Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Eh

Around this time last year, I was living and breathing baseball.

I was so starved for baseball news in the 2009-2010 offseason that when Spring Training finally started up in 2010, I was ecstatic.

I spent the majority of my free time obsessing over all of the tidbits of news I had heard and using it to come up with new predictions about the 2010 Rangers team.

And all that obsessing got me nowhere.

Just to refresh your memory, here is what was happening at this point a year ago:

-the Greenberg/Ryan group was predicted to be the team owners on Opening Day.
-I was looking forward to a dominant year from the top of our pitching rotation (Scott Feldman and Rich Harden).
-I thought that Salty would finally be healthy, and that he would be the starting catcher for the Rangers all season.
-The Rangers were still reeling from the loss of Khalil Greene and had no idea who their utility infielder would be.
-I was still in doubt about CJ’s ability to be a decent starting pitcher.

And of course, all of those assumptions turned out to be false. So it didn’t really do me any good to spend so much time trying to predict.

This past off-season (2010-2011) was much shorter, since the Rangers continued playing all the way through the playoffs and into the World Series.

By that time, I was emotionally exhausted from venturing into uncharted territory. So I was okay with the lull in baseball news.

Then the off-season began to fill up with all kinds of drama, from Cliff Lee to potential DH’s to Adrian Beltre’s signing and a possible Michael Young trade.

Everybody seemed anxious about a disgruntled Michael Young rejoining the Rangers clubhouse, but I think the media whipped up an unnecessary frenzy in order to try to squeeze more stories out.

“Oh, no!!! Michael Young asked to be traded, but he wasn’t traded, so how is everyone going to react?? Will all the other players treat him like a traitor? Will Michael act surly because he doesn’t want to be there? This team should be celebrating the American League Championship, but this will put everybody in a sad mood! Uh oh!!”

Umm, no. That’s not how it works. I thought things might be awkward, but I never doubted that Michael would conduct himself as a professional and act with dignity.

Just as I predicted, Michael decided not to pout like a little kid. There are some ballplayers that would, but not Michael. He’s decided to try to make the best of the situation.

As far as the rest of the Spring Training spectacle, I’ve decided to wait a while before delving into all of the drama.

I mean, sure, I could spend my time trying to predict whether or not Julio Borbon will have a breakout season, or how much time Michael Young will put in at each infield position, but it won’t change the outcome.

Wow, I’m sorry if this blog is taking on a bitter/negative vibe. That’s not what I meant to do at all. I love baseball, and I love my Rangers. I am excited about my 2011 20-game mini plan, and I can’t wait to see all that the new ownership has in store for Rangers fans in the 2011 season.

And I promise that by Opening Day, I will be up to speed on every single player on the Rangers 40-man roster. I’ve just decided that it would be superfluous for me to dissect the Rangers at this juncture, especially since we’re only 2 weeks into Spring Training.

But just because I’m not breaking down all of the player performances, that doesn’t that we should all be in the dark! Evan Grant put out an updated roster prediction today, and I’m perfectly happy with his predictions.

Especially since he sees Michael Kirkman in the 5th starter role!

http://rangersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/03/rangers-roster-report-v30.html

Until we meet again!!

Days ’til Opening Day: 31

Cautious excitement

Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training in just 2 days, and I’m excited for the Rangers to start getting some of this confusion sorted out!

At the time of my last post, it seemed as if a Michael Young trade was going to happen immediately. Wrong.

Michael still hasn’t been traded, most likely because of the hefty salary that accompanies him. And it’s starting to look more and more like a trade won’t happen.

So I guess that’s kinda good, because it means that the Rangers won’t have a hole in their lineup. But it means that Michael is stuck in a role where he’s not happy.

He could get traded during Spring Training, though. A lot of stuff happens during those 6 weeks.

And I don’t even have to cite examples from multiple years in order to prove that point. Last year should be sufficient.

Players will get injured, putting their spot on the team in jeopardy. Remember what happened to Salty, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Ian Kinsler during Spring Training last year?

Players who we thought would be shoe-ins for a particular position will surprise us by underperforming. Remember Khalil Greene from last year? Or the idea of Neftali Feliz as a starter for 2010?

