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2009 Ticket Price Changes

I received a flyer from the Rangers yesterday for 2009 full and half season ticket plans. Unless I win the lottery, I’m not doing THAT. But, it does have one thing in it I had not seen before. 2009 ticket prices. One would think that with the economy in the toilet, that they wouldn’t raise any prices. Not so. Almost all of them are going up in some capacity. The majority of the increases are small (on the order of a dollar), and almost all of them are in the “Premium Game” group. Still, I broke out a 2008 pocket schedule, and compared it to the 2009 flyer. Here’s what I found:
Changed ticket prices:

Section 2008 2009 2008P 2009P Change
Cuervo Club (the leather seats in the bar) $125 $125 $134 $140 0 / +$6 (P)
Premium Infield (18-34 First 1/3 of rows, – the first 2-3) $75 $80 $84 $95 +$5 / $15 (P)
Lexus Club Infield (222-230) $70 $70 $79 $85 0 / $6 (P)
Lower Infield (18-34 The rest of the rows) $60 $65 $69 $80 +$5 / +$15 (P)
Lower Box (14-17, 35,38, 115-136) $50 $50 $59 $60 0 / +$1 (P)
Lexus Club Box (217-221, 231-235) $45 $45 $54 $55 0 / +$1 (P)
Corner Box (10-13, 39-42, 112-114, 137-139) $33 $33 $42 $43 0 / +$1 (P)
Lower Reserved (3-9, 44-49) $25 $25 $29 $30 0 / +$1 (P)
Lexus Club Terrace (201-216, 236-245) $25 $25 $29 $30 0 / +$1 (P)
Upper Home Run Porch (246-252) $15 $15 $19 $20 09 is "Guess" – see notes
Upper Box (316-335, Rows 1-12) $20 $20 $24 $25 0 / +$1 (P)
Bleachers (50-54) $16 $16 $20 $21 0 / +$1 (P)
Upper Reserved (308-315, 336-338, 316-335 Rows 13 & Up) $15 $15 $19 $20 0 / +$1 (P)
Grandstand Reserved (301-307 (SUN!), 339-345) $6 $6 $10 $11 0 / +$1 (P)

A few notes. The Commissioner’s Box and the VIP Infield sections are listed as N/A. That’s presumably because you can’t buy them on the fly, they’re usually dignitaries, or are already gone, so I’m not surprised those aren’t listed.
The Upper Home Run Porch has N/A as it’s prices in this chart, which I find odd, as that never sells out – unless the entire game is sold out. Not even close. Given the prices I’ve seen in this comparison, I have to imagine it’s the same as the others. The regular price is the same, and the premium is up $1. That’s why I have “guess” in the chart above.
The Premium games are listed as:

  • April 6 (Indians – Home Opener)
  • May 16 (Angels, Saturday game, not sure why this one)
  • May 25-27 (Yankees)
  • June 13 (Dodgers, Saturday Interleague game)
  • June 27 (Padres, Saturday Interleague game)
  • July 18 (Twins, Saturday game, not sure why this one)
  • July 20-22 (Red Sox)
  • August 1 (Mariners, Saturday game, not sure why this one)
  • August 14-16 (Red Sox)

I’m sure if this gets covered at all in the press, the Rangers response will be something like “90% of the tickets are going up only $1 and only for 16 games”. They’re right mostly – the majority of people won’t be affected too much.
But still. This is just more evidence that the team still doesn’t GET IT. They want less empty seats? Either win, or cut your prices. Don’t sneak tiny price hikes out there like this.
Bet you beer goes up another quarter, too.

