And as Omar was heading into 3rd base, the pitcher tossed the ball to the man he assumed would be covering 3rd to try to get Omar out, or at least to hold Omar at 3rd base. But there was no one there. The ball went rolling away, and Omar was able to score.
mmm, Joe Mauer 🙂
Then Joe Mauer came up to the plate in the top of the 7th and hit another solo home run to tie the score up again (6-6). That guy is just unbelievable! Mauer went 3-for-5 last night, with an RBI single in addition to his 2 home runs in the game, bringing his RBIs up to 3 for last night (77 total this season). Seriously, his batting average for this season is .383!! Will you marry me?? I have a feeling that this guy will be breaking some of Pudge’s records in the near future.
Jason Jennings
After Mauer’s 2nd home run, JJ gave up a single, then got 2 outs, and then he gave up a 2-run homer to Delmon Young, bringing the score to 8-6. Doh!
And the Twins added another run in the top of the 8th, just to add insult to injury.
Well, I predicted yesterday that the Rangers would take 3 out of 4 games in this series, and we’ve already got our loss, so I guess we’ll be winning the next 2 games!
Things of note:
Hank Blalock
*Hank Blalock took a walk last night for the first time since July 10! Maybe Hank read my blog yesterday! He also had a triple in the game. It was so funny to watch Elvis Andrus in the dugout as Hank got that triple; he was grinning as wide as he could and jumping up and down just like a little kid! Classic!
Julio Borbon
*Julio Borbon had another 3 stolen bases last night, which accounted for half of the Rangers’ steals over the course of the evening. I guess Joe Mauer isn’t so great after all, huh? 🙂
Chris Davis
*Chris Davis reportedly has a hamstring injury. It’s not supposed to be serious, but he was out of the lineup in AAA on Monday, and he was the DH in last night’s AAA game. Could this be keeping the Rangers from bringing him back up? I know he’ll be here by September 1 at the latest, but I’d like to see him here sooner than that!
Kevin Millwood                                                                                                                        Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez
Tonight’s pitching matchup: Kevin Millwood (9-7) against the Twins’ Scott Baker (10-7). Well, Kevin Millwood’s supposed to be our ace, and the incomparable Pudge Rodriguez will be his battery mate tonight, so I don’t really see how we could lose. 🙂 Plus, like I said earlier, I predicted that we would take 3 out of 4, so we have to win!
My daily Chris Davis fix:
Chris Davis, a.k.a. my husband
Days since CD has been in the majors: 45
Originally published August 19, 2009