Tag:Derek Holland
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:47 am
  •  
 

Rangers talk long-term deal with Holland

The Rangers have begun discussions on a long-term contract with left-hander Derek Holland, who won 16 games in 2011 and shut out the Cardinals for 8 1/3 innings in Game 4 of the World Series.

The talks appear to be in the preliminary stages. Holland has a little more than two years' big-league service time, so he won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. He will be eligible for arbitration beginning after next season. A new deal would most likely be for five years, which would buy out one year of free agency.

The Holland talks were first reported by the Dallas Morning News, and were confirmed to CBSSports.com by a source.



Category: MLB
Posted on: October 28, 2011 3:48 am
 

Rangers bullpen is fine; Cruz, Napoli may not be

ST. LOUIS -- Ron Washington said he'll have his full bullpen available for Game 7 of the World Series.

"I've got it all," the Rangers manager said after Thursday night's Game 6.

What about Derek Holland, the Game 4 winner who gave him two innings in Game 6?

"I've got it all," Washington repeated. "There's only one game left."

He has his bullpen, but will he have his catcher? Will he have his right fielder?

"We'll just wait and see," Washington said, about both catcher Mike Napoli and right fielder Nelson Cruz, who were hurt during Game 6.

Napoli had X-rays on his right ankle, which he hurt in the fourth inning Thursday (but stayed in the game). Cruz strained his right groin on his final at-bat, in the 11th inning, and left the game.

Both said they hope to play Friday.

"It's pretty sore," said Napoli, a possible World Series MVP if the Rangers win. "I'll try to do everything I can to play. We'll ice it, and keep it elevated."

Napoli was hurt when he went in awkwardly to second base on a Colby Lewis bunt. Napoli said he thought the Cardinals were throwing the ball to first base, which explains (sort of) why he didn't slide.

He played seven innings after getting hurt, was on base three more times and made the defensive play of the night when he picked Matt Holliday off third base in the sixth inning.

"He showed the type of warrior he is," Washington said. "If you hadn't seen him hurt the ankle, you wouldn't have even known it was hurt."

Washington used seven relievers Thursday, basically everyone he had available. But none of the relievers threw more than 23 pitches.

Washington explained his tougher decisions in Game 6.

He said he never planned to hit for Lewis in the fifth inning, and that he sent a pinch hitter out on deck as a decoy.

"I certainly wasn't ready to take Colby out," he said. "He was throwing the ball well."

He said he went to left-hander Darren Oliver in the 10th inning, rather than sticking with Feliz, because he felt good about the matchup.

"I thought the [Cardinal] lineup set up perfectly, with two lefties and the pitcher," he said.

And Washington said he didn't believe that the problem on David Freese's game-tying triple was that Cruz was playing too shallow in right field.

"Look at the replay, and you'll see he froze on the ball," Washington said. "If he gets back like he should, he catches it. When [Freese] hit it, I knew we had him. I thought it would be caught, for sure.

"It didn't work out that way."

Finally, in the top of the 11th, Washington said he originally planned to send Yorvit Torrealba up to hit for pitcher Scott Feldman, with two out and a runner on first. Right then, he was told that Cruz's groin injury would force him out of the game, and force the Rangers to put Esteban German in the outfield.

Rather than hit Torrealba and burn his final two position players, Washington sent German up to bat for Feldman instead. German grounded out, and minutes later, Freese won the game with his home run off Mark Lowe.


Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 6:50 pm
 

After 51 years, the Rangers know how to wait

ST. LOUIS -- Wednesday was gray and gloomy at Busch Stadium. The weather forecast for Game 6 of the World Series? Ugly.

Kind of like most of the Rangers' franchise history.

They were born 51 years ago as the second Washington Senators, the second coming of a team that wasn't exactly successful the first time around. They moved to Texas just 11 years later, and played in a glorified minor-league ballpark for 22 years after that.

They never won a playoff series until last year, their 50th season. Their biggest-ever free agent signing was Alex Rodriguez, and it was basically a disaster.

They built this World Series team while in bankruptcy court.

"If people knew what has transpired over the last four years, it's an amazing story," franchise icon and club president Nolan Ryan said a few days back. "It's a phenomenal story."

And now that story includes a rainout that pushes back the Rangers' first-ever potential World Series clincher.

Perfect.

These guys already understand what it means to wait.

After all they've been through, one more day is hardly going to affect them.

"It's not like we're going to sit here and bite our nails," Michael Young said. "It's just a rainout."

