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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bad news on the playoff front 

In his column today, Tom Verducci points out that no team in the wild card era has come back from more than 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot on September 1, and made the playoffs.

The last team that did so was the 1993 Atlanta Braves, who, down 3 1/2 games in the N.L. West, made one of the all-time great stretch runs to catch the San Francisco Giants on the last day of the season.

The Rangers are currently 3 1/2 games back of the A's in the A.L. West, and 3 games back of Boston in the Wild Card.


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Roster expansion issues 

T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers will likely add five players tomorrow, when MLB allows rosters to be expanded to 40.

Herb Perry, Jeff Nelson, and Erasmo Ramirez are scheduled to be activated from the D.L., and catcher Ken Huckaby and infielder Andy Fox are going to be called up from the minors.

Nelson, Perry and Erasmo are all on the 15 day D.L., so activating them won't cause any problems. However, Huckaby and Fox have to be added to the 40 man roster, which currently stands (by my count) at 39. Putting Mickey Callaway on the 60 day D.L. would free up a roster spot, but otherwise, they'd have to move a minor league off the 40 man roster, with Rosman Garcia seemingly the most likely casualty.

Bringing up Huckaby makes sense, particularly with Laird's thumb still hurting him...now you can pinch-hit for the starting catcher without worrying that you don't have an emergency catcher available on the bench. It gives Buck a little more roster flexibility.

Fox, though, doesn't seem to offer much, other than being one of Buck's guys. You already have Manny Alexander filling the backup infield role, and he isn't getting any playing time anyway (thank goodness). So with Fox, you get two backup infielder/pinch runners who won't every get any playing time.


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Minor league starters for Tuesday, 8/31/04 

No official starters were listed for any of the Ranger affiliates, so all of the listings today are my best guesses, based on where the teams are in the rotation.

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Ben Kozlowski. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Edison Volquez. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Jose Garcia. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Eric Hurley. 9:05 p.m.




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Monday, August 30, 2004

Fraley on Soriano 

I hate agreeing with Gerry Fraley on pretty much anything. But this time, he's right...Soriano needs to go...

As nice as this season has been, Soriano hasn't really contributed much. He's been sub-par for a middle-of-the-order hitter (remember those who claimed that he'd equal ARod's production?), doesn't get on base enough to be a leadoff hitter, and is a lousy defensive player. Yeah, yeah, he's a second baseman, and second basemen don't generally hit that much, but Baseball Prospectus puts him at a shade over 4 runs above average for his position...that, combined with his well-below-average defense (BP has him at over 10 runs below average defensively) makes him a sub-par starting second baseman.

Plus he's one of the highest-paid players on the team this year, and will be getting a raise, to the neighborhood of $7-8 million, for 2005.

The Rangers would be just as well off getting Mark Bellhorn or Todd Walker to play second base next year, or picking up Junior Spivey (the Brewers will likely non-tender him, rather than pay him $3.5-4 million in arbitration), as a short-term solution. Or let Marshall McDougall hold the spot down for half a season or a season, until Ian Kinsler or Joaquin Arias are ready.

Deal Soriano for something -- prospects, most likely, although the market for him has diminished -- and find a cheaper second baseman. Really, I expect him to end up with the Yankees next year, in exchange for Bronson Sardinha and Dioner Navarro, or something similar. Few other teams would want an expensive second baseman who is a defensive liability, and who is coming off a mediocre offensive season.

Now, the common complaint about such a move is -- what are the Rangers going to spend the money on? Particularly when someone like me -- who isn't impressed with the free agent pitching crop this offseason -- makes the suggestion. And no question, the Rangers can easily afford Soriano for 2005.

But there are any number of possibilities of what you can do with the extra $6 million or so. Use the savings to go after Carlos Beltran. Use it to sweeten an offer for Roger Clemens to come to town next year. Apply it to a signing bonus as part of a long-term extension for Mark Teixeira, who has been showing people the last couple of months why all those scouts were so fired up about him a couple of years ago. Use the extra payroll room to take a salary dump from another team, particularly if they are willing to kick in prospects as part of the deal.

There's any number of things you can do with $6 million of extra payroll room. And if you have a choice between Soriano, or Todd Walker, a couple of prospects, and $6 million to spend elsewhere...well, I think that's a pretty easy decision.


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Peter King's MMQB 

In Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column today, he opines that the D-Rays having a lower team ERA than the Yankees (4.55 vs. 4.57) is "one of the more amazing stats in recent sports history".

