Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Front office shakeup in Texas

Today we learned that the job of President of Baseball Operations with the Rangers has been taken away from Nolan Ryan and given to the team’s GM, John Daniels.

This is the problem plaguing our game. I have all the respect in the world for these young front office people that come out of Harvard or Yale — or in Daniels’ case, Cornell. I respect them when they know what they are good at: business, finance, or organizational skills — those sorts of things.

Where I tend to lose respect for them is when they decide they know how to evaluate baseball talent better than people like Nolan Ryan! When they so that, they do their players a disservice, as well as their fan base and the entire organization.

I can’t speculate what the problem is down in Arlington between Nolan and Daniels, but I can say this: I was a Ranger back when going to a game was something a fan did when there was nothing else to do that night in town. Over the last four years, they have done something I never thought would be possible, and that was take away fans from the Dallas Cowboys.

I don’t know Daniels, but the way that Michael Young was treated there was just wrong. Young changed positions four times for the good of the team. He became an All-Star at three different positions, then demanded a trade after the signing of Adrian Beltre.

I spoke to Michael about this, and that conversation will remain between us. One thing I can say for sure is that as soon as a GM starts to think he can evaluate talent better than someone like Ryan without anywhere near the baseball background, he is giving himself too much credit. The problem I see in Texas is that they have power arms in their rotation, and all of them are trying to become sinker ball pitchers.

It is harder to command a sinker than it is a four-seam fastball. So if you can’t command it, it becomes a 91-MPH hit-me pitch. Trust me. You can make way more mistakes and get away with them if the pitch is 98 than if the pitch is 91. I think that has to change. I think they need to let these guys who can throw 95 to 98 go out and do it, and use a sinker only in spots where it is needed.

I will point to an organization that has a very smart GM: Tampa. Andrew Friedman is very smart. I believe he is smarter than any other GM out there right now, because I believe he surrounds himself with very good baseball people and trusts each of them to do their job, from scouts to Minor League pitching instructors. I don’t know about y’all that are reading this, but I don’t for a second think Friedman is making any decisions involving talent without consulting his baseball people.

In my opinion, you are only ignorant if you try and tell someone how to do their job if you aren’t qualified to do that job. I don’t think I’m going to get to many people calling me to do their taxes or represent them in court. Just as I am not going to argue with someone who does a job that I have no clue about.

If the Rangers lose Ryan, they will be headed back to where they were before he got there.

Rangers have some work to do

Colby Lewis

As we sit here during the holidays, there are some teams that are in desperate need of still trying to fill some big gaps that have been created by free agency. Of this group of teams, I believe the Rangers are the one that has the most to replace.

In 2012, the Rangers had, in my opinion, the most dangerous lineup top to bottom in either league. They also had some very strong arms in their rotation. But as we sit here today, let’s look at what they have lost.

First and foremost, Josh Hamilton. How are they going to replace 43 home runs and 128 RBI? Then they lost Mike Napoli, Micheal Young, Mike Adams, and Ryan Dempster. Even with those five guys they were run down from behind by the A’s and knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game by the Orioles. This has to have people in Arlington wondering if Ranger baseball is going to return to what it had been prior to  the past five successful years.

There have been many rumors flying around about Texas trading Elvis Andrus to Arizona for Justin Upton. I’m sorry, but that for me is a no brainer! Andrus will be a free agent in two years and his agent is Scott Boras, which means he will not sign an extension with the Rangers. He will be a free agent. As Scott Boras is the only agent that has clients who forget he works for them and not the other way around, Upton would help replace the power numbers that Hamilton provided. The Rangers could bring super prospect Jurickson Profar to the big leagues and make him the everyday shortstop.

That still leaves them with some power issues in their lineup that need to be addressed. I think they need to make a move for a center fielder. Maybe Michael Bourn, who is also represented by Boras. But they could hit him leadoff and move Ian Kinsler to the three hole.

The other problem I see in Texas is the pitching coach. I like Mike Maddux very much. But he has to realize that not every pitcher can be a sinkerball pitcher. His brother, Greg, was probably the best ever. But when they have the ability to throw 97 mph, you can’t ask these pitchers to be sinkerballers. First of all, the two-seam fastball is harder to command than a four-seamer. Also, it is meant for the ball to be put in play, and balls put in play can find holes. There is a time and place to try and get a ground ball. But you can’t take a kid with the ability to throw 97 and ask him to throw 91-92 with less command.

They have an owner in Nolan Ryan who had a “big gun” and he shot it. If you have a pitcher with the ability to blow guys away and have better command, you have to let him be who he is. For the pitchers who command a two-seam fastball, it is a great way to attack a lineup. But for the guys who can’t command it, it is a way to practice backing up third base a lot.

