Tagged: Wash

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
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Big Announcements

Announcement #1
Today it was finally revealeed that Josh Hamilton is the 2010 recipient of the AL MVP award.

It was expected, but you never know. I though Ron Washington was certain to win AL Manager of the Year, but I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong; Gardy is a great manager. But with the Rangers getting to the post-season for the 1st time in 11 years, then finally getting past the 1st round of the playoffs for the 1st time EVER, and then actually getting to the World Series… it seemed to me that Wash was the obvious choice.

Gardy is a perennial MOY candidate, and he certainly deserved MOY honors after his last 6 years. But for this year, Wash had the best year.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. We’re supposed to be talking about Josh Hamilton! Congratulations Josh!!!

He was wonderful this year, but there was talk that he might miss out on MVP because he missed a month right at the end of the season.

Thankfully, the Rangers made it to the WS, and Josh got a chance to remind everyone of how good he is. Hamilton’s MVP award means that Rangers’ players have won 2 out of the 4 big awards this year: MVP and Rookie of the Year.

I’ve already mentioned that Ron Gardenhire was named Manager of the Year for the American League, and Felix Hernandez was named as the Cy Young award winner for 2010.

In the National League, Joey Votto got the MVP, Roy Halladay got the Cy Young, Buster Posey got Rookie of the Year, and Bud Black got Manager of the Year.

Announcement #2
The other big announcement made today regards the Rangers new hitting coach: Thad Bosley.

Five guys were interviewed, including Scott Coolbaugh, Johnny Narron, Ty Van Burkleo, and Luis Ortiz in addition to Bosley. Bosley was one of the finalists last year before the Rangers selected Clint Hurdle.

Bosley was the hitting coach for the Oakland A’s from 1999-2002. Before that, he played in the Majors for 14 seasons, including one season with the Rangers (1989-90).

Random other stuff
The Rangers have several holes they need to fill this off-season, just like every other Major League baseball team.

The main things are:
1) Sign Cliff Lee or another top-of-the-rotation starter
2) Extend Ron Washington (done)
3) Find a big-name catcher
4) Re-sign Vlad or find another big bat to add to the lineup
5) Find another hitting coach (done)
6) find a righty to share 1st base with/back up Moreland

Two of those six have already been taken care of, and the Cliff Lee situation will probably be up in the air for quite a while.

I would personally like to see Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor sharing the backstop duties for the Rangers next year, but Bengie is looking at possibly retiring.

The Rangers were thought to be going hard after Victor Martinez of the Red Sox, but it was released earlier today that he is close to a deal with Detroit. John Buck was another big name on the market, but he was signed by the Florida Marlins 5 days ago.

I’m not really sure what other front-line catchers are still up for grabs, bit it’s sad to see the Rangers lose out on V-Mart.

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents. The Rangers have 4 free agents: Frank Francisco, Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Lee, and Bengie Molina.

Cliff Lee is a given, because he will net 2 draft picks if he signs elsewhere, and if he accepts arbitration (which he won’t), it would only be for a 1-year contract. He wants a multi-year deal with a no-trade clause.

The only question I have is: if we end up signing Cliff Lee to a multi-year deal, do we still get the 2 draft picks? Hmm…

They might offer arbitration to Vlad, because they want him back, but only for a 1-year contract. He wants a multi-year deal, so he may not accept. But if he does accept, the Rangers may have to pay him significantly more than the $6.5 mil he earned this year.

I don’t know about Frankie Frank. I really wish they would just get rid of him, but for some crazy reason, the Rangers’ higher-ups seem to love him.

Bengie is unknown, because as I said earlier, he may want to retire.

Okay, I’m tired now. That’s all I got. Have a happy Thanksgiving!!!

2-fer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on that story as it develops. 🙂

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

YAAAAAYYYYYY!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last night’s loss

I’m upset that the Rangers couldn’t win last night, but it’s hard to be too mad. Oakland is a tough team, and Trevor Cahill is an All-Star pitcher. At least we won on Tuesday.

