Monday, May 31, 2004

No Rangers game on Memorial Day 

Gee, thanks, Bud Selig...

A national holiday in the middle of summer, and MLB decides that a bunch of teams need an off-day?

MLB's marketing department must be a bunch of insane monkeys with Blackberrys.


Gammons suggests Fuson being squeezed out 

In his latest ESPN notes column, Peter Gammons suggests that the Rangers, wanting to eliminate the Scott Boras influence in the organization, have a contingent pushing to keep John Hart as G.M. This would be at the expense of Grady Fuson, who was supposedly hired with the understanding that he'd take over as G.M. after the 2004 season, since Fuson is apparently considered to be too closely aligned with Boras.

What's funny is that the episode that Gammons uses to introduce this theory is Chan Ho Park's latest trip to the disabled list, since the Park signing has been much more closely associated with Hart than with Fuson. Hart is the guy who loves the power pitchers, and Park was supposed to be the prototype for what he wanted to bring to Texas. Fuson, meanwhile, emphasizes conserving pitches, putting the ball in play, and overall "pitchability"...Park is the antithesis of the Fuson pitcher.

Obviously, I think keeping Hart around and getting rid of Fuson would be a disaster. However, the other question I have is, who are these people whispering in Gammons ear about the front office situation? This has been a recurring theme for Gammons lately...he had an article three weeks ago in which he said that Tom Hicks "had to convince" Hart to stay on as G.M.

A couple of thoughts jump to mind immediately...first of all, as anyone who read "Moneyball" knows, Beane and Gammons swap information regularly, and as anyone who reads Gammons regularly knows, Gammons is a big fan of Beane, and has taken some shots at Fuson on Beane's behalf. Of course, there's still no love lost between Beane and his former scouting director.

Additionally, Buck Showalter spent a couple of years with Gammons on Baseball Tonight, and given the very mixed signals coming from Arizona this spring on a few issues -- particularly whether Fuson's guy, Gerald Laird, or Hart's guy, Einar Diaz, would be the starting catcher this season -- I've got some concerns that it may be Showalter, or his people, who are leaking this information to Gammons. If Fuson takes over for Hart, it wouldn't be unusual for him to want to bring in his own guy...which means that Hart and Showalter may be working together to undermine Fuson, in order to ensure that their positions within the organization remain secure.


Sunday, May 30, 2004

ChiSox want to unload Jon Rauch 

Jon Rauch's early departure from U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago this weekend has apparently so infuriated White Sox G.M. Ken Williams, the White Sox have publicly announced that "any team that's interested in Jon Rauch. . .should call Ken Williams".

Rauch, at 6'11", is the tallest player in baseball, throws hard, has had control problems, has had surgery for a torn labrum, and now is being knocked by the new, "feel good", Ozzie-licious White Sox for not buying into the family, group-hug mentality they are building there. He also was the #1 prospect in a strong Chicago farm system in 2001, and has put up a 3.07 ERA with 40 Ks in 50 1/3 IP in AAA this year.

The Oklahoma rotation right now consists of Ryan Snare, John Wasdin, Nick Regilio, Ricardo Rodriguez, and probably Mike Bacsik. If RicRod comes back solidly from his appendectomy, he'll be in Texas by the end of June, either replacing Juan Dominguez or R.A. Dickey in the rotation. Nick Regilio has gone into the tank of late, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's D.L.'d in the aftermath of his awful outing yesterday, with some sort of lingering problem relating to his arm issues. Nobody in the Frisco rotation has done anything to warrant a promotion to AAA (although neither Sam Narron nor Erik Thompson embarrassed themselves in their spot starts for Oklahoma). So it seems like Rauch would be an ideal target for the Rangers...

Alas, I'm afraid it won't happen. Buck's pet reclamation project from his Arizona days, Nick Bierbrodt, is going to be booted up to Oklahoma sooner or later, I expect, and Bierbrodt isn't stained with the accusations of attitude that Rauch now carries. Remember, Buck is as big as anyone in baseball on wearing your hat straight, pulling your socks up the proper amount, and marching to the beat of his drum (which seems to have played a significant role in Alex Rodriguez wanting out this offseason), and I have a hard time seeing him accepting someone else's problem child, particularly when the problem was the child's leaving the stadium early, thus bringing into question his "heart" and "desire" and all those other things that Buck wants his guys to exhibit...


New York Post pushing Mark Teixeira trade rumors 

Ridiculous, of course...

But they quote a scout as saying that, with Adrian Gonzalez in AAA, he'd trade Teixeira if he could get a young, high-end starter back. Which Joel Sherman is using as a basis to suggest that Mark Teixeira is available.

However, since Sherman has floated it, prepare for rumors that the Rangers are wanting to deal Teixeira to start floating around...


Minor league starters for Sunday, 5/30/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio, I believe.
Frisco -- Off
Stockton -- Gary Hogan and Wes Littleton
Clinton -- Not sure. John Danks, who would normally have pitched yesterday, didn't, so it may be him today.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Minor league starters for Saturday, 5/29/04 

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron was, reportedly, promoted to fill in for Juan Dominguez
Frisco -- Kameron Loe
Stockton -- John Hudgins and Jose Garcia (I think -- Stockton's rotation has been juggled a bit)
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon and John Danks


Dominguez gets the start 

Rosman Garcia is getting sent back down to AAA today, in order to make room on the roster for Juan Dominguez, who will be getting the start against the Blue Jays this afternoon.

Dominguez, of course, is the righthander who was believed to be 20 year old Jose Dominguez last season, dominated at high-A Stockton, AA Frisco, and AAA Oklahoma before debuting with the Rangers last year, and who, it turns out, is actually 23 year old Juan Dominguez.

Although Dominguez has put up terrific numbers in AAA this year, I'm not holding out a whole lot of hope for a stellar performance against the Blue Jays. While Dominguez has a good fastball and a "plus plus" changeup that is considered the best in the Ranger system, he still doesn't have a reliable breaking ball. He has supposedly being working on incorporating a "slurve", a sort of hybrid curve ball/slider, into his repertoire, but only throws the pitch a few times per game, and apparently doesn't have any sort of reliable command over it. Generally speaking, a third pitch is necessary to be a good major league starter, and while there are exceptions -- Kevin Brown, for instances, throws almost exclusively that hard sinker of his -- a pitcher whose pitches are both "straight" pitches is likely to have problems the second and third times through the lineup.

So I wouldn't be surprised if Dominguez cruises through the first few innings, then starts getting hit come innings four and five.

As Keith Foulke and Trevor Hoffman have proved, you can be a dominant reliever using primarily a fastball and a change. And with Dominguez, I expect that the bullpen is where he's going to end up.


New Beltran rumor -- Beltran to Philly? 

A rumor I hadn't heard yet has Carlos Beltran going to the Phillies for Gavin Floyd and Marlon Byrd.

The would be a very nice deal for Kansas City, and while it would give Philly a significant edge in the N.L. East race, it would also be a steep price for Philadelphia to pay. I'd be quite surprised if Philly gave up Floyd in such a deal. Although if you believe that TNSTAAPP, and when you note that the National League looks particularly unimpressive this year, it may be hard for Philly to justify passing up such a deal, since acquiring Beltran might be just what they need to get them to the World Series.

Of course, the rumor came from the Rochester, NY, sports page, so who knows how valid it actually is...


Friday, May 28, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 5/28/04 

Oklahoma -- John Wasdin
Frisco -- Nick Bierbrodt
Stockton -- John Hudgins and whomever has taken Jason Andrew's spot as Hudgins' tandem partner; possibly Ben Kozlowski, who has been assigned to Stockton
Clinton -- Matt Lorenzo and Jesse Chavez


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Rangers sign Ray Beasley 

Pulling a player out of the independent leagues, the Rangers have signed Ray Beasley to a minor league contract.