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Stuff

A few thoughts about a few things recently in RangerLandâ„¢. :)
Arbitration:
To no one’s surprise, Milton Bradley was offered arbitration. I think most everyone would like him to be back in 2009, but Milton made a lot of noise about retiring if he doesn’t get a multiyear deal. I don’t see THAT happening, but he’ll probably try. The arbitration offer will definitely call his bluff on the retiring thing. I really don’t know which way he’ll go on the decision, which is due on Sunday night at 11PM. Assuming he doesn’t take it, we’ll get a sandwich pick between Rounds 1 & 2 of next year’s draft.
The other players we had eligible for arbitration (Jamey Wright, Jason Jennings, & Ramon Vazquez) were not offered arbitration. I don’t see Jamey Wright coming back in 2009. Ramon Vazquez is being courted by a few teams in the National League, plus we have some other guys (Arias, Duran) who can play the super sub role. Jason Jennings will probably get a minor league deal. I’ve seen a few remarks in the last few days that both sides seem to want that, and is a “can’t hurt” kind of idea, since he’s off the 40 man.
Speaking of players not offered arbitration.. If Bradley doesn’t come back, I wouldn’t mind taking a flyer on Pat Burrell to replace his bat in the lineup. If Burrell doesn’t go back to Philly, he might want a one year “make good” contract, which could work here. Their numbers in 2008:
Games: Burrell 157, Bradley 126
AB: Burrell 536, Bradley 414
H: Burrell 134, Bradley 133
AVG: Burrell .250, Bradley .321
HR: Burrell 33, Bradley 22
RBI: Burrell 86, Bradley 77
BB: Burrell 102, Bradley 112
K: Burrell 136, Bradley 112
OBP: Burrell .367, Bradley .436
SLG: Burrell .507, Bradley .536
Burrell has a lower batting average, but the power numbers are somewhat better than Bradley – but he did also play more games. I’m not saying “GIMME BURRELL!”, but if he’s available on a decent short term deal, I wouldn’t be upset.
Spring Training Schedule Released:
The other day the Rangers announced the schedule for Spring training. I’ve updated my site’s schedule page with the 2009 schedule. I found the way I did it in 2008 was by far the easiest I’ve had in all my years doing this site (2009 will be the 11th season since I started this site). The biggest problem I’ve always had was doing the game update, and then having to do the index page. Last year I got some templates in place which allowed me to update the game, and then the schedule page would be updated with the result, and a link to my commentary. I’m doing the same thing for 2009. The hassle is in setting it up – it takes about two hours to set up one month’s page, it’s really tedious template work, but it pays off during the season with zero work to update. Anyway, check out my schedule.
A note about spring training this year. Traditionally the Rangers have only scheduled a single off day. This year there are four scheduled off days during spring training. I wonder if that’s any sort of concession to the World Baseball Classic. Radio and TV has not been announced for spring yet, but generally Saturday and Sunday games are on the radio (and the odd Friday game), and two games are on TV at the end of spring training. My guess is they’ll follow that pattern again, but I don’t have firm info on that yet.
Padres and our broadcasters:
There was a report not too long ago that the San Diego Padres are considering both Josh Lewin & Victor Rojas for their open TV broadcaster slot. I have to say I’ve grown to really like Victor Rojas, and would be bummed out if he left. Obviously, if he was offered the job, it’s a promotion for him, and that would be good for Vic. Bad for us. This is what I wish would happen.. The Padres hire Josh Lewin to be “Mr. San Diego”. As he’s already a broadcaster for the Chargers, it could work in that regard. You then promote Victor Rojas to be the play by play guy for the Rangers on TV. Then hire back Scott Franzke from the Phillies to be Eric’s radio partner. That’s unlikely to happen as Franzke is already on TV in Philly. Philly announcers do it differently than here – there’s no dedicated radio & TV guys. It’s just broadcasters, and after three innings or so, they switch from TV to radio, so you never have the same announcers for an entire game. So Scott would be unlikely to return. However, DO NOT PROMOTE MIKE OGULNICK FROM THE POST-GAME SHOW! (OR JIM KNOX FOR THAT MATTER) He is the reason I have stopped listening to the Rangers postgame show completely. If they put him on radio, I’d probably have to stop listening to that too – despite Nadel being there. Shudder.
So yeah, I don’t want Victor to go anywhere. Please.
Mariners Raid:
The Mariners hired Don Wakamatsu as their manager, and when he was signed, it didn’t occur to me that he might raid our staff. There’s widespread reports that Rick Adair, our minor league pitching coordinator as their new bullpen coach. On top of that, our former pitching coach Mark Connor is supposed to be named their pitching coach. I’m sure the Adair move will bug Jamey Newberg more than me, but I don’t see it as the end of the world. I guess because I haven’t seen a tremendous amount of success at the major league level with the guys that have come out of the minor leagues. Yeah, yeah – I know. There’s a million variables behind that, and it can’t be blanketed with a comment that easily.

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Kazuo Fukumori

Back in early November, Jamey Newberg had this in one of his email reports:

According to MLB.com, right-handed reliever Kazuo Fukumori signed a minor league contract to return to the Rangers.

I find that odd, as his original contract was a one year deal with team options for 2009 & 2010. He had a $1.4 Million salary for 2008, and the same in 2009 and $1.75 Million in 2010. Both 09 & 10 were team options with $200k buyouts each. If they resigned him to a minor league deal, that tells me that they bought out the two option years, and resigned him. I’ve not seen anything about this anywhere online – and Jamey didn’t know anything about it, either.
Does anyone reading this know what happened with the Fukumori option years – officially? If so, pass along a link or something in the comments. Danke.
UPDATE: I found a link on the Sporting News Canada website that says the Rangers technically released him back on May 11th, which would have meant a buyout of his options (plus presumably payment of the remaining 2008 salary). Still kind of surprised I never saw this get any news reporting until now – and even then only because I went and dug for it.

