Earlier today I was interviewed by nesn.com about the upcoming Rangers / Red Sox series. They wanted my perspective being a Rangers fan, and asking me some questions about the Rangers. Most of you who read this site regularly (hello nesn.com visitors!) will know most of this stuff already, but most Red Sox fans don’t. So below are the questions and answers they had for me and what I answered with. Check it out.
There’s more to this article than just my Q&A, so check out the full article over at NESN.com.
1) NESN.com: Considering both short- and long-term effects, was the Cliff Lee trade a good one for the Rangers organization?
Joe Siegler: On the short term, I think it’s an obvious answer. It helps us. I don’t think there’s a club that exists that wouldn’t want Cliff Lee for their team, especially in a stretch run. I mean, if we were the Pirates or the Orioles or something it wouldn’t make sense, but heck yeah, Cliff Lee is great because of who Cliff Lee is and what he brings.
As for long term, it’s harder to tell, as you never know how these things work out. We did import a good relief pitcher, and I expect most people figure he’s all we’ll have left next year (save for a few draft picks) for Cliff Lee (kind of like the Carlos Lee/Nelson Cruz trade the Rangers made with the Brewers a few years back). We’ll make a run at Lee, I’m sure (once our ownership gets worked out), but if he signs back here, I’ll be surprised. But the absolute best part of all this is that the Yankees didn’t get him (at least for now).
2) NESN.com: Julio Borbon has had his ups and downs this year. How has he evolved as a player since his call-up toward the end of 2009?
J.S.: I remember late last year hearing that he was going to be a great center fielder. In our park, you need a guy who is fast out there, or at least could get great reads on balls. Last year, he wasn’t so much a big power hitter that grabs your attention, but he did end last year with a .376 OBP. This year, his bat started off slow, but he’s come on lately, and still has some work to do. But his defense has improved greatly since last year. I don’t think he’s an All-Star caliber player, but he does have speed, and is not someone you worry about their defense. So that’s a big improvement.
3) NESN.com: Now that Justin Smoak has been traded, who will be the Rangers’ first baseman of the future?
J.S.: Well, the easy answer is to say Chris Davis. This is actually an extension of your first question, because now that Smoak is gone, it’s definitely Chris Davis for now. Until Smoak was moved, we had kind of a two-headed monster with Smoak and Davis. Both were projected high caliber, with Smoak perhaps projecting a bit higher due to him being a switch hitter (like Mark Teixeira). Davis however, is the better defender, so in an immediate sense, we’re probably better off with Chris Davis, as he’s a better defender and has some more major league experience.
Davis did crash and burn bad last year, though, and wasn’t exactly hitting up a storm earlier this season. So I guess “of the future” comes down to whether Chris Davis ends up as one of those AAAA hitters. We went through that same thing recently with Nelson Cruz. The light finally came on last year, and he’s living up to it. If Chris Davis figures it out offensively, he’ll be the guy of the future as he’s an awesome defender, just needs more work on offense. We’ll see if his AAA tuneup this year did anything. If it’s not him, a guy in AAA named Mitch Moreland (currently playing right field) would likely be the choice going down, unless we brought in someone.
4) NESN.com: What do you think the problem was with Josh Hamilton in 2009, and how has he bounced back to become an MVP candidate in 2010?
J.S.: I think a lot of 2009 was Josh thinking too much. Plus he was hurt for a decent part of the season. A lot has been made locally about him constantly tinkering with his swing. We do have a new hitting coach here in 2010 for the first time since 1995, so it’s possible Clint Hurdle himself fixed Josh. Hard to tell, but the Rangers TV guys have talked a lot about how Josh has gotten rid of he toe tap in his swing, and since he did that, he’s taken off again.
5) NESN.com: Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler have each missed significant time in 2010, yet the Rangers are still in first place. Who is the one player that Texas simply cannot afford to lose?
J.S.: Since it’s hard to say just one guy, I’ll go for one offensive guy and one pitcher. I’d say offensively, Vlad Guerrero. I’ve always liked Vlad going back to his days in Montreal, and I’m glad he’s with us. I’m more glad he has bounced back, and isn’t just one of those long time guys trying to hang on somewhere and under performs. Vlad’s back. Losing him would be rough, as it would make Josh Hamilton somewhat vulnerable, and would take some of the swagger out of our offense.
Cliff Lee aside, pitching wise, we’d probably be a lot worse off if we lost Colby Lewis. Lewis has exceeded everyone’s expectations when he returned here in the offseason. I think a lot of people (myself included) thought, “Well OK, he sort of figured it out in Japan, but that’s Japan, and this is the MLB — will it translate?” It certainly has. As you pointed out, we’re in first place now, and that’s before Cliff Lee. I say Colby Lewis is our pitching star this season (although I like Tommy Hunter, too).
6) NESN.com: How important is this series against the Red Sox for Texas coming out of the All-Star break?
J.S.: I think it’s important that we stay strong out of the gate. That it’s against the Red Sox isn’t so much important because it’s the “Red Sox;” it’s not like the two teams have a big rivalry as such. It’s more important for us to do well this series, as we need to hold and expand our lead. The Angels, while down this year, are still the team to beat, and I don’t think anyone can take ’em lightly. The Angels are playing Seattle this first series, and Seattle has been a big disappointment. The Angels should handle them well, so we need to have a strong showing against the Red Sox to keep our division lead.
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