Beasley was an NRI to spring training with the Rangers in 2003, and saw time in Oklahoma and Frisco last year.

He'll go to Frisco, and likely pitch out of the pen there...


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Chan Ho to the D.L. 

Once again, the Ho has been put on the D.L. The Rangers have called up Rosman Garcia to take his roster spot, although I'm guessing that's a short-term move, as Garcia is a reliever, the Rangers will need a 5th starter on Saturday, and there's no one in the pen capable of making a spot start.

The other option would be to pitch Rogers and Benoit on Saturday and Sunday on short rest, since there is an off day on Monday. With two off days the following week, the Rangers wouldn't need a fifth starter again after Saturday until June 8th. Or, if the pen hasn't been taxed, Buck could go with a tag-team approach on Saturday, with Garcia going two-three innings, Mahay or Powell going two-three innings, and the regular relievers taking it from there.

More likely, I think the Rangers will either call up Juan Dominguez for a spot start on Saturday, and then send him back down, or else they'll bring up John Wasdin again. Either way, Ricardo Rodriguez may be ready to return by June 8, so hopefully, he'll be able to step into the 5th starter spot at that time.


Minor league starters for Wednesday, 5/26/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare
Frisco -- Erik Thompson
Stockton -- Wes Littleton; I got it wrong yesterday, when I had Littleton going, and it was actually Kiki Bengochea and Jose Garcia
Clinton -- Should be Matt Farnum and Edison Volquez, but one site has Craig Frydendall going


One other note on Homer Bailey.... 

Bailey is a high school pitcher, and as a die-hard stathead, I'm generally adamantly against the drafting of high school pitchers in the first round.

That being said, though...Fuson has drafted two of them during the years he's been handling drafts. One of them, Jeremy Bonderman, is an elite pitching prospect now in Detroit. The other one, John Danks, is exceeding expectations for the Rangers in low-A ball right now.

So while I'd much prefer Townsend, and probably Sowers, over Bailey...if Fuson decides Bailey is the guy, well, I'm not saying I won't complain, but I'll temper my criticism a bit more than I normally would. Fuson's drafts are almost always dominated by college players, particularly at the top, and, given his track record, if he feels it is warranted to deviate from that, I'm a little more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt...


Jim Callis on the amateur draft 

ESPN had a chat session with Baseball America's Jim Callis today.

Couple of interesting notes...he said, while LaGrange, Texas, righthander Homer Bailey appears to be the Rangers' pick if he is there at #10, Rice's stud pitcher Wade Townsend has been slipping, and could drop down to the Rangers, as well, particularly if someone takes Bailey before #10 (which is certainly possible). My guess is that either Bailey or Townsend will be there at 10, but not both, and Fuson will nab whichever one is still sitting there. If both are gone, Jeremy Sowers would be the likely choice.

The other item had to do with Jeff Larish...after entering the season as the top college hitting prospect, Larish has had a terrible season, which Callis believes drops him into the second round. Callis also notes that Larish is being advised by Scott Boras, whose scorched earth tactics often lead to his clients dropping in the draft. Of course, Boras has a close relationship with both Tom Hicks and Grady Fuson -- it was Boras who, supposedly, was pushing Hicks to bring Fuson to Texas in 2001. (Peter Gammons went so far as to say that Boras prepped Fuson for his interview with Hicks).

Vince Sinisi dropped to the Rangers in the second round last year over signability concerns and his relationship with Boras, and it ended up working out for the Rangers. In a draft where the Rangers want to add some positional players to their system, Larish is the type of offensive player Fuson seeks, a big guy with good plate discipline and power potential. If Larish does drop as far as the second round, I expect the Rangers to pull the trigger on him.

In fact, it may make more sense for the Rangers to take him with Atlanta's pick at #30. If a team doesn't sign its first round pick, it gets a compensatory pick the following year in the "sandwich" round between the first and second. Given that this is a shallow draft, it may make more sense for the Rangers to take a flyer on a hard sign like Larish with that #30 pick, rather than their second rounder, knowing that they won't be left with nothing if he ends up returning to school.


More strange Mariners moves 

Our arch-enemies in the Pacific Northwest continue their strange personnel decisions, bumping top prospect Clint Nageotte to the bullpen in AAA, supposedly to prepare him for a middle relief role in Seattle later this year. Bob Melvin says that he thinks Nageotte may be better suited to the pen.

While Nageotte's third pitch, his change-up, is still a work in progress, he does have a very good fastball and slider...and given that the M's have already relegated their other top pitching prospect, Rafael Soriano, to the bullpen, and have some problems in the rotation (particularly if and when Freddy Garcia is traded), you'd think they'd give Nageotte a chance to show he can be a starter, particularly on the heels of his dominating season in AA last year.

Doesn't seem to make any sense...but, hey, their loss is our gain...


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A few thoughts... 

I'm glad that Buck pulled Rogers, with a 4 run lead, after the 6th inning. Rogers had gone 105 pitches, which was plenty...with a well-rested pen, there's no need to have him go back out to start the 7th. Best case scenario, Rogers breezes through the inning and is up to 120 pitches, a number that he doesn't need to be throwing at this point in the season. Plus, the ChiSox as a group are lefty-killers, which means you are tempting fate if you leave him out there. Hopefully, Buck learned from the R.A. Dickey 131 pitch fiasco (and it sounds like he did)...

Mark Teixeira, despite slumping, seemingly, since his return from the D.L., has his OPS up to 850. He's walking and hitting for power, and the batting average should follow...if he can stay healthy, I'm betting he takes a big step forward the rest of the way, and ends up with an OPS well above 900...

Jason Botts was one for four with a triple today. Unfortunately, he did it for AA Frisco. Rick Asadoorian got the promotion to Oklahoma. With Botts playing primarily 1B for Frisco, the organization may have decided that he needs to stay there unless and until Adrian Gonzalez moves up from AAA. Still, given the way Botts is pounding the Texas League pitchers right now, I'd like to see him get his feet wet in the PCL, and possibly prepare himself for a late-season callup...

Nice to see Blalock draw a couple of walks today...while he's generally better when he's more aggressive, it seems that he tends to struggle more when he gets too aggressive. The walk totals for he and Nix this season have been a bit disappointing thusfar, although their minor league track records suggest that that should improve as the season goes on...


Meal money in the minor leagues 

Good piece in the DMN by Chuck Carlton about meal money for baseball players.

One of the items that caught my eye was that major league players get $77.50 per day on the road for meal money, even though there are generally pre- and post-game spreads available, meaning that a player generally only on his own for lunch (although the article notes that clubhouse fees for big leaguers are $30-35 per day).

Meanwhile, minor leaguers get $20 per day, with no clubhouse buffet; after clubhouse fees, that drops to about $8 per day. Carlton includes anecdotes about players using coupons for fast food and eating as gas stations to save money.

By my estimate, it would cost $60-80K per season for a team to give its minor leaguers an extra $10 per day on the road for meal money. Given the lengths that teams go to to rehab injured players and try to keep them healthy, it seems like that relatively small sum might be a worthwhile investment for a team to make in its future, allowing its players to eat a little better and, one hopes, more nutritiously.


Mench and Jordan to the D.L. 

Chad Allen back up, along with Gary Matthews, Jr., to take their place.

This sucks. Don't get me wrong, Allen and Matthews are fine, as stopgaps, the type of guys that good organizations keep stocked in AAA for exactly this sort of emergency, and also a fine example of Freely Available Talent (i.e., why you don't give 7 figure, multi-year contracts to backup outfielders). Allen will platoon with Dellucci at one corner spot, Eric Young and Matthews will split time in the other corner outfield spot, and the lineup will limp along until Mench returns.

