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Cliff Lee to Philly again

Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want him to stay. I did. Rather a lot. But I’m most excited about the fact that he’s not going to the Yankees. Even though I’m a known Phillies fan, and I’d be lying again if I said I wasn’t excited about Halladay / Lee / Oswalt / Hamels, I’m truly most excited that the Yankees did not get them.
Thanks to Cliff Lee. Had fun when you were here, rode you to the World Series, which was way cool (even though we lost). Hopefully we see you there in 2011.
Nice that he didn’t just go all Rod Tidwell on baseball when choosing his contract. Also nice that he called Jon Daniels personally to say he was going to Philly.
Finally, I hope this guy didn’t rip holes in his shirt converting it back to a Cliff Lee shirt. :)

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Since we last met… (Part 2)

I posted an update on various Rangers news on November 15th. It’s now the evening of December 7th, and a few more things have happened, so here go a few more thoughts..
Some Smaller Moves: Right after my last update, there were some roster moves. Nothing that I would call Earth shattering, but they were moves. The Rangers signed Barret Loux, a pitcher who was the sixth overall selection in the 2010 draft by the Diamondbacks. He was available due to a roster technicality. The Rangers also added four players to the 40 man roster (Fabio Castillo, Wilmer Font, Miguel Del Los Santos, & Engel Beltre). Jamey Newberg could tell you more about those guys. :) The Rangers also signed C Kevin Cash, OF Doug Deeds, & IF Esteban German to minor league contracts. All got invites to spring training. Nice to see the inventer of the Claw & Antlers still with us.
Abritration Stuff: The only two players the Rangers offered salary arbitration to were Cliff Lee & Frank Francisco. Lee turned it down to nobody’s surprise. I also think it was no surprise to anyone that we offered it in the first place. Francisco did accept it, so he’ll be back in 2011. That’s probably a good thing. Provided he pitches like he did AFTER April of 2010.
Thad Bosley new Hitting Coach: Sadly, Clint Hurdle left after just one year (quite the counter to Jaramillo’s tenure). Although I’m not TOO sad about it, he left to be a major league manager again. Can’t really fault him for that. So we turn to Thad Bosley, who was the runner up to replace Jaramillo in the first place. I don’t know much about Bosley, so I don’t have a ton of insight into him. Wash knows him from their time in Oakland together where he was a hitting coach awhile ago. Bosley was a former Ranger player at the end of his career (89/90). He becomes the first Rangers player to later become a hitting coach. Something I hoped they would have done with Rusty Greer instead. Oh well.
Speaking of Rudy Jaramillo, since he took the job in Chicago I heard not one peep out of him. Given they changed managers, I wonder how long he’ll be up there. I know Houston is looking again. :)
Josh Hamilton named AL MVP: Well, duh.
Vlad Guerrero named 2010 Outstanding DH: Well duh. Just not as big of a duh.
Yorvit Torrealba signed to be #1 catcher: On Nov 29th, we signed Yorvit Torrealba to be our primary catcher for 2011/12. I can’t say I’m overly thrilled about this signing. It’s not like the guy is bad. He’s passable, which is kind of what Matt Treanor was this past year. But sadly, there isn’t a lot of quality top line catching available out there. I’m a little surprised that we didn’t bring back Molina, who said he wanted to play again. I guess in lieu of having a Joe Mauer being available, I guess this is the best we can do. From what I’ve been reading, he’s expected to catch about 100 games a year, which means the #2 will be way more than the usual backup catcher, as he too will be expected to catch about 60 or so games. Seems like Matt Treanor is a good candidate there, with Teagarden in AAA as a reserve. We also got Mark Lowe signed to a 2011 contract at the same time.
Rangers 2010 Season DVD announced: The Rangers announced a DVD commemorating the World Series season, called “It’s Time”. While I’m a bit bummed it is not a Blu-Ray, and merely a plain DVD, I will probably get this, because it’s Ranger themed. As opposed to the official Major League Baseball annual World Series DVD, which is generally more themed towards the winner of the series. Despite that one being a Blu-Ray, I’ll opt for the plain DVD, due to the more Rangers specific version of the content. :)
Rangers sign Japanese pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama: The Rangers take a dip into the pool of Japanese pitchers again, signing Yoshinori Tateyama. Don’t know anything about this guy, although I read somewhere that the same scouts who recommended we bring over Colby Lewis again said we should get Tateyama. So that’s something. This will be the fourth Japanese player to appear with the Rangers, all four have been pitchers. He will follow Hideki Irabu (meh), Akinori Otsuka (not too bad), and Kazuo Fukumori (awful). I wonder if Rangers Captain will bow to him like he had a habit of doing before to the other Japanese pitchers. :)
2011 Spring Training Schedule Announced: This wouldn’t be a big deal, except the last game of spring training is in Round Rock. The Rangers will play their new AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express. Hopefully that’s one of the televised spring games.
Non Tender Stuff: Of all the players eligible to be non tendered, only one of them was. Dustin Nippert, who is now a free agent. Have read since then that he might go to Japan. Anyway, all the other players had contracts tendered (Cruz, Hamilton, Murphy, O’Day, & Wilson). No surprises there, really.
Jon Daniels named ML Executive of the Year: Well, Duh – Part 3.
Huge Scoreboard Announcements made: That’s something I care a lot about, and want to write a separate story about the scoreboards. So I’ll not say anything here about it right now.
Radio Station Changes: Big changes to the Rangers radio coverage, just one year after there were already big changes. For the first time since 1995, no Rangers games will be on KRLD. That’s a big change. Last year, they were also on 105.3, which was the FM affiliate for KRLD. In 2011, they’re all going to be on 103.3 The Fan. This is a better arrangement than it was last year where it was on the FM stations on M-Thu, and AM on Fri-Sun. At least they’ll all be in the same place. Unless the Mavericks are playing, who have the upper hand in scheduling. At the moment, there’s only two conflict games, at which point it will be moved to some strange combo of 660 AM and three FM stations. Check the official press release for that. Anyway, a few remarks about this. First, I’m hopeful this will allow Eric Nadel to bring back “A Page from Baseball’s Past”. I missed that, and hopefully the new station will allow that to return. Second, I was talking to a friend about this, and he raised an intersting point. It’s entirely possible the Rangers wanted to do this for the same reason they moved out Josh Lewin. Now that they’re making a bigger deal about branding and wider attention, they probably wanted a scenario where you weren’t guessing where the game will be. Having 160 out of 162 on the same station is probably a good idea. Same thing with Lewin – they wanted a guy who would be there all the time, not disappear for Chargers games. The actual station frequency is not relevant to me, as I don’t have a problem receiving any of the stations mentioned. Plus FM is better sounding than AM anyway.
As a side note, there’s till no word on who the new TV play by play guy will be. At least I’m assuming it will be a guy. I’m just glad it’s not going to be Dave Barnett, who was said to be remaining on the radio side in the radio station news story.
That’s about it for now. I’ll have more to say probably once some actual moves have been made. As I sit here writing this, there’s some Winter Meeting Hot Stove stuff going on big time (Cliff Lee, Davis/Oday to Cubs, Michael Young to Rockies), but those things are so changing by the second, I don’t get into all the particulars. Check out mlb trade rumors for all that stuff. It’s worth it – great site.

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New Scoreboard News!

Last night I posted this on Chuck Greenberg’s Facebook page:

Chuck, it was said a few weeks ago that you guys would know by Thanksgiving whether the new scoreboard plan for 2011 was doable. Its now past that, any news?