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Of Gloves and Contracts [UPDATE]

Yesterday afternoon, Michael Young got some vindication when he won the 2008 AL Gold Glove award for shortstop. This has been a bone of contention between Rangers fans and the uh “National media”, who always seemed to slag Young on defense. There were always these really strange sabre-metric things which showed Young at the bottom of the barrel defensively, that other guys are better shortstops if you apply these strange numbers and conditions (like what compass direction a digested twinkie is moving in your digestive system). But you just had to watch Young to know he was a good shortstop. If you’re one of these people who rely on strange numbers to prove anything, I think you’re missing the point. Use your eyes, not your head – Young is a great defensive shortstop. Now I don’t make a case that he’s the best ever, but he’s certainly up near the top of the game. I think by the time his career is over, he’ll have amassed a huge number of individual awards beyond the ones he already has. Will he have a ring to go with it? Hopefully. :)
His 2008 numbers were quite good. He had a .984 fielding percentage, which was second in the majors (behind only Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies). He lead all shortstops by being involved in 113 double plays (which is more of a team stat than an individual stat, really), and ranked second in assists and total chances. I think he’s pretty deserving, and yeah, I’m a Rangers fan, so I’m bound to say that. But show me someone in the AL who is better this past year. Unless you’re going to play the homer vote for your own team, you can’t, really.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is Hank Blalock. As I type this sentence at 12:46PM on Friday, the Rangers have not yet picked up Blalock’s option. Several local media outlets have said that it’s a foregone conclusion he will, so I’m writing this as if they already have. If for some reason they do not, I’ll have to re-edit this story later today. :) Anyway, with Blalock’s option picked up for 2009, he’s on the books for $6.2 Million. Apparently, the reason it hasn’t been picked up so far is the Rangers wanted to talk to him face to face, and tell him what they have planned. Which, according to several published reports is to trade him for pitching. If we kept him, it wouldn’t be awful, but would create a logjam. Blalock probably can’t effectively play third anymore, so he’d be either at first or at DH. Being at first puts a block on Chris Davis. Now Davis can go play third, but he’s better at first. I also personally have never liked the concept of a dedicated DH. I always felt that the DH should be an open position that someone who is hurt, or needs a day off can go bat, and not strain themselves too much on the field. I think Blalock will be moved somewhere in the offseason, Chris Davis will open at first.
That leaves a regular third base job open. The immediate thought would be Ramon Vazquez (they’d have to sign him for more than one year, and hand him third base to keep him), or Travis Metcalf. He can play third, but his long term bat is still a bit suspect, I think. We’ve been hearing the Rangers kick the tires of a few free agent third baseman, none of which really excites me. I’d rather take my chances with Metcalf, or resign Vazquez to play 3B.
As for Blalock, though, I always felt he’d be here for a long time, it’s a shame it appears he’s on his way out. Guess there will be no more Hank’s Homies. They’ve been gone as a regular game sight for awhile, but this would finish them off, I’m sure. That was quite fun when it was new.
Anyway, congratulations to Michael Young on his Gold Glove. Hopefully he wins some more hardware to go with that. Like one all of us can celebrate.
UPDATE @ 5PM Friday: Just noticed that Blalock’s option was officially picked up. No surprise there – I think the shock would have been if they did not. Of course, now the fun begins as to see what we do with him. I did find it funny that the Rangers official site used this headline on the site for this story. “Rangers bring back Blalock for 2009 campaign”. That’s not quite what they did. They picked up his option. Misleading headline there. :)

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Mike Maddux & Coaching Stuff

I meant to write about this the day it happened, but I was having a bit of a pain flareup, and was not in the mood to creatively write. Now I’m laying in my bed with my leg raised up on a pillow, and leaning to my site to write on my laptop after about seven hours of watching election returns. A quick note about that. I really enjoyed the returns on my HDTV with NBC’s coverage. The space on the side that you wouldn’t see on an old style TV was filled up with other info (recent state wins, electoral tally, etc) which was really cool to have while the main talking was going on. I enjoyed that.
Anyway, the other day the Rangers hired Mike Maddux to be their pitching coach. By all accounts, this is a great hire. There are a lot of numbers you can point at during his tenure in Milwaukee. Their ERA was great, several pitchers who left there tanked elsewhere. As a fan of the team, all the local fan website writers are all behind the move – and I am, too. This move should really help our team with one if its biggest problems – pitching. If you’re reading this site, you are no stranger to the numbers that comprise the Rangers pitching staff stats. 5.97 ERA last season, and while I don’t have them in front of me, they weren’t much better in any of the other recent years. Maddux’ pedigree says he should help improve our staff. You know it, I know it, Jamey Newberg knows it, and team management expects it.
Thats’ where my excitement about a pitching coach hire ends – because I think this is not the kind of hire that will excite the fanbase, really. Why? If you are reading this site, or any of the other Ranger fan sites (Baseball Time in Arlington, Lone Star Ball, Jamey’s site, etc, etc, etc..) then you know the value. But your average Joe Six Pack (yeah, had to work in another presidential thing) doesn’t really care about that. I’m talking about the doofuses who call in to post game shows and go “When are we going to get some pitching in here?” These are the guys who will look at the 2009 rotation of Millwood, Padilla, Feldman, Harrison, & ? and go “These are the same guys – they’re not doing aything!” Your average fan who is interested only in things like the all you can eat seats won’t give a rats spit about the coaches. They want wins. Obviously, we all want that, but unless you’re a fan who reads a site like mine, you probably don’t care whether the pitching coach is Dick Bosman, Orel Hershisher, Oscar Ocosta, Mark Connor, or Mike Maddux.
Having said that, I think the move is a good one, it should help us. I’d be surprised if it helps us in 2009, though. I’m sure we’ll see an improvement, but probably not an immediate dramatic one. It’s probably a good idea that we kept on Andy Hawkins on the staff. His familiarity will certainly help, I’m sure.
I still think we should have John Wetteland as a bullpen coach, however. Would LOVE to see that.

