Tagged: Matt Harrison

2-fer

Hey, so you guys are actually gonna get 2 blog entries today! I’ve tried to blog several different times in November, but blogspot is always messed up. When I try to create a new entry, the text box just says “loading” and it won’t let me type anything. Punks!!

So I decided I’d better write another blog while I can. I’m going to cover 2 main topics: Clint Hurdle and Neftali Feliz.

Clint Hurdle was our hitting coach for the 2010 season, and he did a phenomenal job. I mean, come on, we made it all the way to the WORLD SERIES!!

Hurdle stressed situational hitting and small ball, and that obviously worked very well for the Rangers. I was really hoping that Hurdle would be here to stay.

But alas, the Baseball Gods decided otherwise. Clint Hurdle was the skipper of the Colorado Rockies from 2002-2009, so he actually took a step down by accepting the job as hitting coach for the Rangers last year.

After the World Series was over, the Pirates asked for (and received) permission to interview Hurdle for their open manager spot, and I got a really bad feeling.

And of course, the Pirates loved him. (Why wouldn’t they? He’s awesome!) Hurdle signed a 3-year contract with the Pirates, so now we have to find our 3rd hitting coach in 3 years.

Some of the names popping up now are of people who were finalists last year.

First is Thad Bosley, who was the A’s hitting coach from 1999-2002. I don’t know anything about Thad Bosley, but I think it will be confusing if he gets the job because of Assistant GM Thad Levine. Thad isn’t a common name, but the Rangers’ organization could have 2 of them in the near future!

Johnny Narron could also be a viable choice. He has spent a lot of time in baseball, but for the last several years he has followed Josh Hamilton around as his babysitter, aka “Special Assignment Coach.”

That sounded snarky, and I didn’t mean it that way. I think it’s really great that Josh has someone with him all the time to make sure he doesn’t relapse. But I think it would be helpful to the Rangers to give Narron a job where he actually does something, and they could eliminate the “Special Assignment Coach” position from their payroll.

Scott Coolbaugh is a name we heard about quite often during last year’s search for a hitting coach. He has been the Rangers’ AAA hitting coach for years, so he would already have history with most of the players.

First-base coach Gary Pettis also has some experience as a hitting coach in the minors, so they could possibly move him over and find a replacement first-base coach.

Rusty Greer was a candidate last year, and he may be a great choice for the Rangers. He spent his entire career with the Rangers, and he is certainly a fan favorite. He also happens to be a great guy, and I think he would be a good fit.

Buddy Bell and Tobey Harrah are 2 other former Rangers’ players who could get a look as well.

More on that story as it develops. 🙂

Next, I have to talk about Neftali Feliz. Today, he was overwhelmingly voted as the American League Rookie of the Year for 2010!

YAAAAAYYYYYY!!!

The Rangers have not had a Rookie of the Year winner since Mike Hargrove won it in 1974. The 36-year drought is the longest that any major league has ever had without a ROY winner.

Neffy got 122 points (20 for 1st place, 7 for 2nd place, and 1 for 3rd place). Those numbers don’t add up, but from looking at the other scores, I’m guessing that each player gets 5 points for each 1st place vote, 3 points for each 2nd place vote, and 1 point for each 3rd place vote.

Austin Jackson came in second place with 98 points (8 1st place, 19 2nd place, and 1 3rd place votes), and Danny Valencia finished a distant 3rd place with only 12 points (1 vote for 2nd place and 9 votes for 3rd place).

And man, did Neffy deserve it! He saved 40 games for the Rangers in 2010, witch was a Major League record. And he didn’t even start out the year as our closer!

It was supposed to be Franky Francisco, but after a miserable Opening Week, Ron Washington buckled under the pressure and made Feliz the “interim” closer.

I don’t see him giving up the closer spot any time soon, although he was mostly a starter in the Minors. He said that he’ll do whatever the Rangers ask of him, but he also emphasized how much he liked being a closer.

I think it would be a bad idea to try to stretch him back out to a starter. He obviously has a gift as a closer, and we don’t have anyone else who could come close to replacing him in that capacity.

