Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 5:26 pm
Rangers manager Ron Washington has indicated C.J. Wilson will likely serve as his opening day starter, saying the left-hander will get the ball that day, "barring anything unforeseen," the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Considering the Rangers -- the defending American League champions -- have solidified only the top two spots in the rotation, Washington's decision was basically a coin flip. He only had to choose between Wilson and Colby Lewis.
Wilson, 30, was converted from closer to starter last season and adapted quite well. He worked 204 innings (his previous MLB-high was 73 2/3) in 33 starts. He went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. As usual with Wilson, walks were an issue, as he gave out 93 free passes.
Lewis, 31, returned to the U.S. last season after a stint in Japan. He went 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 201 innings, striking out 196 hitters.
There are a whopping 10 pitchers competing for the final three rotation spots.
The player of intrigue in the mix is Neftali Feliz. The Rangers are stretching him out in spring training like a starter and will make a decision later on if he'll remain the team's closer or join the rotation. The 22-year-old phenom, who rocks the radar gun to the tune of triple digits on occasion, was the AL Rookie of the Year last season after saving 40 games in 43 chances. The Rangers still seem to view Feliz's place on the team long-term as a starting pitcher, but that doesn't mean they'll make the conversion this season. It's a balancing act between his development and what is best for the 2011 Rangers.
Still, even if that move is made now, it appears the Rangers wouldn't slot him any higher than third. Wilson gets to toe the rubber on opening day and it seems inevitable Lewis will get the nod next.
-- Matt Snyder
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: January 23, 2011 12:39 pm
The Rangers lost out on Cliff Lee, but could be looking to add to their rotation from within -- looking at American League Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz to fill a spot in the rotation.
Or, at least they'll give him a look as a starter during spring training, Rangers manager Ron Washington tells the Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo .
"As of right now, we're going to bring [Feliz] into camp and give him the opportunity to stretch himself out," Washington said. "And if he shows us he's better fitted with our ball club to start, then we'll go in that direction.
"If not, we know he can close ballgames and we're very happy with that."
If Feliz joins the rotation, the team would move Derek Holland back to the bullpen and either Frank Francisco or Alexi Ogando would close.
Team president Nolan Ryan said he doesn't know what will happen with Feliz.
"See how he handles it and see how his breaking ball and his changeup are, and then we'll make a decision" Ryan said at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday (via the Dallas Morning News ). "We're looking at that. Do I think it will happen this year? I don't know if it will or it won't. But it's something that we're going to look at. We think with his body type and the way he throws, as free and easy as he does, that he has the potential to be a very good major league starter. I can't tell you if it's going to happen this year."
Feliz, for his part, said he's open to whatever the team wants.
"If they ask me to be a starter, I'll be a starter," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "If they want me to stay a closer, I'll stay a closer. I really had fun [last] year as a closer."
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 14, 2011 4:25 pm
But who is No. 1? And for that matter, who are the top five bullpens in the game?
Glad you asked.
Why: The Padres dumped Adam Russell, Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb but still have the best bullpen in the business. Heath Bell is one of the best closers in the game while Gregerson and Adams would close for many clubs. Thatcher may not total many innings (35 in 65 games) but it's hard to find a better situational reliever.
Why: Soriano and Rivera will form one of the best one-two punches to close out a game (although every other team on this list can make a similar claim), but the real strength comes in depth. Chamberlain isn't the same pitcher he once was, but still has talent while Robertson could one day close. Feliciano isn't a top-end left-hander, but is a durable workhorse that should rack up plenty of appearances.
3. TEXAS RangersCloser: Neftali Feliz
Setup: Alexi Ogando, Frank Francisco
Others: Darren Oliver (L), Arthur Rhodes (L), Mark Lowe
Why: It's easy to overlook this bullpen because it's full of aging left-handers (two of them!) and players that have toiled in relative obscurity, but Feliz led all closers in saves as a rookie, Ogando threw up a 1.30 ERA and Francisco is a former closer -- who could close for many clubs.
Why: A late-season injury kept Bailey under 50 innings pitched, but not before the reigning Rookie of the Year winner announced his arrival among the elite of closers. Grant Balfour vaults the A's onto the top five list and will pair with the submariner Ziegler. They lack a top left-handed option, but the returning Devine (Tommy John surgery) and slider specialist in Wuertz will give batters fits.
