Sunday, March 31, 2013

Opener Versus New Division Mates Astros Goes Badly, Rangers Lose 8-2

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: Question: How many games are the Rangers going win when they allow 8 runs by their opponent (Matt Harrison gave up 5 ER's)?  Answer: Not many, if their offense is as bad as it was tonight and when Kins, Elvis and Beltre go 0-fer.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: Berkman got a couple of hits (but man, he is a liability on the basepads, he is slower than slow).

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: During the broadcast, someone said that a source said that Nolan Ryan was likely to be leaving the organization at some point.

The Rangers trail the Astros in the division, and I know it's just 1 game but, ouch.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jurickson Profar's Future Looks Great, Especially If Baseball America's Track Record Holds Up*

(*the below post is by guest contributor Michael Pina)

Expectations are as much a part of sports as tangible production, for better or worse. We look at players who we think will make a positive impact in the future differently than those we don’t, even in situations where the latter is consistently outperforming the former right before our eyes.

In this way, expectations do more harm than good. But ironically, in major league baseball, a sport that includes a larger dose of “luck” as a part of its recipe for both individual and team success than any other, Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list typically reads like a gateway into the sport’s bright future, at least for the players listed near the top.

Right now the preceding two paragraphs are more relevant to the Texas Rangers than any other organization; as you’re probably aware, they have Jurickson Profar, baseball’s number one prospect in 2013 and an instinctive baseball wizard, according to Baseball America.

So, how accurate has Baseball America been over the past decade at predicting who’s going to become a household name? And what does it mean for Profar, who despite his enormous potential and odds on ability to make at least a few All-Star games, will start the season in Triple A?

In 2012 Profar was named the seventh best prospect in baseball, behind, in descending order, Jesus Montero, Julio Teheran, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout, Matt Moore, and Bryce Harper. Every one of those players has either already made an impact at the major league level, or begun to send positive ripples throughout their respective organizations.

Let’s go through the previous nine years and take a closer look at Baseball America’s top prospect; see if there’s anything Profar, and the Rangers, have to worry about.

Baseball America’s top prospect selection was the same in 2011 as it was in 2012: Bryce Harper. A player who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a teenager and in limited major league action more than looks like he belongs. If Harper doesn’t win at least one MVP award in his career he’ll be a major disappointment.

In 2010 it was Jason Heyward, a sweet swinging lefty who, going by projections before his debut, was calculated to average two home runs per game. He hasn’t quite done that, but out of everyone in his 2007 draft class, Heyward has the second highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and last year he hit 27 home runs on a team that went to the playoffs. Not bad. 

Almost every name listed as a top 20 prospect in 2010 is already well known in baseball circles: Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Madison Bumgarner, Starlin Castro, Jeremy Hellickson, Domonic Brown, Justin Smoak, Buster Posey, Desmond Jennings, and more.

In 2009 the top prospect was Baltimore Orioles franchise catcher Matt Wieters, with perennial Cy Young candidate David Price coming in second.

The year after that Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce was number one. Out of all of Baseball America’s number one prospects since 2003, Bruce’s career might be the biggest let down if you look at what he’s done on a relative level (right behind him was Evan Longoria). But by no means is he a bad player. At the age of 25 Bruce has made two All-Star teams and his power numbers have improved every year since his debut.

In 2007 the top prospect was the infamous Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who despite going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA at the age of 27, also led the league in hits per nine innings (6.9) and walks that year. It was downhill from there. Matsuzaka did, however, win his one and only World Series start in 2007—even if he did only go 5.1 innings.

Delmon Young and Justin Upton were the top two prospects in 2006. Now on his fourth team, Young has yet to reach his full potential, and probably never will. But despite his early career shortcomings in the field, Young has transformed himself into a dangerous DH who’ll swing at just about anything. And that was good enough to win the 2012 American League Championship Series MVP award.

In both 2004 and 2005, the top prospect was Minnesota Twins lifer Joe Mauer, one of the very best players in baseball since making his debut at the age of 20. He’s a three-time batting champ who was named MVP in 2009 after leading the league in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He’s very, very good.

In 2003, 10 years removed from Profar being number one, the top prospect was Mark Teixeira. Long past his prime, the Yankees slugger has had a consistent career at both the plate and first base, where he’s walked away with five Gold Glove awards.

In the last decade, all eight players listed below Profar as Baseball America’s top prospect has, for the most part, played how most people thought they would. All were destined for greatness, and all have already—or, barring injury, surely will—treat the threatening word “expectation” like frothing college football players exploding onto the field, straight through their school’s banner.

