Tagged: Omar Vizquel

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

We got big bad Vlad!!

Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero has signed a one-year $5 million dollar contract for the 2010 season with the Texas Rangers, with incentives and a $1 mil buyout. Yay!! I didn’t think we’d actually be able to land Vlad! I’ve been focusing on Jermaine Dye, because he seemed more realistic, and he’d have been able to play some defense too. Vlad is a phenomenal hitter, but unfortunately he has some truly abysmal defense. That’s okay; he can DH for us.

Vlad has been known as “the Ranger Killer” because of his outstanding career slash line of .394/.471/.705 when hitting in Rangers Ballpark. So it’s great to have him on our team, if for no other reason than we won’t have to play against him! And I think he’ll inspire the entire lineup to be better. I mean, when you have a bat like Vlad’s, everyone looks bad in comparison, so they’ll all have to step it up a notch.

David Murphy
But it makes me feel bad for David Murphy, because he’ll be relegated to back-up duties. Hopefully he’ll still get to play in a good number of games while spelling Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon, and Nelson Cruz in the outfield. And maybe he can DH for Vlad once in a blue moon.
 
Khalil Greene
The Rangers also signed Khalil Greene over the weekend to a one-year deal for $750,000. Who?? Well, maybe you know who he is, but I had no idea. So this is what I found out: He has played primarily in the national league (5 years for the San Diego Padres) until last year when he went to the St. Louis Cardinals. He made $6.5 mil in 2009. But he spent over 2 months as a Cardinal on the DL while suffering from social anxiety disorder. So he has the potential to be a great backup utility infielder for us, if he’s healthy.
 
This is what the Rangers’ lineup for 2010 will probably look like:
CF Julio Borbon (L)
3B Michael Young (R)
LF Josh Hamilton (L)
DH Vlad Guerrero (R)
RF Nelson Cruz (R)
2B Ian Kinsler (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)
SS Elvis Andrus (R)

Or maybe Ian will bat 2nd and Young-Hamilton-Guerrero-Cruz will all get pushed back. Or maybe Kinsler and Cruz switch. Or maybe Salty and CD switch. For sure, Borbon will lead off, and Young-Hamilton-Guerrero will bat together, and Elvis will bat 9th.

 
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
The only thing that the Rangers might still need to add is a veteran catcher. But Salty saw Dr. Greg Pearl last week (the one who did his surgery for Thorasic Outlet Syndrome), and he was cleared to start throwing again. So he may be fine. And we have Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez as backups in case he isn’t fine. I feel pretty good about this.
 

I mean, obviously, I would rather have Marlon Byrd instead of Vlad Guerrero and Pudge instead of Taylor Teagarden and Omar Vizquel instead of Khalil Greene. But then again, that’s what we had last year, and it didn’t necessarily work out. So we’ll see. I still think 2010 is the year.

Finally… some news!

Wow, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to blog again after such a long break. Okay, so it’s only been 3 weeks, but when I spent 4 1/2 months blogging nearly every day (and sometimes multiple times in a day), it’s hard to jump back on the horse. I’m rusty. But that doesn’t matter, because I finally have some news to pass on!

The Rangers have claimed Joe Inglett off waivers. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I’ll explain: The Toronto Blue Jays decided to take Inglett off their 40-man roster to make room for other players, and the Rangers were able to snatch him up. Inglett will be used as a utility infielder for the 2010 season, a position that was recently vacated by Omar Vizquel.

Omar decided to sign on with the White Sox for next year, so the Rangers have been looking to acquire someone to fill that backup role. (FYI, Andruw Jones also signed with the White Sox for next year. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, Andruw!) The best news in this acquisition is that Inglett isn’t eligible for arbitration yet, and we’ll be getting him for about half a mil. That’s a steal. Now, I don’t know anything about Inglett, so I’m trying to reserve my excitement. Apparently he’s played mostly 2nd base since his major league debut it 2006, and he only played a meager 36 games with Toronto last year. BUT… he can play shortstop, which is important for the Rangers.

There have been some new developments with the ownership situation as well, but it’s all very confusing. Previously, we learned that the frontrunners were Jim Crane, Chuck Greenberg, and Dennis Gilbert. Then, last week or so, it came out that Tom Hicks was trying to get together a group of local investors to retain control of the Rangers. Well, Jim Crane has kind of faded out, and Commissioner Bud Selig shut down Tom Hicks because he was wanting to mortgage away the Rangers’ future for more money today, so it’s neck and neck between Gilbert and Greenberg.