Other players will surprise us by performing way above expectations. See C.J. Wilson, who emerged from Spring Training as one of the top 2 starters on the team. That was something I definitely did not expect!

We traded for several players during Spring Training, including Matt Treanor and Andres Blanco. They were both instrumental in the Rangers’ success in 2010, especially Treanor.

So it’s still possible that Michael Young could get traded after Spring Training starts. You never know. I just hope that if a trade does happen, we get a good bat in return who can fill in as our DH.

As the title of this blog entry implies, I’m excited about the beginning of baseball activities in 2011, but I’m still nervous.

Last year, I was worried. We had gaping holes at utility infielder and catcher, and we thought we had an abundance of pitching.

The holes were filled well by Andres Blanco, Matt Treanor, and Bengie Molina, but our pitching faded quickly. Luckily we were able to trade for Cliff Lee, and we actually made it to the World Series!

This year we seem to be lacking a true ace, and our team captain isn’t happy and is asking for a trade. Again, it’s not looking good.

But perhaps these issues will be resolved and we’ll be back in the World Series in 2011! There’s no way to know what the future has in store.

Spring Training is a time of endless possibilities, and I’m sure that many of my expectations and predictions will be thrown out the window. But it sure is fun tring to predict what will happen!

You’d better hold on tight, because I have a feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride!!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 2 days

The Michael Young Debacle

As soon as the Rangers got Adrian Beltre a few weeks ago, rumors started flying about a Michael Young trade. I tried to ignore it.

MY said he’d be okay with becoming the Rangers’ full-time DH/super-utility infielder/1B split with Mitch Moreland.

And yet the Rangers continued to pursue Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero, all DH’s. Whispers continued to swirl about trading Michael. Still I tried to ignore it.

Then the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli, who played mostly 1st base for the Angels last year. And the whispers got ever louder.

So I decided to write one blog about 2 weeks ago discussing the potential impact of the Napoli trade, and I thought that would be all I would write about the subject. I hate to beat a dead horse.

But last week, several media outlets began saying the same thing: The Rangers are talking to other clubs about trading Young. And what did I do? You guessed it: I tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels confirmed via conference call that Michael has asked to be traded. Last night, Young spoke out as well. I can’t ignore it any more.

As much as I want Michael Young to spend his entire career in a Rangers’ uniform, I understand where he’s coming from. I touched on the reasons why we should and why we shouldn’t trade Young in my last blog.

But it appears to be getting ugly now. Michael feels that the Rangers weren’t straightforward with him, and he’s mad.

From his standpoint, the Rangers told him that they didn’t want to trade him, yet their actions told a different story.

Over the past 10 years, Young has moved from 2nd base to shortstop to 3rd base, and now he’s just expected to quietly accept the role of DH. That’s a lot of moving around for the sake of the team.

From the Rangers’ standpoint, they saw an opportunity to upgrade at 3rd base, and they took it. They feel like Young was okay with everything, then changed his mind and asked for the trade.

Nobody knows the whole truth from both sides of the coin, but this is what I think happened:

The Rangers put all of their eggs in Cliff Lee’s basket, then they freaked when he decided to go to the Phillies.

They started scrambling around to find another big-name free agent to show everybody that the Rangers, the defending AL champions, didn’t just sit on their laurels during the offseason.

So they went after a great player… a great 3rd baseman, even though the Rangers already had Michael Young at 3rd base for the next 3 years.

I can understand what the Rangers were trying to do. Adrian Beltre is undoubtedly the superior defensive player at 3rd base. But was it worth it to disrupt the harmony of the team to add a better player?

True, Michael Young’s baseball skills have started to drop off in the last few years. He’s 34 and he’s been in the Bigs for 10 years. It happens.

But he isn’t well suited to the DH position. He has a career batting average of .300, but he’s not a power hitter. His defensive ability has dropped from “really good” to “average,” but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t play in the field anymore.

I mean, come on, it’s not like he’s Vladimir Guerrero or something.

Most importantly, Michael’s value to the team isn’t limited to what he does on the field. His biggest impact is in the clubhouse.