I'd submit that the Rangers having a lower ERA than either of them (at 4.48) is even more amazing...


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As the Expos turn... 

Years have passed since Bud Selig began his search for a new home for the Montreal Expos. And although the Northern Virginia/D.C. area appears to be the team's likely 2005 home, more controversy has sprung up in connection with a possible move, as a D.C. city councilman has threatened to block the team from using RFK Stadium as a temporary home unless MLB agrees to put the team permanently in D.C., rather than Virginia.

Ridiculous...


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Minor league starters for Monday, 8/30/04 

Oklahoma -- None listed, but I'm guessing it will be Mike Bacsik. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Off.
Clinton -- None listed, but I believe it will be Jose Garcia. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Shawn Phillips. 8:30 p.m.




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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Other Soriano talk... 

Newsday's John Heyman says on the Soriano situation:

"There's talk in Texas that Alfonso Soriano might get traded this winter so they can move Michael Young back to second base. You'll know it's true the minute GM John Hart denies it."


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T.R. Sullivan on Soriano's future 

I missed this article in Friday's S-T until Jamey Newberg mentioned it in his report today, but it does a good job of encapsulating why I don't think Soriano needs to be in Texas long-term.

Since coming to Texas, Soriano hasn't hit well enough to be a middle-of-the-order hitter, doesn't get on base enough to be a leadoff hitter, and is too bad defensively to overlook his offensive struggles. And as Sullivan points out, he'll be making around $8 million in arbitration next year, way more than he's worth if he doesn't turn it around offensively.

If he were just 26, I'd be a little more inclined to view this season as an aberration. But at age 28, he's basically mirroring his age 25 season, with his much better age 26 and 27 seasons bracketed in between. There were a lot of questions after 2002 about whether Soriano could repeat the success he had that year, given his incredibly poor plate discipline and his tendency to swing at anything. His 2003 season was erratic, with extreme hot streaks and abysmal cold streaks, but overall, he matched his 2002. This year, though, Soriano has regressed, at it seems that pitchers are less and less likely to throw him the low fastballs that he feasts on.

The other incredibly frustrating thing about Soriano at this point is that it seems like, once he gets to a 3-2 count, he's hacking at anything. He shows a decent eye earlier in the count, and will take 1-2 pitches off the plate, but once it gets to 3-2, he's swinging at anything.

I just don't see that he's salvageable, particularly not at $8 million, and I'd rather see the Rangers go in another direction, although bringing in Omar Vizquel, as Sullivan suggests, wouldn't be a constructive option.


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Minor league starters for Sunday, 8/29/04 

Oklahoma -- Probably Kam Loe. 2:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Probably Nick Masset -- this was the spot John Hudgins had in the rotation. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Unknown -- this was Masset's spot. 7:05 p.m.
Clinton -- They are supposedly playing a DH today, starting at noon, but no starters are listed.
Spokane -- Once again, no starter listed. 8:30 p.m.



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Friday, August 27, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 8/27/04 

Oklahoma -- John Hudgins, in his AAA debut. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Not sure. Maybe Nick Masset, who was promoted to replace Hudgins. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- John Danks. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Thomas Diamond. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Not listed. 9:05 p.m.




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Hudgins promoted to AAA 

With John Wasdin moving back to the Rangers, 2003 3rd round draft choice John Hudgins has been promoted to AAA Oklahoma.

John Hudgins' 2004 performance has been remarkable, as, in his first true season as a professional (he pitched only one inning last year in the minors before being shut down), he has mowed down hitters in both high-A and AA, evoking comparisons to Greg Maddux.

Hudgins, as a 2003 draftee, doesn't have to be added to the 40 man roster for Rule 5 purposes until after 2005. However, if the Rangers stay in the race, and Hudgins pitches in AAA the way he did in the lower levels, I wouldn't be surprised if he were called up and plugged into the rotation at some point in September.


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BP Chat with Jim Baker 

Baseball Prospectus hosted a chat with Jim Baker last night...

He answered a question on Soriano that I posed, although I do disagree with his analysis...


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Erickson probably gone, Wasdin probably back 

According to the FWST, John Wasdin is supposed to be called up to start today's game, with Scott Erickson likely designated for assignment to make room for him.

Erickson was picked up from the Mets for a bag of balls, and pretty clearly didn't have anything left.

