Thursday, September 30, 2004

Ryan Snare clears waivers 

Interesting that Narron was claimed, but not Snare.

The Rangers will likely put Snare in a relief role in AAA next season, and look at him as a possible Erasmo Ramirez-type middle-man.


Mahay gets two years, $2 million extension 

Per the DMN...

Reasonable deal for Mahay. He gets some security, the Rangers get cost certainty. They could have played hardball with him the next couple of years to try to save a couple of hundred thousand, but this is a get deal for both parties.

Mahay has really been a revelation for the Rangers over the past couple of seasons. Originally looked at as a lefty specialist, he's developed into a solid middle reliever whom Buck is comfortable bringing in for a couple of innings at a time. And he's another good example of why you don't give the Jay Powells of the world 3 year, $9 million deals.


Good column from Cowlishaw today 

He hits on a lot of points I've been saying for a while...

In particular, I'm 100% behind him on the Ho needing to go, and the offense needing a significant upgrade if we're going to compete...


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Going to the game today... 

My last game of the year, and while I'm disappointed it isn't more meaningful, I'm quite honestly shocked that the team stayed in the race as long as they have.

I'm looking forward to seeing Kameron Loe pitch...he doesn't have top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he's a guy who could be a nice #3-4 starter for this team, and it would be great to see Fuson's 2002 draft start to produce real dividends.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fuson supposedly on his way to Baltimore 

The Orioles, who just fired their farm director, are rumored to be hiring Grady Fuson to take over their farm system...

If so, a very good pickup for the Oriole front office...


Rangers considering starting Loe on Wednesday 

In the wake of his terrific relief outing on Sunday, Kameron Loe may get a start on Wednesday against Anaheim.

Joaquin Benoit is the scheduled starter, but he struggled mightily his last time out, and I imagine Buck would prefer to leave him in the pen if at all possible.

Although folks wondered whether his finesse-oriented repertoire from the right side would translate well in the majors, Loe looked very good on Sunday. With the plethora of pitching prospects floating around in the system, and those who don't throw 95 seeming to be falling by the wayside, it would be nice for Loe to get a quality start under his belt and do something to separate himself from the pack.


Monday, September 27, 2004


What a crappy way to lose a game.

I don't like baseball much right now.


Debunking the protection myth 

The folks at Sabernomics, a terrific blog on the economics of baseball, have done a very comprehensive study on the effect that "protection" -- having a good hitter coming up behind you -- has on a hitter, using the Retrosheet play by play data for 1984 through 1992.

The complete study can be found here, and has a lot of eye-glazing material. The summary of their 18 page paper:

"The results lead us to not only reject the protection hypothesis, but also we find evidence that good on-deck hitters actually harm the hit and power probabilities of the current batter. "


A couple of notes from Gammons 

In Peter Gammons' latest notes column, he lists Alfonso Soriano among a list of players who aren't free agents, but aren't expected to be back with their current clubs next season.

He also has a quote from Alex Rodriguez, where Alex says Buck Showalter deserves to be the Manager of the Year.


rsBaseball Prospectus Post-season Odds Report 

As of this morning, the Rangers are given a 6.79% chance of winning the division.

The Rangers need to do no worse than take three of four from Anaheim, and realistically, need a sweep to feel good about their chances going into the final weekend.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Kruk picks Chone Figgins as his MVP 

I've generally avoided reading John Kruk lately.

Reading John Kruk generally gets me irritated, much in the same way that listening to Rob Dibble does. And I freely admit, part of what irritates me about reading him is the realization that he gets paid for his stream-of-consciousness nonsense, and my belief that it is vastly inferior to the work done by many folks who publish online in formats such as this, and who write just because of their passion for the game.

But in any case, I'd been reading his columns for a while out of hathos. Hathos is a word coined by my angry brother, which refers to a desire to plunge oneself into something that you despise, to revel in your hatred of it. Hathos is the reason why he has read Ender's Game so many times, and the reason, I believe, that he stayed in certain relationships as long as he did.

But anyway, I read Kruk's stuff out of hathos for a while, until I got so annoyed that it surpassed even hathos tolerance, and I went back to ignoring his columns.

However, while reading a good piece by Jeff Sullivan on the nature of Ichiro's hitting and the link between his groundball/flyball ratio and offensive success, I noticed a link he had to a column by Kruk where Kruk had picked Chone Figgins as the MVP of baseball this year. Kruk explains:

[em]I know about Bonds and Pujols and all those guys. But they show up to the ballpark every day knowing they're going to play and where they're going to hit in the order. Not Chone. He has to take a few grounders all over the field, and then find some time to hit. If you think that doesn't sound like a big deal, imagine going to work every day and not knowing what your boss will have you do that day -- but you have to be prepared for all of it.

If there's a more valuable player in the league, then I'd like to meet him.[/em]

See, it is this sort of stuff that both draws me to Kruk's columns, and ultimately drives me away.

Because I could make nice little charts, like I did last week about Mark Teixeira and the MVP, to show how absurd this is, to show that Figgins is just another average player on a good team, to show that Figgins isn't even one of the five most valuable players on his own team. But the thing is, it doesn't really matter, because those who believe that Figgins is the Most Valuable Player aren't going to be swayed by things like facts and evidence, and those who would already know how absurd such a statement is. Trying to rebut what John Kruk says is like trying to swat a fly with a cannon.

And really, I doubt that anyone in America other than John Kruk really believes that Figgins is the M.V.P., including Figgins and his mother. And for that matter, Kruk probably doesn't even believe it, either. Earlier this season, Kruk claimed that if he were starting a team and could have any player he wanted to build around, he'd pick Mike Young. A couple of months later, he said the same thing about Derek Jeter. Kruk is just one of those people who doesn't put any thought into whatever it is that he's saying -- he just throws out whatever bubbles up to the top of his mind, and moves on. They were showing Mike Young highlights when he was asked who he'd want to build a team around the first time, so he picked Young. Derek Jeter was on a hot streak the second time, so he took Jeter.

When Kruk was putting together his column, Figgins had probably gotten a couple of hits the night before, and Kruk had probably talked to Mike Scioscia about how great it was that Figgins was so versatile, and could help fill so many holes this season. So Kruk throws out, Figgins is the MVP of baseball this year -- not Bonds, not Pujols, but Chone Figgins. And ten minutes later, if you asked him, he'd probably tell you something else.

In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if Kruk is just putting everyone on. I'm starting to wonder if the big dumb slob thing is just an act, and Kruk is testing the boundaries, to see how many outrageous things he can say and do while still getting everyone to believe he's serious.

Maybe in another year or two, he'll be standing in front of his mirror, practicing saying, "The Molina brothers are the two best catchers in baseball right now," or "The most important player on a team is the long reliever, because it is hard to find a guy who can come in and keep you in a game when he hasn't pitched in 12 days," while working on keeping a straight face, waiting for the right moment to unveil this pearl on Baseball Tonight. Maybe John Kruk is just putting the rest of the world on...


Jose Guillen suspended for the rest of the year 

Very surprising move from the Angels...

Guillen has been kicked off the team. That can only help the Rangers, who have 4 games with the Angels this week.

Anaheim is currently beating the A's, and an Anaheim win would leave the Rangers 2 games out and in third place, one game behind Anaheim.

Essentially, the Rangers need to win at least 3 of 4 against Anaheim, and have Oakland win at least one less game against Seattle than the Rangers win against Anaheim, to stay in the race. If the Rangers win 3 of 4 and the A's split with Seattle, that puts the Rangers 1 game out of Oakland and 1 game ahead of Anaheim going into the final weekend.


Bakersfield to be the Rangers' new high-A affiliate 

Baseball America is reporting that the Rangers' high-A affiliate for 2005 will be Bakersfield, in the California League.

The Rangers' affiliate the past two seasons had been Stockton, but the Ports opted out of their relationship with the Rangers, choosing to affiliate with the Oakland A's instead.


Guillen throwing a tantrum in Anaheim 

Jose Guillen threw a fit after being lifted for a pinch runner the other day.

He had a reputation for being a bit of a jackass, but this is the first problematic episode he's had in the last couple of years.

Still, can't hurt to have Anaheim -- who is coming to town for a four game series starting tomorrow -- to have a little internal turmoil.


Bad game today 


Nix and Loe looked good.

Pretty much everyone else looked bad.

I have to wonder if that was Travis Hughes' first and last appearance with the Rangers.

We have to hope for an Anaheim victory tonight. 3 back of Oakland with 7 to go will be next to impossible to overcome.


Athletics Nation rips TBIA and the state of Texas 

About as harsh an assessment of our park, and state, as I've ever read.

Man. Someone didn't enjoy themselves here.


The BP Postseason Odds Report 

The Rangers are up to 9.7% as of Sunday morning...


Houston Chronicle takes a look at the Rangers 

In today's baseball section...

Although, once again, the writer seems to believe that getting rid of Alex Rodriguez is what made the team successful...


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Friday's game from an opposing P.O.V. 

Derek Zumsteg for U.S.S. Mariner provides a lengthy, running commentary on last night's Ranger/Mariner game.

Interesting stuff...I'm always curious to see what folks on the other side have to say about my teams...


Baseball Prospectus Post-season Odds Report 

As of this morning, we are at a 7.4% chance of winning the division.


