Tag:Texas Rangers
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Arizona pondering Saunders' future

DALLAS -- The Diamondbacks are discussing a contract extension with Joe Saunders in talks that could either tie the left-hander to the Arizona rotation for a couple of more seasons ... or land him squarely on the trade block.

With young starters such as Tyler Skaggs and Jarrod Parker close to ready, and young lefties David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin on the way, the Diamondbacks are internally discussing the merits of a two- or three-year extension to Saunders.

He's worked 200 or more innings in each of the past three seasons and, as such, provides shelter for a young staff growing into its future. But he's also arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from the $5.5 million he earned in 2011. Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA for the NL West champion Diamondbacks last summer.

If the Diamondbacks decide to go with their young pitching, the Diamondbacks could seize on a weak free agent market and perhaps deal Saunders as early as this week. The slow dance continues on the free agent market with Mark Buehrle (who is being pursued by more than a dozen clubs) and C.J. Wilson.

Beyond them and maybe Edwin Jackson, the best alternatives for clubs looking to acquire starting pitching this winter appears to be on the trade market, where Oakland is receiving hits on Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox are fielding inquiries on John Danks and Houston is shopping Wandy Rodriguez.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Rangers' Levine declines Astros interview

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: November 29, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:24 pm
 

Astros get OK to speak with Rangers' Levine

Still to be determined is what kind of a closer new Astros owner Jim Crane is, but in looking to fill his club's general manager vacancy, he's off to a rousing start.

One day after obtaining permission from Tampa Bay to speak with Andrew Friedman, the Astros on Tuesday were granted permission by the Rangers to speak with highly respected Thad Levine, assistant general manager to Jon Daniels, according to sources.

Friedman and Daniels are two of the brightest GMs in the game. Levine, in working under Daniels, has built a reputation as one of the smartest and most promising young executives in the game.

With Friedman in the GM's seat, Tampa Bay has won two AL East titles in the past four seasons and earned a wild-card berth in a third. The Red Sox, by comparison, have won only one AL East title in the past 16 seasons.

Friedman also spoke with the Angels earlier this winter, though he never reached the point where he waded too deeply into the interview process. He loves his situation in Tampa Bay with owner Stuart Sternberg, club president Matt Silverman and manager Joe Maddon, according to multiple sources, and is not looking to leave.

Whether the pull of his hometown Astros would be enough will be determined in the near future, though sources indicate it still would be a surprise if Friedman does leave his current situation. With the baseball winter meetings convening next week in Dallas, Houston is looking to move quickly -- though the Astros almost certainly will not have a new man on the job by then.

Levine has been one of Daniels' top assistants for the past six seasons. Before that, he spent six seasons in the Colorado Rockies' organization serving as senior director of baseball operations in 2005.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:07 am
 

BoSox manager decision to drag out later in week

The curious case of the Red Sox manager search drags on: Though Boston appears close to choosing between veteran baseball men Bobby Valentine and Gene Lamont, that decision will not come on Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the Red Sox plans.

With Valentine apparently flying home from Japan on Tuesday, speculation early Monday centered on the Sox informing the two men of their choice later Tuesday. But Boston is said to not be ready to make a decision by then.

Industry speculation has Valentine, 61, as the favorite to get the job, though he is nowhere close to the parameters of the first group of candidates brought in to interview by the Red Sox. New general manager Ben Cherington appeared to be looking for a solid baseball man without much managerial pedigree, a guy who would grow into the Boston job and may be open to front-office suggestions.

That man is not Valentine, who will do things his own way -- and who was contacted by Red Sox president Larry Lucchino after Dale Sveum accepted the Cubs job. Sveum was among the first group to interview with Boston and appeared to be Cherington's first choice.

Valentine guided the Mets to their last World Series appearance in 2000, managing them for parts of seven seasons after piloting the Rangers for parts of eight seasons.

Lamont, 64, is Detroit's third-base coach, managed the White Sox from 1992-1995 and was named as AL Manager of the Year in '93 when the Sox won the AL West title. He had the Sox in first place again in 1994 when the players' strike occurred and the season was wiped out. He also managed Pittsburgh from 1997-2000.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 3:38 am
 

Carpenter, St. Louis: True love

ST. LOUIS -- The cute little girl leaned into the microphone and spoke.

