Three straight losses in Detroit,
coming off one of the best stretches in franchise history, and then two
straight wins in Houston,
behind what amounts to the club’s sixth and seventh starters. The game will drive you crazy, in a way you’d
never give up.
Meanwhile, the Angels built a 4-1 lead over the Dodgers behind
John Lackey last night, before Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo continued to
look nothing like their pre-2009 selves, and the Dodgers walked off with a
10-inning win on two singles and two walks.
One guess: Who has the best record in the American League?
When Scott Feldman is locating that cutter at 94, there aren’t
three better pitches on the Rangers staff.
Ron Washington on going with Nelson Cruz in the cleanup spot
(where he’d had just one previous career start – on Opening Day this year) on
Saturday: “I just figured I’d try something different. Cruz is swinging the bat well right now and
when I started putting together lineups for today, Cruz was the guy that came
to my mind for that spot. And when I go
with my gut in that situation, usually I’m right.”
said that before the game.
The decision not to use Frankie Francisco to close yesterday
was not so much a red flag as it was an exercise in restraint, as the righthander
had thrown 16 pitches in Friday’s night game before a day game, in his first appearance
coming off the disabled list.
The ball instead went to C.J. Wilson to close out yesterday’s
win. Wilson’s 10 appearances since April
25: 1-0, 0.00 (one unearned run), three saves in four opportunities, two holds,
.242/.306/.273, nine innings, eight hits (seven singles and one double), three
walks, three strikeouts, one double play, two of three inherited runners stranded.
The Rangers’ collective on-base percentage in 2009 is .329.
The Rangers’ collective on-base percentage in 2008 was .354.
Think that was all because of Milton Bradley’s contribution?
The Rangers’ collective on-base percentage in 2008,
subtracting Bradley’s, was .346.
From a Newberg Report Q&A that I did on February 3:
Q: If Andrus were to
play 120 games in 2009, what sort of stats do you see him ending up with? – J.
A: In his first 494
big league at-bats (spanning two years), Jose Reyes hit .283/.307/.407 with 32
stolen bases. In his first 196 big league at-bats (spanning two years), Alex
Rodriguez hit .224/.257/.352 with seven stolen bases. I’ll say Reyes’s on-base,
A-Rod’s slug, and split the difference in batting average and steals.
So I’d predicted something like .254/.307/.352 with 20 stolen
bases. In 36 games, Andrus sits at .292/.331/.458
with six steals. I was right on with the
swipes but, man, I didn’t expect he’d handle himself offensively like he has so
far. He’ll slump at some point this
season, but for now, the returns are better than just about anyone could have
As for those of you who were adamant that Andrus wasn’t
ready defensively, based solely on his 32 AA errors in 2008, how ya feeling
According to John Dewan’s sophisticated “Defensive Runs
Saved” metric, the Rangers have the best defense in baseball, with 28 runs
saved. Only two other teams (Toronto and Tampa
Bay) are above 20; Cincinnati leads the National League at 18.
Back to Cruz for a second.
You’re aware of the change in batting stance that has changed his career. Guess who opened Cruz up back in 2007?
The same guy who spent hours and hours outside of his job
description this winter and this spring, tirelessly working one on one with
Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the finer points of catching, another transformation that
has clearly taken hold this season.
Rangers director of player development Scott Servais, who
won’t be a director of player development forever.
Randy Galloway wrote in Wednesday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Rangers “had a salary-dumping
deal worked out for [Kevin] Millwood just before the trading deadline” last
Says Jon Daniels of Galloway’s
note: “It’s somewhere between irresponsible journalism and pure fiction. No truth to it whatsoever. I’d love to hear his ‘source’ explain who the
deal was with, what we were getting in return, and why it didn’t happen. Not the first nor last time this type of
garbage will be put out there.”
Acknowledging that it wasn’t a good fit, the Rangers relieved
Joe Slusarski of his duties as Frisco pitching coach on Wednesday, replacing
him with Jeff Andrews, the former Pirates pitching coach who had been hired to
serve his season as pitched coach for Short-Season A Spokane.
Andrews began his coaching career as a minor league
instructor in the Rangers system in 1986, a run that included one season (1987)
with High A Charlotte (where he coached Kevin Brown and Kenny Rogers), three seasons
(1988-90) with AA Tulsa (where he coached Brown, Rogers, Robb Nen, Wilson Alvarez,
Roger Pavlik, and future big league pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal), and one
season (1991) with AAA Oklahoma City (where he coached Pavlik, Rosenthal, and fellow
future big league pitching coach Brad Arnsberg).
Andrews, who had a three-year minor league career as a
pitcher, played collegiately at East
10 years before Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark played
for the Buccaneers.
No word yet on who will replace Andrews as pitching coach
for Spokane, whose season begins on June 20 (and
whose roster will include a number of college players whom Texas will draft on June 9-11).
The Arizona League opens on June 21. The Dominican Summer League, where the
Rangers field two squads, kicks off this Saturday.
Eddie Guardado has been better lately (one run in his last
6.2 innings, on six hits and three walks), but A.J. Murray lowered his AAA ERA
to 0.84 last night with another two scoreless innings (one hit, no walks, two
strikeouts), throwing an eye-opening 80 percent of his 30 pitches for
Outfielder Steve Murphy was in his third season with Frisco
before getting promoted this week to Oklahoma City,
where in his first AAA at-bat on Friday he hit a ninth-inning pinch homer to
put the RedHawks on the board in an eventual 10-1 loss to Las Vegas.
Murphy’s high school teammate John Mayberry Jr homered
against the Yankees yesterday, in his second big league at-bat. Philadelphia
called the outfielder up as a roster adjustment for interleague play.