Young, a Ranger since 2000, sets the tone in the Texas clubhouse. He knows what they've been through, knows what the organization has been through.

"I'm definitely appreciative of where we are," he said. "It's a lot of fun to be part of the group that has taken this organization where it hadn't been."

Young and the other Rangers players say that even they don't know the entire story of the bankruptcy, which forced Major League Baseball to basically take the team over from Tom Hicks, and then oversaw the sale to the ownership group that runs the Rangers now.

"I appreciate the bigger picture," manager Ron Washington said. "I really appreciate that Nolan Ryan and the guys, they kept it out of the clubhouse."

But even if they didn't know the details, the Rangers players couldn't escape everything going on around them.

"This organization has been through a lot," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's my sixth year, and there's been lots of ups and downs just in my six years."

Part of that, Kinsler said, was simply changing the image of a franchise that had never won big. There was a sense of the Rangers as a team that could never pitch enough to win, or as a team that would fall apart after summers spent in the Texas heat.

"A lot of it was labeling," Kinsler said. "We were labeled as a team that just hit, a team in a hitters' park. The label was that we were so one-dimensional. To be able to turn that, change that, I think is huge."

They've changed it so much that they've been in the World Series two straight years, and that now they're within one win of a championship.

"We've been on quite a run," Kinsler said. "We've been the dominant team in the American League the last two seasons."

They've built something good, and they know it. They've built something that no one else could build with this franchise, through half a century, through Washington and then Texas.

They've built it, and now they'll wait one more day for Game 6, which stands as the biggest game this franchise has ever played.

They can wait another day.

And, oh, Nolan Ryan is right. It is a phenomenal story.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 9:42 pm
 

3 to Watch: The return of Strasburg edition

Stephen Strasburg returns to the major leagues Tuesday night, and as interesting as it will be to see how he pitches, it'll be even more interesting to see if the buzz is back.

Can he make us care, the way he did last year? Can he make us ask every day, "Is Strasburg pitching tonight?"

It's different, I know. He's been out for a year after Tommy John surgery. It's September, not June. He's only going to make four starts at a time when we're more focused on pennant races (if there are any) or football. He's going to be on a pitch limit even stricter than the one the Nationals held him to last year (and will be limited to four innings and 60 pitches in his debut, according to the Washington Post).

"I'm not going to win a Cy Young in four starts," Strasburg told reporters, according to MLB.com.

He didn't win a Cy Young last year. He was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, before hurting his elbow in August.

But we were fascinated by him, more than we've been fascinated by any player coming through the minor leagues. We couldn't wait for him to get to the majors, and when he got there, we couldn't wait for his every start.

His debut, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, was one of the biggest events of the entire season.

It won't be like that Tuesday. It can't be like that Tuesday.

According to the Nationals, there are still tickets available, although they say it should be a bigger crowd than they'd normally have for a September Tuesday against the Dodgers.

There is some anticipation. Strasburg's rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues made national news, and in those six starts he struck out 29 while walking just four.

In his last start, according to the Washington Times, Strasburg topped out at 99 mph on the radar gun.

He threw 99 last June, on his 94th and final pitch of a magical night.

I'm not saying that Tuesday will be as magical, or that it even could be. But I'll be back in Washington to see it, and more than that to feel it.

Will the buzz be back?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Strasburg underwent surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. He returns to the big leagues on Sept. 6, 2011, in Dodgers at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park. That's a fairly normal progression; Strasburg's teammate Jordan Zimmermann returned one year and seven days after he had Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann returned on the same day that Bryce Harper had his introductory press conference and Strasburg underwent an arthogram that showed he would need Tommy John surgery, too.

2. On Aug. 15, the Rangers had a four-game lead in the American League West, and that night they began a 23-game stretch in which they played every game against a team that (as of Sunday morning) had a record of .500 or better. The Rangers ended the weekend with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, and they'll end that tough stretch with Rangers at Rays, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. After that game, the Rangers will have 18 games left on their schedule, and only six of those 18 (three at home against the Indians, three in Anaheim against the Angels) will be against teams with winning records. So if the Angels want to catch up, this week (when they play three home games against the Mariners) could be crucial. It's an interesting pitching matchup for the Rangers Wednesday, with Derek Holland (seven shutout innings last Friday against the Red Sox) facing David Price (who threw eight shutout innings the last time he faced the Red Sox).