Fox Sports Southwest to show the Rangers game on Sunday 

Per the DMN, the Rangers have arranged for Fox Sports Southwest to carry Sunday's Ranger game, even though it was originally not going to be aired.

The apparently clueless Jeff Cogen, COO for the Rangers, originally decided not to show the game, in an effort to increase attendance on Sunday, but Tom Hicks overruled him.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Ask BA on Jason Botts 

Jim Callis's Ask BA column today features a question on Jason Botts.

Botts is a bit similar to Travis Hafner, whom John Hart gave away to get Einar Diaz, and who has since put up incredible numbers for Cleveland this season. Botts, like Hafner, is a giant, although he is something of a paradox, as he's considered to be athletic for someone his size, but he's criticized by Callis as being "mechanical". He also doesn't have Hafner's natural power, although with his size, his power stroke is expected to continue to develop.


Tonight's lineup is up, and Mench is batting 5th 

Instead of the ineffectual Brian Jordan, Kevin Mench is hitting 5th tonight, behind Mark Teixeira.

Teixeira, by the way, is two walks away from tying the record for most consecutive walks. Mel Ott, Billy Rogell, Jose Canseco, and Eddie Stanky all walked in 7 consecutive plate appearances.


S.I. writer John Donovan and the F.F.F. 

Donovan's entire mailbag column this week is readers responses to his F.F.F. column...

A lot of folks out there seem to agree with Bueno, that heckling is an American tradition, and there's nothing wrong with it...


Brewers claim Sam Narron 

Per mlb.com.

Repercussions from short-sighted, foolish roster management by the Hart/Showalter regime.


Dan O'Brien dealing with problems in Cincy 

Former Ranger Assistant G.M. Dan O'Brien, who left the organization to take over as G.M. in Cincinnati, is in the midst of a very public squabble over the firing of minor league field coordinator Ron Oester.

Oester, a Cincy native a long-time player and coach with the organization, rips O'Brien and Tim Naehring, the director of player development. The story, from Cincy Enquirer writer Paul Daugherty, is largely an airing of Oester's grievances, with them primarily being that Naehring and O'Brien ignored him, and the organization isn't doing things the right, old-school way.


Today's BP Post-Season Odds Report 

After yesterday's win, the chances of the Rangers making the playoffs are up to 15%.

That breaks down to 14.65% chance of winning the division, and .35% chance of winning the Wild Card. Anaheim comes in at 15.68%, with almost no chance of the Wild Card, since if they win enough to pass Boston, they'll have beaten Oakland enough times to end up winning the division.


Two Rangers make BA's Northwest League top 20 prospects 

Kudos to Eric Hurley and Mike Nickeas...


More anti-stathead rants from Fraley 

Gerry Fraley is at it again.

Just like in July, when Boston's arrival into town served as an excuse for Fraley to do a whole column decrying these newfangled Moneyballers who don't appreciate how the game is supposed to be played, the A's loss last night has led to more of Fraley's wrongheaded railing against Beane & Co.

Just so you get a flavor of the disdain Fraley has for the sabermetric crowd, here's how the column starts:

The "Moneyball" true believers have introduced many exotic acronyms to baseball.

OPS. VORP. Terms that drip with genius.

A standby such as DP, as in double plays turned, seems out-of-date in this brave new world.

Until a team cannot turn a DP to finish an early inning with a lead. Or a team flubs a potential DP that would complete a win.

This is the setup for a diatribe about how defense wins ballgames, and the Bill Jameses of the world just can't understand that.

Nevermind that Beane has been on the forefront of using statistical methods to better evaluate defense, and obtain players whose defensive abilities are undervalued, such as Mark Kotsay. Nevermind that sabermetrics is simply about using objective methods to evaluate players. Nevermind that the sabermetric belief is not, as Fraley would have you believe, that defense is irrelevant, but that strong offensive players with subpar defensive abilities will generally contribute more to a team's success than weak offensive players who are strong defensively. Fraley has drawn his line in the sand, and he will not let these whippersnappers, with their computers and numbers, change what he believes.

Of course, Fraley has a vested interest in peddling this ideology. He's been a contributor to Baseball America for some time, and while BA is a very good publication, it is also one of the hoariest of the traditional, scout-oriented baseball publications. And Fraley has taken offense in the past to laypeople opining on things that he considers to be his turf, the folks who use statistics and their own observations instead of their connections with people inside baseball as the basis for their opinions.

Still, it is remarkable that a baseball writer would direct this degree of venom over a methodology that has, thusfar, proven to be pretty successful.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Stat of the day 

The A's issued 6 walks today. 5 of those were to Mark Teixeira.


Two games out... 



Dammit Buck 

Tie game, runner on second, one out, Jermaine Dye up, Erubiel Durazo on deck, Erasmo Ramirez on the mound.

Can you think of a good reason to pitch to Dye, rather than walking him to bring up Durazo and set up the DP?

Me either...

But Buck apparently thought pitching to Dye was fine, and now the Rangers are down 3-2...


Details on the Bueno press conference 

The East Bay Express, which appears to be an "alternative weekly", has a piece this week that provides the most detailed account I've seen yet of the Bueno press conference.


On Peter Angelos, Jerry Reinsdorf, and the Expos' move to D.C. 

Very informative column by longtime baseball writer Thomas Boswell on Bud Selig's use of ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf as the "bad cop" in moving the Expos to Washington, D.C., and the limited options Peter Angelos will have available to try to block the move.


Hicks warns that payroll will stay static 

Despite the Rangers' unexpected success and the fact that the team has turned a profit this year, Tom Hicks yesterday warned fans not to expect a significant jump in payroll.

Randy Galloway is ripping Hicks this morning for making the announcement in the midst of a pennant race, rather than waiting until after the season. He also rips Hicks for something that, I think, is more problematic...the fact that the ARod trade, which was supposed to be about "financial flexibility", has instead ultimately been about saving Tom Hicks money.

I'm not too worked up about payroll not skyrocketing next year, in large part because I'd like to see some of the young pitchers the Rangers have coming up get opportunities in the rotation, something that won't happen if the payroll goes back up to $90 million and folks like Kevin Millwood are given big deals to join the rotation. If the Rangers' attendance goes up in 2005, it may lead to payroll getting back up to the $80-90 million range in 2006, although the quotes from Hicks make me a bit suspicious of that actually happening.

Hicks seems to be positioning himself so that, if the team succeeds, he can justify not raising payroll because the team is playing well with a low payroll. But if the team struggles, then fans don't come out, and he can justify keeping payroll low because revenues are low, and it doesn't make sense to pump money into a struggling team.


The Baseball Prospectus Post-season Odds Report 

With the BP Post-season Odds Report updated through last night's games, the Rangers are now being given a 9.3% chance of winning the division.

1 in 10...we're keeping hope alive...


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rangers reach agreement with mystery high-A affiliate 

According to Baseball America, the Rangers have reached an agreement with a California League team to be its 2005 high-A affiliate, but they "aren't ready" to announce it.

Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield are the three cities currently without affiliates, with Modesto having been abandoned by the Oakland A's, who are now affiliated with Stockton, the Rangers' 2004 high-A club.

I'm at a loss as to why a deal would be in place, but not announced, for the Rangers.


The Big Unit whining 

Randy Johnson is mad that he isn't getting enough recognition this season...

Johnson has been a great pitcher, but he really comes across as a pill whenever I read about him.


Travis Hughes up, Ryan Snare out 

In an effort to bolster the bullpen from the right side, the Rangers have called up hard-throwing mediocrity Travis Hughes. To make room for him on the 40 man roster, the Rangers have DFA'd Ryan Snare.

We're seeing the effect of Grady Fuson's departure, with the loss of Snare and Sam Narron. Both are soft-tossing lefties with the "pitchability" that Fuson looks for in pitchers. John Hart, meanwhile, has generally scorned those types, preferring flamethrowers like Hughes.

I don't expect either Snare or Narron to make it through waivers, so the Rangers are losing a couple of fringe pitching prospects for nothing, while keeping the likes of Andy Fox, Manny Alexander, and Ken Huckaby on the roster, and refusing to D.L. Alfonso Soriano and Gary Matthews Jr., on the off chance that they might be available if the Rangers make the playoffs.

Poor roster management by Hart, something he's exhibited repeatedly since taking over in Texas. What will be more interesting is whether Hughes retains a 40 man roster spot over the winter. He had a very unimpressive season pitching out of the pen in the minors, and at age 26, he's old for a prospect, particularly one with no success above AA. My guess is that Hughes will be dropped from the roster this offseason, as he should be.

But regardless, Hughes is highly unlikely to pitch in anything other than a mop-up situation for the rest of the season. And that makes me wonder why the Rangers felt the need to drop Snare to bring him in.


Shawn Green, Rob Dibble, and Yom Kippur 

Shawn Green, one of a handful of Jewish major leaguers, will miss at least one game this weekend for Yom Kippur.

I was in the car today while the Dan Patrick Show was on, and got to hear Rob Dibble, Patrick's co-host, launch into a diatribe about Green's decision.

Dibble ripped Green for sitting out, suggesting that he isn't dedicated enough to the team. Dibble explained that for eight months, "your team comes before everything else", and that during that period, players have to sacrifice marriages, funerals, holidays, and anything else to devote themselves to the team. He said that what it comes down to is, "Are you selfish or unselfish?", and if Green doesn't play because of the holiday, then he is selfish. He said that everyone in the Dodger organization is being impacted because Green isn't dedicated enough to his team.

