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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Minor league starters for Saturday, 7/31/04 

With the recent moves and chaos, the minor league rotations have gotten all jumbled up. I'm not finding listed starters for today, and I'm not really able to make educated guesses as to who they might be.

So I'm passing on today, and hope to be able to provide the starters for tomorrow.


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Prospects to be dealt for Walker identified 

According to T.R. Sullivan in the S-T, the Rangers were going to deal Erik Thompson and Ian Kinsler for Larry Walker, had Walker not vetoed the deal.

That would have been a pretty bad deal for Texas, although exactly how bad would depend on how much of Walker's salary Colorado was paying.

What's particularly disturbing to me, though, is the fact that Hart has said repeatedly that they were going to trade any of their top prospects, which suggests that they don't think much of Thompson and Kinsler. Kinsler has garnered a bunch of attention this year for hitting over .400 in low-A, before being jumped to AA Frisco, where he got off to a white-hot start, has cooled down, but is still posting a 900+ OPS. Some of us who would like to see Soriano dealt this offseason were hoping that Kinsler might be in line to replace him at 2B, but now it looks like he's just trade bait.

Thompson's inclusion in the deal, though, is a big blow to me. I've been a huge Thompson fan for a while, due to his unreal strikeout/walk numbers and dominance of his leagues at a young age (he's still just 21). The big knock against him is his size -- he's officially listed at 5'11", but is supposedly closer to 5'9" -- although Fuson has not had a problem with small righthanders in the past (see, e.g., Tim Hudson).

However, the fact that, with Hart firmly entrenched as G.M., they are trying to ship out Thompson as part of a deal for an old, expensive D.H. suggests to me that Thompson's future with the Rangers isn't as bright as it was when Fuson was at the helm.

Which disappoints me greatly, because I think Thompson's upside is as high as any pitcher in the system at level AA or higher.


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Friday, July 30, 2004

Mets self-destruct... 

Unbelievably bad moves by the Mets, trading a bushel basket of prospects, including Scott Kazmir, recently deemed untouchable, and viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and stud catching prospect Justin Huber, for mediocre righthanders Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano.

This, while being three games under .500, and a long-shot, at best, for a playoff spot.

According to this article, this is the result of a front office power struggle, with "superscout" Al Goldis having gotten owner Fred Wilpon's ear, and having Wilpon overrule G.M. Jim Duquette.

As much as the Rangers' front office and ownership has pissed me off with the Fuson Fiasco, I've got to say, we are better off than Mets fans...


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Dickey was put on the D.L. to make room for Narron 

Dickey was D.L.'d with a strained right rhomboid, which opened up the roster spot for Narron to be promoted.

Everyone had assumed Erasmo Ramirez would be sent back down, but Dickey's injury opened up a slot.

With Scott Erickson supposedly about to be signed, they could send Erasmo back down, or they could option Narron, who did nothing today to show that he should be in the majors.

Really, I'd just as soon they sent Narron back and brought Snare up to sit in the bullpen, since Benoit is now going to be unavailable the rest of the weekend, and send him back down when Erickson needs to be activated.


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Nix's RBI single... 

That may have been the at bat of the year.

He gets down 0-2, 2 outs, bases loaded, and the Rangers down one and desperately needing to get runs across.

Bradford throws several tough pitches and he fouls them off, barely staying alive.

And then Bradford throws a good pitch, but one that catches more of the plate than he probably intended it to, and Nix reaches out and pokes it into the outfield.

And then Dellucci, who looks like he's going to be dead at the plate, makes a great slide to get around the catcher and barely get his hand on home before he's tagged.

None of this, of course, would have happened if Gary Matthews Jr. doesn't stop on his way to second, realizing they have him dead to rights on his steal attempt, and scamper back to first, ahead of a bad throw from the second baseman.

Folks have been referring to this season as "magical", and the bottom of the 8th today epitomizes why...

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The Mets get Kris Benson 

Good, he won't end up here...

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Rangers trade Fullmer  

The Rangers have traded Brad Fullmer to the Padres for 2B Jake Gautreau...

Don't like this deal at all. Gautreau was the 14th pick of the draft in 2001, selected 9 slots behind Mark Teixeira, but despite a reputation for being a polished hitter in college, he has struggled as a pro, bombing miserable last year at AA, and having just a decent year this year in a return engagement at the Southern League. He's not much of a prospect.

In dealing Fullmer, the Rangers have basically unloaded their best DH option, for no apparent reason other than to make sure Herb Perry gets to stick around.


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Baseball Prospectus's Park Factor Review 

Good piece in the free section of BP on park effects, and more specifically, how every park, both in the majors and minors, has played this season.

One of the surprising things to me was seeing that Frisco played as a very hitter-friendly park this year...

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Fullmer to the Padres 

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Padres are close to trading for Brad Fullmer from the Rangers.

Interesting move, if so. I'm surprised that the Rangers are willing to give up on Fullmer so quickly...they still don't really have a DH, so I figured it would make some sense to have him return to the DH role when he returned, at least against righthanders.

But there were rumblings that they might release him, so I guess if you can get a fringe prospect or two from the Padres, that's better than just cutting him.

Still, I'd rather have him in Texas for the stretch...

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Rangers about to sign Scott Erickson 

According to Jayson Stark...

Bleah.

Although Hart has supposedly been interested in Erickson for the past few years....

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Juan Gonzalez done for the year 

Shocking news...

I wonder if anyone will offer him more than, say, $1 million for 2005.

I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up retiring.


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Minor league starters for Thursday, 7/29/04 

Oklahoma -- No starter listed. 9:05 p.m.
Frisco -- DH, with Kelvin Jimenez and Edwin Moreno starting.
Stockton -- Unknown. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Unknown. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 9:05 p.m.




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Rumored three-way deal between Florida, Yanks and D-Backs 

With Johnson going to New York, and Contreras to Miami...

I'm too bummed about today's announcement that Fuson is leaving to really delve into this, though...


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Sam Narron officially named Friday's starter 

Per the DMN...

As I've mentioned before, I think this is a real bad idea...


