Category Archives: Juan Gonzalez

Reflecting on Barry Bonds’ Home Run Record

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Rangers programming to reflect on Barry Bonds’ feat of becomming the all-time home run leader.

So much has been written and said about Barry Bonds, Balco, steroids, home runs, etc. that I doubt I’ll add anything new. Instead, I want to share some questions that, while they’ve probably been asked before, I think are worth pondering.

  • The Babe and the Hammerin’ Hank achieved their record milestones against the peers of their time. In the Babe’s time, not much was known about nor was there much emphasis on physical training. By Hank’s era, guys had work out routines and fitness programs. During Bonds’ era, players became dedicated athletes with year-round training programs and diets based on ever-improving science guiding training to increase stamina or build targeted muscle groups or develop “muscle memory” or enhance “fast twitch” muscles for speed while diets were paired with training from hich protein shakes for building mass to carbs for endurance. Somewhere around halfway through Bonds career, a bunch (my bet is a majority) of players used performance enhancing substances of some sort or another. So if he did use performance enhancing substances and so did many if not most pitchers he faced, isn’t that fair? Isn’t he just competing against his contemporary peers?
  • Bonds has gotten a lot of bad press for being a difficult guy. But it seems he has the respect of a lot of his teammates and players current and past. Those who know him best, speak highly of him. Couldn’t be more obvious that he’s a family man. He hasn’t mistreated animals, done narcatics, raped women, gambled millions, killed anyone, been in a drunken rage or DUI accident, punched a fan or choked his coach. Other athletes have done all these things, and more, and haven’t been as negatively judged by the public. It seems to me that Barry’s paying a high price because he doesn’t like or get along with the media. I’ve worked with the media, and can tell you that most of them are jerks. So maybe we shouldn’t believe all that we hear and read from reporters who generally don’t like it when someone doesn’t bow before the power of their pen (or microphone)?
  • Barry may have the best eye and discipline at the plate of anyone ever. Sure – pitchers pitch around him. But they pitch around a lot of power hitters, many of whom are also big strike out victims. It was only his 4th year in the majors when Barry had 93ks and 93 walks. In the 18 seasons since, Barry’s averaged almost 2 walks for every 1 strikeout. In 2004, he had a record 232 walks, beating his own record of 198 from 2002 when he beat his own record of 177 from 2001. Thus, he has the top three seasons for walks, and is the all-time career leader. He eclipses Babe Ruth’s 4th-ranked season of 170 walks in 1923. He’s had 9 seasons that rank in the top 91 EVER for walks in a season. Do performance enhancing substances help a batter develop a keen eye for the strike zone? 
  • It’s alleged that he started using steroids sometime between ’98 and 2000. But before that, he’d averaged more than 31 HRs a year, including 46 in ’93 – his first season as Giant. From ’90 to ’97, he’d averaged 36.25 hrs. If he’d continued at that pace from ’98 through ’06, he’d have hit 297 HRs (adjusting for his injury season in ’05). That would have put him at 671 HRs entering this season. That’s within 85 HRs of the record, which – especially if he plays a few more years as a DH in the AL – would have been easily attainable for him (especially when you deduct the 23 he’s now hit this season which would have put him within 62 of the record under this scenario). So even without the widely questioned power surge, Bonds quite likely would have reached 756 home runs within another two seasons. So does that still make him the best HR hitter of all-time?

Speaking of which, he just hit 757 while I was writing. So I’m gonna go, and I haven’t gotten to his basestealing, defense, clutch hitting, etc.

Personally, I’ve long thought that he’s a jerk who’s cheating his way to the most prestigious record in sports.

But lately, I’ve started wonder if that’s unfair.

While guys like Bonds, McGuire, Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa’s physiques changed rapidly and dramatically, we fans, the All-Powerful Players Union, the Commissioner, the Owners, the media – we all applauded  because we love us some offense and especially home runs! So if in the end, the investigations show that Bonds did use a performance enhancing substance(s) and that so did many of his contemporaries, don’t we all share some stake in the shame of the “steroid era”?

Just questions worth pondering.

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Scary Signs about the Rangers Getting Confused & Teixeira Needs to Get Back Fast!

I like Mark Teixeira – a lot.  He’s one of my son’s favorite players – and mine.  But I’m starting to wonder if he and/or the Rangers front office are purposefully taking their time to get him back into the lineup now – not July 13th after the All-Star break.