That is about as reprehensible a thing as I've heard any media member say in recent memory. Someone emailed Dibble and said, "So you are saying baseball is more important than God?" Dibble then bitched about how he hates it when people put words in his mouth, and he never said that, but said that everyone has to make sacrifices in baseball, that he didn't go to Mass like he wanted to because of games, and it isn't fair for Green not to make those sacrifices.

But that is exactly what Dibble is saying. If you truly believe in your God, and in what he teaches, and if the law of your religion is that you do not work on a given day, you have an obligation to God that supersedes your obligation to your team. Jewish law teaches that it is a sin not to observe Yom Kippur, and Dibble is saying that Green should violate God's law because his obligation to his teammates is more important. Rob Dibble is saying, quite simply, that the Los Angeles Dodgers should be more important to Shawn Green than God's law is.

Dibble is an idiot anyway, but this is so far beyond the pale, I couldn't believe that Patrick and the rest of the people on the show didn't call him on it. To say that one has an obligation to violate God's law, that one cannot miss a game because the game and the team are so important, is to completely lack a sense of proportion and perspective.

ESPN has disappointed me for some time now, with their focus shifting more towards entertainment than sports, and with their giving people like John Kruk platforms. Rob Dibble falls in the category of those who contribute absolutely nothing to the network.


Tommy John Surgery -- Everything you every wanted to know... 

Terrific, and lengthy, piece in the free section of Baseball Prospectus today on Tommy John surgery, the procedure developed by Frank Jobe which replaces a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in an elbow with a tendon harvested from somewhere else on the patient's body.

To get a sense for how much Jobe's surgical technique has changed the game, just consider the fact that 75 of the 700 pitchers who pitched in the majors in 2002 and 2003 had had Tommy John surgery. Before it was developed, these sorts of elbow injuries were essentially career-enders.


Baseball Prospectus: Rangers with a 5% chance 

The latest Baseball Prospectus Post-season Odds Report puts the Rangers' chance of winning the division at 5.03%, with a .08% chance of passing Boston for the wild card.

One chance in twenty...it would go down as one of the greatest comebacks in major league history.

I'm going to keep my fingers crossed...


Bullpen security at TBIA bolstered after the F.F.F. 

Including three folks being ejected...


Orioles plan on buying out Raffy Palmeiro's 2005 option 

On the heels of a disappointing .261/.369/.432 season, the Baltimore Orioles have said they will not exercise Rafael Palmeiro's $4.5 million option, and will exercise their $500,000 buyout instead.

Had Palmeiro, who turns 40 on Friday, played in 140 games in the field, the option would have automatically vested. In the wake of Palmeiro's struggles, however, the team has been using him as a DH more and more in the second half, with some suggesting it was a move purposefully made to avoid triggering the option.

Palmeiro is 88 hits away from 3000, which might be incentive enough for him to attempt to latch on with another team in 2005 in a bench role, in order to try to hang on long enough to reach that milestone. It will be hard for him to get a guaranteed contract, however, and he's probably limited to trying to find an American League team that would sign him to a minor league deal and make him a non-roster invitee to camp this spring. I wouldn't be shocked if he elected to just hang it up.


Rangers and Mahay close to a 2 year deal 

According to the S-T...

Nice decision by Mahay, to switch from the outfield -- where his career was stalled -- to the mound almost 10 years ago. He's established himself as a durable, reliable arm out of the pen, a lefty who isn't stuck in the "LOOGY" usage pattern as so many lefthanded relievers are. If we assume that the two year deal will be for $1.5-2 million total, this is a pretty good deal for both parties.


Gil LeBreton stirs up the cyberfans 

Gil LeBreton's admittedly lame and homeriffic rant about Oakland being the darlings of baseball, and the Rangers getting mistreated by the Powers That Be, has prompted a lengthy discourse on the subject at Baseball Primer.

Interesting feedback and thoughts from some of the posters there, along with a lot of "wah! wah! wah!" type posts...


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Adam Kennedy out for the season 

Torn ACL and MCL in his knee.

This hurts the Angels' playoff chances, and depending on how long his rehab is expected to take, could put the Angels in the market for Alfonso Soriano this offseason.


Reggie Jackson and ARod in the clutch 

Alex Rodriguez has been criticized in New York for allegedly failing too often in big situations, and Reggie Jackson piles on today, talking at length about the existence of clutch players and that statistics can't measure heart.

However, the New York Daily News takes a surprisingly sober view of the situation. Darren Everson points out that ARod's career average with runners in scoring position differs from his career average by one point. Everson further observes that, although Gary Sheffield is the player who has developed the "clutch" reputation this season for the Yankees, ARod has hit 17 homers to either tie the game or put the Yankees ahead -- one more than Sheffield has.


Mark Teixeira, MVP candidate? 

In a piece by Kathleen O'Brien today in the S-T, Mark Teixeira is being promoted as an MVP candidate.

Now, I'm a big Mark Teixeira fan, and am very encouraged by the terrific season he's had...but he's not an MVP candidate. He shouldn't be among the top 10 vote-getters. He isn't in the top 10 in VORP, EQA or RARP this season, and his defense at 1B, while good, doesn't make up enough of the difference to get him seriously into the discussion.

What I find even more fascinating, though, is the list of names the S-T describes as "the contenders" for the MVP award. The S-T's "contenders":

PlayerRARPRARP rankingVORPVORP ranking

All in all, a pretty underwhelming collection of folks that O'Brien put together as the "contenders"...and even in this group, Teixeira is clearly outclasses. Yes, he suffers from having missed time earlier in the season, but even taking that into account, he's behind the other players that O'Brien lists. He and Konerko are both curious choices, since they each should be behind teammates whose offensive and defensive contributions outstrip their own (Michael Young and Aaron Rowand, respectively).

But the remarkable thing is, other than Vlad Guerrero, O'Brien has ignored the most deserving players in the A.L. And it isn't just O'Brien...there are a number of players having great years that seem to be flying under the radar. Take a look at some of the "non-contenders":

PlayerRARPRARP rankingVORPVORP ranking
C. Guillen58.53rd70.65th

What makes the M.V.P. vote so difficult this year is that not only is there no clear-cut favorite, it is hard to winnow down the field to the top three or so. Melvin Mora, taking into account his defensive position, is probably having the best offensive season of anyone this year, although he's such a trainwreck defensively that he gets knocked down a few pegs. Travis Hafner has been the best offensive player in the A.L. this year, but he's strictly a D.H., and he, like Mora, is getting zero recognition nationally as a potential MVP candidate. Guillen, Mora, Hafner, Pudge and Tejada all suffer because their teams aren't in contention. Sheffield, Ortiz and Ramirez have all been quality offensive players on terrific teams, but they offer little value on defense, and other players have outperformed them.

If I had to vote right now, it would probably be a coinflip between Vlad Guerrero and Carlos Guillen. The other player who is interesting right now, though, is Alex Rodriguez. It has been considered a disappointing season for him, a down year...and yet, he's played an excellent defensive third base, and is still among the top performers offensively. Yet, the mainstream press seems to have galvanized behind Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield as the top M.V.P. choices in the A.L., and one of those guys will probably win it.


Monday, September 20, 2004

On the Rangers' disappointing 2004 attendance 

Even though attendance in 2004 is projected to be 2.5 million, up from 2.1 million last year, the Rangers are still disappointed that attendance isn't higher this year, as a piece in Tuesday's DMN explains.

The article touches on the complexities of scheduling and the number of games during the school year, but really, the (relatively) low attendance is simple to explain...everyone thought the Rangers would be lousy this year, after four consecutive lousy years. They traded away the best player on the team, and let a couple of other prominent veterans go. And so pre-season buzz was low, there wasn't much interest early in the season, and it took quite a while for the momentum to build to the point where fans really believed and got back on board.

Attendance is a reflection of the previous year's performance. 2005 should see much stronger attendance figures, even if the team ends up regressing. So one would hope that Hicks would be willing to up payroll, if necessary, this offseason.

No mention of that is made in this article, however, although we are assured that Tom Hicks turned a profit this year. I was sure losing sleep over that...


2003 American League (AL) Statistics and Awards - Baseball-Reference.com 

2003 American League (AL) Statistics and Awards - Baseball-Reference.com


John Sickels with a write-up of Ian Kinsler 

ESPN's John Sickels takes a look at Ranger shortstop Ian Kinsler.

Sickels compares him to Michael Young, and sees him as a someone who is solid across-the-board, without any true weaknesses to his game.


Will Carroll on Ricardo Rodriguez 

In BP's latest chat session, Will Carroll offers his thoughts on Ricardo Rodriguez's return from his broken arm.

He says that RicRod is supposed to be pitching winter ball, which would put him on pace to be ready for the start of spring.


On fan misbehavior and the bullpens 

ESPN has a column from Jerry Crasnick today, discussing how players in the bullpens are treated by fans, and offering some anecdotes.

He also mentions that Arlington, Texas, is one of the places where being in the bullpen is a "pleasant" experience, because of the fans and the security.

Although I guess it is questionable whether this is a reputation Rangers fans should want...it could be argued that the team may be better off if opponents are dealing with a more hostile crowd...