A few hours later, Chuck wrote me back and said this:

Major announcement should be coming by the end of the week :-)

Yay! Looks like something big is happening this week!!

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Josh Hamilton named AL MVP

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MLB Network & Rangers tonight

I just saw this posted tonight, so if you see this right after I post it, you might still have time to catch these. If you didn’t see their Josh Hamilton special a few months back, it’s worth seeing. These times are EASTERN TIME.

Tune in at 6pm for Josh Hamilton: Resurrecting the Dream followed by Path to the Pennant AL: A look back at how the 2010 AL World Series bound Rangers advanced to the Fall Classic at 7pmET then, MLB Tonight: World Series Preview breaking down the World Series matchups, previewing the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers lineups, rotations and benches.

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Cliff Lee > Sandy Koufax?

I am so totally stealing this from USS Mariner. They had the post there under the title of “One way to Describe The Greatness of Cliff Lee“. This is all it said:
Sandy Koufax, career, postseason:
57 innings, 32 hits, 10 runs, 2 home runs, 11 walks, 61 strikeouts
Cliff Lee, career, postseason:
56 1/3 innings, 32 hits, 11 runs, 1 home run, 6 walks, 54 strikeouts

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Josh Lewin not returning, and some broadcaster rants

Saw this posted this afternoon..

The Rangers today announced that the club has signed Tom Grieve to a three-year contract extension as the club’s television analyst on Fox Sports Southwest and TXA21. The new agreement carries Grieve, who has been on the team’s telecasts since 1995, through the 2013 season.
It was also announced that television play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin will not return for 2011.
“After several discussions over the last few months, the Texas Rangers and Josh Lewin have agreed to end their relationship and move ahead in different directions,” club president Nolan Ryan said in a news release. “As a result, Josh will not be returning as the Rangers television announcer in 2011. We wish Josh the very best for the future.”
“I would like to thank the Rangers for nine wonderful years,” said Lewin. “I respect the team’s leadership and vision and wish them nothing but the best as well.”
Lewin has been on Rangers’ telecasts since 2002. The club will immediately begin its search for a play-by-play broadcaster to work with Grieve on the Fox Sports Southwest and TXA21 telecasts.

A few thoughts on this..
A couple of years ago when the last round of TV broadcast negotiations happened, there was a stink made about the Rangers not being happy with Lewin being gone so much for his other duties as the Saturday Fox baseball correspondent, as well as his NFL duties. At the time it was negotiated to him not doing Fox anymore (unless it was a Rangers game) and keeping the Chargers games. This time around, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was asked to give up the football stuff too and do 162 with the Rangers, and he declined. I never liked the split duties like that, I preferred the team broadcasters to stay, not shuffle around like that.
While I liked a lot of Josh’s personality, the constant forays into irrelevant stuff bothered me. Josh’s predecessor (Bill Jones) proved that to make Tom Grieve work well, you need a personality that brings stuff out of Tom. Bill didn’t do that. Josh did. However, Josh could go too far, so I’m hoping the innings full of shoutouts to people who send food to the booth will stop. That was getting a bit stupid at the end of the season, I don’t care about who brought you food. I really don’t. Stop that. I don’t lay all that blame at Josh, it’s Tom too, but I’m hoping the irrelevant talk dies down with someone new.
Also, a few years ago when Victor Rojas left, the scuttlebutt was that he wanted to go to the TV side, and they had just extended Lewin at that time, so Rojas left. He spent a year at MLB Network, and then went back in 2010 to do Angels TV stuff. If it were up to me, we’d buy out Rojas’ contract, and bring him back to be the Rangers TV guy! I miss Vic. A lot. Vic had a style of telling you what you thought, and that appealed to me – a lot.
And while I’m going off on the broadcast people, we need to get rid of Jim Knox. I have never liked this guy since Day 1, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Lewin’s call of “We go to Jim Knox” means “hit the fast forward on the TiVo – no matter what is happening on screen”. Promote Emily Jones or something. PLEASE! PLEASE! And take Ric Renner with you. That’s another guy who means an immediate fast forward when he shows up. GAH!
I’m also not a fan of Dave Barnett, either. I don’t actively dislike him, and I can’t give you a concrete reason why, but he never gelled with me. With both Vince Cotroneo & Victor Rojas before him, the radio guy working with Eric Nadel took a year or so to get used to. I liked Vince when we parted ways, I REALLY liked Victor when we parted ways. I still have not gotten used to Dave Barnett. I’m not actively campaigning for his dismissal, but I wouldn’t mind a change there. Just don’t promote Barnett to TV. Egad – that would be a bad move.
The bottom line is I want the Rangers to bring back Victor Rojas for play by play with the Rangers and get rid of Jim Knox. Beyond that I don’t have any concrete answers as to who else. I also like Scott Franzke, we shouldn’t have let him go either, but that was more KRLD’s fault than anything else.

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How Many in 2010?

Usually towards the end of the year, we always hear about how many players the Texas Rangers have used overall in any particular season. The Rangers are usually towards the high end of that list. Injuries, callups, usually make for a long list, and you tend to forget the guys who are here so quick that they don’t even have time for the proverbial “cup of coffee”.

I’ve done this for the last two seasons, and it’s worked out pretty well. I’ve also gotten some positive feedback on it, so I’m doing it again in 2010. For the record, if you’d like to see the final tallies for the last two years, you can still see them here: [ 2008 | 2009 ]

Anyway, this post will get bumped whenever there is a player who is making his first appearance for the Texas Rangers in 2010. I am going to count guys who get called up, but don’t play immediately (or sometimes don’t play at all), as they will be part of the 25 man roster officially. So here goes. The most recent additions will be on the top of the list. The original opening day 25 man roster is not in any particular order.

In 2010, the Rangers have nobody in the original opening day 25 that is making his major league debut. We had one in 2009 (Elvis Andrus) and one in 2008 (Kaz Fukumori). We do have, however five guys making their Ranger debuts in 2010: Blanco, Garko, Guerrero, Harden, & Ray.

Total players in 2010: 48
Total pitchers used in 2010: 21
Total position players used in 2010: 27
Total players making major league debut: 5

#48 – Mark Lowe (Sep 29)
#47 – Esteban German (Sep 6)
#46 – Clay Rapada (Sep 3)
#45 – Jeff Franceour (Aug 31)
#44 – Alex Cora (Aug 24)
#43 – Michael Kirkman (Aug 20 – Major League Debut)
#42 – Brandon Boggs (Aug 15)
#41 – Cristian Guzman (Jul 31)
#40 – Jorge Cantu (Jul 30)
#39 – Mitch Moreland (Jul 29 – Major League Debut)
#38 – Cliff Lee (Jul 10)
#37 – Bengie Molina (Jul 2 – acquired on 1st, not active till 2nd)
#36 – Omar Beltre (Jun 30 – Major League Debut)
#35 – Alexi Ogando (Jun 12 – Major League Debut)
#34 – Tommy Hunter (Jun 5)
#33 – Pedro Strop (May 15 – Sent back down May 16, did not appear, came back later)
#32 – Guillermo Moscoso (May 15)
#31 – Derek Holland (May 12)
#30 – Ian Kinsler (Apr 30)
#29 – Max Ramirez (Apr 27)
#28 – Craig Gentry (Apr 27)
#27 – Justin Smoak (Apr 23 – Major League Debut)
#26 – Matt Treanor (Apr 8)
#25 to #1: Scott Feldman, Neftali Feliz, Frankie Francisco, Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Doug Mathis, Dustin Nippert, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Chris Ray, C.J. Wilson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Chris Davis, Ryan Garko, Michael Young, Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, David Murphy.

