Category Archives: Ian Kinsler

Texas Rangers Trade Deadline Review: Jon Daniels Earns D+

With a last minute, extra-credit submission in the form of the Gagne trade, Little Jon DanielsHart avoids immediate expulsion from school and pulls an F- up to a D+ for the summer trade semester. 

That’s still a failing grade overall, despite a great trade for Gagne. Why?

For a team that has always needed PITCHING but has never been able to develop pitching prospects or sign top free agent starters, it’s inexcusable that JD was not able to pry at least one MLB-ready pitcher who has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues out of any of the contenders needing an extra bat when we were offering Teixeira – the PREMEIRE bat on the summer market who’s under contract through next season also. That’s even more inexcusable when he also coughed up Mahay along with Tex.

I can’t believe how many Rangers fans have bought into the Rangers’ public relations face-saving propaganda that getting the Braves #1, #2 and #3 prospects makes the Teixeira trade a good one. Garbage!

First, let’s review the definition of prospect:

Prospect (noun) – 1. the possibility of future success; 2. belief about the future (WordNet® 3.0 © 2006 Princeton University)

Thus, the guys we got in the deal have nothing but a possibility of success based on someone’s belief about their future performance. So we shipped off two known, highly valuable commodities for five big question marks! At least one known, as bankable as can be commodity should have been acquired in return. Unfortunately instead, only time will tell – and with these guys, time may range from this month to 4-5 years from now.

Second, consider the difficulty of forecasting prospects’ futures:

Prospects in baseball are particularly iffy. In basketball or football, it’s generally much easier to predict a prospect’s likelihood of making an impact (yes – there are plenty of exceptions). More than in other team sports, players at the major league baseball level are mostly distinguished by the mental aspects of the game – focus, concentration, pitcher-batter strategy, etc. This is particularly true where the two major aspects of the game – pitching and hitting – are concerned. There are just too many variables – again most of them mental, which are nearly impossible to predict – to developing potential and transitioning to the major league level.

Third, while we may have received the best prospects the Braves had, that doesn’t make them the right prospects for the Rangers rebuilding needs. 

1.   Salty – may be a good fit for the Rangers, especially if he can improve behind the plate. If the expectations for his future production are even 75% correct, then he’ll be a major upgrade over Laird, who should be moved to the bench or traded if Teagarden continues to progress.

2.  Elvis Andrus – an 18-yo SS who’s struggling at the plate at A Myrtle Beach. Again, last I checked, we have a great SS who’s locked-up through 2013 and a potential All-Star 2B in his second MLB season at only 25. If we want to find there replacements, I suggest the draft in – oh, maybe 2010 would be more appropriate.

3.  Matt Harrison – is a 21-yo nothing but prospect LHP at AA. He has potential, but again, when have the Rangers ever turned young pitching potential into a winner at the major-league level?

4.  Neftali Feliz – a 19-yo nothing but prospect RHP still in the rookie league.

5.  Beau Jones – a 21-yo LHP doing well, but only at Class A Rome.

On almost any other team, you might be able to bet with confidence that at least one of the three pitching prospects will become a winning starter within the next 2-4 years.  But not so with the Rangers.

That’s why JD HAD to get a pitcher who has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues in return for Tex, much less Tex and Mahay.

The Lofton trade was also a disappointment. 

Lofton may be a 40-year-old rent-a-player to the Indians, but he will help the Indians down the stretch (on and off the field). I think his value to them is more than a Class-A catcher on whom the Braves already gave up last year to acquire Bob Wickman.  It’s a long, long road from being a Futures-Game Class A catcher to a big league contributor. 

The Gagne Trade May Have Saved Daniels’ Job – For Now 

Finally! JD got a pitcher who is well into a successful transition to the major leagues, plus one who’s a lefty from the AL in Kason Gabbard!

Gabbard has progressed well at every level, including his time in the majors. If he can keep his head straight in the unforgiving Ballpark and keep his stats within the same general range he’s been performing at, he will be a winning pitcher for several years to come. If he comes to Arlington and can improve at all – he’ll be the ace of our staff by ’09 at the latest. 

