The Ticket’s Dan McDowell chewed me out during yesterday’s Bob and Dan Show for compromising these email reports by wasting some of my material on Twitter. Two solutions:
- You can follow me on Twitter (@NewbergReport) – like about 200 new people decided to yesterday (no exaggeration; getting a Ticket endorsement of any kind is apparently like getting an Oprah Book Club sticker put on your novel; my follower number [8,300+] is gaining on Scott’s and my email subscriber total [11,400+]). For what it’s worth, I tend to post in-game tweets on most days that I’m not at the Ballpark.
- I can start to carry some of my Twitter observations over to these reports.
So, Dan, and all those to whom you are Leader, here you go – a small sample of my in-game Twitterwork from the past three games (I’m not posting all of them, which are piled up at http://twitter.com/#!/NewbergReport):
- Kins demonstratively unimpressed with Salty’s early-game Tony Pena tributes.
- Quick: What did that Andrus triple remind you of?
- (answer for me re: the Andrus triple = reminded me 100% of his first big league hit)
- On the Kal Daniels/Flip Boone scale of opposing players I love/hate, Adrian Gonzalez and John Lackey may own the two pole positions.
- Lackey heading to clubhouse to call an Angels outfielder so he can yell at someone.
- Tobin & Strop (not to be confused with former HP/Stanford/Rangers farmhand Tobin Swope): Stuff, untamed. Big stuff. #moreplease
- OK, OK. I’ve had to explain enuf times now that I realize today’s double-bike graphic was confusing. Lackey allowed 2 cycles worth of hits.
- Easy to forget that Harrison is younger than Ogando…Strop…Moreland…Chad Tracy…three weeks older than Cody Eppley.
- Clay Buchholz is not left-handed. #napoli #softball
- That Matt Harrison talking to Runge as he walks off the field is a different Matt Harrison. And not just because he pitched well today.
- Smoak riding 13-gm hit streak (.419/.537/.744) dating back to 2010. In Texas tonite, where he HR’d in 3 straight in Sept.
- I’ve heard some folks bristle at idea that Rangers rotation could be 80 or 100% LH’d in a couple years. Is that supposed to be a bad thing?
- My favorite thing about the Borbon triple was not the three bags. It was that he hit the ball on a freakin’ line. No–it was the three bags.
- Bradley swings at ball four twice. Says something about Holland’s stuff/movement. For all his flaws, Bradley has exquisite plate discipline.
- My 1st thought was “Good thing Napoli was at first. Has the arm to make that play.” Then realized all 3 1B on this roster throw very well.
- I have an unhealthy, perhaps irrational penchant for Adam Kennedy Fail.
Sticking with the scattershot theme, some more random observations on this 4-0 team:
Prototypically, you expect a team’s 3-4-5 hitters to provide the most slug, fair to say?
Right now, the Rangers’ number three hitter (Josh Hamilton) is slugging an underwhelming .400.
Their number four hitter (Adrian Beltre) has a .294 slug.
Number five (Michael Young three times, Nelson Cruz once) is slugging .444.
But guess what: Every other spot in the lineup is outslugging those three spots.
The number one hitter: 1.077.
Number two: .882.
Number six: 1.357.
Number seven: .917.
Number eight: .467.
Number nine: .917.
Even with the modest number in the eighth spot (Yorvit Torrealba three starts, Mitch Moreland one), the Rangers’ 7-8-9 hitters are slugging a collective .744 – a figure that’s over 100 points better than any other team this season. Not 100 points better than anyone else’s 7-8-9 hitters. That’s 100 points better than anyone else’s entire lineup.
The Rangers’ total of 13 home runs through four games is tied with the 1998 Mariners for second-highest in baseball history, behind the 2006 Tigers (16). The Rangers’ 26 extra-base hits through four games trail only the Yankees’ 30 in 2003.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs points out that the Rangers’ team wOBA (weighted on-base average, a statistic built to provide a more accurate evaluation of offense than OPS), which is now .479, is higher than the .462 that Albert Pujols put together in his best season.
Cruz may have had an anemic spring training (.226/.300/.371, one home run in 70 plate appearances), but as reader Matt Swaim points out, he’s actually homered in five straight games that count. In addition to going deep in each of the Rangers’ first four games this season, he accounted for the club’s lone run in Game Five of the World Series when he went yard off Tim Lincecum in the seventh inning.
(For what it’s worth, neither Willie Mays nor Mark McGwire, the only other two players to open a season with homers in four straight games, appeared in the playoffs the previous season. But McGwire did go deep in the Cardinals’ final two regular-season games in 1997, before starting the 1998 season with his four-game tater tear.)
It’s been said that Derek Holland was moved up to Monday night in place of Alexi Ogando because Holland is more experienced, but I think to take that point further, it gave Ogando the chance to watch the Seattle lineup for a night and pay attention to Holland’s game plan and inning-to-inning adjustments against that club.