Please note that 1 to 25 are in no particular order.

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Hicks is Gone. He’s really gone!

Wow. It just seems so surreal. Completely, and legally, Tom Hicks is out. The 30 major league owners voted this morning, and it was a 30-0 vote in favor of the GnR ownership group taking over.
The stories this morning talked about how Greenberg had to be excluded from the room and made to wait outside when the actual vote was going on, since he technically was not an owner. I had visions of him sitting in a hallway by himself like any number of teen angst movies you see where he’s twiddling his thumbs, although in this day and age, he’d be texting someone. Or checking in via Foursquare, or anything like that.
Anyways, the vote was unanimous, and by all accounts shortly afterward the GnR group released the funds, and bam. It was over. They are the new Rangers owners. From what I can gather, there’s still some issues that will come up after the season, like the lease, and the grounds around the ballpark. Plus the jet lease that Chase made some noise about at the last second last night. But that can probably be dealt with in due course.
Bring on the new scoreboards guys – I’ll be there tomorrow night. It’s why I bought tickets tomorrow night, figuring it would be the first game under the new regime. I have tickets in the last row of Section 342 – not the greatest, but it was the best I could get – and I bought them LAST friday. :)
Chuck Greenberg should throw out the first pitch. Let’s dance, people!

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The Nightmare is almost over

Ownership committee, executive council unanimously approve Texas Rangers sale

Commissioner Bud Selig concluded the first day of the quarterly owners meetings in Minneapolis by announcing that the Texas Rangers sale was approved unanimously by the ownership committee and the executive council.
A final vote of the 30 team owners will take place Thursday morning. The investment group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan must receive 75 percent of the votes for the sale to be approved. That appears to be a formality.
“I’m delighted that we got through the first two steps with unanimity,” Selig said. “Tomorrow we’ll have to meet and tell you how the final vote came, but I guess you can probably guess that.”
Greenberg and the two heavy hitters in Rangers Baseball Express, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, answered questions and presented the operational plan and philosophy to the ownership committee. Ryan did not attend the meetings.
Greenberg said that he welcomed the process, and it appeared to be well-received one week after his group was locked in an intense courthouse auction with Mark Cuban and Jim Crane to purchase the club.
“It beats the heck out of last Wednesday,” Greenberg said. “I said to Bob Simpson and Ray Davis, ‘What are we doing next Wednesday?’ ”
It appears as though they will be owning a major-league franchise.


This article originally appeared online here. Yeah, I know I just copied the whole thing, but really – what could I add to this? This article says it all.

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ESPN’s love for the Rangers

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Rangers get Cliff Lee

I’ll have more to say tonight, but..
The Rangers get Cliff Lee, and Mark Lowe (on DL for season) plus $2.55M in cash for..
1B Justin Smoak, P Blake Beavan, P Josh Lueke, & 2B/IF Matt Lawson. Other than Smoak, those guys are all AA players, definitely not major league ready. A friend of mine in Seattle said the press up there is going nuts about catcher catcher catcher. Surprised he’s not getting a catcher. Teagarden, Salty, or Ramirez.
USSMariner is happy about Smoak, though. As they should be.
But the best part about this – the ABSOLUTE BEST PART is that the Yankees did not get him. I honestly don’t care who we gave up. So long as it doesn’t help the Yankees, I’m all for the trade.

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Michael Young for Rangers Captain

I noticed this banner yesterday during the Rangers game. It was over in left field inbetween a couple of the retired number signs. Was a group of fans who apparently want Michael Young to have a small “C” on his uniform. As you recall, the team did that with Alex Rodriguez after the failed trade to Boston, but before he was traded to New York. I believe it was done as an appeasement to his ego, but he was traded not long after that, and the concept of “Team Captain” hasn’t come up again since.
I feel like I fall on the side that things they don’t really need a “designated” team captain. I think everyone sort of knows Young is anyway. But I thought I’d give these guys a push and plug ‘em. Head on over to their site at:
http://www.youngforrangerscaptain.com/

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My thoughts on the 25 man Opening Day Roster

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, the Rangers’ 25 man roster has been set. Still, I wanted to mark it and get ready for the new season. Here’s what we’re going to bat with for opening day tomorrow (or later today as the time is now 1:30AM Monday as I start writing this):
Starting Pitchers: Scott Feldman, Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, CJ Wilson
Relief Pitchers: Neftali Feliz, Frank Francisco, Doug Mathis, Dustin Nippert, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Chris Ray
Catchers: Jarrod Saltamacchia, Taylor Teagarden
Infielders: Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Chris Davis, Ryan Garko, & Michael Young
Outfielders: Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz, Vladamir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, & David Murphy
Notables here are Ian Kinsler being put on the DL as well as Tommy Hunter. I wanted to say a few words about each of these guys, my opinion of them so to speak..