While I've been very critical of Buck Showalter for some things, I do think the way he's managed the roster in regards to pitchers has been extremely well done.

He recognizes that the Scott Ericksons, Mike Bacsiks, and John Wasdins of the world are interchangeable, and thus you can bring up one, send the other back down through waivers, and not miss a beat. If someone claims a Mike Bacsik, big deal...you can get another one for a bag of balls if you really need one.

It allows the team to keep the bullpen fresh, by sending out guys from time to time who have just pitched a bunch of innings and will be unavailable for a while, which gives the team some insurance should one of the random interchangeable starting arms end up getting yanked in the third inning.

So kudos for Buck, for recognizing the fungibility of some of these guys, and using the roster rules to the team's advantage...


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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Will Carroll, dedicated author or insane masochist? 

Will Carroll writes the "Under the Knife" column for Baseball Prospectus, a column which addresses injury, rehabilitation, and other medical news with players and teams. After being criticized for his column on the effect of Gary Sheffield's torn trapezius muscle on his swing, Carroll...well, in his words:

"After my analysis of the Gary Sheffield shoulder injury was questioned, I decided that there was only one way to determine exactly how a Grade II tear of the left trapezius muscle would affect a swing. Assisted by a physical therapist, my left trapezius was placed under controlled stress until the muscle tore. After some ice and Aleve, I headed over to the batting cages and took some hacks."

I won't give the results, because this is from the pay section of BP, and I don't think it would really be proper to quote that stuff, particularly given the lengths that Carroll went to.

Really, though, I just found it amazing that he went and had his muscle torn in order to confirm something he wrote earlier.


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A-Rod is a big, fat disappointment 

According to this MSNBC columnist, anyway...

I'll tell you what...why don't we see if the Yankees will take Soriano back, and return ARod to the Rangers...


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Minor league starters for Thursday, 8/26/04 

Oklahoma -- Unknown. Wasdin, whose turn it is today, will likely be held out so he could start for Texas tomorrow. Maybe Bacsik. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Should be Ben Kozlowski. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Wes Littleton. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Not sure. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Also unknown. 8:35 p.m.




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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Soriano 

Two bad defensive plays and a horrible at-bat in which, as has become his custom, he swung at every 3-2 pitch until he got himself out.

I'm ready to see him gone.


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Minor league starters for Wednesday, 8/25/04 

Oklahoma -- Not sure -- the Ho got this spot in the rotation last time around. Maybe Mike Bacsik. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Kelvin Jimenez. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Edison Volquez. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Off.
Spokane -- Shawn Phillips. 8:35 p.m.




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The return of the Ho... 

Oh, boy...I can hardly wait...the Ho is coming back...

Although I'd just as soon never see him in a Ranger uniform again, the sad reality is that he's probably a better starter right now than Callaway or Erickson.

So let's cross our fingers, hold our breath, and hope he can give the team six innings and only allow three or four runs.


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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Minor league starters for Tuesday, 8/24/04 

Oklahoma -- Kam Loe, 7:00 p.m.
Frisco -- Off day.
Stockton -- Unknown. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Johnny Lujan. 8:35 p.m.



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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Article on Showalter from the Kansas City Star 

Generally favorable, but also addressing his reputation as the "Little General"...


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Minor league starters for Sunday, 8/22/04 

Oklahoma -- Sam Narron. 6:00 p.m.
Frisco -- I think R.A. Dickey is getting a rehab start. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Not sure. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Matt Farnum. 2:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Chris Brannon. 8:30 p.m.




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Saturday, August 21, 2004

More on Loaiza... 

New York Newsday is reporting that talks are off between the Rangers and Yankees regarding an Esteban Loaiza trade...

Apparently, the Yankees, with their rickety rotation, feel that Loaiza is their best insurance should someone go down, although he's likely to be moved into a long man role next week.

Plus, King George has indicated that he hasn't "seen enough" of Loaiza to decide if they should move him.

So, the more Loaiza sucks (and he got yanked after 3 innings today, giving up 4 runs and getting knocked around), the more likely the Yankees are to deal him. But at the same time, if he isn't getting anyone out in New York, the Rangers may decide they are just as well off with Scott Erickson, Chris Young, and the rest of the random parts they have filling out the rotation.

So at this point, I'd guess that Loaiza isn't coming to Texas...


