Category Archives: Sports

Next Year’s Rotation Predictions?

With the free agent pitching market not looking too great this winter and the Rangers stacked with young arms that are predicted to break through, what will the Rangers rotation look like out of the gate next April?

Unless Laird is packaged with someone (Padilla? Loe? Rheinecker? Tejeda?) in a trade for a significant upgrade in pitching, I believe the Rangers will (and should) let their current arms play and sort themselves out for 2009 and beyond.

Millwood, McCarthy and Gabbard are the only sure bets I see for the rotation. I guess Padilla falls in there too considering his contract and the hope that this season’s performance can be chalked up to injury and a just an off year.

I still think Loe is the new Benoit. And I think he’ll have a great career in the bullpen. That would leave Volquez, Rheinecker, Tejeda and maybe Hurley (seems like I’m forgetting someone) vying for the 5th spot in the rotation.

How do you think it plays out? 

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Mid-Season Adjusted Ex-Men Rangers Roster

(View this post at the new Rangers or Robbers site

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (which was a follow up to a series of posts in April), here’s a look at my team of recently-departed, still-active ex-Rangers, after some mid-season adjustments to the bullpen, and picking up recently made available additions to the impressive list of talented ex-Rangers (Teixeira, Lofton, Mahay & Gagne).

Lineup (with stats to date for this season: OBP/SLG/AVG):

1.  Kenny Lofton                   OF          L    (.369/.416/.296, 7hr, 25rbi, 67r, 21sb)
2.  Alfonso Soriano               LF           R    (.336/.511/.297; 18hr; 42rbi; 74r; 18sb)
3.  Carlos Lee                        RF          R    (.356/.536/.302; 24hr; 95rbi; 68r)
4.  Alex Rodriguez               SS/3B     R    (.407/.633/.300; 39hr; 114rbi; 107r; 14sb)
5.  Mark Teixeira                1B            S    (.388/.535/.291, 17hr, 61rbi, 56r)
6.  Adrian Gonzalez             DH/1B    L    (.339/.477/.265; 19hr; 68rbi; 64r)
7.  Mark DeRosa                  2B/U      R    (.363/.418/.288; 7hr; 54rbi; 40r) 
8.  Ivan Rodriguez               C             R    (.289/.426/.279; 9hr; 50rbi; 39r)
9.  Esteban German           3B/INF   R    (.372/.399/.284;   3hr;   29rbi;   36r; 8sb)
Bench
Rod Barajas                    C            R    (.343/.376/.214; 4hr; 9rbi; 15r)
Mike Lamb                     INF       L    (.375/.478/.296; 11hr; 34rbi; 40r)
Travis Hafner                DH/1B   L    (.380/.438/.254; 18hr; 70rbi; 58r)
Gary Matthews, Jr.       OF         S    (.338/.448/.275; 14hr; 65rbi; 67r, 12sb)

Starting Rotation
Chris Young                 R          (9-4; 2.02era; 119k; 44bb; 124.2ip)
Kenny Rodgers            L          (3-2; 5.23era; 17k; 12bb; 32.2ip)
Doug Davis                  L          (9-10; 3.81era; 101k; 76bb; 146.1ip)
John Danks                 L         (6-10; 5.22era; 22GS; 122.1ip; 96k; 46bb)
Adam Eaton                 R          (9-8; 6.36era; 82k; 57bb; 133ip)

Bullpen

CL:  Francisco Cordero            R          (36sv; 0-4; 3.14era; 66k; 17bb; 48.2ip)
SU:  Eric Gagne                         R          (16sv, 2-0, 3.62era, 39G, 37.1ip. 14bb, 34k)
Ron Mahay                                L          (3-0, 2.53era, 34G, 46.1ip)
Doug Brocail                              R          (4-1, 3.88era, 44G, 53.1ip)
Brian Shouse                             L          (1-1; 2.60era; 52G; 34.2ip)          
Ryan Bukvich                           R          (1-0, 2.96era, 31G, 27.1ip)
Aaron Fultz                               L          (3-2, 3.28era, 36G, 24.2ip)

Question: Could any other team put together a better 25-man roster consisting of players that have left their organization but are still playing?