  • Scott Feldman: Scott surprised the heck out of a lot of people last year. He won 17 games despite not being on the opening day roster. He had some struggles in his last 3-4 starts, and he did have a realistic shot at 20 wins, which was impressive. Got a nice contract extension this spring, let’s hope he lives up to it.
  • Neftali Feliz: Came out throwing smoke and looked very much like the guy we were told he’d be. The league adjusted, and he appeared (to me) to have some struggles adjusting to that. Hopefully he can get that worked out. I’m sure he’ll be fine in 2010, but I don’t think he’ll be 101 every pitch, and strike out 8 out of 10.
  • Frank Francisco: There’s a lot of talk we’re going to let him walk after 2010. I’m not so convinced of that. He’s definitely not an elite level closer (Rivera, Papelbon), but he’s definitely serviceable. I think the walk talk is that he’s making $3.6m this year, and that’s a lot for a “serviceable” closer.
  • Rich Harden: A big enigma. Brought in when we traded Millwood away. It’s a gamble, for sure, and he by far hasn’t looked that impressive this spring. But, like everyone else, I know he can be great if he’s “on”. Let’s just hope he’s on more often than he is not. Assuming he’s even on the hill in the first place.
  • Matt Harrison: I liked Matt a lot when he first showed up. Pitched well, and made you feel good about the fleecing of Atlanta. He’s come back to Earth a bit since then. Hopefully his spring ERA of 5.68 isn’t an indicator of where he’s going. Still positive about him, but not as strong as before.
  • Colby Lewis: I know when he was brought back, a lot of people were excited about it. I heard on Baseball Tonight & the MLB Channel that there was more than just the Rangers after him. I remember what he was like when he went out the door, so I wasn’t thrilled that he was coming back, despite all he did in Japan. Still, he’s done well enough this spring, and he has done well in the K department (16 in 18.2 IP).
  • Doug Mathis: Also doing well in the K department (10 in 10.1 IP this spring). He had a nice ERA. Mathis isn’t one of those guys who is a big time sexy name, but is durable, and seems to do well.
  • Dustin Nippert: Dustin’s spring allowed BA was .112. His WHIP was 0.42. He’s struck out 10 in 12 innings – over five games. His spring ERA was ZERO. Bring it on. His stock has certainly rose given the way he performed when he first got here from the D’Backs.
  • Darren O’Day: Since the day he wore Kason Gabbard’s uniform in Toronto, he’s done nothing but been one of the best bullpen pickups we’ve ever made. Hopefully that continues into the new season.
  • Darren Oliver: Another guy with a spring training ERA of ZERO! Where was this guy when he was last in Texas ping-ponging back and forth between the rotation and the pen? Glad he’s finally figured it out. We could use it, as I believe he’s the only lefty in our bullpen.
  • Chris Ray: The guy we got back from Baltimore in the Kevin Millwood trade. I’m not really terribly thrilled with this move. Not expecting much here. Hopefully I’m wrong.
  • C.J. Wilson: What a surprise this was in spring. I don’t think a ton of Ranger fans were that jazzed about him trying out for the rotation, but he nailed it. While his record was 0-2, he had a good ERA (3.24), and his other numbers were good too. I wonder how long this experiment will last.
  • Jarrod Saltamacchia: I’m starting to wonder if he’ll ever come through on the promise he had when he was obtained originally as the centerpiece of the Teixeira trade. While I don’t think he’s awful, he has had a lot of problems, and needs to make a lot of noise to claim the catcher’s role as his. It’s part of why guys like Toby Hall are on our roster.
  • Taylor Teagarden: Taylor’s problem is his bat. I don’t think anyone doubts his defense or game calling. But he’s got some big offensive problems at the plate. He did bat .319 in 2008, but he only had 40 some at bats. In 2009, he batted just .215 and this spring he was around .225. That’s not gonna get it done. If he could bat even something like 260 or 270, he’d probably nail the job as his.
  • Elvis Andrus: What a surprise Elvis was last year. Much was made about Michael Young’s move to third, and Elvis needing to be “helped” by Omar Vizquel. But Elvis seemed to do well. He had the usual rookie mistakes, he wasn’t godlike, but wow was he great when he was “good”. Hopefully he improves this year, as his rookie year was pretty darned good. Plus I took him in one of my fantasy leagues, he’d better do good. ;)
  • Joaquin Arias: See Saltamacchia. This guy screams unfulfilled promise. The Yankees went through great lengths to keep us from finding him when we chose someone as the PTBNL in the Alex Rodriguez trade. He is the last remaining tie to that trade, too. Probably only here due to injuries. Suspect he goes down when Kinsler comes back in a week.
  • Andres Blanco: Don’t know much about him, but I’ve read where his defense is good, which is why he was brought in late in spring to be a backup infielder. Always need guys like this around.
  • Chris Davis: Defense is great. He seems to have solved his major epic level offensive funk from the middle of last season. Let’s hope he rakes. Plus I know if he’s around a friend of mine will go to games just to see him, as she thinks he’s hot (Hi Jen!) ;)
  • Ryan Garko: See Andres Blanco.
  • Michael Young: Don’t need to explain Michael Young to a Rangers fan. He handled the move to 3B defensively extremely well last year. Can’t see any reason why (barring injury) we won’t get another “Michael Young” season from Michael Young. Also goes into the season with a plus .400 batting average.
  • Julio Borbon: Our anointed center fielder and leadoff hitter. He’s young, I don’t think he’s going to have an OBP of like .500 or something, but it feels like the same kind of gamble this year like they made with Elvis last year. Hopefully it works out as well.
  • Nelson Cruz: Nelson finally figured it out last year, and if he has another year like last year again, I think he can shake the 4A tag he had become attached to somewhat. Almost won the Home Run Derby last year, so he’s definitely been noticed nationally.
  • Vlad Guerrero: He’s not the total rake hitter that he used to be, and his defense (well, his body really) has made him mostly a full time DH. But he can still hit, and I saw enough of that “swing at anything and still get a single” that used to irritate the heck out of me in spring training to tell me that he can probably still hit well. Let’s see if 81 games at our ballpark helps him more. Granted he’s not hitting against us anymore, so that could be a factor.
  • Josh Hamilton: Down year last year for Josh. Played with his mechanics, and was hurt a lot. Everything this spring says he’s back to the form he was at in 2008, so if that’s true, then look out for a big year from him.
  • David Murphy: I thought Murph had earned a permanent spot in the lineup, but he goes into the season as the fourth outfielder. I hope the lack of regular playing time doesn’t hurt him, as I like Murph a lot. Reminds me of Rusty Greer.

That’s our starting 25. Ian Kinsler was hurt in the spring, and was only in five games, so it’s impossible to judge him for 2010. I had seen where Clint Hurdle has made a difference in his “Capt Fly Ball” mentality from last year. Hopefully that sticks once he comes back.
Overall, despite our crappy record in the spring, I think it could be a very good year for us. The Angels are still the team to beat, but they lost a bunch of pieces after last year, so they could be down a little (but not a lot, they’ll still be great). The Mariners have improved a lot, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to make a real threat at the division, but they’ll definitely be better. The A’s, I dunno. So I think the division is more open than it has been in years. We certainly could win it. I’m not making any win predictions, but I think a 90 win season is not out of the question.

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30 Clubs in 30 Days – Texas Rangers

As a reminder, if you have MLB Network, the Texas Rangers edition of their “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series starts tomorrow, the 25th of March.
While I haven’t watched each episode, as it’d be overload, I have watched for the teams I like, and the ones in our division. I have, however, watched one segment in each episode. They’re doing the “Prime 9 Best Plays in Franchise History”. You’d think of the ones they’d do for the Rangers, it would be Kenny Rogers’ perfect game, clinching the playoffs in 1996, Nolan Ryan’s 6th no hitter, and Nolan Ryan’s 7th no hitter. Probably Nolan Ryan’s 5000th strikeout as well.
If you don’t have MLB Network, you should. Make sure and check it out tomorrow. It plays like 3 times tomorrow, and then gets repeated a bunch of times before the season starts.

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Ron Washington’s Story

So I’m driving around running some errands early this afternoon, and I have the XM talk channel on. They’re heading to commercial, and they say, “There is a breaking story, more on the update”. I figure, “eh, someone got released, or Strausberg got officially assigned to the minors”. By this time I get to the drive through teller at the bank, and they said “Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine use in 2009″, which prompted me to say out loud “Holy shit – that is a big deal”. I’m sure the teller heard me say that, but he didn’t ask me what I meant.
When they came back from break, Kevin Kennedy and some dude I don’t know who it is started talking about it, and at that time, not much in the way of facts were known. Before I get to my own thoughts on the matter, I feel compelled to get this point across in the graphic shown here.

While some might say that’s a harsh response, I have to say it was my honest and true immediate response to hearing the news. I mean, Ron has never done this before, and why at age 57 (I believe) when he’s fairly set in terms of his baseball career he felt it necessary to do that is beyond me. If he was a lifetime habitual user, I’d understand why he was doing it – but to START now? That’s where the dumbass comes from. I mean, really. Maybe we could get Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler from Saturday Night Live to do a “Really, Ron? REALLY??”
Here is the complete text of Ron Washington’s statement about this.
OK, the initial reaction remarks over, the attention then turns forward to “now what”? Thanks to Evan Grant, I’m going to copy this text of his regarding the “facts”…

The facts: Washington acknowledged he used cocaine last season sometime during the first half of the year and after he was rewarded a contract extension for 2010. Washington would not reveal any details of exactly how, where and when he obtained the cocaine, saying he bore the sole responsibility for what he called a “stupid mistake.”
• Washington was made aware of an upcoming drug test, immediately informed the Rangers and MLB of his use of the drug and entered a treatment program. He did, in fact, fail the drug test.
• Washington, who turns 58 on April 29, said it was the only time in his life he had used cocaine. When asked if he was saying that he had never used illegal drugs anytime in his life, he said only “I’ve never used this drug before.”
• Rangers GM Jon Daniels and President Nolan Ryan said the club discussed all possible options on the handling of Washington’s transgression. The club, however, could not reveal the failure of the drug test. That would have violated the confidentiality of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
• Washington said he completed the terms of MLB’s drug treatment plan two weeks ago. He said he was tested three times a week as part of that treatment. He also said he would be willing to submit to more testing to help reinforce that he is “clean.”
• MLB officials declined to comment, citing confidentiality regarding the testing/treatment plan. They said they would have no comment on reaction to Washington’s announcement.