No, what sucks is the number of young players going down to injury, in a season that is supposed to be for evaluation and rebuilding. Gerald Laird is gone for three months, Mench is gone for at least a couple of weeks, Mark Teixeira missed time with an oblique strain, and Laynce Nix has struggled with back problems and turf toe. Even fringe players, who may have had an opportunity this season, have been missing. Jason Jones, a Buck fave who lost his 40 man spot but would probably have gotten the call instead of Allen if he had been healthy, has been out all year. Jason Hart, also a 40 man roster casualty, but a righty power hitter who would be handy to platoon in LF or DH with the injuries, will miss the entire season with a brain tumor.

And there have been similar problems on the mound...Colby Lewis is out for the season with rotator cuff surgery, and immediately goes from prospect to suspect, given the discouraging recovery rates for those whose shoulders are cut on. Ricardo Rodriguez, who should be first in line for a rotation spot should someone go down (and word is Chan Ho Park may be heading to the D.L.), is only now ready to return to Oklahoma, after missing a month with an emergency appendectomy. Interesting, if not overwhelming, pitching prospects A.J. Murray and Edwin Moreno are done for the season. And of course, Ben Kozlowski, whom, back in 2002, many expected to be settled into the rotation by now, is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Even with the team continuing to hang in the race, this series of injuries is exceedingly frustrating for those of us who expected these players to be the core of the Rangers for the next half-decade...


More on the irresponsibility of high school baseball coaches 

Fascinating piece on high school junior Lance Lynn, who throws 90 mph, but who is dealing with a stiff arm after throwing 189 pitches in a regular season high school game.

And what makes it even more unbelievable is that Lynn had mono earlier this year, and thus has had stamina problems.

Yet, neither the author of this piece, nor Lynn's coach, seem to think there's anything wrong with the way he's being handled. The coach seems to shrug it off as being Lynn's choice, and the author's tone suggests that he approves of Lynn's "bulldog nature".

Lynn says that he thinks he'll be fine by the sectionals...

We shall see...


Minor league starters for Tuesday, 5/25/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio
Frisco -- Chris Young
Stockton -- Wes Littleton and someone else, possibly Ryan Dittfurth
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon and John Danks


Monday, May 24, 2004

Minor league starters for Monday, 5/24/04 

Oklahoma -- Juan Dominguez
Frisco -- Kam Loe
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez and Matt Lorenzo


Kevin Mench and the domino effect... 

The injury problems keep mounting for the Rangers, as the DMN is reporting that Kevin Mench and Brian Jordan are likely to go on the D.L., Mench with a rib cage injury, Jordan with continued knee problems.

Jordan is no big loss -- he's been struggling mightily at the plate, and while I think he'll start hitting again when he's healthy, he apparently isn't healthy just yet -- but Mench is one of the few Rangers who has stayed in the lineup consistently, appearing in all but two games so far this year, and he's put up a very respectable 812 OPS so far this year. Mench's injury, while disappointing, is something that we're apparently going to have to get used to...Mench appears to go in the J.D. Drew/Larry Walker/Cliff Floyd category of guys who just can't stay healthy.

That said, the injuries do offer some interesting choices for the team regarding the farm system. It appears that Gary Mathews, Jr., and Chad Allen will get the call to replace Mench and Jordan on the 25 man roster. Mathews provides the team with a legitimate backup CF, and will probably play CF against lefties, while Allen fills Jordan's role as a righthanded corner outfielder.

Their promotion will leave Oklahoma short-handed, which provides a very good opportunity for Jason Botts. Botts, the 23 year old giant switch-hitting outfielder/first baseman for Frisco, got off to a slow start to the season, but has been tearing the cover off the ball as of late, posting a .306/.424/.554 line and a .262 Major League Equivalent EQA. The power, that scouts always thought he had the potential to generate, seems to finally have arrived, as he's hit 10 homers in just about a quarter of a season. Given his age, and the fact that he spent the second half of the 2003 season getting his feet wet in AA, it seems like Botts should be heading to Oklahoma shortly to fill one of the vacant roster spots.

If Botts jumps to AAA, that would leave the first base job open in AA. And while it is less likely, this could lead to 2003 second rounder Vince Sinisi being jumped from high-A Stockton to Frisco. Sinisi hasn't hit as well as Botts -- he's at .324/.394/.459 -- but he's a 1B/OF who is considered very advanced for his age, with the Rangers having started him at high-A Stockton in 2003, something they did with none of their other 2003 draftees. At 22, his power is still developing, but given his success in Stockton, and the possible opening at Frisco, I wouldn't be suprised to see him make the jump shortly.


The Mariners about to blow it up... 

Another article out of Seattle, indicating that the Mariners are about to go into full-fledged rebuilding mode, and start dealing or releasing veterans.

If the Rangers stay in contention, Freddy Garcia is the primary guy I'd be interested in, but the price for him likely would be Adrian Gonzalez, plus another prospect...more than I'd want the Rangers to pay...

If they'd take Ramon Nivar and someone else -- a Josh McKinley or a Will Smith (they are looking for position prospects) -- then I'd be more willing, but I'm afraid that package wouldn't get it done...

As the guys at U.S.S. Mariner point out, almost everyone thinks Rich Aurilia is on his way out, either via trade or being released.

Those who are starting to feel all warm and fuzzy about John Hart now should remember that Aurilia, along with Sidney Ponson (who has been a bust so far), were the two players Hart was going to sign if Alex Rodriguez had been traded to Boston...


Sunday, May 23, 2004

A General Draft Study: 1987-1992 

Excellent study on the likelihood of a draftee turning into a major league player.

This is a very long piece, and has a lot of good info, but in a nutshell, there are about a dozen "good to great" players produced in each draft...much less than, I think, most folks would anticipate...


Minor league starters as of 5/23/04 

Oklahoma -- John Wasdin
Frisco -- Nick Bierbrodt
Stockton -- John Hudgins and Luis Marcano
Clinton -- Williams Sarmiento and Tim Cunningham


Laird and his thumb 

Gerald Laird had surgery on his thumb ligament, to re-attach the ligament to the bone, which means he'll miss two to three months.

That's a big blow, both for the team's prospects this season, and for the future. With Laird out, the Rangers are stuck with Rod Barajas and Ken Huckaby handling the catching duties. Both are fine defensively, but can't really hit (although Barajas shows flashes of power, such as last night). Worse, though, is the fact that Laird, who was probably the top A.L. Rookie of the Year candidate (assuming that my calculations are correct and Lew Ford isn't eligible), loses basically half a season of facing major league hitters and honing his craft. I viewed Laird as possibly another Mike Lieberthal, a guy who could be, if not a great catcher, a pretty good one who would offer his team quality defense and a pretty good bat from the bottom of the order. It remains to be seen how he will rebound.

One positive note, though, is that Laird will continue to travel with the team, and will anchor himself on the bench during games next to coach Don Wakamatsu, who has been tutoring Laird on the finer points of the game.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Minor league starters for Saturday, 5/22/04 

Oklahoma -- Cory Vance
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez
Stockton -- Cody Smith and John Hudgins
Clinton -- Edison Volquez and Matt Farnum


Friday, May 21, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 5/21/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare
Frisco -- Erik Thompson
Stockton -- Should be Gary Hogan and Kiki Bengochea, although Bengochea's recent struggles could have knocked him to the pen
Clinton -- John Danks and Cesar Herrera


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Gerald Laird: Sprained thumb 

Bad news...probably out at least 6 weeks...

Laird hurt himself in a collision at the plate with Ken Harvey. Just another example of the inherent risks in playing catcher...

BP had a piece today in which they identified Laird as the #5 catcher in baseball in terms of saving his team runs by throwing out basestealers...


A diagnosis (finally) (sort of) on Garret Anderson 

Garret Anderson apparently has arthritis.

Of course, still no information on how long he's expected to be out, or how it will affect his performance long-term...


