Tagged: Taylor Teagarden

Non-Fan Fest stuff

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that Manny Ramirez is NOT going to be playing for the Rangers for the 2011 season! YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

The morning after I posted my anti-Manny blog, I got in the car to head out to Fan Fest. On my way out to Arlington, I heard that Manny had signed a one year deal with the Rays. It was a great way to start off the day!!

The blog I wrote yesterday about Fan Fest was already so long that I didn’t get to address this other stuff. So here are some other things I’ve been thinking about.

It was announced on Sunday that the Rangers reached a deal with Darren O’Day, so that’s one less arbitration candidate that the Rangers have to worry about. Now the only 2 arbitration-eligible players who have yet to sign are Josh Hamilton and Frank Francisco.

I hope they don’t pay Frankie Frank a lot of money. After his monumental crash early last season and the subsequently unimpressive remainder of 2010, I kinda wish Frankie would go away. Instead of spending money on him, we could put money towards a better use.

I’m not sure why they can’t reach a deal with Josh Hamilton, because he was the AL MVP last year. He only wants $12 million, just pay it!

From what I understand, the arbitration process comes up with a salary placed on what similar players are getting around the league. But there’s no one to compare Josh Hamilton to; he’s the best.

Major League Baseball recognized him as the Most Valuable Player in the entire American League in 2010. So I don’t think it would be out of the question to find the guy with the highest salary in the AL, then pay Josh more than that. Seriously.

Alex Rodriguez made $33 million dollars last year, but he wasn’t the MVP. Josh Hamilton was. Josh Hamilton is only asking for $12 million in 2011. Just pay it! It’s better than $34 million!

They were fine with offering Adrian Beltre a 6-year/$96 million deal, so why not Hamilton? Well they probably shouldn’t offer Hamilton a 6-year contract, because he’s pretty injury-prone.

But how about a 3-year deal where they pay him $12 mil for 2011, $13 mil for 2012, and $14 mil for 2013? And add in lots of incentives based on the number of games he plays, homer he hits, his batting average, etc.

Now it’s easy for me to give Hamilton someone else’s money. But I thought the Rangers weren’t supposed to be cash-strapped any more. I think the Rangers need to realize that they’re looking a gift horse in the mouth, put on their big boy pants and pay the man.

So, was I the only one who was sad to hear that Vernon Wells will be with the Angels next year? I mean, how did the Rangers miss out on that one?

Vernon Wells is a beast, and I would absolutely LOVE to have him in a Ranger uniform. I mean, he’s FROM here!!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Vernon Wells was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the LA Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

But maybe he wants a more active role that we would have available here in Texas. Wells is an outfielder, and the Rangers are pretty set in the outfield.

Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, and Julio Borbon are our 4 outfielders, not to mention Mitch Moreland (if he’s not at 1B) and Craig Gentry waiting at AAA.

For at least the next 3 years, Adrian Beltre will be our 3rd baseman and Michael Young will be the DH. So we can’t put Wells at DH.

Wells also has 4 years left on his contract for a hefty $86 million dollars. I think any team would be leery about taking on a paycheck that big.

I get all the reasons why, but it’s still upsetting. I like Vernon Wells.

It makes me feel better to know that Wells didn’t chose to go to the Angels, though. It wasn’t like he was a free agent; he was traded. He was happy with the Blue Jays. Yes, he waived his no-trade clause to accept the trade, but he didn’t go seek them out.

Ooh, hey! I just got an email from Jamey Newberg saying that the Blue Jays have traded Mike Napoli to us for Frank Francisco! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

But wait, isn’t Mike Napoli a catcher? We already have Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor. I guess the Rangers’ recent lack of good catching taught them a lesson, and they don’t want that to happen again.

After having Salty spend so much time injured and Taylor Teagarden unable to step up, the Rangers were lucky that they were able to get Matt Treanor during Spring Training of 2010.

And then we had to go after Bengie Molina mid-season, and we traded Salty away. So I guess they want to make sure they don’t get caught in a lurch again.

Maybe Napoli can work as the other right-handed big bat the Rangers were hoping to add. So maybe he’ll DH on the days when Young is at 1B. Or something.