The Marlins leap to mind as they’d have a great rotation of former Marlins, but just off the top of my head, I think there offense would be very weak.

Ex-Men Texas Rangers Roster

(READ THIS POST AT THE NEW HOME OF RANGERS OR ROBBERS: http://rangersorrobbers.blogspot.com)  

 

Probably the most fun I’ve had in drafting a blog post was in April when I looked at the team that could be formed using just recently departed, still active former Texas Rangers.

The point of that series of posts was to show clearly how bad the Rangers have bled talent out of their organization. To me, doing so is a clear indicator of Hicks’ terrible ownership and lack of commitment to winning.

It’s really almost magical the way Hicks and his front offices have run the Texas Rangers into the ground over the years.

Consider this magical disappearing act: Hicks managed to turn ARod into Soriano and then turn Soriano into Wilkerson (while still paying $7 million a year to the richest team in sports for ARod’s contract). That takes some real talent to in effect turn probably the most productive hitter into one of the worst!

Anyway, I thought I’d look back at the team of former Rangers I composed back in April and see how they’re doing (keep in mind that you have to grant me some dramatic license here as the salary of this team would be very unrealistic, but that’s not the point).

Lineup (with stats to date for this season: OBP/SLG/AVG):

1.  Esteban German          3B/INF   R    (.372/.399/.284;   3hr;   29rbi;   36r; 8sb)
2.  Gary Matthews, Jr.     CF          S   (.338/.448/.275; 14hr; 65rbi; 67r, 12sb)
3.  Alfonso Soriano          LF           R    (.336/.511/.297; 18hr; 42rbi; 74r; 18sb)
4.  Alex Rodriguez           SS/3B     R    (.407/.633/.300; 39hr; 114rbi; 107r; 14sb)
5.  Travis Hafner              DH/1B    L    (.380/.438/.254; 18hr; 70rbi; 58r)
6.  Carlos Lee                  RF          R    (.356/.536/.302; 24hr; 95rbi; 68r)
7.  Adrian Gonzalez          1B/DH    L    (.339/.477/.265; 19hr; 68rbi; 64r)
8.  Ivan Rodriguez            C            R    (.289/.426/.279; 9hr; 50rbi; 39r)
9.  Mark DeRosa             2B/U       R    (.363/.418/.288; 7hr; 54rbi; 40r) 

Bench
Rod Barajas                    C            R    (.343/.376/.214; 4hr; 9rbi; 15r)
Mike Lamb                     INF         L    (.375/.478/.296; 11hr; 34rbi; 40r)
David Dellucci                 OF          L    (.301/.389/.234; 4hr; 20rbi; 25r)

Starting Rotation
Kenny Rodgers            L          (3-2; 5.23era; 17k; 12bb; 32.2ip)
Chris Young                 R          (9-4; 2.02era; 119k; 44bb; 124.2ip)
Estaban Loaiza             R          Injured all season
Doug Davis                  L          (9-10; 3.81era; 101k; 76bb; 146.1ip)
Adam Eaton                 R          (9-8; 6.36era; 82k; 57bb; 133ip)

Bullpen

CL:  Francisco Cordero            R          (36sv; 0-4; 3.14era; 66k; 17bb; 48.2ip)
SU Bryan Corey                       R          Did not make an MLB roster
LR Chan Ho Park                    R          (0-1; 15.75era; 1GS)
MR Fabio Castro                     L          (12.27era; 5G; 3.2ip)
MR Darren Oliver                    L          (4.39era; 43G; 41ip; 31k; 15bb)
MR Brian Shouse                     L          (1-1; 2.60era; 52G; 34.2ip; 20k; 11bb)           
MR Aaron Sele                        R          (3-1; 4.12era; 25G; 43.2ip; 26k; 18bb)
MR Dan Kolb                          R          (9.00era; 3G; 3ip)
 

As with any team, I would have needed to make some early season adjustments.