5. ATLANTA BravesCloser: Craig Kimbrel (pictured) or Johnny Venters (L)
Others: Scott Linebrink, Peter Moylan, Scott Proctor, George Sherrill (L)
Why: Kimbrel and Venters are simply very filthy pitchers. Kimbrel, in 20 2/3 innings, struck out a staggering 40 batters (although that came with 16 walks) and is the favorite to close. He'll be rivaled by Venters, who hurled 83 innings in his rookie year, punching out 93. It's not every day a club has two relievers capable of punching out over 10 batters per nine. The middle relief corps is fairly weak, but Linebrink should eat innings and and Moylan is a quality arm.
You may notice that the Red Sox were left off the list -- if this was a top six list (hint: it's not), Boston would have ranked sixth. Jonathan Papelbon will be set up by the dangerous Daniel Bard, and the additions of Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler should deepen the club. However, Papelbon's volatility and lack of a top-end left-handed reliever hurt. You could make a case that the Braves belong sixth given the lack of experience in the closer and setup roles. Boston does beat Atlanta in middle relief, but a closer and setup men is more important to your bullpen.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: January 10, 2011 10:04 am
Coming off a World Series appearance, the Rangers have been anything but content this offseason. Few teams have been as active in the free agent market as Texas.
General manager Jon Daniels has reached high -- Cliff Lee -- and missed, but also reacted by signing the likes of Adrian Beltre and Yorvit Torrealba along with reliever Arthur Rhodes and took a risk on former Cy Young Award-winner Brandon Webb. The team was also in on trades for Zack Greinke and Matt Garza.
Under new ownership, the Rangers have been aggressive and shown they aren't content with what they've done. That hasn't stopped even after an offseason spending spree.
"There are still some things we're going to look into," Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "This may be the club we go to camp with. We're confident if it is.
"But there's a chance we'll try to improve as well."
Wilson notes the team could still be interested in other "risk-reward types" such as Jeff Francis and Bartolo Colon.
There's also the off chance the team could go after the top remaining free agent, Rafael Soriano, and move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. It may be a long-shot, but with the Rangers, it seems anything's possible.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 16, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 3:49 pm
CBSSports.com will be revealing its Top 10 Stories of the 2010 season next week, but here at MLB Facts and Rumors we're going to reveal our own Top 10 list, sans the storylines that will be appearing on the overall list.
Here's the top storylines from the 2010 season that didn't make the cut:
10. Felix Hernandez wins AL Cy Young
The Mariners ace ran away with the Cy Young Award after posting a 2.27 ERA (3.26 xFIP), whiffing 232 in 249 2/3 innings and walking just 70 batters and posting a 13-12 record.
Yup -- a starting pitcher won the Cy Young with a 13-12 record. Now, there have been past winners who had shoddy records, but in light of Zack Greinke's victory in 2009 with "just" a 16-8 record, it's clear that wins are being marginalized -- and that's a good thing.
The majority of GMs and front-office executives understand the fallacy of judging a pitcher's performance on wins. After all, for a pitcher to get a win, the offense and defense play important parts -- and one could argue the offense plays a more important role. Hernandez was clearly the best pitcher in the league (although CC Sabathia did get short shrift) and deserves the award, but could you have seen this coming just five years ago?
Nope. We're in the middle of a seismic shift where advanced statistics are starting to take hold in mainstream media -- for the better. While the statistics used in the sabermetric community (such as xFIP, which is quoted often in this blog) will always be ahead of mainstream media, the mere fact one can find national writers quoting ERA+ is a positive.
9. End of an era for legendary managers
Four managers with impressive pedigrees saw their managerial careers come to an end (well -- for now).
In Toronto, Cito Gaston ended his return to the managerial ranks by guiding the team to a 85-77 record. Of course, Gaston will be remembered more for his original stint as a Blue Jay where he won back-to-back World Series titles.
Lou Piniella was another to exit stage left, stepping down near the end of yet another disappointing season as Cubs skipper. Piniella takes with him a 116-win season (2001 Mariners) and World Series ring (1990 Reds) along with 1,835 victories.
Joe Torre joins Piniella as another ex-Yankees manager who retired. After Torre bounced around from the Mets to Braves to Cardinals, he landed with the Yankees with almost 15 years experience and then turned into a star. He won four titles in five seasons and remained in New York for 12 years. He just finished up a three-year stint with the Dodgers that saw him win an additional two division titles and retire with 2,326 victories.
Last, but definitely not least, is Bobby Cox (pictured). Cox managed the Braves for 25 years from 1978-81 and then again from 1990-2010. In between, he managed the Blue Jays and served as Atlanta's general manager. Cox had just three losing seasons as Braves manager, going 40-57 in 1990, 79-83 in 2006 and 72-90 in 2008. He oversaw the vaunted trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and won 100-plus games five times, capturing his World Series ring in 1995. All told, he won 2,504 games and lost 2,001.