Ken Rosenthal with some love for Mark Teixeira 

In Rosenthal's latest notes column, he calls Teixeira one of the game's most dangerous switch hitters, and observes that Teixeira does not have a significant platoon differential in his OPS, as many switch hitters do.

Teixeira is currently 7th in the A.L. in OPS, and his development has probably been the biggest plus on the offensive side of the ball to come out of the 2004 season.


5 games out of the A.L. West... 

2 games behind the Angels...

And if only Francisco Cordero could have closed out that game last Monday in Oakland, we'd be three back, one behind Anaheim, and in a position to tie Oakland with a sweep of them this week.

Yeah, I know, a sweep is unlikely regardless, and we'd still have to contend with Anaheim, but still...that loss Monday night, after the F.F.F. and everything else that happened, is looming as the biggest loss of the season right now.


Hystrionics from Pedro Martinez 

Martinez says: 'YES Network wants me to die'...


The Rangers are unhappy with Juan Dominguez 

Evan Grant's article today in the DMN suggests that Dominguez's placement on the 60 day D.L. was a form of punishment, for not being willing to pitch through his aches and pains late in the season. Grant also says that Dominguez's toughness is apparently being questioned in the locker room.

Dominguez would appear to be in line for a shot at the rotation next season, but if the Rangers are as irked with him as Grant suggests, Buck could end up shipping him out of town. That would be a disappointing development, since Dominguez's value right now is not as high as it should be, due to injuries...the best thing for the team would be for the Rangers to be patient with Dominguez, give him a spot in the rotation next year, and if his attitude irks them, deal him once he rebuilds some value.

On the other hand, Buck has been perpetually pissed at Kevin Mench, and he's still around, so who knows...


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Rangers call up Chad Allen and Kameron Loe, DFA Sam Narron 

This, according to Jamey Newberg...the Rangers have also put Juan Dominguez on the 60 day D.L. to make room for Allen and Loe.

Loe had to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason, so that is understandable.

But the Allen move is, essentially, a decision to add a righthanded bat on the bench to bolster the team's basically dead playoff hopes, and has been made at the expense of pitching prospect Sam Narron.

I was very critical of the decision to bring up Narron earlier this year. I saw no reason to believe that he was major league ready, and he proved that he wasn't. Moreover, Narron had to be added to the 40 man roster, and sending him back down burned an option needlessly, both of which I thought were short-sighted decisions.

Well, that move has now backfired on the Rangers, as they have designated Narron for assignment, meaning that they have 10 days to trade him or waive him. Given that he's on the 40 man roster, they can't trade him unless the Rangers asked for revocable waivers on him after August 1 of this year, and he went unclaimed then. If the Rangers didn't run him through revocable waivers then, their only option is to send him through waivers now, a move that will likely result in Narron being claimed.

Now, I don't think Narron is a great prospect. I think he's a fringe prospect, at best. But to basically throw away a young player, after bringing him up prematurely, when the team doesn't have a realistic chance at the playoffs anyway, is absolutely stupid.

This is exactly the sort of problem that arises when you allow a manager control over personnel decisions, rather than a general manager who should have the team's long-term interests in mind. This is a move for a negligible short-term gain, made by Buck because he's desperately trying to keep the team in the race, he's lost interest in Narron (who was a favorite of his earlier in the summer), and effectively is giving away a prospect for nothing.

Stupid, stupid, stupid move by Buck Showalter.


More on Fuson to Baltimore 

Ken Rosenthal reports that "talk persists in scouting circles" that Grady Fuson is going to end up in Baltimore shortly as the head of scouting and player development. Those were the roles he held in Texas, although given Baltimore's Byzantine power structure, it will be interesting to see how much control Fuson would actually have there.


Feature article on Laynce Nix 

From the S-T...


Worrisome news on the 2005 rotation 

T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers will be active in the free agent market, looking for a couple of starting pitchers.

That troubles me.

If, as Sullivan expects them to, the Rangers go add a couple of free agent pitchers on short-term deals, the Ranger rotation next season would be Drese, Rogers, Park, and the two free agents. No Juan Dominguez (who has apparently irked Buck with his inability to stay healthy), no Ricardo Rodriguez (who is out of options), no Chris Young or Kam Loe or John Hudgins.

This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Rangers' sudden success this year. If the team were on pace to lose 90 games, I don't think the team would be talking about going with a fully veteran rotation in 2005. They'd be talking about which young pitchers would be competing for rotation spots in 2005.

And that's the way it should be, even with the Rangers having made some noise in the playoff chase this year. If this team is going to build on its success, it needs to continue the plan of developing young pitching from within. It needs to give Ricardo Rodriguez and Juan Dominguez the chance to step forward, to be next year's Ryan Drese or Frankie Francisco.

Bringing in veteran free agents to fill out the 2005 rotation means going in the opposite direction...means letting guys who clearly have nothing left to prove in AAA continue to cool their jets in the minors, instead of getting the opportunity to sink or swim with the big club.

If the Rangers want to bring in a vet, fine. Combine him with Rogers and Drese, and you have the top three slots in the rotation filled, with Dominguez, the Ho, Rodriguez, Young, and whomever else competing for the last two slots in the rotation.

But to come into the spring with all the capable young arms that the Rangers are starting to accumulate already relegated to AAA...that appears, to me, to be a mistake, and an overreaction to the Rangers 2004 success.

The reason the 2004 Rangers have had the success that they have had is because the young players stepped up and played well. Texas needs to continue that trend, not halt the integration of youth.


Chad Allen on the way up? 

With Kevin Mench and Gary Matthews, Jr., both hurting, the Rangers appear to be calling up Chad Allen to join the active roster.

Since Allen is not on the 40 man roster, a roster move will have to be made to make room for him. Edwin Moreno and Jason Bourgeois are the minor leaguers thought to be in the most danger if they go that right. In the alternative, Alfonso Soriano, who isn't expected to play again this season, could be put on the 60 day D.L.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Soriano done for the year 

The S-T is reporting that Alfonso Soriano is done for the season with a hamstring problem. The S-T is saying that Soriano's injury is similar to the hamstring/tendon problems Doug Glanville had in 2003 and Ricky Ledee had in 2001, noting that both players required surgery and missed significant playing time.

At this point, I'd say there's a 60% chance that we've seen the last of Soriano as a Ranger, although the injury could make it harder to trade him this offseason.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Suspensions from the F.F.F. announced 

Major league baseball has announced the suspensions in the wake of the Frankie Francisco incident.

Francisco has been suspended the rest of the season, "but no less than 16 games", meaning that if he appeals, the suspension will wrap around to the start of next season.

Doug Brocail has been suspended seven games.

Carlos Almanzar has been suspended five games.

Rudy Jaramillo has been suspended five games.

All those suspensions seem reasonable. Francisco, in particularly, deserves a 16 game suspension.

There has been talk that, if the suspensions were significant, Travis Hughes or another righthander might be called up from the minors. There's a dearth of choices on the 40 man roster, and roster space would have to be cleared by removing someone else from the 40 man, so Hughes -- who would likely be dropped after the season anyway, and then eligible for free agency, since he's been outrighted once before -- would seem to be a questionable choice.

Edwin Moreno, Ryan Snare, and Sam Narron are already on the 40 man roster, and thus could be called up, but only Moreno is righthanded. Erik Thompson, Josh Rupe, Kam Loe, and Nick Masset are righties who are likely to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and thus would be viable options, assuming a 40 man spot could be cleared. Loe would seem to be the most likely candidate from this group, although Thompson, if healthy, is probably able to pitch capably from a major league bullpen, as well.


John Kruk on the F.F.F. 

Nothing that unusual in Kruk's column on the F.F.F. (including the fact that he got the day of the episode wrong), but he does make a veiled reference to the rumor making the rounds that Doug Brocail was set off by comments made by this Bueno guy about Brocail and his wife having a child be delivered stillborn.

If that rumor is true, then it certainly helps explain (but not excuse) Brocail's actions. And as Kruk says, when comments like that are made, it is surprising episodes like that don't happen more often.


Derek Jeter for MVP??? 

Michael Kay, mouthpiece for the Yankees on the YES Network, has a mailbag column out where he talks about Derek Jeter's chances of winning the MVP.

Kay actually goes so far as to say that Jeter is having the best season of his career, offensively and defensively. Offensively, he isn't even close to having his best season...his .288/.348/.467 line, with a .289 EQA, pales next to his incredible 1999 season, when he .349/.438/.552 with a .337 EQA. His batting average, OBP, and EQA this season are all below even his career averages, which makes it all the more curious someone would claim that this is the best season of his career.

Defensively, however...that's another story. Jeter has been the bane of many statheads because their metrics show Jeter to be a poor defensive shortstop, while the traditionalists have been more favorable in their opinion of him in the field, with some (i.e., Tim McCarver) becoming positively orgasmic when Jeter makes even a routine play. Even the traditionalists, however, have admitted that Jeter has struggled in the field the previous couple of years, which made the decision to put ARod at third all the more curious...ARod is, by all accounts, the better defensive shortstop, which should make it incumbent on Jeter to switch positions. And it is all the more curious that Jeter stayed where he was, given his wonderful reputation as being such a team-first guy.

This season, however, the numbers have switched...Jeter, after consistently being 15-20 runs per year below average defensively according to BP's metrics, is 5 runs above average this season. Moreover, Jeter is 5th in the A.L. in zone rating this season, after finishing dead last each of the previous three years.