I played 11 years in the big leagues and never threw a single two-seam fastball. I had a hard enough time commanding a four-seam fastball. I know pitch counts are all the rage, but I was always of the belief that if, at the end of the at-bat, the hitter was out. I had done my job. No matter how many pitches it took!

So of all the teams that still have work left to do this winter, I believe the Rangers have the most.

Rangers should re-sign Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is in his walk year with the Texas Rangers. The big question is should the Rangers resign him?

I answer that question with a resounding “Hell yes, they should resign him.”

Let’s look at his numbers so far this season, and if he stays on the pace he is on, what his numbers could potentially be. We are just shy of one-fifth of the way through 2012. Hamilton is hitting .395 with 15 homers, 38 RBI, 45 hits, and has has scored 26 runs. Of his 45 hits, 19 are for extra bases, and only four of thouse are doubles.

Hamilton is on pace to get around 570 at-bats this year. If he stays in the groove he is in, these are the numbers that we could be looking at at the end of the year: 225 hits, 130 runs, 190 RBI and 70 home runs. Now, is it realistic to believe he will stay this hot? No, its not. But he has been in the league for more than six years, and pitchers haven’t found a way to get him out consistantly.

The question that keeps popping up is, “Should he get Pujols and Fielder money?” I say,”Absolutely.” Hamilton has a knock on him for being often injured. There is a reason for that . He is 6-4, 240 pounds, and he plays the game like he is 5-10 and 180 pounds — meaning that he slides head first into bases and sells out on every play in the outfield to make the catch.

There are things in his game he needs to change. I have told him this to his face. The biggest thing being sliding head first into bases. He is too big to be the guy taking the pounding on a slide. The game has middle infielders whowill drop a knee down to take the bag away, that can lead to broken fingers, hands and wrists. Also the play that he broke his shoulder on last year was a play at the plate where he slid head first. When you are as big as he is, you should be the one issuing the pain. Especialy sliding into home. If he slides feet first, there are not a lot of fielders who are going to drop a knee on him at that size. I don’t know if you have noticed on TV, but Hamilton has clown feet. He wears a size 14 or 15 shoe! So I think he can change some things that are instinctual to him right now that will help keep him healthy and on the field.

The other part of this is his history. That shouldn’t be a concern to the Rangers. That can all be addressed in the verbage of the contract. Having spoken to Josh many times and having close friends who have dealt with the same kinds of demons he has dealt with, I believe that Josh and his spiritual beliefs will keep him on the path he needs to stay on.

Lastly, before Josh Hamilton was a Ranger, there were no World Series and Texas was basically a football-only state. That is not the case anymore. What he means to this team from a marketing standpoint is huge. He made a huge name for himself with his story, and made the Rangers a team that is a very close team in the clubhouse, and a team that is getting more recognition than the Dallas Cowboys nationally. It all adds up to this: sign Josh Hamilton before someone else comes along and takes him. Because that line will be long and distinguished!

Rangers looking set to repeat

Through the first 16 games, it looks like the the American League could end up the same way that it did the last two years: with the Texas Rangers representing the league in the World Series.

Granted, it is way too early to say they are a lock. But at 13-3, they already hold a seven-game lead on the Angels — the team that was supposed to take the West from the Rangers this year.

The Angels went out and signed the best hitter in the game — Albert Pujols. They also signed C.J. Wilson away from the Rangers. The biggest move the Rangers made was to sign Yu Darvish. They also signed Joe Nathan as their closer and moved Neftali Feliz into the rotation. All of them have performed well. Nathan —  two years removed from his Tommy John surgery — has had some tightrope saves, but is regaining the form that made him one of the top five closers in the game before his injury. Feliz has been outstanding in the rotation. Darvish is starting to settle in. The rest of the rotation has been very good. Colby Lewis is throwing really well, as are Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

But let’s get to the heart of this team. The lineup is deadly. Josh Hamilton is hitting over .400. So is Michael Young. There is not a place in this lineup for the opposing pitcher to take a breath. Hamilton has seven home runs and 17 RBI in 16 games. When your seven hole hitter (Mike Napoli) had 30 home runs last year, you have a stout line up. Their leadoff hitter (Ian Kinsler) had 32 home runs last year. When you have that kind of offense, it takes so much pressure off of the starting rotation. They know they don’t have to be perfect. They just have to keep the team in the game.

The team I picked to win the World Series this year was Detroit. They have started well, but the injury to Doug Fister has hurt them. They will still win the Central, but for them to reach the Series they will have to get Fister back healthy.

Right now there is not another team in either league that is even close to as balanced as the Rangers are. If the Angels expect to give them a run, they’d better start soon. Or the Rangers will put so much distance between them that they won’t be able to make it up.


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