Tagged: Manny Ramirez

The Michael Young Debacle

As soon as the Rangers got Adrian Beltre a few weeks ago, rumors started flying about a Michael Young trade. I tried to ignore it.

MY said he’d be okay with becoming the Rangers’ full-time DH/super-utility infielder/1B split with Mitch Moreland.

And yet the Rangers continued to pursue Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero, all DH’s. Whispers continued to swirl about trading Michael. Still I tried to ignore it.

Then the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli, who played mostly 1st base for the Angels last year. And the whispers got ever louder.

So I decided to write one blog about 2 weeks ago discussing the potential impact of the Napoli trade, and I thought that would be all I would write about the subject. I hate to beat a dead horse.

But last week, several media outlets began saying the same thing: The Rangers are talking to other clubs about trading Young. And what did I do? You guessed it: I tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels confirmed via conference call that Michael has asked to be traded. Last night, Young spoke out as well. I can’t ignore it any more.

As much as I want Michael Young to spend his entire career in a Rangers’ uniform, I understand where he’s coming from. I touched on the reasons why we should and why we shouldn’t trade Young in my last blog.

But it appears to be getting ugly now. Michael feels that the Rangers weren’t straightforward with him, and he’s mad.

From his standpoint, the Rangers told him that they didn’t want to trade him, yet their actions told a different story.

Over the past 10 years, Young has moved from 2nd base to shortstop to 3rd base, and now he’s just expected to quietly accept the role of DH. That’s a lot of moving around for the sake of the team.

From the Rangers’ standpoint, they saw an opportunity to upgrade at 3rd base, and they took it. They feel like Young was okay with everything, then changed his mind and asked for the trade.

Nobody knows the whole truth from both sides of the coin, but this is what I think happened:

The Rangers put all of their eggs in Cliff Lee’s basket, then they freaked when he decided to go to the Phillies.

They started scrambling around to find another big-name free agent to show everybody that the Rangers, the defending AL champions, didn’t just sit on their laurels during the offseason.

So they went after a great player… a great 3rd baseman, even though the Rangers already had Michael Young at 3rd base for the next 3 years.

I can understand what the Rangers were trying to do. Adrian Beltre is undoubtedly the superior defensive player at 3rd base. But was it worth it to disrupt the harmony of the team to add a better player?

True, Michael Young’s baseball skills have started to drop off in the last few years. He’s 34 and he’s been in the Bigs for 10 years. It happens.

But he isn’t well suited to the DH position. He has a career batting average of .300, but he’s not a power hitter. His defensive ability has dropped from “really good” to “average,” but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t play in the field anymore.

I mean, come on, it’s not like he’s Vladimir Guerrero or something.

Most importantly, Michael’s value to the team isn’t limited to what he does on the field. His biggest impact is in the clubhouse.

Everybody on the team looks to Michael as the team leader. They take their cues from him. When something happens, they tend to gauge their own reactions by Michael’s reaction, and he brings them all together.

When the pictures from Josh Hamilton’s drunken evening surfaced in 2009, Michael was there for Josh. When word leaked about Ron Washington’s failed drug test last year, Michael was the first to speak up and offer support.

There are some people that think the clubhouse atmosphere is the most important part of a ball club. That a group of guys with a mediocre talent level can excel simply by how well they work together as a team.

Others don’t give team chemistry any credit, insisting that each individual player’s performance is what matters, not whether or not they have fun together or hang out before/after games.

I fall somewhere in the middle, but I’m closer to the “team chemistry” camp than the “individual performance” camp. I think it matters how well everyone gets along, because baseball is all about unity.

For example, in football, it’s completely normal to see a running back do a celebratory end zone dance after scoring a touchdown. It’s actually expected. They strut around and angrily chest-bump each other as a display of their superiority.

But in baseball, you don’t often see a player running around showing off how amazing he is. His teammates congratulate him, but when he’s interviewed after the game, he will almost always say something like “I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

We have seen Michael “take one for the team” over and over again in the past 10 years, and he’s finally had enough.

Both sides are frustrated, and I don’t think this is something that can be fixed easily.