I don’t know how it’s all gonna work out, but I know that I like it. Way to go, JD!!!

Seriously, guys, how amazing is our GM?!? It’s all coming together, and I’m starting to really get pumped for the 2011 season!!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 22 days

Speculation and confirmation

Since just about everyone I know is aware of my passion for baseball, I am often engaged in baseball conversation while I am at work, family functions, and amongst my friends. I am generally considered to be the “baseball expert” among my friends and family, and it seems that everyone wants to ask me:

“What do you think will happen with Cliff Lee?”

So please believe me when I say that I have though long and hard about my answer to this question, since it’s been asked of me so often in the last 2 months or so. And my answer is:

There’s no way to know. I hope the Rangers can keep him, but I have no way of knowing what he’ll decide. Everyone is saying ‘I think he’ll go to New York because of {fill in the blank}’ or ‘I think he’ll stay in Texas because of {fill in the blank}.’

But no one can know except Cliff Lee. Maybe he wants to stay in Texas because of the team chemistry, or because we made it to the World Series this year, or so he can be as close to home as possible.

Or maybe he grew up watching the Yankees and always wanted to play for them. Maybe he’s more swayed by the team history of the Yankees and how many world championships they have.

Maybe he’ll go to whatever team will pay him the most money. No one knows for sure.

So imagine my excitement when the great Jamey Newberg echoed my philosophy!! I’m on the Newberg Report email list, and this tidbit was included in Sunday’s email:

With all apologies to the writers we all choose to trust, “baseball people” who are talking to them don’t know where Lee is going to sign. Some have more dependable opinions than others, just like writers, but Lee knows the answer to the question today (probably), Braunecker knows the answer (probably, but maybe a degree or two less so than Lee), and beyond that, Lee’s family and anyone else he wants to entrust the answer to fit in the category of reliable sources on November 28. And they’re not talking.

Exactly what I’ve been thinking, Jamey!! I’m usually excited to hear about trade rumors, especially since I’m starting to really miss baseball, and ANY information is better than no information.

But I’ll drive myself crazy if I try to dissect this Cliff Lee thing and try to predict where he’ll go. So I’ll move on to stuff that has actually been confirmed.

The Rangers have finally gotten their big name catcher for 2011-2012: Yorvit Torrealba.

Torrealba has played mostly in the National League, but he is generally known to work well with pitchers and he has a pretty good batting average for a catcher (.271 last year).

He doesn’t do too well with throwing out base-stealers, but that doesn’t mean that base-runners run rampant when he’s behind the dish.

Torrealba will be making $3 million in 2011 and $3.25 million in 2012.

Matt Treanor is a free agent this off-season, but I’m guessing he’ll be back with the Rangers in 2011. Treanor may not be a frontline catcher, but he is a solid choice for a tandem situation, and according to Torrealba’s past performances, I think that’s what will be needed.

Torrealba played 92 games for the Padres in 2010, and his season-high is 112 games (2007). But the regular season is 162 games. So if Torrealba will be starting somewhere around 90-110 games for the Rangers, we’ll need a good backup to catch the remaining 50-70 games.

That’s a significant number of games. I would hate to give such a hefty job to Taylor Teagarden, and Treanor definitely proved in 2010 that he is nothing if not dependable.

The Rangers have added some righties to the bullpen.

Today, it was reported that the Rangers signed right-handed relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama to a one-year deal with options for 2012 and 2013. Tateyama is a 12-year veteran of the Japanese Major Leagues, and he will turn 35 this winter.

He will come to Spring Training on the 40-man roster, but he is not guaranteed a spot in the bullpen. He’ll have to earn it, just like everybody else.

Earlier this week, the Rangers avoided going to arbitration with right-handed reliever Mark Lowe by agreeing to a 1-year/$1.2 million dollar contract.

Lowe was traded to the Rangers along with Cliff Lee from the Mariners on July 9, 2010. He spent most of his time with the Rangers recovering from a previously-existing injury, so we haven’t gotten to see a lot from Lowe yet.