Speaking of Tuesday, it was pretty spectacular. Cliff Lee did a fabulous job, of course, but Nelson Cruz ended up being the hero of the night.

Cliff Lee went 9 innings in his 4th start for the Rangers, giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits and (big surprise) no walks. And he got a career-high 13 strikeouts!

Unfortunately, he got a no-decision. The Rangers were tied 1-1 at the end of 9 innings, so they had to go into the 10th.

Neftali Feliz came in to pitch a scoreless top of the 10th, and then the Rangers’ took over. Vlad came up first in the bottom of the 10th, and he struck out swinging. Then Josh Hamilton stepped up to the plate, and he worked a walk. Okay, good start.

Then Nelson Cruz hit a towering smash to left field, and his walk-off homer allowed the Rangers to win the game 3-1!

Nelly also took away what could have been a 2-run home run by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the 6th inning in a beautiful play at the wall. So Cliff Lee ended up having to share MVP honors on Tuesday. 🙂

The only bad part on Tuesday was in the 6th inning, when Bengie Molina tried to throw out a runner going from 1st to 2nd. The throw was beautiful, but both Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus just stood there looking at each other.

Ian ended up getting the error, and then he wasn’t in the starting lineup for last night’s game. I assumed Wash was giving him a little bit of rest because of the mental error.

But today, we learned that Ian Kinsler has been put on the 15-day DL for a strained left groin. Uh oh.

Last night, I went to the game, and it was my 7th game for the month of July. No wonder I’m so exhausted!

Colby Lewis got the start last night for the Rangers, which is normally great. But unfortunately for us, Trevor Cahill took the ball for the A’s.

Colby threw 116 pitches in 7 innings, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks with 8 strikeouts. But as good as Colby was, Cahill was even better.

Trevor threw 113 pitches in 8 innings, allowing no runs on just 2 hits and 3 walks. The Rangers scored their only run in the 9th inning off of Michael Wuertz.

Darren Oliver came in to pitch the 8th inning, but he was only able to get one out before giving up 2 runs. No bueno!

The Rangers also made 3 errors last night, and I am never happy to see that. I don’t know what happened, but that’s an area where they could use some improvement.

The July 31 trade deadline is coming up soon, and I’m excited to see what moves the Rangers make! After the Cliff Lee trade, I’m confident that whatever happens, it will be good.

C.J. Wilson is getting the start for tonight’s game, and I’m excited to see how Cliff-Lee-like C.J. is tonight. Should be fun!

Overall Rangers’ record: 58-42
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days til my next game: 16

Oh no!

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

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

Just gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 days until Opening Day!!

Jamey Newberg/Carson Leslie/Michael Young/Chuck Greenberg

When TR Sullivan wrote his story about me, Chuck Greenberg read it and remarked that he would like to meet me. I know, right?! How amazing is that?! Anyway, since then, we had been emailing back and forth. On Thursday January 28th (the day before the Rangers’ Awards Banquet), I sent Chuck Greenberg an email asking him if he was planning on attending the banquet. I told him that I was going, and perhaps we could finally meet and I could interview him.

He said that he hadn’t seen his wife in about 3 weeks, so he was planning to go home to Pittsburgh over the weekend, but that he would be back for Jamey Newberg’s Q&A on Tuesday. Yes!!

I had heard that Jamey Newberg was planning on doing a 2nd Book Release Party in January, since his first one on December 17th was so hugely successful, but that it wasn’t going to be an autograph event like the first one. Jamey would instead turn it into a Q&A event with Michael Young. Michael would sign 5 copies of this year’s Newberg Report (which I already own) and 5 copies of some book by somebody named Carson something (which I didn’t know anything about), and they would auction those off to the highest bidders.

Well, that counted me out. I don’t have enough money to be a high bidder. For anything. No matter how great the cause.

But then I heard that Chuck Greenberg was going to attend the Q&A. Not from Chuck, but from Jamey. That made it more interesting.

Craig and Annette Leslie

But the final deciding factor was when I met Annette and Craig Leslie at the banquet. Words cannot express how wonderful and caring and strong and altogether beautiful they are. Seriously, they’re amazing. And yet so humble and unassuming. Okay, that’s enough. I said “words cannot express,” and yet here I am trying to come up with words.
 