Minor league starters for Thursday, 5/20/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio
Frisco -- Chris Young
Stockton -- Wes Littleton and Not sure...has been Jose Garcia, but he pitched yesterday
Clinton -- Matt Lorenzo and Jesse Chavez


Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Yesterday, it is Dickey. Today, it is the Ho.

Why Buck Showalter refuses to get his starters out, once they are up above 100 pitches and in trouble, continues to baffle me...


The return of Ruben Mateo 

Before there was Hank Blalock, there was Ruben Mateo...a player who was the one shining hope for a barren late-90s Rangers farm system. Mateo, of course, kept getting hurt, then broke his leg, struggled upon his return, was sent to AAA, traded to Cincy for the immortal Rob Bell (he of the Loch Ness Curve), bounced up and down between Cincinnati and their AAA affiliate for a couple of years, and then signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent this past offseason.

Today, the Pirates have promoted Mateo to the majors, replacing the injured J.J. Davis (who goes to the D.L.).

Mateo has been on fire at AAA, posting an 1102 OPS, hitting 11 homers in 35 games, and even drawing some walks, which he's never shown a tendency to do in the past. Mateo has always had a ton of talent, but struggled with being injury-prone and having questions about his attitude...this is a chance for the Pirates to get a look at him, and see if he may be able to have a Jose Guillen-type career renaissance...


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Buck, you're killing me here... 

I don't get it...

Buck's refusal to consider lifting his vets for pinch-hitters late in the game is getting really old.

7th inning, tying run on base, and the Royals bring in Jason Grimsley, a hard-throwing, sinkerballing righthander, to face Brian Jordan, and his amazing slo-mo bat. Laynce Nix and Brad Fullmer are both available on the bench, Grimsley has just been brought into the game (meaning that he has to face at least one batter before being lifted, so Tony Pena couldn't counter with a lefty), and Jordan, despite getting some good wood on the ball today, appears to be overmatched.

And yet, Buck doesn't go with the pinch hitter...instead, he lets Proven Veteran Brian Jordan hit, and Jordan, predictably, pops up to end the inning.

9th inning, tying run on base, Herb Perry comes to the plate. Yes, Perry homered earlier in the game, but again, Perry against Nate Field is an awful matchup with Nix and Fullmer on the bench.

And yet, Buck let's Perry hit, and Perry flies out to end the game.

Worse, though...Fullmer was in the on-deck circle when the game ended. Buck apparently felt it was okay to hit for Young Whippersnapper Mark Teixeira -- who is a much better hitter than Perry, and much more likely to win the game with one swing. But Herb Perry and his cobwebby bat, or Brian Jordan and his ongoing imitation of The Mummy, get a pass...


Take that, Ben Sheets 

Just two days after Ben Sheets' 18 K masterpiece against the Braves, the Big Unit throws a perfect game against them.

Combined game score for those two games of 196...I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that's a record for back-to-back games...


Minor league starters for Tuesday, 5/18/04 

Oklahoma -- Juan Dominguez
Frisco -- Nick Bierbrodt
Stockton -- John Hudgins and someone else. Jason Andrew, Hudgins' normal tandem partner, has been promoted to Frisco to replace Justin Thompson in the bullpen, since Thompson broke his hand punching a table.
Clinton -- Tim Cunningham and Williams Sarmiento


Monday, May 17, 2004

Angel 3B Troy Glaus out at least two months 

Troy Glaus is going to have shoulder surgery, is out two months, and may be gone for the rest of the season.

Big blow to the Angels, however long he's out, since Glaus had been off to a terrific start. Top prospect Dallas McPherson is a third baseman who is off to an excellent start in AA, and may end up getting the call up, if not now, then at some point later in the season.

In the meantime, Chone Figgins probably takes over at third base, with Jeff DeVanon filling in at CF for the still mysteriously injured Garret Anderson.

While Anaheim has continued to play well, despite the injuries to Anderson, Glaus, Darin Erstad, and Tim Salmon, you have to figure that they are going to start coming back to the pack. This is a huge break for Oakland, and even the Rangers, if Texas can manage to hang in the race for a while...


The amateur draft 

Don't look now, but the 2004 amateur draft is just 3 weeks away.

The Rangers have two first rounders for the first time in a while, and while this is a pretty shallow draft overall, the college pitching has some depth to it. Ideally, I'd like to see Jeremy Sowers drop to the Rangers at #10...he's a Fuson-type pick, a polished lefthander with "pitchability" and a quality breaking ball, but not the extreme heat.

There doesn't seem to be a Sinisi "signability" guy who would drop to #30, but someone to keep an eye on might be Arizona State's Jeff Larish. Projected as possibly the #1 overall pick, Larish, who has played 3B, 1B and LF in college, has slumped quite a bit in his junior season, and will likely slide towards the latter part of the first round.

Larish is an interesting case...he had a terrific sophomore year, being named the second-team All American first baseman on the 2003 BA team, after hitting .372 with 18 homers and an incredible 78 walks in 238 ABs. This year, however, he's hitting .295/.378/.425, with his walk and homer totals both plummeting.

Larish would seem to be an ideal selection for a stathead team with multiple picks...Oakland would be a good fit, since they have two first rounders, two supplemental firsts, and two seconds. However, signability is always an issue with the A's, and Larish may be deemed to be too pricey for them. If Larish slides to the Rangers' pick at #30, I've got to believe that Fuson will think long and hard about pulling the trigger on him...and really, it will probably come down to whether Fuson and his scouts thinks Larish's problems this year are something mechanical that they have identified, and can correct, or whether he's just folding under the pressure.


Minor league starters for Monday, 5/17/04 

Oklahoma -- John Wasdin
Frisco -- Either Kelvin Jimenez or Sam Narron, not sure which
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- Matt Farnum and Edison Volquez


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Ben Sheets, dominating... 

Unbelievable game for Sheets today.

18 strikeouts, 1 walk, and a game score of 96. To give you a frame of reference, there are only seven games in major league history with game scores of at least 100.

Sheets looks like he may be turning the corner, turning his so for unfulfilled promise into results. Even before today's game, his ERA for the season was 3.24, and he had been averaging almost a strikeout per inning pitched with a 5:1 BB/K ratio.

The (hopefully) future G.M. of the Rangers, Grady Fuson, supposedly was high on Sheets while with the A's, and some say that Beane overruled Fuson by picking Barry Zito at #9 overall in 1999, with Sheets going to Milwaukee with the next pick.

While Zito clearly got off to the better start, some have suggested that joining the A's and Rick Peterson, rather than the train wreck which has been the Milwaukee Brewers, accounts for much of the difference in their performances. Zito's declining peripherals led some, this past offseason, to anticipate that he may be due for a fall, and Zito has been awful so far this season, contributing mightily to Oakland's bad start.

So it will be interesting to watch these two pitchers, drafted back to back in the 1999 amateur draft, and only one month apart in age, as they go forward the next few years...despite their disparate performances up to this point in their careers, I think the jury is out as to who is the better bet going forward...


Juan Gone, winning friends in Kansas City... 

New Royal Juan Gonzalez is now catching flak because of an interview he gave, where he laid the blame for the Royals slow start on the pitching staff.

Given the fact that he's a newcomer to Kansas City, he's played uninspired defense, and his bat has been a disappointment, the comments seem...well...a bit incongruous...


New York media continues to obsess over Soriano 

Continuing with a story that has been flogged relentlessly since the ARod trade, Bob Klapisch today centered a column around the Mets' pursuit of Alfonso Soriano.

At the beginning of the column, Klapisch quotes a Mets official as saying that the Mets have nothing that would interest the Rangers at this point, and then points out that the Rangers, who are playing will and currently hold the lead in the wild card race, have little incentive to deal Soriano at this point.

However, not one to let facts get into the way, Klapisch speculates that, once the Rangers start to fade, Tom Hicks will be in salary dump mode, and won't want to pay Soriano to remain a Ranger -- although he does erroneously assert that Soriano will be a free agent after 2005, when the Rangers actually control his rights through 2006. Klapisch also appears way off base in suggesting that Soriano will fetch $9 million in arbitration for 2005 -- $7-8 million seems more likely -- and $15 million per year as a free agent.

