Tagged: Nolan Ryan

Eh

Around this time last year, I was living and breathing baseball.

I was so starved for baseball news in the 2009-2010 offseason that when Spring Training finally started up in 2010, I was ecstatic.

I spent the majority of my free time obsessing over all of the tidbits of news I had heard and using it to come up with new predictions about the 2010 Rangers team.

And all that obsessing got me nowhere.

Just to refresh your memory, here is what was happening at this point a year ago:

-the Greenberg/Ryan group was predicted to be the team owners on Opening Day.
-I was looking forward to a dominant year from the top of our pitching rotation (Scott Feldman and Rich Harden).
-I thought that Salty would finally be healthy, and that he would be the starting catcher for the Rangers all season.
-The Rangers were still reeling from the loss of Khalil Greene and had no idea who their utility infielder would be.
-I was still in doubt about CJ’s ability to be a decent starting pitcher.

And of course, all of those assumptions turned out to be false. So it didn’t really do me any good to spend so much time trying to predict.

This past off-season (2010-2011) was much shorter, since the Rangers continued playing all the way through the playoffs and into the World Series.

By that time, I was emotionally exhausted from venturing into uncharted territory. So I was okay with the lull in baseball news.

Then the off-season began to fill up with all kinds of drama, from Cliff Lee to potential DH’s to Adrian Beltre’s signing and a possible Michael Young trade.

Everybody seemed anxious about a disgruntled Michael Young rejoining the Rangers clubhouse, but I think the media whipped up an unnecessary frenzy in order to try to squeeze more stories out.

“Oh, no!!! Michael Young asked to be traded, but he wasn’t traded, so how is everyone going to react?? Will all the other players treat him like a traitor? Will Michael act surly because he doesn’t want to be there? This team should be celebrating the American League Championship, but this will put everybody in a sad mood! Uh oh!!”

Umm, no. That’s not how it works. I thought things might be awkward, but I never doubted that Michael would conduct himself as a professional and act with dignity.

Just as I predicted, Michael decided not to pout like a little kid. There are some ballplayers that would, but not Michael. He’s decided to try to make the best of the situation.

As far as the rest of the Spring Training spectacle, I’ve decided to wait a while before delving into all of the drama.

I mean, sure, I could spend my time trying to predict whether or not Julio Borbon will have a breakout season, or how much time Michael Young will put in at each infield position, but it won’t change the outcome.

Wow, I’m sorry if this blog is taking on a bitter/negative vibe. That’s not what I meant to do at all. I love baseball, and I love my Rangers. I am excited about my 2011 20-game mini plan, and I can’t wait to see all that the new ownership has in store for Rangers fans in the 2011 season.

And I promise that by Opening Day, I will be up to speed on every single player on the Rangers 40-man roster. I’ve just decided that it would be superfluous for me to dissect the Rangers at this juncture, especially since we’re only 2 weeks into Spring Training.

But just because I’m not breaking down all of the player performances, that doesn’t that we should all be in the dark! Evan Grant put out an updated roster prediction today, and I’m perfectly happy with his predictions.

Especially since he sees Michael Kirkman in the 5th starter role!

http://rangersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/03/rangers-roster-report-v30.html

Until we meet again!!

Days ’til Opening Day: 31

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

Fan Fest

Since Fan Fest was going to be different this year, I was pretty apprehensive. But the overall verdict is….. I LIKED IT!! Make sure to keep that in mind while I’m complaining about the autograph process in future paragraphs, okay?
I had planned to get up early on Saturday morning to wait in line for autographs, but I couldn’t sleep on Friday night. So when my alarm went off on Saturday, I decided to call an audible and reset my alarm for 10:00 instead.
I headed out to Arlington later than expected, but I was feeling great because of the extra rest.
When I arrived, it took me a good 15 minutes to find a parking space, and I only found that one because of dumb luck. Then when I tried to enter the Convention Center, I was told that I was entering through the exit and that I had to walk around the building. Lovely!

