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First Spring Training Game Lineup

Yeah, it’s the charity game. It doesn’t technically count in the spring training standings. But it is a game against another team. Here we go again!
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, CF
Nelson Cruz, RF
Hank Blalock, DH
David Murphy, LF
Chris Davis, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Elvis Andrus, SS

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Spring Training TV & MLB Network

It’s been previously stated that the local Rangers coverage is carrying five games this year. That news is now a week or so old. However, today MLB Network published their broadcast schedule of games for spring training. They’re running several games, but not all of them are live. A decent amount are live, but not all of them. The first thing I did was check the Rangers appearances.
They are listed as being on the schedule three times. March 14th, March 27th, and April 1st. Two of these three dates are already on the local TV broadcast schedule. The third (April 1st) was not. However, April 1st is the one game of the three that isn’t live. According to the existing schedule, that game will be played at 1PM Central Time. The MLBN schedule says it will air at 4PM local time. If you can avoid the score until the game comes on MLBN, it is an additional game you can check out.

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Today’s Random Ramblings

Another day, another few random comments from me about recent stories:
Josh Hamilton Quits Again: There was a story in the DMN on Monday about Josh giving up chewing tobacco at the request of his kids. I can’t say I have a problem with that. The stuff is fairly disgusting, IMO. I’ve become a big fan of his. I have started passing his book around my church so people will know his story. Especially those that aren’t big baseball fans. Might pull some of ‘em in. :) Anyway, this line from the article was particularly effective at getting the point across:

“You know it’s bad when your 3-year-old holds up a water bottle, and asks if daddy spit in this before she drinks out of it,” said Hamilton, referring to his daughter Sierra. “That’s when you know it’s a problem.”

What’s more encouraging about that is Josh said he broke the habit by asking the elders of his church to lay hands on him and pray. That’s great that he came to God to rid himself of a vice like that. God is Good!
Justin Smoak: You know, even if you do no research at all on the Rangers’ minor leagues, you can’t help but pick up on the guys who are going to be a big deal. By osmosis. Just being in the same town as Jamey Newberg, you just know the guys to watch out for even if you never saw or heard or read anything about them. That’s the feeling I get about Smoak from Jamey. DMN had an article about him today. It had some seriously high praise for him, saying:

Special adviser Mel Didier, who has been in baseball more than 50 years, said Smoak is a more complete switch-hitter than Mickey Mantle and Mark Teixeira were at this stage.

Wow.
Michael Young Fourth: The intrasquad games played on Monday contained a surprise. Michael Young batting fourth. It’s an interesting proposition, and something that I’ve always wondered about. When I was young and growing up, the thinking was that you put your best hitter fourth. That’s why it’s called “cleanup”. The idea is that the first three guys would be on the bases, and the fourth, the guy MOST LIKELY to drive them in was the cleanup batter. Generally that’s a big home run guy (for me it was Mike Schmidt), or at least it used to be. Generally fourth is still a power guy, but the cleanup slot has lost its prestige to the third slot. Somewhere along the line, it became the way things are done to put your best hitter third. Which is where Michael Young has been a lot the last few years. But he was fourth here. Granted, it’s the first spring intrasquad game, so it’s not a major deal here, but it’s an intriguing proposition. With Bradley gone, we do need protection for Hamilton, I’ll be curious to see if Michael young doesn’t end up behind Hamilton once the real games get started.
Vernon Wells: Joey M over at BBtiA has a nice article about what might have happened had Vernon Wells decided to sign here a couple of years ago when he was a free agent. At the time it was WIDELY expected he would, being a local boy, and a friend of Michael Young’s, but he stayed in Toronto. If he had signed here, I’d say we probably wouldn’t have Josh Hamilton at this point.
Spring Video: The Ft Worth Star Telegram Baseball Blog (“Foul Territory“) has been posting a lot of cool video of batting practice, impromptu interviews and the like. I’m not going to list them all, but there’s some good stuff there. If you’re reading this, then you probably know about it already, but just in case you didn’t.. There you go.
Nelson Cruz: A lot of fans (myself included) seem to think that Cruz may have finally broken the AAAA label he had, and had the lightbulb go off. One hopes that it will stick with him. Rangers history is littered with guys who have great August and Septembers, but when it comes time for next season, stink up the joint. Cruz hit a grand slam in the intrasquad opener, which is a good sign, and is just one hit obviously, but it’s a nice “oh please let that be real” moment. :)
Mailbag Stuff: The mailbag segment with TR Sullivan and the official site is back. While the usual moronic questions of “trade x for y” (without any thought given to the question) are at a minimum, I do have to say I was a bit disturbed by the thought that mlb.com thought it wasn’t needed and had actually taken it away. With Even Grant’s newsletter gone now, this is the only regular one like that Yeah, Jamey has started doing that, but his is less frequent. I wonder if the FTST will start doing this.
Two days to go until the first game on the radio! :)

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2009 TV Schedule Released

In addition to the Anna Benson signing news, the Rangers also released their 2009 TV schedule. It’s available as a pdf download from the Rangers site (not the usual webpage story). You can grab it here. I’ve decided to comment on some of the text contained within the press release.
First off, they say “the majority of” Rangers games will be broadcast in HD this season. As this will be my first full season with an HDTV, I’m interested in that. I am curious to see what “majority of” means, as that could mean anywhere from 82-161 games. We shall see. They also have not announced what games are HD yet.