But who am I to make that decision? I mean, come on, look how wrong I was about C.J. Wilson!!

I also would like to point out once again how amazing Jon Daniels is for pulling the trigger on the blockbuster Mark Teixeira trade in 2007.

We got rid of a guy who didn’t want to be here (Tex) and a right-handed reliever (Ron Mahay), and in return we got Neffy, Elvis, Matt Harrison, Salty, and minor leaguer Beau Jones. It was one of the best trades of all time.

Fittingly, Buster Posey won the NL ROY award. And hey, both ROYs were in the World Series this year!! Coincidence? I think not!

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It’s good to be home again!

Man, that was a tough road trip. At least we ended it with a win.

Dropping three straight to Tampa Bay was awful. We split the 4-game series in Baltimore, but we probably should have swept them.

So which do you think is worse? That the Rangers were humiliated against a team they will very likely see in the playoffs (TB)? Or the fact that they only took 2 out of 4 against the worst team in baseball (the O’s)?

I’m not giving up on my boys. They just really need to step it up.

Yes, we still have an 8-game lead in the AL West. As long as we win our division, we will get to the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get past the first round.

If the season ended today, the Rangers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays would be going to the post-season. And the Rangers would have the worst win/loss record of all the playoff teams.

In the first round, Tampa Bay would play Minnesota, and the Rangers would again face the Yankees. And the Yankees would have home-field advantage.

We’ve seen this before, and it doesn’t end well for the Rangers. They need to prove that they’re not just the Yankees’ whipping boy. Because the goal isn’t just to get to the post-season, but to actually make it past the 1st round.

I really feel like the Rangers have a shot this year. They just need to be careful so that they don’t fade down the stretch.

Speaking of fading down the stretch, I’m concerned about all the injuries hurting our playoff berth. The Rangers currently have 6 players in the 15-day DL. If most of them are well enough to come back by August 31st, we should be good.

I’m sure that most of you know that the active rosters expand on September 1 from 25 up to a maximum of 40 players. But only the players who are on the Rangers’ 25-man roster on August 31st can participate in post-season games, unless there is an injury and someone has to be called up.

Kinsler’s been out since July 29, and hopefully he’ll be able to come back at the end of August. The Rangers could really use Kins in the post-season. Cristian Guzman was pretty useless as Kinsler’s initial replacement.

Taylor Teagarden has been doing a great job filling in for Matt Treanor, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Treanor can make it back before the 31st.

It will be good to get Dustin Nippert back too. Matt Harrison is a great lefty long reliever, but Scott Feldman is not a good option for a righty long reliever. Dustin is no longer having headaches, so I’m not really sure what the hold-up is.

But the player that the Rangers need the most is Nelson Cruz. They need his boomstick as well as his range and strong arm in the outfield. Seriously, I can’t wait for Nelly to come back.

Luckily, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero seem to have emerged from their slumps, lessening the need for Nelly’s bat. But just think how much better we will be with Cruz!!

The Rangers are back in Arlington today, and they are set to play 3 games against Joe Mauer the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are a good team, but the Rangers have been great at home this season.

Rich Harden is starting tonight for the Rangers. Again? I thought we got rid of him! I thought he was gone for good when the Rangers put him on the DL this last time. I mean, how many chances are we gonna give this guy?

He’s just too unpredictable. He’s only had 2 good starts all year long. Enough already!

But then again, maybe he’ll have another stellar performance this evening and continue it all the way through the post-season. Miracles can happen, right?

After Harden, Colby Lewis is expected to pitch on Tuesday night, followed by C.J. Wilson on Wednesday.

My prediction is that we will lose the game tonight (and then hopefully we’ll really be rid of Rich Harden)! Then Colby will finally get his 10th win on Tuesday, followed by another spectacular show by C.J. Wilson, earning us the series win on Wednesday.

I’m going to the game Wednesday, and I’m really excited because I just looked at the 10-day forecast. It looks like tomorrow will be our last day of 100+ degree weather! Yay!!

My dad mentioned that a cold front is supposed to come through on Tuesday night, so I figured the temperature might drop a bit on Wednesday and then climb right back up. But the forecast predicts 93-95 degree highs every day through Wednesday, September 1! Woo hoo!!!