Given how much of a wide berth sports fans generally give players for far worse transgressions than this, the calls I’m seeing for “Fire him now!” just does not work in my mind. So many Cowboys fans STILL want to hoist Michael Irvin up on a freakin’ pillar despite all the shit he’s done, yet Washington deserves to be run out of town for a single offense, despite the fact that he was apparently rather pro-active, and informed both the Rangers and MLB about taking it before the results of a drug test was known. That’s not the kind of mentality from a person who was trying to hide something. Given that he’s passed every drug test since that one he failed, I’ll buy into the fact it was a one time thing that hasn’t been an issue since.
Everything I’ve read on ESPN, MLB, and the Rangers blog at DMN tells me that it’s a non issue to the team too. There were a lot of quotes of support from Nolan Ryan & Jon Daniels about this. One has to think that Chuck Greenberg knew for awhile, too. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but if he ever fails for it a second time, he needs to go immediately. I do think that it makes his leash shorter. His contract was already going to be up after this season, so I suspect if the team goes into a tailspin, he might not have as long a slide time grace period as he did last year when everyone was calling for his head (unjustly, I think). Overall, I think he’s a good baseball man, someone who has to deal with a lot of things that none of us do, and someone who made an epic level screw-up in judgment. I’ll be curious to see what Josh Hamilton has to say about all this, given his own past.
From what I’ve read, the Comissioner’s Office could still hand down some sort of punishment, but my gut feeling is that there won’t be any. So lets give Ron our support, and I’ll accept his apology, provide that turns out to be the truth of what happened. If it turns out something else happened he hasn’t said, I’ll likely change my opinion, but for now, I think we should applaud him for being forthcoming with the problem he caused. I don’t think he should be let completely off the hook – perhaps some sort of fine might be in order?
But my religion tells me to forgive, so I will. But I still think it was a really stupid thing to do, hence my use of “dumbass”. Again, don’t forget all the other sports figures we’ve forgiven for far worse than this. I did also like that “almost all” of his players showed up the press conference in support of him. Still want to hear what Josh Hamilton has to say.
Let’s get to April, eh? :)
UPDATE: I was talking to a friend of mine about all this, and he said something which reminded me of a point I wanted to make, but forgot to when I wrote this earlier today. It’s the quote in Ron’s statement that says “Washington, who turns 58 on April 29, said it was the only time in his life he had used cocaine. When asked if he was saying that he had never used illegal drugs anytime in his life, he said only “I’ve never used THIS drug before.” “This” drug? What others has he used? If there are other drugs involved, the question becomes how long ago? If it was 20+ years ago, who cares? If it was a year and a half or so? Then we’d care.
UPDATE 2: Given I wrote about a dozen game updates to catch up with the last week and a half, I wanted this up near the top, so I bumped it up, even though I wrote it yesterday.

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Bobby Bragan Patch

Saw this story on the Rangers site tonight..

The Texas Rangers today announced that the team will honor the memory of Bobby Bragan by wearing a uniform patch during all games in spring training.
Bragan, who spent over 70 years involved with professional baseball, passed away on January 21 at the age of 92 in Fort Worth. The former major league player, coach, manager, and executive was a long-time front office employee for the Rangers, serving in public relations and community capacities.
The oval patch contains the red and blue lettering, “BOBBY BRAGAN, 1917-2010″ with a white background and red border. It is located on the right sleeve of the Rangers’ blue jersey tops, which the club will wear for all spring training games in 2010.
Following spring training, the jerseys will be available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. The team also plans to donate a number of the jerseys to the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation, which has provided over 500 scholarships to Dallas-Fort Worth area students since its inception in 1992.
The Rangers will wear the Bragan patches for the first time on Tuesday.

I have to confess. When I saw the story, I didn’t remember who he was. :(

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All Rangers Games in HD for 2010?

While the official schedule of HD programming for the 2010 season hasn’t been posted yet, I read something tonight that gives me hope. You see this will be the third (and second full) baseball season since got an HDTV. Baseball looks so much better in HD, that when they have just an SD feed, I frequently will not watch the game and listen on the radio instead. Snob, perhaps, but after you go HD, you don’t want to go backwards.
Anyway, last year there were 120 games in HD, covering Fox Sports Southwest, Fox 4, and KDFI Ch 27. In 2010, almost all of them are Fox Sports Southwest. Here’s my count of what channels have how many games for the Rangers in 2010:
Fox Sports Southwest: 131
TXA-21: 25
Fox 4: 5
ESPN: 1
That’s a total of just 30 out of 162 to be on free over the air TV (which I believe is a first for the home opener not being on free OTA TV), 132 are pay cable. That’s quite a percentage shift. If you’re just over the air TV, you’re getting screwed. But you should get cable or satellite anyway if just for MLB Network – they are awesome.
Anyway, of the games produced, I would think the bulk of them would be in HD. ESPN is guaranteed HD, and The Fox 4 games are national, so that’s a guaranteed 6. I’m not sure about TXA21, as they’re new in 2010.
But what follows is why I posted this. Saw this news story about the Brewers games on Fox Sports Wisconsin being 100% in HD for 2010. Makes me think if the Brewers can do it, we can too. If it comes out we can’t, I’ll want to know why.

Washington, D.C. (February 24, 2010) — For the first time, all Milwaukee Brewer baseball games will be in high-def this season on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
That’s according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The regional sports channel will broadcast 136 Brewer games in high-def this season.
Of the remaining Brewer games on TV, six will be televised nationally on Fox or ESPN, which will also cover them in HD, and 15 will be broadcast by the local station WMLW, according to the newspaper. (Apparently five games will not be televised this year; there are 162 regular season games.)
Fox Sports Wisconsin’s coverage of the regular season will start on Monday, April 5, when it airs the Brewers-Rockies game at 1:10 p.m.

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Opening of Camp Catch Up

Well, I haven’t written much lately, despite the start of camp as a few projects have opened up for me that could lead to full time employment again. Something I still don’t have since last May, so that is by far my #1 priority. To that, I’m gonna add a thoughts on recent events.
First off, Jamey Newberg’s quote from this past week is something I want to answer. Jamey asked this.

“Does it mean anything when Bobby Valentine says on ESPN on February 18 that Ron Washington is on the hottest seat of any manager in the league?”

Perhaps it’s just my sarcastic nature, but it could be viewed as he’s doing a passive aggressive thing to perhaps get his old job back? He was there when Nolan Ryan signed on to Texas back in 1989. Now that Nolan’s running the show, perhaps Bobby V is looking to play the same card only backwards? :)
C.J. Wilson’s mouth: CJ took some heat right as camp was opening when he said this..