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Here we go, another off season

Well, the World Series is over, and my home town Phillies won. It was quite a surreal feeling, my franchise is not used to winning. Yeah, you heard a lot about how we won in 1980, and that was awesome. I was 15 at the time. I thought it was great! Then the years went on, we got teased in 1983 with the Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, & Tony Pena mostly Reds Phillies team. We got teased again in 1993 (Friggin Joe Carter can TOUCH THIS!).. But overall, the Phillies are a historically bad franchise. They lose. A lot. So when I sat there on Wednesday night watching the three and a half inning game, I didn’t know what to feel. I couldn’t go much of anywhere, since I”m confined to a recliner or the bed due to my surgery, but at least I got to experience the World Series in High Definition (save for game 1, which was in a hospital bed). The parade is going on now as I write this. ESPNNEWS is carrying parts of it, but not the whole thing, which disappointed me. Hopefully the eventual DVD of the World Series will have the whole parade on it. To finish up on that, I’ll quote a sign I saw in the stands right after the game was over. “Mitch, we forgive you!” :)
Anyway, now that the World Series is over, the other stuff starts. The off season. As with every Rangers off season, we’ll be looking to shore up pitching. That seems to be the story every season. I’m sure we’ll also hear a lot about how bad the Rays were last year, and they went to the World Series. While of course, anything can happen, I can’t see the Rangers doing that. The Rays seemed to have a better foundation of pitching. We have too many holes to fill. Oh sure, a perfect storm of pitching would be great, but I can’t see it happening.
Yesterday, the first batch of Rangers filed for free agency. I’ll say something about them below. My gut feeling is no big name comes in here, if we do have any inbounds, it will probably be a name like a Joe Blanton that the Phillies got – no name that will set the world on fire, but someone who is “good”. Might be via Blalock, who knows. Here goes, the Rangers who have filed for free agency:
Hank Blalock: I must not understand the technicalities of free agency filing, as the Rangers hold an option on Blalock. I was under the impression that he isn’t a free agent unless we decline his option, which is unlikely to happen. I think everyone in the world expects the Rangers to pick up his option for 2009. After that, who knows – but I think there’s a decent chance he’ll get traded in the offseason for some sort of startng pitching. However, if Bradley doesn’t return, it could make Blalock more attractive to keep – put him at DH, and play Chris Davis at first.
Milton Bradley: Milton has been making a lot of noise about how he will retire unless he gets a multi-year deal. Yes, he had a career year in 2008, and I have to admit, I liked him when he was on the field. But that’s his big question mark. He missed a decent (if not a lot) amount of time on the field, and there was a scramble at the end of the season for him to get qualifying at bats. That is not the mark of a truly healthy player. I would love to have Bradley back, but the only way I see him back here now is if nobody will give him a multi-year deal. I could see us offering him a one year with a team option, but my guess is his ego won’t allow him to accept that. Shame.
Bradley was also declared a Type B Free Agent on Friday. That’s not as good news for the Rangers, as they were hoping for an A I’m sure. The Type B means that the Rangers wouldn’t get a good pick if someone else signed him after we offered arbitration. As a Type B, the Rangers would get a supplemental pick only. Oh well.
Ramon Vazquez: He has been fantastic for us here, and the only way I see him returning would be if they decide to play him as a regular third baseman under the Chris Davis scenario I mentioned above. If his slot would be utility guy, I can’t see that happening – he won’t want to do that again, I’m sure, and he deserves a better spot. Plus we have some other guys who can do the utility thing a lot cheaper (Joaquin Arias, German Duran). I don’t see him back. In memory of the 2008 season, I’ll take one last lift of the finger under my nose in his honor.
Jamey Wright: Jamey has been a decent, if not spectacular reliever for us. However, it’s always been on a minor league deal that he’s made the club on last cut. I don’t have any hard numbers or facts to back this up, but my feeling is that he won’t be back in 2009, they’ll want to take a chance on something or someone different.
Jason Jennings: Well, that didn’t work. Guy was hurt all the time, made just six starts. Hard to judge. The local boy makes good story was a good touchy feely thing, but it didn’t do squat on the field. Major unknown – I could see them offering him a minor league deal pretty easily.
That’s about it for the first wave of moves. I’m going to try and be more forthcoming with my thoughts this season. I said that going into 2008, and I stuck with it for awhile, but kind of fell off. I guess with guys like Adam, Joey, & Jamey out there, I sometimes feel my little opinions aren’t worth much.
But the reason I’m giving it a try is the folks who wrote me during my surgery and said they liked my site, and had been reading for awhile, enjoying what I do. Thanks to all who wrote in during my recovery, and a big thanks to all who prayed for me. I’m a big believer in the power of prayer, so to have random folks I don’t really know that well pray for my recovery… it’s a great blessing. Thank you.

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How many in 2008?

