Tag:Mitch Moreland
Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Texas Rangers

Mark Teixeira

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Rangers are in an interesting position in the franchise's history -- no longer a middle-of-the-road team, the Rangers have turned themselves into one of the game's biggest players. The team has reached the last two World Series with a mixture of homegrown players (Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando), savvy trades (sending Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a haul that included Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, plus the deal with the Reds getting Josh Hamilton) and big-ticket free-agents (Adrian Beltre). It's tough to argue with the results, as the Rangers have positioned themselves into becoming one of the top teams in baseball and don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Lineup

1. Ian Kinsler, SS
2. Craig Gentry, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 2B
7. Laynce Nix, RF
8. John Mayberry, LF
9. Taylor Teagarden, C

Starting Rotation

1. C.J. Wilson
2. John Danks
3. Derek Holland
4. Colby Lewis
5. Ryan Dempster

Bullpen

Closer - Joaquin Benoit
Set up - Darren Oliver, Nick Masset, Scott Feldman, Jesse Chavez, Yoshinori Tateyama
Long - Tommy Hunter

Notable Bench Players

Ivan Rodriguez will be in discussion for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, but he's now a backup catcher and could be a good one. You have a pair of first baseen in Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland who aren't going to strike fear into too many pitchers, as well as two outfielders probably better defensively or as pinch runners in Jason Bourgeois and Scott Podsednik.

What's Good?

The rotation is deep -- in addition to the five listed, you could also throw in R.A. Dickey, Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez. And while there's no real shut-down closer, there are some very good bullpen arms, and the list above doesn't include Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Danny Herrera.

What's Not?

Besides Kinsler and Teixeira, the lineup is suspect. And the defense is worse. The outfield is kind of a hodgepodge, while the infield is a disaster with only Carlos Pena playing in his usual position. While Teixeira hasn't played third base since his rookie year in 2003, Kinsler has never played shortstop, nor has Encarnacion ever played second base -- but there just wasn't a whole lot of options. The outfield doesn't have the likes of Hamilton or Nelson Cruz to help out, either.

Comparison to real 2011

Would this team wind up in World Series? Not bloody likely. The pitching is fine and even maybe an slight upgrade to the team that won the American League pennant again in 2011, but that lineup is demonstratively worse. The Rangers were third in baseball in runs and second in OPS, and without Hamilton, Cruz, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Beltre, this squad isn't going to do anything close to that. Teixeira is a good player -- and Pena could put up big homer numbers in that ballpark -- but those losses from the real squad are just too much to overcome. This team is maybe a .500 squad, at best, and that's only because of the depth in the pitching staff.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 12:14 am
 

R.I.P: 2011 Texas Rangers

RangersBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Texas Rangers
Record: 96-66, AL West champions, AL champions. Lost World Series, 4 games to 3.
Manager: Ron Washington
Best hitter: Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631 in 369 AB, 25 2B, 30 HR, 75 RBI
Best pitcher: C.J. Wilson -- 16-7, 233 1/3 IP, 2.94 ERA, 74 BB, 206 K

2011 SEASON RECAP
R.I.P. series
The Rangers kicked off defending their 2011 AL pennant by racing out to a 16-11 start that sent the tone for the entire season. Leading up to the start of the year, the Rangers were a bit overlooked. While only a few were giving the Angels a real shot at contention, much of the offseason talk was about the Athletics who looked like they were cobbling together a decent enough offense to support the strong young pitching, but it was all Texas, all the time, although the team needed to work through kinks from May to June, posting a 27-28 record in these two months, with closer Neftali Feliz baffingly struggling in his followup to 2010, when he saved 40 games as a rookie.

But then July hit, and the Rangers took off with an 18-9 month that saw a 12-game winning streak, plus scoring 20 runs on the 25th against the hapless Twins. Texas punctuated the season with its best month of the season with a hot September, finishing the month with a 19-6 record and running away from Los Angeles with the division. In the playoffs, they dominated the Rays, winning the ALDS in four games, the only series that didn't go the maximum five. They rode several huge performances in the ALCS to victory over Detroit, bouncing the Tigers in six. In the World Series, the Rangers had a 3-2 series lead and took the lead many times in Game 6 but couldn't hold on for the victory as Ron Washington outmanaged himself. Two straight AL pennants and nothing to show for it.