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Mike Cameron's impact on the Mets 

The free agent who was #1 on my list of players I wanted the Rangers to go after this offseason was Mike Cameron. Alas, the Rangers chose to keep their purse closed (and if they had spent big money, it would have been on busts Rich Aurilia and Sidney Ponson, so it is probably just as well)...

But the guys at U.S.S. Mariner put together a lengthy entry today on the impact Cameron has had on the Mets, and how much losing him has hurt the Mariners.

Not only does Cameron have the 5th highest OPS among CFs in baseball, but doubles and triples allowed by the Mets have decreased by 23% since last season, since adding the best defensive outfielder in the game.

He would look really nice in CF for the Rangers right about now...


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Minor league starters for Saturday, 8/21/04 

Oklahoma -- Not sure. With Nick Regilio being put on the shelf and Chris Young held back for a possible start for Texas on Tuesday, it will probably be someone like Mike Bacsik or Jason Andrew. 7:00 p.m.
Frisco -- Josh Rupe. 8:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Wes Littleton. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Thomas Diamond. 6:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Eric Hurley. 8:30 p.m.


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Friday, August 20, 2004

Dominguez on the way back 

Juan Dominguez had his knee drained, and the team sounds optimistic that he could return to the rotation soon...

Given that the Rangers are basically going with a random grab-bag behind Rogers and Drese, the return of Dominguez would be huge...

In the same piece, Buck Showalter proclaims that Rusty Greer "has made as many contributions as anybody to our team this year"...

Whatever you say, Buck...


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Strange Fraley comment 

My real life responsibilities have slowed down my commenting and reading the past few days, so I'm just now stumbling onto this gem from Fraley...

The Red Sox are a poor defensive team, and it follows that they have trouble in close games. Boston began Monday's play at 9-16 for one-run games. The Rangers were 17-13 in games decided by one run.

Can someone explain to me why a poor defensive team would have trouble in close games?


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Minor league starters for Friday, 8/20/04 

Sorry for my laxness in posting these lately...

Oklahoma -- The Ho, 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- None listed, though I think it is Ben Kozlowski. 8:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Edison Volquez. 9:15 p.m.
Clinton -- Jose Garcia. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 8:30 p.m.




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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Loaiza to Texas 

The New York Post is saying that the Rangers are close to a deal with the Yankees to acquire Esteban Loaiza.

The Rangers have submitted a list of possible minor leaguers that the Yankees could choose from, according to the Post, that includes Ramon Nivar, Sam Narron, Jason Bourgeois, and Ryan Snare.

Bourgeois is the only one from that group I'd really be disappointed to give up, but even if Bourgeois goes, it would probably be a good deal for the Rangers.

Loaiza is a free agent after this season, so, unlike with some of the other possibilities kicked around, such as Kansas City's Brian Anderson and Darrell May, there are no financial implications for 2005.


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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Andy Pettitte done for the year 

Another nail in the Astro coffin...

I'm quite glad that the rumors that the Rangers were interested in signing Pettitte turned out to be baseless...


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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

John Hart revises history 

With Travis Hafner now a borderline MVP candidate, John Hart is back to spinning his decision to give Travis Hafner away after the 2002 season...

Hart had this to say about the trade in today's DMN...

"You hate to trade bats – nobody loves bats more than I do – but we would not be where we are without Ryan Drese," Hart said Monday before the Rangers' 5-2 victory over Cleveland in which Hafner was 0-for-4.

"It hurts to trade a kid that you like as much as Travis Hafner. But at the same time we were bereft of pitching. At some point, we have to get out of this pitching hole."


So the trade was to get pitching help, right? Well, that's not what Hart said after the trade was made...

"We looked at the market and made the best move out there," Rangers general manager John Hart said. "This was a very key trade for us considering the free agent catching market that was out there."

The idea that John Hart wants to spin this deal as really being about getting pitching help is laughable. Drese and Aaron Myette were swapped for each other as throw-ins to the trade, two headcase pitchers with good arms (although Myette was considered to be the better arm at the time) who hadn't put it together.

The Rangers didn't have to give away Travis Hafner to get Ryan Drese. And for John Hart to try to paint it otherwise now is simply dishonest...

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Jayson Stark explains waiver trades 

Waivers 101 from Jayson Stark...

This is the part that I particularly wanted to flag:

"Virtually every player in the major leagues will be placed on waivers [in August], whether a team intends to trade that player or not. If nothing else, the sheer volume of names can at least disguise players whom clubs do want to sneak through so they can be dealt."