Loaiza’s injury would have forced me to call on Danks (LHP; 6-10; 5.22era; 22GS; 122.1ip; 96k; 46bb) to fill his spot. Doug Davis’ surprising performance would be a plus. And with the offense and defense on this team, it’s safe to assume that each pitcher (maybe even Danks) would have several more wins based on their era’s. For the post-season, Young, Rogers and Davis would likely be more than enough to get the team through. 

The bullpen would have needed some major retooling, but there aren’t as many former Rangers out there to choose from for the bullpen as you might think. Nick Masset is one guy who probably would have been added to the ‘pen. Still, with Cordero closing, and Oliver, Shouse and Sele contributing, there’s a solid core to build around. 

The lineup would have been shuffled. Lamb and German would be platooning at 3B. Hafner, Lee and Gonzalez might have been shuffled around the order, and Dellucci would likely have been demoted and replaced.   

But still, wouldn’t this be some team!  

Now imagine adding in Teixeira, Gagne, Lofton and Mahay at the trade deadline!  

How many games do you think this team wins for the season? 

Should the Rangers Sign a Free Agent Pitcher This Winter, or Not?

(View this post at the soon-to-be new home for the Rangers or Robbers blog.)

Similar to early-season views on Torri Hunter, I and many others expected the Rangers sign a Free Agent starting pitcher this next Winter to add to the rotation for 2008. But with the upsides of failing fast now in full effect at the Ballpark, I’m not sure they should.

The earliest the Rangers window for being a true contender will open is 2009. So why not let all the young arms in the Rangers organization get every chance they can with as many innings as possible in the “Bigs” to become winning pitchers for ’09 and beyond?

Millwood and Padilla are the only pitchers (and 2 of only 5 Rangers total) under contract past this season. And, with one of the league’s 5 lowest team salaries after dumping Teixeira, Gagne, Lofton and Mahay’s salaries ($22.2 million annualized), the Rangers certainly have all the flexibility and tons of money available to rebuild their rotation and fill holes in their lineup and bench.

But the Rangers also have a large collection of highly touted prospect young arms. While I’m not at all confident in the Rangers’ ability to turn prospects into winning major league starters, the law of averages has to kick in sometime. Doesn’t it? I mean, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.

So would it be better for the Rangers to let the remaining 3 spots in their rotation be filled by those prospects, instead of filling one with a free agent signing?  (Of course, Millwood and Padilla’s seasons make them less than surefire long-term locks for any rotation and they could be traded away, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

I include McCarthy and Gabbard on the Rangers’ prospects list, as they still haven’t completed a successful transition to the majors and are not bona fide winning starters. Then there’s Tejeda, Loe and Wood who’ve had plenty of chances to get some traction already (not to mention Rheinecker and Koronka – who’re about out of chances). Are they worth more time in the rotation to see what could happen? Or are they meant for the bullpen? And then there’s Volquez, Hurley, Rupe, Harrison, Galarraga and Mendoza coming up from the minors.

That’s at least 13 pitchers who are touted to have various levels of major league potential. At least two or three of them should become major league winners, right? Again, the law of averages has to work in the Rangers’ favor at some point, doesn’t it.

Plus, the list of pitchers who’ll be free agents this winter doesn’t look too exciting and looks pretty old (ages for next season in parentheses: source MLB Trade Rumors):

Carlos Zambrano (27)
Curt Schilling (41)
Jason Jennings (29)
Koji Uehara (33)
Freddy Garcia (32)
Kenny Rogers (43)
Jon Lieber (38)
Bartolo Colon (35)
Joe Kennedy (29)
Tomo Ohka (32)
John Thomson (34)
Kip Wells (31)
Wade Miller (31)
Livan Hernandez (33)*
Randy Wolf (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Paul Byrd (37) – $8MM club option for ’08
Jeff Weaver (31)
Tom Glavine (42) – $9MM player option for ’08
Kris Benson (33) – $7.5MM club option for ’08
Jaret Wright (32)
David Wells (45)
Eric Milton (32)
Kyle Lohse (29)
Matt Clement (33)
Rodrigo Lopez (32)
Josh Fogg (31)
Byung-Hyun Kim (29)
Odalis Perez (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Brett Tomko (35) – $4.5MM mutual option for ’08

If the Rangers can sign Carlos Zambrano, they should. He’s a true ace who could at 27 could anchor the Rangers’ rotation for years. But like so many aces before him, why would he come to the Ballpark and the Rangers? It would take crazy money for him to pass on the numerous great offers he’ll get from teams who will be contending for years to come.

