Archive for the ‘News And Notes’ Category

MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

Is Ron Washington a good manager? His 611 – 524 career record suggests yes, he’s pretty good. He claimed consecutive AL pennants for the Texas Rangers in 2010 and 2011. Of course, the Rangers fielded some very strong clubs those years, with MVP performers and excellent players around the diamond.

And if we’re dolling out credit to their manager for succeeding, we should probably offer some scorn in equal dose. It was, of course, Ron Washington who oversaw the Game Six collapse against the Cardinals as the Rangers went from one out from a World Series title to Game Seven losers.

The same manager who watched his 2012 club – the one that began the season with “best team ever?” hype – fold up like a lawn chair down the stretch, losing the division lead to Oakland on the final day of the season. The Rangers spent more than 180 days in first place that season. The only day they looked up in standings? The final one. The one that matters most.

2013 was not much different. The Rangers sat with a 97% chance of making the playoffs on August 31st, according to CoolStandings.com. They held a two-game lead over Oakland in the AL West as the calendar turned to September, only to miss out on the playoffs completely.

It’s the manager’s lot in life – they receive undue praise and too much blame. Ron Washington gets more than his share of flack but he gets the one thing that really matters: job security. In the face of growing criticism, the Rangers extended the contract of their field boss through the 2015 season.

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Colorado Rockies v Seattle Mariners

This could be another example of things going very, very poorly for the Seattle Mariners during the nascent days of the 2014 season. The early days of the long, long spring don’t teach us much about what happens at the end of 162 games.

More to the point, the ongoing health issues of Franklin Gutierrez are bigger than baseball. For a 30-year old man to just up and decide he cannot play professional baseball this year, citing those very same health issues, things must be serious.

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Division Series - New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two

Derek Jeter is probably the best offensive shortstop in the history of the game. Full stop. You can take your Honus Wagner Dead Ball era nonsense and go tell it on a mountain. Derek Jeter is one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. Full stop.

And now, by announcing his intention to retire at the end of the 2014 season, Derek Jeter begins a farewell tour around the league. One of the best known and, begrudgingly, beloved players in baseball history will walk away from the game at 40.

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

Roy Oswalt had a great career as a pitcher. Despite being undersized compared to most starting pitchers of his era, Oswalt posted great season after great season, first for the Houston Astros and then with the Philadelphia Phillies before unremarkable turns for the Texas Rangers and the Colorado Rockies.

History should smile fondly upon Oswalt because he certainly feels underappreciated during his time in the big leagues. Playing in Houston for the bulk of your time will certainly do that, as Jeff Bagwell can attest. Count Roy Oswalt as another overlook superstar from the Astros’ Golden Years.

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Oakland Athletics v Baltimore Orioles

Bronson Arroyo signed a two-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. This we know. Despite his early protests, it appears Arroyo did, in fact, field offers from multiple teams interested in his services.

One team that was in hot and heavy for Arroyo was the Baltimore Orioles, a team in dire need for some pitching assistance to go with their high-powered offense. They wanted Arroyo for his reliability, the number one selling feature in the Arroyo portfolio.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Dodgers

Here’s the thing about Jeremy Hellickson – he isn’t very good. He was especially not-very-good in 2013, the loose bodies in his right elbow could well factor into this performance. Hellickson is now out of action until mid-to-late May after he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow.

But the fact of the matter is Jeremy Hellickson is inefficient and often ineffective – this was true to a certain extent in 2012 and 2011. He never really struck anybody out. He walks too many hitters. He rarely lasts deep into games, running sky high pitch counts and putting extra strain on his bullpen.

Perhaps this isn’t fair to Hellickson, he claims two seasons worth than 3 WAR in just three big league seasons. But watching Jeremy Hellickson, you always get the sense that the explosion of offense was just around the corner. His 2013 breakdown seemed inevitable, not surprising.

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics

There was a lot of head shaking and finger pointing this week when a news report claimed “85% of NFL players would participate in the Super Bowl with a concussion.” Tongues were clucked and some stated a belief that, perhaps, football wasn’t for them anymore.

Which is fine. Everybody has their breaking point, there are some things some folks simply don’t want to see on their TV. The knowledge that they’re participation in an activity contributes negatively to the well-being of another doesn’t sit well once you lead yourself down that line of thinking.

Baseball – sainted and revered as the Great American Institution as it is, would never do such a thing. Baseball legalized padded caps for pitchers, the first step to protecting the most vulnerable player on the field when he’s most prone. As one might expect, grateful moundsmen from around the globe leapt forth in favor of the product. The game will have a very different look come April.

Sadly, no.

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