Tom Hicks then apparently threw in with Dennis Gilbert, and Nolan Ryan was preparing to resign as team president if Gilbert bought the Rangers. Gilbert is reportedly Jerry Jones-esque in his need to be involved in every aspect of the team, and Nolan didn’t want to have to deal with it. But now there’s a feud between Gilbert and Hicks, so Nolan’s not resigning. Or something. I told you it was confusing.

Other random tidbits:

-Josh Rupe and Jason Grilli signed minor league contracts with other teams.

-The Rangers offered arbitration to both Marlon Byrd and Pudge, but neither are expected to accept. The deadline is Monday for that, but even if they refuse arbitration, they can still hammer out a deal with the Rangers later.

-Salty tried to play Winter Ball somewhere in South America, but he had to come out in the middle of his second game because of shoulder problems. They’re going to shut him down for a month and then see how things are progressing.

-The Jermaine Dye to Texas rumor still abounds, but the Milton Bradley to Texas rumor has been effectively squashed.

-A lot of teams are interested in Kevin Millwood, but Texas doesn’t want to trade him unless the “right deal comes along.” I know Millwood has problems, but he’s our only veteran starting pitcher, so I’m hesitant to send him packing.

-Everybody’s interested in Nelson Cruz (big surprise there), but the Rangers are reluctant to lose him. And I personally think that if they trade him, someone should be shot. Come on, he’s got great potential, he’s a team player, and he’s cheap! Seriously, folks!

-There are several pitchers in the Yankees’ organization that will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft soon. But the Rangers already have way too many starting pitchers, so unless he’s a lefty that can work in a short relief role, we can’t use any more.

World Series disappointment, hockey excitement, and Rangers News

Blech. The Yankees won Game 6 of the World Series last night, thus sealing themselves as the 2009 champs. Excuse me, I have to go throw up now.

<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~HEAVE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

Okay, I’m back. The good news is that I didn’t have to watch the Phillies lose last night, because I went to the Dallas Stars’ game last night! The Stars ended up losing, but that kind of ended up being a footnote of the evening. I had a great time! After Lindy and I had been there for about 3 minutes, I turned to her and said “Okay, we have to come back to another one of these!” Which was exciting for her, because she has a hard time finding people to go to games with her in the middle of the week. So yay!
—————————————————————————
The Rangers have officially hired Clint Hurdle as their new hitting coach. He is a former baseball player, and he has spent many years as a hitting coach and as a manager for the Colorado Rockies. I’m sure Jon Daniels knows what he’s doing, so I’ll just hope it was the best choice. The only thing that bothers me is that Clint Hurdle was fired as the Rockies manager in May of this year (mid-season), and I don’t know why he was fired. I may have to do some more research to find out. But he led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, and even though they lost the Series to the BoSox, getting there is good enough for me.
—————————————————————————–
In other news, the Free Agency market opens today. Each individual team has 2 weeks to negotiate exclusively with their players before open negotiations begin. The Rangers have 7 players who will be free agents: Joaquin Beniot, Eddie Guardado, Omar Vizquel, Hank Blalock, Andruw Jones, Pudge Rodriguez, and Marlon Byrd.
Hank Blalock
The Rangers have already said that they will not re-sign Blalock and Jones, and Eddie Guardado is considering retirement. Joaquin Beniot is a question mark, because he spent all of the 2009 season on the DL with a shoulder injury.

The Rangers have expressed interest in re-signing Pudge, and he has also shown interest in staying to retire with the Rangers, but a lot of it will supposedly hinge on Salty’s recovery. I have also heard that Pudge might not want to be with the Rangers now that they no longer have Rudy Jaramillo, because apparently he was looking forward to working with Rudy during the off-season.

Omar Vizquel
Talks have reportedly been going really well between the Rangers and Vizquel, and Jon Daniels said that he might be the only free agent that the Rangers sign before the end of the exclusive 2-week period, which ends November 19.
Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd is obviously the biggest free agent in contention, but he apparently wants to explore offers from other teams, so he isn’t expected to re-sign within the 2-week window.
If the Rangers can’t re-sign Marlon Byrd, they’re going to look at Jermaine Dye (among others on the free agent market) for a right-handed power bat. I’ve also heard word that the Rangers might be interested in Milton Bradley again, although the Cubs would have to take a huge chunk of his salary in order to make that possible.
Other right-handed bats on the free agent market that the Rangers are rumored to be looking at are Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Troy Glaus and Fernando Tatis. Although I don’t think we could afford Vlad. And I don’t know enough about the other guys to comment on them.
CJ Wilson
The Rangers are also talking about moving Neftali Feliz and/or C.J. Wilson into the starting rotation, which would mean they would need more middle relievers. They will almost certainly at least one more lefty reliever, to replace Eddie Guardado and/or C.J. Wilson (if he moves to the rotation).
They could be looking at Ben Sheets as a starter again, considering that he already had a contract drawn up with the Rangers in 2009 before it was voided due to medical issues. 
 