According to T.R. Sullivan’s report on Tuesday, Tex will be starting a rehab assignment soon.  Is it me, or are they lollygagging his return?  I thought only Juan Gonzalez (in his whiney-baby years) took this long to come back from a simple leg muscle strain. 

As teams will want to see that Tex is recovered fully before they trade for him, the Rangers are cutting things close.  A July 13 return gives Teixeira only 18 game opportunities to prove what he’s got after this injury – which was reportedly minor and he was supposed to be back by now.  Also, I fear the slow return may signal to other teams that Tex did more damage to his left quad than was advertised.  As teams like the Dodgers, Tigers and others look prime to consider a deal for Teixeira, all this can’t be helping his trade value.  And the longer wait could mean some teams start looking in other directions they may never have checked if Tex was back and healthy and producing.  So Tex – if you want to help the team and your career, get back fast.

In the meantime, this statement from Ron Washington also troubled me:

“We want to make sure when (Teixeira) does come back we can have him for the rest of the year, not just one day,” manager Ron Washington said.

I HOPE that is a cover statement to alleve some of the concerns I mentioned above while also positioning that we want to keep Tex unless someone makes a great offer.  But the Rangers have rarely shown that kind of savvy under Tom Hicks or Little Jon DanielsHart.

I’m starting to fear that Ron’s comment is reflective of the organization’s true feelings.  Which would be purely STUPID.  Why would they keep Tex this year?  So maybe they finish 28 instead of 35 games out of first place?  And then they have him for one last uncompetitive season in ’08 before he WALKS AS A FREE AGENT.  That would be assinine when the Rangers could trade him now and likely get a major-league ready starter plus a firstbaseman and/or maybe a prospect or three.

Unless Hicks is willing to about double the team’s salary next season through 3-4 significant free agent signings (yeah – I’m not holding my breath on that one – not even when Hicks will be more interested in winning next season because it would draw more traffic through Where’s The Glory Park and help him lease and sell holdings in his income property before the more attractive Cowboys development is ready), trading Tex is the best opportunity the Rangers have to restructure the team to not just be competitive but to possibly, finally become Championship contenders in the final years of the decade.

Waiting shows wavering.  Wavering scares me.  The only possible upside is if wavering persuades other GMs that they’ll need to aim high to “pry” Teixeira away from the Rangers.

Rangers Need to Trade Mark Teixeira, but Are Hicks and Daniels Going to Miss the Boat (Again)?

Agent Zero and BigDSports share some good insights through comments to my previous post.  Maybe a Teixeira trade with Detroit won’t happen, maybe it will.  Maybe the Rangers are aiming high now to test the market value for Teixeira, but I’m more concerned that they’re not bluffing when they say they want to keep Tex.  Why in the world would the do that?

Hey, he’s one of my favorie players, and I’ll be sad to see him leave.  I’ll root for him wherever he goes.  But the reality is – he’s leaving one way or another by the 2009 season.  All indications are that last winter was the last chance the Rangers had to extend his contract.  In not doing so, the Rangers led Boras and Tex to make the right business decision to wait and play the free agent market.  It would take crazy money for the Rangers to keep them from getting there, but then again Hicks does have a unique track record for successfully bidding against himself.

In the meantime, Teixeira is the ONLY chip the Rangers have to shorten the rebuilding process by several years.  Trading Tex for young major-league-ready-to-break-out starters (but not pure prospects likely to flame out as Rangers) is the only chance Texas has to improve its starting rotation in 1-2 seasons instead of 3-5.  And, the improvements would likely be more significant in addition to being more expedient.  But Hicks and team have shown an amazing capability for missing such chances.

Despite them being two of my favorite players – the Rangers should have traded Pudge and Kenny Rogers for some arms instead of letting them walk, and they should have gotten arms instead of Soriano for Alex Rodriguez. 

It just hit me how ridiculous the logic is behind us being told that “the Yankees and Soriano were the only option for moving ARod.”  I seriously doubt there wasn’t a way to get creative and find another team willing to trade a pitcher or three – or to get an arm out of the Yankees.  With the Rangers paying almost 1/3 of ARod’s contract, some other team could have been sold on trading for ARod for a salary impact of about $17M/yr to them. The true numbers are a bit of a shell game but the Yankees are paying a 40% luxury tax on ARod’s $25M – an extra $10M more than almost any other team would have to pay.  So ARod is costing the Yanks about $27M (in addition to the approximate $7 million the Rangers are paying for ARod to play in NY).  Nobody else wonder if Boston, LAD, NYM, either Chicago team, and maybe the Giants or Astros would’ve taken the bait?  And ARod wanted out of Texas so bad he would have gladly waived his no trade for a team in contention.  NYY were top of his list, sure, but he and Boras kicked Hicks’ and Hart’s rears in negotiations coming and going.  Sad.