The two outfielders in the deal were also good pick-ups. Left-handed hitting 27-yo CF David Murphy could do very well in the Ballpark. He’s already had some limited success in the majors, and should be a September call up and ready to compete for a spot on the big club next season. 18-yo “5-tool” outfielder Engel Beltre is several years away, but is reportedly one heck of a prospect.  

In Sum 

Overall, the Rangers shipped off Teixeira, Gagne, Mahay and Lofton in return for: 

1 MLB-ready pitcher

2 Probably ready to break through position players (Salty and Murphy)

3 Very young, who knows what they’ll be position prospects (Andrus, Beltre and Ramirez)

3 Young, who knows what they’ll be pitching prospects (Harrison, Jones, Feliz). 

To give up that much highly-prized and sought-after talent and not have 2 MLB-ready pitchers in return is terrible.  

Salty and Murphy are strong maybe’s, but there are concerns about both of their games. And then there are six really big question marks?????? 

That leaves Gabbard as the only acquisition whose value can be close to accurately projected. 

As of today, that’s a terrible performance from Little Jon DanielsHart.

In time, if Gabbard lives up to expectation, if Salty becomes one of the leagues top producing catchers, if Murphy works out, if one of the three pitching prospects becomes a winner at the major-league level, then this could become a very good performance from Little Jon DanielsHart. But that’s too many “if’s” given all the Rangers had to offer. 

And after 27-years as a fan, there are too many reasons to be skeptical. Hanging on to hopes that so many “if’s” will pan out is just asking for more heartbreak, and I expect more from the General Manager.

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What a Win! But Please Save it for Later in the Season!

Great walk-off win tonight!  But can we save that stuff for August and September? 

Hicks and Daniels may get confused by improved performance and decide to keep trying this season when the Rangers have no chance to make the post-season, every reason to trade Teixeira (who was openly talking today about talking to Baltimore after next year where he’d love to play since he grew up an Orioles fan) and no chance to be a championship caliber team unless they do a major overhaul.

Don’t I want my team to win?  YES! 

But after 27 years as a Rangers fan, I want to finally see them be a championship contender. 

Hicks and DanielsHart get confused too easily, especially when Hicks sees a chance to sell more tickets and add to his $,$$$,$$$,$$$ (10 figures there for a reason). 

More highly exciting wins like tonight and next thing we know, Hicks will have Little Jon trading Botts and Hurley for a 30+ year-old outfielder who’ll be a free agent in the winter just to help Jeff Cogen convince casual fans that they “could use some baseball” and sell more tickets to their charade, saying, “we’re excited by how we’ve been playing, by how this Young team has responded, and think we’re primed to make a late season run, especially when Tex, Kinsler, Blalock and Padilla return.” 

Scary, because I can actually hear that coming out of Hicks’ mouth as they introduce Shawn Green as the next “final piece” to take the Rangers to the playoffs while Botts and Hurley go start great careers as Mets.

And the casual Rangers fans would buy more tickets because… hey the Rangers are “in it.”  And this town – especially the phony, see-and-be-seen crowd predominantly from the Dallas side of the Metroplex – can jump on or off a bandwagon faster than the North Texas Tollway Authority sucks money out of your bank account on the Tollway, 121 or George Bush.

Meanwhile, us true, long-time Rangers fans watch another season tank away while the club is drained of talent.  And those bandwagonners that Hicks milks to fatten his wallet could care less because they’ll be paying full price to go see a pre-season Cowboys game.

Don’t I want to see my team win?  NO!  Not yet.

Relaford? What? Are We Trying to Pump Up His Trade Value? Where’s Botts?

Why in the world are the Rangers giving major league at bats to Desi Relaford? Desi was delegated to the minors after ’05.  His MLB AVG hasn’t seen the sunny side of .250 but three times in his career. Why in the world is he playing for the Rangers in Kinsler’s absence?

Why not stick Catalonotto or Hairston at 2B for couple weeks and finally get Botts up here? 

Has Jason Botts broken some laws or pissed off Jon Daniels in some way we’re unaware of? He’s hitting .320 with a .970 OPS and a 15-game hitting streak for the AAA Oklahoma Red Hawks while leading the Pacific Coast League in doubles.  What more can he do at that level?  What don’t we know that is keeping him in Oklahoma?