Sigh. There’s a lot of ifs and maybes and rumors circulating.
 
Originally published November 5, 2009

Questions

I have billions of questions buzzing around in my baseball-obsessed mind, all of which will be resolved at some point during the off-season, but I feel the need to get them out. Then I can cross them off when they’ve been resolved and explain the answers. So here we go!
———————————————————————–
Ownership: Who will be the new owner of the Rangers? Will Nolan Ryan still be the team president? Will Nolan Ryan be a minority owner? Will Tom Hick stay on as a minority owner? Will new ownership affect (i.e. increase) our budget for the 2010 season?

Here’s what we know: There are 3 main groups, which are fronted by Chuck Greenberg, Dennis Gilbert, and Jim Crane. Greenberg’s group has included Nolan Ryan as a minority owner, so if he wins out, obviously Nolan will have a stake in the ownership and will stay on as president. But then again, it’s possible that if one of the other groups wins out, they’ll let him in as a partial owner. It is possible that the new ownership could fire Nolan as president, but I think that’s unlikely at this point. The fans love Nolan, and it wouldn’t make a good impression on the fans if their first move was to fire him. Tom Hicks has expressed interest in retaining a portion of his ownership as well, so we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. At this point, the budget for 2010 will be approximately the same as it was for 2009, so the new owners will have to meet that budget or increase it. It would be nice if we could have a little more leeway to get some big names to Texas for our playoff push next year.
————————————————————————
Marlon Byrd: Will the Rangers re-sign him for 2010 and beyond?

Here’s what we know: Marlon says that he wants to stay with the Rangers. The Rangers want him to stay. He made a little over $3 mil in 2009, so he’ll want at least that much per year in his next contract. How much more is anybody’s guess. This is probably his only chance to negotiate a multi-year contract, and he’s probably wanting at least 3 years. But Marlon is already 32, so I’m sure the Rangers are anxious that health issues may mar his future playing time. And the Rangers don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around, so I’m sure that will affect how much progress is made towards contract negotion. But Marlon is a strong influence in the clubhouse, and Michael Young (team leader) is strongly campaigning for the Rangers to keep him. I think the Rangers will offer him something in the neighborhood of 4, 5, or 6 million dollars for the next 3 years, plus lots of incentives (i.e. bonuses if he plays at least x number of games, if he hits at least y home runs, or if he steals at least z bases, etc.). But if he wants something like $10 mil a year for 5 years, I think the Rangers will let him walk.
———————————————————————-
Ivan Rodriguez: Will Pudge be back?

Here’s what we know: The fans adore Pudge, and he said that he wants to finish out his career here. And even though he’s pushing 40, he’s still pretty darn good. He’s played on 2 World Series teams, and he has a lost of post-season experience (which the Rangers are seriously lacking). He has 13 Gold Gloves. But because of his age, the Rangers might be hesitant to offer him a multi-year contract, or to pay him a particularly hefty sum for 2010. Jarrod Saltalamacchia recently had surgery for Thorasic Outlet Syndrome, and while his prognosis looks good, there’s no telling how he’ll progress. Taylor Teagarden was unimpressive in 2009. Max Ramirez spent a lot of time on the DL in AAA. And the Rangers just outrighted Kevin Richardson to the minors. So it might be good to have him around. We acquired him as “strictly a back-up catcher” in August of 2009, but he ended up being our everyday catcher to close out the season. He made 1.5 mil in 2009. Will he accept $1 mil and a one-year contract? $5 million and a 2-year contract? We’ll see.
————————————————————————-
Omar Vizquel: Will he be back for 2010?

Here’s what we know: Omar has said that he wants to play next year, even though he’s the oldest active position player at 42 years old. He was a great mentor for Elvis Andrus in his rookie year (2009), but does Elvis still need him in 2010? He has 11 Gold Gloves, and his defensive work is truly beautiful. I swear, he looks like a ballet dancer out there sometimes! He played 63 games for the Rangers this year: 16 games at 2B, 27 games at SS, and 20 games at 3B, and he made NO errors. None, zippo, nada. That’s pretty amazing. He’s said he would be interested in returning, but he wants to shop around first.
————————————————————————
Starting rotation: Which 5 pitchers will we go with in our starting rotation for 2010?