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The game last night 

What a lousy game.

Both the Anaheim runs were on plays where the runner should have been out at the plate.

And in the 9th inning, after Blalock gets on with a walk, Soriano strikes out despite not seeing a strike from Troy Percival, in what is possibly the worst at bat I've seen from a Ranger this season, and Mark Teixeira follows up with a meek groundout on a 2-0 pitch.

The Rangers need to turn it around with this 4-game stretch against Oakland. They need at least a split here.


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Kurkjian on the Rangers infield 

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian says that the Rangers have the best young infield in baseball.

A couple of odd things from the article...first, he says that Soriano might finish in the top 10 in the MVP balloting, even though Soriano probably hasn't been one of the 50 best players in the league this year.

Second, he says that the Rangers have no intention of letting Soriano go, which is rather disappointing, since I don't think he's going to be worth the money he will be commanding from this point forward.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Minor league starters for Tuesday, 7/27/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Bierbrodt, 9:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Ben Kozlowski, 7:10 p.m.
Stockton -- Not sure who today. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Eric Hurley, 8:30 p.m.



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Rosenthal on the Ranger front office mess 

He calls Buck "baseball's Kobe Bryant"...

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Monday, July 26, 2004

Hicks speaks 

On a variety of topics...

The lead item is that he says that he thinks there's "a chance" Fuson stays in the organization...

Bah.


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A bunch of moves for the Rangers today 

A flurry of moves as almost one-fifth of the 25 man roster was turned over...

Doug Brocail and Brad Fullmer both go to the D.L. Rosman Garcia was optioned to AAA. John Wasdin was designated for assignment.

To take their place, Herb Perry and Jeff Nelson were activated from the D.L., Joaquin Benoit was activated from the bereavement list, and Erasmo Ramirez was called up.

The team was apparently discussing releasing Fullmer, but the injury allows them to punt the decision for a while. Brocail is hurt, I guess, so you can stash him on the D.L., but I see no reason for him to be back on the 25 man roster this season, although if they really want, I guess he can be activated in September when the rosters expand, so long as he doesn't pitch in an important situation.

The Wasdin and Garcia moves are a bit stranger. Clearly, one of them had to go, to make room for Benoit, and Wasdin would make the most sense, since he just started on Sunday, and the team seems to be tired of seeing him get knocked around. But swapping Erasmo for Garcia is an oddity; Erasmo is a lefty, Garcia a righthander, but the Angels aren't a strong lefthanded hitting team. Garret Anderson, their best lefty hitter, is hurting right now. They could have sent Garcia back because he's not good, but if that were the case, they would have seemed to have preferred to just call up Erasmo in the first place, rather than Garcia.

The only way it would seem to add up is if there is another move coming down the pipe later this week. In that case, with Garcia having thrown a bunch of pitches Sunday, making him unavailable until Tuesday or Wednesday, it would make more sense to send him down now and get someone who can help the next couple of days.

Which leads to the next thing...apparently, Sam Narron was pulled after 2 innings in Oklahoma today, and the Oklahoma announcers said he was being congratulated for getting the call to come up to Texas and start Friday.

This is a really bad idea. Narron isn't on the 40 man roster right now. Clearing a spot for him shouldn't be that big of a deal, but the Rangers essentially have to keep him on the roster most of the rest of the way, or use one of his three options by sending him back down. That means that he has to be in the majors to stay by 2007, or be exposed to waivers.

More importantly, Narron isn't exactly tearing it up in Oklahoma. He has a decent ERA, hovering a little over 4, but coming into today he had 15 walks and just 18 strikeouts in almost 60 innings. Other than Kirk Reuter, there simply aren't any successful pitchers in the majors who don't strike out at least 4 batters per 9 innings. Even Bob Tewksbury, the freakish epitome of the finesse pitcher, struck out 4 per 9 IP over the course of his career. And even in AA, he wasn't striking out that many people, coming in at around 4.5 Ks per 9 innings.

I can't say that I'd be shocked if this were true, though. Narron apparently has that gritty, bulldog personality that has Buck so enamored with R.A. Dickey, and Buck has shown time and again he is willing to take grittiness over talent.

But if Narron does get called up to pitch, particularly at the Ballpark, he's going to get lit up like a Christmas tree. There's no way he's ready to be pitching in the middle of a pennant race, and calling him up ahead of, say, Ryan Snare, Kameron Loe, or even John Hudgins, is poor roster management.

And yet another sign of Grady Fuson's diminishing influence within the organization.


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Well, maybe not T-J surgery for Pineiro 

He just has an elbow strain.

So never mind.


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Pineiro has torn elbow ligament 

Mariner's stud young starter Joel Pineiro has torn elbow ligament, which likely means Tommy John surgery, and a 12-18 month recuperation period.

The Rangers have talked with the Mariners about him in the past, showing an interest, and there were some rumblings that they might be willing to part with Mark Teixeira to land Pineiro.

Good thing that didn't happen...

And this is more evidence of how fragile pitchers are...


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Minor league starters as of Monday, 7/26/04 

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron, 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Off.
Stockton -- Off.
Clinton -- Not sure. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Kevin Altman. 8:30 p.m.


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Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Secret to the Rangers' Success 

One of the themes that the front office apologists like to hit, for why John Hart should stay on as G.M., is that, despite his early problems, he built this team into a playoff contender this year.

Only one problem...it isn't true...

Let's take a look at the top players on the Rangers this year. Positional players for the Rangers in double figures in VORP (VORP is runs over a replacement level offensive player)...

Michael Young, 41.6 -- Traded for by Doug Melvin
Hank Blalock, 37.6 -- Drafted by Doug Melvin
Mark Teixeira, 32.8 -- Drafted by Doug Melvin
Alfonso Soriano, 27.6 -- Traded for by John Hart, although he gave up the much superior Alex Rodriguez to get him
Laynce Nix, 14.3 -- Drafted by Doug Melvin
Kevin Mench, 12.0 -- Drafted by Doug Melvin
Gary Matthews, Jr., 11.2 -- Signed as a minor league free agent by Hart
Rod Barajas, 10.4 -- Signed as a minor league free agent by Hart

So, of the top 8 positional players this year, 5 were already here when Hart got here, one was the Rangers' consolation prize when they ran ARod out of town, and the 7th and 8th guys were signed as minor league free agents this past offseason.