3. Last year, both the Phillies and the Braves made the playoffs, but when the teams met in two September series, it was obvious that the Braves were no match. They meet again this week, in a series that ends with Braves at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Once again, the Phillies have basically wrapped up the division title (which will be their fifth straight), and this time the Braves are far ahead in the wild-card race. This time, at least going in, the Braves seem a more competitive match for the Phils. But with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens both battling injuries, the Braves might need to rely more than they'd like on rookie Brandon Beachy, who starts Wednesday against Roy Oswalt (who the Phillies will be watching carefully).

Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Red Sox? Yankees? How about the Rangers?

BOSTON -- Friday in the Boston Globe, columnist Dan Shaughnessy called Red Sox-Yankees the "overdue dream ALCS matchup."

Spend enough time in this part of the country, especially during Red Sox-Yankees week, and you can get sucked into believing that an all-AL East ALCS is not only overdue and dream, but also inevitable.

Until the Rangers come to town and remind you that they are the defending American League champions.

Friday's reminder was a loud one, with three home runs and a 10-0 win over the Red Sox.

Yes, there is another AL team capable of going to the World Series, and it's the same team that went there last year.

The Rangers themselves would rather not talk about it, because unlike the Yankees and Red Sox they're not yet close to guaranteeing their spot in the playoffs. Their 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, entering play Friday, gives them the most tenuous hold of any of the eight teams currently in playoff position.

"I don't think that far ahead, because there are no guarantees in this game," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't won anything yet."

But while winning the West is not an insignificant issue, it's reasonable to assume that the Rangers will hold off the Angels. It's also reasonable to think that they could pose a real threat to the Red Sox and/or the Yankees.

The lineup is basically the one that eliminated the Yankees last October, with Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in place of Vladimir Guerrero and Bengie Molina.

Yes, but Cliff Lee is gone.

Yes, he is. But the Rangers' rotation is deeper than you think, and the Rangers have strengthened their bullpen so much that they can limit the outs they need from those starters.

"You make the best of what you have," pitching coach Mike Maddux said Friday. "And I like what we have."

The Rangers made the best midseason move in baseball last year when they traded for Lee. They made the best series of midseason moves this year with their deals for relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, as colleague Scott Miller detailed a few weeks back.

With strong lineups all around the American League -- and rotation questions all around, too -- this year's AL playoffs could well be decided by the bullpens. The Rangers, who read the trade market well, could be in as good position as anyone.

The challenge for Maddux and Washington is to keep their starters from getting too worn down before October begins.

C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis both pitched through October last year, and you wonder about how that will affect them. Alexi Ogando is a converted reliever who has already pitched more than twice as many innings this year as he did all of last year.

Derek Holland, who beat the Red Sox by throwing seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits Friday night, has pitched more innings than he did a year ago.

"I'm not concerned," Washington said. "But of course we're looking at it. There is some drawback to these young guys not being there before, but it is also something they have to experience. Every starting staff in baseball that makes it to the postseason, consistently, they have to go through it before they figure it out.

"So we're going through it."

Wilson said Friday he feels better physically than he did entering September a year ago, saying he "refined" his workouts and has seen the effect.

Privately, the Rangers hope that they can create some distance between themselves and the Angels soon, in part because it would enable them to give their starters (and even some of their position players) extra rest before October.

Publicly, they say they don't expect the Angels to go away.

But the Rangers also believe that they're more ready for what's ahead, this month and probably next, than they were a year ago.

"Last year, we were constantly talking about staying focused," Michael Young said. "This year, there's no need to talk about it, because we know. We just know it."

They know that, and they know they're good.

And if everyone in the Northeast (and a bunch of people elsewhere) want to assume that this year is all about the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rangers aren't going to worry about it.

"That doesn't bother us at all," Young said. "It's a great rivalry (Yankees-Red Sox). I think if you go to our part of the country, I think you'd find that a lot of people are talking about us."

Win again in October, they'll have people talking everywhere.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:16 pm
 

3 to Watch: The second wild card (now!) edition

The teams with the two best records in the American League meet this weekend, and it means next to nothing.

Baseball's top rivalry resumes this weekend, with first place on the line, except that in this case, second place is basically as good as first.

If commissioner Bud Selig has the best interests of baseball in mind, he'll forget about Alex Rodriguez's supposed poker games, and do the one thing that would make this version of Yankees-Red Sox truly important.

Can we get the second wild-card team added for this year?

I realize it can't happen. I realize baseball is heading towards adding the second wild-card team in 2012, and that's the best we're going to get.