Texas Rangers local television rights holder FOX Sports Southwest today announced the team’s 2009 TV schedule. The 158-game local package includes an all-time high 133 games on FOX Sports Southwest, 24 over-the-air telecasts on KDFI My 27 in Dallas-Fort Worth

First off, the schedule says 158 game local package. The remaining four games are scheduled to be broadcast. One of them is on ESPN (May 3), and the other three are Saturday afternoon Fox National games (May 16, May 23, & Aug 8). So all 162 games are going to be on this year.
However, If I was viewing Rangers games on JUST rabbit ears (no cable or satellite), I’d be pissed at this. Of the 162, only 28 are on free over the air TV (24 on Ch 27, and 4 on Ch 4). Most of those are bunched towards the front end of the season, too. If you go look at my site’s schedule page, you’ll see the breakdown. Of those 28 over the air games, 7 are in April, 8 are in May, 7 are in June, zero in July, 1 in August, and 5 in Sep/Oct. It’s pretty stacked towards the early part of the season. On top of that, after May 26th, every single free over the air game is a Saturday. While this doesn’t affect me, if you’re an older viewer who does rely only on rabbit years, you’re moving to radio mostly, because you’ve just had a major dent put in your viewing.

Josh Lewin begins his eighth season as the television voice of the Rangers. He’ll be joined by former Rangers player and general manager Tom Grieve, who is back for his 15th season as analyst. Jim Knox returns for his 10th season as roving reporter on home games.

Tom Grieve is quite good. Lewin I’ve kind of cooled on lately. While I don’t actively dislike him like some of the other local fans do, I was kind of hoping Josh would take the San Diego job, and let Vic get promoted (although his new gig with MLB Network trumps this). Unfortunately, we are getting a 10th anniversary of Jim Knox. Ugh. I really really wish we wouldn’t have dumped Craig Miller and John Rhadigan for Knox. This means another season of “It’s the second inning, we go to Jim Knox”, or translated “It’s the second inning, reach for the Tivo skip while we talk to people in the Fox Box we couldn’t care any less about”.

John Rhadigan and Dana Larson host RANGERS LIVE with Ric Renner and Emily Jones reporting. RANGERS LIVE home game shows once again will originate from a set on the left field concourse level at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, giving fans attending games an opportunity to watch the live broadcasts in person.

Ric Renner is another guy that can go. He’s too hyper annoying, and most of the people he interviews have this look of “Can we please get someone else?” Rhadigan, Larson, & Jones are all fine. Renner is another use of the TiVo skip button. I do wonder about the post game show, though. They had Mark McLemore on for a lot of those. I saw him turn up as an in studio analyst with MLB Network this past week. I wonder if that’s his new gig.
The press release also talks about the ancillary shows they will be having again this season, including “Lunch with the Rangers”, “Rangers Live” (pre & post game), and “Rangers Insider”. In addition, there will be Rangers discussions on the Fox Sports shows “In My Own Words”, “Spotlight”, & “Under the Lights”.
Finally, if you’re not a Metroplex viewer, this news might be of interest to you:

Games on FOX Sports Southwest will be shown on cable and satellite television systems in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and parts of New Mexico. FOX Sports Southwest also has created a Rangers broadcast syndication network to distribute the 25 over-the-air games carried in Dallas-Fort Worth to television stations in the team’s outer markets. Participating affiliates will be announced later.

Make sure and check out the entire press release here (pdf download).

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Rangers sign Kris Benson

It was announced on Saturday that the Rangers have signed Kris Benson to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. This is pretty much a zero move. I can’t imagine this amounting to much of anything. This just feels like the Kip Wells move in 2006. Meh.
The only realy good thing about having Kris Benson on the team would be his wife Anna. See below. The only downside to THAT is that they’d send Jim Knox over to interview her, and as much as I’d want to see Anna Benson on TV, I’d prefer Jim Knox not be there, too.

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Some Random Thoughts

I’ve decided that I’m going to try and shamelessly steal an idea that Joey over at BBTia does which is offer my thoughts on the stories of the day. I probably won’t be able to do it as regularly as him, mostly because i don’t always have time in the morning to peruse the stories, digest it and spit it out, I have stuff to deal with at work. hahaha. :) Anyway, here’s what I see today.
Minor Injuries: It seems that Brandon Boggs and Marlon Byrd are dealing with some minor injuries. Boggs has an inflamed right shoulder (and got an MRI), and Byrd is recovering from a knee surgery. Byrd has apparently declared himself 75% healed, and there’s not a ton on Boggs. In the various scenarios we’ve been hearing, I haven’t heard much about Boggs. He was a nice story in 2008, but barring injuries to our projected front line guys, I don’t see Boggs cracking the lineup much this year – especially if Andruw Jones is on the roster.
Ben Sheets: Given Sheets didn’t sign with the Rangers and had surgery, he probably thinks he can make a major play with a team contending. I was hoping we’d do the sign for a two year contract with year 1 being next to nothing. Oh well.
Nelson Cruz: There was a nice article I read in the DMN about Nelson Cruz and his turnaround last year. Apparently the fact that no other club claimed him when the Rangers released him was the turning point. If he continues that into 2009, I think it pretty much seals it for Brandon Boggs as I theorized above.
Number 21: Jarrod Saltamacchia has switched to #21, voluntarily giving up 25 for Andruw Jones. I covered this last week when I updated my uniform number history section of the website with all the spring moves. Anyway, some notes from the DMN say that it was done out of respect for Andruw. Uniform numbers are a big thing with me, so I like to make note of things like this.
Joaquin Arias: The same set of notes talk about Joquin Arias and playing short again in workouts so far. The last remnant of the Alex Rodriguez trade (either direct or indirect) is probably never going to make it with the Rangers, I would imagine. With Elvis Andrus all but being handed the SS job, and Michael Young going to third, I can’t see where Arias fits anymore.
Frank Catalanotto: Here’s another guy who I think would be off the club if his contract wasn’t what it is. He seems to have been relegated to almost 25th man; we barely saw him last year. This article talks about his playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. It’s theorized he will probably see more action there then he will for the Rangers. Shame, as I really liked the guy, but when he came back, he “not hit” himself into the position he’s in. The Rangers website talks about this too, also including Travis Metcalf in this category of “just about forgotten players”.
Rudy Jaramillo & Steroids: OK, I’m breaking my steroids rule after only a couple of days, but not for the usual reason. This was an angle I had thought about a lot. With all the talk of Ranger players and steroids, did it diminsh the reputation of Rudy Jaramillo at all? He’s generally considered the best hitting coach in baseball, and if the Rangers were as roided up as has been theorized, perhaps Rudy wasn’t that great after all? I’d like to think that’s not the case, and this article by Jim Reeves addresses this issue. It’s a good read. Rudy’s also the last link back to the Johnny Oates era (well, OK Jerry Narron is also here in an advisory capacity), and I kind of like he’s still around – even if just for that reason.
Less than a week now till the first game of spring training.
Oh, and finally, thanks to Adam Stellar over at “Ranger Rumors” for naming me a “Hot Rangers Fan“. It was kind of odd to see that pop up. Not sure what I did to deserve that, but thank you. :)

