Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:42 pm
Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.
"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"
And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.
Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.
That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.
"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.
"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."
"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.
Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.
Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.
Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.
"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.
"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.
"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.
"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."
One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.
"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."
The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.
Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.
"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."
Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.
"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Tags: Albert Pujols, Bobby Abreu, Brian Cashman, C.J. Wilson, Jamey Wright, Jerry Dipoto, Joel Hanrahan, Jon Daniels, Kendrys Morales, LaTroy Hawkins, Los Angeles Angels, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, Mike Trout, New York Yankees, Peter Bourjos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Torii Hunter
Posted on: November 30, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Thad Levine, Rangers' assistant general manager, has removed his name from consideration for the Houston GM job one day after the Astros obtained permission from Texas to talk with him.
"He loves the Texas Rangers," a person close to Levine said.
Levine issued a statement through the Rangers: "My family and I have happily decided to forego any current outside opportunities and remain part of the Texas Rangers family. We are extremely appreciative of all the opportunities that Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and ownership have provided to us. Winning a championship and bringint it home to the Metroplex remains my singular focus."
Considered one of the brightest young executives in the game, Levine, 40, has been one of Daniels' top assistants in Texas for the past six seasons. Before that, he worked six more seasons in the Colorado Rockies' front office, including serving as the senior director of baseball operations in 2005.
Earlier in the off-season, Levine was a subject of interest to the Los Angeles Angels before they filled their GM vacancy with Jerry DiPoto, who had been in Arizona's front office. Levine did not interview with the Angels. This opportunity with Houston would have been his first GM interview.
The Astros also have received permission from Tampa Bay to interview Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Most in the industry think it would be a huge surprise if Friedman leaves the Rays, despite the fact that he's a Houston native.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 9:06 pm
ST. LOUIS -- How bad is Josh Hamilton's strained groin?
"In all honesty, if this was the regular season, I'd probably be on the disabled list," the Texas slugger said Thursday afternoon before batting practice as the Rangers prepared for Game 2 of the World Series. "But we don't have that luxury right now."
It is a miserable time for the 2010 AL MVP to come up lame, but as Hamilton said several times during the conversation, "it is what it is."
No matter, he is in the lineup and batting third for the Rangers in what becomes a vital Game 2 after they dropped Game 1 to St. Louis here Wednesday night 3-2.
Hamilton said he suffered the injury about two months ago.
"It was right at the point when it first started where I could warm up" and loosen it up, Hamilton said. "Then there was a point where I couldn't.
"Now I'm at the point where, whatever."
The key, he said, is making adjustments.
"Square the ball up and just really not use my lower half," he said. "Because I can hit line drives."
The groin injury has robbed him of his explosiveness, he said, which inhibits his ability to put the ball over the fence. He does not have a home run in 45 at-bats this postseason.
He said he feels his groin when he swings, "running and throwing ... whatever else baseball has. If I have to go from first to third, if I have to leg out a double, beat out an infield hit. ..."
Manager Ron Washington said Thursday that he has not considered removing Hamilton from the lineup.
"He's been dealing with it ... and he's come up big for us," Washington said. "You know, at this point of the year, we've all got nagging injuries. He had one, and he'll figure out a way to get through it, and we'll figure out a way to help him get through it."
Washington explained that "even if Hamilton doesn't do anything, he makes a difference just with his presence in our lineup. And I want his presence in it."
General manager Jon Daniels is on the same page as Washington.
"I think that's what this time of year is about," Daniels said. "It didn't start yesterday. He was hurting in Detroit and he played very well in Games 5 and 6. You tip your cap. He's playing hurt. It is what it is."
Hamilton batted .308 with five RBI in the six-game ALCS with Detroit. Four of his eight hits were doubles.
He estimated that he's somewhere between "75 and 80 percent" and added, "I'm comfortable playing at that level." Check swings also bother him to the point where a shooting pain goes through his groin that might last 15 or 20 minutes, he said. Or, severely inhibit his effectiveness in the rest of that at-bat.
As Daniels inferred, many players are playing in pain at this point in the season.
"You show up at spring training 100 percent, and it's a gradual decline after that," Michael Young told colleague Danny Knobler during the ALCS.