Even Matthews and Barajas carry asterisks, though. Minor league free agents are generally handled by the minor league folks -- that is, Fuson, or perhaps Jon Daniels, not Hart. And Barajas is here not because of Hart, but because Showalter wanted Barajas here.

So, I don't think you can say that Hart has put his imprint on the positional players on the team.

What about the pitching staff? Pitchers for the Rangers in double figures in VORP...

Ryan Drese, 32.1 -- Traded for by John Hart in exchange for Travis Hafner
Kenny Rogers, 23.2 -- Signed as a free agent by John Hart
Francisco Cordero, 20.2 -- Traded for by Doug Melvin
Carlos Almanzar, 13.4 -- Signed as a minor league free agent by Hart
Ron Mahay, 10.9 -- Signed as a minor league free agent by Hart

Mahay and Almanzar, as minor league free agents, have only tentative connections to Hart -- particularly since it was a recommendation from one of the scouts Fuson brought to Texas that resulted in the team signing Almanzar this offseason. Cordero was a Melvin pickup. Rogers was a free agent signee; however, Tom Hicks supposedly intervened and authorized the second guaranteed year that Rogers was demanding to get the deal done, and Fuson handled the negotiations (supposedly as part of his preparation for taking over as general manager), so I don't know how involved Hart was in that pickup, as well.

That leaves us with Ryan Drese.

Drese has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this year. After having been a bust for the last few years, he reportedly got chewed out by Dom Chiti, a scout Hart brought over from Cleveland, and told to get his attitude straightened out and quit trying to throw fastballs past everyone. In February, Drese showed up in spring training with a new attitude and a hard sinker, which he has used to re-invent himself as a pitcher. And Hart got him in the Hafner trade for Cleveland. A big win for Hart, right?

Well, not necessarily. The deal was Travis Hafner and Aaron Myette for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese, and at the time, the deal was trumpeted as dealing Hafner to get an established catcher, with each team throwing in a headcase pitcher as part of the deal. Diaz and Myette have each been busts, with the Rangers paying Diaz to play for Montreal this year.

Travis Hafner, meanwhile, is possibly the best non-Bonds hitter in baseball this year, reminiscent of the trades Hart made shipping out Richie Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz, and Brian Giles, among others. Just considering Hafner for Drese, it is still a loss for Texas, since Hafner is performing at a much higher level than Drese is this year.

Moreover, the word is that Fuson was the one who pushed for Drese to be included in the deal. Drese was drafted by Fuson's A's out of high school, although he didn't sign and ended up signing with Cleveland while Hart was still there. So the throw-in -- which the Hart apologists are now trying to spin as being the real cornerstone of the deal -- may be more a result of Fuson's influence than Hart's.

Bottom line, this team is not John Hart's team. It is a team of young players acquired by Doug Melvin, with some role players that owe their spots to Buck Showalter, Grady Fuson, and others in scouting and development.


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My manifesto on the G.M. fiasco 

The problem with trying to put together a comprehensive post on the latest fiasco involving Hart staying on as G.M., and Grady Fuson being forced out, is that there are a lot of issues and tangents that need to be incorporated in a coherent fashion, at a time when I’m still so pissed off about the situation that it is hard for me to focus on it. But I’m going to try.

Things to keep in mind…

1) There appears to be no question that Buck Showalter was strongly lobbying for Hart to stay in place. It had been reported for some time leading up to this, by numerous media outlets, that Buck was working overtime to convince Hicks to keep Hart in place. Regardless of the motivation behind Buck’s lobbying, the fact remains that Buck took this job knowing that Fuson was supposed to take over as G.M. at the end of the season. So the claims that this was simply loyalty, or Buck being a good soldier, ring hollow.

2) The reports, which have come from Randy Galloway and Jim Reeves, among others, indicate that Fuson and Hicks agreed to a contract whereby Fuson would take over as G.M. at the end of the season. Some have questioned whether this actually happened; however, given that Hicks and Hart have both said that Fuson will be paid for the remainder of his contract (which runs through 2005) whether he stays with the organization or not, I tend to believe that a deal was reached. You don’t pay off someone who is quitting; you pay off someone you fire, or back out of a deal on. The reports that Hicks and Fuson are negotiating a buyout supports this idea.

3) These same reports indicate that Buck Showalter and Orel Hershiser, upon learning that the Fuson hiring would be announced the day after the All-Star Game, went to Hicks, told him that Hart would end up getting a G.M. job somewhere else after this season, and that Showalter and Hershiser would leave the Rangers and join Hart wherever he ended up. At that point, Hicks supposedly approached Fuson, said that he couldn’t afford to lose Showalter and Hershiser with the team going so well, and asked Fuson to stay on in a subordinate position. Fuson, supposedly, indicated that he didn’t see much point in staying on in an organization where there were so many who had problems with him, and indicated that he would be leaving.

4) Hicks has denied that Buck threatened to leave; nevertheless, whatever Buck threatened to do, it seems clear, based on the public comments from all involved and the media reports, that Buck and Orel pushed hard for Hart to stay on as G.M., with the problems that apparently have existed between Buck and Hart, and Grady Fuson, now starting to become more public.

5) Why does Buck want Hart to stay in place? There are those who say it is simply loyalty. There are those who think he’s just more comfortable working with Hart. However, the majority of the media reports are indicating that the biggest issue is that Hart is giving Buck carte blanche when it comes to moves within the organization. This dovetails with the reputation Buck garnered in Arizona and New York – that he is a control freak who ended up losing his job because of his need to have absolute power within a franchise. One columnist recently indicated that Buck wants Hart to stay on because Hart is a weak G.M. who will give Buck the power he wants, and Hart likes the arrangement because he gets to make over $2 million per year while playing a lot of golf.