Everybody on the team looks to Michael as the team leader. They take their cues from him. When something happens, they tend to gauge their own reactions by Michael’s reaction, and he brings them all together.

When the pictures from Josh Hamilton’s drunken evening surfaced in 2009, Michael was there for Josh. When word leaked about Ron Washington’s failed drug test last year, Michael was the first to speak up and offer support.

There are some people that think the clubhouse atmosphere is the most important part of a ball club. That a group of guys with a mediocre talent level can excel simply by how well they work together as a team.

Others don’t give team chemistry any credit, insisting that each individual player’s performance is what matters, not whether or not they have fun together or hang out before/after games.

I fall somewhere in the middle, but I’m closer to the “team chemistry” camp than the “individual performance” camp. I think it matters how well everyone gets along, because baseball is all about unity.

For example, in football, it’s completely normal to see a running back do a celebratory end zone dance after scoring a touchdown. It’s actually expected. They strut around and angrily chest-bump each other as a display of their superiority.

But in baseball, you don’t often see a player running around showing off how amazing he is. His teammates congratulate him, but when he’s interviewed after the game, he will almost always say something like “I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

We have seen Michael “take one for the team” over and over again in the past 10 years, and he’s finally had enough.

Both sides are frustrated, and I don’t think this is something that can be fixed easily.

The best situation for Young at this point is a trade. If the Rangers can trade Michael to another team where he can be an everyday player both offensively and defensively, the Rangers have a much better chance of mending fences with him.

Then the Rangers need to apologize to Michael (publically would bwe nice, but privately would work too). They need to tell him that they’re sorry if they misled him in any way or didn’t give him the whole truth, and that they wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.

They should stress that they’ve loved having him the last 10 years and that he has been an invaluable asset to the Texas Rangers. They should emphasize how truly sorry they are that a deal couldn’t be worked out to keep Michael with the Rangers. And they should be sincere!

But I don’t think the Rangers will be able to trade Young without assuming responsibility to a big chunk of his salary. He is owed $48 million over the next 3 years, and it’s not likely that new team will want to pay that.

If they can trade Young, it will be catastrophic for the Rangers’ clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that we won’t have a DH.

They have to at least try to trade him, because Michael isn’t be happy with the role he’s been handed, and that will only cause more problems down the road.

After May of this year, Young will be a 10 and 5 player (at least 10 years in the Bigs, at least 5 years with the same team), so the Rangers won’t be able to trade him. If they’re going to do it, they need to do it now.

I don’t foresee a miracle where Michael is suddenly okay with his new role, or where the Rangers suddenly find a full-time infield position for him here. So I guess they’ll have to trade him. But it’s not gonna be pretty.

Pitchers and catchers report in: 8 days

2011 shaping up

I hope that all of you had a fantastic holiday season! I got some great baseball stuff for Christmas!

My Aunt Paula got me a dozen clear plastic baseball cubes so that I can display some more of my autographed baseballs, and my dad got me 2 more, so I was super excited about that. I still need at least another dozen, but it’s a great start! And I’m planning to keep getting autographs, so I hope my family keeps ‘em coming!

But the best thing was that my dad got me one of the Michael Young bats that was designed when he became the franchise hits leader this season! They only made 2010 bats, and mine came with a certificate stating that it was number 109!!

My dad said he got it several months ago, so it has just been sitting at his house waiting for Christmas!

My mom and step-dad also got me a framed picture that says “Texas Rangers,” but each letter of “Rangers” has a different picture. The first one is the famous Nolan Ryan picture with the bloody jersey after Robin Ventura charged the mound, and all of the other pictures are from the 2010 season, including Josh Hamilton, Vladdy, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Neftali Feliz, etc.

I think those were all of my baseball-related Christmas gifts, but a few days ago I purchased my 2011 20-game Mini Plan! Woo-hoo!!!

I know I haven’t blogged since Cliff Lee decided to go to the Phillies, so some of you may think that it caused me to go into a massive depression and I couldn’t bear to write about baseball.

The truth is that I just got busy. It’s easy to put baseball on the back burner when it’s not baseball season. And the longer I wait, the more stuff happens and I get farther and farther behind. So bear with me, okay?