"I love my dad," Ava Carpenter, 6, said.

Not long after, her pop, the Cardinals ace who earned the win in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, chuckled.

"Yeah, but she's got a crush on David Freese," Chris Carpenter said.

On a noisy Friday night in St. Louis after the Cardinals won their 11th World Series title in franchise history, who didn't? Freese, the Series MVP who batted .348 with a homer and seven RBI, emerged into an overnight sensation.

But crushes come and go.

Everyone knows true love lasts forever.

While Freese is on the launching pad toward potential great things ahead, Ava Carpenter's dad already is there. The Cardinals now have played in three World Series during his time here, winning two. He's so thrilled to be here, he signed an extension in mid-September that will keep him in the St. Louis rotation through 2013.

And to that, add this: Carpenter is the first pitcher ever to win two elimination games in one postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before winning Game 7 of the World Series on Friday, he beat Philadelphia's Roy Halladay 1-0 in Game 5 of the Division Series.

Carpenter says these Cardinals are the best group of guys with whom he's ever played. And Friday, he gave them something to remember him by.

Working on three days' rest for only the second time in his career, Carpenter immediately spotted the Rangers two runs in the first inning when Josh Hamilton and Michael Young boomed back-to-back doubles.

But after that ... he threw five shutout innings during which he surrendered only two hits against a potent Texas lineup.

Carpenter said he felt "pretty good" in the first inning. He liked the pitch to Hamilton that turned into a double, but he left a pitch up to Young that became the inning's other double.

"Coming back out for the second, I didn't know how long they were going to let me go," Carpenter said. "So I was just trying to do everything I can to get one out at a time. If it was for two innings, one inning, three innings, four innings ... I had no idea. And nobody said anything to me about it.

"So I just continued to go out and try to make pitches, and as the game went on, I felt stronger. My stuff got better, my command got better and I was able to make some really good pitches when I had to."

Turned out, it was more than enough.

And after the debacle of Game 2 in Philadelphia during the Division Series when he allowed four runs and five hits in three innings while starting on short rest for the first time in his career, there probably won't be many more skeptics if and when he is asked to do it again.

"These guys, again, never gave up," Carpenter said, raving about his teammates, and who else does he think takes the lead in that department?

"This team is unbelievable," Carpenter said. "Most amazing team I've ever been a part of."

Posted on: October 26, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Pujols discusses fateful hit-and-run call

ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since free-lancing a hit-and-run call that backfired badly on the Cardinals in the seventh inning of Game 5, Albert Pujols discussed the play on a gloomy afternoon at Busch Stadium.

"I've been on this club for 11 years, and that's not the first time I've put on a hit-and-run," Pujols said. "I know there's been a lot of discussion of why did he put the play on and why didn't he swing.

"The pitch was high and away. I wouldn't have been able to touch it. And now I would have been 0 and 2 and you don't want to be in that situation."

Instead, Allen Craig was easily thrown out attempting to steal second on the play and, in a 2-2 game, the Cardinals not only didn't have a runner in scoring position, but the Rangers immediately moved to intentionally walk Pujols with first base open.

Manager Tony La Russa, during a passionate defense of Pujols that lasted four minutes a day earlier, said that Pujols has had the freedom to call a play like that hit-and-run for a long, long time because he trusts Pujols. He also said with Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando pitching Pujols so carefully, he would have told Pujols not to do it had the slugger asked him in the dugout before the at-bat -- which often happens.

"They're being very careful with him," La Russa said. "You can't really expect the ball to be around the plate. [Ogando] has a live arm."

Pujols is not the only star player who is given the freedom to use his judgment to make a call like the one he did Monday. La Russa noted some of the great base-stealers who have the green light and asked if you remove that just because it's the playoffs.

In Cleveland when the Indians had their championship teams of the 1990s, Roberto Alomar, Omar Vizquel and Kenny Lofton had signals and often would call plays among each other. In Texas, Micahel Young has done it.

"I did it earlier in my career," Young said Wednesday. "If I was a manager, Albert Pujols would be the one player I'd give the leeway to do whatever he thought was necessary to win a game.

