Tag Archives: Texas Rangers

Season Preview: Playoffs and Awards


With less than a week until opening day, here’s my predictions for the playoffs and the major awards as well. I already gave my division winners in each division preview post, but here’s a recap:

NL: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
AL: Texas, Minnesota, Boston

My two wild card predictions are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. As a result, here’s my playoff matchups:

Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Texas vs. Boston

I think that San Francisco and Philadelphia will both just have too much pitching not to advance in these matchups, and will face each other in the NL Championship. On the other side, I think that Tampa and Boston will be the top two teams overall in the league, and will advance to the AL Championship

Tampa Bay vs. Boston
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia

In the AL Championship, I think that the Boston lineup will be just too much for Tampa, despite potential flaws in the Boston pitching staff. In the National League, the addition of a 4th ace by the Phillies may be too much for the Giants, but it will definitely be a series that is built around pitching.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

In what appears likely to be the top offensive team facing off against one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory, I think that Philadelphia would likely defeat Boston. Off the top of my head guess makes me think it will take 6 games.

Awards Predictions

Here’s my picks for the major awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt
AL Cy Young Award: Jon Lester
NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay
AL Most Valuable Player: Evan Longoria
NL Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

Season Preview: AL West


Time to move to my own team’s division, as I take a look at the AL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East and AL Central.

Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101

Notable Additions

Los Angeles – Vernon Wells, Hisanori Takahashi

Oakland – Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Josh Willingham, Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy

Seattle – Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust

Texas – Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Napoli, Brandon Webb

Notable Losses

Los Angeles – Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Scot Shields

Oakland – Rajai Davis, Vin Mazzaro

Seattle – Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez

Texas – Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco

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Who are the Faces of the Franchise? AL West Edition


Continuing on with my look at each organization and their Face of the Franchise, the AL West…

  • Angels – I think that at this point, Torii Hunter has taken the mantle of the face of the franchise. He has even shown leadership (whether or not it was his choice remains to be seen) by switching positions last year for a younger player in Peter Bourjos, and likely to remain the same for Vernon Wells this year. Continue reading

Michael Young’s Trade Request


According to MLBTR, Michael Young has requested a trade, and will only accept a trade to 8 teams. From T.R. Sullivan, those teams are: Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels, Padres. Realistically, what of those are the best fit?

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Young is currently under contract for 3 more seasons for a total of $48 million. Realistically, unless the Rangers eat a major portion of the contract, the Twins, Padres, and Astros seem like poor fits. But what about the rest of the teams?

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Prospect Review – Robert Erlin


The next prospect up for review is Robert Erlin, pitcher for the Texas Rangers.

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
How Acquired: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2009 amateur draft.
Age as of 4/1/11: 20

Scouting Reports and Statistics
The Baseball Cube

Year   Lev W L  ERA  G GS GF    IP ER HR BB  SO  WHIP
2010     A 6 3 2.12 28 17  2 114.2 27  9 17 125 0.924

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/28/2011.
 

Prospect Ranks
Hardball Times: #4 (TEX – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #93 (Overall -  2011), #41 (SP – 2011)
Baseball America: #4 (TEX – 2011)
John Sickels: #3 (TEX – 2011) B+
Top Prospect Alert: #4 (TEX– 2011)

Analysis

Erlin was drafted out of high school by the Rangers in the 2009 amateur draft, and signed for a bonus of $425K. He did manage to make 3 appearances in the 2009 season, but threw just 4 innings for the Rangers’ Rookie affiliate.  The Rangers moved him to the full-season Sally League for 2010, and he really thrived there. He posted a 2.12 ERA, and 125 strikeouts to just 17 walks in 114 2/3 innings pitched.

Something that I keep finding when I look at scouting reports about Erlin is that his size may not translate well to the Majors.  That said, Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally had this to say in his scouting report on Erlin:

Yes, Erlin is not the ideal size for a pitcher, but I’d argue it works well for him. He’s small and compact which, combined with his athleticism, makes for easily repeatable mechanics. Erlin’s clean arm action and effortless velocity leads me to believe he could gain an additional tick or two on the radar gun as he continues to mature.

