I love the fact that the baseball season spans 7 months… from April through October. That’s a long time! But for the Rangers, it only lasts through September, because they haven’t made the post-season in over a decade. We’re hoping to change that in 2010, but let’s not put the cart before the horse, okay?
So around this time of year, I really start itching for some baseball. It’s already been 3 whole months since the Rangers have played in an official major league game. And I still have 2 more months until Spring Training starts.
But even after Spring Training starts, I’ll still have to wait another month before I’ll get to witness a game. I can’t afford to make a trek out to Surprise, Arizona to see any Spring Training games. Of course. But at least I know that by the time Spring Training starts, my wait is almost over. And I can look forward to 6 more months of Rangers baseball. 🙂
Or maybe even 7 months.
The Rangers’ Hot Stove has really been more of a lukewarm stove in the last few weeks. The only news is that Marlon Byrd officially signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs for 3 years and $15 million dollars.
This was a bit surprising, because I thought Marlon would command a bigger paycheck. Not that $5 million a year is pocket change, but you know what I mean. The Rangers could have afforded that. So why didn’t they? That’s the question that no one is answering.
I know that our ownership situation is in flux right now, and that we don’t have much money to work with, but… come on!! It’s Marlon Byrd! He was one of the Rangers’ top performers last year!
Maybe the Rangers balked at the idea of signing Marlon for 3 years. Maybe they didn’t have enough money left in the budget. Maybe Marlon really wanted to go to the Cubbies so that he could stay with Rudy Jaramillo. I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know: Marlon Byrd will leave a big hole in the Rangers’ lineup… and in their clubhouse too.
Elvis Andrus doesn’t want to be my friend on Facebook. Sad day.
TR Sullivan sent me an email last week suggesting that a join the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, which is a group of baseball bloggers from all over the nation. He said they needed more representation from Texas. So now I am officially Member #116 of the BBA! And who is the other blogger in the BBA that writes about the Texas Rangers, you ask? Why, it’s none other than Mr. Jamey Newberg himself! That’s pretty good company to keep!
When I emailed TR to thank him for sending me the link and to tell him that I am now a member, he wrote me back to say that:
1) Three editors from mlb.com writers told him how much they liked the story, which is very very rare;
2) My story was the front page lead story on mlb.com on Christmas Day; and
3) Chuck Greenberg himself texted TR to tell him how much he liked the story and how much he was hoping to meet me! Wow!!
I received an email today from my contact in the Texas Rangers ticket office, and she told me that I get to pick my seats for my mini-season ticket plan on January 18th! Yippee!!! I’m so excited! And I’m only 6th on the list (since I got my mini-plan so early), so I should get some really good seats! YAY!!!!!!!
I know I don’t usually talk about this kind of thing here, but I need to blow off some steam. What is up with guys?? Dating is so confusing! Why can’t dating be more like baseball?
Baseball has clearly defined rules, and I like that. I’m a very straightforward person, and I believe in open, honest comminication. You need lots of communication in baseball to play the game well. You have to know what your teammates are going to do in order to act in concert. If someone misinterprets a sign, it can cause all sorts of problems.
For example, I remember a game the Rangers played sometime in September of 2009 when Julio Borbon thought that he saw the sign that he could steal a base. In actuality, he was given the ‘DON’T steal’ sign. So he was tagged out at 2nd base when he tried to steal. Those kinds of things don’t happen very often in major league baseball, because by the time a player reaches the Bigs he understands how important communication is to the game. And I wasn’t too mad at Julio, because he had only been in the Bigs a few weeks at that point.
But apparently, some 29-year-old guys don’t understand that communication is also important in relationships. And texting is not always the best form of communication. Sometimes you need to talk face-to-face to understand the situation at hand.
Pitchers and catchers get that sometimes you need to talk in person. A catcher gives signs to the pitcher saying what pitch he should throw. When they can’t decide, or when one of them is having trouble understanding, they meet halfway and discuss it until they can come to a resolution. How hard is that???
There are all sorts of other comparisons that I could make, but it really just makes me tired.