Alright, in the last month (after Cliff Lee left), Zack Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Uh oh. That means all the good pitchers are gone, right?

Wrong. (Hopefully)

After the Greinke trade but before the Garza trade, the Rangers signed Brandon Webb. When I first heard the name, I knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why.

As it turns out, Webb won the Cy Young while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. But he hasn’t played in a Major League game in the past 2 years because he’s been recovering/rehabbing from a shoulder injury/surgery.

I have a good feeling about Brandon Webb, and his surgery was performed by Rangers’ team doctor Dr. Keith Meister, so THAT’S gotta be good. But Brandon Webb could be to 2011 what Rich Harden was to 2010. Who knows, right?

The Rangers also signed lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, and I knew his name was familiar as well. He is 41 years old! But he made it to the All-Star team for the first time last year as the representative from the Cincinnati Reds.

He has been in the Major Leagues since 1991, and his age doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting him. He missed all of the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery, but in the last 3 years since the surgery he’s had a 2.32 ERA and an opponent’s batting average of .204. Not too shabby!

He’s also a native Texan, which is always nice.

But the Rangers’ biggest aquisition this off-season is at what was previously considered a very stable position: 3rd base.

Michael Young is the face of the Texas Rangers, having spent all of his time in the majors on this team and even holding the franchise record for hits. He is signed through 2013. But since his move to 3rd base 2 years ago, his defensive ability seems to have taken a hit.

It had been suggested by numerous blogs (maybe even mine, but I don’t remember) that Young might be better used as a DH. And that is exactly what MY offered to do when Adrian Beltre became available as an option for the Texas Rangers.

Beltre accepted a 6-year $96 million dollar deal from the Texas Rangers, and he will be our 3rd baseman of the future. I’ve always liked Adrian Beltre, but since he’s 31 years old, I’m not too comfortable with giving him such a long contract.

But Beltre has won 2 Gold Gloves at 3rd base and is obviously defensively superior to Michael Young. No offense, Mikey, but the Rangers now have the strongest left side in all of baseball with Beltre at 3rd and Elvis Andrus at shortstop.

The only thing that makes me sad about adding Beltre? No more Vladdy. Michael Young has become the DH of the near future, so there’s no longer an open spot for Vladdy.

I know his performance took a sharp downward turn midway through last season, but I just love Vladdy. His personality seemed to fit perfectly in the Rangers’ clubhouse, and his quick smile is so contagious. I’ll miss you, Big Bad Vlad.

Now the Rangers are rumored to be courting Jim Thome to take turns at DH with Michael Young. Since MY can play all 4 infield positions, I’m sure the Rangers can work out a schedule where Young spends half his time at DH and the other half giving the other guys in the infield a break.

Jim Thome seems to make more sense for the Rangers at DH than Vlad for 2011, especially in light of this article by BBTiA a few weeks ago. It predicts that Thome will probably expect 350-400 plate appearances in 2011, whereas Vlad would probably expect somewhere around 600 or so.

Thome is also generally regarded as a good clubhouse guy, so that’s promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

The Rangers’ Winter Caravan has kicked off, and I’m planning to attend 2 of the appearances to gather some more autographs to my collection.

Then on January 22-23, the Rangers will be hosting their first 2-day Fan Fest, and I can’t wait to see what that entails! Some good stuff coming up!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 34 days

Goodbye, Cliff Lee

Well folks, it’s over. Cliff Lee is not a Ranger or a Yankee, he’s a … Philly??

When I heard the news, I was as surprised as everyone else. Who would have thought that Cliff Lee would decide to go to the Phillies for less money and a shorter contract?

But it just goes back to what I’ve been saying since he entered free agency… no one knew where Cliff Lee would decide to go. Only Cliff and his family could make that decision, and they chose Philadelphia for their own reasons.

It obviously wasn’t because of money or length of contract, so it must have come down to a personal decision about where he and his family wanted to go.

I’m not mad at Cliff Lee. Why would I be? I mean sure, I wish Cliff was coming back to the Rangers. But just because he didn’t pick my team doesn’t mean that I hate him now.

But how about the Phillies starting rotation now? Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, AND Cliff Lee? Sheesh. It looks like the Phillies will be heading back to the fall classic in 2011.