So what happened? The most common complaint about Jeter (and his former DP mate Soriano, for that matter) has been that he lacked a quick first step, particularly going to his right, and that his inability to get a good jump on the ball right off the bat reduced his range. Has this problem diminished? Is he just in better shape?

Well, there's no way to tell for sure, but my feeling is that the answer is "no". Clay Davenport, who put together the Davenport Translations that the BP fielding stats are based on, commented on the reliability of the individual ratings in a recent chat session, noting that he feels more confident in the metric's ability to measure the defense of a team as a whole than the individual players. And a lot of folks have suggested that the presence of Alex Rodriguez at third base is driving up Jeter's ratings, since Rodriguez -- who has incredible range -- is able to get to a lot of balls in the third base/shortstop hole that would normally be in the shortstop's "zone". ARod is currently 2nd in the A.L. in ZR for third basemen, and 4th in the majors, behind perennial gold glove candidates Adrian Beltre, Scott Rolen, and Eric Chavez.

Thus, there are fewer tough balls available for Jeter to make a play on (he's near the bottom in range factor), which drives up his zone rating. And while Jeter's low range factor has traditionally been explained by the fact that the Yankees have a strikeout-oriented pitching staff (they were 2nd in the A.L. the past two years in K/IP), this year's Yankee squad is much more pedestrian, ranking in the middle of the pack. So even though there are more balls in play, Jeter's range factor is still near the bottom of the league, albeit higher than it has been in previous years.

So, what's the answer? I'm not really sure...it could be that, as Kay suggests, ARod's presence has caused Jeter to raise the level of his defensive game. It may be that ARod's presence allows Jeter to play differently, since ARod can get many of the balls that would normally go to the shortstop in the third/short hole, allowing Jeter to expand his range. It may be that Jeter is simply better this year.

But regardless, while this may be Jeter's best year defensively, it isn't his best season, and he's not a legitimate MVP candidate.


SI's John Donovan on the F.F.F. 

Another writer condemning bad fan behavior...

Donovan, among other things, calls Bueno's claim that heckling is "an American tradition" idiotic and imbecilic.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Soriano done for the year? 

Soriano hurt himself sliding in the eighth inning today. Apparently, he'll be getting an MRI, and could be done for the rest of the season.

I'm not a Soriano fan, but having him get hurt and miss the rest of the year is bad, both for our rapidly fading playoff hopes, and for the possibility of trading him this offseason.


Editorial condemning fan behavior in the F.F.F. 

From the Daily Oklahoman...


Randy Galloway weighs in on the F.F.F. 

And he says it is too bad Frankie missed Mr. Bueno when he threw the chair...


Likely N.L. R.O.Y. Khalil Greene done for the season 

Greene, whose emergence this year contrasts sharply with the struggles of Drew Meyer, who was taken ahead of him in the 2002 draft, will miss the rest of the season with a broken finger.

This is a serious blow to the fading hopes that the Padres' held of making the playoffs...


Showalter to the Mets? 

Buck Showalter is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Art Howe as manager of the Mets.

How ironic would that be, if Showalter, who (supposedly) threatened to quit if Grady Fuson was named G.M., left the team anyway?


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

BA on Kinsler 

He makes their list of "Twelve Breakout Players."


Bueno lawyer compares F.F.F. to Abu Ghraib 

No, really, he does...

He claims that this incident stems from problems from the top of the organization, and is the result of "poor discipline".

Yeah, because if there's anything Buck Showalter teams are known for, it is poor discipline.

Bueno, and his legal team, should keep their mouths shut.


Craig Bueno says, heckling is "an American tradition" 



Ray Ratto takes on Showalter on the F.F.F. incident 

Ratto, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, in his column today:

"Originally, Showalter said that the fans had gone 'way over the line,' whatever that means. He backed away from that Tuesday, praising the A's and their security people (albeit in a monotone that smacked of 'It's all written down here somewhere') for their diligence in the matter.

In other words, the 'He said something mean to my guys' argument didn't resonate quite the way he had hoped, especially after Showalter's boss, Tom Hicks, and Hicks' boss, Bud Selig, both issued apologies Tuesday morning. "

I'm at a bit of a loss about how Showalter "backed away" from his earlier comments, seeing as how he said basically nothing about the fans on Tuesday, which isn't surprising, given that criminal and civil suits going to result...


Another column on the F.F.F. from a California columnist 

Who takes the A's to task for their C.Y.A. maneuvers...

I don't know the guy, but it just doesn't wash that someone as experienced as Brocail, a 37-year-old 10-year vet, would react so menacingly to a mere pointed verbal barb or two. He had to have heard something a lot more debasing and unsettling to act as he did. We'll probably never know the true story, of course. I've already heard or read about a half-dozen versions of what really was exchanged from alleged witnesses.

The upshot is that players and fans are simply too cozy with each other at today's up-close-and-personal ballparks to allow off-color or malicious heckling to get out of hand. For the A's to believe there wasn't a single soul who was out of line in their stands is naive and stupid.

He also brings up the fact that the Boston-Oakland game was delayed last week, after A's fans threw garbage at Manny Ramirez in left field, and notes that there definitely is a pattern developing with the A's fans...


More stories from the F.F.F. 

From Jim Reeves of the S-T:

"'It got pretty personal,' said Albert, the usher working my section just a few yards from the field box where the incident took place. 'A lot of four-letter words.'

All of the serious heckling, Albert said, was done by basically one man, an Oakland-area firefighter named Craig Bueno. It was his wife who was injured by the chair.

'Some people just shouldn't drink,' Albert said."

Which contrasts with the company line out of Oakland, which is that Bueno and his buds were just fans out to have a good time, doing nothing wrong, and the Ranger bullpen attacked them because they couldn't handle falling out of the pennant race...


More details on the F.F.F. 

Lengthy piece from T.R. Sullivan, with more details about what supposedly transpired...


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Video of the Frankie Francisco Texas bullpen throwing a chair at a fan in Oakland episode 

By popular demand...


Jayson Stark weighs in on the F.F.F. 

And he even refers to it as the Frankie Francisco fiasco...


Oakland spokesmen say fans were blameless 

The latest from the S-T:

David Rinetti, the Athletics vice president of stadium operations, laid the blame with players. "A fan was heckling the players, but he was not using profanity and not using racial slurs. The security didn't feel that the heckling was to the extent that is should be stopped," Rinetti said. "The information I received was the fans actions did not constitute an ejection and should not have warranted the players reaction."


Cordero interview on the F.F.F. 

With Sporting News Radio's Jeff Rickard...


Ray Ratto weighs in on the F.F.F. 

In a nutshell...people shouldn't throw chairs...


Tom Hicks issues an apology 

Very short and to the point.


Wade Townsend returns to school, sort of... 

There's a strange situation developing at Rice University with RHP Wade Townsend. Townsend was the Orioles' first round pick this summer, going #8 overall, but hasn't yet signed with the O's. Has a draft-eligible junior, he had the option of returning to Rice for his senior season, but the first day he attended class, Baltimore would lose all rights to him, and he'd re-enter the 2005 draft.

Most draftees in that situation either enroll, but don't attend class for the first week or so, to try to get a deal done, or else they sit out the fall semester. Townsend, however, has taken a unique path, starting classes at Rice the day after he hired an agent, and informed MLB that he was renouncing his college eligibility.

Townsend, and his representatives, are arguing that, since he is no longer eligible for college ball, he should still be able to negotiate with the Orioles, even though he is attending class. Townsend is on pace to graduate in December, and he apparently did not want to risk foregoing that opportunity while the negotiations continued. In the meantime, both Townsend and the Orioles are in a holding pattern, while a ruling is sought from the Commissioner's office.

It seems most likely that Selig will rule that Baltimore still has the negotiating rights to Townsend; still, this is a pretty big risk, since if the decision comes down the other way, Townsend will essentially have to sit out until June, although he could end up signing with a team in the Northern League or another independent league once he finishes up with school.

These sorts of headaches are becoming commonplace for the Orioles -- Adam Loewen, their 2002 first rounder, didn't sign until May, 2003, just hours before Baltimore's negotiating rights expired.


Did racial slurs start the fight last night? 

T.R. Sullivan, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is reporting that a "source said a fan used a racial slur directed at Francisco," triggering the incident last night.

There's been some speculation on that topic, but this is the first I've seen it reported that it the verbal abuse was racial in nature.


An Angry A's fan 

Athletics Nation blog weighs in on the Francisco incident...


ESPN.com: The Daily Quickie on the Francisco mess 

ESPN.com's Page 2 is calling for Francisco to be suspended for the entire 2005 season.

And 49.9% of those responding to a poll question on that page agree, boot him for all of 2005...


Jamey Newberg discussing the chair incident 

Jamey Newberg will be on with Mike Fisher this afternoon, to discuss the Frankie Francisco fiasco.


Oh, yeah, there was a game last night... 

And in the wake of the 7-6 loss, you can stick a fork in the Rangers.

With a 4-2 lead going into the 8th inning, this was a game that it looked like the Rangers had under control. A win would get them within 4 games of Oakland, and we could start fantasizing about winning two of the remaining three, taking two of three in Anaheim, and being in a position to get even with the A's with a sweep in Texas.

Yeah, it was unlikely, but still, there was hope...