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Starting Rotation

So we’ve gotten going with pitchers and catchers. That opened on Saturday.
In a move that surprised me, Ron Washington has effectively named his starting rotation. Now. Before position players are supposed to report. If you had a rotation slated to include Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, and a fifth of Roger Clemens, it seems odd to name your starting rotation this early. Especially when the names are Millwood, Padilla, Feldman, Harrson, & McCarthy.
Millwood & Padilla probably are both good #3 guys, but I’m not sure if either is #2 material, definitely not #1. Scott Feldman has done well for us lately, but I don’t think that’s truly a confident fan choice. Matt Harrison also has done well, but has little under his belt long term, and McCarthy? Can we have John Danks back?
It just seems odd to me to declare these guys the starting five. Obviously, anything can change between now and the start. It probably will, but I don’t understand the mindset of having things declared this early. I saw some line about having our catchers get in sync with the starters. That seems like a pile of bunk, to be honest.
There’s a boatload of other guys in camp that fall under the category of “rotation competition”. Does anyone really believe these are the five we’re going to battle with at the start of the season? I don’t.

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Elvis is in the Building

I’m pretty sure we’re going to be hearing a ton of “Elvis has left the building” jokes this season. I’m sure I’ll make some of them, but I’ll try and space them out. So I thought I’d get the first one out of the way on the opening of Spring Training.

If you’re reading this site, you know that Spring Training officially opened today. Pitchers & catchers had their formal reporting day yesterday, and today was the first day of workouts. A good deal of the position players are in camp as well, which is no real surprise. But it’s nice to read reports on actual game play. Not too long before games start, either.
We did however, make it into spring training after an offseason where we signed nobody to a major league contract from the free agent pool. Everyone we signed as a minor league deal, which doesn’t count against the 40. The problem with THAT is if there’s a ton of them who play well enough to get roster spots, we’re going to have to get rid of some people to make that move, but we’ll see how it plays out.
First game is Feb 25th, but the first “real” game is Feb 26th, and it’s on the radio. This is good.

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Spring Training Broadcast Schedule Stuff

The Rangers announced this afternoon that our Spring Training broadcast schedule will be far greater than at any point in the past. Some highlights:

  • Five games on TV! – In the past, we’d get generally two, and all in the last week. This time most of them are at the end of spring training, but there’s one early. The five dates are Mar 7 (White Sox), Mar 22 (Dodgers), Mar 25 (DBacks), Mar 27 (Brewers), & Apr 4 (Royals). The last one is the spring finale, and is in Arlington.
  • 18 games on the radio! – This was previously announced when the new radio deal with 105.3 FM was announced, but it’s nice to see a lot more of them. You can check out my schedule page for spring training to see what is what there.
  • MLB.com Gameday Audio – It was said that there will be eight (presumably other) games that will be webcast on Gameday Audio. I’m hoping it uses the Rangers guys, and not just the general MLB guys. The latter don’t make for a good broadcast, I think, since they spend most of their time talking about everything else except the teams on the field. The press release refers to it as “Texas Rangers Gameday Audio”. That could just be markting crap, and it’s the MLB guys, but I’m hopeful those will be actually listenable. The press release does NOT, however say which eight games. They only mention the first one, which is March 10th. If anyone knows the dates of the other seven, please pass them along to me. Thanks.

