Tag:Texas Rangers
Posted on: August 9, 2009 8:44 pm

Rangers pitch, catch and are having a ball

You don't have to look far to see why Texas is making a serious run at playing meaningful September games this season.

Not only are the Rangers pitching better (seventh in the American League with a 4.21 ERA after ranking last in the majors at 5.37 in 2008), their defense also is significantly improved (the Rangers' .984 fielding percentage is tied for sixth in the AL after ranking as the worst in the AL in both 2007 and 2008).

Most importantly, the Rangers' biggest gamble, installing rookie Elvis Andrus at shortstop and moving Michael Young over to third base, has been an unmitigated success.

Andrus has started 91 games, most of any rookie in the majors, and has a .970 fielding percentage. He's committed just two errors over his past 30 games and leads all major-league shortstops in chances-per-nine-innings (5.27) and putouts (181).

The youngest position player on an opening-day roster (20 years, 223 days old) and second-youngest overall (Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello was a few days younger), Andrus also is 20-for-22 in steal attempts and has become only the 10th player in history to have a 20-steal season at the age of 20.

"The talent was obvious," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says. "Our guys throughout the system really did a nice job. His makeup, knowing who Elvis was and whether he would be able to handle it."

Who knows what the future holds, but it's difficult to imagine a rookie's transition going more seamlessly than that of Andrus (once Young accepted the transition, of course, after his initial trade request last winter).

Toward the end of spring training, a Rangers' staff member put his arm around Daniels and said, "Well, we did it."

"Did what?" Daniels asked.

"We got through spring training with never a question about should we send him back down, should we move Michael Young back to shortstop," the staffer said.

Perhaps more importantly, five months into the 2009 season, there still are no questions.

Likes: We've reached that time of the season where the games are beginning to pick up meaning, and Texas' run will become very interesting over the next few weeks. After three with the Indians this week to complete their current trip to Oakland, Anaheim and Cleveland, the Rangers go home to host Boston -- whome they're battling for the AL Wild-Card lead -- and Minnesota, then they face a killer trip to Tampa Bay, the Yankees and Minnesota. If they're still standing after that, the Rangers will face their most interesting September in years. ... Reading coverage of the 40th anniversaries of Woodstock and of the Beatles shooting their famous Abbey Road album cover photo. ... Warm summer nights. ... Watching the Yankees-Red Sox 15-inning game the other night. Riveting. But 3 hours and 17 minutes to play a scoreless nine innings? ... This new Awful Umpiring web site sure looks like a winner.

Dislikes: Far too many back to school ads. I mean, I'm thrilled that doesn't include me, but come on. Here in the digital age, with all of the technological advances, can't we figure out a way to make summer last 12 months?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

" It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
"Everywhere I travel the pretty girls call my name
"I give them a squeeze and they shoot me a wink
"I buy their hard-headed husbands a long cool drink"

-- Elvis Costello, Sulpher to Sugarcane

Posted on: July 30, 2009 11:42 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2009 2:37 am

Rangers talking Halladay with Jays

The Texas Rangers, financially strapped but loaded with prospects, were pursuing Toronto ace Roy Halladay on Thursday night as one of their brightest young pitchers, Derek Holland, showed the world what the next generation of Rangers could produce in throwing a gem against the Seattle Mariners.

The Rangers are serious about their pursuit of Halladay, according to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking. But, the source added, the club does not intend to dip too deeply into its carefully rebuilt farm system and will move on if Toronto insists on what the Rangers deem as too much.

A successful last-minute Rangers strike for Halladay seems highly unlikely based on the organization's shaky financial standing and on the fact that the Rangers have had a firm philosophy in place for the past couple of seasons to build from within -- and that philosophy now appears tantalizingly close to paying off big.

The publication Baseball America rated the Rangers No. 1 in the game in its 2009 organizational talent rankings. Holland, a left-hander in just his second full professional season, was sensational in allowing only two hits over 8 2/3 innings in Texas' 7-1 win over Seattle on Thursday night.

Holland was ranked as the organization's second-best prospect for 2009 by Baseball America. Another pitcher, right-hander Neftali Perez, was first. Lefty Martin Perez was No. 5 and right-hander Michael Main was No. 10.

Under club president and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, the Rangers are determined to develop power pitchers who throw strikes.

But under owner Tom Hicks, the Rangers are in such bad shape financially that they had to seek a loan from major-league baseball to meet payroll last month. While they maybe could re-arrange some things for 2010 to fit Halladay's $15.75 million salary into their budget -- for one thing, they could forego re-signing free agents Hank Blalock, Vicente Padilla and Marlon Byrd.