"Albert, in my opinion, is the best player in the game. Not only does he have great power, but he does everything well offensively. So if he wants to put on a hit-and-run, set someone in motion, I would absolutely give Albert the leeway to do what he needed to do."

Pujols estimated that he has called a hit-and-run like that probably "more than 200 times" in his career. He added that he does not "deserve special treatment", but noted it simply is a matter of trust between him and his manager.

What he liked about being aggressive in that particular situation, Pujols said, was that the Rangers had just tied the game at 2-2 on Adrian Beltre's home run in the bottom of the sixth.

"I felt if we could put pressure on right there, maybe we can switch the game a little bit," Pujols said.

He said he did not put the play on for the first pitch because he was thinking Ogando would start him out with a ball. Instead, he got a slider for a called strike.

Then he called for the hit-and-run, Craig took off, and Ogando threw the fateful ball one far enough up and away that Mike Napoli was able to throw Craig out at second.

"People can throw rocks at Tony and me," Pujols said. "But I can tell you, out of 200 hit-and-runs [that Pujols has called], or maybe 150, believe me, we've won a lot of those games, too."
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:41 am
 

Beltre's proposal: Winning a World Series

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's been called his wedding proposal swing. It's been called crazy, uncanny and several other things.

And Adrian Beltre broke it out again in clubbing a Chris Carpenter curveball over the left field wall in the sixth inning to erase a one-run Cardinals lead and help Texas pull within one win of clinching this World Series with a 4-2 Game 5 triumph Monday night.

In launching into the breaking pitch, Beltre got so low in his swing that his right knee was actually on the ground when he connected.

"I don't know, I can't explain it," Beltre said. "It's been a bad habit since the minor leagues."

That's many years worth of bad habits, being that Beltre is completing his 14th season in the majors with this World Series.

"I was trying to find a pitch up in the strike zone and put a good swing on it," Beltre said. "I know that Carpenter is not a guy who leaves a lot of things up. But he threw me a couple of breaking balls in the at-bat before that I was able to see, so when I saw him throw me another breaking ball. ..."

Ka-boom! Indeed, Beltre saw two curveballs in his fourth-inning at-bat, which resulted in a ground ball to third base. The curve on which he feasted in the sixth was a 75 m.p.h. breaking ball Carpenter left up.

And Beltre went down, to a knee.

"I don't know anyone else in the game who can do that," Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We've seen highlight after highlight. I don't know where it came from.

"He doesn't practice it in the cage."

Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:33 am
 

Cardinals: Wild Bill, meet Wild Edwin

ARLINGTON, Texas -- You won't find this in the reams of scouting reports St. Louis' advance guys produced on Texas. But trust me, it's in there -- in spirit, if not in black and white.

Anytime your walk rate soars anywhere close to that of a Cardinals pitcher named Wild Bill Hallahan in a World Series game, it's not a good thing.

Though he kept his team in the ballgame until his sixth-inning departure, Edwin Jackson walked the high wire all evening. His seven walks equaled the franchise record for walks in a World Series game set by, yes, Hallahan, in Game 2 of the 1931 World Series against the Philadelphia A's.

Though the Cardinals trailed only 1-0 when Jackson left, they instantly were down 4-0 just one pitch later. Rangers catcher Mike Napoli crushed Mitchell Boggs' first pitch, and the two batters Jackson had walked in front of Napoli -- Nelson Cruz and David Murphy -- scored on the homer.

Jackson said he mostly "made pitches when I had to" but acknowledged battling his location much of the evening.

"It's just one of those things," Jackson said. "You tell yourself, 'Just focus on the next batter.'"

Four of Jackson's walks came to the 6-7-8 hitters in the Texas lineup: One to Cruz, two to Murphy and one to Napoli.

"I actually thought, in his almost six innings, he deserves a lot of credit," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought he pitched really well."

La Russa acknowledged the Rangers scoring just three batters into the game on Josh Hamilton's RBI double, but noted, "that's all they get, really. He missed a few times, walked a couple of guys, but he kept making pitches.

"Overall, I give him a huge plus for keeping us in the game."
 
 
 
 
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