And we sure should have gotten more for Soriano, not to mention the idiotic Juan Gonzalez trade. 

Maybe Hicks and DanielsHart only like to screw up trade opportunities involving MVPs.

Oh… no, they even screw up deals involving bullpen guys, like Francisco Cordero.

Will they, can they learn?  Tex is leaving.  Unless they overpay for him, he’s probably going to be a Yankee in ’09.  So trade him now (meaning as soon as he’s back from the DL and proves that he’s healthy and productive) while the extra season remaining on his contract can command more value than the pure rent-a-player deals that would be available next year.

So my last post may have been a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Detroit’s moves.  Maybe a Detroit trade will happen, maybe it won’t.  Bottom line – Hicks and DanielsHart better trade Teixeira while his value can command the pitching talent the Rangers need. 

Robbers Evidence: Breaking Down Tom Hicks’ Interview with Babe Laufenberg – Part 1: So Hicks Suspects (Actually Wishes) Juan Gonzalez Used Steroids (More)

Has Tom Hicks lost touch with reality?  Based on his comments to the European press during Liverpool FC’s run to the UEFA Champions League final, recent interview with Babe Laufenberg, and contract extension to Jon Daniels,  there’s reason to wonder.  Many reasons.  Breaking down the interview shows Hicks may be having a break down.

The entire Laufenberg interview is laden with comments from Hicks that should further infuriate every Texas Rangers fan.  I for one was so infuriated that I put off writing about it.  And I’m going to have to write about one piece at a time. 

Let’s start with Hicks’ comment about Juan Gonzalez since that’s the one that’s making all the news right now.

Babe:  “Of all the decisions you’ve made as owner of the Rangers… firing of Doug Melvin, signing of ARod, Chan Ho Park… which is the one you’d like a mulligan on in golf terms?”

Hicks:  “… (signing) Juan González for $24 million after he came off steroids – probably – uh, we just gave that money away…”.

Well, that became the focus of an Associated Press article yesterday, headlined “Hicks Suspects Gonzalez Used Steroids.”

Where to start?

First, who didn’t suspect that already?  Did you see the difference in Igor between 1989 and 1991?  You can’t add that much mass without some chemistry assistance.

So, Hicks’ “mulligan” wasn’t that he might have signed a player who used steroids, it was that Juan was off them when Hicks signed him in 2002.  If Juan had still been on them, apparently Hicks believes he would have gotten his money’s worth.  So Hicks wishes Juan had stayed on the juice.

Tempted to write off the comment as an errant slip of the tongue – a mistake anyone could make during a TV interview?

Hold that thought.

The interview was on June 10th.  According to the AP story, Hicks made the following statement to the AP via e-mail yesterday, June 20:

“I have no knowledge that Juan used steroids. His number of injuries and early retirement just makes me suspicious,” Hicks wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “In any event, we paid him $24 million for very few games.”

So with 10 days to consider what to say, Hicks just adds the covering-my-butt statements about “no knowledge” and being “suspicious” and then basically reiterates – as much by what he doesn’t say and how he phrases his answer which I assure you was reviewed time and again by his lawyers and PR staff – that his regret is signing a steroid-free Juan whose body fell apart when he stopped juicing.

Notice Hicks doesn’t say: “I regret signing a player who any reasonable person could suspect was or had been using performance-enhancing drugs.”  Nor does he say, “Juan’s age was a risk that didn’t work out.”  He clearly believes that Juan quitting steroids was the problem: “(signing) Juan González … after he came off steroids” is one of three “mulligans” or mistakes Hicks admits to in the interview. 

I – and any Rangers fan, really – could list a whole bunch of other mistakes that Hicks could use a “mulligan” on.  How about starting with one of the biggest:  letting 3 league MVPs leave and not getting squat for talent in return?  Or, merging the front offices of a hockey team with that of baseball team?  Or, knowing the Rangers have always needed quality starting pitching, but never going after and getting it the way you went after and got, then wasted, Alex Rodriguez’s big bat?  Or, how about the one Babe mentioned – firing Doug Melvin?  Or… oh you get the point…

Gotta go barf again…