But as for the approximately $4.75 million due to Halladay this year, that could be a problem. And unless the Blue Jays change their mind, general manager J.P. Ricciardi told colleague Danny Knobler on July 12 that the Jays would not kick in any money to pay part of Halladay's salary.

"We don't want to hear that somebody's not available, and we don't want to hear that they can't handle the money," Ricciardi said.

The Jays surely could find plenty to their liking in Texas' rich system in a deal for Halladay. So, too could other organizations in other trade discussions: The Rangers have been a very popular stop along the trade-talk circuit because of their wealth of young talent.


Posted on: July 8, 2009 1:36 am

Feldman shines as Rangers get -- gasp -- pitching

There was a point where the Rangers' season could have turned left instead of right, back when they were 7-9 and Josh Hamilton was just three days away from pulling the muscle in his side that sent him to the DL for the first time this season.

Many believe the turning point came the night of April 25 in Baltimore, when Scott Feldman stepped into the rotation for the first time.

Slated to bullpen duty early, Feldman that night limited the Orioles to one run in five innings during Texas' 6-5 victory. Over the next five weeks, the Rangers went 23-10 and built a season-high 5 1/2-game lead in the AL West.

That cushion became especially important because the Rangers, ever pitching-challenged, currently have two starting pitchers (Brandon McCarthy and Matt Harrison) and one key reliever (Joaquin Benoit) on the disabled list. They also lost starter Vicente Padilla and reliever Frank Francisco to the DL earlier this year -- Francisco twice.

As for the currently sidelined starters, neither McCarthy nor Harrison is expected back before late July.

So a group of young Rangers pitchers, including Feldman, Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland, is being pushed a little harder than planned.

Feldman in particular has been outstanding. Not only is he 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA over 17 games -- 14 starts -- but he's holding opponents to a .230 batting average.

"He's done a great job," All-Star third baseman Michael Young says. "He competes. He gets after it. He pounds the strike zone. He makes big pitches in big situations.

"When you have pitching and defense, it's a lot of fun."

Texas pitchers had compiled a 3.50 ERA over 22 games into Tuesday night's since June 11, fourth-lowest in the AL during that span. Meantime, largely behind Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson, the bullpen's 79.3 percent saves conversion rate (23 saves in 29 opportunities) was the best in the AL and second-best in the majors this season.

In what could be a preview of coming attractions over the next few seasons for the Rangers, in sweeping Tampa Bay over the weekend, each of the three victories was obtained by a Rangers draft pick: Hunter (a supplemental first-round pick in 2007), Holland (25th round in 2006) and Feldman (30th round 2003).

The last time Texas has seen its own draft picks obtain victories over three consecutive starts? Back in 1997, when Darren Oliver (third round in 1988) beat Oakland and Bobby Witt (first round in 1985) and Rick Helling (first round in 1992) beat the Angels.

Likes: Elvis Andrus at shortstop in Texas. Slick. ... Roy Halladay in Toronto. I hope the Blue Jays don't trade him. He belongs in Toronto, and Blue Jays fans deserve a Halladay-led winner. ... Our Fourth of July cul-de--sac barbecue over the weekend. ... Beautiful Puget Sound. ... The All-Star Game in St. Louis. Yeah, it'll be muggy, but the baseball will be great and the atmosphere will match. ... Johnny Depp on David Letterman a couple of weeks ago (just caught up to it on TiVo).

Dislikes: Coverage of Michael Jackson's Memorial Service on Tuesday. Sad story, yes. But give me a break. The guy wasn't a saint, and the fawning media completely glossed over the little matter of that $20 million settlement regarding the boy he was accused of molesting.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Your mind's a machine
"It's deadly and dull
"It's never been still and its will
"Has never been free"

-- Wilco, Less Than You Think

Posted on: March 25, 2009 4:21 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2009 5:20 pm

Minor league team offers 4,800-calorie burger

But the Texas Rangers are breathing easy, because if outfielder Andruw Jones starts in the minors or needs an injury-rehabilitation stint during the season, West Michigan isn't one of their affiliates.




Category: MLB
Posted on: March 10, 2009 4:41 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2009 12:46 am

Going old school with the Texas Rangers

 SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Cool spring sight on Wednesday: The Texas Rangers took the field for their Cactus League game against San Francisco wearing actual, real stirrup socks.

"We're bringing back old school," said one of the instigators, reliever Eddie Guardado.

Stirrups, that old baseball staple, have gone the way of flannel uniforms over the past decade or so. Guardado recalls wearing them when he broke into the majors with Minnesota in the mid-1990s but, not long after, they went away.

Players started wearing regular socks, some with a stripe on the side modeled to look like a stirrup and others simply one color, so eventually clubs stopped ordering the stirrups.