In addition, I went through my schedule for the regular season and updated game times. The schedule published a month or so ago had about 20 games with TBD as the gametime. That’s been rectified for all but one game, so I’ve gone ahead and updated my schedule with the proper times. The official press release talks about three other games that have had their times changed, I picked up those, too.
Saturday, June 20 at San Francisco: TBD to 8:05 p.m. CT
Sunday, August 16 vs. Boston: 7:05 to 1:05 p.m. CT
Friday, August 21 at Tampa Bay: 6:08 to 6:38 p.m. CT

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More Minor League Signings

The Rangers continue their march to getting to camp without signing a single player to a major league contract from the free agent pool this offseason. A couple more signings.
Yesterday, the Rangers signed Jason Jennings to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Last year was clearly a disaster for the Mesquite TX native. He even said so in the remarks about the contract for 2009. This really is not a big deal. He’d have to pitch his way onto the roster. Doesn’t cost us much at all – if he makes the roster, he gets $800,000 plus various incentives totaling $1.4 million based on innings pitched (from 110 through 200). Only $15,000 of the contract is guaranteed, so this is no brainer, really.
Today, the Rangers signed Brendan Donnelly to a minor league contract. Apparently if he makes the club, he’ll get $950,000 and can request his release if he’s not in the majors between March 27 and April 27th. He’s coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2007 for his right elbow. This would be about the time guys bounce back, so we’ll see. Ranger fans should remember him (and his goggles) from his time with the Anaheim Angels.
Finally, while he hasn’t signed, there’s a lot of talk that the Rangers are about to sign Andrew Jones to a minor league deal. He’s getting a gazillion dollars from the Dodgers in money and deferred money to go away, so he’s a zero risk player – we don’t need to pay him anything at all, really. Rudy Jaramillo has a habit of working gold with players, and until he dropped off the face of the Earth two years ago offensively, he was seriously top dog player. I don’t particularly think outfield is a place we need to pick up players – we have an overflow as it is, and a couple really good guys in the system. Unless Rudy fixes him in spring, and he hits 50 HR and 145 RBI again, I’m not particularly sure I see the need. We’ll see.
Oh, and I haven’t said anything about Ben Sheets at all. He’s hurt. Nobody signed him. Now we know why. I would like to see the Rangers sign him to a two year contract now with the first year paying him next to nothing, and the next year be somewhat realistic. Probably won’t happen, though.

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Guardado’s Back

The Rangers made it official today, bringing Eddie Guardado back for the 2009 season. It’s a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the pen when the season starts. I have no facts there – just a gut feeling.
I wrote about why I thought it was a good (if not exciting) move a couple of days ago, so I won’t repeat that. I will say this, though. It makes the Rangers one of just two teams to not sign a single player to a major league contract this offseason.

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Radio Coverage Changing for 2009

Just saw an announcement a few minutes ago that the radio coverage for the Texas Rangers is changing for 2009. All Rangers games have been on AM KRLD 1080 since 1995. That’s not going to be the case starting this season.
Effective with the 2009 season, all weekday Texas Rangers games will be on 105.3 FM (aka “The Fan”. According to the press release on the Rangers site, it is only weekday games (Monday through Friday) that are here. Saturday and Sunday games will continue to be on KRLD 1080 AM as they have been since 1995. The reason for this is unspecified “anticipated schedule conflicts”. The schedule lists 110 games on 105.3, and 52 on 1080.
This probably isn’t a big deal in the long run when you compare it to the confusion of TV coverage (given all the possible channel choices there), but it does take away that tagline KRLD has used for ages… “All the games, all the time”. Still, it does seem easy enough to wrap one’s head around. “OK, M-F is 105.3 FM, and Sat-Sun is 1080 AM – Got it”. I will be curious to see how the better fidelity plays out. On top of that, I wonder if the broadcasts will be geared towards HD-Radio, as KRLD-FM is an HD-Radio channel, from what I’ve read today.
One other bonus is that this will really increase the radio schedule for spring training games. Generally, spring training games were only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I asked aout that a few years ago, and was told that KRLD didn’t want to piss off the “Dr. Laura” audience by replacing that show with Rangers games. This apparently will bypass that limitation. The number of spring training games is now 18, versus the 12 it has been for awhile now. 16 of the 18 are on 105.3. Check out the Rangers press release for a list of the dates of the Spring Training games (I’ll have my site’s schedule page updated shortly).
UPDATE: I’ve updated my site’s schedule pages with the radio dates during spring training.

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Everyday Eddie to Return

TR Sullivan is reporting this afternoon that the Rangers are likely to close a deal in the next day or so for Eddie Guardado to return to the Rangers for 2009. This is probably a move that isn’t likely to light any fires when it happens. It certainly didn’t last off season.
But he was pretty darned serviceable for us last year, and if he pitches in 2009 like he did in 2008, it should help. Will probably be a low dollar amount signing, so yeah, it’s probably a decent move to make.
This was probably pushed a little faster by the Benoit news from last week. Despite the fact that Eddie is a lefty, and Jack is a righthander, one has to figure that Benoit’s going down moved this forward, even a little. There was also rumblings about Eddie signing again before this, so who knows?

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The Birdman Cometh

Those of you who like to stand in the ballpark and flap your arms like a bird when Marlon Byrd is up will be happy about this one. He and the Rangers came to terms tonight on a contract for 2009. His case was the last possible arbitration case the Rangers had on their plate. Actually, he would have been a Ranger in 09 anyway, it was just down to money.
Marlon had asked for $3.6 Million, and the Rangers countered with $2.7 million. They settled on $3.06 million, which is pretty much in the middle.
With the Byrdman signed, that resolves the arbitration possibilities for this offseason, keeping intact our record of not having gone to an actual hearing in about nine years now, the last being Lee Stevens.

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Winter Carnival Story

Saw a story in the current Dallas Observer about the Texas Rangers, a fan, and the winter carnival. Along with the usual comments about “what about the pitching?”
The thrust of most of the article is about the fan Paige Skinner, and her (I assume it’s a girl) presumed slight by the players when she was at last season’s finale. Here’s a quote from the article:

“It was supposed to be Fan Appreciation Day,” Skinner says. “But the players didn’t toss us a ball, a batting glove, not even a smile or a wave. In fact, a security guard hopped up on the dugout and told us to go home. They treated us like we suck, and we’re the ones who’ve supported them through all these losing seasons. Without us, they’d have nothing. I was furious. Ticked beyond belief.”