We have a winner! The answer was 55. That’s a lot of players. Here is a complete list of all the players that were on the big league roster for the Texas Rangers in 2008. I kept track of this all season, and I intend on doing so again in 2009.

Total players in 2008: 55
Total pitchers used in 2008: 30
Total position players used in 2008: 25
Total players making major league debut: 13

  • #55 – Brian Gordon (Sep 15 – Major League Debut)
  • #54 – Bill White (Aug 25)
  • #53 – Nelson Cruz (Aug 25)
  • #52 – Brandon McCarthy (Aug 22)
  • #51 – Joaquin Arias (Aug 18)
  • #50 – Jason Ellison (Aug 7 – DFA Aug 25)
  • #49 – Tommy Hunter (Aug 1 – Major League Debut)
  • #48 – Ryan Roberts (Jul 29 – Major League Debut)
  • #47 – Taylor Teagarden (Jul 18 – Major League Debut)
  • #46 – Joselo Diaz (Jul 11 – DFA Jul 18)
  • #45 – Matt Harrison (Jul 8 – Major League Debut)
  • #44 – Warner Madrigal (Jun 28 – Major League Debut)
  • #43 – Chris Davis (Jun 26 – Major League Debut)
  • #42 – Max Ramirez (Jun 21 – Major League Debut)
  • #41 – Eric Hurley (Jun 12 – Major League Debut)
  • #40 – Kameron Loe (Jun 4)
  • #39 – Elizardo Ramirez (Jun 3 – DFA Jun 8)
  • #38 – Robinson Tejeda (May 30 – DFA Jun 15)
  • #37 – Doug Mathis (May 11 – Major League Debut)
  • #36 – Travis Metcalf (May 8)
  • #35 – A.J. Murray (May 2)
  • #34 – Brandon Boggs (Apr 29 – Major League Debut)
  • #33 – Chris Shelton (Apr 29)
  • #32 – Sidney Ponson (Apr 26 – DFA Jun 6)
  • #31 – Jarrod Saltamacchia (Apr 25)
  • #30 – Frank Francisco (Apr 22)
  • #29 – German Duran (Apr 17 – Major League Debut)
  • #28 – Wes Littleton (Apr 14)
  • #27 – Scott Feldman (Apr 13)
  • #26 – Luis Mendoza (Apr 12)
  • #25 to #1: Joaquin Benoit, Franklyn German, Kazuo Fukumori (Major League Debut), Jason Jennings, Dustin Nippert, Kevin Millwood, Jamey Wright, Josh Rupe, Vicente Padilla, Kason Gabbard, Eddie Guardado (traded Aug 25), C.J. Wilson, Gerald Laird, Adam Melhuse (Released Apr 25), Hank Blalock, Jason Botts (traded Jun 4), Ben Broussard (Released May 15), Ian Kinsler, Ramon Vazquez, Michael Young, Milton Bradley, Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto, Josh Hamilton, David Murphy
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Josh Hamilton Book

Caught the commentary on the Josh Hamilton book the other night watching the game, and looked into it. It’s coming out on October 16th, and is apparently more of Josh’s personal life story. The book is available for pre-order from Amazon.com. Click on the book cover here to get to Amazon.com’s pre-order page (which is currently selling the book for 32% off). There’s more about the book in this story over on the Rangers’ site.

I know I’m behind on games again, I’ll catch up at some point, but I don’t know when right now, as my company is releasing a new product tomorrow, so I’m really tied up with that.

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Tentative 2009 Schedule Stuff

The Ft Worth Star Telegram has an article online today talking about the tentative 2009 schedule. According to that article..

  • The Rangers will open at home (against Cleveland)
  • The Rangers will close the season in Seattle again
  • Interleague Away: Astros, Giants, Diamondbacks
  • Interleague Home: Astros, Padres, Dodgers

I personally would prefer games start at 7:35 again, but I’ve ranted enough about that.

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Eddie Guardado traded to the Twins

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.
In return, we get minor league prospect Mark Hamburger. My first thought upon hearing that was not how well can he pitch, was “how badly can Josh Lewin go off on the obvious jokes there”? Since I’d never heard of him, I’m going to shamelessly steal from Jamey Newberg’s update about him (since Jamey seems to know everyone in every minor league team everywhere)…

The player Texas has acquired from Minnesota for Eddie Guardado is 21-year-old right-handed reliever Mark Hamburger, a Minnesota native who is 1-2, 4.17 with 13 saves in 14 tries for Elizabethton in the Short-Season Appalachian League. The lanky 6’4″ righty has held the league to a .250 average (righties have been particularly inept, hitting .221/.292/.305 off of him), striking out 40 and walking 13 in 36.2 innings while inducing 1.27 as many groundouts as flyouts. He posted a 1.20 ERA in 2007, logging 15 innings (12 hits, four walks, 12 strikeouts) after signing with the Twins as an undrafted free agent out of Mesabi Range Community College.