"I guess they were like clothes that go out of style, you know?" Guardado said. "They look good, huh?"

No question. The Rangers' stirrups are blue with the good-looking "T" logo just above the ankle. Second baseman Ian Kinsler obtained a pair first, and that's what caught Guardado's attention.

Together, Kinsler and Guardado started the movement in the clubhouse. You even could say there now is a movement afoot, I suppose.

"You go around and the kids are like, 'What are you doing?'" said Guardado, who, at 38, is here as a nonroster invitee looking to extend his career into a 15th major-league season.

Here's wishing Kinsler and Guardado well in their efforts to keep the Rangers in stirrups for '09. And here's hoping the old-school custom catches on throughout the game.

Likes: Love hearing the legends of young future ace pitchers Tommy Hanson (Atlanta), Rick Porcello (Detroit) and Daniel Bard (Boston) build. There is a lot of buzz around all three of these young guys, and it seems inevitable that we'll see each in the majors at some point this summer. ... It sure would be entertaining if the Netherlands eliminated the Dominican Republic from the World Baseball Classic when they play on Tuesday. ... Hope Omar Vizquel sticks around for awhile in Texas. ... The sesame seed Ahi with blueberry salsa at Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico the other night. ... Dairy Queen. ... The chicken parmesan and the sautéed spinach at the Italian Grotto in Scottsdale.

Dislikes: I know Arizona is a state that never changes its time. I know when Daylight Savings Time hits, Arizona's clocks don't move. I know this. So what happens Saturday evening? I click out the light in my hotel room and then think, "spring forward." So like a dope, during this moment of temporary insanity around midnight, I move the bedside alarm clock forward. What's worse, is I arise Sunday morning with the sound of that alarm clock, shower, start to get dressed ... and that's when it hits me. Wait just a minute. No time change. It's only 6:30 a.m., not 7:30. Unbelievable.

Sunblock day? Yep. After a couple of cool days, it's back up in the mid-70s with a nice, warm sun here in the desert today.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Everyone I know, everywhere I go
"People need some reason to believe
"I don't know about anyone but me
"If it takes all night, that'll be all right
"If I can get you to smile before I leave"

-- Jackson Browne, Running On Empty




Posted on: February 5, 2009 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2009 2:54 pm

Sheets expects to have surgery soon

Ben Sheets, the injury-plagued, free-agent starting pitcher, is expected to undergo elbow surgery and be sidelined for four to six months, according to CBSSports.com sources.

The surgery, to repair Sheets' partially torn flexor tendon, is expected to be performed by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. A source with knowledge of the situation said that Sheets is not expected to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

Still, the elbow surgery likely will keep Sheets on the sidelines until August, or later. The right-hander was prepared to undergo surgery this week, according to sources, but those plans hit a snag over insurance issues and who would pay for it.

Sheets' agent, Casey Close, could not be reached for comment, but sources say that he maintains Milwaukee should pay for the surgery since the injury stems from his time with the Brewers. While that dispute is resolved, Sheets now hopes to have the surgery next week, sources say.

The news comes late in a winter that Sheets and many other free agents have found to be exceptionally cold, and it helps explain why several conversations between the right-hander and the Texas Rangers have yet to evolve into a contract.

Talks between the Rangers and Sheets reached an impasse within the past several days, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The two sides were close to agreement on a two-year deal, according to a major-league source, but they already had concerns regarding the right-handers' checkered health history. It is believed that the physical examination revealed the tear and caused the Rangers to scotch the deal.

Sheets' elbow became sore last September during a season in which the right-hander worked 198 innings -- his highest total since 2004. But he came up lame down the stretch and surrendered 10 runs and 15 hits in just over 10 innings of his final three starts. He was unable to pitch in Milwaukee's first-round playoff series loss to Philadelphia.

Since 2001, Sheets, 30, has spent time on the disabled list with right rotator cuff tendinitis, a severe inner-ear infection, a torn back muscle, a right shoulder strain, tendinitis in his right shoulder and a sprained right middle finger.

In eight seasons with the Brewers, Sheets has compiled an 86-83 career record with a 3.72 ERA. When he's healthy, Sheets has the stuff of a staff ace. But staying healthy has been his biggest challenge.

Sheets was 13-9 with a 3.01 ERA in 31 starts for the Brewers in 2008 and was the National League's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game. He also earned $11 million in the final season of a four-year, $38.5 million deal.

The Brewers offered him arbitration in December and, had he accepted, he likely would have gotten a raise from that $11 million for 2009. However, while Sheets' departure saved the Brewers some money, news of his likely impending surgery before he signed a free agent contract will cost Milwaukee draft picks. The Brewers were to receive two compensatory picks from the team signing Sheets.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com