2012 AUDIT

The Rangers will lose ace C.J. Wilson from its staff, but that's the only major free agent the team has. That's great news, but Texas won't have much payroll flexibility with several deals jumping in salary and quite a few arbitration cases. The club needs to find a way to replace Wilson in the rotation while looking to improve other facets of the team. Mitch Moreland seems to be squeezed out at first -- he's hardly deserving of a starting job next season and if the club wants to get Michael Young and Mike Napoli full-time at-bats, Moreland's gotta go. The bullpen, depending on how Texas approaches its rotation, will need fortifying too. Otherwise, the offense as a whole is pretty set.

FREE AGENTS

Colby Lewis (team option: $3.25 million)
Matt Treanor, C
Brandon Webb, SP
C.J. Wilson, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • Shift Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Feliz has the ability to start, and the chance of him evolving into an ace can't be discounted. With a poor free-agent market, the Rangers have to replace Wilson internally or via trade, and Feliz is the path of the least resistance -- and also the one with the most payoff. Alexi Ogando should also be penciled into the rotation, which should also have Colby Lewis and Derek Holland in it, with Scott Feldman and Matt Harrison duking it out for the final spot.
  • With Feliz gone, the Rangers need to find another reliever. It doesn't have to be a closer, as the club could elevate Mike Adams into the role, but they need to find either a strong closer or strong setupman. If money is a problem, the club should elevate Adams and ink one of Jason Frasor, Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch or Takashi Saito. Signing a left-handed reliever is also a must, as Darren Oliver and Mike Gonzalez are set to be free agents. Oliver is a no-brainer to return, and Gonzalez makes a lot of sense as he can dial up the fastball more than Oliver. If Gonzalez departs, Javier Lopez or George Sherrill could make sense.
  • If Yu Darvish is available, go all out to get him. The Rangers will have some money coming off the books soon with Michael Young and with two consecutive World Series, will have additional revenue as well as a need to keep the team producing. Darvish would be a perfect add, especially in light of Wilson's departure.
  • Keep Mitch Moreland, but make him a bench player. The Rangers need to give full-time at-bats to Young and Napoli, and Torrealba deserves to play over Moreland given he can catch and give Napoli breaks at first and DH. Moreland can't hit lefties, but he can fill in against righties when Young shifts to play second, third or short as a backup, freeing up first for Moreland. If the team gets a solid trade offer for the first baseman in exchange for a reliever, the club should pounce.
  • That's it. Really. The Rangers have a pretty settled team. They simply need to find a way to withstand Wilson's loss and stand pat otherwise. This is a team that's been to the World Series two years in a row with many of its principals locked up and/or young. One player the club should try to extend this offseason is Nelson Cruz, set to be a free agent after 2013. Texas should hold off on Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton, both who are slated to become free agents after 2012. With Napoli's scorching 2011 and Hamilton's injury issues, the club would be better off to wait and see on these players.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 2:51 pm
 

World Series relievers vs. hitters



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Both the Cardinals and Rangers advanced to the World Series with a huge hand from their bullpens, so both bullpens are expected to be used often during the series.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa likes to use match ups to his favor, relying on stats to decide when to use a reliever and which one to use. Octavio Dotel's mastery of Ryan Braun was part of the Cardinals' NLCS victory -- Dotel had struck out Braun six times in eight at-bats coming into the series and the two faced each other three times in the NLCS, with Braun striking out all three times. While the Brewers and Cardinals faced each other 18 times during the regular season, the Cardinals and Rangers have only played three times in the teams' histories, back in 2004.

While some free agents have moved, there are still many pitchers and hitters who haven't seen each other, giving this a true old-school World Series feel.

Here's a look at both team's primary relievers against the most important batters:

Cardinals relievers vs. Rangers hitters
Rangers Mitchell Boggs Octavio Dotel Lance Lynn Jason Motte Arthur Rhodes* Marc Rzepczynski* Fernando Salas
Elvis Andrus N/A 0-4 N/A N/A N/A 1-3 N/A
Adrian Beltre N/A 5-22, 2B, HR, 8 K N/A N/A 0-1, K N/A N/A
Nelson Cruz N/A 1-2, HR N/A N/A N/A 2-5, 2B N/A
Josh Hamilton* N/A N/A N/A N/A 0-2, 2 BB, K 0-3, 2 K N/A
Ian Kinsler N/A 0-5 N/A N/A 1-2, BB, K 4-6, 2 HR N/A
Mitch Moreland* N/A 1-1, HR N/A N/A N/A 0-1 N/A
David Murphy* N/A 0-1, K N/A N/A 0-0, 2 BB 0-4 N/A
Mike Napoli 1-1, 2B 0-3, 2 K N/A 0-2, 2K N/A 1-5 N/A
Yorvit Torrealba 0-2 1-1, 2B N/A 0-1, K N/A 1-1 N/A
Michael Young N/A 3-12, 2B, 4 K N/A N/A 0-9, 3 K 1-4, 2 BB N/A