“It’s no secret I don’t think I should be limited to the set-up role. I have too many weapons,” Wilson said. “Here is the reality. It is real simple. There are not very many guys that have the stuff that I do that would be willing to sign here if they were free agents. There is no experienced pitcher that has my stuff that would sign here, historically.”

It’s an interesting scenario, as one feels he lost the closer’s job much the same way that happened between Rod Barajas & Gerald Laird a few years ago. Got hurt, someone else stepped in, didn’t get it back. On one hand, I can understand his frustration. On the other hand, you don’t go mouthing off about your employer and why nobody else would want to sign here. Yikes. Nolan Ryan handled it well, but I wonder if that stuff will factor into the subconscious of those making decisions around here. I don’t have any desire to see CJ out of here, but think for a minute if he was paired with Ozzie Guillen. hahaha. :)
The Catching Situation:
What happened? We were stocked with catchers, who were backlogged behind Laird. We move Laird to Detroit and now we find ourselves looking for bottom of the barrel free agent catchers to shore things up? Saltamacchia hasn’t worked out, Teagarden hasn’t shown he can be a #1, and Max Ramirez? Dunno. Where’d our big glut go? A bit scary there.
Endy Chavez signed:
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. See Joey M’s commentary for more on that.
Rangers miss payment:
It was announced that the Rangers missed a close to $40 million payment into an MLB fund that helps fund – I don’t remember exactly what, but references to deferred money to Arod, Juan Gonzalez, and Rafael Palmeiro came up. It was said that the payment could be something the union could file a grievance over, but have decided not to, leaving it to new management to figure out. Apparently it was factored into the price of the sale of the club, so it’s probably a non issue. Amusing how well Tom Hicks is trying to screw the pooch on the way out the door.
Josh Hamilton predicts 96 wins: That’s a lot. When you realize it’s just 9 more games over last year it doesn’t seem like a lot, but 96? I’d love for that to happen, as it pretty much means we’d be in the playoffs. Come on Rangers!
Brad Wilkerson: Brad Wilkerson signed a minor league deal with the Phillies today, which does NOT include an invite to camp . He supposedly retired last spring after being released by the Red Sox. This isn’t a big deal, but I just wanted an excuse to post this picture again:

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Rangers TV in 2010

In my quest to get the site in shape for the new season, I started working on the schedule pages. The first thing I did was check out the Rangers site to see what the schedule looked like. Looking for weird events that I need to keep track of, etc…
For the last few years, the Rangers deal has been with Fox TV. Certain really high profile games (like opening day) were on Fox 4. The majority of the games are on Fox Sports Southwest, as the team makes more money with them on cable. Since the deal was with Fox, the free OTA games were on KDFI Channel 27. That is not a surprise, since they’re all Fox.
However, today when I went to look at the schedule I noticed that the OTA games were on KTXA-21. It’s not a huge deal, but that’s a CBS station. Did something change with the TV deal that I’m not aware of? There wasn’t any sort of announcement that I recall.
Does anyone have any information on this? I wonder if there was some unannounced deal where the TV contract was renegotiated in order to help Hicks get some more coin.
Additionally, while it hasn’t been said, I’m hoping we can get a “100% of the games in HD” this year. Last year there was a huge deal made out of the fact that they had a rather large percentage of the games in HD. I’d love for all the games to be in HD. It’s so much sweeter that way.

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Uniform Numbers

As we creep closer to the start of spring training (it’s THIS MONTH!), I’ve finally started bringing my website up to speed. I’m unfortunately still unemployed from last May, and I found, despite the free time, I wasn’t always in the mood to work on my websites. That’s a feeling that only recently returned to me, and to that, I updated my website’s uniform number history section for 2010. The Rangers finally posted their roster for spring training, and with it come all the uniform number assignments for the 40 man roster as well as all the NRI’s (plus coaches).
A few observations.. The Rangers have had for awhile Zack Minasian as the home clubhouse manager for the last 16 years. After the 2009 season, he was let go (we never really heard much about that story, actually). One of Zack’s “things” from the past was that if there was some “important” Ranger who was with the club, and then was not, their number was not given out for a year after that. Some examples from the past were when Pudge left after 2002, nobody wore #7 in 2003 (until Eric Young got it in 04). Same goes for Juando’s departure after 1999. Nobody had #19 in 2000, but Gabe Kapler had it in 2001. Also Rafael Palmeiro. He had #25 in 2003, then nobody in 2004, until Marshall McDougall had it in 2005.
We have several numbers for departed Rangers that are unassigned in 2010. Now I don’t know who the new equipment manager is, but he appears to be holding up that tradition too. Anyway, the numbers are 8 (Rudy Jaramillo), 9 (Hank Blalock), 33 (Kevin Millwood), & 53 (Joaquin Benoit).
One other amusing thing to me (perhaps only to me, as I don’t think anyone else cares to this level) is the number 21. 2010 will be the first year in a row that the same player has worn number 21 since 2001. That is the most inconsistent number. Check this out:
2000: Ruben Mateo
2001: Ruben Mateo, Craig Monroe
2002: Pat Borders, Reynoldo Garcia, & Todd Hollandsworth
2003: Ruben Sierra, Jason Jones
2004: Jason Jones (only in camp, was released before opening day)
2005: Esteban German, Steve Karsay
2006: Adam Eaton
2007: Sammy Sosa
2008: Milton Bradley
2009: Jarrod Saltamacchia
2010: Jarrod Saltamacchia
The last player who wore #21 for two complete full seasons in a row was Warren Newson, who carried that number in 96, 97, & 98.
Oh, and Johnny Narron (Josh Hamilton’s “life coach”) switched from 73 to 23. :)
There is one thing I was hoping fans could help me by contributing. If you’ve ever looked at my uniform number history page, I’ve gathered over the years pictures of the various numbers being worn on players. I’ve posted some of them on the bottom of each number’s page as an “example” of that number. The Ruben Mateo picture above is one of those. But check out the pages, and look at the bottom. I think it makes for a nice little archive of pictures.
The part you can help with is with pictures. Take a look. If you have pictures of any of the players who I do not have a picture of, I’d love it if you could send me the picture for inclusion on these pages. I’m specifically looking for ones that show the player’s name along with the number. Not just the front where the number is, I really want one with the player’s name and number from the back being shown. I know a ton of you have picture archives (I’ve seen ‘em on Facebook & Picasa Web Albums), but I’m sure there’s a ton more I haven’t seen.
Please take a look at what you have, and if you have something useful for this project, let me know, I’d love to get it online. Danke. Here’s some of the ones I’ve collected. It’s the guys who are only up for 2-3 games in a season and then never to return are the hardest to get shots of. :)

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Texas Rangers 2010 salary

A lot has been made, and will be made until the Chuck Greenberg group formally gets the keys to the barn about how much our salary will be. My friend Maury Brown over at bizofbaseball.com posted the latest in his salary series, this time covering the Texas Rangers. I decided to cover that story here too with my own commentary.
Now that Scott Feldman came to terms last night, all of our arbitration eligible players are under contract, continuing a streak the team has in avoiding things like this. Here are the currently under contract players for 2010, and the values of their salaries.