Every year, it seems, the fact that a team places some big-name player on waivers in early August becomes a huge story, despite the fact that, as Stark points out, it is done with everyone...


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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Boston's big Nomar trade 

Orlando Cabrera's line as a Red Sox: .193/.220/.316
Dough Mientkiewicz's line as a Red Sox: .270/.308/.324

Not looking good for Boston...

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Minor league starters for Sunday, 8/15/04 

Oklahoma -- Chan Ho Park. 5:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Off.
Stockton -- Wes Littleton. 7:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Not sure. 2:05 p.m.
Spokane -- Eric Hurley. 8:05 p.m.




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Fuson to the D-Backs? 

That appears to be the hot rumor...

Good situation for him, if it works out. And I want him in the National League...

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Column on Fuson's departure, with extensive Fuson quotes 

A column from the Oklahoman on Fuson's departure, that includes the most extensive quotes from Fuson on the situation that I've seen.

And he specifically rebuts the notion that he quit because he wanted to be the G.M.


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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Rangers get attention from the New York Times 

A piece from NY Times baseball writer Murray Chass...

It mostly focuses on how the Rangers are succeeding despite poor starting pitching, and notes that, if the Rangers make the playoffs, they will be the second team in baseball history to make the playoffs while using 15 starting pitchers, with the 1989 Giants being the other team.


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Some nasty comments on Buck... 

From New York Newsday columnist Jon Heyman...

"Buck Showalter and Orel Hershiser threatened to quit if GM John Hart was going to be replaced by Grady Fuson. Naturally, Showalter denied having anything to do with Hart staying.

The only way to tell if Showalter's lying is if his lips move."


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The problem with Rusty Greer 

More bad news for the Rangers...Rusty Greer may be back.

The local papers continue to report breathlessly on the progress Greer is making towards a return to the Rangers, either in September or in 2005. Gerry Fraley has criticized the Rangers' pursuit of Larry Walker, saying that Greer deserves "better treatment" than to have his potential DH slot taken away by Walker.

He's still a fan favorite -- do a Google search for references to Greer in the DMN newsletters and you get a remarkable number of issues with questions about him, given that he hasn't played since 2002. The combination of his all-out, balls-to-the-wall style, along with his being one of the few prominent Anglo players on the very good Rangers teams of the late-90s, has contributed to making him almost an icon among Rangers fans, even as other big time players from that era (Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Pudge Rodriguez) have been cast aside. And with Buck Showalter -- who has been clear in his preference for humble, gritty players who are properly deferential -- now in place and singing his praises, it sounds as if Rusty Greer will have a legitimate chance at being the Ranger DH in 2005.

That would be a bad, bad idea.

Why? Well, think back to 1999. The last time the Rangers were in the playoffs. Bill Clinton was still President. The Stars had just won the Stanley Cup. Michael Irvin was still the Cowboys' #1 receiver. "The Blair Witch Project" was THE hot movie, and the internet was just starting to catch on. Only a few statheads considered Oakland G.M. Billy Beane, whose A's had their first winning season in seven years that year, anything more than just another general manager.

That was the last time Rusty Greer was a good player.

Greer was 30 years old, posted a .300/.405/.493 line, and a .304 EQA. Yeah, he was not a good defensive outfielder, but his hustle and diving efforts allowed fans to overlook the fact that he was slow, got poor jumps, and had a popgun for an arm.

After that, Greer went downhill fast. He posted an EQA of .285 in 2000, which isn't great for a left fielder, particularly not a bad defensive outfielder, and played in just 105 games. Nevertheless, in March of 2001, the Rangers signed Greer to a three year, $21.8 million contract extension, running from 2002 through 2004. That deal quickly turned into an albatross.

In 2001, Greer posted a .274 EQA while playing in just 62 games. In 2002, the first year of his new contract, he posted a .262 EQA in 51 games. He hasn't played since.

The fact that Greer is going to be 36 years old at the start of the 2005 season is reason enough to believe that he's not going to be able to contribute much to a major league team. Few players with his skill sets and career arc are going to continue to be quality hitters as they hit their late-30s.

But with Greer, we aren't just talking about any 36 year old -- we are talking about a 36 year old who will be coming off of almost a three year layoff, and who will be six years removed from his last good season. And we are talking about a guy who can't run, can't field, and likely won't hit for power.