Rangers relievers vs. Cardinals hitters
Cardinals Mike Adams Scott Feldman Neftali Feliz Mike Gonzalez* Mark Lowe Alexi Ogando Darren Oliver
Lance Berkman^ 1-3, 3B 3-9, 2B, 3 K 1-4, BB, 2 K 2-6, BB N/A N/A 4-6, BB
Allen Craig N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
David Freese 0-2, 2 K N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Rafael Furcal^ 1-6 1-2, 2B N/A 0-6, 2 K N/A N/A 2-9, 2B, K
Matt Holliday 1-5, HR 2-5, 2BB N/A 0-4, BB, 2 K 1-2, BB, K N/A 1-4, HR
Jon Jay* 1-2, 2B N/A F4 1-1 N/A N/A N/A
Albert Pujols 1-8, 2B, BB, 3 K N/A N/A 1-7, 3 BB, 2 K N/A N/A 2-6, 2 K
Nick Punto^ 0-0, BB 1-5, 2B, 2 BB, 2 K 0-1 0-1, K 0-2, BB N/A 0-8, 2K
Skip Schumaker* 1-3 N/A N/A 0-2, K N/A N/A N/A
Ryan Theriot 0-4, 2 K N/A 0-1 1-4, 2B, BB N/A 0-1 N/A
* left-handed
^ switch hitter

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 2:37 pm
 

ALDS Game 3: Price looks to avenge 2010

Price

By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Rays, 5:07 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, TBS


Rangers Rays
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Desmond Jennings LF
2 Elvls Andrus SS 2 B.J. Upton CF
3 Josh Hamilton LF 3 Evan Longoria 3B
4 Michael Young DH 4 Matt Joyce RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Johnny Damon DH
6 Mike Napoli C 6 Ben Zobrist 3B
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Casey Kotchman 1B
8 Mitch Moreland 1B 8 John Jaso C
9 Craig Gentry CF 9 Reid Brignac SS

Colby Lewis RHP
David Price LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Price vs. Rangers: The Rangers can hit lefties well, but Matt Moore showed that the postseason is an entirely different story by putting Texas in a chokehold. Price will hope for more of the same, and has success to draw on. Across two starts on June 1 and Sept. 7, Price threw 14 innings against Texas, allowing five runs while walking three and punching out 13, good for a 3.21 ERA. He'll have his hands full, without question. Nelson Cruz, who is in the midst of a slump that skipper Ron Washington says he's about to break out of, might have the right victim in price. Cruz has slammed two homers against Price in his career and is batting .538. Other strong performers include Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who has reached base at a .500 OBP clip.

Lewis vs. Rays: One matchup worth watching is Lewis vs. Evan Longoria. Longoria is hitless in six plate appearances against Lewis, and it may have to do with the slider. Lewis' best pitch the last two seasons has been his slider as Fangraphs.com notes. Longoria happens to have major problems with sliders this season. Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman are the only batters who have at least career double-digit appearances against Lewis, and only Damon has been able to hit him. The team as a while has seen Lewis 64 times at the plate and are hitting just .182/.297/.255. Unsurprisingly, Lewis blanked the Rays for eight innings in his lone start against them this season.