The best situation for Young at this point is a trade. If the Rangers can trade Michael to another team where he can be an everyday player both offensively and defensively, the Rangers have a much better chance of mending fences with him.

Then the Rangers need to apologize to Michael (publically would bwe nice, but privately would work too). They need to tell him that they’re sorry if they misled him in any way or didn’t give him the whole truth, and that they wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.

They should stress that they’ve loved having him the last 10 years and that he has been an invaluable asset to the Texas Rangers. They should emphasize how truly sorry they are that a deal couldn’t be worked out to keep Michael with the Rangers. And they should be sincere!

But I don’t think the Rangers will be able to trade Young without assuming responsibility to a big chunk of his salary. He is owed $48 million over the next 3 years, and it’s not likely that new team will want to pay that.

If they can trade Young, it will be catastrophic for the Rangers’ clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that we won’t have a DH.

They have to at least try to trade him, because Michael isn’t be happy with the role he’s been handed, and that will only cause more problems down the road.

After May of this year, Young will be a 10 and 5 player (at least 10 years in the Bigs, at least 5 years with the same team), so the Rangers won’t be able to trade him. If they’re going to do it, they need to do it now.

I don’t foresee a miracle where Michael is suddenly okay with his new role, or where the Rangers suddenly find a full-time infield position for him here. So I guess they’ll have to trade him. But it’s not gonna be pretty.

Pitchers and catchers report in: 8 days

More on the Napoli trade

Since my post yesterday, I’ve learned a bit more about the Mike Napoli trade.

While I was quite enthusiastic to bid farewell to Frank Francisco, the always-astute Joey Matschulat over at BBTiA wonders here about the affect this trade will have on the bullpen.

I neglected to mention yesterday that trading away Francisco most likely means that Neftali Feliz will remain the Rangers’ closer, as opposed to switching to the rotation. I’m fine with this, but there quite a lot of fans who disagree with me on this point.

I’ve also learned that last year Napoli started 70 games for the Angels at 1B. This was mostly due to need, since Kendry Morales broke his ankle in that freak celebration accident.

That just means that Napoli is even more versatile than I thought. Not only can he catch and DH, but he can also play solid 1st base.

It also brings up the question of whether or not we actually need Michael Young.

There has been a lot of speculation that a Michael Young trade is imminent, and the reasons are definitely persuasive enough to make me stop and think.

Ken Rosenthal brought up the facts here that:
1) Michael Young is under contract for the next 3 years at a staggering $16 million/year
2) With Adrian Beltre at 3rd base for the next 5-6 years, Young has been relegated to a role as a super-utility man/DH, a role he’s too young for
3) After the deal with Beltre, they announced Young would DH, but then continued to pursue Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Vladdy, and finally traded for Napoli
4) With Napoli capable of playing 1B/DH, Young’s role is further threatened
5) In May, Young will achieve full veto power of any trade due to the 10/5 rule (10 years in the majors, at least 5 years with one team)
6) The Colorado Rockies were interested in Young at the Winter Meetings to be their 2nd baseman

So if those are the reasons why we should trade Michael Young, then what are the reasons why we shouldn’t?
1) Face of the franchise
2) MY has said in the past that he wants to stay in Texas

But #2 may not apply any more considering his current role. He may decide that he’d rather go somewhere else to get the opportunity to play full-time offense and defense.

Michael Young said here that he doesn’t see himself as a DH, and he considers this a temporary move. But if he thinks that way, he must be thinking about another team, because Beltre is here to stay.

Okay, maybe Michael is seeing himself at another infield position. Let’s look at those options.

He couldn’t possibly be thinking of taking over for Elvis. Just 2 years ago, before Elvis was proven to be Major League-ready, the Rangers asked Michael to give up his role as shortstop, so they’re not likely to switch back now. Especially since Elvis has shown that he is far superior defensively.

Did Young see himself as a first baseman? That’s a position that has suffered since the loss of Mark Tiexiera. But with Mitch Moreland just coming up and the recent acquisition Napoli, that’s pretty much out as a permanent position for MY.