While I do agree with her about security guards – they tend to be a bit overzealous in the “Get out” mantra (that should be worked on, really). I have an issue with the thrust here that the players seemingly owed her something. Particularly the comment “they treated us like we suck”. Using the words “They treated us” means there was an intentional desire on the players to make the fans feel like “they suck”. Somehow I doubt that. The specific comment was also made about not getting an item thrown to them. I don’t think so. Just because you attend a game, doesn’t mean you have the RIGHT to have something given to you. Even on Fan Appreciation Day.
There’s another comment that one could make about the fact that if you can afford to sit in the seats down by the dugout, you don’t need (much less deserve) freebies like that. Buy your own. If the players REALLY wanted to foster goodwill, take the balls and gloves and stuff up to Section 345 where poor families have to sit because they have zero chance of ever being able to sit in the seats down at the bottom and be “slighted” by the players.
Those fans would be far more excited I think over a freebie from the players than those who can afford to sit in the first few rows of Sections 31-35.

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Benoit out?

Saw a few minutes ago where it appears that Joaquin Benoit had surgery which will knock him out for all of the 2009 season. Shame if true, as he’s developed a nice career as a reliever, now that he’s finally figured out what works.
He’s the elder statesman on the Rangers roster, nobody’s been here on the active roster longer than he has.
I bet you it means we might get some movement regading the bullpen and the “Hot Stove”. Who would you bring in to replace him, or just use another kid from the farm?

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New 2009 Uniforms

The first year Buck Showalter was here, I attended a Winter Carnival before he had managed a single game. The date of this was February 1, 2003. I had gotten into a Q&A session with Buck which was held in that auditorium room behind the museum. So I get in there, take my seat, and wait for things to get started. I wasn’t doing much of anything, and it was then I realized that Buck himself had come over to me. I looked up, and Buck introduced himself to me with a handshake, saying “Hi, I’m Buck Showalter, Rangers manager”. I thought a second and said “Hi, I’m Joe Siegler… uh… FAN!” :) Anyway, Buck asked me if I preferred the red Rangers hats to the blue. I said I far prefer it to the blue, to which Buck said “Well, the coaches will be wearing the red hats in spring training, hopefully to give Mr. Hicks a few ideas”.
These ideas took a long time to take hold. Buck’s coaches did wear them in Spring Training, and I thought it was distinctive. You could spot a coach easily, since they were the only ones on the field wearing red hats.
Well, in 2009 we finally have red back in the uniforms. Oh, there’s been some minor red in trim areas, but let’s face it, red hasn’t been a real uniform color for years. There was a press conference today where the Rangers unveiled several new uniforms. It appears that every one has been changed up somewhat. I’ll get into the individual uniforms below. Just as a reminder, this was what the uniforms looked like the last time red was the primary color:

Here’s a quick refresher on the last couple of times there were any kind of uniform change or addition. If you’re reading this on an rss feed, you’ll need to click over to my website to see the rest of this story (it’s long, and I didn’t want that huge of a story on the front page).

[Read more...]

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A Few Remarks on Recent Things

It’s been awhile since I offered any big opinions on anything, so I’m going to post about several of them all at once. Here goes:
Michael Young:
You know, as the Michael Young thing broke, I have to admit I didn’t know what to write. When it was first announced he wanted a trade, my first thought was “Wow”. I thought a bit, and couldn’t come up with something more profound than that, so I didn’t say anything. The details came out that Michael Young was “told” he was moving to third base. I felt a little bit that he should have been talked with about it, instead of talked “TO” about it. Granted, we don’t know the exact tone of the conversations, we weren’t in there, so we have just the news reports and the reporter accounting of the issue. None of which had first hand insight into the actual meetings as such. Then there’s the other issue. If I tried at my job to say “No, I don’t think I’m going to do what you told me to, I want to go to another company”, I’d be thrown out on my ass faster than you can say “recession”. So I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for multimillionaires who don’t want to do what their boss tells them. No, not at all.
Still, having said that, you don’t want arguably the biggest name on your team to be unhappy, so you start looking into the trade possibilities. The problem is, most of the money we were paying Michael Young was not for his performance on the field. He was paid to be the “face of the franchise”. Intangible money like that doesn’t translate well when talking about trades. Michael Young is a great player both on the field and off. However, when you pay someone for “off the field”, it’s hard to get another team to buy into that. If you look at it just on the dollars vs the on the field stuff, he’s overpaid – big time. Especially when we get to the back end of the contract. So yeah, it would have been hard to move that. Felt we had a very little chance of moving him, which probably would have meant an unhappy player.
Then the equally surprising move that Michael Young decided to accept the move to third came down the pike. Michael said all the right things when it was announced. It appeared that Nolan Ryan stepped in to work it out (as he should, he’s the team president after all), but one gets the feeling that Young still isn’t too thrilled about it. Provided this team doesn’t finish under .500 again, or Elvis Andrus makes 50 errors, and Young makes the transition well enough, this should be OK. The Rangers have Steve Buchele on staff, he can help Michael with that. What’s Dean Palmer doing these days? Give him a ring. Heck, he can even call his old buddy Alex Rodriguez, if he’s not too busy chasing down Madonna or just counting his money.
Bit of a sticky time here, but it seems to have worked itself out on the surface. We’ll see as we get into the season how it all works out.
Newspaper Coverage
Saw in this morning’s Newberg Report about a merging of the local beat writers between the Dallas Morning News & Ft Worth Star Telegram writers. Not just for the Rangers, but for other sports too. Now I couldn’t care less about the Cowboys or the Mavericks, but the Rangers & Stars I am interested in. That’s not entirely fair, I like the Mavs sometimes, but I rarely read about ‘em in the paper.
Anyway, it appears according to this that the FTW guys are the only “beat” guys now. It would appear that Evan Grant & Richard Durett are out of a job covering baseball. Now I don’t know all the facts here. The only place I’ve seen this story covered is Jamey’s update for today – I’ve not seen it in the other two newsletters. I may have just missed that (which is possible, as I’ve had some family stuff going on this week), but it would appear that the FTW guys are going to just be the baseball writers in the Dallas Morning News.
To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me before too long if the Dallas Morning News & Ft Worth Star Telegram end up merging totally. Given the horrible state newspapers were in before this current economic mess, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them merge completely to stay in existance.
So long as Jean-Jacques Taylor and Randy Galloway stay out of Rangers coverage, I’ll be happy. Taylor seems to have a disdain for covering baseball almost as strong as Newy Scruggs does, I never like reading. Randy Galloway seems far too bitter to have any opinions that can’t be translated as “Screw the Rangers, they’re all losers”, that I don’t want to listen to him, either.
Omar Vizquel:
Word came out last night that the Rangers were trying to sign Omar Vizquel to play as a backup shortstop to the Rangers. My initial knee-jerk reaction after reading that was to think? Him? Middle infield in the fastest infield in the AL? Come on – what’s with that? I immediately IM’ed Jamey Newberg, and said this:

(11:15:02 PM) Joe Siegler: Omar Vizquel? WTF
(11:15:35 PM) Jamey Newberg: why WTF?
(11:16:04 PM) Joe Siegler: Just seems bizarre to me. Yeah, I know all the logical reasons, but you don’t go ancient for a backup, we have enough of our own kids to fill that role.
(11:16:20 PM) Jamey Newberg: c’mon
(11:16:22 PM) Jamey Newberg: like who
(11:17:10 PM) Joe Siegler: I would have started by not moving Michael Young from SS. I suppose I should write about all this stuff on my site. Get it out. :)

He’s right though – who would we have as a backup? As I said above, I would have never moved Michael Young in the first place. But he’s moved. So we need to do something. Secondly,I would have kept Ramon Vazquez as the guy. But he’s not here, and he really deserves to start (although I don’t think he’s going to win anything in Steel Town). When I made the comment to Jamey, I was thinking along the lines of German Duran, or Joaquin Arias. I mean, Arias was groomed as a big deal shortstop for awhile. But it seems, according to all the press I’ve read today that we’re going after Omar Vizquel. In his prime, he was a stellar player. At the tail end of his career here, he can probably help us in a backup role, and as well as mentoring. Not that Michael Young is a bad mentor (he’s great), but it can’t hurt to have another really knowledgable shortstop to help out.
So yeah, I was fairly prophetic in what I said with Jamey. Type it out, and I’l feel better. While I still think we’d do OK with Arias as a backup, I guess Vizquel won’t be horrible. I suppose I’m in the “Meh” category about this.
New Advertising:
It appears that the new advertising slogan for 2009 will be “Built for Fun”. The Official Rangers site has changed its masthead to show this.

For the last two years, it’s been “You could Use Some Baseball, and looked like this:

I rather liked the billboards around town for the last two years that were part of this campaign. I don’t suppose this makes a huge difference, but I rather liked “You could use some baseball”. I guess we’ll have to see how this new one plays out.
Don Zimmer:
Saw today that former Rangers manager and overall good guy Don Zimmer had a stroke. Strokes are never a good thing, but in reading about this one, it doesn’t seem too bad. Some of them are debilitating, and it appears he will be able to go to camp with the Rays. I met Zim once two years ago in spring training when the Phillies were playing the Rays. I’ve read both of his books. Always admired him, will be grateful for his recovery.
Josh Hamilton:
Saw this story where someone got mad that Sony picked Dustin Pedroia for the cover of MLB 09: The Show instead of Josh Hamilton. Check it out, it’s an interesting read.

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Michael Young

I’m still pretty surprised by the Michael Young thing.
I don’t know what to say about it, which is why I haven’t said anything.

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Dave Barnett is the new radio guy

From the day it was announced that Victor Rojas was leaving the Rangers to go work for the MLB Network, you haven’t heard anything about a replacement. Or at least I didn’t. I was surprised at how LITTLE you heard about this. All I heard at the time was that both Victor & Josh were up for the TV job in San Diego with the Padres. I still wish that Josh would have taken that to be “Mr. San Diego”, then bump Victor to TV and bring in someone new for radio. Didn’t get that, but we did get a new radio guy today.
It was announced this afternoon that Vic’s replacement in the radio booth is a guy by the name of Dave Barnett. I don’t have much to say about him, because I don’t know who he is. I IM’ed Jamey about it, and he replied with the fact that he used to do Rangers TV back in the 80’s, and national work since. I didn’t move to this area until the 1992-1993 offseason, so that was before my time. Jamey did call the hire “fantastic” in the IM chat with me, so that’s encouraging. He also spooged about the dude in an email update a few minutes before I wrote this. :)
Check out the story on the Rangers site for more details about him. Hopefully he shows up at the Winter Carnival in a couple of weeks. Be nice to meet him and say Hi.
I did get a small chuckle out of this quote from the Rangers site story. “Nadel, who has been the lead broadcaster on radio since 1995, had significant input into the hire.” If they made this move without major input by Eric Nadel, that would be a massive mistake!
While the broadcast didn’t say anything about it, one would assume that Barnett would pull the double duty that Victor Rojas did and fill in for Josh Lewin on TV when he’s off doing Chargers games. Scratch that. According to this story on the FTWST website, he’ll be doing the same thing that Vic did subbing for Josh. I’ve updated my broadcaster history page for 2009 with Dave Barnett, and assuming the sentence above is correct. Check it out.
The FTWST article does have this quote:

“For the last couple of years I’ve been looking for a situation where I could work with a team again and still work with ESPN,” Barnett said from his home in Denton.