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Price has never beaten the Rangers and was a major reason why the Rays lost to Texas in the ALDS last season. He was winless in both his starts, and of course, you only need three wins to advance.
  • Moreland hit .234 against lefties this year and usually doesn't play against them, with Yorvit Torrealba picking up the slack. But Washington doesn't want Moreland out of the lineup after he smacked a homer in Game 2.
  • Those who are keeping an eye on the weather after Mother Nature has already reared her head need not worry. The Rays play in a dome, so this game is getting in.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:36 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:19 am
 

Instant Reaction: Rangers 8, Rays 6



By Evan Brunell

ALDS Game 2: Rangers 8, Rays 6

WP: Derek Holland

LP: James Shields

S: Neftali Feliz

HR: TB - Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce | TEX - Mitch Moreland

Series: Rays 1, Rangers 1 in best-of-5

Hero: It was a rather balanced offensive attack for the Rangers, but Mitch Moreland deserves the honors here. Texas jumped out ahead thanks to a five-run fourth inning and looked to be wrapping up the game in the seventh, ahead by a 7-3 score. However, Evan Longoria changed things by blasting a three-run homer and pulling Tampa Bay within one. It was a tight ballgame again, but Moreland brought down the anxiety level in Texas by cranking a homer for a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Moreland also had a RBI groundout to cap the scoring in the fourth and ended the night with two RBI.

Goat: Home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley may have changed the outcome of the game and series as a whole when he jumped the gun in the fourth inning. With James Shields struggling, two runs in and runners on second and third, the righty really needed an out to stamp out the fire. He almost registered the second out of the inning when Kelly Shoppach pounced on a dribbler in front of home plate and easily threw out David Murphy -- or he would have, had Danley not called the ball foul already. The ball had come off the bat straight down in foul territory but bounced into fair territory, which means it should have counted. Murphy would go on to strike out, but reached on a wild pitch that scored another run. One more would cross before it was all over, and the Rangers' five-run inning set the tone for the rest of the game. No one's saying the Rays would have won without that miscue -- after all, the game was tied at that point and Shields was imploding -- but to make that kind of error with the stakes as high as they are is inexcusable. An extra couple seconds would have made the difference. You don't need to call a ball foul that fast, especially when it's at home plate. Most umpires -- most competent ones -- move out from their stance and attempt to get a visual on the ball from the side before calling it fair or foul. Danley just didn't bother.

Update: Joe Maddon reported that Danley's case was that Murphy's bat hit the ball a second time. (@jasoncollette)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Rangers-Rays series | 2011 playoffs

Video: Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli talk about the win

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:46 pm
 

ALDS Game 2: Rangers play catch-up against Rays

Shields

By Evan Brunell

Rays at Rangers, 7:07 p.m. ET, Rangers Ballpark, TNT

Rays Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Desmond Jennings LF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 B.J. Upton  CF 2 Elvis Andrus  SS
3 Evan Longoria  3B 3 Josh Hamilton  CF
4 Ben Zobrist  2B 4 Michael Young  DH
5 Johnny Damon  DH 5 Adrian Beltre  3B
6 Kelly Shoppach  C 6 Mike Napoli  C
7 Sean Rodriguez  SS 7 Nelson Cruz  RF
8 Casey Kotchman  1B 8 David Murphy  LF
9 Matt Joyce  RF 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

James Shields RHP
Derek Holland LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Shields vs. Rangers: Shields' calling card this year has been an innate ability to complete games, shutting the door a league-leading 11 times. One of those complete games came against Texas, fresh off facing the club five days prior and going eight strong with no runs allowed. In the complete game on Sept. 5, he allowed just one run. So that's one run in 17 innings, striking out 13. Not shabby at all. All year long, Texas has tested the patience of left-handed pitchers, but are more vulnerable against righties. To that end, Murphy and Moreland, who don't play against lefties, are in the lineup against Shields.

Holland vs. Rays: Holland closed the regular season in fine fashion, sporting a 2.77 ERA over his final 16 starts. Unfortunately, his time against the Rays left much to be desired, giving up eight runs in 12 1/3 innings, walking six. The bright spot? He whiffed 16. In his most recent start against Tampa, Holland allowed four runs (three earned) in 6 2/3 innings, setting down nine Rays by way of the K. Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist have raked the left-hander over the coals the last three years.

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Manager Ron Washington wouldn't commit to starting Moreland against right-handed pitchers, but has slotted him into the lineup. Unfortunately for Moreland, he's only collected one hit in 11 career at-bats against Shields, striking out four times.
  • Kelly Shoppach's two homers and five RBI in Game 1 put him in exalted company. Only one other catcher has notched at least two blasts and 5 RBI in a postseason game, Johnny Bench of the Reds accomplishing the feat in Game 4 of the 1976 World Series. (Elias Sports Bureau)
  • In the 2011 ALDS, the Rays fell to the Rangers in five games, with the visiting team winning each game, a record. The trend continued Friday when Tampa took Game 1 in Texas.
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