This did not put me in a great mood. But I eventually got around the building and found Will Call to pick up my ticket. As soon as I entered, I asked where I needed to go for autographs.
After walking around aimlessly for a while trying to find where the lady was talking about, I finally figured out the general area where I was supposed to be.
Let me first explain how the autographs were set up at Fan Fest. There were 4 autograph stages (A, B, C, and D) where players would be signing autographs at their specified times. They had players signing 2 at a time, so for example Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis were each signing at stages B and C, respectively, from 12:00-1:00.

So if you wanted to get both Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis, you were screwed. You had to have a special colored wristband to get an autograph, and 200 wristbands were given out for each player. Each person could only have one wristband at a time, and you were required to be already waiting in line for your player when the autograph time started.
After you got your autograph, there was a person standing there to cut off your wristband. Then you could head back over to the wristband area to try to get a wristband for another player’s autograph.

This should have worked out pretty well, because the Rangers had publicised that they wouldn’t start handing out wristbands for a specific player until 2 hours before his autograph session. But I heard that the fire marshal said that all the people lined up waiting to get their wristbands were blocking the exits, so they had to start handing out all the wristbands.
They also had only 4 lines (for stages A, B, C, and D), so you had to know what stage your player was going to be at. But if someone was waiting for either Michael Kirkman (signing on stage C at 2:00) or David Murphy (signing on stage C at 4:00), they were in the same line. It was madness!
After asking around for awhile, I realized that since Kirkman was signing before Murphy, I could go to the front of the line to get a Kirkman wristband.

I got there at a little before noon, and I ended up getting a Kirkman wristband for the 2:00 signing. I also wanted to get Darren O’Day (3:00) and Engel Beltre (4:00), but I couldn’t get those wristbands until after my Kirkman session was over.
Jamey Newberg 
So then I had 2 hours to kill before the autograph session, but I had to make sure I was in the line for Kirkman before 2:00. I decided to visit Jamey Newberg’s booth to see what he was up to.
Jamey and I talked for a little while, and unfortunately I allowed my displeasure about the autograph situation to overflow a little.
I said something like “I don’t know if I like this new Fan Fest. It’s kind of ridiculous!”
He cocked his head to the side, narrowed his eyes, and grinned at me. “But it’s also kinda awesome, right?” That helped me to realize that I was the one being ridiculous, and I needed to chill and try to have a good time. Thanks, Jamey!
Fergie Jenkins
Jamey had a prime spot, right between C.J. Wilson’s Children’s Charities and the Hall Of Fame Booth with Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry. So Jamey just got to soak in the greatness all day!
CJ Wilson 
The gracious C. J. stopped by his booth just before I got there, and he spent quite a while signing autographs for various kids. I was going to get in line, but then some official-looking guy said that C.J. had to leave soon, and the line was already too long.
I already have a C.J. Wilson autographed ball, but the 1st pen he tried to sign with ran out of ink, and the end result doesn’t look anything at all like C.J.’s signature. Oh well.
Gaylord Perry
Fergie and Gaylord Perry were also signing autographs, but you had to donate $20 to the Texas Rangers Foundation for each autograph. I would have done it if it had been the beginning of the month, but it was the 22nd, and I don’t get paid again until the 1st. Dangit!
On the other side of Fan Fest, there was a big stage that had been set up for Q&A Sessions all day long, and I realized that this was a good place to be. Not only because I learned some great stuff, but also because I got to sit down!
There were several different sessions scheduled, including ones with Nolan Ryan, members of the coaching staff, Rangers’ wives, Chuck Greenberg, former Rangers, and Nelson Cruz.

I listened to some or all of several of these Q&A’s, and I really enjoyed them. It made me feel special as a fan to get the opportunity to ask questions, and I learned a lot by listening to the questions that other fans asked.

There was also a little corner by the stage where the Rangers’ Foundation was selling various Rangers memorabilia. They were selling a bunch of things I already have at a reduced rate, like a 2010 Rangers’ Media Guide that I paid $10 for at the beginning of the season was going for $1.

They also had a Rangers’ cookbook that I already own, as well as some old Hank Blalock bobbleheads from a few years ago.
But the things I purchased were some baseball-themed potholders ($1 each) and an autographed Jarrod Saltalamacchia baseball. Score!

I had wanted to get Salty’s autograph for the past couple of years, but when we traded him to Boston and I thought that my chance had passed. But they had at least a dozen baseballs with his John Hancock, as well as countless other autographed baseballs that were completely illegible, and each was only $15.