The Rangers have claimed Joe Inglett off waivers. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I’ll explain: The Toronto Blue Jays decided to take Inglett off their 40-man roster to make room for other players, and the Rangers were able to snatch him up. Inglett will be used as a utility infielder for the 2010 season, a position that was recently vacated by Omar Vizquel.
Omar decided to sign on with the White Sox for next year, so the Rangers have been looking to acquire someone to fill that backup role. (FYI, Andruw Jones also signed with the White Sox for next year. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, Andruw!) The best news in this acquisition is that Inglett isn’t eligible for arbitration yet, and we’ll be getting him for about half a mil. That’s a steal. Now, I don’t know anything about Inglett, so I’m trying to reserve my excitement. Apparently he’s played mostly 2nd base since his major league debut it 2006, and he only played a meager 36 games with Toronto last year. BUT… he can play shortstop, which is important for the Rangers.
There have been some new developments with the ownership situation as well, but it’s all very confusing. Previously, we learned that the frontrunners were Jim Crane, Chuck Greenberg, and Dennis Gilbert. Then, last week or so, it came out that Tom Hicks was trying to get together a group of local investors to retain control of the Rangers. Well, Jim Crane has kind of faded out, and Commissioner Bud Selig shut down Tom Hicks because he was wanting to mortgage away the Rangers’ future for more money today, so it’s neck and neck between Gilbert and Greenberg.
Tom Hicks then apparently threw in with Dennis Gilbert, and Nolan Ryan was preparing to resign as team president if Gilbert bought the Rangers. Gilbert is reportedly Jerry Jones-esque in his need to be involved in every aspect of the team, and Nolan didn’t want to have to deal with it. But now there’s a feud between Gilbert and Hicks, so Nolan’s not resigning. Or something. I told you it was confusing.
Other random tidbits:
-Josh Rupe and Jason Grilli signed minor league contracts with other teams.
-The Rangers offered arbitration to both Marlon Byrd and Pudge, but neither are expected to accept. The deadline is Monday for that, but even if they refuse arbitration, they can still hammer out a deal with the Rangers later.
-Salty tried to play Winter Ball somewhere in South America, but he had to come out in the middle of his second game because of shoulder problems. They’re going to shut him down for a month and then see how things are progressing.
-The Jermaine Dye to Texas rumor still abounds, but the Milton Bradley to Texas rumor has been effectively squashed.
-A lot of teams are interested in Kevin Millwood, but Texas doesn’t want to trade him unless the “right deal comes along.” I know Millwood has problems, but he’s our only veteran starting pitcher, so I’m hesitant to send him packing.
-Everybody’s interested in Nelson Cruz (big surprise there), but the Rangers are reluctant to lose him. And I personally think that if they trade him, someone should be shot. Come on, he’s got great potential, he’s a team player, and he’s cheap! Seriously, folks!
-There are several pitchers in the Yankees’ organization that will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft soon. But the Rangers already have way too many starting pitchers, so unless he’s a lefty that can work in a short relief role, we can’t use any more.
The Rangers have expressed interest in re-signing Pudge, and he has also shown interest in staying to retire with the Rangers, but a lot of it will supposedly hinge on Salty’s recovery. I have also heard that Pudge might not want to be with the Rangers now that they no longer have Rudy Jaramillo, because apparently he was looking forward to working with Rudy during the off-season.
I have billions of questions buzzing around in my baseball-obsessed mind, all of which will be resolved at some point during the off-season, but I feel the need to get them out. Then I can cross them off when they’ve been resolved and explain the answers. So here we go!
Ownership: Who will be the new owner of the Rangers? Will Nolan Ryan still be the team president? Will Nolan Ryan be a minority owner? Will Tom Hick stay on as a minority owner? Will new ownership affect (i.e. increase) our budget for the 2010 season?
Here’s what we know: There are 3 main groups, which are fronted by Chuck Greenberg, Dennis Gilbert, and Jim Crane. Greenberg’s group has included Nolan Ryan as a minority owner, so if he wins out, obviously Nolan will have a stake in the ownership and will stay on as president. But then again, it’s possible that if one of the other groups wins out, they’ll let him in as a partial owner. It is possible that the new ownership could fire Nolan as president, but I think that’s unlikely at this point. The fans love Nolan, and it wouldn’t make a good impression on the fans if their first move was to fire him. Tom Hicks has expressed interest in retaining a portion of his ownership as well, so we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. At this point, the budget for 2010 will be approximately the same as it was for 2009, so the new owners will have to meet that budget or increase it. It would be nice if we could have a little more leeway to get some big names to Texas for our playoff push next year.