At least he’s not going to New York. HA!!! TAKE THAT, YOU HEATHENS!!

So now I think the Rangers need to put all of their eggs in Zack Greinke’s basket. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right…)

Let me rephrase: They should do whatever is necessary to get Zack Greinke. If that means giving up Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers, okay then. Just not both of them please!

Derek Holland? Fine. Jurickson Profar? Okay. Robbie Erlin? Sure. Leury Garcia? No problem.

Yes, it could come back to bite us later. The same could be said for any trade. But it’s not like we’re trading away all of our young talent for some has-been.

Grienke is still young, and he still has a lot of upside. And we NEED a top of the rotation starter!

CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis can’t carry us all year by themselves.

Recently, I’ve also heard that Matt Garza (Tampa Bay) could be a possible trade option. If we don’t get Zack Greinke, I would be perfectly happy with Garza!

So the same principle applies for Garza: I think the Rangers should do whatever they have to do to get one of them!

In other news, the Rangers were able to re-sign Matt Treanor for the 2011 season. That’s great, because he knows our pitching staff and he can help Torrealba get acclimated. And he’s dependable, so I feel confident with him as our back-up guy.

He’s also CJ’s preferred catcher. We don’t want to mess with CJ!

So now we’re just waiting for a front-line starter and a DH. There aren’t too many big names on the free agent market, so if the Rangers want somebody good, they have to be willing to trade some prospects.

I’ll let you know as soon as something happens!

BBA Day, more Cliff Lee

Happy BBA Day! BBA stands for the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, and today is the day designated by the organization to help spread awareness about it’s existance.

I had the great fortune to join the BBA in the first few days of 2010, thanks to TR Sullivan. I guess I made an impression on him, because soon after I met him/told him my story/told him about my blog, he wrote an email to the BBA recommending my blog for membership.

At that time, they only had one blogger representing the Texas Rangers: Jamey Newberg. So I got to join some pretty amazing company!

Soon after I joined, my inspiration (aka Micah Chaplin) also became a part of the BBA. Yay!! I was so inspired by Micah’s Rangers blog (Baseball Is My Boyfriend) that I decided to start my own blog. So thank you, Micah, for impacting my life so incredibly without even knowing about it!

The BBA also does various polls amongst the bloggers to predict things such as All Star starters and the league year-end awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Manager of the Year).

It’s been a good experience. So go to the BBA website and check them out!

Okay, on to Rangers’ stuff. The Cliff Lee Saga continues.

The Baseball Winter Meetings ended yesterday with a whimper. Cliff Lee still hasn’t said who he wants to sign with, and the Rangers seem to be pretty much waiting on Cliff before they do anything else.

Apparently, the Yankees offered him several options, including a 5-year deal for $25 mil/year, 6 years for $24 mil/year, and 7 years for $23 mil/year.

Not to be outdone, the Rangers dispatched a small party to Arkansas yesterday (including Chuck Greenberg and Thad Levine) to offer their own assortment of contract options.

So we’ll see what happens.

I would love to have Cliff Lee as a Ranger again, but I’m not going to jump off a building if he goes to the Evil Empire instead. I’m used to the Yankees always getting their way, and I’m kinda tired of all the drama.

The funniest thing was when my dad called me today to tell me that the Rangers were in the running to sign Cliff Lee. “I know, Daddy” I said. “Well, you hadn’t mentioned it to me, so I thought maybe you didn’t know.”

“That’s basically been going on since the end of the World Series,” I told him. “There’s nothing new to report. It’s an old story by now.”

“Well excuse me!!” He cleverly retorted. Oh, sweet Daddy. I love when he thinks he knows something about baseball that I don’t know. It’s so cute!

Speculation and confirmation

Since just about everyone I know is aware of my passion for baseball, I am often engaged in baseball conversation while I am at work, family functions, and amongst my friends. I am generally considered to be the “baseball expert” among my friends and family, and it seems that everyone wants to ask me:

“What do you think will happen with Cliff Lee?”