Bring on the Twins! It’s gonna be downright chilly!!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 69-54
My Rangers’ record: 13-8
Days ’til my next game: 2

The Tampa Bay Debacle

This is very frustrating. I want my team to do well, and they’re not.

I’m not a fickle fan who will stop watching the Rangers if they lose. Even if they lose every game for the rest of the season, I’ll still watch every single game. It’s just frustrating.

What’s up with all the injuries?? Ian Kinsler’s obviously been out for a while, but it looks like he’s not coming back any time soon. Hopefully Dustin Nippert and Matt Treanor will be rejoining the Rangers shortly.

Then there’s Nelson Cruz and Cristian Guzman. We’re not missing too much with Guzman gone, but losing Nelly for 2 weeks hurts. Bad.

And Josh Hamilton can’t play defense on Astroturf because of his knees? Yeah, let’s put Vladdy in there, because his knees can take it, and his defense is so great! Gimme a break!

They should have just left Vladdy on the bench and played Brandon Boggs. It’s not like Vlad’s bat is all that stellar lately either.

Wow, I’m being really negative! Sorry about that, it’s just hard to find good things to talk about right now.

 
Michael Young is having trouble with neck stiffness. I can’t be mad at Michael Young, because he always wants to play and he never misses because of injury. I’m just saying it’s bad timing.

Cliff Lee hasn’t been too lucky when starting for Texas. I think it’s time for us to give him a day off here and there, instead of always starting him on the 5th day no matter what. We don’t want him to be burned out before we get to the playoffs.

Tommy Hunter is perplexing. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t do such a great job last Friday, because he was throwing up. But what happened on Tuesday at the Trop??

And Derek Holland yesterday! I didn’t get to watch the game, because I was at work, but I listened to it. He threw 106 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings and gave up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks.

We all know that Rich Harden doesn’t have it, and that Scott Feldman doesn’t either. What happened to our multitude of starting pitcher options in Spring Training??

I think we should get Matt Harrison out of the bullpen and give him another shot at starting. It could be a good thing.

Everybody just looks really tired. Half the team is already on the DL, so I think they should just bring up the entire AAA roster for the next couple of weeks. They couldn’t be much worse than the big league team right now.

Monday night’s game seemed to be going pretty well for Rangers’ fans. Cliff Lee was motoring along as usual, and although David Price was great, the Rangers chased him after 6 innings.

They were able to get 2 runs each in the 7th and 8th innings because the Rays’ relief pitchers weren’t necessarily as good as Price. But then again, who is?

Then the bottom of the 8th inning happened, and it all fell apart. The Rangers lost 6-4.

There were several squandered scoring opportunities by the Rangers all throughout the game. If the Rangers had more of a cushion, those 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th wouldn’t have hurt as badly.

I think if the Rangers had been able to pull out a win on Monday, they might not have lost on Tuesday and Wednesday. A win on Monday would have given them some momentum. Oh well, I guess we’ll never know.

Tuesday’s game was just bad all around. We lost 10-1. Blech!

Wednesday’s game looked bad when the Rangers were down 7-2, but then they rallied in the 8th to make it 7-4. And in the 9th they added 2 more runs to make it 8-6. But then the game was over.

Tonight they’re heading to Baltimore for 4 games with the Orioles. No problem, right? The O’s suck.

Except that the last time we faced them, we were swept in a 4-game series. In OUR ballpark. Now they’ve hired Buck Showalter as their manager, and they’re on a hot streak. Great.

Tonight it will be Colby Lewis (9-9, 3.28 ERA) against Brian Matusz (4-12, 5.28 ERA). It looks like Colby’s got this one sewn up.

But Colby has a 2.72 ERA in his last 5 games, and he hasn’t gotten a win in that time. It’s about time Colby got his 10th win, because he’s been pitching really well. He just seems “snakebit” lately, as my dad would say.

A win for Colby would definitely help to get the Rangers out of this funk they’re in. We could use some cheering up! Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 97-52
My Rangers’ record: 13-8
Days ’til my next game: 6

Ouch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elvis Weekend was great!