Marlon Byrd: Will the Rangers re-sign him for 2010 and beyond?
Here’s what we know: Marlon says that he wants to stay with the Rangers. The Rangers want him to stay. He made a little over $3 mil in 2009, so he’ll want at least that much per year in his next contract. How much more is anybody’s guess. This is probably his only chance to negotiate a multi-year contract, and he’s probably wanting at least 3 years. But Marlon is already 32, so I’m sure the Rangers are anxious that health issues may mar his future playing time. And the Rangers don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around, so I’m sure that will affect how much progress is made towards contract negotion. But Marlon is a strong influence in the clubhouse, and Michael Young (team leader) is strongly campaigning for the Rangers to keep him. I think the Rangers will offer him something in the neighborhood of 4, 5, or 6 million dollars for the next 3 years, plus lots of incentives (i.e. bonuses if he plays at least x number of games, if he hits at least y home runs, or if he steals at least z bases, etc.). But if he wants something like $10 mil a year for 5 years, I think the Rangers will let him walk.
Ivan Rodriguez: Will Pudge be back?
Here’s what we know: The fans adore Pudge, and he said that he wants to finish out his career here. And even though he’s pushing 40, he’s still pretty darn good. He’s played on 2 World Series teams, and he has a lost of post-season experience (which the Rangers are seriously lacking). He has 13 Gold Gloves. But because of his age, the Rangers might be hesitant to offer him a multi-year contract, or to pay him a particularly hefty sum for 2010. Jarrod Saltalamacchia recently had surgery for Thorasic Outlet Syndrome, and while his prognosis looks good, there’s no telling how he’ll progress. Taylor Teagarden was unimpressive in 2009. Max Ramirez spent a lot of time on the DL in AAA. And the Rangers just outrighted Kevin Richardson to the minors. So it might be good to have him around. We acquired him as “strictly a back-up catcher” in August of 2009, but he ended up being our everyday catcher to close out the season. He made 1.5 mil in 2009. Will he accept $1 mil and a one-year contract? $5 million and a 2-year contract? We’ll see.
Omar Vizquel: Will he be back for 2010?
Here’s what we know: Omar has said that he wants to play next year, even though he’s the oldest active position player at 42 years old. He was a great mentor for Elvis Andrus in his rookie year (2009), but does Elvis still need him in 2010? He has 11 Gold Gloves, and his defensive work is truly beautiful. I swear, he looks like a ballet dancer out there sometimes! He played 63 games for the Rangers this year: 16 games at 2B, 27 games at SS, and 20 games at 3B, and he made NO errors. None, zippo, nada. That’s pretty amazing. He’s said he would be interested in returning, but he wants to shop around first.
Starting rotation: Which 5 pitchers will we go with in our starting rotation for 2010?
Here’s what we know: Ron Washington has already said that Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman have guaranteed slots next year. But the other 3 are up for grabs. The possible candidates are: Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, Matt Harrison, Eric Hurley, and Guillermo Moscoso. I discussed the pros and cons about all these pitchers in a previous blog. But Wash has also said he would like to obtain another veteran starter this winter. So if he does that, then there will only be two spots up for grabs, making the competition even tougher. But can we get anybody good for relatively little money? And of course, as we all know, our starting rotation can change a lot during the year due to injuries, etc. I mean, look at our poor rotation in 2009! On Opening Day, it was Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kris Benson, Matt Harrison, and Brandon McCarthy. Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy both went on the 60-day DL, Kris Benson was a disaster, and we released Padilla because of all his foolishness. So you never know what can change throughout the season!