I could see him at 2nd base, but Kinsler is signed through 2012 (with an option for 2013). Plus, Kinsler and Young are good friends, so I can’t really see Young expecting to push Kinsler out.

So Michael must be envisioning himself with another team, right? Who knows.

Although it seems that Colorado would be a good fit for a trade, MLBtraderumors.com says here that the Rockies are financially tapped out.

The fans would throw a fit. Young has spent 10 years (his entire career) as a Ranger. Even though the Rangers have gained a lot more fans after their World Series trip last year, I don’t know if they’d be willing to risk all the fans they’d lose if they traded Young.

There’s also the “clubhouse factor” to consider, as Richard Durrett of RSPN Dallas points out here. Michael is the unquestioned team captain, even if he doesn’t have a “C” on his uniform. Could the Rangers handle the 2011 player turnover without Young as a buffer?

These are some definitely some points that merit discussion. But I’m 99% sure that if the Rangers do plan to trade Young, they will be very upfront about it and will include him in the discussions.

I can’t imagine them blindsiding him with a trade. The respect him too much for that.

Pitchers and catchers report in: 21 days

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

Just Say No

A few days ago, I started hearing rumblings about the Rangers and Manny Ramirez. Uh oh…

Last year, the same rumors began to circulate after Manny was put on waivers in late August. I prayed fervently that Manny would stay away. And he went to the Chicago White Sox, so the Rangers escaped unscathed.

I can only wait and hope the same thing happens again this year.

With the signing of Adrian Beltre, something like this was bound to happen. With Michael Young moving to DH/1B, Vladdy was practically guaranteed not to re-sign with the Rangers. Vladdy wants to play every day, and that’s not gonna happen on the Rangers in the near future.

So the Rangers are looking for a big right-handed bat to come off the bench late in games. (They want him to be right-handed because Mitch Moreland is a lefty, and Moreland would be riding the bench if Michael Young was in the game at 1B.)

Jim Thome was a possibility, but he’s a lefty. And he also decided to re-sign with the Twins for 2011, so he’s no longer an option.

There aren’t too many veteran righties left on the market at this point. It’s pretty much down to Vladdy and Manny. And we already know that Vladdy wants a more active role.

{Sigh}

I’m not saying that I won’t root for the Rangers if Manny is playing here, or even that I won’t root for him when he’s up to bat, but I’d rather have someone else.

I used to like Manny. I remember when the Red Sox has their heyday in the early 2000’s (culminating with their World Series win in 2004), and I loved to watch Manny alongside Johnny Damon and Big Papi.

But soon after, I started hearing lots of negative things about Manny. He publicly discussed his displeasure with the BoSox and requested a trade. It was suggested that he was not a team player.

Then during a game in 2008, Manny was shown slapping teammate Kevin Youkilis during a spat in the dugout. He had another altercation with the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, with Ramirez allegedly pushing him to the ground.

He also stopped hustling on the field, and Red Sox fans assumed it was because of his desire to be traded. But it may have had something to do with sore knees. Who knows?

Manny spent most of the next 3 years with the Dodgers, which just caused me to like him even less. I hate the Dodgers. They’re my least favorite NL team, and their my 2nd most hated team in all of baseball (behind the Yankees, of course).

During the 2009 season, Manny was suspended for 50 games because he voilated a drug test. He tested positive for HCG, which is a female pregnancy hormone thought to help reset an athlete’s body after a steroid cycle.

Later in the 2009 season, it was released that Manny had also failed a drug test in 2003.

The Dodgers put him on waivers in late August, and on August 30 of 2010, Manny was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. His performance for them was decidedly lackluster during his 24 games. Now he’s a free agent, and the threat of Manny looms on the horizon.

TR Sullivan reported today that the Rangers, Angels, and Rays are all in the mix for Manny. MLBtraderumors.com agrees, they report that the Rays are also discussing a deal with Johnny Damon. So if the Rays get Damon, does that mean they’ll quit pursuing Manny? {Gulp}

Manny is reportedly very focused on baseball, and he’s had some amazing stats. But if he’s been taking steroids for at least the last 7 years, his accomplishments are greatly diminished.