Holland wasn’t quite as sharp as Matt Harrison was the day before, but he was pretty solid. All in all, though the offense has been the story through these first four, the rotation has done its job, falling one C.J. Wilson out short of four straight quality starts.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 0 for 3 with a strikeout against Harrison on Sunday. It was the first time they’d faced off as pros.
But Saltalamacchia caught Harrison five times with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Braves in 2003, after the duo signed as Atlanta’s first- and third-round picks that summer. Six times with the AA Mississippi Braves in 2006, and five times with the same club in 2007 before both were traded to Texas in the Mark Teixeira deal. Five times with Texas in 2008, and five more in 2009.
Clay Buchholz gave up nine home runs in 28 starts last year.
He served up three to Texas before getting the second out of the fifth inning on Sunday.
One of the three to take Buchholz deep was Ian Kinsler, whom Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon drilled between the shoulder blades in the eighth inning. Texas took no revenge on the Red Sox. If there’s any payback to be had for how the weekend series went, it’s the Sox who have a score to settle, but they’ll have to wait more than four months, as the two clubs don’t meet again until August 22.
Texas will have made at least one impact trade before then.
Speaking of which, Milwaukee has baseball’s worst record, winless through four. I will say it again: It won’t surprise me at all if the Brewers shop Zack Greinke in July. That club will lose Prince Fielder this winter, and owes Greinke $13.5 million this year and the same amount in 2012, before he’s likely to go elsewhere. They’ll be able to get more in July than they gave Kansas City in December, especially if they trade two pennant races worth of Greinke rather than just one, and it would stand to reason that Texas will once again be right there in the mix to get him.
I wouldn’t rule Seattle lefthander Erik Bedard out, either. Watch how he progresses now that he’s back after what’s been nearly a two-year absence.
Justin Smoak looked really, really good last night.
Buster Olney of ESPN points out that nobody in baseball saw more pitches per plate appearance on Monday than Julio Borbon (18 pitches in three trips).
Jon Daniels told MLB Network Radio yesterday that he’s not having any dialogue with other teams about Michael Young, or anyone else.
Cleveland released righthander Doug Mathis, at his request once he failed to win a big league job. Outfielder Brandon Boggs cleared waivers and was outrighted by the Brewers, accepting his assignment to AAA Nashville. Catcher Max Ramirez cleared waivers and was outrighted by the Cubs to AAA Iowa – as it was his first outright, he didn’t have the right to decline the assignment.
Ramirez will be in Round Rock on Thursday night, for Iowa’s season opener against the Express, who will likely send Michael Kirkman to the mound.
Marcus Lemon will be just outside Jackson, Mississippi, suited up for the home team Mississippi Braves as the Jackson (Tennessee) Generals travel for the clubs’ Southern League opener. Texas traded Lemon to Atlanta for cash considerations on Friday, and he’ll play Class AA baseball for the third straight year.
Kansas City has assigned corner infielder Johnny Whittleman to its High A affiliate in Wilmington, after he’d spent at least parts of the last three seasons with AA Frisco. He’ll travel with the Blue Rocks to Myrtle Beach, where the Pelicans open their first season as a Rangers affiliate at home. Not sure who gets the Opening Day start for Myrtle Beach, but with a rotation that includes Neil Ramirez, Robbie Ross, Robbie Erlin (pitching in tandem with Kasey Kiker), Joe Wieland, and Barret Loux, the BB&T Coastal Field crowd is going to see a prospect take the mound just about every night as the season gets rolling.
Mike Nickeas made the Mets’ roster (as Ronny Paulino serves out the final eight games of his 50-game PED suspension) and caught the final two innings on Opening Day. Righthander Josh Rupe made the Orioles’ staff, but lefthander Clay Rapada and righthander Ryan Drese didn’t.
The Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association released lefthanders Matt Perisho and Ryan Knippschild, and the Lincoln Saltdogs of the same league signed first baseman Phil Hawke.
Brandon McCarthy faces Toronto tonight. Interested.
The Rangers may have ditched the claw and antlers for the most part, but their World Series foes have adopted the claw. Sort of. Miguel Tejada, now with San Francisco, is generally credited with intellectual property rights in the claw, dating as far back as 2004, only he apparently calls it the “shining spotlight.” So the Giants are flashing whatever-it-is right now, which is not quite as weird as Cody Ross hanging around the batting cage, wearing his Giants uniform, in that Majestic Athletic commercial starring Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and C.J. Wilson at Rangers Ballpark.
Peter Gammons is doing a weekly segment with Dunham and Miller each Thursday morning at 6:55 on the Ticket, and that’s awesome.
Righthander Brandon Webb hit three batters yesterday in what was his first live batting practice session in two weeks. He threw about 70 pitches but admitted that he “pretty much had no location.” Meanwhile, righthander Scott Feldman threw 41 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday and said his knee felt good. He hopes to be pitching in minor league games in May.
Tonight’s fascinating matchup features Ogando, making his first big league (and just his fourth pro) start, and Seattle’s Michael Pineda, a blue-chip prospect making his big league debut. Tweet you then.