Elvis Andrus
Yes, I know I haven’t posted anything since Friday afternoon. I realize that there have been 3 Rangers’ games in that time period. But I attended the games on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday was dedicated to watching the game on tv and trying to get everything else done that I needed to do this weekend. So I’ve been kinda busy.

This was a great weekend for baseball. The weather was absolutely perfect, and Elvis Weekend was a can’t-miss gimmick at RBIA.

Friday
I went to the game with my friend Mary, and we met Wes Wilson and his son Brady at the stadium. Brady is an absolutely precious 5-year-old with a passion for baseball. He was really interested in the game, and he kept asking Wes questions about the game. So cute!!

The Rangers jumped out to a lead early in the game, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning. They tacked on another run in the bottom of the 4th before the Tigers were able to answer with 2 runs of their own in the top of the 5th. 3-2 Rangers.

But then the Rangers scored another run in the bottom of the 5th, taking the score to 4-2 Rangers. And that’s where the score stayed until the top of the 9th inning.

Neftali Feliz
The seemingly invincible Neftali Feliz took the mound, striking out the first batter. The second batter lined out to the 2nd baseman, so the Rangers just needed one more out to win the game.

Austin Jackson singled. Then Johnny Damon doubled. Uh-oh. Next Magglio Ordoñez singled in both runners to tie the game at 4-4. Nooooooo!!!!!!!! Then Miguel Cabrera flied out, ending the inning. And the bottom part of our order was coming up.

As Justin Smoak approached the plate, I was nervous. He’d just been called up from AAA and hadn’t gotten a hit yet in the Bigs. But he has been very patient at the plate, and he worked a walk. Nice! Then Matt Treanor laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Smoak to 2nd base.

Joaquin Arias went in to run for Smoak, and Ryan Garko pinch-hit for Andres Blanco. They decided to intentionally walk Garko, giving us runners on 1st and 2nd with one out.

Then came the big guns. Nelson Cruz came in to pinch-hit for Julio Borbon. And he took another walk, loading up the bases for the player of honor, Elvis Andrus.

And Elvis singled on a line drive to center field!! Joaquin Arias scored, bringing the final score to 5-4 Rangers! Wow, that was awesome! Then we got to see a great fireworks show set to Elvis (Presley) music! Also of note: Frank Francisco pitched a perfect inning of relief in the 7th.

Saturday
Elvis bobblehead

This game wasn’t anywhere near as entertaining, although I was looking forward to getting the Elvis Andrus bobblehead and seeing Scott Feldman dominate the Tigers. Too bad the bobblehead was the only good part of the day.
The Rangers got out to an early lead of 4-0 in the first two innings.

And then the game went in the crapper.

Feldman gave up 3 runs in the top of the 3rd, and two of those were scored before Feldman was able to record the first out of the inning. Things were starting to look ominous. But the Rangers still had the lead, 4-3, so there was promise.
Scott Feldman
Until the top of the 4th, when the Tigers scored 5 more runs. Yikes. It all started off with Feldy giving up a lead-off walk to start the inning. Don’t you know that usually comes back to bite you???
Then, with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Scott Feldman threw a wild pitch, allowing the runner on 3rd to score. Michael Young came in from 3rd to grab the ball and tossed it to Taylor Teagarden, who missed it as the other runner came in to score from 2nd base. Doh!!!
And it just kept getting worse. We finally got out of the inning, but there were 5 more runs on the board by the Tigers. Feldman only lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs. It’s not so bad, I thought. We still have 5 1/2 more innings of baseball to play. We could come back.
But nothing else happened for the rest of the game on either side, and the Rangers lost 4-8. Oh well. At least I got an Elvis bobblehead, and I got to hang out at the ballpark on a beautiful day!

Sunday
It was an afternoon game, and they said the weather was perfect once again. Sunday’s giveaway was a red Elvis Andrus jersey to kids 13 and under, and you could see them dotted throughout the crowd in the stands. I was feeling optimistic, and I couldn’t wait to get the bad taste of Saturday night’s game out of my mouth.