With all of the stunts he’s pulled in the last decade, I’d just rather not have him in Texas. Period.

In other news, John Rhadigan has been named to replace Josh Lewin as the play-by-play announcer on television. I think I like this, but I won’t be able to give a definitive diagnosis until after I hear him call a few games.

You know who I would love to see calling games on tv? Steve Busby. I love when they bring him in to talk pitching. But he probably would need to be the color guy as opposed to the play-by-play guy.

I love Tom Grieve; he’s a very nice guy and he’s Mr. Ranger. But I would prefer Busby over Greive any day. Can’t you just imagine Buzz and Rhads together?

Well of course you can, because you’ve seen them do pre- and post-game shows together. It would be awesome, I’m telling you.

Maybe some day.

This weekend is the first 2-day Rangers’ Fan Fest, and I’m excited/nervous. It’s at the Arlington Convention Center this year, which is definitely different from having it at the Ballpark. But last year it didn’t get above freezing all day at Fan Fest, and spending most of the day outside was not easy.

So at least we won’t be cold this year. But I’m dreading all the running back and forth. I’ve seen the layout, and it looks like I’m going to be running around or standing in line all day tomorrow. All by myself, because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Great.

A crushed pelvis + arthritis + a long time on my feet = lots of pain for Katie. And since it’s a 2-day thing, if I get up on Sunday morning incredibly sore and beat up, I’m screwed. But it’s a new experience, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll bring my cane.

I just need to remember that if I don’t get somebody’s autograph, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll get it later. I shouldn’t push myself too hard, but just try to have fun! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, I just remembered that I hadn’t told you about the autographs I got last weekend. The Rangers Winter Caravan made a stop at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco (I LOVE that place!), and there were a lot of guys signing autographs.

For myself: David Murphy, Dave Anderson, Steve Buechele, and Mitch Moreland
For my step-dad Larry: Derek Holland (smeared everywhere unfortunately) and Chuck Greenberg
For my dad: Steve Buechele, Tommy Hunter, and Mitch Moreland

My step-sister Faith went with me, and we had a BLAST! So hopefully this weekend will be more of the same!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 26 days

Drive-by blogging

Hey there. I don’t have much time to blog, but I haven’t posted anything since Monday, so I’ll mention a few things real quick.

-The Rangers tried to claim Manny Ramirez on waivers, but the Chicago White Sox got him first. I’m glad. We don’t need a poisonous presence like his in the clubhouse.

-Michael Kirkman is awesome.

-Bengie Molina has a blog. I didn’t know that. Apparently he blogged for 3 years while he was with the Giants, so now he’s blogging for the Rangers. It’s pretty good stuff, and it just points out what a great guy he is.

You should check it out: http://bengiemolina.mlblogs.com/

-Rich Harden isn’t all that great. Yes, he threw a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings on Monday. But he also walked 5 batters and threw way too many pitches.

I think everybody is blowing this whole “no-hit” thing way out of proportion. He still needs to go deeper in games and control his walk totals.

-What’s up with Cliff Lee? Seriously! If you had posited the following scenario to me 6 weeks ago, I would have predicted a very different outcome:

“The Rangers will win 3 out of 4 against Minnesota. Rich Harden, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Cliff Lee will be the starters in those 4 games. One of the starters will have a no-hitter through 6 2/3 in that series, and one starter will only go 5 innings and get the loss.”

Obviously I would have gone with Cliff Lee for the no-hitter and Rich Harden for the 5-inning loss. This is crazy.

-Playoff tickets are ridiculously expensive.

-I went to the game on Wednesday, and I had a great time. The weather was wonderful and the Rangers won. What more can you ask for?

-I’m going to the game on Sunday, and I’m really excited. I was dreading the prospect of an afternoon game at the end of August, but thanks to the cold front, it’s not going to be as hot! Sure, the high on Sunday is still going to be 97 degrees, but that’s better than 107!

And it will be good to put some more distance between ourselves and our closest competition in the AL West (Oakland).

Overall Rangers’ record: 72-55
My Rangers’ record: 14-8
Days ’til my next game: 2

2 playoff wins!