Anyway, when I talked to Annette and figured out that their Carson was the Carson that Jamey was talking about, I knew I had to go. And I wanted a copy of his book!
So I went to http://www.carrymecarson.com/, which Annette had told me about. I decided to just buy an (unsigned) copy of the book at the Q&A session instead of ordering it online and then having to wait for it to ship to me.

I also started writing out questions to ask Chuck Greenberg, just in case I got an interview, but I couldn’t think of very many. I asked my newound Facebook friend, Megan Nemec, to help me out. Megan is a girl who loves baseball like me, and she started following my blog last August when I posted something on my blog about meeting Blake Beavan (who happens to be Megan’s cousin). Megan came up with some suggestions, and she also contacted Blake for some ideas. So I had a pretty impressive batch of questions. I was ready.

I noticed an annoying tickle in my throat on Monday that sometimes caused spontaneous bouts of coughing, but I remember thinking, ‘At least it’s still a weak cough, and it hasn’t turned into one of those deep, echoing, hoarse coughs. When it progresses to that stage, you’re in trouble.’ When I woke up on Tuesday, I discovered, ‘Hey, whaddaya know! It’s progressed to that deep cough! Lovely!’ But I had to go to work, and if I was going to work I might as well go to the Q&A session afterwards. It was too big an opportunity to miss.

I told my dad that I was going to the Q&A, and that I might get to interview Chuck Greenberg, and he decided that he wanted to meet me there. Okay, that’s good. At least I won’t be alone.

I can’t do a complete play by play; I’m just gonna give what I consider to be the highlights. If you’d like to watch the entire thing, the Q&A session was broadcast on the internet and you can see it at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/4405103.

When we got to Sherlock’s, it was standing room only. I saw Annette Leslie, and I was able to get her attention and wave to her. Then I snagged a barstool and settled in to listen, and Daddy took his spot standing behind my stool. I decided that I would save all my questions for my would-be interview with Chuck Greenberg later.

Chuck Morgan mentioned that everybody on the internet wanted to know where Chuck Greenberg got the Rangers zip-up jacket he was wearing. It looked like my Rangers hoodie, but without the hood.

After that, Daddy decided that he didn’t want to bother with stepping up to the mic, so he just hollered out, “Why don’t you carry any clothes in men’s sizes?” When everybody turned to look at him, he explained that he was only able to find 2 shirts at the Rangers’ store in 3XL. See, Daddy is 6’5″ and weighs 300 pounds. He’s a big guy.

“Well, there’s an easy way to fix that,” Chuck said, and everybody in the crowd started laughing (my dad included), because they thought Chuck was saying that Daddy needed to lose weight. Which he does, but Chuck quickly recovered, “No, I didn’t mean that! I meant that we can just order more!” So we all got a good laugh out of that! 🙂

Soon after Michael Young arrived, Jamey announced that they were going to start the auction. He said that they had sold out of unsigned copies of Carson’s book (DANG IT!), so if anybody still wanted to go home with a copy that night, they would have to buy a signed one. I groaned.

my book!
Daddy tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Do you want one?” I just stared at him with my mouth hanging open and nodded. “Really?” I asked. “Sure, it’s for a good cause,” he said, and a look of resolve came over his face.
Then professional auctioneer Luther Davis took the stage, and things got kind of crazy. But I ended up with one of the 5 books! Daddy even got Michael to make it out to me specifically! Thanks Daddy!! [I’m about halfway through the book now, and the only problem is that the signature is starting to smudge and rub off! Oh no!]

As they continued to auction off signed copies of Jamey’s book, as well as various autographed balls, bats, and other items, I noticed that Chuck was talking to some fans on the side of the stage. So I walked over to them and just waited for them to finish their conversation.

A few sentences in, Chuck glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and cocked his head towards me. “Katie, is that you?” he asked. I just smiled and nodded, pleased that he had recognized me.