Hamilton acknowledged that his groin is getting progressively worse, and it seems it could be a race to the finish line between Hamilton and the Rangers' World Series run.
"We've got six games left," he said. "I'll do everything I can to be productive in the six games to help this team win.
"All I want to do is help my team win, anyhow. A sacrifice fly, whatever."
Posted on: October 4, 2011 6:04 pm
Here's the thing about the Texas Rangers as the champagne sprayed Tuesday in Tampa Bay: Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the Rangers early stars this October, were elsewhere when Texas made its first foray to a World Series last October.
And as the Rangers move on and prepare to meet either the Detroit Tigers or the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series, those two are just the latest examples of Texas' power both on the field and off.
Lots of people assumed the Rangers were done last winter when they couldn't retain Cliff Lee. But general manager Jon Daniels and his staff were creative enough to fill in the cracks of a very good core and the Rangers so far haven't missed a beat.
I don't know whether C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and the rest will provide enough pitching to slip past the Yankees or the Tigers and push the Rangers to their second consecutive World Series.
But I do know that under club president Nolan Ryan, Daniels and beyond, the Rangers never for a moment spent one time feeling sorry for themselves losing to San Francisco last fall. They never for a moment wasted time looking in the rear view mirror.
"The reality is, there are a lot of teams that have gotten there once," Daniels told me in March as the Rangers limbered up in Arizona. "That doesn't take anything away from it, but that's not our goal.
"First of all, we want to win it. And second of all, we don't want to be a one-hit wonder. And we need to prove that."
As the Rangers climb the charts again in 2011, they look far more long-term than one-hit wonder.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:48 pm
All this talk about Dan Uggla, Andre Ethier and hitting streaks this season, the Rangers have had quite the hit streak of their own lately, you know:
Nearly two weeks ago, Aug. 11 to be exact, snapped a streak of 40 consecutive days of 100-degree temperatures in Dallas. A record? Close: It just missed the 1980 Dallas-area record of 42 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.
That the Rangers played on, unaffected, and continued to thrive is yet another testament to the current group of strong-willed players constructed by club president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington: When was the last time you heard talk that the Rangers won't make it to October because they'll wilt in the heat?
Used to be an annual topic of conversation.
Yet this summer, the hottest on record in Dallas since Pat Corrales' Rangers went 76-85 and finished fourth in the AL West in '80, so far hasn't even come close to melting Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Co.
As the Red Sox arrive for a three-game series starting with an excellent pitching match-up Monday -- new Boston acquisition Erik Bedard vs. C.J. Wilson -- the first-place Rangers have produced their third-best record ever after 128 games (73-55).
"We monitor it," manager Ron Washington says of the heat. "We go out in it, we don't go out in it, we've still gotta play in it.
"You work in it less. We'll have weeks where we will have worked out in the heat for three days, and on four days we did not. But you've gotta get your work in to get used to it."
During the 40-day streak of temps of 100 or higher, the Rangers played 22 home games. They went 16-6.
"It's our home-field advantage," pitching coach Mike Maddux says. "We take our pitchers out in the heat of day. That's when we do our running, and throw in the bullpen.
"We see it as a challenge: 'I'm going to out-last the other guy.'"
The absence of third baseman Adrian Beltre, out since July 22 with a strained left hamstring, has hobbled the Rangers more than the heat has suffocated them.
And it remains scorching: When the 40-day streak of 100 ended on Aug. 11, it wasn't exactly with a cooling trend. The temperature reached 98 that day.
More of the same is awaiting the Red Sox and Rangers this week: Highs of 104 are predicted for Monday and Tuesday, 102 Wednesday and back up to 104 Thursday.
The Angels follow Boston in on Friday for another AL West showdown. Again, the high is predicted to be 104 on Friday.
"There are nights when we're dragging," Washington says. "But really, who wouldn't drag in that stuff?"