The stage is set for Jurickson Profar to join them.

Michael Pina is a writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network and Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Watched My First Spring Training Game This Season And...

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: ...I won't complain again about every Texas Rangers Spring Training exhibition game not being on TV.  Relief looked a little shaky in the 9th.  Yu was scratched from the start with a stiff neck.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: ...the Rangers won 8-2, with KC's only runs coming in the 9th.  Lowe started and went 3 scoreless.  He probably has put himself in the discussion to be the 5th starter since he has won 20+ games as a starter, albeit a while back.  Of course he'd be nice to have in the bullpen too since he also saved 40+ games before, again a while back.  Offense looked fine even without AJ Pierszynski in the order, putting up 8 runs on 17 hits with only 1 homer (Kins).  Berkman (Fat Elvis) contributed with 2 hits, and Moreland, Borbon, Kins and Beltre also had multiple hits.

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: Mike Olt was optioned to triple A Round Rock, completing his fall from the second top prospect in the organization to a big fat question mark.  Cannot help but wonder if calling him up last year to play in only 16 games down the stretch didn't contribute mightily to his current situation.

See?  You can score 5+ runs without 2-3+ homers.  Less power, but ample run production.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nolan Ryan Issued a Written Statement...

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: ...through the Texas Rangers that pretty much says that they're working on figuring out what the heck he's supposed to do as CEO only after being stripped of the title and responsibility of President of Baseball Operations.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: ...that at the very least means he's still with the team.  For now

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: Why do I get the feeling that the statement is Nolan Ryan and the ownership trying to buy time to figure out a way out of what will be a public relations fiasco/disaster if Nolan Ryan is not a part of the organization going forward?  And/or it's buying more time for ownership and Nolan Ryan to negotiate his buyout.  And guess what Texas Rangers ownership, namely Ray Davis and Bob Simpson?  Now every fan knows your names, you may not want that if you're both  responsible for running fan-favorite Nolan Ryan out of the organization and out of town.

Here's the statement released by Nolan Ryan that says essentially, stay tuned:

“Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward.
"I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important." 

Read more here:


Friday, March 8, 2013

Why Haven't We Heard From Nolan Ryan?

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: At least some are reporting that ownership wanted to offer John Daniels Nolan Ryan's CEO position.  Ouch.  If that's the case, why haven't we heard from Nolan Ryan?  Worst case scenario would be, based in NO WAY on anything other than my own supposition, that Nolan Ryan (who does have an ownership interest in the team) is negotiating a buyout of his share of the ball club and his contract at CEO, and him talking with the media now would do nothing to help his negotiating position/leverage.  Again, this is just my own guess as to why we haven't heard from Nolan Ryan and is based on absolutely nothing at all.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: Others are reporting that JD was never offered Nolan's position of CEO.  And Nolan isn't going to comment on something that's a non-story about events from last November.

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: At the end of the day, one interview from Nolan Ryan would clear all this up.  Which completes the circle of questions we're stuck in and leads us back to where we started: Why haven't we heard from Nolan Ryan?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 Texas Rangers Preview

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: After the crushing defeat in game 6 of the 2011 World Series (twice being 2 strikes and 2 outs from winning the it all) Rangers fans didn’t think it could get worse.  Then came the monumental collapse down the stretch of the regular season last year in 2012.  And finally, there was the offseason where the Rangers’ front office brass swung and struck out on every big free agent out there.  And one of those free agents that got away was the Rangers’ own Josh Hamilton.  And to pour salt in that wound he’s now playing for division rivals the Angels. 

Nelson Cruz is embroiled in a performance enhancing drug controversy and it remains to be seen if he’s going to face a suspension.

Spots Up For Grabs: On defense it appears that center field is a competition between Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry-I would like to see Gentry get a shot at CF since he batted for average (.304) last year in a 121 GP.  And since starting pitchers Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz will not be ready for opening day it appeared the 5th starter’s spot was Martin Perez’s to lose until he suffered a broken bone in his arm during Spring Training.  Now that 5th starting position is maybe not a big question mark but is a question mark nonetheless at this point. 

Lastly, the middle and setup relief is a going to be a huge question mark with, for example, Alexi Ogando making the move back to the starting rotation and Mike Adams another free agent that got away.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: The Rangers have a good problem in the middle infield.  With Ian Kinsler apparently staying put at 2B, they don’t know where to put Jurickson Profar, the number one prospect from last year.  If Profar doesn’t play his way onto the big club in Spring Training then they will be keeping a close eye on him in the minors.