I think Erlin is going to be someone to watch as the 2011 season starts up. The Rangers had him start out in relief in 2010, and then transitioned him into starting. Jason Parks over at Baseball Time in Arlington had this to say about Erlin‘s weaknesses:

Lacks elite arsenal and prototypical size for a starter. When he doesn’t stay on top of his FB, the pitch tends to flat-plane and elevate, either catching too much of the upper zone or missing high. CB can get to loopy when it’s soft-tossed, causing a loose rotation and early break. CU is still a developing pitch with some arm speed inconsistencies causing the pitch to float and not tumble. Needs to sharpen his command within the zone

Overall, I always like a pitcher who shows good to excellent command, and 17 walks in 114 innings definitely falls in that range. he was still young, pitching as a 19 year old in the Sally League, and will be interested to see if they move him up to AA to start 2011.

Outlook

Erlin really seems like a boom-or-bust type of prospect – either the Rangers are going to have a solid starting pitcher in the future, or they could end up with a reliever instead. Based on the reports I have read, he seems unlikely to grow into a more prototypical size for a pitcher, but that doesn’t mean he won’t see success anyway. I think the Rangers might be good to challenge Erlin and send him to AA as opposed to the hitters’ paradise that is the High-A California League.

Prediction for 2011

8 wins, 3.65 ERA, 140 strikeouts, 20 walks, 150 innings pitched (AA)

Expected ETA

The Rangers don’t seem to have rushed a lot of their pitchers to the Majors necessarily, but I think that we are most likely to see Erlin in Arlington sometime in 2013. He seems destined (at the moment anyway) to go to either High-A or AA for 2011, with a promotion to AAA for the majority of 2012.

Free Agent Review – Cliff Lee to the Phillies


Wow. That’s pretty much all I can say.

With the news overnight that there may have been as much as $50 million left on the table by one Clifton Phifer Lee, it has been a complete shock to see that Cliff Lee has agreed to sign with the Phillies. The terms appear to be for 5 years, $115 million dollars, with an option for a 6th year that might be reasonably achievable.

From the Phillies Perspective

Honestly, I’m not sure I understand this entirely. Clearly, Lee is more than $10 M better than Joe Blanton ($20M salary for Lee, $10.5M for Blanton), but this seems a bit excessive. Adding Lee now brings them a 4th ace to go with Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt for next season. The part that could really kill the Phillies long term is the amount of money they have tied up. The Phillies will most likely have the highest payroll of any team not playing in the Bronx next year, and have a ton of money committed to their roster already for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

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Season Previews in Review: American League West


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I reviewed the AL East and AL Central previously, and now it’s on to the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Predicted Record: 86-76            Actual Record: 80-82

I’m not entirely sure what happened with this team. The only event that I can pinpoint that stands out as a major turning point in the season was the loss of Kendry Morales for the season back in late May. Their pitching seemed suspect at the beginning of the season, and might have been worse had it not been for the midseason acquisition of Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks. The Angels continue to develop solid players though, with Peter Bourjos coming up after the All-Star break and should continue to develop next season. This team needs a bit of help in the offseason, but should do well and spend what is needed to do that.

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My World Series Prediction


Well, this wasn’t quite what I had thought would happen at the beginning of the playoffs. But since it is no further off really than I was during Spring Training, I think I’ll be alright and just make my predictions for the World Series:

How the Rangers Will Win

They have to continue to hit like they did in the ALCS and the ALDS before that. Their pitching, while decent, is not good enough to carry them all the way throughout this series. Cliff Lee may be the best pitcher in this series, and Josh Hamilton is the best player overall in the series as well. They will need excellent performances from both of these players to have any chance of winning the World Series.

How the Giants Will Win

Their pitching, from 1 to 4 in the starting rotation, is better than the Rangers’ staff. They are leading off with 2-time reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, and then following it up with the quietly good Matt Cain. This team’s offense is highly unlikely to carry this team if it struggles, as they generally do not hit for a lot of power.