8. Chase for Triple Crown
At one point during the season, a Triple Crown was a distinct possibility in both the AL and NL. Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera had a showdown in the AL, but Hamilton's missing most of September cut short any possibility of winning the Triple Crown. Hamilton beat Cabrera in batting average, .359 to .328, but Miggy bested Hamilton with 38 homers to the Ranger's 32. (Jose Bautista pulled away from the field with 54 home runs, but this was a lot closer in July and August than it ended up being.) Cabrera overcame Bautista to win the RBI title with 126 ribbies, and Hamilton was 12th with 100 RBI on the nose.
The NL was a lot more closer with the combatants as Joey Votto and Albert Pujols (pictured). Pujols ended up with 118 RBI, Votto 113 -- but the reigning NL MVP beat Pujols in batting average with a .324 mark as compared to Phat Albert's .312. (Carlos Gonzalez won the title with a .336 mark.) Ah, but Pujols walked away the home-run king with 42 bombs, Votto cranking 37.
7. Rookies of the Year
In the AL, two rookies grabbed everyone's attention with center fielder Austin Jackson flourishing in Detroit and Neftali Feliz notching 40 saves. A slow start derailed Brian Matusz's hype in Baltimore, but by the end of the year it was looking like he could be the ace many had predicted him to be.
The real story was in the NL, where there was a plethora of candidates in Buster Posey, Ike Davis, Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Madison Bumgarner, Ian Desmond, David Freese, Mike Stanton, Travis Wood, Pedro Alvarez, Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata, Jon Niese...
Yep, there was a bona fide youth movement in the NL this year, and it should be one fun league to watch over the next few seasons. In any other given year, at least five, if not more, could have won Rookie of the Year awards. But they didn't.
So, who actually got the Rookie of the Year Awards?
The AL honor went to Feliz for his 40 saves in 69 1/3 innings, punching out 71 and walking 18. He has the potential to be a stud closer for years... or could be moved back to the rotation. Your move, Texas.
In the NL, Buster Posey (pictured) whisked the award away from Jason Heyward with a .305/.357/.505 line in 443 plate appearances, bashing 18 home runs and leading the Giants to the World Series. Nah, he didn't set any expectations for himself.
6. Dodger Divorce
This storyline isn't quite over, but 2010 saw the sordid trial and subsequent decision by the judge that both Frank and Jamie McCourt own the Dodgers. Whether or not this pushes the team to sell isn't known yet, but this was a divorce that captured the hearts of tabloids and overshadowed the constant Hollywood marital troubles that plague movie celebrities.
At the crux of the issue were two separate agreements that detailed either Frank (pictured below left) possessing sole ownership of the club, or both. Frank's lawyer admitted he made changed to the marital agreement without notifying Jamie or her representatives that gave Frank sole ownership.
With the agreement nullified, Frank is pursuing other avenues to be declared the sole owner while Jamie and representatives say that the Dodgers must be treated like community property. While there's still more battles to be had, the war is over: both McCourts own the team and it's difficult to fathom both co-existing, which will lead to the team's sale.
5. Year of the Pitcher
Six no-hitters were thrown in 2010, a remarkable achievement. Only two other times were six no-hitters thrown, and that's not including the Perfect Game That Wasn't in Armando Galarraga's perfecto.
Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies franchise history against the Braves on April 17 to get the no-nos started. Matt Garza also tossed a franchise-first no-hitter, doing so for the Rays vs. the Tigers on July 26, the final no-hitter of the regular season.
Dallas Braden then followed that up with a perfect game against the Rays on May 9th, adding a nice little wrinkle to the earlier flap with Alex Rodriguez, when he yelled at the third baseman to "get off my mound." Rodriguez responded in Pedro Martinez form , asking just who the heck Braden was. Cue perfect game. Now people know who Braden is.
New Phillie Roy Halladay (pictured) followed in Braden's footsteps 20 days later, pitching perfect against the Marlins May 29.
Edwin Jackson joined in on the fun June 25th, throwing an incredible 149 pitches to notch a no-no for the Diamondbacks.
Lastly, Halladay did perhaps the most impressive feat of all, blanking the Reds in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on October 6. It's the second no-hitter to be thrown in the postseason, behind Don Larsen's perfecto in 1956. He was one walk in the 5th away from a second perfect game.
