Tagged: Mike Maddux

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!!
Advertisements

Best things about 2009

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

*Mike Maddux

Random Rangers Thoughts #1: Kevin Millwood

Kevin Millwood is supposed to be the ace of our pitching staff. And he did well through the first half of the season. But then, at the All-Star Break, he took a nosedive. He lost 4 of his 5 starts in July, 4 of his 5 starts in August, and his first 2 starts of September.

So Wash let him skip a start and he worked on his delivery with pitching coach Mike Maddux. And in that next start, on September 21st, he was stellar. But in the one after that, he was saved only by an 11-run inning by the Rangers’ offense. When he left the mound after the top of the 5th inning, we were losing 3-1, and Millie didn’t look like he would be coming out for the 6th. But after the bottom of the 5th, when we were leading 12-3, I guess Ron didn’t see any harm in getting him back out there. Why not? We were leading by 9 runs. So he got the win.

I’m afraid that Millwood won’t be able to match that great September 21st performance with any kind of regularity next season. If we had a 6- or more man rotation, Millwood might make it through next year, but we won’t. We’ll have the standard 5-man rotation, and that will kill him. My prediction is that Millwood starts out strong next season, but starts to go downhill before the All-Star Break. Ron will have to rest him more between outings to get the same kind of production.

My fear is that Ron will keep running him out there with the mentality that “Kevin is our ace,” and we’ll end up losing a bunch of games. Please, Ron, for the love of all that is good and holy, give Millie some extra rest next season!!!

Different type of loss

The Rangers officially played their way out of the AL West playoff race last night with an 11-0 loss to the Angels. It wasn’t the kind of loss that made me sick to my stomach, though. They didn’t lead the entire game and then lose it in the las 2 innings, like on Sunday. No, in this game, they were pretty much pummeled the entire time. I’ll do a more comprehensive summary of the highlights (and lowlights) from this season later, but for now, let’s get on with the game summary.

Tommy Hunter
Tommy Hunter took the mound for the Rangers last night, and I was feeling pretty confident with him there. Besides Scott Feldman (who has had some issues lately), Tommy has been our most reliable starter. But he’d been showing a little bit of inconsistency lately. In his last start (in Anaheim), he retired the first 10 batters he faced, but then he squandered a 4-0 lead in the 5th inning. We ended up winning the game 9-8, but it was a close one. I figured Tommy could write off that last outing as a close call, and then he would just get back to business.

But man, Tommy completely folded yesterday. He had to come out of the game after giving up 7 runs (6 earned) in just 2 1/3 innings! He gave the Angels 7 hits and 2 walks during his short tenure on the mound. It is the only time in his 18 starts this season that he has failed to go at least 5 innings.

Mike Maddux (left), with Omar Vizquel
I can’t decide who to blame for last night’s debacle. Perhaps if the Rangers’ defense had been up to par last night, Tommy would have looked better. Pitching and defense go hand-in-hand. Mike Maddux has been preaching “Pitch to contact” all season, and if the Rangers are doing their job defensively, they can usually grab those batted balls for an out. Tommy was getting the Angels to hit a lot of ground balls, but they kept finding the holes in our defense.

However, “pitch to contact” only works if you can get the other team to hit weak grounders, and none of those hits last night were weak. The Angels made good contact. So it was probably a deadly combination of Tommy not having his stuff and the Rangers’ defense looking like it was stuck in molasses. It was definitely a comedy of errors last night.

The Rangers were charged with 3 errors last night, and all of them were fielding errors: one to Ian Kinsler, one to David Murphy, and one to Marlon Byrd.

Ian Kinsler
Ian Kinsler looked lackluster, both in the field and at the plate. His error happened early, in the 1st inning, when he missed catching a routine pop-up, but luckily he was able to recover and throw out the runner heading to 2nd base. He had 2 of the team’s 7 hits, but he just seemed distant.
 
Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd hustled, like he always does, and he had a couple of “almost-catches.” He leapt at the wall and almost robbed Kendry Morales of a 2-run homer in the 1st inning, but the ball missed his glove. It looked like he hurt himself slamming into that wall, but hopefully not too badly. Then, in the bottom of the 6th, he bobbled a ball hit by Vlad Guerrero, and he got an error for that one. But he was really trying the entire game, and he was obviously so frustrated with his performance. He was genuinely angry after striking out to end the top of the 6th inning. He was yelling at himself and shaking his head and calling himself “stupid,” along with some other choice words that I can’t repeat in this forum.
Julio Borbon
Julio Borbon chased a couple of balls around in the left field corner, making him look like an idiot. Which he obviously isn’t. The ball just kept rolling away from him. I don’t really know if Borbon’s supposedly “weak” defensive skills had anything to do with those plays, or if nobody would have been able to get to them. Wash has been hesitant to play Borbon in the field, opting to mostly DH him during his time in the Bigs, due to his lack of skill in the outfield. Borbon has reportedly been working with the Rangers’ coaches on his defense,and he will continue to work on that in the off-season.
The Angles scored 3 in the first inning, 1 in the second, 3 in the third, 1 in the fourth, and 3 in the sixth to get their 11 runs. And the Rangers didn’t score at all.
Michael Young
Michael Young had a very noble effort though. Rejoining the starting lineup for only the 2nd time since September 1, Michael surprised everyone by getting 2 hits in his 3 at-bats, including a double in his very first trip to the plate. Normally, when a player has to  miss time because of an injury, he gets the chance to make a couple of rehab starts in the minor leagues before re-entering the lineup in the Bigs. But since the minor league baseball season ends before the major league season, Michael didn’t have that chance. It took Josh Hamilton 7 at-bats before he got a hit after his most recent comeback. But Michael produced in his first opportunity! Yay Mikey!
Game Notes:
*Our boys had to watch the Angels celebrate as they clinched the AL West title, which had to be difficult. I know they were frustrated with their performance last night. But the Angels worked hard for it and they won it. That’s it.
*I’m hoping that the Rangers will relax and just play baseball now that they’re eliminated from the West. They are technically still in the Wild Card race, but the only way they can win that is for the BoSox to lose all of their remaining games and for us to win all of our remaining games.
Scott Feldman
Tonight’s pitching matchup: Scott Feldman (17-6) against “Ranger Killer” Scott Kazmir (9-9). Kazmir dominated against the Rangers while he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he seems to have gotten even better for the Angels. During his last start against Texas, on September 18, he shut us out. That was a game I went to, when Kazmir was matched up against Tommy Hunter, and our guys were at the tail end of their 5-game skid. And the Rangers just could not score. Scooter has had some trouble of late. In his last outing, he gave up 7 runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Athletics. BUT… he’s 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA in his starts against the Angels this year, and he’s the only pitcher in the Bigs to have 3 wins against the Angels this year.

Before Sunday’s game

What happened yesterday and it still makes me sick to my stomach. I had trouble sleeping last night because I kept going over and over it in my mind. And I was there to witness it. Ugh. During the last home game of the season. Fan Appreciation Day my @$$. As a fan, I did NOT appreciate that epic collapse.
Let me start from the beginning, because it’s much happier. And I’m not talking about the beginning of the game, because yesterday’s festivities started an hour and a half before the first pitch.
Elizabeth was supposed to go to the game with me, but some things came up and she wasn’t able to go. So I called all around and couldn’t find someone to go with me. I finally decided to call my friend Rachel, even though I knew she had season tickets, just to get some ideas of who else I could call. But as it turns out, Rachel didn’t have a full season ticket plan… she just had a mini-plan! I misunderstood! So Rachel was able to go, which made me very excited, because Rachel has been one of my best friends since we were 8 years old, and she loves baseball as much as I do! Yay!
It was Fan Appreciation Day at the Ballpark, which meant that from 12:30 until 12:50, the Rangers players were at the gates greeting fans and thanking them. And… JOSH HAMILTON WAS AT OUR GATE!!!