Yesterday, there were 2 playoff games: Game 3 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Angels in the afternoon; and Game 4 of the NLCS between the Dodgers and the Phillies in the evening. And both of my teams (the Angels and the Phillies) had walk-off wins right at the last minute, and they both won their games by a score of 5-4! Exciting stuff!

The Yankees had already beaten the Angels in the first 2 games of the series, and if they had won yesterday’s game, they would be up 3-0 in a 7-game series. It would have been nearly impossible for the Angels to win 4 straight games and continue on to the World Series, so they really needed a win yesterday to stay in the race. But the Angels were back home after playing the first 2 games in NYC, so it looked like it might be possible.

Derek Jeter
The Yankees were leading 3-0 going into the bottom of the 5th inning, after 3 solo home runs by Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Alex Rodriguez. Andy Pettitte, the Yanks’ starter, had kept the Halos scoreless through the first 4 innings. Things were not looking good for the Angels.
Howie Kendrick
But Howie Kendrick helped to stave off a shut-out for the Halos by getting his own solo home run in the bottom of the 5th inning. And that was followed up by 2 more runs in the bottom of the 6th when Vlad Guerrero hit a 2-run shot out of the park, which tied the score up at 3-3. Then the Angels actually took the lead in the bottom of the 7th inning when Howie Kendrick hit a one-out triple, followed up by a sac fly from Maicer Izturis.
Jorge Posada
But the Halos’ lead didn’t last very long. In the top of the 8th inning, Yankee Jorge Posada hit another solo shot out of the park to tie the score up 4-4. Uh oh. (On a side note, doesn’t Jorge Posada look just like Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age movies??)
Alfredo Aceves
The game stayed tied up until the bottom of the 11th inning, when, with two outs and no one on base, Joe Girardi pulled rookie right-handed pitcher David Robertson in favor of rookie RHP Alfredo Aceves. Girardi said he thought that Aceves would be a better match-up for upcoming batters Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis. Huh. Interesting.
Jeff Mathis
Howie Kendrick immediately hit a single. Nice! Then back-up catcher Jeff Mathis stepped up to the plate, and he hit a double to center field! Kendrick was able to come all the way around from first base to score the winning run! The Angels won 5-4!

So the Angels still need to win 3 out of the remaining 4 games to make it to the World Series, and they’re definitely fighting an uphill battle. But yesterday’s victory shows that there’s still hope! That was the first time the Yankees had been defeated in this year’s post-season (since they swept the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS). Whoo-hoo!

Over in the National League, the Phillies were up 2 games to 1 against the Dodgers before last night’s game. The Phillies were also playing at home (like the Angels), so the automatic favor goes to them for this game. But it was a close one!
Ryan Howard
The Phillies started off with a 2-run lead when Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 1st inning. {BTW, that means that Ryan has now had an RBI in 8 straight playoff games. That ties a record. Pretty awesome.}

But the Dodgers came back and scored 2 runs of their own in the top of the 4th inning to tie it up 2-2. Then the Dodgers scored one run each in the 5th and 6th innings to take a 4-2 lead! Oh no!
Shane Victorino
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Shane Victorino hit a one-out triple that rattled around in the left field corner. Under normal circumstances, that’s not possible. But Shane Victorino is a fast runner, and Manny Ramirez was fielding the ball in left field. Doh! Even the “impartial” announcers said, “Oh, well, it’s Manny.” Apparently he’s not known for being a good fielder. 🙂
Chase Utley
Anyway, Chase Utley came up next with a single, and that plated Victorino. So the Phils got back within one run with a score of 4-3. But the score stayed right there, stuck at 4-3, until the bottom of the 9th inning.
Jimmy Rollins
With one out in the bottom of the 9th, pinch hitter Matt Stairs took a walk. Then catcher Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch. Two on, one out. The next Philly to bat, Greg Dobbs (pinch hitting for pitcher Brad Lidge), lined out to third. Still two men on, two outs. And here came Jimmy Rollins, hitting a double to score both men on base! The Phillies win 5-4!