Meanwhile, Relaford was only hitting .257 with 2 stolen bases in 63 games for the Red Hawks.  Relaford may be the only remaining, healthy guy in the Rangers’ organization whose defensive play is close to MLB caliber at 2B, but team defense should be the last worry of a team that needs to rebuild.  Meanwhile, if say, Cat were able to show that he still has a little something at 2B, doesn’t his trade value go up as a solid utility man for a contender?

This is a scary sign that the Rangers front office is actually trying to win instead of develop players… unless Little Jon DanielsHart thinks some team in contention is looking for a career .244 hitter as that final piece that will put them into the World Series.

Announcing the 2008 Texas Rangers 25-Man Roster!

Well, since tonight’s game was rained out and the 2007 season has long been over, I thought I’d finish a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. 

I doubt I’m the only Rangers fan looking ahead to what might be in the cards for Texas in 2008.  If I were GM – and bi-POD Tom Hicks was willing to quit his hypocracy and take some meds for his bi-polar owner disorder to put some smart money where his mouth is – then this is what the Rangers would look like in 2008 (how new additions got here explained in parentheses):

Starters:

  • C –  Adam Melhuse
  • 1b – James Loney (Teixeira Trade) or Nate Gold
  • 2b – Kinsler
  • SS – Young 
  • 3b – Blalock
  • LF – Cruz
  • CF – Torri Hunter (FA)
  • RF – Marlon Byrd
  • DH – Sosa???????

Bench:

  •    C – Laird
  •   U – Catalanotto
  • OF – Botts
  •  IF – Ramon Vazquez

Rotation:

  1. Mark Buerhle (Free Agent)
  2. Kevin Millwood
  3. Zack Miner or Chad Billingsley (Teixeira Trade)
  4. Padilla
  5. McCarthy or Loe

Bullpen

  • R – Vasquez
  • R – Mahay
  • R – Benoit
  • R – Eyre
  • R – Murray
  • SU – Wilson
  • CL – Otsuka

The bullpen looks to be shaping up well.  Otsuka will likely be gone, but I’d keep him unless the offers are too good to refuse (and would then sign one of several FAs that will be on the market this offseason).

The rotation is much better with Buerhle taking the top spot and Miner or Billingsley in the middle, putting Millwood at #2 and Padilla at #4, which are spots they’re more suited for.  Buerhle would be my big signing.  I know his velocity is down.  But we need a lefty, and he keeps reminding me of Kenny Rogers (with a better attitude).  The guy just knows how to pitch and win.  Is it a Championship caliber rotation – no.  But it’s a big step in the right direction.

The offense will be better.  I worry about no big bat to replace Teixeira, but if Hunter could repeat his current season, he’d make up for much of the lost production.  Also, Sosa is listed as a question mark.  He’d have to cut down on his K’s for me to keep him.  If he can’t do that, I’d sign an aging power bat to come in, provide some production, and be a veteran presence while contributing to a building sense for winning.  But knowing next year is a stepping stone toward real, sustainable competitiveness, I like the look of the order and the opportunity for some prospects to show if they can bust out.  If not, I’d chase a big signing after the ’08 season.

My expectation would be for this team to finish somewhere just north of .500.  But expectations for 2009 would be to contend in the West, win it in ’10 and make real runs into the playoffs from 2010 – 2012.

BTW, I also happen to think this is Hicks’ plan because it syncs with his business interests, but more on that another time.

Rangers Evidence: WHAT A GAME!

Just had to pop on and say… wow!  Kinsler just hit a homer in the bottom of the 9th to tie it up again after the Rangers rallied for 4 in the 8th to tie it at 7 but Gagne gave up 2 in the top of the 9th.  Then Super-Byrd pinch hits and homers, Vazquez and Lofton battle but get out, and Kinsler ties with a homer.

Young strikes out to send it to extra innings.  This is why we watch!  Love it!

MORNING AFTER UPDATE – and the 10th inning is why it can be such torture to be a Rangers fan. 

More on the Upside of Failing Fast

A week ago, in a post that included some venting about my frustrations with WordPress, I wrote about the Upside of Failing Fast:

“At least they’re collapsing in May so Hicks, Cogen and DanielsHart can’t string us out until the usual Rangers August-September fade out.  One lesson about risk taking, is that if you’re going to fail, fail fast.  The Rangers have almost always dragged us through a gradual failing.  Failing fast could be the best thing this team has done in years.  It would make Little Jon DanielsHart a seller around the deadline (not that he’s kept a lot to sell – except Tex, but more on that later), and prevent him and Hicks from making some stupid deal that costs us dearly in the long-term just to keep the Rangers close enough that they can keep selling more tickets.  And then the young guys can play. ”

(Hey – if “journalists” can quote themselves sometimes, why can’t I?”)

