Category Archives: Sammy Sosa

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.

Who Played Their Last Game as A Ranger Today?

Things are picking up a bit on the Teixeira front (seperate post to follow).  Other than (hopefully) Teixeira, who else lost their final game as a Ranger this afternoon in Kansas City?

Eric Gagne? 

Reports still linger that Gagne may be shipped to the Yankees, but I haven’t seen anything of late about who the Rangers may get in return. The Yankees are not on Gagne’s list of team to which he can veto a trade, but he’s made it clear that he wants to remain a closer. Will his attitude get in the way of the Yankees coughing up something for him knowing that they won’t take Mariano Rivera out of the closer spot? A few other teams may still have interest. 

My belief he should get traded: 100%

Chances he actually gets traded: 40%. 

Joaquin Benoit?

Lots of teams want him, and I say they can have him. Been tired of his roller-coaster inconsistencies over the years. It’s time to cut bait and sell high. What’s being offered in return? Reports are sketchy. Some rumors say the Braves (still the apparent leaders in talks to acquire Teixeira) have also been asking.  Maybe Benoit goes to Atlanta in an uber-deal. If so, be prepared for him to succeed for several years and to be tempted to feel that we should have kept him. But don’t. We’re seeing the best he can do as a Ranger, and it would be down hill from here (at best).

My belief he should get traded: 100%

Chances he actually gets traded: 70%. 

C.J. Wilsom?

He;s another one the Braves are rumored to be angling for, but Little Jon Daniels Hart should be able to get something done without giving up C.J. He’s been a strong lefty out of the bullpen who’s improved significantly in each of the past 3 seasons. I don’t see him as a closer like some fans do, be he could be a heck of a set-up man for a long time.

My belief he should get traded: 10% (never say never – would have to blow my hair back with the return we get)

Chances he actually gets traded: 20%. 

Gerald Laird?

Rumor has it the Cubs may still be interested, and electing to take a catcher – A-baller Max Ramirez – for Kenny Lofton could be a small sign about what the Rangers are thinking.

My belief he should get traded: 50% (I don’t think he’s our long-term answer at C, but unless we’re offered something real juicy, he deserves the rest of this season and next with Rudy Jaramillo givng him every chance to be more consistent at the plate.)

Chances he actually gets traded: 20%. 

Others of note: 

Ron Mahay could also be subbed into a deal with the Braves, but while he’s older, than C.J. he’s still got good years left in him – enough to contribute when the Rangers could be ready to contend in ’09 and beyond. JD should hold onto him unless it’s a deal maker in another trade, but his name hasn’t been mentioned much lately.

Silence has fallen over Sammy Sosa, probably because he’s STUNK all July (.274/.359/.188) with only 2 HRs – if only he’d kept chugging away for a few more weeks, we might have gotten something decent for him.

Frank Catalanotto’s name was bantied about in some reputable spots a few weeks ago. That’s all gone quiet. It’s a shame. I met Frank during his first stint with the Rangers, and I like him. If he hadn’t been hurt this season, I think he’d be producing enough to garner interest from a contender, and return a couple good prospects if traded. But he’s just not up to par this year. He’s been showing signs of improvement, but likely not enough to generate value in return.

Just about a week ago, several teams were reportedly showing interest in Jamey Wright.  Validly so, as he’d been doing well. But two consecutive bad outings since (10 combined innings with 6 earned runs (another 2 unearned) and only 3ks against 11 hits and 10 walks) killed almost all chances that someone will take him. 

After starting the month on a tear that turned some heads and spawned some rumors, Whiffy Whifferson ($4.35 Million Man Brad Wilkerson) has 27ks to 17 hits for July and only one HR since the first week of July. I really don’t like to just rip on people, but when they’re making crazy money that makes no sense (unless he has compromising photos of Tim Hicks), this calls for an exception. I posted earlier that JD should take a bag of peanuts for Wilkerson if offered. At this point, he should take a piece of chewed gum scraped from the bottom of a bleacher seat in whatever team’s park that might be willing to part with that much for Whifferson. And JD should then have to chew the gum straight through an entire Rangers game as punishment for wasting that much money. Imagine what that could have done for kids in poverty! How does JD sleep at night? Or Whiffy for that matter. Man up and give some of the money back, dude.

Flop or Flurry? Who Will Go First from Rangers?

Mark Teixeira. Eric Gagne. Akinora Otsuka. Kenny Lofton. Jamey Wright. Brad Wilkerson. Sammy Sosa. Joaquin Benoit. Jon Daniels. Tom Hicks.