6) Hicks has said that he doesn’t want to make a change because of the success the team is having. This is completely bizarre, in light of the fact that he said, when Hart and Fuson were hired, that Fuson would take over after 2004. Did he mean, Fuson would take over after 2004 only if the team sucked for three years?

7) Fuson, apparently, can only stay if he agrees to cede much of his power (he’s had a free hand in running the farm and player development system) to Hart. This is reflected in the recent rash of promotions throughout the system which, as noted earlier, Fuson had “minimal” involvement in. Given Fuson’s immense success in Oakland, and the fact that he’s been given credit for doing a great job in rebuilding a problematic farm system since he got here, why should Fuson have to have his wings trimmed? Where has Fuson failed in his job overseeing the minor leagues that warrants giving Hart more control over the player development system?

8) Of course, when I say “Hart” will have more control over the minor leagues, that’s probably not strictly true. Since it appears that Hart is letting Buck do whatever Buck wants to do, the motivation of getting the minor league system more directly under Hart’s control appears to be so that Buck can exert more control over the minor league system.

9) The fact that Buck Showalter has been lobbying for Hart to stay, has been busy undermining Fuson wherever possible according to folks in the media, and the fact that he’s been using his buddy Peter Gammons to badmouth Fuson whenever possible makes it very hard for me to be much of a Buck Showalter fan at this point. This sort of power play and sleazy behavior reflects poorly on the organization.

10) Not only does it reflect poorly on the organization, but it also has resulted in causing a huge distraction in the middle of the first good Ranger season in five years. What has been, as many have said, a “magical” season is tainted by this unseemly power struggle, and the fact that the spineless owner of the team is showing, once again, that he can’t follow a plan. As much as I’m enjoying watching this team play right now, I’m very worried about the future of the franchise, and I have to seriously wonder whether we’d be better off with the team out of the playoff hunt right now, since, in such a situation, John Hart would probably be packing up his office.

11) John Hart has a track record of hiring good people – Mark Shapiro, for example, his former #2 in Cleveland, has gotten rave reviews since taking over as G.M. So normally, I wouldn’t be too worried about who would be taking Fuson’s place. However, in this case, quality candidates are likely not to find this job as attractive as they once would have, given that power structure in place. Most likely, the job is going to have to be filled with a Buck Showalter crony who will accept the fact that Buck is going to have the final say on what is going on within the organization. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark Newman ended up coming over to Texas from New York.

12) I don’t know for sure whether or not Grady Fuson is going to be a good G.M. He may not be. However, I do know that I would be much more comfortable with him as G.M. and John Hart out of the organization, than Hart as G.M. and Fuson out of the organization.

13) For those who say that Hart deserves the credit for this season, because he took the blame for the last two, I’d point out that many of the people who are really producing this year – Teixeira, Nix, Young, Cordero and Blalock – are guys that were already in the organization when Hart got here. There’s Soriano, who Hart brought in…but again, I believe this team would be much better with ARod here and Soriano still in New York. There is Kenny Rogers, who Fuson handled the contract negotiations with (supposedly, to help get him ready to take over the G.M. role after the season).

14) I had an exchange recently with a prominent member of the DFW media – a huge Buck Showalter backer – who said that an out-of-control Buck (which is what we are getting) soon destroys himself. Which would be reassuring, except that that means that, in a year or two, if Buck self-destructs, we’ll be all the way back to square one – no manager, no G.M., and a front office that has to be rebuild by the same waffling owner who created these problems in the first place.

15) Hicks said that he was more willing to bring John Hart back because Hart was no longer the lightning rod for negativism that he was earlier. Hicks must have missed the DMN poll from a month or two ago, when he first floated the notion of Hart returning, where almost 90% of respondents indicated that Hart needed to go, and Grady Fuson needed to stay as G.M.

16) Ultimately, regardless of anything else, the sleazy, ugly way in which all this went down is depressing. The fact that we now have these clowns – a lying, spineless owner, an absentee G.M., and a power-hungry, back-stabbing manager – in charge makes me ashamed to be a Rangers fan right now.



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Minor league starters for Sunday, 7/25/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare, 2:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Unknown, with the recent promotions.
Stockton -- John Danks, 7:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Matt Farnum, 2:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Jeremy Lensch, 8:30 p.m.




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Fuson to the Orioles? 

The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Fuson will end up as the scouting director for the Orioles...

This sucks.


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More on the Fuson fallout 

Something I hadn't read before...

According to Jim Reeves, Buck Showalter, at the end of spring training, wanted to keep Manny Alexander on the team as the starting shortstop, move Mike Young back to second base, and put Alfonso Soriano in left field...

More reason to fear Buck Showalter's expanding power within the organization...

T.R. Sullivan mentions today that a spate of promotions in the minor leagues -- Kam Loe and Chris Young have gone to AAA, Josh Rupe and Ben Kozlowski have gone to AA, Edison Volquez has been moved up to high-A Stockton, Thomas Diamond goes to low-A Clinton, and Eric Hurley goes to short-season A Spokane -- were done with "minimal" input from Fuson.

Which isn't surprising, as one of the points of conflict within the organization has supposedly been Fuson's reluctance to rush minor leaguers...


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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mariner fans want Fuson in Seattle 

One of them does, anyway...

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Kozlowski promoted to AA, Thompson to the D.L. 

The DMN is reporting that Erik Thompson has gone to the disabled list, and Ben Kozlowski is moving up to AA to take his place.

Thompson, a terrific pitching prospect whom I am particularly high on, given his ability to throw in the mid-90s and his tremendous control, had been shut down for a few weeks before returning to the rotation earlier this week for one start. Thompson is young, with a ton of upside, so while I'm disappointed in the injury, I'm also glad the team is being conservative with him, erring on the side of caution.

Ben Kozlowski, who burst on the scene in 2002 after being traded from Atlanta for Andy Pratt (who is now doing a Steve Blass imitation in the Cubs system), struggled mightily last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which cost him the majority of the season. He had gone to Stockton and pitched in the tandem starter rotation, putting up 32 strikeouts again 19 walks in 47 innings, with a 3.83 ERA.