If they had taken the time to decipher some of those autographs, they probably could have sold a bunch more!
Right next to the old Rangers’ memorabilia was the “photo booth” where different current and former Rangers’ players would take some time to take pictures with the fans. There was no publicised schedule for the photo stage, so you just had to get in line and hope for the best.
I got in line for Mark McLemore, but his picture with the guy in front of me was his last one. Aww, man! I was upset, because I had no idea who the next guy would be or if I would want my picture taken with him.
Matt Treanor
But then Matt Treanor walked up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked up to have my picture taken with him, I explained that I had been waiting for Mac, but that I was glad to get to have a picture with him instead.
He was so sweet; he said, “Do you want me to get him back up here?” and he made a move to call Mac back to the stage. I laughed. “Oh, no!” I said. “I’m glad it’s you!”

Mark McLemore
After my picture with Matt Treanor, I realized that Mark McLemore was still off to the side talking to some people. When it was my turn, I explained that I had been the next person in line. “Well, I can’t leave you hanging,” he said. “You were the next person!”

The area between the big Q&A stage and the photo booth was also a great spot to catch various Rangers’-affiliated people for pictures.

Jim Sundberg
Jim Sundberg was walking through the crows unnoticed, and as he passed by me, I asked, “Sunny, would you mind taking a picture with me?”
“Sure!” he said. Then I felt kinda bad because a lot of other people realized who he was and they wanted pictures too. Oops!

Richard “Hoggy” Price

I also spotted Richard “Hoggy” Price, and I’ll bet that some of you hardcore Rangers’ fans don’t even know who he is. He’s the Rangers’ clubhouse manager, and I explained that I had seen him on Rangers Insider.
“Yeah,” he said with a wink and a smile, “I try to avoid the camera as much as possible, but sometimes they get me.” I told him I appreciated all the stuff he does behind the scenes that most people never know about, and he was very nice. He even gave me his business and said to call him if I ever needed help getting an autograph or something!
Michael Kirkman´╗┐ 
Then I realized that I needed to get in line for my Michael Kirkman autograph, so I headed over to the other main room. I got there around 1:45, but I ended up talking to the girl in front of me, and the line seemed to move quickly after that.
After Kirkman signed my ball and handed it back to me, I said “Thanks! This will be worth something someday!” He smiled, and I said “You’re gonna be great. I have a good feeling about you.”

After I got my autograph, it was about 2:30, and they had already given out all of the wristbands to the day’s remaining autograph sessions. Sad!

Chuck Greenberg
I decided to head back to the other room to see what else was going on, and I ran into Chuck Greenberg again, for what was probably the 4th time that day. I finally thought to get a picture with him. I’ve known him for a year, but we’ve never taken a picture together!
I was just wandering around when I saw a booth for the Texas Rangers Women’s Club. My friend Rachel had mentioned that we should check them out, so I went over to get some information.
The lady I talked to said they have women of all ages, and that they volunteer at various games at the Ballpark. As a member, I can work as many or as few games as I want, and unless the game is sold out, I can stay and watch the game for free!
They’re also the ones who hand out the promotional items, and my favorite thing was that she said we get each of the promotional items for the games we work, even the ones for kids 13 and under!
They also help with charitble events, have special TRWC events and get to have group outings at Rangers’ games. I almost feel guilty, as if I’m stealing something! It seems too good to be true.
She said the yearly dues are $22, but for your first year you have to pay a one-time-only badge fee of $7. I think I can handle $29!! Although I spent way too much money at Fan Fest, so the lady said I could take a form and just mail it in with a check after I get paid next. Yessss!!
Emily Jones and Nelson Cruz 
Next it was time for Nelly Cruz’s Q&A session, so I headed over to take a seat. This isn’t a very good picture, but it’s Emily Jones and Nelly onstage.
Someone asked Nelly why he wasn’t playing Winter Ball, and he responded “That wasn’t my decision; it was the Rangers’. I just want to play ball all the time. It’s harder to stay in shape when I’m not playing.”
So that was interesting. I guess the Rangers don’t want him to get injured playing Winter Ball and have it affect his Major League season, which makes sense.
Chuck Morgan
After Nelly’s session was over, I made one last loop around to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While I was making my rounds, I spotted Chuck Morgan, and he was gracious enough to take a picture with me too!
The whole autograph thing was total chaos, and I sincerely hope it is fixed for next year’s Fan Fest. Chuck Greenberg mentioned that they might need to get a bigger venue, and I agree. But the next venue needs to have a whole separate area dedicated only to autographs, with plenty of room for people to wait in line.