Likes: Absolutely fantastic job by the Padres on Sunday in the ceremony retiring legendary closer Trevor Hoffman's No. 51. One of the best I've ever seen. They presented him with a 1958 Cadillac convertible, based on the stories Hoffman has told regarding how his late father, Ed, loved to drive the family around in a convertible. They brought plenty of ex-teammates and coaches back. And in the best move of the day, the Padres tracked down an old video of Ed Hoffman singing the national anthem at Fenway Park on opening day in 1981 when Trevor's brother, Glenn, played for the Red Sox. Watching Trevor, his wife Tracy and his mother Nikki watch that video -- and brothers Greg and Glenn -- if your eyes weren't moist, then you weren't human. ... Reading the book ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun. Some entertaining stories, and it's written at a fast-moving clip (oral-history style). But it's a guilty read, too: I can't help but think, don't I have more important things to read? ... If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to Netflix (or rent or whatever) Win Win on DVD. It's terrific. Paul Giamatti as a small-town New Jersey lawyer and wrestling coach who is struggling in both areas. ... College football in less than two weeks.
Dislikes: Where, oh where, are the exciting playoff races?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"In between the stops at the Cracker Barrel
"And 40 movies with Will Ferrell
"I need some way to occupy my time
"So I'm writing you a road song
"I sure hope you don't mind"
-- Fountains of Wayne, A Road Song
Posted on: July 28, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 7:59 pm
What we know right now is that the Rangers and Padres have spent significant time on the telephone over the past 24 hours with Texas taking a hard run at acquiring closer Heath Bell.
But while talks have been significant, substantive, pick your word, the potential deal continued to just sit there Thursday while the Rangers balked at the Padres' asking price, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com.
The Padres, according to sources, are asking a three-player return for Bell, a price Texas is not eager to pay. Whether Texas' pause could open the door for St. Louis, the Los Angeles Angels or another suitor to move in is unclear.
"It's going to happen," Bell said of a trade after he collected his 30th save of the season in San Diego's 4-3 win over Arizona. "It will probably be down to the wire."
Bell thinks he'll end up in Texas. The Rangers remain very interested, according to sources, and talks are said to be ongoing -- though, as of early afternoon Thursday in San Diego, they were not hot.
San Diego had a scout watching Texas pitching prospect Robbie Erlin at Double-A Frisco the other night. Erlin, Texas' third-round pick in the 2009 draft, is 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 starts this season, with 61 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.
The Rangers and Padres have had "good talks" over the past 24 hours, one source said, though Thursday's cooling is an indication that if there is to be a deal reached, it likely will not happen before Friday. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is said to be traveling with the Rangers to Toronto for this weekend's series and further trade deadline discussions.
Texas has settled on bullpen help as its top priority, and manager Ron Washington lately has become disenchanted with closer Neftali Feliz, saying publicly the other day that he wants to see "a little more fire" from the closer.
"I just don't see the urgency," Washington said. "I'm not saying it's not there, but he's not exuding urgency."
Bell, tied for third in the NL with 29 saves and a three-time All-Star, is full of energy, and his presence -- or that of another reliever like him -- probably would jack up Feliz a little bit.
The Rangers are said to be honed in on Bell, and indications are that they do not believe the Padres are going to trade set-up man Mike Adams.
One Padres source said the other day that the club believes Bell would sign a discounted multi-year deal in San Diego as a free agent this winter and, as such, suggested the club could keep him this summer.
"That's the key right there," Bell said after Thursday's game. "Honestly, with everything that's happened, I wouldn't rule out anything. I said I'd take a discount, and I want to stay here. Everyone knows that."
Still, it's hard to see the Padres not dealing him and getting something in return, even if talks between the closer and the team would lead toward belief that they could reunite this winter.
Padres GM Jed Hoyer was not available at Thursday afternoon's Arizona-San Diego game. But on Wednesday, he told AM1090, the Padres' flagship radio, "I think we should [trade]. We don't have the talent base here that we need two have in order to be successful."
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Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:19 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Texas general manager Jon Daniels is a Queens native and a hot commodity these days, but says he did not ask the Mets to delay plans to hire a GM until after the World Series so that he would be free to take the job.
"Complete bull," Daniels, 33, told CBSSports.com before Game 1 of the World Series here Wednesday regarding one published report that he was in contact with the Mets and asked them to wait on him. "That really pissed me off."
"All I'm thinking about is the Rangers and the World Series. I'm in a great spot," he said.
The Mets appear set to hire Sandy Alderson as their GM, likely on Friday.