{sigh} Josh Hamilton
So was C.J. Wilson, although he ended up making me very mad in the 8th inning. I couldn’t get Josh Hamilton’s autograph, because he had like 3 guards around him shoo-ing people away, but I got the autographs of C.J. Wilson, Doug Mathis (pitcher), Pedro Strop (pitcher), and Jackie Moore (bench coach). I really wanted to see either Chris Davis or Pudge, because I’ve never met them before (and I have met C.J. and Josh), but hey, I’ll take what I can get! Mike Maddux (pitching coach) and Guillermo Moscoso (pitcher) were also there, but I already have their autographs.

C.J. Wilson
Then we walked around to another gate, and I saw some more players. I couldn’t get their autographs, unfortunately, but I got to see Neftali Feliz, Esteban German, David Murphy, and Omar Vizquel. And I got a great picture of Omar!

Neftali Feliz (center) and Esteban German (behind guard)

David Murphy (it’s dark, but that’s him, I swear!

Omar Vizquel

Saturday, before the game

I went to the game on Saturday, even though it had been raining all day and didn’t seem to be letting up. I mean, come on, I had tickets; I had to go. And I just found out the other day (by emailing Richard Durrett with the Dallas Morning News) that they open the gates 2 hours prior to game time, while the Rangers are still usually taking batting practice on the field. So I was really excited to get to the ballpark right when the gates opened and get some autographs.

I showed up right at 5:00 with my dozen or so baseballs, and the gates were open, so I immediately ran down to the Rangers’ dugout to see if I could catch any players. The infield was still covered, because of the rain, and I guessed (correctly) that they weren’t doing batting practice. I met up with 2 guys that were standing there waiting for a David Murphy autograph, and we decided to divide and conquer. I waited on the 1st base side of the Rangers’ dugout (and I could actually see into the dugout), and they waited on the home plate side. I told them that if I saw David Murphy, I would wave my arms at them and let them know he was in the dugout.
 
David Murphy
And sure enough, here comes David Murphy. I started waving my arms at them, but they weren’t looking. So I cupped my hands around my mouth (because my voice isn’t very loud) and yelled “Hey! Guys!” One of them saw me and elbowed the other in the ribs, and they got David to autograph a game-used bat that they had bought. So yay, they got their autograph! And I helped! I didn’t mind that I wasn’t over there with them to also get a David Murphy autograph, because I already have an autographed baseball by him.

I decided to stay by the other side so I could see into the dugout, and also because players were going out to right field to warm up for the game, and so they had to walk right past me. I called out to each of them by name, but most of them just ignored me. Some said they had to go for right now, but that they would be back later to sign autographs. Yeah right.
 
Mike Maddux
So after standing in the rain for an hour and a half, I got a just 2 autographs. One was the pitching coach, Mike Maddux, and I think he just gave me an autograph because he was impressed that I would still want it even though he isn’t a player anymore. Apparently his little brother, Greg Maddux, was a 4-time Cy Young award winner. So he probably has a little bit of an inferiority complex, and he was just happy that I wanted his autograph. I don’t know; anyway, he was really nice.
Guillermo Moscoso
I also got pitcher Guillermo Moscoso’s autograph. I’m sure you’re thinking “who??” He’s a pitcher, and he’s gone back and forth several times this year between the Rangers and AAA. I think he gave me his autograph because he was impressed that I actually knew his name. And plus there was a cute little kid standing next to me. He was precious; maybe 7 years old, with red hair and freckles. They love that.
 
I saw Derek Holland and Brandon McCarthy and Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz and Frank Francisco and Marlon Byrd and Warner Madrigal and Eddie Guardado, but they didn’t sign autographs. Punks! Matt Harrison signed some, but I wasn’t over where he was. And Kevin Richardson signed some (not near me), and of course David Murphy, who I already mentioned.
Chris Davis, a.k.a. my husband
Okay, are you sitting down? I almost got Chris Davis’ autograph!! He was signing for a group of people, and I was over there, like 4 feet away from him! But before he got to me he was like, “Okay, guys, I have to get ready for the game!” And he ran back to the dugout! And I’m standing there like ‘No, I love you, please!!’ Ugh. Just break my heart. But at least my husband was one of the nice guys who signed autographs for people.
 
I mean, come on, guys!! I stood in the rain for an hour and a half waiting for you. And you can’t get your butt out of the (relatively) dry comfort of the dugout to sign a dozen autographs? Who do you think you are??