And the Rangers should actually wait until 2 hours prior to the autograph session to hand out wristbands, so that people can have a chance to get more than one autograph all day!
They should also have a lot more lines, with each one dedicated to each player. The 4-stage setup worked out pretty well, but waiting in line for your player’s stage alongside other people who were waiting for another player at the same stage was bad. It just created a lot of confusion, both for the fans and for the poor people working the event who didn’t know what was going on either.
Okay, enough with the griping. I had planned to attend Sunday’s Fan Fest as well, (since I had purchased a 2-day pass), but I was so exhausted after Saturday that I ended up deciding that I needed to use Sunday to rest and get ready for the work week. Just another example that I’m getting old. {Sigh}
With the Rangers making it to the World Series in 2010, it was necessary to change Fan Fest to accomodate all of the extra people attending. The Arlington Convention Center was nice because it’s right next to the Ballpark, and because it was indoors. It just still wasn’t big enough.
All of the booths and events that were at this year’s Fan Fest may have been present before, but if they were, they were hidden in various nooks and crannies around the Ballpark. I really liked how most things were easy to find (besides the correct autograph line), and I had fun.
This year’s Fan Fest was geared more towards children, with indoor batting cages, speed pitch, a game where you try to steal home, pitching and hitting instructional clinics by Rangers’ coaches, and a Home Run Derby.
But I thought it offered plenty for the grown-up Rangers fan too. I enjoyed the Photo Booth and the Q&A sessions, and at least I got one autograph! Dang this entry was long!
Pitchers and catchers report in: 23 days

2011 shaping up

I hope that all of you had a fantastic holiday season! I got some great baseball stuff for Christmas!

My Aunt Paula got me a dozen clear plastic baseball cubes so that I can display some more of my autographed baseballs, and my dad got me 2 more, so I was super excited about that. I still need at least another dozen, but it’s a great start! And I’m planning to keep getting autographs, so I hope my family keeps ’em coming!

But the best thing was that my dad got me one of the Michael Young bats that was designed when he became the franchise hits leader this season! They only made 2010 bats, and mine came with a certificate stating that it was number 109!!

My dad said he got it several months ago, so it has just been sitting at his house waiting for Christmas!

My mom and step-dad also got me a framed picture that says “Texas Rangers,” but each letter of “Rangers” has a different picture. The first one is the famous Nolan Ryan picture with the bloody jersey after Robin Ventura charged the mound, and all of the other pictures are from the 2010 season, including Josh Hamilton, Vladdy, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Neftali Feliz, etc.

I think those were all of my baseball-related Christmas gifts, but a few days ago I purchased my 2011 20-game Mini Plan! Woo-hoo!!!

I know I haven’t blogged since Cliff Lee decided to go to the Phillies, so some of you may think that it caused me to go into a massive depression and I couldn’t bear to write about baseball.

The truth is that I just got busy. It’s easy to put baseball on the back burner when it’s not baseball season. And the longer I wait, the more stuff happens and I get farther and farther behind. So bear with me, okay?

Alright, in the last month (after Cliff Lee left), Zack Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Uh oh. That means all the good pitchers are gone, right?

Wrong. (Hopefully)

After the Greinke trade but before the Garza trade, the Rangers signed Brandon Webb. When I first heard the name, I knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why.

As it turns out, Webb won the Cy Young while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. But he hasn’t played in a Major League game in the past 2 years because he’s been recovering/rehabbing from a shoulder injury/surgery.

I have a good feeling about Brandon Webb, and his surgery was performed by Rangers’ team doctor Dr. Keith Meister, so THAT’S gotta be good. But Brandon Webb could be to 2011 what Rich Harden was to 2010. Who knows, right?