New additions A.J. Pierzynski (C, bats lefty) and Lance Berkman  (DH, switch hitter) add lefty bats and some pop to the lineup as well bring big game experience.

Oh yeah, the Rangers have this pitcher named Yu Darvish by the way.  If he builds on his performance from last year he could turn into a true ace.  Nathan will be an anchor again as the Rangers’ closer.  And Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando aren’t too shabby as your 2-4 starters no matter what order you put them in.  Plus, starter Colby Lewis should come back from injury sometime around early to midseason and should resume his role as a starter.  Neftali Feliz is due back mid-to-late in the season.  Too many quality starting pitchers is another good problem to have.  That means Ogando and Martin Perez, or even Feliz, could move back to and strengthen the bullpen at some point during the season.

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: Maybe Josh Hamilton leaving will be addition by subtraction.  Here’s why that’s a possibility: the timing of Hamilton’s slump last year seemed to coincide with him giving the go ahead to film producers to make his life story into a movie with Casey Affleck writing and directing it (late June 2012).  Then, Hamilton batted .223, .177 and .259 three out the last four months of the season last year.  In other words, it is yet to be seen which Josh Hamilton the Rangers lost and which Josh Hamilton the Halos signed.

Mitch Moreland played last year primarily against right-handed pitchers but, with Kinsler staying at 2B it looks like Moreland is going to get a chance to be an everyday 1B.  Keep your fingers crossed when he’s batting against righties.

Finally Rangers manager Ron Washington is going to have to do exactly what his job title says: manage.  Everyone knows that his players love him and will run through brick walls for him.  However, with so many question marks going into the season Wash is going to have to be ready to move people up, down, out of and/or into the batting order as their performance dictates.  And that’s something Wash has seemed hesitant to do, instead sticking with his guys that are struggling and hoping they’ll work their way out of a slump, like he did last year for example as the Rangers squandered the AL West Division lead in the last month.  The same goes for the starting rotation and bullpen.  At times Wash’s decision making regarding the pitching staff has been criticized by those that watch every game.  Wash has to demonstrate that he knows when to make a move and when not to.  In the past the Rangers’ offense has been productive enough to cover up any questionable moves Wash has made with the pitching staff.  That won’t be the case this year.

My projected lineup for 2013:
Batting Order
1. Ian Kinsler – 2B
2. Elvis Andrus – SS
3. David Murphy – OF
4. Adrian Beltre – 3B
5. Lance Berkman – DH
6. Nelson Cruz – OF
7. A.J. Pierzynski – C
8. Mitch Moreland – 1B
9. Craig Gentry – OF

Starting Pitching Rotation
1. Yu Darvish
2. Matt Harrison
3. Derek Holland
4. Alexi Ogando
5. TBD

2013 Prediction: In a very close race the Rangers’ strong starting pitching and a consistent (although less powerful) offense carries them to an AL West win.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2013 Texas Rangers Preview... yours truly is up at  I'll post the same preview here tomorrow.  Cheers!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Is Nolan Ryan On the Way Out?

Glass Half Empty / Afternoon Cloud: If Nolan Ryan, the face of Texas Rangers baseball, is essentially being forced out by ownership his departure will be in the final nail in a terrible offseason for the front office.

Glass Half Full / Silver Lining: Or maybe Nolan is just retiring?  Maybe?  Or maybe, Nolan is OK with letting the young guys take on more responsibility and he can sit back and just oversee the whole thing.  Hopefully.

Thoughts / Observations / Sidenotes: I hope Nolan doesn't end up leaving the Rangers and goes to work for the Astros (now AL West bunk-mates of the Rangers) and helps to build them into a World Series contender like he helped do with the Rangers.


Why Isn't Every Texas Rangers Preseason Game on TV?

Does Fox Sports Southwest have better programming during the day?  If the answer is no, then why are they (or some other local DFW channel) not broadcasting each Rangers Cactus League ballgame?  In the year two thousand and thirteen (2013) why can I not turn on the television and watch each and every Rangers preseason game?

For example, Martin Perez (the would-be 5th starting pitcher) broke his arm yesterday when when a liner hit him when he was on the mound.  But no one I know around DFW got to see the game today because, IT WAS NOT ON TV.  That of course is bad news for the Rangers but I'd like to see bad along with the good, just like I do during the regular season.


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