To take Eddie’s roster spot, the team purchased the contract of Bill White, who made a handful of appearances for the Rangers last year. Nine appearances with a little over 9 innings pitched, and an ERA of 4.82. Not the greatest numbers there, but by all accounts has been having a bangup year in 2008. Given that we’ve effectively tanked in August, we’ll probably see a lot more guys come up once the rosters expand next Monday.
The bigger question is – who will be the formal closer, or are we going to hear that phrase that ends in the word “committee” again?
UPDATE: The closer will be Frank Francisco. Probably not a terrible idea.
Also, the flip side of the Guardado trade is that Mike Lamb was designated for assignment by the Twins to make room.

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Video of CJ Wilson

This comes from a story I just read called “C.J. Wilson is a pud. Ron Washington is a stud.” I don’t know if it’s as hostile as this guy makes it out to be, but kudos to Washington for not taking that. Kind of reminds me of the Tomo Ohka “turn his back” on his manager walking to the mound. You can’t let your players give you crap like that. I wonder if this thing with Wash will put to rest the fan perception that Wash has no control, or is a weak manager.

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Ian Kinsler the first half AL MVP

Well, OK, there isn’t such a thing. At least not officially. Anyone who watches the Rangers all the time knows this already. But it’s nice to see a Ranger get some national love. Of course with the numbers Kinsler has been putting up, it’s hard to truly ignore him.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark has handed out his first half awards, and he names Ian Kinsler the first half AL MVP. Which is a pretty deserving award, I’d say. Here’s what Jayson had to say:

If you’re one of those folks who hasn’t paid much attention to Ian Kinsler — which at least puts you in a group that includes just about everyone in America except Mrs. Kinsler — it would probably come as a shock to hear he’s even the MVP of his own team. But while Josh Hamilton is a more charismatic story and Milton Bradley’s 1.033 OPS makes him a sabermetric hero, it’s Kinsler who has really been the centerpiece of one of the best offenses in baseball.
You’ll undoubtedly be stunned to learn that Kinsler leads the league in batting, hits, runs, total bases, extra-base hits and multihit games. He’s in the top five in the league in nine major offensive categories. He has stolen 23 bases in 24 tries (with the only caught-stealing on a pickoff). He’s hitting .397 with men in scoring position. Only three of his 14 homers have been hit in that Texas home run paradise. He has run off separate hitting streaks of 23 and 19 games just since mid-May. And he has reached base in every game but one since May 16.
The only arguments against him come down to defense (16 errors) and the fact that his team hasn’t been closer to first place than six games since June 1. But the Rangers actually have more wins since April 24 (42) than the White Sox (41), Angels (41) and Red Sox (40). So every number on Kinsler’s stat sheet is relevant to his club’s revival. And that’s good enough for us.

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Josh Hamilton

I was cleaning up my bookmarks file this morning, and found a couple of Josh Hamilton links I can’t recall if I mentioned before. Posting them in case you haven’t, either.
1) Josh’s Sports Illustrated Cover article
2) Video interview with Josh by Harold Reynolds of mlb.com.

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David Murphy

I was listening to “The Show” on XM Channel 175, and they had David Murphy on. Was nice to see him get some national love. He said the usual stuff you’d expect about his team and all that. But the thing he talked about which made me post this entry was rookie hazing.

He talked about how the Rangers last year had their rookie hazing – they took the rookies, and the vets with the most service time got to pick a rookie’s name and had them wear what they wanted. Murphy said that Brad Wilkerson had picked him, and the next day there was a Tooth Fairy outfit in his locker to wear. So Murphy had to wear that on the plane flight, and also to some party that night as well.

He pointed out that he’s probably going to have to do it again this year, because of the oddity that he’s still technically a rookie. To make it worse, he had to do this in 2006 as well after being up with the Red Sox in September of 2006 too! He didn’t seem genuinely mad about it, but seemed like “Oh boy, I get to do this a third time now”

On the positive side, Murphy did mention that the Red Sox did give him a World Series ring after being up with them for just three games in 2007.

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Josh Hamilton

I’ve been sending emails for the last few months to members of my congregation telling them about Josh Hamilton. I sent them a few emails about his baseball activities (since I’m sure most of my congregation don’t follow the team that closely), and also making them aware of his strength from God.

So I told them today about his winning the AL Player of the month for the first two months of the season (something that’s never been done before). Mentioned he’s now second in AL outfielders in the All-Star voting.

But one thing I noticed this afternoon which probably won’t get as much press was the fact that he changed his agents. SI reported this fact today. Here’s what they had to say:

Josh Hamilton’s negotiations for a long-term deal may be held up a little by his decision to switch agents during negotiations that appeared to be progressing. Hamilton, a born-again Christian after returning from bouts with his drug addiction, explained to friends that he wanted to be with a Christian stable, so he switched agents from Matt Sosnick to Michael Moye as he seemed to be closing in on a long contract.

I don’t suspect that will impact much. Somehow I don’t see Josh’s walk with God leading him to milk the Rangers for dumptrucks full of money – although he may end up with it, anyway.

As someone who also believes hard in Jesus & God, the fact that Josh is using baseball as a platform to push the Gospel is most refreshing for me.