So please believe me when I say that I have though long and hard about my answer to this question, since it’s been asked of me so often in the last 2 months or so. And my answer is:

There’s no way to know. I hope the Rangers can keep him, but I have no way of knowing what he’ll decide. Everyone is saying ‘I think he’ll go to New York because of {fill in the blank}’ or ‘I think he’ll stay in Texas because of {fill in the blank}.’

But no one can know except Cliff Lee. Maybe he wants to stay in Texas because of the team chemistry, or because we made it to the World Series this year, or so he can be as close to home as possible.

Or maybe he grew up watching the Yankees and always wanted to play for them. Maybe he’s more swayed by the team history of the Yankees and how many world championships they have.

Maybe he’ll go to whatever team will pay him the most money. No one knows for sure.

So imagine my excitement when the great Jamey Newberg echoed my philosophy!! I’m on the Newberg Report email list, and this tidbit was included in Sunday’s email:

With all apologies to the writers we all choose to trust, “baseball people” who are talking to them don’t know where Lee is going to sign. Some have more dependable opinions than others, just like writers, but Lee knows the answer to the question today (probably), Braunecker knows the answer (probably, but maybe a degree or two less so than Lee), and beyond that, Lee’s family and anyone else he wants to entrust the answer to fit in the category of reliable sources on November 28. And they’re not talking.

Exactly what I’ve been thinking, Jamey!! I’m usually excited to hear about trade rumors, especially since I’m starting to really miss baseball, and ANY information is better than no information.

But I’ll drive myself crazy if I try to dissect this Cliff Lee thing and try to predict where he’ll go. So I’ll move on to stuff that has actually been confirmed.

The Rangers have finally gotten their big name catcher for 2011-2012: Yorvit Torrealba.

Torrealba has played mostly in the National League, but he is generally known to work well with pitchers and he has a pretty good batting average for a catcher (.271 last year).

He doesn’t do too well with throwing out base-stealers, but that doesn’t mean that base-runners run rampant when he’s behind the dish.

Torrealba will be making $3 million in 2011 and $3.25 million in 2012.

Matt Treanor is a free agent this off-season, but I’m guessing he’ll be back with the Rangers in 2011. Treanor may not be a frontline catcher, but he is a solid choice for a tandem situation, and according to Torrealba’s past performances, I think that’s what will be needed.

Torrealba played 92 games for the Padres in 2010, and his season-high is 112 games (2007). But the regular season is 162 games. So if Torrealba will be starting somewhere around 90-110 games for the Rangers, we’ll need a good backup to catch the remaining 50-70 games.

That’s a significant number of games. I would hate to give such a hefty job to Taylor Teagarden, and Treanor definitely proved in 2010 that he is nothing if not dependable.

The Rangers have added some righties to the bullpen.

Today, it was reported that the Rangers signed right-handed relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama to a one-year deal with options for 2012 and 2013. Tateyama is a 12-year veteran of the Japanese Major Leagues, and he will turn 35 this winter.

He will come to Spring Training on the 40-man roster, but he is not guaranteed a spot in the bullpen. He’ll have to earn it, just like everybody else.

Earlier this week, the Rangers avoided going to arbitration with right-handed reliever Mark Lowe by agreeing to a 1-year/$1.2 million dollar contract.

Lowe was traded to the Rangers along with Cliff Lee from the Mariners on July 9, 2010. He spent most of his time with the Rangers recovering from a previously-existing injury, so we haven’t gotten to see a lot from Lowe yet.

The annual Winter Meetings will begin this upcoming Monday, and hopefully a lot more of the rumors that are floating around will be nailed down.

The Rangers may have filled their hole at catcher, but there are a lot of other things to be decided, including but not limited to:
1) Cliff Lee
2) Vladimir Guerrero or another DH
3) the Zack Greinke possibility

Stay tuned! I’ll post more stuff as I learn about it!

Big Announcements

Announcement #1
Today it was finally revealeed that Josh Hamilton is the 2010 recipient of the AL MVP award.

It was expected, but you never know. I though Ron Washington was certain to win AL Manager of the Year, but I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong; Gardy is a great manager. But with the Rangers getting to the post-season for the 1st time in 11 years, then finally getting past the 1st round of the playoffs for the 1st time EVER, and then actually getting to the World Series… it seemed to me that Wash was the obvious choice.