The annual Winter Meetings will begin this upcoming Monday, and hopefully a lot more of the rumors that are floating around will be nailed down.

The Rangers may have filled their hole at catcher, but there are a lot of other things to be decided, including but not limited to:
1) Cliff Lee
2) Vladimir Guerrero or another DH
3) the Zack Greinke possibility

Stay tuned! I’ll post more stuff as I learn about it!

It’s good to be home again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4-game skid & ‘Riders win

me with Duece

Today was the Rangers’ 3rd off-day in a week’s time, and since it was a Monday in which I didn’t have to go to work, I invited my dad to a RoughRiders game. It was really hot, but I had a great time!

First, though, I should address the Rangers’ dismal road record. They have lost their last 4 games in a row, including being swept in Minnesota. If the Rangers want to be taken seriously, they HAVE to start winning on the road.

Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Derek Holland started the Rangers’ last 3 games, respectively. Colby and C.J. each threw a pretty darn good game, but they couldn’t get enough run support.

I know C.J.’s line for his game didn’t look very good, considering that he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, but his performance was actually a lot better than that. It was good to see the old C.J. again, after his last mediocre start, not to mention his meltdown 2 outings ago.

Derek Holland had to come out after throwing only 43 pitches in Sunday’s game, and he has been placed on the DL. Tommy Hunter will likely be called up to pitch in his place.

The Rangers are going to Chicago next to face the ChiSox, and they would have to sweep them in order to split the road trip. That would be nice, but I’m not counting on it.

Especially since Harden and Feldman are starting the first two games of the 3-game series.

Blake Beavan

Okay, enough about that. Back to the RoughRiders game today! Blake Beavan was on the mound today, and the ‘Riders won 9-6 over the Tulsa Drillers.

We got there at 2:45 for a 4:00 start. I would have liked to get there at 2:00, since I love to get to ballgames early, but it’s a good thing we didn’t get there that early.

Apparently, they don’t open the gates to the general public until 1 hour before the game starts, unlike at the big league parks. And they also don’t let you bring food or coolers inside the ballpark. What??

I thought this was kind of goofy, but hey, whatever. The funniest part was that they handed out little soft-sided coolers on our way out of the ballpark as the give-away item. Tell me if that makes sense.

Josh Leuke

Anyway, the players started warming up and playing catch about half an hour before the game started, and I went down to watch them. Some of them came over to sign autographs for the little kids, so I jumped in there and got 5 autographs!!

Marcus Lemon and Jacob Kaase

Tanner Roark, Brennan Garr, Josh Leuke, Marcus Lemon, and Jacob Kaase. Yes! Each on their own baseball. Great stuff!

As I returned to our seats, I noticed that Dad was talking to 2 people. When I walked up, he said “Katie, I want to introduce you to Blake Beavan’s mother and grandfather.” What?? Awesome!

They were both very sweet, and Michelle (Blake’s mom) gave me a hug before they left to sit in their seats behind home plate. So now, not only did I get a chance to meet Blake last year, but I now know 3 members of his family!

The ballgame started off kind of boring, with no score until the bottom of the 4th inning. But that innings saw 2 home runs by the ‘Riders (one a 3-run homer and one a 2-run shot) along with a bases-clearing double. Yes, the ‘Riders scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning!

The score was 8-0 for awhile, but Blake gave up 4 runs in the top of the 7th inning. He still had a pretty nice outing, especially considering that his boys gave him an 8-run lead to work with.

The Drillers got another 2 runs in the top of the 8th, but the ‘Riders added on another run somewhere in there.

In the top of the 9th, I went to wait by the ‘Riders dugout to try to get some more autographs. The usher in our section said that I would have an even better chance of getting autographs after the game, especially if the ‘Riders won.

Taylor Teagarden

But nobody stopped to sign any autographs after the game, not even for the numerous kids around me. I thought everybody had left the field to go to the clubhouse when I noticed Taylor Teagarden coming out of the dugout with his bag full of catching equipment.

Since my dad has a much louder voice than I do, I told him to yell “Taylor!” When Taylor looked over at us, I raised the baseball and pen I was holding.

