Archive for the ‘Texas Rangers’ Category

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

Geovany Soto. Jurickson Profar. Matt Harrison. Derek Holland. Yu Darvish (potentially.) The Texas Rangers are not having the best final weeks of Spring Training.

The injuries for the Rangers are, on their own, nothing major. Missing Soto (torn meniscus, out 10-12 weeks) and Profar (tear in shoulder muscle, out 10-12 weeks) isn’t the end of the world – in a vacuum. But stacking all these DL stints on top of each other and the Rangers…well the Rangers have reason for concern. They still boast a great middle of the order with Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, and Alex Rios. Elvis Andrus is back after a shutting down for a week after a sore throwing arm. The Rangers are still good.

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New York Yankees CC  Sabathia reacts after Tampa Bay Rays Wil  Myershit grand slam home run in MLB game in New York

Home runs are visceral. Home run to bring ‘em out of the seats. Home runs spark a reaction.

Batters experience the happy side of home runs – the glory and the accomplishment. The current style (going on 20 years or so) for home run celebration is the bat flip. Toss your bat aside with maximum flair or “pimp” your home run. Opposing team doesn’t like it? Get me out.

Here Wil Myers displays some bat flip technique belying his youth and inexperience. This is an elite bat flip.

The other side of the coin is the defense. The pitcher and catcher, scheming together to concoct a plan of attack, only to see the batter go deep. The anguish of a mistake or a bad pitch call.

In the GIF above, we see two pretty typical reaction from both parts of the battery. Both turn to watch the flight of the ball, hoping for the best. As confident as Myers in this shot, the battery holds out hope that the ballpark might keep it. (Video)

Sometimes, after a ball leaves the bat, the outcome is not in doubt. It is here we see the greatest variety in reaction – not unlike the grieving process. The type of reaction often relates directly to the potential distance a home run will travel and/or the significance of the moment.

Scouring the archives, researchers for theScore discovered six stages of home run acceptance. Here are the six stages of home run acceptance.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers

At the conclusion of the 2013 MLB regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers both had 91-71 records, tied for the final American League Wild Card berth.

A one-game tiebreaker was required to solve the matter, but a more balanced schedule could have solved it long before. The Rays faced a more difficult schedule than the Rangers, an unfair reality of life in the AL East.

When Tampa Bay won the eventual tiebreaker, it seemed a matter of karmic justice.

After all, Texas went 53-23 against their own division, the AL West, which boasted a paltry .477 win percentage. The Rays, meanwhile, went 43-33 against AL East competition in a division with a .534 win percentage. Because teams play division opponents 19 times each, making up 46.9 percent of the schedule, division quality is a large determinant of record.

Tampa Bay played 97 games against teams with winning records to just 79 for the Rangers, and each was roughly a scratch team against winning opponents. Texas basically got 18 games against lesser opposition with which to gain a playoff edge and failed to do so.

This all seems terribly unfair, but an equalizing factor may have been at play, favoring teams in the East all along.

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MLB: Texas Rangers-Photo Day

For being a model organization, there seems to be an awful lot of off-the-field crap that follows the Texas Rangers and their players. Perhaps it’s the legacy of recent near-misses and the resultant finger-pointing. A few years of whiffing the rarefied World Series air after decades of irrelevance turned the Rangers into magnets for controversy.

Former Ranger Ian Kinsler made headlines today when he sounded off on his old team, calling Rangers GM Jon Daniels a “sleazeball” and wishing the team would “go 0-162.” While Kinsler walked back the latter statement, there is obvious hostility between the Tigers new second baseman and his former club. While Kinsler calls his former boss names and disparages the team that gave him his big league chance, there is something to be said for one of the main themes running through his ESPN The Magazine interview - leadership.

Kinsler hardly shows it and he claims the Rangers lacked it after dealing away Michael Young. Perhaps, contrary to what Mr. Kinsler thinks, leadership has always been a problem in Texas. With or without Michael Young, the Rangers organization can’t see to put the right foot forward.

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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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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers

They certainly do things bigger in Texas. Mere weeks after taking on the considerable carriage that is Prince Fielder and the eight years remaining on his contract, it appears the Rangers just went out and spent a whole ‘nother truckload of money, signing Shin-Soo Choo to a seven year deal per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

There is a lot to like about a seven-year deal for Shin-Soo Choo. He’s an excellent baseball player and has been for some time. He is fresh off the best season of his career, leading the National League in on base percentage while putting up the highest overall offensive numbers of his career.

There are some potential red flags in Choo’s numbers, of course. The inordinately high number of times he reached base by hit by pitch for one, his vulnerability against left-handed pitching is another. But as far as safe bets as far as players who should age with dignity, Choo ranks pretty high.

The Rangers get exactly what they need – a REAL leadoff hitter. Choo replaces the departed-to-Detroit Ian Kinlser, though Choo’s approach is much more consistent with traditional (in the modern sense) leadoff guy. He sees a ton of pitches and gets on base like crazy. Should the Rangers continue to deploy Elvis Andrus from the two spot, well it’s their funeral.

The upgrade from Choo to Cruz is not insignificant, as Choo is both a better offensive player and a much, much better fielder. The Korean outfielder won’t be asked to play much center field for Texas so his strong arm and dependable glove can rest easy in left field, as the rangy Alex Rios patrols right field for the Rangers again in 2014.

Reports suggest the deal is worth $130 million over the seven yeas, with limited no-trade protection but no bonuses or options (via Jeff Passan.) Interesting term considering reports earlier this month suggest Choo turned down seven years and $140 from the Yankees. The lack of state tax in Texas makes up the difference in total dollars, Twitter accountants are quick to point out.

The $130 million dollar question remains: is Shin-Soo Choo actually going to earn this very large paycheck? He is a superstar player? Probably not. He’s very good but now being paid as one of the top outfielders in the game. For all his skills, he is hardly a power hitter so what happens when his bat starts to slow with age? As suggested in this space previously, the track records of players with Choo’s skill set as they zoom past the age of 32 is a little scary, but there is hope in the shape of Bobby Abreu.

No matter how Choo ages, the 2014 Rangers team is going to be very, very good. There is still room to upgrade their rotation but an offense of Choo-Beltre-Fielder-Rios-Moreland-Soto-Andrus-Profar-Martin is pretty good indeed. There are upgrades and then there are UPGRADES. The Rangers won 91 games last year and now claim two very good players who will only benefit from the advantages their new home ballpark provides. Yikes. Good luck, Seattle. I’m sure Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez are more than enough to overcome this talented group all on their own.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

The Texas Rangers are a uniquely positioned baseball club. Few teams appear as dedicated to winning as the Rangers, a club that used its considerable wealth to engineer the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade, taking on a very significant amount of salary to upgrade their offense.

In addition to spending on players like Prince Fielder (not to mention extending Kinsler (twice) and signing shortstop Elvis Andrus to a longterm deal), the Rangers have a deep pool of prospects to draw from, should they opt to spend some of that prospect capital in search of a difference maker. And yet, other than the Matt Garza trade, the Rangers seem more interested in holding their prospects than moving them (until, of course, they do move them en masse.)

Despite spending as they do and taking such definitive steps to improving their team on a regular basis, the Rangers haven’t quite reached the top of the mountain. They came as close as any team can without winning, reaching the World Series in two consecutive seasons. Then came the famous collapse of 2012 and, to a lesser extent, 2013.

The Rangers are in tough in the AL West against the bewildering A’s and the free-spending Angels. Both their World Series close call and 2013 pre-playoff game show just how much a single game matters. Which makes me wonder about their willingness to role with their as-yet-unproven young players.

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