Does this mean that Barnett will also be leaving to do work for ESPN during the season? I don’t like that about Lewin, he should be there for all 162 games. I don’t like these disappearances.
After posting this article, and looking at the picture, he looks like he could be Howie Long’s brother. :)

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Derrick Turnbow et al.

The Rangers have decided to kick the tires of deposed Milwaukee closer, Derrick Turnbow.
Turnbow who spent the last four years in the Brewers organization comes to us after having spent most of 2008 on the shelf. He pitched just eight games this past season, so his numbers aren’t probably relevant. Which is good, as his ERA in 2008 was 15.63! :eek:
He’s obviously here because of our new pitching coach, Mike Maddux. A couple of years ago, he was quite the dominant closer in Milwaukee, and if he has healed, and can recapture that, it probably will help us. He was deposed before he got hurt and couldn’t play. So hopefully his signing isn’t a case of a pitcher forgetting how to pick (hello Rick Ankiel). Still, it’s a minor league deal, so he has to prove he can pitch to make the club. If he does make the club, his salary will be $925,000 plus another $300k or so in incentives. Not the worst deal from the Rangers standpoint if he does make the club and then stink up the joint.
We also signed two other guys to minor league deals. Casey Daigle and Elizardo Ramirez. Elizardo had a cup of coffee with the Rangers in 2008, but didn’t really distinguish himself. Daigle I don’t know anything about, so I don’t have a ton to write about here on these guys.
None of these signings make me want to jump up and down, but none make me want to go “D’oh!” either. We’ll have to wait and see what happens here in the spring.

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Ballpark Upgrades for 2009

Last week, it was announced that the Ballpark in Arlington would be getting some video board upgrades. This is something that has been long since overdue. The changes are a mixture of additions and replacements, plus a couple of subtractions. Since I have a wealth of pictures of the place I’ve taken over the years, I’ll enhance with my own pictures showing the current status, as well as a few words of my own.
Given this will end up being a long article (due to my inclusion of pictures), I’m splitting it off onto its own page. If you’re reading this in a feed reader, you’ll have to visit my site to get the whole article.

[Read more...]

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Sayonara, Victor Rojas

I was expecting to have to brace myself to say goodbye to Victor to see him go to the Padres. Not to Northern New Jersey. Victor was hired by the MLB Network to do both in studio stuff as well as play by play. I will really miss him. I’ve really enjoyed Victor in the years here was here. There’s donut I can think of to say about him in a negative light.
While I will really miss him on Rangers broadcasts, I expect MLB Network to be a daily staple in my house anyway, so I won’t miss him TOO much.
Now, as to the issue of his replacement with Eric Nadel..

NO MIKE OGULNICK!

IF THAT HAPPENS, THE RADIO WILL NEVER GET TURNED ON AGAIN FOR A RANGERS GAME! COUNT ON IT. Put Steve Busby there. Or heck, get radical. Hire Jamey Newberg. Put him in the booth.
Makes me wonder what will happen if Josh Lewin is hired by the Padres now. Bring back Scott Franzke from Philadelphia, perhaps? Will make next season look quite different.

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Names being tossed about

Since the Winter meetings have started in Vegas, I’ve seen a lot of names tossed around connected to the Rangers. I’ll weigh in (like you were really waiting to hear what I’d say anyway) with some thoughts on these.
First off, I’m seriously glad we haven’t heard the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” more. That’s another one of those phrases that’s worked its way into the American lexicon that needs to go away. That out of the way, here’s what I think of:
Kerry Wood: There was a bunch of talk about Kerry Wood coming here. I know early on his career he was one of those guys you’d give up the farm to get here. Local boy playing for the Rangers would make for a great feel good story. He’s turned it around lately as a closer. I would have liked if he came here for the touchy feely aspects (I did like the Jason Jennings sign for the same reason). However, if he came here, he’d be the defacto closer, pushing CJ and Frankie backwards in the innings slots. Still, I don’t think the world would have ended had he come here. Reports today say he’s signing with the Indians anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, I suppose.
Randy Johnson: This is probably a Nolan Ryan thing. Bet you that if he wasn’t the team president, this wouldn’t be an option. I keep thinking about that famed meeting between Johnson & Nolan back in Seattle ages ago where supposedly Ryan turned around Johnson. If he came here it would be for a back end of the rotation guy as well as the famed “mentor” tag. This wouldn’t make me jump up and down with excitement if it happened, but I probably wouldn’t be too mad about it either. Depended on money, I suppose as to what my level of excitement would be. We’ve heard that we can’t make certain moves without doing things like moving Blalock for salary room, so if we sign him to $8 million, I’m not buying the “move salary” excuse for anyone else.
Ben Sheets: The obvious connection here is our new pitching coach, Mike Maddux. Maddux being Sheets’ pitching coach in Milwaukee for awhile. There’s also the local story going on here, as Sheets is from this area. This probably would be an OK signing, but again – contract. I would love a kick the tires contract, but that’s unlikely to happen. Keep him on the field, and he’d probably be pretty decent. But that’s the kicker, keeping him on the field. We’ve taken a lot of fliers on guys in recent years who couldn’t stay on the field (Jason Jennings, Adam Eaton, and of course the king of this department, Justin Thompson). I’m indifferent towards this idea, but at the same time realizing it could work.
Gary Sheffield: Haven’t we been down this path before with Carl Everett, Milton Bradley, and to a lesser extent, John Rocker? Of all these “tempramental, but could work if the stars align” players we’ve signed or looked at over the years, Sheffield excites me the least. He’s way on the decline, and I would go nuts watching that bat waggle 162 games. Ugh. Pass. Hope this doesn’t happen.
Eddie Guardado: I wrote this last summer when we traded Eddie to the Twins, I wrote the following about the move..