The numbers aren't overwhelming, but given that Koz is still working his way back into pitching shape after missing almost a year, you have to be encouraged with his progress at this point.

No word on what they'll do with him in Frisco, but my guess is that he'll either go into the rotation, or do a tandem starter routine with Edwin Moreno, who is also bouncing back from injury.


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Old Rangers never die... 

Darren Oliver is now an Astro...

BA has the following comment on him: "He doesn't have an out pitch and tops out in the high 80s with his fastball, and his main attribute is his good command."

Very sad, for those of us who remember when he first came up to the majors, and was using a mid-90s fastball and a vicious 12-6 curve to dominate hitters (particularly lefties) out of the bullpen...


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An Oakland writer's view of the Rangers 

A piece from today's San Jose Mercury-News...

Nothing you haven't read before, though...went young, the infield is great, a scout says that the pitching won't hold up in the Texas heat...


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Minor league starters for Friday, 7/23/04 

Oklahoma -- Mike Bacsik, 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez, 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Ben Kozlowski and Cody Smith, I believe. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Chris Cordeiro and Jose Garcia, I believe. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 8:05 p.m.




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Out-of-towners on the power struggle in Texas 

Although there isn't a byline on this piece from the Rocky Mountain News, I think it was Tracy Ringolsby who wrote it.


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T.R. Sullivan on the front office situation 

Sullivan is the Star-Telegram's beat writer, a reporter and not a columnist, so he generally doesn't provide opinion pieces. That said, his article today on the front office situation is a very good breakdown of the situation, I believe.

Sullivan seems to be a little more optimistic about the possibility of Fuson staying than I am, though.


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Shawn Estes to the Rangers? 

There continue to be rumblings that the Rangers are interested in trading for the craptacular Shawn Estes.

As dire as the rotation situation now is, particularly with the loss of Ricardo Rodriguez, I cannot see any reason why the Rangers would give up anything of value for Estes.

He's a bad pitcher, and the Rangers have plenty of those already here.


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The DMN John Hart poll -- an update 

The DMN online poll on whether John Hart should have been extended accessible on this page is currently running 84%/16% against the contract extension, with 722 votes.

I wonder if Hicks even cares...


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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Arm fracture for Ricardo Rodriguez 

Ricardo Rodriguez, who looked like he was going to help solidify the rotation behind Ryan Drese and Kenny Rogers, was hit by a line drive up the middle today, and reports are he fractured either his arm or his elbow.

Either way, he's done for the year.

Terrible, terrible break for a guy who would have been up weeks ago had he not come down with appendicitis earlier this season.

And a big blow to the Rangers' hopes of cobbling together a rotation for the rest of the year without making a big trade.


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Rob Neyer picks the Rangers 

In his chat session today, Rob Neyer picks the Rangers as the odds-on favorite to win the A.L. West.

He's the first person in the media I've seen come out and give the Rangers the nod as the favorites.


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BA on Josh Rupe 

Baseball America's Daily Dish today is on Ranger prospect Josh Rupe.


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Minor league starters as of Thursday, 7/22/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Bierbrodt, 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Kameron Loe, 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Matt Lorenzo and Nick Masset, 8:35 p.m.
Clinton -- Brian Matton and, probably, Cesar Herrara, 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- J.D. Cockroft and Kevin Altman, 8:35 p.m.




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Reeves and Fraley on the G.M. situation 

These are two guys I normally don't agree with, but Gerry Fraley and Jim Reeves hit the nail on the head today...


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DMN poll on Hart 

Currently, with about 600 votes having been cast, it is running 86%/14% against Hicks' decision to extend Hart.

When was the last time fans of a first place team hated their general manager so much?

Tom Hicks has shown again and again he has no respect whatsoever for the fans...so I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that he could apparently give a damn about what the fans think about John Hart...


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Chan Ho Park done for the year 

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus says Chan Ho Park is done for the year.

Chan Ho Park, who John Hart gave a 5 year, $65 million contract to.

Bah.

I'm very down on being a Ranger fan today.


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T.R. Sullivan says Fuson out as possible future Ranger G.M. 

For those of us who were hoping that Fuson might stick around and take over for Hart after 2005, looks like that won't happen.

T.R. Sullivan reports that John Hart crony Jon Daniels is now moving in as the #1 assistant to Hart, and is being groomed as Hart's successor, rather than Fuson. Apparently, Fuson's ability to stay on will depend on whether he'll agree to cede control over the scouting and development system, including the draft, to John Hart, even though Fuson has had complete control over those areas since he got here, and even though Fuson has, by all accounts, done a tremendous job in those areas since he got here.

I'm real curious about what, exactly, Hicks thinks Fuson screwed up to get demoted.


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Buck stabs Fuson in the back 

Even though I've known Buck was campaigning to force Fuson out as G.M., I didn't really think it would happen.

Every time I think that this front office, this organization, this ownership can't crap on me any more, they do something like this -- keep John Hart around as G.M. to satisfy a power hungry dictator like Buck Showalter, at the cost of losing Grady Fuson, the best baseball man in the organization.

I just got back from the game...but I will be commenting at much more length on this fiasco tomorrow...


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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Minor league starters for Wednesday, 7/21/04 

Between Regilio's callup, the decision to return Erik Thompson to the rotation, and John Danks' return to the Stockton tandem starter system, my minor league starters for yesterday were in complete disarray. I'll try to do better today...

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Chris Young (I think -- he was listed yesterday, as well). 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Josh Rupe and, probably, Phil Akens. 9:00 p.m.
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez and Gary Hogan. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 8:05 p.m.




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The Rangers, the Angels, and the A.L. West race 

There are 72 games left in the season for the Rangers, and they have a 2.5 game lead in the A.L. West over Oakland, along with a 5 game lead over Anaheim.

Still, strangely, to listen to the Baseball Tonight crew and the national sports media, the way they cover the Angels, you'd think Anaheim was leading the West, with Oakland and Texas struggling to keep up.