The Rangers also signed lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, and I knew his name was familiar as well. He is 41 years old! But he made it to the All-Star team for the first time last year as the representative from the Cincinnati Reds.

He has been in the Major Leagues since 1991, and his age doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting him. He missed all of the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery, but in the last 3 years since the surgery he’s had a 2.32 ERA and an opponent’s batting average of .204. Not too shabby!

He’s also a native Texan, which is always nice.

But the Rangers’ biggest aquisition this off-season is at what was previously considered a very stable position: 3rd base.

Michael Young is the face of the Texas Rangers, having spent all of his time in the majors on this team and even holding the franchise record for hits. He is signed through 2013. But since his move to 3rd base 2 years ago, his defensive ability seems to have taken a hit.

It had been suggested by numerous blogs (maybe even mine, but I don’t remember) that Young might be better used as a DH. And that is exactly what MY offered to do when Adrian Beltre became available as an option for the Texas Rangers.

Beltre accepted a 6-year $96 million dollar deal from the Texas Rangers, and he will be our 3rd baseman of the future. I’ve always liked Adrian Beltre, but since he’s 31 years old, I’m not too comfortable with giving him such a long contract.

But Beltre has won 2 Gold Gloves at 3rd base and is obviously defensively superior to Michael Young. No offense, Mikey, but the Rangers now have the strongest left side in all of baseball with Beltre at 3rd and Elvis Andrus at shortstop.

The only thing that makes me sad about adding Beltre? No more Vladdy. Michael Young has become the DH of the near future, so there’s no longer an open spot for Vladdy.

I know his performance took a sharp downward turn midway through last season, but I just love Vladdy. His personality seemed to fit perfectly in the Rangers’ clubhouse, and his quick smile is so contagious. I’ll miss you, Big Bad Vlad.

Now the Rangers are rumored to be courting Jim Thome to take turns at DH with Michael Young. Since MY can play all 4 infield positions, I’m sure the Rangers can work out a schedule where Young spends half his time at DH and the other half giving the other guys in the infield a break.

Jim Thome seems to make more sense for the Rangers at DH than Vlad for 2011, especially in light of this article by BBTiA a few weeks ago. It predicts that Thome will probably expect 350-400 plate appearances in 2011, whereas Vlad would probably expect somewhere around 600 or so.

Thome is also generally regarded as a good clubhouse guy, so that’s promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

The Rangers’ Winter Caravan has kicked off, and I’m planning to attend 2 of the appearances to gather some more autographs to my collection.

Then on January 22-23, the Rangers will be hosting their first 2-day Fan Fest, and I can’t wait to see what that entails! Some good stuff coming up!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 34 days

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

Finally!!

It’s been a week since I last blogged, and there was a HUGE development that I neglected to address. Late Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning) the Rangers were sold to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan.

HALLELUJAH!!!

This has been a very long time coming, and I’m elated that Rangers Baseball Express (a.k.a. the Greenberg/Ryan group) decided to stick it out. They had to pay more than their primary bid ($575 million back in January), but it’s finally over.

$70 million of that initial $575 mil bid was alloted for the parking lots around the stadium. So, in essence, RBE was going to spend $505 mil for the team (and acquired debts) and $70 mil for the parking lots.

But in order to free up more money for the actual team, RBE scratched the deal for the parking lots. The final amount decided Thursday was $593 million, not including the parking lots. This bid includes $385 million in cash and the assumption of $208 million in debt owed by the club.

As far as I can tell, there are 3 options as far as the parking lots go: 1) RBE acquires the lots in a separate transaction, 2) Hicks Sports Group (a.k.a. Tom Hicks) refuses to sell them (which would create tension), or 3) RBE and HSG split up the profits somehow.

I’m just glad it’s over. This has been 15 months in the making. Now the Rangers can just focus on winning!

Okay, back to the Rangers’ actual baseball performance. They just finished a 9-game road trip against all 3 of our AL West opponents, and they didn’t fare too well. But they’re still leading the West by 7 1/2 games!

They played the first series of the road trip in Anaheim, winning just 1 out of 3. No bueno. Then they headed to Seattle and won 2 out of 3. Of course, cause the Mariners suck! Next they went on to Oakland and they only won 1 out of 3. Come on, guys!