Soriano turns 31 the offseason he is free agent eligible, is a bad defensive second baseman, and has plate discipline issues that soften his value. To provide a couple of data points as a comparison, Jose Vidro, who is at least as good as Soriano, has signed a 4 year, $30 million extension with the Expos, rather than test the free agent waters this offseason. Soriano can't command twice what Vidro is making. And Carlos Beltran, the big prize in this offseason's free agent market, is unlikely to command $15 million per year...despite being younger than Soriano, a better offensive player, and an elite defensive centerfielder.

Klapisch's $15 million figure is no doubt wishful thinking, the hope that Soriano's price would be such that only one of the two New York teams would be able to afford to sign him, and thus force the Rangers to trade him to the Mets in the first place. And conceptually, I don't have a problem with trading Soriano...he's a player who is about as good now as he's going to be, and he's unlikely to be able to man 2B for too much longer. By 2007, he's probably going to be a left fielder or a first baseman. So if you could get a boatload of prospects -- similar, for example, to the Brandon Phillips/Grady Sizemore/Cliff Lee haul that the Indians got for Bartolo Colon -- you have to look at it, particularly if/when the Rangers drop out of the playoff race this summer.

But with uber-prospect Jose Reyes struggling with hamstring problems that appear to be chronic, and stud pitching prospect Scott Kazmir struggling this season amid whispers of durability issues and elbow problems, the Mets' pool of talent is much thinner. A lot of contenders will be looking for second basemen come mid-July, and if the Dodgers are willing to talk about James Loney, or the A's are willing to consider a package including Joe Blanton, the Rangers would probably look long and hard at such a deal...and the Mets would likely be on the outside, looking in...


Minor league starters for Sunday, 5/16/04 

Oklahoma -- Cory Vance
Frisco -- Erik Thompson
Stockton -- Kiki Bengochea and Gary Hogan
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon and John Danks


Friday, May 14, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 5/14/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio
Frisco -- Kameron Loe
Stockton -- Wes Littleton and Jose Garcia
Clinton -- Williams Sarmiento and Tim Cunningham

I had Loe going yesterday for Frisco, but reclamation project Nick Bierbrodt actually got the nod. To make room for Bierbrodt, someone is going to have to be bumped from the rotation. Chris Young seems like the most likely candidate, but with Frankie Francisco being promoted to Texas, the closer role is open, and Kelvin Jimenez has a repertoire that suggests that he may be better suited to the pen, so that may end up being the move...


Jose Lima's wife 


It's Lima Time.


Bizarre trade rumor of the day... 

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"[Mariners G.M. Bill] Bavasi said no deals are near, but rumors are circulating the Red Sox and Royals are trying to entice the Mariners into a three-way trade. Boston would trade pitcher Byung Hyun Kim and, possibly, outfielder Johnny Damon to the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Freddy Garcia and minor league starter Cha Seung Baek.

If the Red Sox could get the Mariners to bite, Garcia would then be shipped to Kansas City, with outfielder Carlos Beltran going to Boston."

Okay, the Royals, going nowhere and wanting to trade their best player before he leaves at the end of the season as a free agent, would get, in exchange for him, a decent pitcher who would leave at the end of the season as a free agent.

The Mariners would give up their most tradeable chit, in Garcia, plus a decent pitching prospect for two contracts that Boston wants to dump.

And Boston, in exchange for dumping Damon and Kim (and their bad contracts), would get the best centerfielder in baseball.

Yeah, I'm sure Theo Epstein is pushing for that deal. The fact that anyone would think this possibility is credible enough to even mention in the press, though, is baffling...


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Jeff Nelson to the D.L. 

The Rangers have put setup man Jeff Nelson on the D.L., and have activated lefty Brian Shouse from the D.L.

Nelson is having knee surgery, and there's no timetable that I've seen yet for his return. Nelson was supposed to solidify the bullpen by taking over in the 8th innings, and getting the game to Cordero in the 9th. Nelson has struggled all season, though, after being somewhat mediocre last year, and his stint on the D.L. should allow Carlos Almanzar the opportunity to stake a claim to the setup role.

It will be interesting to see how the bullpen roles end up shaking out, with both Nelson and Showalter fave Brocail on the shelf. Shouse gives the Rangers three lefties, but as a sidewinder, Shouse is the LOOGYest of the three, and he's also the rustiest...although he'd been on his rehab assignment for three weeks, the Rangers activated Frankie Francisco instead of Shouse when Brocail went down, out of a concern that Shouse needed more time in AAA. Now, Shouse will get the rest of the rust off in the majors, with Showalter likely spotting him in low-leverage situations for the time being.

In the meantime, the Rangers have three relievers whom Showalter seems to trust right now -- Erasmo Ramirez, Almanzar, and Cordero. With Mahay likely being relegated to a mop-up/long-man role, given his struggles, the interesting battle should be between Powell and Francisco to see who gets to be the "alpha" middle-man, the guy who comes in in the 6th or 7th with a one run lead, instead of coming in in the 8th with a 2 run deficit. Powell, of course, is the veteran, which is always an advantage in BuckLand, and he's a groundball type who can get a GIDP in crucial situations with men on base. On the other hand, despite decent numbers this year, he hasn't ever really earned Buck's trust...he seems to be the guy Buck turns to when he doesn't want to use one of his "good" relievers, but doesn't really want to throw in the towel, either.

For Francisco, this is a golden opportunity to carve out a role in the Rangers pen for the next few years. He's been described as having the best arm in the system, and he's been simultaneously dominant and wild while in Frisco. With Nelson on the shelf, Francisco will likely end up being thrown in the fire sooner than Buck anticipated, and he'll no doubt drive Buck and Orel a little nuts with his erratic relationship with the strike zone (much like Francisco Cordero does). With a little patience from the guys in charge, though, I can easily see Francisco slotting himself into a middle relief role, coming in as a flamethrower to tag-team with Almanzar in bridging the gap from starter to closer.


Nelson to the D.L. 

The Rangers have put Jeff Nelson on the disabled list with an "inflamed right knee", and have activated Brian Shouse from the disabled list.

The Rangers activated Frankie Francisco instead of Shouse when they D.L.'d Doug Brocail supposedly because they felt Shouse wasn't quite ready to return, and needed a couple more rehab outings. However, with Nelson's injury, the team had little choice but to bring Shouse back now, and hope that he can get himself back to 100% in lower-leverage situations in the majors.


Rosenthal, once again, pushing a Soriano trade 

In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal once again anticipates that Alfonso Soriano will be traded this year.

Which may end up happening, if the Rangers fall out of the race...but what I don't get is the supposed motivation for the deal. Rosenthal, once again, claims that this would allow Michael Young to move back to 2B, where Rosenthal keeps insisting Young belongs, despite the fact that Young has been a gold glove caliber shortstop this year. The Rangers then, according to Rosenthal, could pursue free agent shortstops Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera after the season...even though Cabrera is no better defensively than Young, and Renteria is worse than Young defensively.

Rosenthal also promotes the notion that the Rangers would want Joey Gathright from the D-Rays for Soriano...even though Gathright is basically the second coming of Jason Tyner.

Ridiculous...hopefully, this is just Rosenthal's speculation, and not based on the front office's actual goals. I'm not adverse to trading Soriano, if the right package were available, but trading him so that they could go after a free agent shortstop (and remember, Hart really wanted f.a. bust Rich Aurilia in Texas if Boston traded for ARod) and move Young back to second, where he is less valuable, is asinine.


On young catchers, and Gerald Laird... 

New piece from Tim Kurkjian on the new generation of catchers entering the game.