At Frisco, righthander Clayton Hamilton (0-2, 4.50 in four
starts and nine relief appearances) was sent to extended to make room on the staff
for lefthander Michael Kirkman, whose anticipated AA debut is this afternoon. Outfielder Joe Gaetti was released and righthander
Jared Hyatt was placed on the disabled list.
To replace them on the roster, lefthander Michael Ballard and
infielder-catcher Emerson Frostad were reassigned from Oklahoma City.
Bakersfield righthander Blake Beavan’s last four appearances,
all quality starts: 3-0, 2.17, 25 hits and four walks in 29 innings, 16
strikeouts, 1.5 as many groundouts and flyouts, one home run, six groundball double
righthander Joe Wieland is on the disabled list with a groin strain. Last summer’s fourth-round pick spent the
season’s first six weeks in extended spring training as the organization
manages his workload, and the 19-year-old made one Crawdads start, giving up
two Delmarva runs on four hits and no walks in 4.2 innings on Monday, fanning
Righthander Matt Nevarez, the Rangers’ 10th-round
pick in 2005, came into the season with a career ERA of 3.36 but 56 walks in
72.1 innings. The 22-year-old, who
missed the 2007 season due to elbow surgery, has busted out at Hickory.
In 14.1 innings of relief, the flamethrower has allowed just four hits
(.087 opponents’ average) and seven walks while setting a staggering 22 down on
strikes. The only two earned runs on his
ledger this season came in the second of his 12 appearances.
Naevarez’s Crawdads teammate Yoon-Hee Nam, a 21-year-old
lefthander signed by the Rangers out of South Korea in 2006, came into the
season with solid numbers (6-1, 3.95, 73 hits, 76 strikeouts, and 17 unintentional
walks in 73 innings), but what he’s doing right now is ridiculous. In 28.1 innings (two starts and nine relief
has scattered 10 hits (.106 opponents’ average) and 10 walks while punching out
30 South Atlantic Leaguers. None of the
four baserunners he’s inherited have come around to score.
Cristian Santana emerged from extended spring training to make
his Hickory debut
last night, singling in his first at-bat before striking out and getting
drilled in his remaining four trips as the Crawdads left fielder.
Interesting 18-year-old shortstop Leury “Furcalito” Garcia,
who debuted for the Arizona League squad last summer, was reassigned from
extended spring training to Hickory,
where he singled and walked in each of his first three Crawdads games.
To make room for Garcia’s arrival, power-hitting first base prospect
Clark Murphy was transferred from Hickory
back to extended. Murphy, who hit .358/.435/.526
last summer in the Arizona League after Texas
took him in the fifth round, was hitting a homerless .218/.282/.273 for the
Add to the list of teenaged Latin American prospects linked
to Texas the name of Dominican righthander Leonardo Perdomo, a “super-projectable”
prospect expected to land a high six-figure bonus when the July 2 international
signing period opens.
Peter Gammons writes that, according to a scout, Boston reliever Ramon
Ramirez “may be the best trade of the off-season. He could easily close if anything happened to
Ramirez, a onetime Rangers farmhand (as an outfielder), was
a guy I was hoping to get in on last summer (my idea was Saltalamacchia, Matt
Harrison or Eric Hurley, Mayberry or Cruz, Joaquin Arias, and Nevarez or Zach
Phillips or Carlos Pimentel or Miguel De Los Santos or Geuris Grullon or Julio
Santana, for Zack Greinke and Ramirez), before the Royals shipped him to the
Red Sox for outfielder Coco Crisp in November.
Andrew Baggarly of the San
Jose Mercury News reports that the Giants GM Brian Sabean is “put[ting]
feelers out to see what he could fetch for righthander Matt Cain,” who improved
to 5-1, 2.40 last night by going the distance in a 5-1 win in Seattle (10 hits
[all singles], no walks, seven strikeouts, only 111 pitches, 81 of which [73
percent] were strikes).
The 24-year-old Cain is one of the pitchers (along with Florida’s Josh Johnson
and Chris Volstad) I’ve been running out there as a trade target lately.
released Adam Eaton.
Laynce Nix is hitting .280/.329/.560 and is getting nearly
everyday work now as Cincinnati’s
Big start for Brandon McCarthy today, as Vicente Padilla is
nine days away from an expected activation in time for the Rangers’ series in
Yankee Stadium. Theoretically, McCarthy
could have today and then Saturday at home against Oakland to save his rotation spot.
A thought to tuck away: McCarthy’s ERA in the first inning
this year is 1.13, by far his best inning (he’s at 6.57 thereafter). His first inning K/BB is 5.00 (it’s 1.35 thereafter,
and in fact it’s not over 2.00 in any other inning). Opponents are hitting .250/.281/.250 off
McCarthy in the first inning (.281/.357/.548 thereafter). McCarthy has surrendered nine doubles and 10
home runs this year – but no extra-base hits among his seven hits allowed in
the first inning.
Could McCarthy be a candidate for one-inning bursts, not
just as a way to make room for Derek Holland to stay in the rotation but maybe
to get the best out of the 25-year-old?
There’s certainly room for a righthander to emerge in the bullpen.
For now, McCarthy’s job is to help his team remain the
league’s best, as he faces off with Mike Hampton less than three hours from now
with a series sweep within grasp. The bullpen,
as has been the case almost all year, is relatively fresh, but a third straight
seven-inning effort from McCarthy would be quite welcome as Texas heads toward six
at home with the Yankees and A’s, then six on the Coast against the Yankees and
Red Sox, and 10 more at home, starting with seven against Toronto, who has the
AL’s second-best record after Texas, and the Dodgers, the best team in baseball.
I’m looking forward to being driven extremely crazy over these
next three weeks.