And the Rangers are seriously considering making this guy their starting DH? A player whose offensive contribution is likely to be minimal? The same team that has crucified Brad Fullmer for putting up numbers in 2004 that Rusty Greer would be extremely lucky to even match in 2005?

What's particularly foolish about this is that, while pitchers avoid the Rangers like the plague because of the ballpark, hitters love playing here. TBIA is an extreme hitters park, and good lefty hitters can come to Texas and mash, putting up great numbers in a pleasant environment. The Rangers can easily find a quality DH for next to nothing this offseason.

And instead, they seem bent on turning the position over to a guy who won't be able to get the job done, for no other reason than because Buck Showalter likes the moxie he's shown.

This organization continues to do things that I find baffling. And one would think that, with rational leadership in Texas, the Rangers would let Rusty have a minor league contract and a courtesy invite to spring training, let him take some b.p., and then slide him into a role as a bench coach or roving instructor.

Instead, I'm afraid he'll be the 2005 version of Doug Brocail -- someone whom the organization allows to lose games for the team because of Buck's mis-placed sentimentality.


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Minor league starters for Saturday, 8/14/04 

Oklahoma -- Kam Loe. 6:05 p.m.
Frisco -- I think Ben Kozlowski. 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Unknown. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Thomas Diamond. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Kevin Altman. 9:05 p.m.




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Friday, August 13, 2004

Baseball America on Fuson 

Terrific piece on the impact Grady Fuson had in his too-brief tenure with the Rangers...


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FOXSports.com on Ranger prospects 

FOXSports.com has a piece on the top prospects in the Rangers system, written by Baseball Prospectus contributor Dayn Perry.

I'm not sure whether the players are ranked in the order they are presented or not, but if this list does comprise a ranking of the players, than the aborted Larry Walker trade would have resulted in the Rangers giving up the #1 and #4 prospects in the system, according to this list.


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I'm back and blogging... 

Although, with the way the Rangers are playing, I don't really have much to say...

I guess I should be grateful that the Rangers are still at least in the race this late. And I guess I should be happy none of the discussed trades actually went through, since at this point it doesn't appear that Larry Walker or Shawn Estes or Cory Lidle would do much to stop the bleeding.


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Minor league starters for Friday, 8/13/04 

Oklahoma -- Chris Young, 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Unknown. 7:30 p.m.
Stockton -- Matt Lorenzo, 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Unknown. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 9:05 p.m.




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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Out of town until Thursday 

While I'm gone, posting will be intermittant, at best.


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Friday, August 06, 2004

Minor league starters for Friday, 8/6/04 

Oklahoma -- No starter officially listed, but I think it should be Sam Narron. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Again, no official starter, but Ben Kozlowski is my guess. 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- John Danks. 9:00 p.m.
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Eric Hurley. 8:30 p.m.




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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Minor league starters for Thursday, 8/5/04 

Oklahoma -- Chan Ho Park. 7:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Doubleheader, with Mickey Callaway and Doug Brocail apparently getting the starts, in rehab assignments.
Stockton -- Not sure. Possibly John Danks. 9:05 p.m.
Clinton -- Matt Farnum. 7:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 8:35 p.m.


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Interesting note from the S-T, on Buck's powers 

A quote from today's S-T...

"Prior to Wednesday's game, Showalter was considering designating Mike Bacsik for assignment after his start to clear a roster spot."

Strange...it is usually the G.M. who decides who stays and goes...

But then, I guess we all know who is actually calling the shots in Texas...




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Some attention from the national media 

Yahoo's John Donovan has a column examining the Rangers' surprising play this year, although he falls into some of the same traps many folks have when looking at this team.

Donovan claims that the Rangers are winning "by simply outslugging everyone", although the Rangers are only 4th in the A.L. in runs scored, behind Cleveland, Boston and the Yankees. When you take into account that the Rangers play in the best hitting park in the A.L. (something Donovan acknowledges in passing), their offense has been pretty middle-of-the-pack.

However, Donovan also says that teams that pitch like the Rangers should not be fighting for first place in August, which is a common knee-jerk reaction among the national media, but a reaction that ignores the reality of what the Rangers have done this season.

The Rangers are tied for 6th in the A.L. in runs allowed, having given up fewer than the supposedly pitching-rich New York Yankees. They are 5th in the A.L. in ERA, a remarkable achievement given their home park.