Acquisitions: Right-handed bat to play 1B and DH, left-handed relief pitcher
Here’s what we know: In addition to a veteran starter, Wash also said he’d like to pick up a right-handed bat who can play 1B or DH, as well as another lefty reliever. I’ve heard Jermaine Dye’s name brought up to fill that first role, and while he is right-handed, he has played mainly in the outfield. In 2005, he played 1B once and SS once for the Chicago White Sox. That’s it. But if we keep Marlon Byrd, we may not need another right-handed bat. CJ and Eddie are our only lefty relievers at this point, and Eddie’s probably not coming back (I’ll address that later), so it would be nice to have another one.
Batting coach: Who will replace Rudy Jaramillo?
Here’s what we know: Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are supposedly “constructing a list” of candidates to replace Rudy, and they plan on interviewing about 4 or 5 guys for the position. Some names that have been thrown around are Scott Coolbaugh (Rangers AAA batting coach), Rusty Greer (former Ranger), Will Clark (former Ranger), Julio Franco (managing in Mets farm league), Gary Pettis (currently our 1st base coach), Carney Lansford (fired by San Francisco last week), Clint Hurdle (former Colorado manager), Tim Wallach (Dodgers hitting coach in 2004), Thad Bosley (hitting coach in Oakland with Wash), Gerald Perry (hitting coach for Cubs, fired in June), Greg Colbrunn (minor league hitting coach for Yank
ees), Dave Hudgens (former A’s hitting coach), Mike Boulanger (Minor League hitting coach), and Toby Harrah (former Ranger, current hitting coach for Tigers). I’m sure there are a bunch of other names too that I haven’t heard yet. So obviously, there are a lot of choices. It’s just about finding a good fit.
Eddie Guardado: Is he really retiring?
Here’s what we know: He’s definitely thinking about it. But that’s about all we know. He didn’t pitch too well towards the end of the season, so as terrible as it sounds, I’m kind of hoping he retires. He’s a free agent, and I just don’t think it’s useful to pay him a significant amount of money for just one more year when he’s at the end of his career and losing his stamina.
Outfield: What will our outfield look like next year?
Here’s what we know: Marlon Byrd (righty) is a question mark. We have Josh Hamilton (lefty), Julio Borbon (lefty), David Murphy (lefty), and Nelson Cruz (righty). We also have Chris Davis (another lefty in the lineup) as our starting 1st baseman, and Salty is a switch hitter. So we could possibly have 5 left-handed bats in a 9-man line-up. That’s not so good. Borbon is rumored to be “the center fielder of the future,” but he has a weak arm. He’s supposed to be working on that this winter, but who knows? Josh Hamilton had a spectacular 2008, but he had trouble staying healthy this year. I don’t want to lose anybody, but I have this sneaking suspicion that we’re going to trade David Murphy. That hurts me, because he’s a good Texas boy, but I just can’t shake that feeling. And I have a feeling that Nelson Cruz could be great. I’m mean he could be Josh-Hamilton-in-2008-great. But what about Craig Gentry? He was the surprise September call-up from AA. It makes the most sense that he would at least begin next year in AAA, but it’s certainly an intriguing idea. He’s a righty, with an incredibly strong and accurate arm, and he’s supposedly speedy on the bases, but he needs to learn how to bat against big league pitching.
I checked T.R. Sullivan’s blog today, and he had a kind of report card for this year’s players. I agree with most of what he says, but we differ on a few things. This is his report card:
Kevin Millwood – Manager has already said he is the Opening Day pitcher in 2010
Scott Feldman – What an amazing season.
Derek Holland – This kid is going to be fine. Can’t wait for his next start.
Tommy Hunter – Tommy, meet Nolan Ryan, the resident conditioning fanatic.
Brandon McCarthy – The Big Tease. He has talent but at what point do the Rangers say uncle?
Matt Harrison – He was pretty good before he got hurt
Neftali Feliz – The Rangers will try him in the rotation. Bet he makes it
Dustin Nippert – His numbers will work every year
Guillermo Moscoso – Should be Opening Day pitcher at Oklahoma City
Frank Francisco – Needs warning label: handle with care.
C.J. Wilson – Most Valuable Reliever
Darren O’Day – Transaction of the Year
Jason Grilli – Wasn’t the same after he got hurt
Doug Mathis – Can he fill middle relief role?