But if you're one of those who still don't believe in the concept, just look at what the current system has done to a series that should be great.

The Red Sox and Yankees have been separated by no more than 2 1/2 games in the standings since the middle of May. The Red Sox have dominated the first nine head-to-head meetings, winning eight of them, but the Yankees have done better against everyone else.

The Red Sox have been winning like crazy, but so have the Yankees.

It's a great race, except for one thing: They're both going to the playoffs, and there's only a minimal reward for winning the division rather than the wild card.

In fact, if the season ended today, the division winner would play the Tigers, which means facing Justin Verlander twice in a five-game series. The wild card would play the Rangers, who may be better overall, but don't have a Verlander-like ace.

A second wild-card team solves most of this.

With a second wild-card, winning the division means avoiding a one-game play-in against a team like the Angels. It means not just an extra day of rest, but also the chance to save your best available pitcher for the first game of the Division Series.

Yes, the Yankees already want to beat the Red Sox, and vice versa. But in the current system, in a year like this, with both teams nearly guaranteed a playoff spot and little distinction between a division winner and a wild card, there's very little penalty for not winning the division.

And that's too bad.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When the Yankees didn't trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline, general manager Brian Cashman suggested that Bartolo Colon would be as good a No. 2 starter as anyone he could acquire. So let's see how Colon matches up against Jon Lester, his mound opponent in Yankees at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Lester has won both his starts against the Yankees this year, despite giving up seven runs in 12 innings. He's won his last five starts against the Yankees, dating back to last year. Colon has lost both of his 2011 starts against the Red Sox, despite going 10 1/3 innings and allowing just three earned runs.

2. One of those pitchers the Yankees passed on, and the only one who realistically could have slotted as a No. 2 starter, was Ubaldo Jimenez, who debuts for Cleveland in Indians at Rangers, Friday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. He faces Derek Holland, who has three complete-game shutouts in his last five starts, and also shut out the Indians in June at Progressive Field.

3. The Phillies broke their five-year string of trading for a starting pitcher at midseason, in large part because they knew Roy Oswalt was coming back from the disabled list. The Phillies also decided against trading for a reliever, in part because Oswalt's return means that either he or Vance Worley can move to the bullpen for the playoffs. Oswalt returns from the DL in Phillies at Giants, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum, the guy Charlie Manuel said was "good, not great," starts for the Giants.

Posted on: April 14, 2011 9:49 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

3 to watch: The Rangers pitching edition

Remember last winter, when the Rangers were going to sign Cliff Lee, or trade for Zack Greinke or Matt Garza?

Remember this spring, when the Rangers began spring training with just two spots set in their starting rotation?

Remember the end of spring training, when Tommy Hunter's injury left a hole in the Ranger rotation?

Well, forget it. All of it.

Forget that anyone was ever concerned that the Rangers wouldn't be able to pitch enough to support their great offense.

While the Yankees worry about Phil Hughes and the Red Sox worry about Daisuke Matsuzaka, this is what the Rangers have gotten from the back end of their rotation: six starts, six wins, and a 1.15 ERA.

Red Sox people raved about Matt Harrison after he shut down the Sox in his first start. Orioles people raved about Derek Holland after he held the O's scoreless in his second start. And in two starts, Alexi Ogando has yet to allow a run to anyone.

"The way they've been throwing, they don't need anyone [else]," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said.

"I don't think people realize the depth they have in pitching," O's manager (and one-time Rangers manager) Buck Showalter said. "They've covered the what-ifs very well."

The Rangers visit the Yankees this weekend for the first time since last year's American League Championship Series, and they won't start any of the four starters they used in the ALCS. Instead, it'll be Harrison, Holland and Ogando.

And that's not bad.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Remember, Troy Tulowitzki is a notorious slow starter. In his first four full big-league seasons, he hit seven April home runs. That's seven in four years. Now he has seven home runs and 14 RBI, with 14 April games still remaining on the Rockies schedule. The next six of those will be home games, starting with Cubs at Rockies, Friday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field. For his career, Tulowitzki has a .926 OPS at Coors, vs. .804 on the road, but this year he has five homers in his first seven road games. One more Tulowitzki fact to think about: Over his last 41 games, dating back to last Sept. 2 (basically one-quarter of a season), he has 22 home runs and 54 RBI.