I know the Angels were the hot pick in the West to start the season, but their rotation has been a huge disappointment -- they've got a 4.97 ERA from their starters, compared to the 4.99 ERA from a Ranger rotation that everyone agrees needs an upgrade -- and the injuries to Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson, and others have taken a toll. There's still some time, but at this point, they have to play .667 ball the rest of the way to hit 95 wins, which is probably what it will take to win the A.L. West, and unless they get Randy Johnson (which seems very iffy), there don't appear to be any major upgrades out there for them.

In a chat session today, Alan Schwarz fielded a question on that subject (from yours truly, I might add), and noted that teams that are at least 5 games back on July 31 have a very slim chance of making the playoffs. We are still 10 days away from that cutoff point, but it certainly suggests that if Anaheim is going to get back in this thing, they need to kick it in to gear now; meanwhile, the Rangers need to keep playing well to keep that distance between them and Anaheim and Oakland.

I don't understand the mentality of those who suggest we need to wait until after this 12 game stretch against Oakland and Anaheim before any moves are made, so we can see where the team is...the Rangers have the lead, and have the opportunity to bury the opposition right now. Conversely, they are also in a stretch where, if they don't play well, they can give up all of the advantage that they have gained in the first four months of the season.

It seems like now is the time where, if a move is going to be made, if you are going to add a Steve Finley or a Kris Benson (even though I don't really want Benson here), you pull the trigger.

A couple of other Ranger notes from Schwarz in the chat, on the Rangers chances (he puts them at 20% for winning the West) and on Blalock v. Teixeira (he takes Blalock). Good session, worth checking out.


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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

When ex-Rangers collide 

Former Ranger 2B prospect Jason Romano hit his first major league home run today, off of former Ranger pitcher Doogie Davis...

Doogie, who had been on a really nice run, has had a few rough starts in the last couple of weeks, with his ERA going back up to 3.76...


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Regilio back up 

Joaquin Benoit, whose grandmother recently died, has been given a bereavement leave, and Nick Regilio has been called back up to Texas to take his spot on the roster.

Benoit's leave can be from three to seven days, under MLB rules, during which time he is not part of the active 25 man roster.

Regilio was scheduled to start today for Oklahoma, so it will be interesting to see if the Rangers bump Wasdin and let Regilio get the start against the White Sox, instead.


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Minor league starters for Tuesday, 7/20/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio. 6:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Chris Young. 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Not sure. I think Wes Littleton. 8:35 p.m.
Clinton -- Matt Farnum. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Mark Roberts. 9:05 p.m.




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Some Gammons items... 

There's a new Gammons column with some interesting Rangers tidbits...

Gammons says that the Rangers are hot for Kris Benson, but won't give up either Laynce Nix or Adrian Gonzalez to get him. Gammons has said before that the Rangers have the best offer on the table for Benson, which is likely Kevin Mench and a prospect, possibly Erik Thompson, who has been held out of action for AA Frisco for the past two weeks. Mench and Thompson would be overpaying for Benson, whom I'm not at all impressed with, and who will be a free agent after the season.

Also, Hank Blalock, Mike Young, and Mark Teixeira all got mentioned as guys who other players think play the game "the right way"...

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Monday, July 19, 2004

The price for Kris Benson 

The Pirates supposedly want a major league ready player and a top prospect in exchange for enigmatic starter Kris Benson.

Benson is making $6 million this year, is a free agent after the season, and hasn't been real effective since injuries de-railed him in 2000. Nevertheless, he has a lot of talent, and is perceived as a possible top-of-the-rotation starter, even though he hasn't pitched like one in quite a while.

From the Rangers perspective, it sounds like the Pirates would want Kevin Mench and Adrian Gonzalez. I think either of them, alone, is too much for Benson (even though he's pitched extremely well the last 6 weeks or so), and both of them together would be terrible.

But with Kenny Rogers struggling, and the Rangers still trying to hold off Anaheim and Oakland, it may be a move that the front office would consider.

I certainly hope, though, that Benson ends up somewhere else.


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Hicks' indecision and on G.M. situation 

While I was on vacation, there was something important that didn't happen. Despites Hicks saying that he would make a decision on John Hart's future as the Ranger G.M. by the end of the All-Star Break, no such decision was made. Instead, Hicks elected to punt the decision until after the season, leaving Hart, Grady Fuson, and to a certain extent the team in limbo.

All this comes after Hicks, this winter, re-iterated his pledge to have Fuson take over as general manager when Hart's contract expires after the season.

And it has led to a certain amount of speculation from the national press over Hicks' waffling on the issue.

Ironically, Hicks complained about the issue taking on "a life of its own", when he is the one who stirred up the issue in the first place by suggesting that Hart would stay on past this season, something that would be a P.R. nightmare given the negativity towards Hart among Rangers fans.

Really, I don't see why the decision can't be made now, unless Hicks wants Hart to stay on, and Hart hasn't made a decision about it yet, or unless Hart is pushing to stay on, and Hicks is putting off the decision until after the season to keep from making Hart a lame duck.

In any case, it has now led to speculation in the New York Post that Buck Showalter is lobbying to have Hart replaced, not by Grady Fuson, but by Yankee V.P. Mark Newman, a Showalter ally from their days together with the Yanks.

Bringing in Newman would most likely spell the end of Fuson's time here in Texas, since he'd effectively be passed over for a job he was promised so the Rangers could promote someone from another organization. I'm not putting a lot of stock in this report -- it is from the Post, after all -- but it isn't as if that would be something out of character for Buck...

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Minor league starters for Monday, 7/19/04 

Oklahoma -- R.A. Dickey makes a rehab start. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- John Hudgins, I believe. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Off.
Clinton -- Edison Volquez. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown.




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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Back and blogging again... 

I've returned from my vacation to find that the Rangers are still winning, and Mark Teixeira is still crushing the ball...

Teixeira is now up to 8th in the A.L. in OPS, and the only player younger than him in the top 30 is his teammate, Hank Blalock...

To reiterate a recurring theme here, I'm going to be real unhappy if Teixeira ends up getting dealt, particularly if his agent is the motivation behind the deal...