Gerald Laird got some recognition in the article, including some remarkably over-the-top praise from an anonymous scout who, predicting that Laird would be "a great one", said that Laird was ahead of where Hall of Famer Gary Carter was at the same age.

I'm as big a fan of Laird as anyone, but at age 24, Carter was coming off a season in which he put up 31 homers and an 881 OPS while playing for the Expos. Laird, whose upside is more commonly compared to Jim Sundberg with a better bat, or perhaps Mike Lieberthal isn't in Carter's league offensively.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see a guy written off as a non-factor as recently as this winter, getting some praise and recognition from the national press...


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Minor league starters for Thursday, 5/13/04 

Oklahoma -- Juan Dominguez
Frisco -- Kameron Loe
Stockton -- Jason Andrew and John Hudgins
Clinton -- DH. Probably Williams Sarmiento and Tim Cunningham


Bizarre New York Times headline 

Headline in the New York Times: A Promising Rotation Deteriorates for the Mets.

Did anyone really think that the Mets' 2004 rotation had any promise whatsoever?


Brocail to the D.L., Frankie Francisco called up 

Another Ranger pitcher gets appendicitis.

I wonder if that's a record for a team in one season.

Francisco has been lights-out in Frisco...he came over to Texas in the Carl Everett trade and disappointed, but was converted to a relief role this season, and has average an unbelievable 15.8 Ks per 9 innings. He's had some control issues, particularly earlier in the season, but Francisco can bring it, and it will be interesting to see if the Rangers give him a close look.

My guess is that he'll cool his heels and pitch in long relief/mop up situations for the time being, but given Nelson's struggles, I think Francisco has a chance to push into a setup role.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Red Sox option Kim to Triple-A 

In what is a surprising move (to me, anyway), the Red Sox have optioned the struggling Byung-hyun Kim to Triple-A.

Kim has had a great deal of success in the bullpen, where his durability makes him an ideal candidate as a "high leverage" reliever, availability for multiple innings per appearance as either a closer or late-inning setup man. However, he's made it clear in the past that he wants to be a starter -- in his native Korea, there apparently is an attitude that the good pitchers start, and the other pitchers are in the bullpen -- and his demotion follows his second straight poor outing as a starter.

This could be a precursor to an attempt by the Red Sox to trade Kim; however, he signed a 2 year, $10 million deal before the season, which, given his repeated problems in a starting role, will make him difficult to move.

Still, it would be worthwhile for the Rangers to take a look at him, if they could get the Red Sox to absorb, say, half of the money still due to him. While Almanzar and Cordero have been impressive, the Rangers still need another arm they can trust in the setup role (as Jeff Nelson looks more erratic with each passing day), and Kim at half the cost would be a nice addition to the pen.


M's put Rafael Soriano on the D.L... 

...with a sprained elbow ligament...

When it rains, it pours.

The Mariners are describing the sprain as "mild", but any time you hear that a pitcher has a problem with an elbow ligament, the initials T and J immediately pop to mind.

Soriano was one of the few good young players on the Mariners. For a team that is looking ancient and needs to rebuild, missing Soriano for any length of time is a pretty significant blow.


Troubling Colby Lewis news 

The news on Colby Lewis continues to be cloudy and negative. This weekend, Lewis was expected to head to extended spring training after an MRI was performed on his shoulder on Monday.

Unfortunately, the MRI showed "wear and tear", Lewis continued to have problems in a throwing session, and it sounds like he may be shut down indefinitely.

The problem appears to be his rotator cuff, which definitely sends up alarm signals. Shoulder problems have derailed the careers of many promising pitching prospects, and unlike elbow problems, have a much lower success rate in terms of treatment and rehabilitation.

The Rangers are apparently in the process of comparing and contrasting Monday's MRI with earlier MRIs done on Lewis's shoulder, in the hopes of identifying the problem. In the meantime, this is a story to keep a close eye on, as Lewis's career may very well be at a crossroads...


Baseball and advertising...I don't care... 

I didn't care that baseball wanted to put Spiderman logos on the bases for a weekend. And if Rob Neyer, a writer whom I respect, really considers MLB's decision to reverse itself on the issue a victory for the fans, then it just goes to show how far our expectations as fans have sunk.

Similarly, I'm not bothered by the fact that TBIA is now Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Pompous columnists can whine, but I don't see what the big deal is. The Rangers have a chance to get $75 million by changing the name of a park...is it really reasonable to demand that Tom Hicks say no? Particularly when all his rivals are doing the same?

While I'm not one of those Eco 101 dropouts who thinks that expenses drive revenues, rather than the other way around, and thus I'm not expecting the change in the name to lead to lower ticket prices or cheaper hot dogs long-term, I do think that increasing revenues (from sources other than my own pocket, of course) is a good thing, since increased revenues can lead to more money invested into the team. Which, as a fan, is a good thing, assuming that they use it constructively, and not on the next Todd Van Poppel...

So anyway, forgive me if I don't join the chorus of folks decrying the commercialization of baseball...there are many other things I find much more troubling...


Minor league starters for Tuesday, 5/11/04 

Oklahoma -- Cory Vance
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez
Stockton -- Cody Smith. Not sure who Smith's tandem partner will be...Joel Kirsten, who had been sharing the slot with him, was sent to Clinton a couple of days ago.
Clinton -- John Danks and Cesar Herrera


Monday, May 10, 2004

Raul Mondesi to sit out the season 

In the latest twist on the Raul Mondesi saga, Mondesi has announced that he will sit out the 2004 season.

This comes on the heels of a decision by a court in the Dominican Republic to enforce an oral agreement between the then-teenage Mondesi and Mario Guerrero. Guerrero was promised 1% of Mondesi's future baseball earnings in return for acting as his "coach and advisor".

This story, along with the revelations coming out regarding the improprieties the signing of Diamondback prospect Adriano Rosario (his "advisor" collecting 25% of Rosario's $400,000 signing bonus from the Diamondbacks, without revealing that the Diamondbacks had paid the advisor $100,000 directly, or informing him of a $750,000 offer from the Dodgers), may lead to major league baseball taking a closer look at the sometimes unseemly relationship between Latin American teenagers and local talent scouts. Talk of an international draft, which was tabled after the last CBA was entered, could perhaps be revived.

Or perhaps not. The BA article on Rosario discusses the details of an ESPN "Outside the Lines" investigation. In the article, Sandy Alderson, Selig's lapdog with the official title of "MLB executive vice president for baseball operations", responded to the possibiliy of major league baseball investigating the situation by saying, "It’s possible, based on what we learn through this broadcast, that we will take a look at this situation."

So, basically, if ESPN uncovers and televises enough dirt about the situation that MLB can't ignore it anymore, Alderson will have someone check it out...

Hell of a way to run a business...


Cory Vance 

This past weekend, the DMN minor league report praised the performance of Cory Vance, the 24 year old lefty that Texas claimed off of waivers from Colorado.

While Vance's numbers are superficially pretty good, I'm not too excited about him just yet. Although Vance has a 3.32 ERA in 21 2/3 IP, he's also struck out only 11 hitters. A rate of 4.6 K/9IP is sub-par, and combined with his high homer rate so far (1.66 HR/9IP), it would lead one to believe that Vance is doing this with smoke and mirrors.

And indeed, his BABIP is just .156, a good 100-125 points below the expected range, which suggests that Vance's ERA so far has been lowered by a healthy dose of good defense and good luck.

Vance may have a future as a lefty reliever in the majors, but his AAA numbers thusfar aren't anything to get excited about.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Minor league starters for Monday, 5/10/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare
Frisco -- Erik Thompson
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- Matt Lorenzo and Jesse Chavez

One source has Justin Thompson starting for Frisco, but I'm pretty sure that's a typo, since Justin is pitching out of the pen, and it is Erik Thompson's turn in the rotation.