That means they went 4-5 on the road trip, which isn’t great. They were off last night, but tonight starts a 2-game series in Arlington against the Yankees.

Out of all the teams that are coming to Texas this year, the Yankees are the only ones I’m not seeing. And that’s not because I couldn’t get tickets; it’s because I didn’t want tickets!

It’s so sickening to go to RBiA when the Rangers are playing the Yanks, because at least half of the crowd is dressed in Yankees garb. Disgusting.

Anyway, the Yankees are coming, and they’re going to be a tough team for the Rangers to beat. The last time we played them was in April, and that series was in New York.

And the Rangers got swept. Lovely.

At least this time they’ll be in our house instead of the other way around. Then, after another off-day, the Red Sox are coming to Arlington. Now that’s a game that I am going to!

The BoSox are my 2nd favorite team, but I won’t be cheering for them at the game I go to on Saturday. I want my Rangers to win. But I love Big Papi and Terry Francona and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.

C.J. Wilson will be starting tonight (10-5, 3.30 ERA) against A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA). The numbers seem to speak for themselves in this matchup, but we must remember that C.J. hasn’t been doing so hot lately. He only went 3 innings in his last start, and that’s not typical C.J.

Tomorrow it’s Cliff Lee (10-4, 2.44 ERA) against Javier Vazquez (9-8, 4.63 ERA). Yeah, I know how it looks too. It looks like the Yanks don’t have a chance. But Cliff is only 2-2 in 6 games as a Ranger. Hopefully he’ll pick it back up, but the Yankees are a hard team to face.

Before I sign off, though, I should address Rich Harden. When we last left off, I was very impressed by his first start after getting off the DL. But unfortunately, he pulled another “Rich Harden” in his last start.

He only went 2 1/3 innings, walking 5 and allowing 3 earned runs. I don’t know what we’re going to do with him.

They will probably skip his next start, because there was some leeway in the schedule with a day off before and after the 2-game Yankee series. Or they could bring up Derek Holland from AAA.

I think Rich should get one more chance to prove himself, but if he tanks next time, I think he should be gone. Either he should go on the 60-day DL, go to AAA, or be outright released. We don’t need to keep screwing around with this.

And I think the higher-ups realize that they can’t let him flounder indefinitely. This is a legitimately contending team. Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 64-47
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 4

Off-day ramblings

Yesterday was an off-day, so there was no Rangers’ game for me to dissect today. Instead, I want to address a couple of things that I’ve meant to talk about but haven’t gotten around to.

First and foremost is the Rangers’ ownership situation. Today is August 3, and an auction for the team is set to take place tomorrow (August 4). It is very rare for a major league ball club to be auctioned off, so this kind of puts us in uncharted waters.

I have been planted firmly in the Greenberg/Ryan camp from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed. I still really want them to get the team, but apparently, it doesn’t seem likely that they will get the team.

All of this ownership stuff has been very confusing, what with the bankruptcy situation and all of the angry creditors and such. So I’m not even pretending to know what’s going on or what might happen.

But other people (who may or may not know more than I do) don’t seem to think that the Greenberg/Ryan group will be victorious tomorrow.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is said to be deeply rooted in the mix of other potential bidders. The notion of Cuban getting the Rangers absolutely infuriates me.

Yes, he has plenty of money. He’s been very smart with his money. After the Tom Hicks Debacle and dealing with a team that has been flat broke for the past several years, this appears to be quite an attractive possibility.

But ultimately, you have to realize that Mark Cuban is a tool. And we don’t need another George Seinbrenner in Texas.

I’m not trying to imply that George Steinbrenner was a tool. But he did get really involved with the Yankees in areas that ownership doesn’t usually go. He was known to be hotheaded, hiring and firing people at the drop of a hat.

George Steinbrenner set up the Yankees so that they have the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball by $44 million dollars. A-Rod is being paid $33 million this year, which is almost the entire budget of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2010 (the Pirates are at $34.9 mil).

I’m not saying that there should be a salary cap in baseball. But I am saying that if you have a bottomless pit of money, then players are just going to start asking for more and more money just because they can. And it drives up prices all over baseball.