Here’s what we know: Ron Washington has already said that Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman have guaranteed slots next year. But the other 3 are up for grabs. The possible candidates are: Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, Matt Harrison, Eric Hurley, and Guillermo Moscoso. I discussed the pros and cons about all these pitchers in a previous blog. But Wash has also said he would like to obtain another veteran starter this winter. So if he does that, then there will only be two spots up for grabs, making the competition even tougher. But can we get anybody good for relatively little money? And of course, as we all know, our starting rotation can change a lot during the year due to injuries, etc. I mean, look at our poor rotation in 2009! On Opening Day, it was Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Kris Benson, Matt Harrison, and Brandon McCarthy. Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy both went on the 60-day DL, Kris Benson was a disaster, and we released Padilla because of all his foolishness. So you never know what can change throughout the season!
———————————————————————–
Acquisitions: Right-handed bat to play 1B and DH, left-handed relief pitcher

Here’s what we know: In addition to a veteran starter, Wash also said he’d like to pick up a right-handed bat who can play 1B or DH, as well as another lefty reliever. I’ve heard Jermaine Dye’s name brought up to fill that first role, and while he is right-handed, he has played mainly in the outfield. In 2005, he played 1B once and SS once for the Chicago White Sox. That’s it. But if we keep Marlon Byrd, we may not need another right-handed bat. CJ and Eddie are our only lefty relievers at this point, and Eddie’s probably not coming back (I’ll address that later), so it would be nice to have another one.
———————————————————————
Batting coach: Who will replace Rudy Jaramillo?

Here’s what we know: Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are supposedly “constructing a list” of candidates to replace Rudy, and they plan on interviewing about 4 or 5 guys for the position. Some names that have been thrown around are Scott Coolbaugh (Rangers AAA batting coach), Rusty Greer (former Ranger), Will Clark (former Ranger), Julio Franco (managing in Mets farm league), Gary Pettis (currently our 1st base coach), Carney Lansford (fired by San Francisco last week), Clint Hurdle (former Colorado manager), Tim Wallach (Dodgers hitting coach in 2004), Thad Bosley (hitting coach in Oakland with Wash), Gerald Perry (hitting coach for Cubs, fired in June), Greg Colbrunn (minor league hitting coach for Yank
ees), Dave Hudgens (former A’s hitting coach), Mike Boulanger (Minor League hitting coach), and Toby Harrah (former Ranger, current hitting coach for Tigers). I’m sure there are a bunch of other names too that I haven’t heard yet. So obviously, there are a lot of choices. It’s just about finding a good fit.

——————————————————————
Eddie Guardado: Is he really retiring?

Here’s what we know: He’s definitely thinking about it. But that’s about all we know. He didn’t pitch too well towards the end of the season, so as terrible as it sounds, I’m kind of hoping he retires. He’s a free agent, and I just don’t think it’s useful to pay him a significant amount of money for just one more year when he’s at the end of his career and losing his stamina.

——————————————————————
Outfield: What will our outfield look like next year?

Here’s what we know: Marlon Byrd (righty) is a question mark. We have Josh Hamilton (lefty), Julio Borbon (lefty), David Murphy (lefty), and Nelson Cruz (righty). We also have Chris Davis (another lefty in the lineup) as our starting 1st baseman, and Salty is a switch hitter. So we could possibly have 5 left-handed bats in a 9-man line-up. That’s not so good. Borbon is rumored to be “the center fielder of the future,” but he has a weak arm. He’s supposed to be working on that this winter, but who knows? Josh Hamilton had a spectacular 2008, but he had trouble staying healthy this year. I don’t want to lose anybody, but I have this sneaking suspicion that we’re going to trade David Murphy. That hurts me, because he’s a good Texas boy, but I just can’t shake that feeling. And I have a feeling that Nelson Cruz could be great. I’m mean he could be Josh-Hamilton-in-2008-great. But what about Craig Gentry? He was the surprise September call-up from AA. It makes the most sense that he would at least begin next year in AAA, but it’s certainly an intriguing idea. He’s a righty, with an incredibly strong and accurate arm, and he’s supposedly speedy on the bases, but he needs to learn how to bat against big league pitching.