That wasn't all that made the year all about pitchers, however. Fifteen hurlers tied the all-time record for most pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts, paced by Jered Weaver's 233 whiffs.
4. George Steinbrenner passes
Steinbrenner was someone who loomed over baseball from Day One upon his acquisition of the Yankees in 1973. Brash and loud, Steinbrenner wouldn't accept any form of losing and while New York won two World Series in 1976-77 and appeared in two others in 1976 and 1981, New York quickly fell into obscurity as Steinbrenner's demands weren't the way a club should be run.
His overturn of management personnel was rough as well, as 20 managers served under his watch over his first 23 seasons, Billy Martin the poster boy for this overturn. Steinbrenner was also suspended for 15 months after the 1974 season for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon. It wouldn't be his last suspension.
Despite this, however, the Yankees reinvigorated a brand that had been dormant for a decade. Then, the best thing that could have happened to New York did with King George's second suspension, handed out for paying a gambler for trying to dig up information on star Dave Winfield, whom Steinbrenner had made the highest-paid player in baseball history at the time before clashing with the Hall of Famer.
This allowed Gene Michael, the GM, to take over day-to-day Yankees business and upon Steinbrenner's reinstatement in 1993, he was more willing to be hands off -- as hands off as he could be, anyways.
This shift led the Yankees to their glory years behind Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and so on. The Yankees captured four World Series in a five-year span, three straight from 1998-2000. They would continue to be the face of baseball throughout the beginning of the 21st century and captured another World Series in 2009, the last postseason Steinbrenner would see.
The Boss passed on the morning of the 2010 All-Star Game, July 13. With that, the Yankees lost perhaps their most influential and important owner in franchise history (although one could make a case for Jacob Ruppert ).
3. Cliff Lee Watch
On MLB Facts and Rumors, Cliff Lee has been written more than any other player -- and team. The Cliff Lee tag beats out the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Orioles, Rockies, Padres, Blue Jays, Tigers, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Athletics, Astros and Indians. That's a lot.
That's not all, however. There's also a Cliff Lee Watch tag, detailing his adventures through trades and free agency. What does that top? Well, Derek Jeter for one. Only Adam Dunn, Stephen Strasburg and Lee himself are the only players that top that tag. Yep, that means Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton... they've all been written about less than Lee's nomadic career.
Lee is truly a journalist's dream, with the specter of free agency and constant trades keeping Lee at the forefront of the news. First Lee was dealt to the Phillies, and their push to the World Series provided plenty of fodder. Then you had Lee being traded to the Mariners and the head-scratching element of Philly turning around and acquiring Roy Halladay.
Then the Mariners flailed, and Lee was in a tug of war between the Rangers and Yankees. With Texas, he advanced to the World Series yet again, but hit free agency and we all know how that turned out.
Lee has been a big part of baseball coverage the last two years, and especially this year as he went from the Phillies to Mariners to Rangers and back to Philadelphia. I've never quite seen a player sustain coverage this long in so many different ways.
Cliff Lee may have dominated the off-the-field storylines, but Stephen Strasburg was a phenom on the field. He rocketed through the minors, with each of his farm starts must-see status.
Then: his debut.
Seven innings, two earned runs, no walks, 14 strikeouts -- and a whole lot of Nationals fans grinning ear to ear. He reached 100 mph on two pitches, and 34 of 94 pitches broke the 98-mph barrier.
It didn't stop there, as Strasmas blew through city after city, leaving shell-shocked players in its wake as Strasburg racked up 92 strikeouts in 68 innings over 12 starts. He posted a 2.91 ERA while walking just 17 and was an instant ace. Even a disabled-list stint in July for shoulder inflammation wasn't enough to curb the hype.
Until August 21.
Then, Tommy John surgery showed up in Strasburg's stocking as a big lump of coal.
Strasburg was one of the most hyped pitchers of all time (David Clyde 's got nothing on this guy) and delivered with TJ surgery providing the rock bottom. And all the while, tons of ink was devoted to Strasburg. In fact, Strasburg was the most-written about player on MLB Facts and Rumors until Lee got sent to Texas.
1. Jim Joyce blows Armando Galarraga's perfect game
What more can one say about this?
It was a brutal reminder to all that baseball simply needs instant replay. In this day and age, an "aw shucks, I messed up" isn't enough. Fans want to know that what they see on the field is legitimate. How many times do you hear about the 1985 World Series-winning Royals without the name Jorge Orta added?
How about the 1996 Yankees, who have to tote around Jeffrey Maier as part of its legacy?