With Oakland winning today, the Rangers are two games up heading into tonight's game, with Kenny Rogers going. I'm starting to get concerned about Rogers...his last two starts have been poor, and given his age, there have to be some concerns that he might be wearing down. Ricardo Rodriguez has been a revelation in his first three starts, but having him step up isn't going to get us much closer to a playoff spot if Rogers is regressing.

So we really need a strong outing from Kenny tonight...

Minor league starters will resume being posted in the morning, for tomorrow's games...


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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

No more entries until Sunday 

I'm going on vacation, will be back to blogging on Sunday, 7/18.


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Word on the G.M. situation to come shortly... 

And the good news is, it sounds like there's a decent chance that Fuson will be taking over the reins immediately.

T.R. Sullivan termed it a "growing possibility" in his article today, which downplays the previously-rumored (and much dreaded) possibility that Hart would be asked to stay on as general manager beyond this season. Sullivan seems to suggest that what Hicks, Hart and Fuson will be deciding is whether Fuson should take over now or at season's end, and what role Hart will have with the team following Fuson's succession.

I'm not sure what has prompted an apparent change-of-heart by Hicks, who sounded a month or two ago like he was leaning towards bringing Hart back as G.M., purportedly because of the great job Hart has done in getting the team back on track. Never mind that the core of this team (Young, Blalock, Teixeira, Nix) was here when Hart got here, or the fact that Hart wanted to bring in expensive free agents Rich Aurilia and Sidney Ponson this past offseason, two players who have been busts.

Given a choice between Dave Dombrowski and John Hart, the two leading candidates for the G.M. job when Melvin was fired, I preferred Hart at the time. However, his free agent signings have been unmitigated disasters -- particularly the ones he made immediately after joining the team, which included Chan Ho Park, Juan Gonzalez, Todd Van Poppel, and Jay Powell -- and trading Travis Hafner for Einar Diaz was reminiscent of the bad deals he made in Cleveland, trading promising young hitters for mediocre returns (although throw-in Ryan Drese is making the trade look better).

The John Hart Era in Texas has been a sour one, and it seemed that everyone was ready for Hart to leave...an online DMN poll taken right after Hicks announced that he was considering bringing Hart back as G.M. ran in the neighborhood of 90%/10%, in favor of Hart getting the hell out of Dodge.

So it is reassuring to see that Hart should be slipping quietly out in the near future, and Grady Fuson should be taking over.


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Andy Fox released by Expos 

This is a couple of days late, but the Expos released Andy Fox on Sunday.

Fox was a non-roster invitee to spring training for the Rangers, but in a rather bizarre move, the Expos selected Fox in the Rule 5 Draft, which is normally used to pick up prospects, not 32 year old journeymen.

Fox was going to come to spring training with the Rangers with a shot to earn the utility infielder job that has gone vacant for much of the season, but which has recently been filled by the decidedly uninspiring Manny Alexander. Since Fox is a scrappy former D-Back from their Showalter days, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him back in the Ranger organization, either in the minors or the replacing Alexander on the major league club.


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Monday, July 12, 2004

Minor league starters for Monday, 7/12/04 

Oklahoma -- Off.
Frisco -- Edwin Moreno, probably, with Erik Thompson still in limbo. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- I have no idea. Possibly Josh Rupe.
Clinton -- Off.
Spokane -- Off.




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Brandon Cashman interview 

Sports Network has an interview with Ranger minor leaguer Brandon Cashman, who hit four homers in a game earlier this year.


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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Danks at the Futures Game 

I stupidly forgot that the Futures Game was today when I made the projections on today's starters, and with Danks participating, obviously he wasn't going to go for Stockton today.

I had the opportunity to watch him pitch, and came away impressed. He was hitting 90-91 mph on his fastball, which is a bit slower than advertised, but Peter Gammons said that Danks told him he had lost some weight this summer and a bit of arm speed with the grind of the long season. This isn't real surprising, given that Danks is just 19 years old, and most pro pitchers a year out of high school just started their seasons a couple of weeks ago, in Rookie Ball, after having spent the first couple of months at extended spring. The fact that Danks is pitching as well as he is, at this point in the season, is a credit to what a solid prospect he is.

Danks' curveball, which is what got a lot of attention when he was a prep pitcher, looks outstanding. Vicious break to it, and he seemed to be able to control it well. Very impressive pitch, particularly for a pitcher that young.

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Minor league starters for Sunday, 7/11/04 

Oklahoma -- Off.
Frisco -- Not sure. Either John Hudgins or Erik Thompson. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- No official starter is listed. Stockton seems to have gone back to a tandem starter system, so it may be Littleton and Danks. 7:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez. 2 p.m.
Spokane -- Mark Roberts. 3:05 p.m.




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Friday, July 09, 2004

The Availability of Kevin Mench 

Jayson Stark says that the Rangers are willing to trade Kevin Mench for Kris Benson.

More evidence of how low the team's opinion (particularly Buck Showalter's, I imagine) of Mench has fallen. He's a cheap, serviceable left fielder who has a fair amount of upside. He's young enough that he should fit in the team's purported rebuilding plans.

And the Rangers are willing to deal him for a mediocre starting pitcher making $6 million this year, who is a free agent after the season?

What makes this particularly vexing is that Mench is the team's best outfielder right now. We can assume that Laynce Nix will return tonight and play well, but that still doesn't make Mench expendable. If Nix starts playing CF every day (a dubious assumption, but let's say that it happens), that still leaves the corner outfield slots manned by David Dellucci, Gary Matthews, and either Chad Allen or Brian Jordan. That's a bad group out there, which ends up neutralizing some of the gain you get from the great offensive infield.

The organization could decide that Mench's departure would result in Adrian Gonzalez being called up and installed at 1B, with Mark Teixeira moving to the outfield. But Gonzalez isn't hitting any better in AAA than Mench is in the outfield, so you still are looking at an offensive downgrade, and you are still hoping for a productive Dellucci/Jordan platoon in right field.