If you look at some of the more sophisticated stats, the Ranger pitching doesn't look that bad, either. In terms of Support-Neutral Valued Added (SNVA), a metric that evaluates what a team's expected won-loss record would be assuming average offense and bullpen support given the individual starting performances of its pitchers, the Rangers are tied for 15th with the supposedly starting-pitching-rich Florida Marlins.

But where the Rangers' pitching has really carried the team has been in the bullpen. The Rangers are currently second in the A.L. in ERA for relievers, behind only Anaheim, and are 3rd in the majors in Baseball Prospectus' Adjusted Runs Prevented.

Donovan, again, mentions this briefly, noting that Cordero is a legitimate closer, and that Mahay and Almanzar have been "solid" in middle relief. But what Donovan glosses over is that the entire bullpen (with the notable exception of Doug Brocail) has been solid. Cordero has been spectacular, of course, but everybody in the pen has done their job when called upon, and it is that bullpen that is the strength of the team right now.

It is nice to see the Rangers get some national publicity (even if Donovan says at the end that the Rangers are "starting to wilt under the pressure from the A's"), but it would be even nicer if these folks would take a closer look at why the team is winning.


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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Threatening Blyleven 

With the season almost two-thirds over, Jamie Moyer has allowed 31 home runs this season, and Bartolo Colon has allowed 29 home runs.

Both are within striking distance of Bert Blyleven's single-season record for homers allowed, which is 50.

In Seattle, the Mariners may very well take precautions to make sure Moyer doesn't actually have the opportunity to give up 50, as p.r. conscious as they are.

But in Anaheim, the Angels could be in the playoff hunt until the very end, which would likely mean continuing to run Colon out there pretty regularly.

With a couple of homer-less outings, these guys would drop far enough back off the pace that it would probably be moot. But in the meantime, it is something worth watching...


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The stathead view of the Dodger/Marlin trade 

From Baseball Prospectus's Triple Play...

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Robo-Journalism 

Running Google's news search, there appear to be 24 articles in the last week that refer to Paul Lo Duca as the "heart and soul" of the Dodgers team...

That's impressive, although the almost 100 articles that pop up when you search for "Paul Lo Duca" and "team leader" is just as impressive...




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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The mainstream press and the L.A. Dodgers 

This year, there was a flurry of activity at the July 31 trading deadline, with the Rangers only peripherally involved (obtaining Scott Erickson from the Mets for the equivalent of a bag of balls).

The interesting thing about the deadline trades to me, though, we the different ways in which two of the major players -- the Boston Red Sox and the L.A. Dodgers -- were portrayed.

The BoSox dealt brooding free-agent-to-be Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs as part of a four way deal that netted them 1B Doug Mientkiwicz and SS Orlanda Cabrera. Mientkiwicz is a slick fielding, mediocre hitting, expensive first baseman who the Twins were more than happy to dump to make room for slugger Justin Morneau; Cabrera is a good shortstop having a very bad year, and like Nomar, is a free agent after the season.

Strictly on a talent basis, the Red Sox got hosed, although apparently someone within the organization (there is some question as to whether it was really boy wonder G.M. Theo Epstein) decided that Nomar had to go for the good of the team. Nevertheless, the mainstream baseball press has been giving the BoSox the benefit of the doubt, and praising Theo for realizing that he needed to upgrade his defense to succeed.

Of course, the defensive upgrade from Nomar to Cabrera isn't as significant as the offensive downgrade, and Mientkiwicz is likely to simply take over the hallowed Dave Stapleton role of late-inning defensive replacement for the real 1B, so I personally see this as a big step back for Boston, and a boost to the Rangers' pennant hopes. But those in the media seem to be okay with this deal.

However, the trade that has really earned the wrath of the Fourth Estate is the move by the Los Angeles Dodgers to deal catcher Paul Lo Duca, setup man Guillermo Mota, and outfielder Juan Encarnacion for starting pitcher Brad Penny, first baseman Hee Choi, and pitching prospect Billy Murphy (who was later sent to Arizona as part of the deal for Steve Finley and Brent Mayne).

This trade has prompted hysterics from the old guard in the media.

The level of condemnation DePodesta has received is amazing. I heard former Cincinnati G.M. Jim Bowden rip into DePodesta on the radio after the trade, claiming he'd traded the "heart and soul" of the team -- an All-Star catcher, the best setup man in the business, and a power hitting outfielder -- for a #5 starter and a guy who can't hit a curveball. That night on Baseball Tonight, Jeff Brantley echoed those sentiments, except he referred to Hee Choi as a "platoon player".