After the other fans stepped aside, Chuck turned to me and shook my hand. “It’s so good to finally meet you, Katie!” he said. I took a moment to let that sink in. Chuck Greenberg, the new owner of the Texas Rangers, was excited to meet me. Whoa.

Chuck suggested that we do our interview after the Q&A session was over and the place had cleared out a bit. Hey, once he confirmed that we were doing the interview, I was willing to wait all night if necessary!

And, after everything else had been auctioned off, Chuck literally sold the shirt off his back (okay, it was the jacket off his back) and donated the proceeds to Wipe Out Kids Cancer! What a great guy! Before they began the auction, someone asked what size the jacket was. Chuck stepped up to the mic and said, “It’s a 3XL, for my friend in the back.” Nice. 🙂 That jacket was a hot commodity, and it ended up selling for $500!

me with Chuck Greenberg

Chuck spent 30-45 minutes after the event was over talking to fans and taking pictures with people. He was so nice, and I didn’t mind waiting. Then I finally got my interview!!
 
My dad even jumped in and asked a question! I didn’t record this; I just took notes, so these aren’t necessarily direct quotes. Just FYI.
 
 

Me: How long have you been interested in baseball?

CG: My aunt took me to my first game when I was 5 years old.

Me: Did you play any sports growing up?
CG: I played baseball, football, and basketball when I was growing up, and my sons played baseball, football, and hockey.

Me:Why the Texas Rangers?
CG: The Rangers are the most attractive opportunity for someone who loves baseball. I believe the Rangers are the greatest sleeping giants in all of sports.

Dad: Katie and I are big fans of Ron Washington. What do you think about the job he’s done as manager?
CG: One thing I’ve noticed about Ron is how hard the team plays for him for a full 27 outs. They really push themselves for him, and that says a lot.

Me: How did you become partners with Nolan Ryan?
CG: I meet his son Reed through my experience in the minor leagues, and as soon as I heard that the Rangers were up for sale, I knew I wanted him to be involved. I knew all along that if Nolan aligned himself with another buyer, I had to bow out. I never would have gone up against him. But Reed was the one who helped to get the two of us together.

Me: I think someone asked a question along these lines earlier, but I couldn’t hear the answer. After this year, do you or Nolan plan to add your minor league teams to the Rangers’ system?
CG: You know, honestly, we haven’t even thought about that yet. Right now we’re trying to focus on the business at hand and get this deal taken care of.

Me: Fair enough. You also touched on this earlier, but what are your ideas about improving the stadium?
CG: The Ballpark is beautiful, but we just want to update it a bit. Like the video board, for example. We’re interested in doing anything that enhances the fan experience. We want to deliver better value. It won’t happen in 2010, but we’re really looking for that ‘Wow factor.’

Me: Your experience as a minor league owner has allowed you to be more accessible to fans, and you’ve already shown interest in doing that with the Rangers. How do you plan on making the transition to ‘the Bigs?’ Is it overwhelming?
CG: I don’t really know how I’m going to handle it yet. I guess we’ll figure it out as we go along. It has be a little overwhelming at times, but one thing I want to convey is that I’m a fan as well.

Me: What is the most interesting piece of fan advice that you’ve gotten so far?
CG: The biggest thing that I’ve noticed has just been an overall feeling of anticipation and a sense of hope. People here are ready to believe.

At this point, Chuck expressed his worry that he wasn’t being gracious enough to his host, Jamey Newberg. They were supposed to eat dinner and have a beer together, and Chuck didn’t want to make a bad impression. So I decided that I had taken up enough of his time, and I asked him my final question:

Me: I need a job. What have you got for me?
CG: You need a job? [Laughs] Let me finish the sale first!

I would like to thank Chuck Greenberg for being so gracious to me and granting this interview. I would also like to thank Michael Young, Chuck Morgan, Jake Krug, Luther Davis, Jamey Newberg, Eleanor Czajka, and Annette and Craig Leslie for donating their time to raise money for Wipe Out Kids Cancer. And a special thanks to Michael Young and his wife, Cristina Barbosa Young, for matching the donations raised through the auction.