  • Michael Young – $16,000,000
  • Rich Harden – $6,500,000
  • Vladimir Guerrero – $6,500,000
  • Ian Kinsler – $4,000,000
  • Frank Francisco – $3,265,000
  • Josh Hamilton – $3,250,000
  • C.J. Wilson – $3,100,000
  • Darren Oliver – $3,000,000
  • Scott Feldman – $2,425,000
  • Colby Lewis – $1,750,000
  • Brandon McCarthy – $1,300,000
  • Chris Ray – $975,000
  • Khalil Greene – $750,000
  • Dustin Nippert – $650,000
  • Esteban German – $600,000

That’s a total of $54,065,000 for 15 players. 15 players does, of course, not make a full team, so there’s more to come. Six more are insufficient service time players, meaning we can renew them if no agreement is reached. Those guys are:

  • David Murphy – $414,820
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $410,890
  • Brandon Boggs – $408,540
  • Nelson Cruz – $408,070
  • Chris Davis – $406,620
  • Luis Mendoza – $406,210

Those numbers are their 2009 salaries. While their 2010 salaries are unknown, Maury theorizes that giving the players a 6.5% pay increase would make the overall salary demand for these six players a total of $2,614,735.
Add that to the previous total, and the salary is now at $52,614,735. We still have four roster spots to fill, so the actual number will be a bit higher. Actually the “four spots” remark comes from Maury. He uses all these players listed above as players to be on the 25 man roster, and as a Rangers fan, I know they won’t all be. Putting all those names above in “slots”, here’s what I come up with:
C Jarrod Saltamacchia
1B Chris Davis
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Michael Young
SS
LF Josh Hamilton
CF
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Vlad Guerrero
BN David Murphy
BN Khalil Greene
BN Esteban German
BN Brandon Boggs
SP Rich Harden
SP Scott Feldman
SP Colby Lewis
SP Brandon McCarthy
SP Dustin Nippert
CL Frank Francisco
RP CJ Wilson
RP Darren Oliver
RP Chris Ray
RP Luis Mendoza
RP
RP
RP
This shows five “slots”, but.. We know who our starting shortstop will be (Elvis Andrus), and we are expecting Julio Borbon to be the starting centerfielder. Neither of these guys were on Maury’s list. On top of that, there’s no backup catcher in this mix (Teagarden, Ramirez, Toby Hall?) either, so that will bump one of the guys on this list to AAA.
Elvis made $400,000 in 2009, and Julio Borbon has a major league salary too. He signed a 4 year major league deal that started in 2007. 2010 is the final year of that. The total value of that contract is $1.3 Million, but the breakdown of that is unknown to me. A straight breakdown of Borbon’s contract is a $325,000 payment, but I find it hard to believe that would be his 2010 salary, as it’s under minimum.
I also find it unlikely that Brandon Boggs & Esteban German will start the year with the big club, and probably Luis Mendoza, too, so the “holes to fill” is probably larger than that. I know their salary counts towards the total club salary obligations, but I believe Maury’s article talks totally about 25 man opening day roster, not total obligations.
As long as we’re talking about obligations, we do have some dead money on the books this year. Most of it is for actual players playing elsewhere that we owe money to somewhat. They are:

  • Kevin Millwood – The Rangers are picking up $3 Million of his 2010 salary in Baltimore.
  • Frank Catalanotto – Who just today signed with the Mets, we owe $2 million for a buyout of his contract.
  • Vicente Padilla – $1.75 Million for his contract buyout

And then there’s Alex Rodriguez. Lest you think his optout from a couple of years ago removed our obligation to him, think again. All that relieved us from was the money we’d have to send to the Yankees for the opted out years of the contract (of which 2010 would have been the final year had it still be in play). No, there’s a still a messy (and it’s messy to figure out) issue of deferred money.
The best I can figure, we owe Alex Rodriguez $3 Million in 2010 as part of deferred money. I know a lot of the Rangers’ obligation went away when he voided the last year of his original contract (which would have been THIS season), but at the time there was some noise made about us still owing some small amount from the voided years (not the years that had happened in TX & NYY). There is still the deferred money from the original years which we’re on the hook for. The original payout plan for that was for it to not be over until 2025, but in looking at it now, I think that deferred money came due earlier, and I think – but am not 100% positive that 2010 is the last year we have to pay for Arod. It’s confusing, because Texas owed deferred money from the original years of the voided contract. When he was traded to NY, the terms were rejiggered a bit to reduce the load on deferred money TX owes. When the contract was voided, I’m a little unclear as to whether the years we owed deferred money was changed (to us being done in 2010), or if there are two separate piles of deferred money Texas is paying on. I think, but am not sure, that the voided years also had deferred money that were attached to them that are owed, despite the base salary not being owed.
Having said ALL of this, our salary looks to be right about what it was last year on opening day, which was $68,178,798. Maury’s article says our 2010 opening day payroll will be $3.25 million less than 2009, but if you add the dead money for Alex Rodriguez into the mix, it’s pretty much a wash.
We’ll find out before opening day how it all plays out, obviously. But it’s still confusing somewhat. :)

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Not so fast

Hopefully this is nothing, but… read this tonight over at Maury Brown’s excellent bizofbaseball site on the Rangers sale.
While I expect this is just one of those legal bumps, one can never quite tell truthfully. I’ve seen so many fans around the metroplex hail what was announced over the weekend as the endgame. A lot of it reminded me of the rather boneheaded move Dubya made some years ago with his “Mission Accomplished” speech. Fans are saying “here comes the money” and doing dances, claiming Ben Sheets is coming right behind this announcement. These seem like the same kind of fans that call in to post game shows and go “when are we getting some pitching in here?” Where’s Steve Busby when you need him?
Anyway, I won’t get truly excited about this until the keys are handed over.

For the majority of Texas Rangers fans, the statement from Hicks Sports Group saying that a sales agreement between HSG and a group of investors headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan was a sign that the end had finally come, new owners were on the way.
But, in a case where Hicks Sports Group debt is still hanging over the heads of the Rangers, there’s a chance that the deal may not meet the muster of HSG’s biggest lender.
One of the final steps in the process includes approval from the 40 creditors that HSG is in debt to before approval from MLB. As reported by Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, Monarch Alternative Capital, a hedge fund that now owns $100 million of the $525 million of debt that Tom Hicks has incurred may be a deciding factor in the sale. Monarch Alternative Capital is known as a “distressed debt buyer” or in more unflattering terms, a “predator” that looks to “buy debt at a discount from banks that hold defaulted loans and then hopes to make more by selling the assets.”
Because Monarch is in the business of extracting as much of a profit as possible in these types of deals, they could have a considerable say in the matter. As reported by the SBJ:

Monarch saying no to a deal that guarantees it a sure amount of cash could be considered an unlikely scenario, but sources are painting a picture of Monarch as being willing to go to the mat if it thinks it is not getting every penny it should.


It has been reported from multiple sources that the bid from Houston businessman, Jim Crane, was higher than the Greenberg-Ryan bid. It is unknown if Crane would be allowed back into the bidding process, should Monarch Alternative Capital not approve of the deal that the Greenberg-Ryan group has on the table.