Speculation has been made about each of the above going elsewhere be the July 31 trade deadline (OK, the last two are wishful speculation on my part – but I know you’re with me there).  But with only 11 days to go, much is left to be done. Will Hicks and Daniels flop again this trade season, or with more players on the block than any other team in baseball, will we see a flurry of trades could define the Rangers’ future?

Jamey Wright’s performance on Saturday may make or break some teams’ interest in him after an impressive streak (2-0 with a 1.38 era in July).  With few arms on the market, he could actually command some decent value – maybe a decent outfield prospect to join Marlon Byrd in the Rangers’ 2008 lawn guard?

Offers for Tex should be solidifying as I write.  But can Little Jon DanielsHart get the arm(s) the Rangers MUST get in return for Teixeira?

With Otsuka on the DL, teams are asking about Benoit. The Rangers have to decide if Joaquin can be this good as a middle reliever for at least 2-4 years since the Rangers should still be rebuilding next season but ready to compete in 2009. Or has he FINALLY peaked and thus should be dealt now?

Gagne should be gone in a week or so. There’s no reason to keep for the rest of the season when he’ll be a free agent in the winter (one of MANY closers who’ll be available) and several contenders are hurting for a closer. Factor in the injury risks, and trading Gagne ASAP is the smart decision. But can JD get anything in return?

Lofton is an oft-overlooked commodity. He’s a seasoned veteran who, at 40, is still putting up numbers that any contender would love to have (.309/.391/.447 with 20 SBs). He’d be a rent-a-player, which will decrease his value, but he should still command a mid-tier prospect or two.

Wilkerson is a mystery to me. Why is this guy still in the Major Leagues, and why are there rumors that some teams might want to acquire his services? He’s making $4.35 MILLION DOLLARS this year.  Why? He’s a career .249 hitter (with a career best avg of .268 in ’03) who is on pace to achieve twice as many strikeouts as hits by next season. If someone will offer the Rangers a bag of peanuts for Wilkerson, I think JD has to pull the trigger.  $4.35 MILLION for that? There’s conclusive proof that sports economics have gone crazy.

And, with a big “in your face” to all the nay-sayers, Sammy Sosa has played well enough to attract interest from some contenders – especially as a lefty-killer. But his miserable July could mute interest.

So, who goes first? 

My money is on Lofton. He’s the surest bet for the least sacrifice the Rangers have to offer. Gagne and Tex should command MUCH more, but getting a deal done for Kenny is a cleaner matter.

Mark Teixeira Trade Rumors – Yankees (Red Sox, Braves, Angels, Dodgers) Getting Serious?

Local ESPN radio hosts mentioned that rumors are flying all over the place that as the Yankees may not be dead yet, Cashman is getting more serious about getting a firstbaseman. And as the Rangers and Yankees have been scouting each other for a while for reasons ranging from Bullpen help to possibly Sammy Sosa, they’ve gotten to know each other’s talent pretty well. And while the Yankees were on the sellers-buyers fence at the All-Star break, they’re pulling their typical post-break magic and are suddenly above .500, in 2nd place and only 8 behind Boston. They’ll be buying this month!

In the meantime, rumors have also started circling that the Red Sox may grab Teixeira.  That sounds far fetched to me.  As do rumors about a possible trade with the Ranger-killing Angels.

But, there are substantiated rumors that the Dodgers are interested.  And suddenly the Braves have been mentioned to be in the mix.

Hmmmm.  Has Little Jon DanielsHart finally gotten smart?  The richest teams in baseball are suddenly rumored to be interested in Tex?  That’s every GMs goal when they’re shopping a player, with a Yankees-Red Sox bidding war being a GM’s dream!

Or is more likely that Tex has told Scott Boras what he wants, and they’re not sitting around waiting for Hicks and Daniels to screw things up by their incompetence when it comes to generating buzz and “selling” a player?

Either way, these kinds are rumors are great news for the Rangers, as Tex talk had gotten too quiet for a while. 

Certainly, coming back from the DL red hot in his first 4 games helped. But going hitless since won’t help. If Teixeira really does want to go play for a winner now, he needs to stay consistent. But the multi-million question remains – can DanielsHart finally orchestrate a trade that helps his club more than the team he trades with.  Or will Cashman or John Schuerholz or Theo Epstein give Hicks and DanielsHart another schooling like Cashman, Doug Melvin, Kevin Towers and Jim Bowden already have in recent years?