The bottom of the 8th and the bottom of the 10th were as bad as it gets, in terms of watching a team just give away a game. If it had been simply a quick homer, that would have been one thing...but the Chinese water torture of bloops falling in, batters being walked, the mess made of the play at first on the sacrifice bunt...

It was just brutal.

The other thing that I saw raised, though, was a question about the bottom of the 10th...given that you have Andy Fox and Manny Alexander on the bench, why is Soriano -- a brutal defensive 2B -- in the game? Watching the replay of the Blalock throw on the bunt, it appeared to me to be due, in no small part, to the fact that Soriano wasn't at first when Blalock was throwing the ball. Rather than throw at an empty base, Blalock threw to where Soriano was heading. And while the throw wasn't right on the bag, at the very least, Soriano should have done a better job keeping his foot on the bag.

I'm not sure if Soriano got a slow break to first, or what...but on a play like that, when the second baseman is supposed to be covering, he needs to get to the bag quicker. And I have to wonder, if Fox is playing second base instead, if the Rangers don't end up winning that game last night, instead of ending up with a loss.


Oh, yeah, there was a game last night... 

And in the wake of the 7-6 loss, you can stick a fork in the Rangers.

With a 4-2 lead going into the 8th inning, this was a game that it looked like the Rangers had under control. A win would get them within 4 games of Oakland, and we could start fantasizing about winning two of the remaining three, taking two of three in Anaheim, and being in a position to get even with the A's with a sweep in Texas.

Yeah, it was unlikely, but still, there was hope...

The bottom of the 8th and the bottom of the 10th were as bad as it gets, in terms of watching a team just give away a game. If it had been simply a quick homer, that would have been one thing...but the Chinese water torture of bloops falling in, batters being walked, the mess made of the play at first on the sacrifice bunt...

It was just brutal.

The other thing that I saw raised, though, was a question about the bottom of the 10th...given that you have Andy Fox and Manny Alexander on the bench, why is Soriano -- a brutal defensive 2B -- in the game? Watching the replay of the Blalock throw on the bunt, it appeared to me to be due, in no small part, to the fact that Soriano wasn't at first when Blalock was throwing the ball. Rather than throw at an empty base, Blalock threw to where Soriano was heading. And while the throw wasn't right on the bag, at the very least, Soriano should have done a better job keeping his foot on the bag.

I'm not sure if Soriano got a slow break to first, or what...but on a play like that, when the second baseman is supposed to be covering, he needs to get to the bag quicker. And I have to wonder, if Fox is playing second base instead, if the Rangers don't end up winning that game last night, instead of ending up with a loss.


Francisco arrested 

Apparently, several media outlets are reporting that Francisco was arrested after the game last night for the chair-throwing episode.


Fallout from the Francisco fracas 

In the DMN today, Showalter said that the Rangers have asked for extra security for the bullpen area in the past. The A's management differs, claiming that there have been no requests for extra security. The A's spokesman also said that none of the conduct prior to the incident warranted ejecting any fans from the game, although once again, the Rangers seem to differ.

This is a black eye for the team, and the Rangers need to step up and suspend Francisco. What he did was inexcusable.


Monday, September 13, 2004

The fracas in the bullpen... 

What a mess...

Some yelling occurs, Doug Brocail apparently gets into it with some fan, and then Frankie Francisco throws a chair into the stands.

The T.V. cameras got a good shot of some woman with blood streaming down her face and dripping all over her shirt.

Just great...


Number 35 for Teixeira 

He's 4th in the A.L. in home runs...

He's having an absolutely terrific season...


Dan Peltier and Congressional Testimony 

Jamey Newberg's mention of Dan Peltier in his report today got me thinking about Peltier, an outfielder out of Notre Dame that the Rangers took in the third round of the 1989 draft, and whose skill set is/was very similar to John Olerud, a third round pick out of Washington State in that same draft.

So I was poking around, trying to find some info on his minor league career, and stumbled upon testimony he gave before a congressional committee in 1997, on the issue of whether major league baseball's anti-trust exemption should be extended to its minor league operations as well. Peltier talks about life as a minor leaguer, in a none too flattering way, and discusses the power that major league teams already have over their minor league operations and players.

Interesting read...


Cat re-signs with Toronto 

Frank Catalanotto signed a 2 year, $5.4 million extension with the Blue Jays.

That's too bad...I would have liked to have seen Cat come back and play for Texas next year, either in a DH/LF role, or even as a 2B, if/when Soriano gets dealt...


Hurricane Pudge moves the Florida/Montreal series to Chicago 

With three games cancelled the previous weekend because of hurricane problems, MLB has moved pro-actively to head off similar problems this week, moving the first two games of the Florida/Montreal series to U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

Creative move by MLB, which isn't known for thinking outside the box (except when it comes to the teams' balance sheets). If MLB keeps dragging their feet on the Montreal relocation issue, maybe this will help revive the talk of having the Expos play a full season at Fenway Park. Given that all the Red Sox games sell out, that the area has rabid sports fans, and that there are plenty of fans who would come watch a high school game just so they can say they've been to Fenway, the Expos in Boston for 2005 would be a very reasonable solution to the problem, if MLB can't get its act together and sell the team before then.


Gammons: Fuson maybe to Baltimore 

In his latest Notebook column, Peter Gammons reports that Grady Fuson may be on his way to Baltimore. I like the rumors of Fuson to Arizona better, since I'd like to see him in the National League.

Gammons also suggests that, if the A's call up former UT closer Huston Street, whom they drafted this past summer, he could be placed on their post-season roster, much as K-Rod was in 2002. However, K-Rod wasn't on the 40 man roster as of September 1, so he shouldn't have been post-season eligible anyway, as Jim Callis noted after the fact. Somehow, none of Anaheim's opponents clicked to this until it was too late, but I doubt that Boston or New York (whom Oakland would be facing in round 1 of the playoffs) would allow Billy Beane to slide Street (who isn't on the Oakland 40 man roster) through the same way.


Art Howe to be fired 

The New York Daily News is reporting that Mets manager Art Howe will be fired.

Howe, who is generally very well respected throughout baseball, was hired away from the Oakland A's by the Mets after the 2002 season.

He's someone whose name is occasionally kicked around when there is talk of a managerial spot opening up in Texas, because of his ties with the state (he was with the Astros organization, as a player, coach and manager, for many years), and because he has many fans within the DFW media.


Adrian Gonzalez to be called up 

Since the Oklahoma Redhawks have been eliminated from the AAA playoffs, Adrian Gonzalez will be promoted to Texas, according to the DMN.

Gonzalez is already on the 40 man roster, so it wouldn't be necessary to clear a spot for him. Still, he hasn't hit all that well for the Redhawks, and given the structure of the club, I'd like to see them add Pete Zoccolillo, as well, even if it means jumping through some hoops to clear another 40 man roster spot.


Herb Perry's tenure as a Ranger is over 

The S-T is reporting today that Herb Perry will be put on the 60 day D.L. today to make room for Juan Dominguez on the active roster.

Perry had a very nice 2002 season, filling in for Hank Blalock after Blalock struggled at 3B early on. He was rewarded with a 2 year, $3 million deal late in the 2002 season, and spent the following two years constantly breaking down, which he had been wont to do prior to 2002, as well. Over that two year stretch, he gave the Rangers 175 plate appearances, didn't hit well, and was awful in the field.

Of course, he was also one of the guys that Hart and Buck loved because of his attitude, so who knows...maybe he provided $3 million worth of team leadership over the past two years.

In any case, the S-T says that the Rangers aren't bringing him back.

As a sidenote, in the same piece, Francisco Cordero was described as an "unknown commodity" coming into the spring. I'm not sure why...Cordero has been in the organization since the 2000 season, was a pretty significant piece of the bullpen in the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and did a good job as the closer in the second half of both of those seasons. Given his track record, there wasn't any reason to believe that Cordero wouldn't be a quality closer this season.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Torn labrum for Orioles' Adam Loewen 

Oriole prospect Adam Loewen, the #4 overall pick in the 2002 draft, has been diagnosed with a torn labrum.

The Orioles are going to try the tried-and-tested rest-and-rehab path with Loewen, even though rest-and-rehab seems only to delay the inevitable. If Loewen does need surgery -- which seems likely -- he'll be out for the 2005 season, and his future prospects would be much diminished.


Oakland beats Cleveland, 1-0 

Shutout for the A's, which means they stay five games up on the Rangers. Anaheim is three games ahead of Texas.

Realistically, if we split this upcoming four game series, we are pretty much out of the playoff race. We'd still be 5 games back with 16 games to go, and we'd still be trailing Anaheim, as well.

If the Rangers are going to get back into the race, they need to take 3 of 4 in Oakland, and 2 of 3 in Anaheim. That would likely put the Rangers 3 back of Oakland going into their 3 game set at home against the A's that starts a week from Monday, where a sweep would bring them back to even, although even then, they would likely still trail Anaheim.

The pitching matchups for the four game set against Oakland are:


I'm guessing that Wasdin is going on Tuesday, but that is sort of up in the air. ESPN has Chris Young listed as the starter, but with Young out with a dead arm, Wasdin seems likely to get the call. Michael Tejera would have been a possibility, but I doubt they'd bring him back, after he went 1 2/3 innings today.

In any case, this is a critical series, a critical road trip. Two losses in Oakland, and the Rangers are done.