Eddie Guardado – No finer person in baseball
Pedro Strop – Needs more time. Just not ready
Willie Eyre – Taking long road back from injuries
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Should still be No. 1 on depth chart
Ivan Rodriguez – Would you give him $4 million for two years?
Taylor Teagarden – Should have been in Triple A
Kevin Richardson – He is from Seattle area. He should have started one game this weekend.
Chris Davis – Only one other player is a bigger key for Rangers in 2010.
Ian Kinsler – Absolutely nothing wrong with 101 runs and 86 RBI.
Elvis Andrus – He lived up to it all
Michael Young – Turns out he can still hit…and play third.
Omar Vizquel – He has one definite vote for the Hall of Fame.
Esteban German – A nice fifth player if the Rangers had the room
Hank Blalock – Hank’s Homies bid you adieu. It was fun while it lasted.
Josh Hamilton – Obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010
David Murphy – Forget Rusty Greer all right? Anybody think he can be Paul O’Neill?
Julio Borbon – Definitely the kind of player the Rangers desperately need
Nelson Cruz – He is a good player. Can he be a great one or is this enough?
Marlon Byrd – Loved watching him tell the rookies to turn off the football game on Sunday and turn on baseball.
Andruw Jones – Next.
Craig Gentry – Off to Triple A to bide his time.
Derek Holland: I wouldn’t say I “can’t wait” for his next start. I think if he works hard during the off-season, he can have a stellar year. He has a lot of untapped potential.
C.J. Wilson: I would not call him the most valuable reliever. I think with C.J., you never know what you’re gonna get.
Pudge: I don’t think it will take that much money. I think $3 million for 2 years, or if the Rangers aren’t sure how long he’ll last, then around $1.5 mil for 1 year.
Ian Kinsler: His runs scored and RBIs are good, but he needs to be more reliable. And, most importantly, he needs to work on his swing in the off-season and find out whyhe’s popping everything up!!!
Esteban German: I don’t think it’s an “if the Rangers have room” situation. I think they’ll definitely need a bench player who can step up if anyone gets injured, and who can spell all 4 infielders at regular intervals. He has played mainly 2B and 3B, but he has big league experience at SS and 1B as well. He’s a true utility infielder.
Josh Hamilton: I don’t agree that he’s “obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” If he can perform, it will be great, but I don’t think we can depend on him to perform. You can never predict injuries. I don’t want to trade him, because I think he’s a great addition to a team, whether he can play or not. And when he’s good, he’s really good. But look what this Rangers team did this year without Josh Hamilton!
Julio Borbon: I wouldn’t say that the Rangers “desperately need” someone like Borbon. Borbon has a great OBP, and he’s excellent at stealing bases and manufacturing runs. But he’s got a weak arm for an outfielder, and he’s not good against LHP. Borbon is a lefty outfielder, and we already have Josh Hamilton and David Murphy that are left handed outfielders.
Craig Gentry: Gentry can be the perfect center fielder that the Rangers “desperately need” in 2011, but he needs more experience. If the Rangers decide to take a chance on Gentry like they did on Elvis, it could pay some amazing dividends. But I’m betting that the Rangers put Gentry in AAA all next year.
Marlon Byrd: I don’t know anything about the rookies watching football, but I think Marlon is the “biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” We need him next year. Not only is he an amazing player, he’s a revitalizing force in the clubhouse.
Here is a quick list that I threw together in rememberance of this monumental year of Rangers’ baseball. If I’ve left off something, please feel free to comment!
*Moving Michael Young to 3rd base and starting Elvis Andrus at shortstop. [It seemed like a really scary idea at first, but it worked!!]
*Ian Kinsler hitting for the cycle (at home!)
*Getting rid of Vicente Padilla
*Triple play by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler
*Marlon Byrd’s amazing diving catches
*Neftali Feliz’s stunning debut
*Andruw Jones’ 3-homer game
*Sweeping the BoSox at Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington
*Nelson Cruz coming in second in the Home Run Derby
*Derek Holland’s complete gamme shut-out of the Angels in Anaheim
*Omar Vizquel’s beautiful defense
*Getting Pudge back home
*Ian Kinsler joining the 30-30 club
*Our short time spent leading the AL West and Wild Card races