Lo Duca has made the All-Star team, once as basically the last player selected on the player ballots, and once as an injury replacement. And he made the All-Star team because he's a first half player:

Lo Duca, post-ASB this year: .234/.333/.404
Lo Duca, post-ASB for his career: .254/.309/.376

Lo Duca is very small for a catcher, and clearly wears down over the course of a season. He's also 32, getting expensive (he's making $3.9 million this year, and is eligible for arbitration after the season), and not real good defensively.

Juan Encarnacion is useless -- a fourth or fifth outfielder, whom the Marlins are mistakenly casting as a starting right fielder. He has a little bit of pop, but no plate discipline, and he's well below-average offensively for a corner outfielder.

Mota has been terrific, but like Lo Duca, he's older, and at the point in his career where he's getting expensive. DePodesta gave up two players who are at their peaks in terms of value -- one of whom is unlikely to contribute much the rest of the way with the bat -- and a guy with a bad contract.

In return, he got a very good young pitcher in Brad Penny who immediately solidifies the Dodger rotation and becomes their best pitcher, a terrific, underrated first baseman in Hee Choi, who is young, cheap, and under L.A.'s control for the next several years, and a prospect he used to acquire a centerfielder and a catcher.

The difference between Choi and Encarnacion, offensively, is greater than the difference between Lo Duca and his replacements at catcher. And I'll take a good starter over a great setup man any day of the week. So short-term, talent-wise, this deal is a win for the Dodgers, and long-term, it is a steal.

The mainstream baseball press, though, isn't treating it this way, in large part because Lo Duca and Encarnacion are incredibly overrated, and in part because Choi is still viewed as the busted prospect that Dusty Baker wanted nothing to do with last season, instead of as what he's become -- a quality first baseman.

The press is also bemoaning the loss of the Dodgers' "clubhouse leader", as if the team is going to fall apart now that "Paulie" isn't around to rally the troops. One writer in L.A., though, suggests that Lo Duca's desire to be a clubhouse leader "stirred as much resentment as fellowship among teammates". He (correctly, I believe) opines that if the team chemistry was so dependent on Lo Duca that it would fall apart without him, it was built on a much-too-fragile base to begin with.

In any case, the stathead community has been showering DePodesta with praise for thinking outside of the box, making a deal that helps the team in the short-term and the long-term, rather than just making the standard "prospects for rent-a-player" deal that we've become accustomed to. And as a Ranger fan, it would be nice if our G.M. would show that kind of vision...


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Monday, August 02, 2004

Minor league starters for Tuesday, 8/2/04 

Oklahoma -- Chris Young. 9:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Josh Rupe. 7:05 p.m.
Stockton -- Off
Clinton -- Brian Mattoon. 7:05 p.m.
Spokane -- Unknown. 9:05 p.m.




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Mark Teixeira, A.L. player of the month 

For the month of July...

Congrats to Teixeira, who really stepped up and carried this team for much of the month...


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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Reeves on the Jaramillo situation 

Jim Reeves takes John Hart to task today for not getting hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo signed...

Jaramillo, who is a free agent after the season, has said he'll test the waters and see what the market will offer, and it sounds like Reeves believes Jaramillo will be gone.

Jaramillo, generally thought of as the top hitting coach in the league, wants to be paid like the top hitting coach in the league. Hart has refused.

Of course, Jaramillo was also already here when Hart arrived. I have to imagine that, if Hart's buddy Orel Hershiser wanted to be the highest paid pitching coach in the league, the situation would be handled differently.


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On changes in player development in Texas 

T.R. Sullivan has a piece today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram addressing how the Rangers are moving forward without Grady Fuson.

Several of the folks Fuson brought in are apparently going to stay, but there's going to be a switch in emphasis, with the Rangers going for more younger, higher-ceiling high schoolers in the draft, in contrast with the emphasis on college players that Fuson had.

Disappointing news, for those of us who felt Fuson's college-oriented approach was the way to go...and for those of us who remember the countless high school pitchers drafted under the Melvin regime that never panned out...


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Minor league starters for Sunday, 8/1/04 

Oklahoma -- Billy Sylvester, 8:05 p.m.
Frisco -- Unknown. 7:00 p.m.
Stockton -- Nick Masset, 8:11 p.m.
Clinton -- Jesse Chavez, 2:00 p.m.
Spokane -- Chris Brannon, 7:05 p.m.


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