In the meantime, it would be nice if the Rangers would bring up a lefty bat or two from Oklahoma for this series. With Gary Matthews, Jr., still hurting, Eric Young is the only real backup outfielder right now. When Brian Jordan or Rod Barajas are coming up late in the game with a tough righthander on the mound, it would be nice if we could bring Adrian Gonzalez, or, better yet, Pete Zoccolillo, a vet AAA type who has had a terrific season for the Redhawks, off the bench.

The Rangers are trying not to disrupt Oklahoma's regulars in the playoffs, which is why only Huckaby and Fox (both backups) were called up when rosters expanded. But when Andy Fox, who is hitting .087 with no walks on the season, is your best bat off the bench during a pennant race, you desperately need to make a move, AAA playoffs be damned.


Nice debut for Tejera today 

Strikes out the first four batters he faces, then gets a ground out.



The Transaction Oracle on the Tejera claim 

The Oracle says he'll help, but the Rangers are still out of it...


The second half offensive slump 

For all of the talk among the national media about the Rangers' fall from contention being due to their pitching not holding up in the second half, the real culprit has been the offense.

Coming into today's game (9/12/04), the Rangers' ERA, post-ASB, has actually been lower (4.30) than their pre-ASB ERA (4.59). The pitchers have been doing their job, although some bullpen meltdowns in crucial situations, along with the continuing struggles of Rogers and Drese, have created the perception that the staff has gotten worse.

No, the real problem stems from the offense. There were a lot of guys playing over their heads early, and the .312 team batting average the Rangers had after April clearly wasn't sustainable, but they've gone into freefall since the break, dropping from 5.66 runs per game pre-break to 4.74 runs per game post-break.

Pre-ASB, the Rangers posted a line of .280/.340/.477. Since the break, they've dropped to .247/.316/.431. The problem is pretty easy to identify -- the drop in OBP and slugging matches up almost perfectly with the drop in batting average. The Rangers are walking more since the break, and they are hitting for almost as much power (an isolated power of .184 post-break, vs. .197 coming into the break). But even with their improved walk totals, they are still just 11th in the A.L. in walks, which means that they are very susceptible to swings in batting average. With all the free swingers in the lineup, if the Rangers aren't getting base hits, there aren't going to be runners on when someone puts a ball into the bleachers.

Look at the ten players who have at least 100 ABs in both the first and second halves, we can see that the drop is largely attributable to a few key performers.

PlayerOPS Pre-ASBOPS Post-ASBChange
E. Young811705-106

Four guys have been consistent -- Teixeira has been consistently very good, Soriano has been consistently disappointing, and Dellucci and Matthews have consistently played a little better than would be expected as role players.

Five players have seen significant drops, although two of those -- Barajas and Eric Young -- are role players who were playing well over their heads in the first half, and who simply have come back to Earth. The other three are among the Rangers "young guns", the young players who were credited with stepping up early in the season and vaulting the Rangers into contention.

Michael Young's strong start was heralded, by some, as being a breakout for a player who, having emerged from his friend Alex Rodriguez's shadow, was establishing himself as a legitimate star. Instead, as he has the past couple of years, Young has faded somewhat down the stretch, although he has still posted a strong season, one that was better than I expected out of him. Nevertheless, his strong start at the top of the lineup was helping to fuel the Rangers' offense, and his second half slump hurts.

Hank Blalock's and Laynce Nix's slides are more troubling. Blalock's first half suggested that he was building on his 2003 success, and was establishing himself as an elite third baseman, someone who would contend with Eric Chavez for the title of the best "real" third baseman in the league (I say real because I still think ARod is shortstop). In the second half, though, he's gone through a couple of awful slumps, one coming immediately after the break, and followed later by a 2 for 29 streak in early September, that have crippled the team offensively. As I've noted before, this has not been a real strong offensive club this season -- it has been an average team that is superficially better because of playing half their games at TBIA. Blalock was the team's best offensively player in the first half in the season, and losing his bat has probably been the biggest reason for the Rangers' second half slide.

Laynce Nix, meanwhile, surprised me by fighting through early injury problems to crush righthanders in the first half. I thought Nix needed to put in at least a half-season in AAA, given his underwhelming performance at AA Frisco last year, but his early performance in 2004 -- even if it was while being benched against lefties -- convinced me that Buck made the right call in making him the starting CF. Since the break, however, Nix has been a disaster offensively -- worse than useless statistically, and looking lost at the plate, as well. And again, this is coming, almost exclusively, against righthanders...Buck hasn't been starting him against lefties. I'm not sure if he has an injury he's trying to play through, if there's something mechanically wrong with his swing, or if he's just overmatched. But if he doesn't shake out of this funk pretty quick, I've got questions about whether his future is as bright as we think it is.

The one bright spot in all of this has been Kevin Mench. After his breakout 2000 campaign at high-A, he's become almost an afterthought, struggling with injuries, unable to get consistent playing time, known more for his carefree manner, enormous head, and knack for angering management than his bat. Earlier this season, Mench was being relegated to platoon duty, sitting against righthanders so that Gary Matthews, Jr., could play every day. But once he finally started getting consistent at bats, Mench has produced in a big way. He's still not getting on base as much as you'd like, particularly against righthanders, but he's showing power against lefties and righties both, and finally living up to the potential so many thought he had.

This may just be a hot streak for Mench, a quick flash before he returns to his injury-prone, less potent ways. But even though Mench is a bit old to be having a breakout, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt a little more to guys, like Mench, who have missed significant time with injuries, since those injuries can oftentimes end up delaying the development process.

Regardless, Mench has been the Rangers' top outfielder this season, and is the only outfielder currently on the team who should go into 2005 having already earned a starting spot. Mench and Teixeira have been the Rangers' best positional players in the second half of the season, and the main reasons why the offense hasn't completely curled up and died.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Dominguez in the rotation, Young out 

The Rangers say that Juan Dominguez will start for the major league club on Monday.

Chris Young, meanwhile, is skipping a start with a "dead arm".


Rosenthal on the A's defensive philosophy 

Finally, someone seems to get it...

While the more hidebound of the old-schoolers scoff at the statheads and Moneyballers as geeks who ignore defense and worship OBP, Ken Rosenthal appears to be the first mainstream writer to figure out that the Oakland A's are winning with pitching and -- fasten your seatbelts -- defense.

Billy Beane has a quote in here that says it all:

"On-base percentage is something people are paying for now," A's general manager Billy Beane told me in an interview that will air on FOX Sports Net Across America later this month. Our philosophy is about taking advantage of undervalued players. One day, it might be on-base percentage. Another day, it might be guys that steal bases. We have to find gaps in the market. Take Mark Kotsay, an outstanding defensive player, decent on-base percentage, but not great. We got him for his defense because in our mind it wasn't being valued properly."

What the anti-Moneyball crowd -- and, to a certain extent, Michael Lewis -- never seemed to understand is that Beane's philosophy boils down to a form of arbitrage. Sabermetrics is a tool, to be used to better evaluate players and identify those whose fair market value is less than their actual value. OBP is a crucial stat for measuring a player's performance, but when other teams figure it out, and players with little speed and defense but high OBPs start being snapped up, Beane is going to look for other ways to get value for his dollar.

So, while Matt Stairs and Geronimo Berroa were the poster children for his late-90s drive to get OBP guys others ignored, Mark Kotsay and Scott Hatteburg represent the early-00s A's, guys who contribute offensively, but whose real worth, in Beane's eyes, comes from their defensive contributions being undervalued by the market.


2004-05 offseason free agents 

Peter Gammons has a piece on the free agents for the upcoming season, which includes a list by position of f.a. eligible players.


Jumping on the ESPN dogpile 

U.S.S. Mariner has a recent entry that takes ESPN (and specifically John Kruk) to task for a pretty shoddily research piece Kruk wrote, and more generally, the general decline of ESPN from a quality sports station to a mainstream entertainment venue that touches on sports.

This is a complaint I've had about ESPN for some time, and the comments posted by USS Mariner readers seem to indicate that we are not alone...


Fraley on Blalock's slump 

Gerry Fraley addresses the possible causes of Hank Blalock's miserable second half...

Hank has a 682 OPS since the ASB, after going into the break with a 941 OPS. What's particularly frustrating is that he had appeared to be breaking out of the slump in August, before beginning going 2 for 29 to start September.

While fatigue and swing issues relating to his participation in the Home Run Derby probably are contributing to the problem, the main issue appears to be pitchers taking advantage of Hank's aggressiveness earlier in the count. When Hank is going well, he shows patience at the plate and a willingness to go the other way. When he's slumping, he flails at everything, particularly early in the count, and is trying to pull every pitch. Lately, Hank has been laying off breaking pitches out of the zone that he'd been swinging at the past month or two, has been going to left field, and appears to be pulling out of the slump.


Ozzie Guillen rips Buck Showalter 

ChiSox manager (and loose cannon) Ozzie Guillen went on a tirade about Buck Showalter Friday...

The same stuff people have been saying quietly about Buck for years...huge ego, thinks he invented the game, etc. But it is shocking to see someone in Guillen's position put that sort of thing on the record.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Rockie pitcher Jeff Francis named BA Player of the Year 

24 year old lefty Jeff Francis has been named the Baseball America Player of the Year for 2004.