So, short of a miracle signing of Zambrano, I think the Rangers best move may be to stick with the arms they have and see how these prospects play out. Then they’ll have the trade deadlines next season and the winter of ’08-’09 – when they’ll have a more clear picture of what they have in the guys they have – to shore up any holes in the rotation.

The problem there is that they’ll likely still have several large holes. But we’ve got time to wait and see.

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.

Why Plug Botts Straight into the Clean-up Spot? And Go Cruz!

Botts may have been cleaning up in Oklahoma, but why in the world would Washington put him in the 4 spot in his 2007 debut in the majors? Your first game up is pressure enough. Throwing him into the cleanup role straight away is ridiculous.  And it’s showing as so far tonight, he’s clearly pressing and is 0-4 with 2 stikeouts and 7 LOB against Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz is hitting well again tonight. It’s nice to see that, and I have a feeling he may just be around to stay this time.

Gagne to Red Sox for Kason Gabbard! Finally A Winning Trade from Jon Daniels!

Well, the tradeline passed a few hours ago, and word has it that Gagne has been dealt to the Boston Red Sox for Kason Gabbard and two other prospects.

JD gets an ‘A’ for this one! This is a great trade for the Rangers.

FINALLY, the Rangers get a pitcher who’s already well into the process of adjusting to the major-leagues! A 25-year-old lefty, Gabbard started 4 games last season (going 1-3 with a 3.51 era, 5.35 Ks/9 and a 1.55 whip) and 7 games this year (going 4-0 with a 3.73 era, 6.37 Ks/9 and a 1.12 whip). He could immediately become the Rangers #2 starter if he can keep those numbers from ballooning more than 20% in the Ballpark. He’s 3-0 in 5 July starts with a complete-game 3-hit, 1-walk shutout of KC (and in July, an era of 3.03, a remarkable 0.83 whip, and an improving ground-out ratio).

The two minor leaguers are reportedly 27-yo CF David Murphy and 18-yo “5-tool” outfielder Engel Beltre. Left-handed hitting Murphy has 24 MLB ABs between last year and this (.250 avg and .857 ops in those ABs) and is hitting .280 with a .769 ops in 400 ABs at AAA Pawtucket. He’ll certainly see time with the Rangers this season, and with a move to the Ballpark and into Rudy Jaramillo’s tuteledge, I like the odds of him making the Rangers outfield and becomming a productive hitter next season and beyond.  Beltre is several years away, but is reportedly one heck of a prospect. 

The trade solidifies the Red Sox’s bullpen and their status as the favorites to win the AL pennant (sorry Tigers fans – ya’ll should have done more). Red Sox games just became 7-inning affairs with Gagne and Pappelbon waiting to wrap things up.

Apparently, Gagne waived his veto power over a trade to Boston (which is a smart move on his part as he’ll almost certainly get a chance to play deep into the post-season and increase his value as a free agent in the winter). When the Rangers might just try to sign him back (or will likely pickup any of 7 high-octane closers likely to be on the free agent market).

So, you Rangers fans upset about us trading Gagne – you need to study up on the modern economics and workings of MLB. Gagne, no matter how much he said (and I happen to believe him) he liked Texas and wanted to stay here, is a Scott Boras client who will be a free agent this winter. Keeping him risked watching him walk with nothing but a couple of draft picks as compensation. Instead, we got a lefty SP, an all-but-ready-now lefty CF and a great 18-yo prospect. AND, we have as much (maybe a little bit better) chance as any other team to sign Gagne this winter or acquire another closer while C.J. Wilson moves into the set-up role.

As the dust settles on this and all the Rangers trades, look for a “Texas Rangers Trade Deadline Review” post tomorrow.

Then, it’s time to start enjoying a new era of Rangers baseball and get back to seeing what we can do to get Hicks out of the owners office.