Taylor looked kind of dubious at first, as if he was thinking “Why do they want my autograph?” or something, but he headed over to us.

He signed my ball, but instead of staying to sign some of the kids around me, he just turned around and headed to the clubhouse. I was surprised that he didn’t sign more, but I’m not gonna lie; I felt kinda special that I was the only one to get an autograph!

Okay, that’s about it. Like I said earlier, the Rangers are playing 3 games against the Chicago White Sox starting Tuesday night. Then they’re coming back home for a weekend series against the Rays, and I’m going to Saturday’s game.

I’m excited to go to another Rangers’ game, but it’s gonna be hot. The game was supposed to start at 7:05, but they changed it to a 3:10 start because it’s going to be on national television. Lovely.

Oh well. I need to quit whining. Texas summers are hot, and I have a heck of a lot more games to go to before the summer’s over.

And on the upside, I think Tommy Hunter will be starting on Saturday! Go Rangers!!

My Rangers’ record: 6-3

Overall Rangers’ record: 26-25

Days ’til my next game: 4

Elvis Weekend was great!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday
Elvis bobblehead

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

And then the game went in the crapper.

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

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

Colby Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots o stuff

Wow. Just yesterday I posted my prediction for the Opening Day rotation, but last night I checked TR Sullivan’s blog and found out that I was apparently completely off. The lefties and righties are still interspersed, like I predicted they would be, but their placement does not appear to reflect skill level. Just to recap, this is what I predicted:

Rich Harden (R)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)

Here’s what Mike Maddux envisions for the 2010 rotation:

Rich Harden (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)

Rich Harden
Both rotations list Rich Harden as the ace. Duh. But everything else is different.
Usually, the starting rotation reflects a pitcher’s skill level. You’ll often hear the terms “top-of-the-rotation pitcher” and “back-of-the-rotation pitcher” when speaking of starters, and it is generally understood that pitchers at the top of the rotation are more skilled than the pitchers at the back of the rotation.

CJ Wilson

C.J. has done an amazing job in Spring Training, and he has a lot of years of experience in professional baseball either as a starter or reliever. But he does not qualify as a No. 2 starter. For Pete’s sake, he’s been competing for a job all Spring Training! Yeah, he’s worked as a starter in the past, but those experiments all failed. Until he proves himself as a starter, he shouldn’t be our No. 2 man. He should be our No. 5 man.
Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman was guaranteed a starting job at the end of the 2009 season. He should be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. Given, Feldman didn’t begin the 2009 season in the starting rotation, but he was our best pitcher last year. He had a 17-win season! Come on, people!
Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis is the Rangers’ only pitcher with a multi-year contract. He has been tearin’ it up in Japan for the last 2 years. He was guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation in 2010. And Maddux puts him as the No 5 starter??? I had him as the No. 4 starter, but only because I wanted to diversify the rotation with a lefty. As far as talent goes, he should be the No. 3 starter of this Rangers’ rotation.
Matt Harrison
Sure, Matt Harrison spent most of the 2009 season on the DL. But he was one of the Rangers’ starting pitchers on Opening Day in 2009, and he amazed in the Arizona Fall League immediately after the end of the 2009 regular season. Plus, he comes into 2010 a full 30 pounds lighter than he was in 2009. That shows dedication. But we knew Harrison was competing for a spot as a back-of-the-rotation starter, so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings that Maddux lists Harrison as his No. 4 man. I only had him at No. 3 because he’s a lefty.

So, to summarize, I think my rotation is better. But then again, Mike Maddux has a pretty stellar reputation. I mean, look at what he did for the Rangers’ pitching staff in his very first year as pitching coach: he brought the team ERA down a whole run. That’s pretty impressive! I trust his judgement, but there was so way I could let this slide without getting my 2 cents in first.

I would also like to interject here at Evan Grant’s projected starting rotation is identical to mine. Grant came up with his prediction on Monday, March 22, but I looked at it just now, and it looks exactly like mine! I guess great minds think alike! It also goes to prove that my assumptions weren’t completely baseless.