The Rockies took him with the #9 pick in the 2002 draft, one pick before the Rangers took Drew Meyer.


Tribune Co. paid $301K to wrong Mark Guthrie 

Weird tale of the Cubs' parent company depositing paychecks intended for Mark Guthrie, the pitcher, into the account of another one of their employees, a paper carrier named Mark Guthrie.

And apparently, the paperboy won't give all the money back...


Rangers claim Michael Tejera 

According to a couple of sources, the Rangers have claimed Michael Tejera off of waivers from the Marlins.

Meh. Decent pickup, although he would have helped more about a month ago. He's a tiny, 27 year old lefty with control issues and limited success in the majors, despite several opportunities with the Marlins.

I imagine he'll take Wasdin's spot in the rotation, and the Rangers will give him a look and decide if he's worth keeping on the 40 man roster this offseason as a possible 2005 starter. This seems similar to the Mike Judd claim from a couple of years ago, though...just another live arm for whom the Rangers are another way station...


Stark on relocation 

ESPN columnist Jayson Stark, surprisingly enough, actually wrote a column critical of MLB for their foot-dragging on the issue of relocating the Expos.

Stark goes into some detail about the logistical problems that would arise, wherever the Expos end up, because of the short time-frame between announcement and Opening Day. And Stark states, flat out, that Selig is delaying moving the team to Northern Virginia because he doesn't want to upset his buddy Peter Angelos, who owns the Orioles and wants the entire D.C. area to himself.

One more example of why Selig is a poor commissioner, at least from the standpoint of the fans, if not ownership.


Soundbites vs. reality 

I bitch about Gerry Fraley on here quite often, for a multitude of reasons.

But one of the things I find most frustrating is that he relies so much on his "Just Venting" format, in which he attempts to break off some snide, snappy two-line analyses of things that really can't be distilled into a soundbite.

His latest column contains a perfect example. Fraley, being an anti-Moneyball guy who thinks that speed and defense is what is most important, has this criticism of the Ranger offense:

The Rangers' erratic situational-hitting skills are glaring when the club faces good pitching. In the second half, the Rangers are 8-17 against Anaheim, Boston, Minnesota, Oakland and the New York Yankees, all contenders. In those games, the Rangers had a runner at second with none out 41 times but scored the run only 22 times. Giving up two outs to get the run goes against the American League philosophy of big innings, but the situation sometimes calls for that.

22 times in 41 plate appearances sounds pretty bad...only a 54% success rate, and one should get the runner home in that situation -- what, 80-85% of the time?

Nope. Two different sources -- Nichols' Expected Runs Table and BP's Situational Run Probability Table (part of BP's premium subscription) -- indicate that, with a runner on second and none out, a team can be expected to score about 63% of the time.

63% would mean that the Rangers would score 25-26 times in 41 plate appearances...and Fraley has chosen to examine their performance against a subset of the best teams in the A.L., whose stronger pitching staffs would, one would think, be less likely to allow runs to score.

So Fraley's conclusion -- that the Rangers are poor situational hitters, and fare even worse against the top pitching -- isn't, in fact, necessarily borne out by the facts he presents.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

The return of Aaron Myette to the majors... 

Former Ranger pitcher Aaron Myette, the prize pried from the White Sox in exchange for Royce Clayton after the 2000 season, has re-surfaced with the Reds...

Myette is one of those guys I could see suddenly figuring it out and becoming a dominant setup man when he's about 30, a la Guillermo Mota. Great arm, but could never figure out how to pitch.


Last night's game 

I was at the game last night, and it was the first I've attended in person this season where the Rangers lost. Which is a nice change of pace, because I didn't see the Rangers win at TBIA until 2002, and I believe I went through a stretch from 1989-2002 where they lost every game I attended (although living in Austin most of that period, I wasn't able to go to very many).

Anyway...frustrating game. And the worst part about it was seeing Brian Jordan come up as the tying run, with a sidewinding righthander on the mound, and flail helplessly away. I was at the game with my father, brother and uncle, and I told them when Jordan came up that if he swung the bat, the game was over. The only chance we had was for Jordan to wait him out and try to draw a walk.

It doesn't really matter much anymore, given that the Rangers are pretty much out of the race anyway. But it was incredibly frustrating to sit there and realize that there wasn't a single lefty bat on the bench that could come up and hit in that situation.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Falling out of the race and Laynce Nix 

With the Rangers, for all intents and purposes, out of the race now, there's no reason to sit Laynce Nix against lefties.

The common excuse offered by the media for Buck's consistent benching of Nix against lefties in the latter parts of the season has been that the team is in a playoff race, and needs to run its best people out there.

With the team out of it, though, there's no reason for Gary Matthews Jr. or Eric Young to be out in CF instead of Nix.

Barring injury, Nix -- and Kevin Mench -- should be starting every game the rest of the way.


BA's Jim Callis on Clint Brannon 

Baseball America's "Ask BA" this week includes a question on Clint Brannon.

Brannon was a 34th round draft pick this season, but has dominated at Spokane, posting a sub-1 ERA.

In a nutshell...Callis isn't jumping on the Brannon bandwagon just yet...


Remarkable stat of the day 

In BP's Triple Play section (it is one of the article in their free section), they focus on three of the season's whipping boys -- Baltimore, Colorado, and the Mets.

In regards to players having lousy seasons, BP takes note of the abysmal year Denny Stark is having. The 11.42 ERA in 6 starters is bad enough, but his peripherals are even worse -- he has a 2.73 WHIP for the season, and has given up an unbelievable 10 unearned runs in just 26 innings, meaning that his 11.42 ERA understates how bad he has been. He can't even really blame Coors Field -- four of his six starts have been on the road, where opponents have hit .382 against him (versus .543 at home). And of his 9 homers allowed, only one has been at Coors Field.

Stark's VORP of -26.2 is the 6th worst among pitchers since 1975, and he's thrown only a fraction of the innings that the top five have thrown; with just 26 innings pitch, he's a run per inning worse than a replacement level pitcher, according to BP.


Mike Lupica on the forfeit fiasco 

Very good column from Mike Lupica on the issue...


Buck love from SI's Tom Verducci 

A column from Tom Verducci, praising Buck Showalter for getting the Rangers in contention so quickly.

Note for Tom...the 30 year old Carlos Almanzar probably doesn't qualify as a "young" pitcher...


The Yankee/Devil Ray forfeit situation 

In case you haven't heard, the Yankees want to be awarded a forfeit victory over the Devil Rays, because the Devil Rays didn't show up in New York on time to play the first game of a scheduled doubleheader on Monday.

The Devil Rays' three game series with the Tigers, that was scheduled for this past weekend, was cancelled on Friday due to Hurricane Frances. The Tigers left town Friday night, but the Devil Rays, citing concerns the players had about their families, opted to stay, rather than go to New York early.

With flights out of the Tampa airport cancelled Saturday afternoon and Sunday, the Devil Rays weren't able to arrange a charter flight out until Monday afternoon, arriving in time to play the evening game.

While a forfeit seems unnecessarily harsh -- and, according to MLB, will not be awarded -- it sounds like the Devil Rays organization will be punished. I was originally sympathetic to their situation, but managing partner Vince Naimoli's comments, along with those of MLB, certainly make it sound like Tampa simply dropped the ball on this matter, and could have -- should have -- been in New York on time.

I expect to see the D-Rays fined a substantial amount.


On Commander Buck 

There are a couple of items out there right now that profile Buck Showalter in some detail, one a feature piece in the DMN by Todd Wills, the other an excerpt from Buster Olney's book on the latest Yankee dynasty.

Neither piece is likely to change anyone's mind on Buck, though...if you like him, you'll like him after reading these pieces. If you don't like him, you still won't.


Monday, September 06, 2004

A few interesting items from the NY Post 

Joel Sherman had a couple of interesting items in Saturday's NY Post...

First, he raises the possibility that Grady Fuson could end up running the Mets' scouting department, although he opines that Fuson may be too "high-profile and independent" for the fractious Mets front office. As I've said before, I want Fuson in the N.L., so he won't be building a competitor to the Rangers.

Secondly, and more importantly, he suggests that the Yankees may be willing to cut bait with Javier Vazquez after this season, writing him off as someone who can't handle the pressure in New York.

Vazquez is owed over $11 million per year for the next three years, and has been a serious disappointment in New York. However, he's also young, has a terrific arm, and was viewed as one of the best young pitchers in baseball when the Yankees gave up Juan Rivera and Nick Johnson to pry him away from the Expos this past offseason. He finished in the top 10 in ERA+ twice, in 2001 and 2003, and at just 28, still has some years ahead of him. He does tend to give up the long ball, but he's also a strikeout pitcher who doesn't walk batters -- he's averaged 2.42 walks per 9 innings coming into the season, one of the best rates among active pitchers.

Given the hitting-friendly nature of TBIA, I think the best chance for the Rangers to land a top-of-the-rotation pitcher (if they don't develop one) is via the trade market. And if the Yankees are serious about getting something for Vazquez now, this would appear to be the perfect opportunity for the Rangers.

Would the Yankees consider taking Alfonso Soriano, plus maybe a middling prospect, for Vazquez? Even if we had to sweeten the deal, I think it is a trade worth pursuing. Vazquez is the type of pitcher that the Rangers need at the front of their rotation, and his contract isn't unreasonable.


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