2. Things have been so bad in Boston that the Red Sox welcomed a Wednesday rainout that basically gave them back-to-back days off. "I don't think that will hurt one bit," manager Terry Francona told reporters. So it'll be interesting to see how the Sox react this weekend against the Blue Jays. It'll be even more interesting to see whether Josh Beckett follows up on his strong start last Sunday against the Yankees, when he starts in Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Fenway Park. Beckett wasn't good against many teams last year, but he hasn't beaten the Jays in six starts since 2007, going 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA.

3. Of all the new Rangers starters, Ogando is the most interesting, and not just because he has yet to allow a run (and, in two starts, has allowed just a .298 opponents OPS). Ogando is the guy who replaced Hunter in the rotation at the end of spring training. He's also the guy who signed with the A's as an outfielder, got caught up in a visa fraud and couldn't get out of the Dominican Republic for five years, was converted to a pitcher by the Rangers, and got to the big leagues last year. Now he's in the rotation, maybe to stay. Some Rangers officials see a 2012 rotation that includes both Ogando and Neftali Feliz, who for this year remains the Rangers' closer. Ogando faces CC Sabathia in Rangers at Yankees, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium.




Posted on: April 12, 2011 9:33 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 11:51 am
 

Josh Hamilton: A great player, who gets hurt

Josh Hamilton does things other players can't.

But Josh Hamilton also gets hurt when other players don't.

He can be the best player in the game, as last year's Most Valuable Player award proves. He can be one of the hardest-to-depend-on stars in the game, as Tuesday's freak injury proves again.

The Rangers said Tuesday night that Hamilton will miss at least six weeks, and perhaps as much as eight weeks, after he suffered a non-displaced fracture of the humerus bone just below his right shoulder. Hamilton was hurt on a play at the plate in the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Tigers.

So Hamilton is on the disabled list -- again.

You can ask how good a career he'd have if he could just stay healthy, but that's the ultimate hypothetical. He doesn't stay healthy.

It's how he became a Ranger in the first place.

The Reds traded Hamilton away after the 2007 for one reason, and one reason only. Their medical people told them he was too big a health risk, in large part because of the drugs he took earlier in his life.

Since then, Hamilton has had two great seasons with the Rangers, one in which he drove in 130 runs, another in which he won the MVP and helped the Rangers to the World Series.

He's also been on the disabled list three times in three years, and it would have been four except that his ribcage injury last September came after the rosters expanded.

He plays hard, he plays well and, well, he gets hurt.

Now he's out for another 6-8 weeks, after getting hurt Tuesday on a strange play at the plate. He's out, even though the play seemed so innocuous that neither set of television announcers even mentioned the possibility of an injury.

He's out, because he chose to dive into home plate (and then strangely blamed third-base coach Dave Anderson for choosing to send him home in the first place).

"The whole time I was watching the play and I was listening [to Anderson]," Hamilton told reporters in Detroit. "I was like, 'Dude, I don't want to go. Something is going to happen.' But I listened to my coach and I went."

Hamilton is right about one thing. Something was going to happen. With Hamilton, something is always going to happen.

Part of the reason is the way he plays, with little regard for his body, and the Rangers love that aggressive attitude. But they also try to protect him against it.

It's why they moved him from center field to left field this year, hoping to limit the chances he'd get hurt on defense. So instead, he gets hurt 11 games into the season, in a game where he was the designated hitter.

Now he's out for two months or so, and now there are two big questions:

-- Does Hamilton's absence open up an American League West race that was starting to look like a runaway? The Rangers were off to the best start in their history, and no other team in the West looked that strong.

Now Hamilton is out, and while the Rangers have a capable replacement in David Murphy, Murphy doesn't bring what Hamilton does. The Rangers gave Hamilton's roster spot to Chris Davis, who had a good spring and was off to a great start at Triple-A Round Rock. But Davis doesn't bring what Hamilton does, either.

Maybe the A's now have a chance in the West, or maybe the Angels even have a chance -- although I'm still thinking the Rangers win it.

One reason is that their starting pitching is shaping up to be much better than some people expected. The Rangers entered spring training with only two starters set (C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis), but in the early days of the season Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando have been the talk of baseball.
 
-- Do the Rangers think even harder about how much of a long-term commitment they should make to Hamilton? He's 29 years old, and he's signed through 2012. Without health questions, he'd be looking at a long extension. Maybe he still is, but would you trust him to be healthy?

Hamilton is a great story, the guy who overcame drug addiction to star in the major leagues. But he's also a guy who has played just one full season uninterrupted by injury in five years in the big leagues.

He's a great player, when he's healthy. All too often, he isn't healthy.

That's Josh Hamilton.



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