How I Think it Will Go

With that said, who do I think wins this series? I think that it ends up being the Rangers in 6 games, as Cliff Lee makes 2 starts and gets two of the wins himself. Josh Hamilton ends up adding a World Series MVP to his LCS MVP award, and it has more to do with the Giants’ inability to string a fair amount of hits together as opposed to the Rangers being dominant.

The AL Connie Mack Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we will be voting over the coming weeks on our award winners for the regular season. First up on the voting docket is the American League’s manager of the Year, the Connie Mack Award winner.

When I started to look at the manager of the year for the AL, there really were only 4 candidates who came to mind as having very good years this season. These are in order from east to west (approximately), and I will have my final vote at the bottom.

Joe Girardi (NYY)

Yes, they have continued to spend more money than any other team in the history of sports practically for their talent. But when I look at the team as it stands now, I find it really interesting that the Yankees have done so well. There is pretty clearly a large problem in the pitching rotation, with both A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez struggling mightily this year. C. C. Sabathia has had a great season, but the team has also had injuries to key players during the season (Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte), as well as under performing players to adjust for (Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira).

Joe Maddon (TAM)

This was a team that seemed to be widely thought to be the 3rd best in their division, and has pretty much been at the top of the AL East’s standings from the word go. The team has been lead by their solid pitching staff, and Maddon has continued to plug in the pieces the team needs around All-Stars Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

Ron Gardenhire (MIN)

The expectations coming into this season were high, as the team was fresh off of locking up its brightest star (Mauer), and moving into its brand new downtown stadium. For the first time in 3 years, the team clinched the division title before the end of the season, and was actually the first to do so. Gardenhire has done this in spite of being without one or both of his former MVPs (Mauer, Morneau) since mid July. Throw in that he’s done this with a patchwork of starting pitchers behind Francisco Liriano, and the job looks even better.

Ron Washington (TEX)

He seems to be the complete surprise of the whole season for managers, as there was concern prior to the season that he would be fired due to issues involving drugs. The team was widely expected to do very little this year, and behind MVP candidate Josh Hamilton and recently converted starting pitcher C.J. Wilson the team outperformed expectations early on. Despite the distraction that the change in ownership of the team became, the team continued their excellent performance, enough so that the team went out and acquired a bona fide ace in Cliff Lee. Despite a weak division, the Rangers won it going away.

My Vote

For me, it came down to the expectation of performance, or lack there of in this particular manager’s case. No one expected the Rangers to do anything but finish out the stretch, and their skipper helped to lead them to the playoffs this season.

  1. Ron Washington (TEX)
  2. Ron Gardenhire (MIN)
  3. Joe Maddon (TAM)

Original Draft Series: Team #9 – Texas Rangers


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #9: Texas Rangers

General Managers(since 1994)

Tom Grieve (1994): 52-62
Doug Melvin (1995-2001): 568-548
John Hart (2002-2005): 311-337
Jon Daniels (2006-Current): 401-409