As the Rangers went 3-3 since that post, I thought more about the concept.  And I found myself worried that they were winning.

Let me explain.

What would the Rangers possibly gain from playing .500 or slightly better ball the rest of the season?  They’re just not good enough, not to mention healthy enough, to make up a 9.5 game deficit against the Angels who apparently OWN them this season (remember Hicks views the Angels as “our partners”).  And if they win just enough to keep us – and Hicks and DanielsHart – hoping against hope, we risk seeing management make some hare-brained trade to try to win now at the expense of the long-term picture/pitching and the further erosion of talent from the system (see previous posts about the could/should-be team comprised of recent ex-Rangers).

Even Dale Hanson got it right on the radio yesterday when he compared the Rangers recent history to that of the Cowboys – where management continues to make moves thinking they can contend now at the expense of longer-term success.

As a 27-year fan of the Texas Rangers, I can wait another year or two for someone to finally put together an organization that is built to win a championship.  And maybe, just maybe, failing fast will be enough for Hicks and DanielsHart to do some things differently now that will help the team in the long term.

AND, in the meantime (if Hicks and DanielsHart are serious about stability), it gives new manager Ron Washington the time to develop the young talent we do have while gearing up our core guys (e.g. Young and Kinsler, and… well, that may be it) for a serious run at championship-caliper baseball from ’08-2010.  It can be done – just look at Detroit (more on that another time…).

So let the young guys get their at bats and throw their innings.  Let’s see if McCarthy, Tejeda, Loe or Rupe can be winning starters in the major leagues.  Let’s see if Cruz, Botts and so on really do have the stuff to have long prolific careers ahead of them.

And, like the Cowboys in 1989, let’s have our 1-15 season so we can build for the future and turn things around in big way!  The Cowboys starting seeing real improvement by the end of 1990, made the playoffs in ’91 and won the first of three-out-four Super Bowls in 1992. 

There are significant differences in how to build a winning football versus baseball organization, but the long-term focus is needed in Arlington.  And with that in mind, let’s root for the real winning to start taking root late this summer giving the Rangers momentum into next year and beyond.

Ian Kinsler and… Nobody Else?

I thought Ian Kinsler would have a big year, and he’s certainly off to a big start.  I also thought that our offense would struggle, but never in my most cynical, 27-year Rangers fan mind did I think that Kinsler would be the only Texas Ranger hitting over .300 after 20 games!

Except Kinsler, every Ranger, especially the major offensive cogs we’ve come to rely on, are batting well under their career averages (as Jamey Newberg reported last week, and things have only gotten marginally better since then).

What in the world is going on?

I have two theories.  One I think many will like, and another I think most will hate.

The first is that it’s all Sammy’s fault.  I like Sosa.  Like that Daniels brought him here this year.  But, while he’s doing alright, he’s not doing well enough to make pitchers fear him.  Which means he’s not protecting the batters in front of him.  Which means Tex (who, as we saw pre-Carlos Lee 2006 and post-Lee 2006, needs someone behind him) is getting challenged and losing.  Which means the guys in front of him have more pressure on their shoulders and are getting challenged and losing.  This lineup needs an anchor.  Tex has never been it.  Without one, pitchers aren’t afraid and our offense is gone adrift, lost at sea.  And we need Washington to be our Captain Jack Sparrow to retool the whole thing and get the ship, that is usually an offensive juggernaught, back on course.

Now for the likely unpopular idea.  It’s also Ron Washington’s fault.  I like Wash.  Like that Daniels brought him here this year.  But, while he’s doing alright, he came in talking about playing more small ball and manufacturing runs.  The Ballpark and the Texas Rangers offense were not built for that style of game.  Our hitters, under the genius that is Rudy Jaramillo, were not taught and have never been trained to think that way.  Such talk from the new manager, could be messing with the psyche of the batters when they step up to the plate, leading to uncharacteristically lame performance.

Your thoughts?