Imagine what would have happened in the 2004 ALCS had the original call of Mark Bellhorn's double had been upheld, as well as Alex Rodriguez's purse-slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove?
Give Joyce credit for owning up to blowing the call and being genuinely bothered by the fact Armando Galarraga lost his shot at history on a blown call.
Give credit too, for Galarraga and the Tigers for being incredibly gracious. The actions of the two involved defused what could have been a powder-keg situation. (Just look at the picture -- talk about reconciliation.)
That doesn't change what happened, though. And what happened was this: Armando Galarraga lost a perfecto on the final out of the game in which there is irrefutable proof that the batter was out.
In the Year of the Pitcher with Lee and Strasburg as the most-talked about players and amidst the slow advent (and inevitable arrival) of expanded instant replay, it's perhaps fitting that this storyline heads the list of top storylines of the baseball season that did not make the all-inclusive Top 10 sports list, due to run on CBSSports.com next week.
-- Evan Brunell
Tags: Albert Pujols, Armando Galarraga, Bobby Cox, Buster Posey, Cito Gaston, Cliff Lee, Dallas Braden, Dodgers, Edwin Jackson, Felix Hernandez, Frank McCourt, George Steinbrenner, Jim Joyce, Joe Torre, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Lou Piniella, Matt Garza, Miguel Cabrera, Neftali Feliz, Roy Halladay, Stephen Strasburg, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yankees
Posted on: December 14, 2010 10:17 pm
In the wake of the loss of Cliff Lee, the Rangers have their hands full trying to augment a team that lost the World Series.
Ah, but a free-agent starting pitcher may not be imported to fix the situation.
The Rangers will stretch out Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando in the hopes of one of them being placed in the rotation, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram details.
Feliz, of course, was a starter in the minors before debuting with the Rangers last season and then slamming the door 40 times on opponents in 2010. He has the potential to become an ace, although there are questions about his durability.
Ogando, on the other hand, has missed a ton of time thanks to being involved in a human trafficking ring that denied him access to the States for five years. He finally returned for 2010 and breezed through the minors before finishing in the bigs with a 1.30 ERA over 41 2/3 innings.
Ogando did start the year as a starter for Double-A, but given how much time he missed, it's tough to see him with the durability to start. Yes, while he was able to pitch in the DSL and international tournaments, he is also 27 years old.
Then again, the Rangers successfully converted C.J. Wilson into a starter, so you can't count the Rangers out.
Manager Ron Washington, however, would prefer that Ogando and Feliz stay in the bullpen.
"That will be the last resort," Washington said. "I trust that Jon Daniels will find something to help us out. If that becomes a necessity, we're fortunate we have that depth. If that does not become a necessity, we'll keep those guys where they are."
If the team feels that Feliz and Ogando would be no better than No. 4 starters (doubtful), then sure, it's a last resort. But Feliz can be an ace, and it would be silly to try to keep him in the bullpen.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:50 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 4:09 pm
Topps announced its annual rookie all-star team Monday, and it's a pretty nice-looking lineup. It was a good year for rookies.
1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
2B: Neil Walker, Pirates
3B: Danny Valencia, Twins
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
OF: Austin Jackson, Tigers
OF: Michael Stanton, Marlins
OF: Jason Heyward, Braves
C: Buster Posey, Giants
RHP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
LHP: Jaime Garcia, Cardinals
RP: Neftali Feliz, Rangers
-- David AndriesenFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 8:15 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2010 8:18 pm
Rangers reliever Frank Francisco is likely to accept arbitration, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports .
Francisco is a Type A free agent, which could be hurting his value on the free-agent market. If a team signed him, he'd cost them a draft pick, something few teams are willing to do for a middle-reliever.
However, if Francisco does accept arbitration and a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, he could return to a different Rangers bullpen. There's been speculation that Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz could be moved to the rotation if the team loses out on Cliff Lee. If that happens, Francisco -- who had 25 saves in 2009 -- could be moved back into the closer's role. Feliz replaced Francisco as the team's closer early in the 2010 season. If he did take over as the team's closer, that would increase his value on the open market for the 2012 season.
At least, that seems to be the gamble Francisco is taking -- if you call getting a near-certain raise any type of gamble. Last season, Francisco made $3.265 million. Francisco appeared in 56 games last season, going 6-4 with 2 saves and a 3.76 ERA, striking out 60 batters while walking 18 in 52 2/3 innings.
If the Rangers miss out on Lee, they could take all that money they had set aside for him and go after closer Rafael Soriano.
-- C. Trent RosecransFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.