Colby Lewis

But it didn’t start off too well for the Rangers. Colby Lewis allowed 8 of the first 11 batters he faced to reach base. The Rangers came up to bat in the bottom of the 1st inning already down 3-0.

Michael Young, who is always reliable, got on base with a single. Then David Murphy went yard, bringing the score to 3-2 Tigers.

In the top of the 2nd inning, the Tigers added another run, making it 4-2. But Mike Maddux must have said something to Colby that really made a difference after that run was scored, because Colby didn’t allow any more runs in his 6 1/3 innings pitched.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rangers were able to add 4 runs to overtake the Tigers 6-4. Then they added 2 more runs in the bottom of the 5th inning, bringing the score to 8-4 for the second day in a row, but with a different winner this time.

Michael Young
I don’t know what Colby’s problem was, but the important thing is that he overcame it and gave the Rangers several quality innings. Colby retired 15 straight batters after his initial hiccup, and he earned his 3rd win. Michael Young drove in 5 of the Rangers’ 8 runs.

Tonight’s game will mark the 4th game in this series against the Tigers, and Matt Harrison will take the mound against Jeremy Bonderman. Harrison only lasted 4 innings in his last outing, but his first two starts were good, even though he didn’t get a win in either one of them. He’s still 0-1 for 2010.

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!!

Oh no!

A few days ago, I spent several hours working on a long blog posting that was mostly about Ron Washington’s drug drama and a little bit about Tommy Hunter’s recent oblique injury which may take him out of the starting rotation.

Normally, blogspot.com saves the post periodically as I write it, so if something happens (like my computer crashes or the electricity goes out or whatever), I can go back to the last automatic save point and not have to start completely over. But somehow, after I finished the post and hit “submit,” it was gone. No previously saved version, no nothing.

Just gone.

So that sucked. It would take me a lot of time and energy to try to recreate it, and the thought of it just makes me tired. But I wanted you guys to know that I’m not just slacking off and not blogging. I’ll try to sum up.

I’m not mad at Ron Washington. I’ve always liked him as the Rangers’ manager, and the players play really hard for him. He made a mistake, and he’s been paying for it the past 9 months by going through the MLB’s drug rehab program, which includes thrice-weekly drug testing.

I have a hard time believing that a 57-year-old man would just “try” cocaine for the first and only time, and then just “happen” to have to take one of the MLB’s random drug tests 2-3 days later (while the drug was still in his system). There’s definitely something fishy there.

But I don’t believe he’s a habitual user. I think maybe he had used it at parties or whatever in the past, and he just didn’t think it was a big deal. And I think now he realizes what a big deal it is.

I absolutely DO NOT condone illegal drug use in any way, shape, or form. I personally have never used recreational drugs, ever. I’ve never even tried cigarettes. But I do understand that everybody makes mistakes.

If Rangers fans can accept Josh Hamilton after he abused cocaine and crack for 3 1/2 years, why can’t we forgive Ron Washington’s lapse in judgment? I don’t think he’ll do it again.

But if he fails another drug test, I won’t be feeling so gracious.

Okay, on to Tommy Hunter. Tommy has been tentatively penciled in to the 4th spot in the rotation because of the great job he did as a starter last year. But while he was warming up to start Thursday’s Spring Training game against the Milwaukee Brewers, he strained his oblique muscle over his left rib cage.

He should only be sidelined for 1-2 weeks, but Opening Day is in 2 weeks, and Tommy has only pitched 5 innings in Spring Training. It’s pretty unlikely that he’ll be ready to start the season in the Bigs.

Which sucks, because Tommy is a good solid pitcher. But the one area in which the Rangers’ are experiencing an embarrassment of riches is starting pitching. Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Brandon McCarthy, and C.J.Wilson have all been competing for one spot in the starting rotation. So now, I guess they’re competing for two spots in the starting rotation.

I’m pretty sure Tommy will make it up to the Bigs at some point in the first half of the 2010 season.

Should I be nervous that Opening Day is in 2 weeks and I still haven’t received my tickets in the mail? I haven’t received my mini-plan tickets in the mail either. I’ll have to try to remember to call the Rangers’ ticket office tomorrow and find out what’s going on.

15 days until Opening Day!!