This is the whole premise behind why I hate the Yankees. I realize that the Yankees have a rich history, especially going back to the days of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and Yogi Berra and Lou Gehrig.

But now they’re just the team that has the most money, and the elite players go there because they’ll get paid the most there.

The Yankees have the top 4 players with the highest salary in all of baseball (A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira), and just their 4 salaries alone is over $100 million. That’s just ridiculous.

Cuban, like Steinbrenner, has more money than God. And Cuban is way too emotionally invested in every aspect of the game. But then again, Steinbrenner actually liked baseball. Cuban doesn’t. I’m just going off of what Cuban has done with the Mavericks.

Yes, it’s true that since Cuban has done great things with the Mavericks. Since he bought them 10 years ago, they have been to the playoffs every single year. He has paid obscene amounts of money to get great basketball players to come to Texas.

But he also sits courtside at every game (home and away), screaming obscenities at the officials and at the other team’s players. He has had to pay at least $1.665 million in fines because of 13 separate incidents, including as recently as May 22 when he spoke out against LeBron James. The Rangers don’t need that kind of publicity.

Okay, I’m going to stop ranting now. I hope that what I’ve just said makes sense. When I get this heated over a subject, sometimes I make connections in my head that don’t exactly translate to the written word.

In other news, the Rangers are 8 games up on both the Angels and the A’s, because Oakland won yesterday and LA had an off-day (just like the Rangers did).

I kind of feel bad for poor Seattle, because they’re 22.5 games back in the AL West. I was predicting them to be more of a threat this year than the Angels and the A’s.

Speaking of Seattle, Justin Smoak has recently been demoted to AAA Tacoma, where he can hang out with fellow trade-bait Blake Beavan. Beavan was recently promoted from Seattle’s AA affiliate to AAA Tacoma.

Michael Schlact posted a great blog today about the impact of all of these trades on the Rangers’ minor league system. It’s a great insider’s perspective. You can read it here.

It’s probably about time I started talking about Rich Harden. I was not at all impressed with how he started off the season for the Rangers, and I was about ready to give up on him when he surprised everyone with a breakout performance in Oakland on Monday, May 3.

I was willing to give him a bit of leeway after that stellar game, but by the end of May, I had given up hope again. I was praying that the Rangers would get wise and send him back to AAA until he learned his lesson.

And in the middle of June, Rich went on the DL with a “left glut strain.” I’m sure Rich was a little sore, but he may not have been injured enough to actually go on the DL under normal circumstances.

I think the Rangers said, “Okay, here’s the deal, Rich. You’re not producing. So you can either:
  1)go straight to AAA (do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200) or
  2)go on the DL, get some rest, get your act together, and try again.”

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Rich was legitimately injured. Either way, he made his post-DL debut on this past Saturday in Anaheim, and he was the same guy from May 3 against Oakland!

He allowed just one run over 7 innings of work, and he only threw 88 pitches (62 for strikes). He ended up getting the W, and I would venture to say that it is only the 2nd win that Harden has actually earned this year.

Scott Feldman has generally been producing like Rich Harden had been this year, meaning that he just hasn’t had commanding stuff, wasn’t going deep enough in games, and has been generally ineffective. But with Harden and Derek Holland both on the DL, there wasn’t really anyone who could take his place.

Something had to be done about Feldman, though, if the Rangers were going to continue their post-season bid. I figured that Harden would make a couple of starts until Derek Holland came off the DL to permanently take Harden’s/Feldman’s spot in the rotation.

But instead, Rich blew everyone away with his performance. Now let’s just hope it stays that way. But I suppose if Harden tanks again, we can still replace him with Holland.

Tonight kicks off a 3-game series in Seattle, followed by a 3-game series in Oakland this weekend. Then the Rangers come back home, but they have to face the Yankees and the Red Sox. Yikes.

Tonight it’s Colby Lewis (9-7, 3.40 ERA) against Seattle’s Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.20 ERA). According to the numbers, they seem about equal. So I guess we’ll have to see!

I’m actually grateful that the game doesn’t start until 9:10 Central tonight, because after I leave work today I have to ride the DART bus/train for an hour to Garland so that I can pick up my car from the shop. Hey, at least the A/C is finally fixed! Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 61-44
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 11