report card

I checked T.R. Sullivan’s blog today, and he had a kind of report card for this year’s players. I agree with most of what he says, but we differ on a few things. This is his report card:

Starters
Kevin Millwood – Manager has already said he is the Opening Day pitcher in 2010
Scott Feldman – What an amazing season.
Derek Holland – This kid is going to be fine. Can’t wait for his next start.
Tommy Hunter – Tommy, meet Nolan Ryan, the resident conditioning fanatic.
Brandon McCarthy – The Big Tease. He has talent but at what point do the Rangers say uncle?
Matt Harrison – He was pretty good before he got hurt
Neftali Feliz – The Rangers will try him in the rotation. Bet he makes it
Dustin Nippert – His numbers will work every year
Guillermo Moscoso – Should be Opening Day pitcher at Oklahoma City

Relievers
Frank Francisco – Needs warning label: handle with care.
C.J. Wilson – Most Valuable Reliever
Darren O’Day – Transaction of the Year
Jason Grilli – Wasn’t the same after he got hurt
Doug Mathis – Can he fill middle relief role?
Eddie Guardado – No finer person in baseball
Pedro Strop – Needs more time. Just not ready
Willie Eyre – Taking long road back from injuries

Catchers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Should still be No. 1 on depth chart
Ivan Rodriguez – Would you give him $4 million for two years?
Taylor Teagarden – Should have been in Triple A
Kevin Richardson – He is from Seattle area. He should have started one game this weekend.

Infielders
Chris Davis – Only one other player is a bigger key for Rangers in 2010.
Ian Kinsler – Absolutely nothing wrong with 101 runs and 86 RBI.
Elvis Andrus – He lived up to it all
Michael Young – Turns out he can still hit…and play third.
Omar Vizquel – He has one definite vote for the Hall of Fame.
Esteban German – A nice fifth player if the Rangers had the room
Hank Blalock – Hank’s Homies bid you adieu. It was fun while it lasted.

Outfielders
Josh Hamilton – Obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010
David Murphy – Forget Rusty Greer all right? Anybody think he can be Paul O’Neill?
Julio Borbon – Definitely the kind of player the Rangers desperately need
Nelson Cruz – He is a good player. Can he be a great one or is this enough?
Marlon Byrd – Loved watching him tell the rookies to turn off the football game on Sunday and turn on baseball.
Andruw Jones – Next.
Craig Gentry – Off to Triple A to bide his time.

My take:
Derek Holland: I wouldn’t say I “can’t wait” for his next start. I think if he works hard during the off-season, he can have a stellar year. He has a lot of untapped potential.
C.J. Wilson: I would not call him the most valuable reliever. I think with C.J., you never know what you’re gonna get.
Pudge: I don’t think it will take that much money. I think $3 million for 2 years, or if the Rangers aren’t sure how long he’ll last, then around $1.5 mil for 1 year.
Ian Kinsler: His runs scored and RBIs are good, but he needs to be more reliable. And, most importantly, he needs to work on his swing in the off-season and find out whyhe’s popping everything up!!!
Esteban German: I don’t think it’s an “if the Rangers have room” situation. I think they’ll definitely need a bench player who can step up if anyone gets injured, and who can spell all 4 infielders at regular intervals. He has played mainly 2B and 3B, but he has big league experience at SS and 1B as well. He’s a true utility infielder.
Josh Hamilton: I don’t agree that he’s “obviously the biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” If he can perform, it will be great, but I don’t think we can depend on him to perform. You can never predict injuries. I don’t want to trade him, because I think he’s a great addition to a team, whether he can play or not. And when he’s good, he’s really good. But look what this Rangers team did this year without Josh Hamilton!
Julio Borbon: I wouldn’t say that the Rangers “desperately need” someone like Borbon. Borbon has a great OBP, and he’s excellent at stealing bases and manufacturing runs. But he’s got a weak arm for an outfielder, and he’s not good against LHP. Borbon is a lefty outfielder, and we already have Josh Hamilton and David Murphy that are left handed outfielders.
Craig Gentry: Gentry can be the perfect center fielder that the Rangers “desperately need” in 2011, but he needs more experience. If the Rangers decide to take a chance on Gentry like they did on Elvis, it could pay some amazing dividends. But I’m betting that the Rangers put Gentry in AAA all next year.
Marlon Byrd: I don’t know anything about the rookies watching football, but I think Marlon is the “biggest key for the Rangers in 2010.” We need him next year. Not only is he an amazing player, he’s a revitalizing force in the clubhouse.

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