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Saturday’s Game will be badass

I’m going to be at Saturday’s game. It will only be my second game of the year so far (after opening day). I’m getting a good one. The pitching matchup will be Vicente Padilla and Roy Oswalt. That should be quite good (assuming they both pitch like themselves). Just saw one thing come across the Ft Worth Star Telegram Rangers blog. Check this out:

The national anthem before the Rangers-Astros game at 6 p.m. Saturday will be played and sung live via satellite from Baghdad, Iraq. The anthem will be performed by soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, which is based in Fort Hood. This is the first time the Rangers have had the anthem performed via satellite.

Normally, the National Anthem bores me. Not the message behind it, but the fact that most people who sing it make it their personal time to go “LOOK AT ME!”
However, having it come in from Iraq is a seriously badass idea. I can’t wait to see that.

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Sexson Suspended. World not shocked.

Seattle first baseman Richie Sexson has been suspended for six games for charging the mound Thursday night. Texas pitcher Kason Gabbard was not fined or suspended. Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez was also fined as were Rangers catcher Gerald Laird and pitcher Sidney Ponson.
Sexson should have gotten a few more games than that just for being a dumbass.
Thanks Foul Territory.

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David Murphy gets April Rookie of the Month Award

In a new award that I helped plug a few days ago, David Murphy was named AL Rookie of Month for April. This is a new award, I guess to complement the player of the month award. However, this one is voted on by the fans (hence my plug), and is sponsored (at least for now) by Gillette razors.
Given Murphy’s barely qualifying as a rookie in 2008 (due to him having 105 at bats in 2007 – as well as 22 in 2006), I wondered if fans of the runners up (Jacoby Ellsbury in Boston, Armando Galarraga in Detroit, and Greg Smith in Oakland) would whine about his “rookie” status. I took a peek at those teams’ official forums, and didn’t see anything.
Still, rookie status aside, you cannot argue with Murphy’s performance in April. It was fantastic. He played good defense, he was hitting the ball all over the place. It was the kind of performance you like to see out of veterans – not the kind you expect from your rookies & kids. This has turned out to be a great trade for us – Eric Gagne did nothing for Boston, and we got Murph, Gabbard, & Engel Beltre. Thank you Theo Epstein for that one.

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Vote for David Murphy

I got this email in earlier today about a new Rookie of the Month award being run on MLB.com, so I thought I’d pass it along, as David Murphy is one of the candidates…
DAVID MURPHY ONE OF FOUR NOMINEES FOR NEW ROOKIE OF THE MONTH AWARD PRESENTED BY GILLETTE & MLB
David Murphy of the Rangers is one of four American League nominees for Major League Baseball’s newest major award in both leagues — the Rookie of the Month Award presented by Gillette (www.mlb.com/gillette).
In the American League in addition to Murphy, nominees for April (including March games) are right-hander Armando Galarraga of the Tigers, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox and left-hander Greg Smith of the A’s.
Fans get to decide the best starts by players starting their careers, and by voting become automatically entered in a drawing for a trip to see either the 79th All-Star Game on July 15 at Yankee Stadium or one of the 2008 World Series games. Voting will be conducted at the start of each month for the top rookie from each league.
In the National League, the four nominees are outfielder Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, right-hander Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, right-hander Kyle McClellan of the Cardinals and catcher Geovany Soto of the Cubs.
The online fan vote represents 20 percent of the overall balloting, with the remaining votes coming from team baseball writers and club broadcasters. Once voting is concluded, Gillette, MLB and Major League Baseball Advanced Media will announce the winning rookie for each league in a monthly press release and congratulate the winners at mlb.com/gillette.
That first announcement will be this Friday, after which Gillette will present the award winners with a Rookie of the Month trophy and make a donation to a charitable organization in each award recipient’s name.
Statistical criteria is provided on the site for fans to make their selections. For position players, it’s home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored. For pitchers, it’s wins and saves, strikeouts, ERA.

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Botts wants out

Usually when a guy is DFA’ed, you don’t hear much from them. But Jason Botts apparently wants out per this article over at the Ft Worth Star Telegram today.
Normally, I’m of the ilk of if a player wants out, get him out of here. But for some reason to hear the player actually come out and say it makes me want to bury him in the franchise somewhere so he doesn’t get a fresh start. Petty reaction, I admit, but my point is you usually don’t see quotes from the player saying this stuff.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like Travis Hafner.

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Trading Gerald

Saw an interesting link tonight which was a summary of stories about the possibility of Gerald Laird finally being dealt, now that Saltamacchia is back, and by all accounts will a) not be playing first, and b) is not going back to AAA. Laird’s been doing fairly decently this year, and could bring something back, but it seems a bit early in the season to push that button.
I suspect he’ll be dealt eventually, but my gut feeling is not this early. I didn’t expect to see that happen until June somewhere. I still think he’ll end up in Boston, but I don’t have any hard facts on that – just a gut feeling.
The Yankees could probably use him too, but what do they have that they’d be willing to give up that we need? Unless a trade is expanded beyond 1×1, I don’t see that happening, either.

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Nolan doesn’t like pitch counts

What a shocker that is. Saw that remark on a piece over at Baseball Digest Daily. In it, Nolan talks about how few innings it takes to be considered a staff ace anymore. Check out the article here.