Alternatively, they could try to obtain a Matt Lawton or a Steve Finley to tide them over in the outfield...but again, the Benson addition doesn't strengthen the rotation all that much. It seems like the Rangers are simply going out of their way to manufacture a situation where they don't really gain that much in the short- or long-term, just to get rid of Mench.


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Minor league starters for Friday, 7/9/04 

Oklahoma -- Ryan Snare. 8:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Kam Loe. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Nick Masset. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Kevin Altman. 9:05 p.m.




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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Minor league starters as of Thursday, 7/8/04 

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron. 8:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Chris Young. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- Matt Farnum. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- As I'm entering this, the game has already started, and I'm not sure who is going for the Rangers.




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The Return of Mark Teixeira 

The continuing rumors of Mark Teixeira's possible departure are troubling...

But in the meantime, very quietly, Teixeira has moved up to 10th in the A.L. in OPS.

He's flying under the radar, but right now, Teixeira may be having the best season of any A.L. first baseman.


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Should the Rangers consider Aurilia 

The Mariners reportedly want to dump Rich Aurilia, and may release him if they can't find any takers.

Now, I have ridiculed the fact that Hart wanted to bring Aurilia to the Rangers this offseason as a starter. But as a cheap backup infielder, he would have some value.

Given that we have Manny Alexander as a utility player right now, and given the lack of a legitimate backup infielder with Perry on the D.L., would it maybe make some sense to talk to the M's about Aurilia?

I wouldn't pick up the remainder of his contract...but if you could get the M's to pay all but the pro-rated minimum, and give them an Asadoorian or a Boyd or someone like that, it would seem to be a worthwhile move to make.

Aurilia, his struggles this season notwithstanding, would give the team a halfway decent righty bat off the bench and a viable option if and when you want to give Young a day off. It might necessitate going with 11 pitchers, rather than 12, for a period of time, but we are just 7 weeks away from roster expansion anyway, so that shouldn't be too big of an issue.

Aurilia is obviously not the guy who hit all those homers a few years ago, but he'd seem to be a decent bet to give you a .250 EQA the rest of the way and spell the infielders when necessary.

If nothing else, he'd seem to be an upgrade over Manny, and possibly over Perry as well.


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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Enough with Jeter already!!! 

Geez...

I'm a fan of Frank Deford's writing, but this is too much...

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Weird column on the Rangers.... 

From the Oregonian comes a pretty bizarre column on the Rangers' success this year.

According to this piece, John Hart (the man who brought the Rangers John Rocker, Carl Everett, and Juan Gonzalez, and who had Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez in Cleveland) is big on team chemistry, Michael Young (middle-of-the-pack or worse in ZR and fielding percentage this year) is a gold glove quality shortstop, and Ryan Drese "figured things out on his own" and taught himself a sinker (which would probably come as a surprise to Dom Chiti and Orel Hershiser).

Also, the Rangers apparently are reluctant to add a starting pitcher because they don't want to disrupt team chemistry.


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Minor league starters for Tuesday, 7/6/04 

Oklahoma -- Should be Nick Regilio.
Frisco -- John Hudgins
Stockton -- Ben Kozlowski
Clinton -- Should be Edison Volquez
Spokane -- The professional debut of first round pick Thomas Diamond




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ChiSox give Garcia 3 year, $27 million extension 

According to New York Newsday...

Wow...I know Chicago felt pressured into getting him locked up, since they overpaid to get him in the first place, but this is ridiculous...

Garcia's career has been up-and-down, following up a great year in 2001 with two mediocre seasons in 2002 and 2003. He was off to a great start in Seattle this season, after almost being non-tendered over the winter, but this is a guy who, at his best, is a #2 starter, and who has just spent two seasons being significantly below his best.

Garcia has had a reputation as a partier, a guy who doesn't take real good care of himself, and a guy who has focus issues. Not the type of player I'd want to pay $9 million per year through 2007 to.

Bad deal for Chicago...


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Monday, July 05, 2004

Minor league starters as of Monday, 7/5/04 

Oklahoma -- Mike Bacsik
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez
Stockton -- Cody Smith
Clinton -- Matt Lorenzo
Spokane -- Unknown




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Saturday, July 03, 2004

I am irate... 

If Buck really believes that Doug Brocail's feel-good story of coming back after three years warrants a spot on the major league roster, well, okay...let him pitch in garbage time or something...

But there is no excuse for letting Brocail pitch in a close game, ever. Bringing in Brocail in the 5th, with the Astros down only one run, and leaving him in there until Houston takes the lead and puts the game out of reach is inexcusable.

I'm sick of this.


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Minor league starters for Saturday, 7/3/04 

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron.
Frisco -- Chris Young.
Stockton -- John Danks
Clinton -- Brian Matton
Spokane -- Clayton Jerome

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Friday, July 02, 2004

John Kruk is a fool 

Exhibit A.

Why in the hell is ESPN giving him his own column? Isn't it bad enough that he's polluting the airwaves on BBTN?


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Minor league starters for Friday, 7/2/04 

Oklahoma -- Rick Helling. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Erik Thompson. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Wes Littleton. 9:30 p.m.
Clinton -- Matt Farnum, I believe. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 8:30 p.m.




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D-Backs fire Bob Brenly 

The Arizona Diamondbacks have fired manager Bob Brenly.

Which is somewhat disappointing, if only because I predicted Jimy Williams would be the first to go.


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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Another Yank with parasites 

First Jason Giambi, now Kevin Brown...

What are they feeding these guys?


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Mariners call up Blackley to start against Rangers 

The Mariners have called up 21 year old lefty Travis Blackley, who will start against the Rangers this afternoon, and optioned Clint Nageotte back to AAA, after the Rangers slapped him around a couple of times.

I don't think this is really good news for Texas...Blackley is the type of soft-tossing lefty that gives some of the Ranger hitters fits.


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Minor league starters as of Thursday, 7/1/04 

Oklahoma -- Nick Regilio. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- John Hudgins, facing off against Seattle's electric 18 year old, Felix Hernandez. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- John Danks, I believe, in their first game back from the ASB. 9:00 p.m.
Clinton -- Edison Volquez. 6:05 p.m.
Spokane -- Not sure.


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