Eddie Guardado was traded to the Twins today, his original organization. Eddie was one of those guys that when we first signed him back in January, I thought “What the heck are we doing?” Turned out Eddie was a great guy, pitched pretty well, if not spectacular, and had a fire in him that you wished more guys had. Still, we’re not going anywhere, and if he can help the Twins, I wish him well.

I still agree with that. He was a great move for us last year. If he can do the same thing in 2009, I wouldn’t mind having him here at all. I’d be behind this move. Speaking of Eddie, whatever happened to Mark Hamburger (the guy we got from the Twins for Eddie)? I can’t recall hearing his name uttered since the trade, tell you the truth.
GOING THE OTHER WAY:
Hank Blalock: I still think he’s going to be moved before the season starts. I can’t give you facts, or a reliable link. It’s just a gut feeling. My unscientific, and unlinking rambling says that it’s the Giants.
Michael Young: When I saw the reports that we were “quietly shopping” Michael Young, I did actually utter “what?” at my computer screen. Mostly because I couldn’t see us moving him this soon after signing that huge extension. The only moving I see him do is to third base (or back to second). It’s not one of those blind fan things like “You can’t trade him! I love Michael!!!!!!!”. It’s more a “who would want that contract”, and it’s not like he’s a bad player, either.
Jarrod Saltamacchia: With Laird off to the Motor City, I have a hard time seeing that we’ll move one of our remaining guys now. The current situation is a split (I think) between Salty and Teagarden, with Ramirez in AAA. If we moved Salty, it had better be for a big return – meaning something major league ready, as it would leave our catching team as Teargden and Ramirez, and feeling suddenly thin again pretty quickly after being too deep. There’s talks that Florida wants Salty, but the Rangers aren’t interested unless we include 22-year-old right-hander Chris Volstad. There’s also talk that the Marlins are kicking the tires on Pudge again.

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Breathing Room Behind the Plate

I think everyone expected the Rangers to not go into 2009 carrying four catchers. That logjam was relieved somewhat early this morning when Gerald Laird was traded to the Detroit Tigers.
In return, we got two minor league pitching prospects. Their names were Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. Stats and writeup about minor leaguers I’ve never heard before are not my strong point, so I’m going to shamelessly rip off what Scott Lucas (of the Newberg Report) wrote about them.

Used mostly as a starter, the 25-year-old, 6’1″ righty walked eight and struck out 50 in 34.2 innings with a 3.12 ERA in AA Erie. Earlier in 2008, he posted a 2.42 ERA in 52 high-A innings. As Jamey mentioned, Moscoso was recently named Detroit’s #10 prospect by Baseball America. He’s presently pitching for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan League, where he has an 8.36 ERA in 14 relief innings.
In addition to Guillermo Moscoso, Texas will receive 6’3″ RHP Carlos Melo, a native of the Dominican Republic. Melo made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2008, posting a 5.14 ERA in 49 innings. Per Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, Melo “is known for an electric fastball that averages well over 90 miles per hour.” Melo struck out 61 of 187 batters faced (33%) and walked 20 (11%) in the DSL.

While I’m sure these guys are pretty decent prospects, I do have to admit to being disappointed that we didn’t get anything major league ready (or at least close to it) in return. Catcher was one of our rare really strong points, and I do have to say I really wanted something back that would show an immediate impact in Arlington. From what I’ve read online, that’s neither of these guys. We’ve had way too many trades over the last several years that would fall under “bag of magic beans” category, and while I can’t say that about the two new inbound prospects, I can’t get over that feeling of “Oh great, here we go again”.
I always felt Laird got the shaft when he got hurt, and lost his job here to Rod Barajas at the time. Given our catching logjam wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, perhaps it’s best to send him somewhere that he’ll get a chance to play. It’s mildly interesting that Laird will become the regular catcher in Detroit, replacing their last regular catcher, a former Rangers catcher who famously wore #7 during his time here (yeah, I know he was with the Yankees at the end of the season, but you know what I mean).
This will immediately make Saltamacchia and Teagarden the major league catching team in Arlington, with Max Ramirez going to AAA, I would wager. I’d also expect us to sign a journeyman veteran catcher to play with Ramirez in AAA (A Guillermo Quiroz / Adam Melhuse kind of guy). Laird was our best “game calling” catcher, so hopefully Saltamacchia can step that up. The biggest plus for Laird was his superior defense. Hopefully the guys who we will go to battle with in 09 can pick it up, as Laird’s gundown rate was pretty darned good.
Also, ESPN’s MLB site is currently running a poll asking which is the best remaining catcher the Rangers have? I’ve embedded the poll here on my site below:
Edit: They’ve changed the poll to something else, but when I last looked at it, Jarrod Saltamacchia was leading with a 72% vote.