A Response to T.R. Report on Rangers Officials Situation Report Regarding Gagne and Otsuka Trade Possibilities

According to T.R. Sullivan’s blog post today:

“Rangers officials are saying there appears to be more interest in Akinori Otsuka and a greater need for setup relief than there is for Eric Gagne or a closer.”

If Jon Daniels can’t close a valuable deal for Gagne (that for a change benefits the Rangers more than the team he trades with), then he’s more in over his head than anyone thought!  First, how stupid is it to announce that there’s no interest in Gagne?  If you’re really shopping him, you don’t announce that there’s no demand. 

What’s more likely is that the above statement is bogus positioning for rationalizing why the Rangers may make a bad decision and resign Gagne, which has been discusseda lot  lately – especially since Gagne really seems to like it here.  But Daniels should be able to get some return value for trading Gagne, and when a team needs a lot of new pieces to become competitive, you trade a free agent who has value and get some of those pieces.  Then, if you want, turn around and bring Gagne back in the winter.

If I were GM, I’d go to Gagne right now and say:

“We’d like to resign you. But, don’t you want this team to be better if you stay?

So here’s the plan.

We’re getting good offers to trade you. Offers that will send guys here who can help this team be more competitive next season and beyond. So we have to do that.

But, we like guys with your attitude and ability. You fit with the team on and off the field. So we very much want to resign you in the offseason.

In the meantime, you get to go play for a contender for a few months – maybe make a run in the postseason. We get better. And if all works out, by the time you’re a Ranger again next Spring, we’re all better and happier.

And the team you leave in free agency gets two compensory draft picks in addition to whatever help you provide them down the stretch. So it’s a win-win-win for all three parties.

There’s no guarantees, but don’t you agree this would be an ideal way for things to go over the next 5 months?”

Robbers Evidence: Texas Rangers’ Midseason Report – The Best Season Since 1999!

With 81 games played and 81 to go, 2007 has been the best season for the Rangers since 1999.

“What?” you might ask.

Since 1999, the first full season of Tom Hicks’ ownership, the Rangers organization has been out of touch with reality. Every year under Hicks’ ownership and John Hart or Jon Daniels’ general management, the front office has acted as though the team was only one or two players away from returning the organization’s pinnacle era of late 90’s success under Doug Melvin and Johnny Oates. In the process they’ve robbed Rangers fans of having anything worth getting too excited about.

Despite four straight last place finishes followed by three consecutive 3rd place seasons in the least competitive division in baseball over the same time period, the Rangers kept bleeding talent out of the organization through short-sighted trades intended to help the club “win now” (or at least “sell tickets now”). But most rational people could see that the Rangers have been far from one or two players away from contending for, much less winning, a championship for the past seven season (and in reality, they’ve probably never been that close because of the consistent lack of pitching necessary to win in the playoffs – even when they did make the post-season). Continued through last season’s Carlos Lee trade, the delusional management approach – also fueled by Hick’s top priority of making money which has translated into trades to keep fans hopeful and buying tickets later into the season – has turned the Rangers into a joke.

By opening the season getting swept by the Angels and not seeing .500 since April 14th, reality has slapped all of Rangerdom in the face. Despite recent comments (which better just be posturing for trade negotiations) that he likes the way the Rangers are playing right now (which is certainly better but far from the performance of a contender), Tom Hicks and Jon Daniels will have to be “sellers” during this month’s pre-trade-deadline frenzy.

That alone will be a dramatic departure from the team’s approach. I can’t remember the last time the Rangers were heading into July ready to be sellers. Plus, they actually have some assets left that could fetch pieces of the puzzle for building a championship-caliber team.

Mark Teixeira should be traded and should return a ready-to-break-out major-league starting pitcher plus a prospect or two. Gagne, and maybe also Otsuka, are in high demand from talent-laden teams chasing a championship this season. Lofton and maybe Sosa should also return players who can contribute to the Rangers’ rebuilding efforts.

Without a horrible start to the season, Hicks and Daniels would undoubtedly have continued their delusional approach. Instead, maybe they’ll finally get their priorities straight – pitching first, hitting second=winning=excited fans=profits=more winning – and possibly Rangers’ fans best chance to finally have a championship-caliber team for the first time.

Then again, we are talking about Hicks and Daniels, so the odds are they will still find a way to get it wrong.

But in the meantime, here’s to the best Rangers’ season yet this millennium! 

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.