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 4 4 2 6 5 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Ivan Rodriguez Int’l FA – 1988 14+1 10 Gold Gloves, 10 All Star Appearances, 6 Silver Sluggers, 1999 AL MVP
1507 gm, .304/.341/.488, 217 HR, 842 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/28/02
1B Mark Teixeira 2001 – 1st Rd (5) 6 1 All-Star Appearances, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers
693 gm, .283/.368/.533, 153 HR, 499 RBI, 11 SB
Traded to ATL – 7/31/07
2B Ian Kinsler
2003 – 17th Rd 7 2 All Star Appearances
591 gm, .282/.355/.469, 89 HR, 311 RBI, 101 SB
Currently with Org.
3B Edwin Encarnacion 2000 – 9th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CIN – 6/15/01
SS Fernando Tatis Int’l FA – 1992 6 155 gm, .264/.301/.378, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 9 SB Traded to STL – 7/31/98
LF Laynce Nix 2000 – 4th Rd 6 240 gm, .241/.278/.414, 28 HR, 112 RBI, 6 SB Traded to MIL – 7/28/06
CF Scott Podsednik 1994 – 3rd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 10/8/95
RF Julio Borbon
2007 – 1st Rd (35) 3 145 gm, .281/.326/.368, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 29 SB Currently with Org.
DH Carlos Pena 1998 – 1st Rd (10) 3 22 gm, .258/.361/.500, 3 HR, 12 RBI Traded to OAK – 1/14/02
SP C.J. Wilson 2001 – 5th Rd 9 24-25, 3.84 ERA, 52 SV, 438.2 IP, 389 K, 199 BB Currently with Org.
SP Colby Lewis
1999 – 1st Rd (38) 5+1 21-23, 5.21 ERA, 331.2 IP, 281 K, 159 BB Currently with Org.
SP Edinson Volquez Int’l FA – 2001 6 3-11, 7.20 ERA, 80 IP, 55 K, 42 BB Traded to CIN – 12/21/07
SP Ryan Dempster
1995 – 3rd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 8/8/96
SP John Danks 2003 – 1st Rd (9) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CHW – 12/23/06
RP Derek Holland 2006 – 25th Rd 4 10-15, 6.00 ERA, 162 IP, 131 K, 57 BB Currently with Org.
RP Ramon Ramirez Int’l FA – 1996 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 6/4/98
RP Nick Masset 2000 – 8th Rd 4 0-0, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 4 K, 2 BB Traded to CHW – 11/23/06
RP Tommy Hunter 2007 – 1st Rd (54) 3 18-10, 4.62 ERA, 200.2 IP, 115 K, 57 BB Currently with Org.
RP Danny Herrera 2006 – 45th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CIN – 12/21/07
CL Darren Oliver 1988 – 3rd Rd 10+2+1 54-48, 5.12 ERA, 892.1 IP, 576 K, 389 BB Currently with Org.
BN Travis Hafner
1996 – 31st Rd 6 23 gm, .242/.329/.387, HR, 6 RBI Traded to CLE – 12/6/02
BN Aaron Harang 1999 – 6th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 11/17/00
BN Justin Smoak 2008 – 1st Rd (11) 2 70 gm, .209/.316/.353 8 HR, 34 RBI Traded to SEA – 7/9/10
BN Chris Davis 2006 – 5th Rd 4 224 gm, .249/.299/.460, 38 HR, 117 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
BN Hank Blalock
1999 – 3rd Rd 10 2 All Star Appearances
910 gm, .269/.329/.465, 152 HR, 535 RBI, 13 SB
Left via Free Agency – 11/5/09

June Amateur Draft

The Rangers have had some pretty good success in the draft, with Mark Teixeira being the clear top performer from that group of players. Ian Kinsler was a very nice late round pick who has turned out really well. Some of the players haven’t quite turned out when they were moved (Dempster, Danks, Harang, Pena), but some of the better players that they have traded have really returned a lot of value. The Teixeira trade alone netted them 5 great prospects, many of whom have turned into solid major league players as well. Trading Smoak appears to have already had dividends as they acquired Cliff Lee as a part of it, and Nix was traded to acquire Carlos Lee for a stretch run a few seasons ago.

International Free Agency

The Rangers have done pretty well in international free agency as well, with Ivan Rodriguez being the clear cut top player acquired in that manner. Hard to argue when he’s going to be a sure fire Hall of Famer. There’s not a ton of other international free agents from the system, but Edinson Volquez was traded (along with Danny Herrera) to acquire AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton, who has become critical to the success of the team at this point.

Overall Grade

B+. There are a lot of excellent players who have come through this system, and some very solid players who were used to acquire other important players. While they didn’t get a ton in return for players like Ryan Dempster, John Danks, and Scott Podsednik, the return for some of the better players (Teixeira, Volquez) has more than made up for it. The fact that they also have a lot of the same players in their system, and a very highly rated system of prospects coming tells me that the success they have been having this season should continue for years to come.