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Getting Going Again

Hey gang, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a baseball update – this is my first “real” baseball post of 2010. The last thing I posted was the day that Kevin Millwood was traded, and that was about a month ago. A few things have happened since then, so I’ll have a few thoughts on the stories that have happened since the last time I posted.
I also need to get in gear for spring, as camp starts in about a month (give or take a few days). I need to get my roster pages in shape, finish entering the 2010 schedule into the site, and update the known uniform numbers for my uniform number history pages. Thanks again for visiting, and sticking around. This will be my 12th season since this site started. Still enjoy doing it, although I’ve found it harder and harder to devote time to the site like I’d want to. Second kid has something to do with that. :) Anyway, here goes…
Dec 8 – Pudge to Nationals: In a move that probably surprised everyone except Scott Boras, Pudge made another cash grab and signed with the Washington Nationals for two years and $6 Million dollars. That’s a lot for Pudge in 2010. It’s not like he’s awful, but a lot of that has to be for “Pudge”, not Ivan Rodriguez, current mlb player. I remember saying when we traded for him that you’d better enjoy it as he wasn’t going to be here in 2010. Well, he’s not. This isn’t a total I told you so, because in the days leading up to this signing, I thought we had a shot at bringing him back, especially with the questions around Salty’s health. Then he Boras’ed the salary base for old backup catchers, we had no hope on that one.
Dec 10 – Rangers sign Rich Harden: To replace the departed Kevin Millwood, the Rangers took a flyer on Rich Harden. As it’s been stated, Harden has the potential to be totally stellar. His stuff is incredible, but like a lot of guys, he has issues staying on the field. If somehow we can solve his health problems, this will be a steal for us, as the deal is just for $6.5 Million for 2010. There’s an $11M option for 2011 with a $1M buyout. But that’s less of a concern. If we can get out of him what he’s capable of (and he’s only 28 years old. It could work out incredibly, but it quite equally has major flameout potential. One to keep an eye on, but I like the signing.
Dec 11 – Josh Lewin to return as announcer: Josh’s contract was due to be up I believe on Dec 31st, and he was signed to a one year deal for 2010. Amusingly enough, the press release for this states that there is an “option” for 2011. Does it have a buyout figure? Since when did announcers get “options” like that? One of the big keys to this was the fact that he’d miss fewer games for the Rangers when going away to do Chargers games in September. I can’t recall if there was a specific limit to said missed games or not, but it was something that always bugged me. I’m no Lewin hater (as there are a lot of in DFW), but his shtick has started to grate as the years go on. I can’t see him as an Ernie Harwell, or a Vin Scully, or a Harry Kalas type. The kind that stays in one place for 30 years. My guess is he’ll be gone within a few. I have no facts to back that up, just a “gut feeling”.
Dec 12 – Esteban German signed: The Rangers signed Esteban to a one year, $600,000 contract (if in majors; just $200k if in minors) for 2010. Next.
Dec 19 – Lowell trade dead: After much back and forth, a proposed trade of AAA C Max Ramirez to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell was killed after Lowell was in town, and failed the physical. Granted, the Sox were rumored to be paying $9M of Lowell’s $12M salary for 2010, but it still struck me as “why are we helping them with a salary dump?” Lowell by all accounts is a nice guy, I’m sure the intangible stuff would have been fine, but I couldn’t imagine he’d be THAT big of a deal offensively. I didn’t much care either way about this one, and the trade’s cancellation didn’t bother me.
Dec 21 – Darren Oliver Returns: Again. That makes the third player in the “three time tenured Rangers player club”, which also includes Bill Haselman & Kenny Rogers. The second time Oliver was here wasn’t the greatest of times. He still seemed a bit confused as to whether or not he wanted to be a reliever or a starter. Never seemed to grasp both. However, I seem to recall him starting to put together the relieving career that would serve him well in Anaheim. He’s been well traveled inbetween Rangers stints 2 & 3, having also pitched in Boston (02), Colorado (03), Houston (04), NY Mets (06), and the Angels (07-09). Still, I think most everyone sees this as a good move. Just don’t try using him as a starter again. Side note, if the Rangers make the playoffs in 2010, Darren will turn 40 during that time.
Dec 26 – Guardado to Nationals: In a move I can only comprehend as “veteran bullpen guy to mentor”, Eddie Guardado signed with the Nationals. So much for being run down and wanting to retire.
Dec 31 – Marlon Byrd to Cubs: In a move that probably surprised nobody, Marlon Byrd won’t be a Ranger in 2010. I think both sides really did want him to return, but he was apparently squeezed out in a money play due to the sale of the club. Shame, as he was a fan favorite. I do have to admit that when I heard the news, I had to do a Birdman wave on my sofa one last time. :) While the Cubs didn’t overpay for Byrd nearly the way that Anaheim did for Sarge Jr a couple of years ago, I did see a lot of noise nationally about whether or not Byrd is cut out to be a 162 game type player. He is staying with Rudy Jaramillo, who is also a Cub. I hope he does well there. Just not against my Phillies.
Jan 8 – Salty cleared to play: Salty was cleared to resume baseball activities again. It’s expected he’ll be ready to go once camp starts in a month. If he’s healthy, it will probably help a bit, but I wonder if we’re still going to try and get some veteran help at catcher just in case. His problems throwing last year were awful to watch, I hope his surgery around the end of last season has fixed those problems. Also hopefully Clint Hurdle can work on his swing, as he seemed to have lost his way offensively. Could have also been injuries, who really knows? Just need him to be better than last year for sure.
Jan 10 – Khalil Greene signed: To replace Omar Vizquel, who perplexingly went to the White Sox, the Rangers dipped into the free agent pool and fished out former phenom Khalil Greene. Greene is mostly known for playing for the Padres, where he was touted as the next in line in the Jeter / Garciaparra / Arod line. Maybe not THAT high profile, but he was a big name. Then he flamed out, and ended up with the Cardinals in 2009, where he spent time away from the club with what amounted to “a head case”. It was officially labeled as a “social anxiety disorder”. Uh, what? Not sure what to make of that. Provided his head is right, he should be a good veteran backup.
Jan 11 – Vlad Guerrero signed: Due to the failed trade for Mike Lowell, the Rangers were still after a right handed power bat for the middle of the lineup. Given what was available in the free agent market, he was by far the best fit of the available options. To be honest, if they were after a left handed guy, I wanted them to sign Jack Cust. But it was an RH they needed, so Vlad was the way to go. I’ve liked Vlad for a long time – way before he was really known. For some reason that I can’t recall now, I hooked onto him as a great player back in Montreal. Loved his arm in right, was a total cannon. He could wallop the ball like there was no tomorrow. I loved seeing him play. I’d tune in to Astros games when they played the Expos just so I could see Vlad. Have always liked him. In 2010, he’s not what he was, his legs have broken down, so he’s going to be mostly restricted to DH duties. I’m sure he’ll play more in the field than the two games he played there in 2009. But really, he’s the DH. I’ve never been a big fan of a permanent DH, I prefer using that spot to rotate guys in, give them rests, etc. Still, if you have to have one, might as well have a guy who can hit a ball out of the ballpark after it’s bounced out in front of the plate. This should go well, provided he can stay healthy (where have Ranger fans heard that line before?)
Overall, it’s not been an awful off season, all things considered. We did have some moves to talk about. Given how hamstrung the team could have been given the off season front office dance, I’m generally happy with the moves we’ve made. I don’t think any of them takes us backwards at all. We just need our pitchers to keep improving like they did last year.
The division is far more wide open, as Anaheim has taken some major roster hits (of which we have two), so they’ve come back. Seattle has improved a heck of a lot. I mean they’re seriously better, and Oakland? Well, it’s the usaul Oakland story. So I think the division is winnable for sure. I’m not going to homer it and call the Rangers a favorite, because they’re not. The divison should be much closer than in recent years, and if things break right, yeah, we could win it.
Bring on the games.
P.S. Did I forget anything major in the moves department since Millwood was traded? Someone usually reminds me of that after I’ve posted.

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Darren Oliver

History has a way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?