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Official Roster Moves

Saw a few minutes ago some official roster moves were posted to the Rangers site.
The first one was dated last night, but I was pretty positive I hadn’t seen that earlier this morning when I looked. The first one had Frank Francisco optioned to AAA, and Eric Hurley reassigned to AAA.
The second one came this morning, when Kameron Loe and Jarrod Saltamacchia were optioned to AAA. I touched on the “why” earlier this morning, but Kam was still a possibility for the pen. Not now, he’s been dispatched to Oklahoma.
None of these moves affect the 40 man roster, though. Just shuffling of existing 40 man players.
One other note. My roster page is being updated when these moves are officially made. As such, I still have guys like Adam Melhuse in the minors, even though they’ll be on the 25 man. Once these moves are all officially made by the Rangers, I’ll be updating my roster pages.

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Several moves announced

Before the game last night, several announcements regarding the roster were announced. They weren’t formally made, however, so the roster (officially) remains as it was. But several things were announced:
C.J Wilson was named the closer: This one is the most obvious. I know officially anyway, there was talk that Eddie Guarardo was going to challenge Wilson, but I don’t think anyone really believed that was a true competition. CJ seems like he could do the job after going 12-14 in save opportunities last year late. He doesn’t strike fear in people at this point though (like Papelbon, Mariano Rivera at his prime, and Ugueth Urbina when he wasn’t in jail), but he seems to be able to do the job. Hopefully he stays healthy and performs. It’s been a few years now since we haven’t had to change closers during a season.
Franklyn German makes the club: From the spring he’s had, this isn’t a huge surprise. He’s done a nice job, and assuming this isn’t a flash in the pan in spring training, this should be a good move. Hard to argue with giving a job to a guy whose ERA is 1.00. He has previous major league experience after being up with the Marlins in 2006, as well as with the Tigers from 2002-2005.
Jamey Wright makes the club: No huge surprise here. He did well for us in the pen last year, and that’s where he’s headed again. Should help out, assuming he doesn’t regress.
Frank Francisco to minors: Ever since the chair throwing incident, he doesn’t seem to have regained his total dominance he showed for awhile there. Shame, as I wanted him to succeed if for no other reason than to give the middle finger to Craig Bueno.
This leaves the bullpen with this roster: C.J. Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, Kaz Fukumori, Eddie Guardado, Franklyn German and Jamey Wright. There’s still two open spots. My guess for those spots are Robinson Tejeda (because of the options thing)
Some other announcements:
Jason Botts makes the club: Jason has had a decent enough spring, and reports seem to indicate he’s improved on his defense enough where he’s earned himself a spot. I think this is probably his last chance though – if he blows this, I doubt he’ll get through waivers.
Nelson Cruz to be DFA’ed: Several reports say that the Rangers will try and get Cruz through waivers, but I don’t think anyone expects that to happen. He has one of the better throwing arms, and even though given multiple chances, has not grasped the role of regular, because his offense is so all over the place.
Kevin Mench to minors: In another move that I think surprised nobody, Kevin Mench will start the season in AAA. His contract stated he would agree to that, so once that clause was in there, I think he realistically became “the insurance policy”. He would have had to have been miles above anyone else to make the club’s opening day 25 man. Still, it would not surprise me to see him up here before too long, unless everyone stays healthy.
Jason Ellison to minors: Jason Ellison was also told he won’t make the club, which doesn’t seem like much of a surprise. I wasn’t hearing his name a ton in reports and all that.
Catching:
Salty to AAA: This one came in right when I started writing this article, so I had to include it. According to TR Sullivan this morning, it was decided that Adam Melhuse would make the club as the backup to Gerald Laird, with Jarrod Saltamacchia going to AAA to get regular work. There also was some talk that Jon Daniels might still be trying to move Gerald Laird before the start of the season, but wants to get good value. He better, as while I don’t think Laird is the seriously long term answer, he does appear to be a good catcher, so you don’t want to just give him away.
A few notes, though. Franklyn German, Jamey Wright, and Adam Melhuse are NOT on the 40 man roster, and since ours is full, room will have to be made for them. The obvious candidate is Nelson Cruz, who is reported to be dfa’ed. That’s one. The others will probably be guys moved to the 60 day DL.
None of these roster moves were officially made, my guess is we see a big bomb of transactions all at once right before the actual deadline when we have to get down to our starting 25.

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Rangers sign Sidney Ponson

Rangers signed Sidney Ponson today to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training (Story) This on the same day that it was announced that Brandon McCarthy will start the season on the DL, being out 6-8 weeks or so. Coincidence? Probably not.
I can’t imagine there are any Rangers fans who are excited about the Ponson move. Will you feel good if he takes the mound in Arlington? I’d say probably not. There’s some minor rumblings that he’s gotten it together, and if so that’d be great for us. However, can you honestly say that you’re truly excited about this signing? I can’t imagine anyone thinking that. Even Jon Daniels would probably think “I hope this works” if he gets to Arlington. This really reminds me of the
I bet Josh Lewin will probably make a bunch out of the Aruba thing with him, I’d bet.