Tonight, the Angels will take on the Yankees again in Anaheim. They really need to win tonight’s game, to show that yesterday’s win wasn’t just a fluke, but they’re not mathematically eliminated if they lose tonight. The pitching match-up pits the Yanks’ CC Sabathia against the Halos’ Scott Kazmir. They’re both great pitchers, but I’m hoping Kazmir blows Sabathia away! Go Angels!!

 

Originally published October 20, 2009

NLCS Game 1, Arizona Fall League

Last night was Game 1 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) between the Phillies and the Dodgers. And my hex was broken, because the Phillies won!
Clayton Kershaw
I don’t know if it was just because I was baseball-starved, but I thought last night’s game was really good! Clayton Kershaw was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers, and Cole Hamels took the mound for the Phillies.
Cole Hamels
Kershaw lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up 5 earned runs on 4 hits, 5(!) walks, and 3(!) wild pitches while getting 3 strike-outs. Hamels went 5 1/3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs on 8 hits and 1 walk, with 4 strike-outs.
James Loney
The Dodgers scored first on a solo home run by James Loney in the bottom of the 2nd inning, so they were leading 1-0. Then, in the top of the 5th inning, the Phillies came roaring back to score 5 runs, all the property of Clayton Kershaw.
Carlos Ruiz
With 2 men on and no outs in the top of the 5th, Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies catcher, stepped up to the plate and belted out a 3-run homer to vault the Phillies to a 3-1 lead. But they weren’t done yet!
Ryan Howard
After Ryan Howard got a 2-run double with 2 outs in the 5th inning, Joe Torre finally pulled Clayton Kershaw, and the Phillies went into the bottom of the 9th with a 5-1 lead. I don’t know about the Phillies players, but I was feeling pretty confident with a 4-run lead. I should have known better. The Dodgers are a great team, a playoff team, and this is a playoff game. There are no easy wins once you get to this level.
Manny Ramirez
The Dodgers didn’t stay down for long. Cole Hamels gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the frame to bring the score to 5-4, and the Dodgers were back within a run. Manny Ramirez was responsible for a couple of those runs with a 2-run homer in the inning. And the Phillies lead was no longer comfortable.
Raul Ibanez
In the top of the 8th inning, Raul Ibañez hit the Phillies’s second 3-run homer of the night to help the Phillies breathe a little easier. 8-4 Phillies.
But then the Dodgers came back again in the bottom of the inning with 2 more runs, scaring the Phillies again. The Phils couldn’t add any more insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning, so they went into the bottom of the 9th leading 8-6. Which is not enough of a lead to feel comfortable going against the Dodgers in the bottom of the 9th.
Matt Kemp
And sure enough, the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter in the 9th inning (Matt Kemp) got a single. Uh-oh. But, miraculously, the next batter (Casey Blake) grounded into a double play, clearing the bases and putting the Phillies only one out away from a Game 1 victory! Whew! Then James Loney walked. Oh no. But then Ronnie Belliard flied out, and the game was over! Phils win!
The announcers of last night’s game pointed out that in the past 17 years, the team who won Game 1 of the NLCS was the team that went to the World Series 14 times. That’s promising!
Vicente Padilla
Today’s pitching matchup: Pedro Martinez for the Phillies against Vicente Padilla for the Dodgers. Eww, Padilla. Interestingly enough, Pedro Martinez used to be a Dodger, so he’ll be pitching against his old team. Go Phillies!
Marcus Lemon
In other news, I finally got some information on the Arizona Fall League. Our boys are on a team called the Surprise Rafters, and it includes Brennan Garr (P, Frisco), Matt Harrison (P, Rangers DL this season), Danny Gutierrez (P, Frisco), Evan Reed (P, Bakersfield Blaze), Tanner Scheppers (P), Marcus Lemon (2B, Frisco), Mitch Moreland (RF, Frisco), Doug Hogan (C, Blaze), and batting coach Brant Brown (Frisco).
The Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League are undefeated at 3-0! There are apparently 6 teams in the Arizona Fall League, and they’re divided into the AFL East and the AFL West, each with 3 teams. And our Rangers’ prospects are leading their division (the AFL West)! Yay! 🙂
 
Originally published October 16, 2009