Tommy Hunter

On a related note, Tommy Hunter finally admitted today that he won’t be able to open the season as one of the Rangers’ starters. TR Sullivan predicted this first late last week, almost immediately after his injury last Thursday evening.

Anyway, today Tommy grudgingly admitted that he wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day. But he does think he’ll be ready by April 8, just 3 days later. Wishful thinking?? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

With the starting rotation pretty much figured out, Evan Grant has predicted the following 7 players for the Rangers’ bullpen: RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Dustin Nippert, and RHP Doug Mathis.

Jamey Newberg thinks it will be RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Dustin Nippert, RHP Doug Mathis, and RHP Chris Ray.

As much as I admire Evan and Jamey, I think the Rangers will need more than one lefty in the bullpen. Darren Oliver is a fabulous pitcher, but I’m not sure he will be able to fill all of the club’s needs for a lefty reliever by himself.

Derek Holland

Derek Holland will almost certainly find himself starting in AAA. The Rangers will want to keep him stretched out as a starter in case he’s needed in the Bigs in 2010. Ben Snyder seems to be the only other viable lefty option, but he has been unimpressive so far in Spring Training. Maybe Jon Daniels will sort through other teams’ “trash piles” and grab another lefty reliever off waivers or the Rule 5 Draft. JD’s always got something up his sleeves. 🙂

Brandon McCarthy
While I agree that Brandon McCarthy is worthy of the big league club, he may prefer to stay a stretched out as a starter down in AAA rather than join the big league ballclub. Doug Mathis can fill the Rangers’ needs for a long reliever/spot starter. And I don’t know anything about Chris Ray, since he was only acquired by the Rangers this off-season (received in the trade for Kevin Millwood).

In other news, the Rangers have made what appears to be a bit of progress in finding a utility infielder. Hernan Iribarren, who was nabbed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, cleared waivers with the Rangers today and was outrighted to AAA. So apparently they don’t see Iribarren making the big league club.

Also today, the Rangers announced that they had traded pitcher Edwar Ramirez (recently acquired from the Yankees and rumored to be trade bait) to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Gregorio Petit. Petit’s experience has been primarily at shortstop, which is what the Rangers have been looking for.

This search for a utility infielder has been exhausting. The Rangers will need 2 guys to do what Omar Vizquel (SS/2B/3B) and Hank Blalock (1B) did last year. First there was an almost-trade for Mike Lowell (1st/3rd baseman) in the early off-season, but he failed the physical, so that put the kibosh on those dealings. Then we got Khalil Greene, and it looked like everything was going to be just fine.

Wrong.

The Rangers had an influx of new infielders vying to win the SS/2B job, but they all seemed to be lacking. Joe Inglett, Mitch Hilligoss, Hernan Iribarren, and Erik Morrison joined Esteban German, Joaquin Arias, and Ray Olmedo in the pursuit of a utility infielder for the Rangers. But none of them were a very good fit.

Now that a month of Spring Training has passed, Matt Brown is looking like the frontrunner for the backup 1st/3rd baseman, and he has shown quite a bit of pop in his bat this Spring Training. Could Gregorio Petit be the SS/2B the Rangers have been searching for?

TR Sullivan doesn’t think so. He predicts that Petit will play SS in AAA, now that Ray Olmedo has been traded away. And apparently, the Rangers are still looking at veteran infielders Augie Ojeda (Diamondbacks), Ramon Vazquez (Pirates), Kevin Frandsen (Giants), and Willie Bloomquist (Royals).

Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is planning to get into a Spring Training game next Monday, March 29. This will give him one week to practice in game situations before Opening Day. This sounds great. I just hope Kinsler’s ankle really is okay by Monday, and he doesn’t cause more health problems for himself that end up keeping him out of regular season games. If he does have to miss, I guess we’ll be seeing our newly minted utility infielder sooner than we thought!

 
The only other question remaining for the starting lineup? Catcher. It will be the best/healthiest two out of Salty, Taylor Teagarden, and Matt Treanor. Who knows?

I just know I’m excited for the season to start. Vlad Guerrero in a Rangers jersey!!! SqueeeeEEEEE!!!

12 days ’til Opening Day!!

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.