Thompson's outings have caused me, at least, some concern...he seems to have a pattern of fading in the fifth or sixth inning. In the tandem starter system, he generally was working off of a pitch count that would restrict him to four or five innings, so it may just be a matter of Thompson still not being used to stretching out that far. More troubling, though, is the possibility that either his stuff is not good enough to make it through the lineup more than once or twice, or the possibility that Thompson, with his small frame, doesn't have the stamina to go above 85-90 pitches.

If either of those are the situation, then Thompson may be looking at a conversion to a relief role.


Angels promote Kotchman 

The Anaheim Angels have called up stud first base prospect Casey Kotchman, presumably as a precursor to placing Darin Erstad on the D.L.

Good move, and one I thought they should have made when they put Garret Anderson on the D.L. Kotchman, who is just 21, has been tearing up the Texas League this season, and is talented enough that he may be able to stick in the lineup even after Erstad returns. His power is still developing, but as the Angels' #1 prospect according to BA, and a guy who has been compared to Will Clark and Todd Helton, it should be interesting to see how he fares against major league pitching.


Minor league starters for Sunday, 5/9/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio
Frisco -- Chris Young
Stockton -- Wes Littleton and Jose Garcia
Clinton -- Williams Sarmiento and Tim Cunningham


Saturday, May 08, 2004

Will Shouse be called up tomorrow? 

With the bullpen being ridden hard the last two games, Brian Shouse, who is on a rehab assignment with Oklahoma (but who appears to be ready to return) could be activated to give the pen some more depth tomorrow.

If Shouse comes up, the likely roster casualty would seem to be Doug Brocail, who was mediocre in three appearances before tonight's outing, where he was downright awful.



I'm speechless.

In my 33 years, I've never experienced a game that could compare to this.


Listening to this game... 

Wow. Still in the 7th inning, down a run...

But still, regardless of whether the Rangers ultimately win this game or not, it is great that a sellout crowd, which was down about as far as a crowd can get, experienced the huge comeback and is getting to see what has turned into a taut, incredible game.

Win or lose, this is a game that people are going to be talking about seeing for quite some time, and the type of game that can help build some buzz and encourage people to get back to the ballpark...


Michael Wolverton on the Ranger pitching 

Chat with BP's Michael Wolverton, which includes some of his thoughts on the Ranger pitching staff...


Friday, May 07, 2004

Minor league starters for Saturday, 5/8/04 

Oklahoma -- Juan Dominguez
Frisco -- Kameron Loe
Stockton -- John Hudgins and Jason Andrew
Clinton -- Matt Farnum and Edison Volquez

I had Cesar Herrera going Friday with John Danks, but Brian Mattoon got the call instead. Not sure if it was an injury, or Mattoon taking over in the tandem starter role for Herrera.


On walking Bonds intentionally... 

SI writer Dan George rebukes those wanting to change the rules to limit intentional walks.

He is completely right...this would basically be the "Bonds rules", since it is really only designed to protect one player. And how silly will it be 10 years ago, to try to explain that this rule was put on the books because the San Francisco Giants refused to go out and get someone decent to hit behind Barry Bonds?

You don't change the fundamental rules of the game over something like this. When Bonds retires in a few years, it will be a non-issue, just as it has been for the previous century.


Still no Garret Anderson 

Angels outfielder Garret Anderson is eligible to be activated from the D.L. today, but he's still a ways away from being ready. With Anderson undergoing more tests yesterday, it sounds like he's still a ways away from being ready to return.

While Anderson has always been overrated, he's still a pretty good centerfielder, and with Chone Figgins, Jeff DeVanon and Shane Halter filling in for him and the also-injured Tim Salmon, it reduces the chances of the Angels running off with the division early on.


On Jeremy Sowers and first rounders from the state of Texas 

Good Baseball America article, taking a look at SEC lefties, including Jeremy Sowers, who would seem to be a likely candidate for the Rangers to pop if he is still there at #10. Sowers is a lefty with the "pitchability" Grady Fuson covets, and even though his fastball hits only 91 on a good day, John Manuel notes that his ability to command four pitches makes him someone who should be close to the majors.

Manuel also discusses possible first round pitchers from Texas, including the impressive Rice trio of Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend and Phil Humber, and LaGrange lefty Homer Bailey, all of whom could be gone when the Rangers make their selection.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 5/7/04 

Oklahoma -- John Wasdin
Frisco -- Sam Narron
Stockton -- Gary Hogan and Kiki Bengochea
Clinton -- John Danks and Cesar Herrera


Mike Lupica fawning over Showalter... 

Puff piece from Lupica, mainly on Showalter.

And as usual, a lot of dwelling on Alex Rodriguez and his contract, which Lupica calls "the single dumbest contract in baseball history", ignoring, among others, the contract given to the rapidly declining Derek Jeter.

Here's one of the most interesting quotes, though:

"We loved Alex Rodriguez the ballplayer," Showalter was saying yesterday. "He was never the problem. We'd still love to have Alex the player. But this team and this organization could never have moved forward with Alex the contract."

So I sort of have to wonder, given that Showalter knew about Alex and the contract when he was hired...did he take this job believing that Alex would have to go for the team to be successful? And if so, did that impact the supposedly strained relationship between the two last year?


Minor league starters for Thursday, 5/6/04 

Oklahoma -- Cory Vance
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez
Stockton -- Joel Kirsten and Cody Smith
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez and Matt Lorenzo


Fraley wrong once again... 

Just finished reading the latest from Gerry Fraley...

In typical Fraley fashion, he oversimplifies, overgeneralizes, and ignores facts that fly in the face of his argument.

After getting the obligatory dig at Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez out of the way, he goes on to explain the Rangers' success by saying:

"Buck Showalter plus bad relievers equaled a last-place team in 2003.

Buck Showalter and good relievers equals a team that defeated Tampa Bay, 6-1, on Wednesday night at The Ballpark in Arlington to remain atop the American League West."

No doubt, the Rangers' pen is much improved this year. Ranger relievers have posted an ERA of 3.71 so far this year, against a 4.88 ERA for 2003. However, the rotation has made a much bigger difference, posting an ERA of 4.17 this year, after recording a 6.24 ERA in 2003. Moreover, the rotation has pitched 2.1 innings this year for every 1 inning thrown by the pen, compared to 1.4 innings thrown by the rotation last year for every 1 inning thrown by the bullpen. More innings thrown by the rotation means less strain on the bullpen, greatly reducing the chances of an effective reliever getting burned out early.

So Fraley can't recognize which aspect of the pitching staff has made the biggest difference to the team. But then, to compound his error, he goes on to say...

On teams with good bullpens, hitters relax with the knowledge a small lead will stand. Relaxed hitters are productive hitters. When a team knows three or four runs will be enough, it often scores six or seven.

The Rangers have relaxed and productive hitters. They lead the AL in average at .309 and slugging percentage at .507 and are near the top with 5.7 runs per game.

A very novel theory there...apparently, in Fraley's mind, the Rangers are hitting well because the bullpen is pitching well. I guess Fraley believes that, if the bullpen had blown a couple of games early, Michael Young and Laynce Nix would be hitting .250 right about now...

Fraley then goes on to take another shot at one of his avowed foes, those dreaded Moneyballers...

Even the "Moneyball" generation understands the value of bullpen roles. Boston tried the closer-by-committee approach last season, and the bullpen dragged down the Red Sox.

The Red Sox returned with clear roles this season. Boston's bullpen has been the best in the league.

Fraley completely missed the point. The problem with Boston's pen last year (particularly early) was that their bullpen was terrible. It wasn't the lack of a closer, it was the lack of good relievers that killed them.

The stathead approach to the bullpen is not that you don't have a closer, but that you don't save your closer to only pitch in the 9th with a lead. Bill James and other have argued that the best way to use your top reliever is to use him in 1 to 2 inning stretches, in high leverage situations -- generally in tie games, or with a one run lead or deficit. Those are the situations where one run is the most valuable. You shouldn't waste your best reliever in the 9th inning against the bottom of the lineup with a 3 run lead, just because that is a "save" situation.

Boston's pen has been great this year, but it isn't because they now have a "closer". It is because they have three relievers -- Keith Foulke, Scott Williamson, and Byung-yung Kim -- who are among the best at what they do, and who can pitch for more than an inning at a time. Boston is an example of a team applying the "Moneyball" bullpen principles.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Ralph Nader takes a bold stand... 

against ads on uniforms...

Of course, the ads he is complaining about were on the uniforms of the players during the New York/Tampa Bay series in Japan, which took place five weeks ago.

I guess he's been busy.

Next up, Nader is reportedly going to take a firm stand against Sammy Sosa using any more corked bats, the All Star game ending in a tie, and the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn...


Jay Jaffe and the Flat Earth Society 

Excellent column on the Moneyball backlash, and the foolishness of Harold Reynolds and Buster Olney in their ardent defense of smallball...


Joe Morgan likes the Rangers... 

More attention from ESPN on the Rangers' fast start.

Morgan's piece is pretty fluffy, although he says that Soriano looks much better defensively at 2B than he did last year, which seems to dovetail with what I've seen of Soriano -- he's not nearly the trainwreck that he seemed to be in New York.

He did, however, refer to Kevin Mench as Brian Jordan's "backup"...which made the anecdote he was telling more meaningful, but is quite far from the truth...


Hustling is overrated 

Good piece by Jim Caple, in which he mentions that, according to one poll on the worst offense in sports, fans think not hustling is worse than taking steroids.

Caple points out the ridiculousness of fawning over pointless hustling, like Pete Rose running to first base after drawing a walk, which looks nice but does nothing for the team...


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Minor league starters for Wednesday, 5/5/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare
Frisco -- Off
Stockton -- Wes Littleton and Jose Garcia
Clinton -- Williams Sarmiento and Tim Cunningham

John Hudgins and Wes Littleton were the Rangers' third and fourth round picks last summer. After signing, Hudgins was shut down for most of the summer, but Littleton had an electrifying run for Spokane in the Northwest League, vaulting him ahead of Hudgins in the pecking order, and leading some to speculate that he could be in Arlington as soon as this September. Littleton has struggled for Stockton so far this year, however, while Hudgins has come on strong, including striking out seven of the nine batters he faced in his three inning outing tonight.

Littleton had a decent outing last time out, walking 2 and striking out 2 in three shutout innings, but he needs to build on that...the Rangers need to see him come back with another strong outing, and show that he is back on track.


Frisco's offensive struggles 

With Jason Botts, Drew Meyer, Josh McKinley, Will Smith, Patrick Boyd, and Jason Bourgeois, the AA Frisco Roughriders came into the season featuring the majority of the Rangers' minor league hitting prospects. And while I knew the that Roughrider offense had been struggling, I didn't realize until just now just how bad it has been...

Frisco is, going into tonight's game, hitting a paltry .217 last in the Texas League. Midland, the next-lowest team, is hitting .255, and Arkansas, first in the league in batting average, is hitting .318, a whopping 101 points more than Frisco.

While the Roughriders are showing a decent eye, at 4th in the league in walks, they are also dead last in homers, with the team totalling only 12 bombs so far.

The big club is hammering the ball right now, but it would also be nice if Frisco could get some bats going as well...


Ask BA on Danks and Sinisi 

Jim Callis gives his thoughts on 2003 Rangers draftees John Danks and Vince Sinisi.


Former Ranger manager Darrell Johnson passes away from leukemia 

Johnson was 75.


Minor league starters for Tuesday, 5/4/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio
Frisco -- Erik Thompson
Stockton -- Jason Andrew and John Hudgins
Clinton -- Matt Farnum and Edison Volquez


Erik Karros cranky 

In today's Contra Costa Times, Oakland 1B Erik Karros is whining about not getting enough ABs.

Given that Karros was signed to play first base against lefties (with Scott Hatteburg and Erubiel Durazo playing 1B and DH against righthanders), and given that he has put up a 384 OPS so far this season, he should probably just keep his mouth shut...


Monday, May 03, 2004

The Mariner farm system 

The guys at U.S.S. Mariner rank the top 40 Seattle prospects, and offer some thoughts on the state of the Mariner farm.

In a nutshell...they don't think there's much there...


Minor league starters for Monday, 5/3/04 

Oklahoma -- Juan Dominguez is the scheduled starter, although he may be bumped so he can start for Texas on Wednesday
Frisco -- Chris Young
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- John Danks and Cesar Herrera


BP Chat Session 

BP hosted a chat session with BP author Nate Silver today.

Couple of interesting tidbits on the Rangers, particularly Silver's projection that 88-90 wins is both within the Rangers' capabilities, and possibly enough to win the AL West.

Silver also points out that this is a team that has been a living example of Murphy's Law the last few years, so the fact that they are playing well thusfar shouldn't necessarily be all that shocking...


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Andy Pratt with Steve Blass disease? 

One of the better moves during John Hart's tenure as G.M. was getting Ben Kozlowski from the Braves in exchange for Andy Pratt.

However, with Kozlowski on the shelf due to T-J surgery, Pratt made it to the majors late last season, and was a contender for a bullpen role in Atlanta before being traded to the Cubs for Juan Cruz.

After starting the 2004 season with three awful outings out of the Cubs pen, though, Pratt was sent down to AAA, where he has continued to struggle. After today's outing, Pratt has posted the following numbers for AAA Iowa:

4 GS
9 IP
13 hits
17 runs
15 walks
8 strikeouts
3 WP

17.00 ERA

You almost have to hope that he's injured, because if he isn't, well...it is a problem that will be a lot harder to solve.


Feel-good note of the day... 

Justin Thompson made his first appearance for Frisco last night.

Thompson, of course, came to Texas in the Juan Gonzalez trade after the 1999 season, and hasn't pitched in the majors since August of 1999. His outing yesterday is one more step in his attempt to return to the majors.

Thompson has undergone a lot of surgery, and a lot of grueling rehab, over the past several years. With the money he has made during his career, it would have been easy for him to retire, walk away, and move on with his life. But he has persevered, has fought his way back, and may now have the chance to resume his major league career as a reliever.


Minor league starters for Sunday, May 2, 2004 

Oklahoma -- It is Juan Dominguez's turn in the rotation; however, Mike Hindman reports that John Wasdin, yesterday's scheduled starter, will take the mound today. This would suggest that Dominguez will be brought up to start Wednesday's game for Texas.
Frisco -- Kameron Loe
Stockton -- Gary Hogan and Kiki Bengochea (Bengochea's usual tag-team partner, Ben Keiter, is on the D.L.)
Clinton -- Matt Lorenzo and Jesse Chavez


Feds have all MLB steroid test results from 2003 

Wow...this is going to get ugly...

And the union really blew it. From the article:

According to the report, IRS agents initially sought all player results from Quest Diagnostic Labs, which administered the steroid tests in 2003. But after negotiating with the league and the union, investigators went after only the results of the 10 players who testified before a grand jury, which include superstar Barry Bonds as well as Yankees sluggers Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

Only after the union reneged on the agreement by attempting to keep those players' results private did investigators use a warrant on April 8 to seize documentation on all 1,200 players, the paper reports.

The 1,190 players who didn't testify, and who now are running the risk of having their results revealed, should be irate with the union. I wouldn't be surprised to see lawsuits arise...


Saturday, May 01, 2004

Minor league starters for Saturday, 5/1/04 

Oklahoma -- John Wasdin
Frisco -- Sam Narron
Stockton -- Cody Smith and Joel Kirsten
Clinton -- Doubleheader. Matt Lorenzo and Jesse Chavez in one game, Tim Cunningham and Williams Sarmiento in the other


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