Gardy is a perennial MOY candidate, and he certainly deserved MOY honors after his last 6 years. But for this year, Wash had the best year.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. We’re supposed to be talking about Josh Hamilton! Congratulations Josh!!!

He was wonderful this year, but there was talk that he might miss out on MVP because he missed a month right at the end of the season.

Thankfully, the Rangers made it to the WS, and Josh got a chance to remind everyone of how good he is. Hamilton’s MVP award means that Rangers’ players have won 2 out of the 4 big awards this year: MVP and Rookie of the Year.

I’ve already mentioned that Ron Gardenhire was named Manager of the Year for the American League, and Felix Hernandez was named as the Cy Young award winner for 2010.

In the National League, Joey Votto got the MVP, Roy Halladay got the Cy Young, Buster Posey got Rookie of the Year, and Bud Black got Manager of the Year.

Announcement #2
The other big announcement made today regards the Rangers new hitting coach: Thad Bosley.

Five guys were interviewed, including Scott Coolbaugh, Johnny Narron, Ty Van Burkleo, and Luis Ortiz in addition to Bosley. Bosley was one of the finalists last year before the Rangers selected Clint Hurdle.

Bosley was the hitting coach for the Oakland A’s from 1999-2002. Before that, he played in the Majors for 14 seasons, including one season with the Rangers (1989-90).

Random other stuff
The Rangers have several holes they need to fill this off-season, just like every other Major League baseball team.

The main things are:
1) Sign Cliff Lee or another top-of-the-rotation starter
2) Extend Ron Washington (done)
3) Find a big-name catcher
4) Re-sign Vlad or find another big bat to add to the lineup
5) Find another hitting coach (done)
6) find a righty to share 1st base with/back up Moreland

Two of those six have already been taken care of, and the Cliff Lee situation will probably be up in the air for quite a while.

I would personally like to see Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor sharing the backstop duties for the Rangers next year, but Bengie is looking at possibly retiring.

The Rangers were thought to be going hard after Victor Martinez of the Red Sox, but it was released earlier today that he is close to a deal with Detroit. John Buck was another big name on the market, but he was signed by the Florida Marlins 5 days ago.

I’m not really sure what other front-line catchers are still up for grabs, bit it’s sad to see the Rangers lose out on V-Mart.

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents. The Rangers have 4 free agents: Frank Francisco, Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Lee, and Bengie Molina.

Cliff Lee is a given, because he will net 2 draft picks if he signs elsewhere, and if he accepts arbitration (which he won’t), it would only be for a 1-year contract. He wants a multi-year deal with a no-trade clause.

The only question I have is: if we end up signing Cliff Lee to a multi-year deal, do we still get the 2 draft picks? Hmm…

They might offer arbitration to Vlad, because they want him back, but only for a 1-year contract. He wants a multi-year deal, so he may not accept. But if he does accept, the Rangers may have to pay him significantly more than the $6.5 mil he earned this year.

I don’t know about Frankie Frank. I really wish they would just get rid of him, but for some crazy reason, the Rangers’ higher-ups seem to love him.

Bengie is unknown, because as I said earlier, he may want to retire.

Okay, I’m tired now. That’s all I got. Have a happy Thanksgiving!!!

Amazing!

Last night, one of the announcers mentioned that it was hard coming up with new superlatives to explain Cliff Lee’s performance. Let me try:

Amazing, Astounding, Awesome, Beautiful, Catastrophic, Delightful, Dominant, Excellent, Fabulous, Fantastic, Great, Ingenious, Marvelous, Masterful, Outstanding, Phenomenal, Resplendent, Sterling, Transcendent, Tremendous, Wonderful, and ultimately…

VICTORIOUS!!

I’ll admit it; I was worried about Cliff Lee in July and August. He wasn’t pitching well and no one knew why. I had blind faith that he would help us in the postseason, but I worried.

Now, it appears that my worry was completely baseless. But hindsight is always 20/20, right?

Just in case you were under a rock last night and didn’t hear about the game, I’ll elaborate: Cliff Lee fired 122 pitches in 8 innings with 1 walk, 2 hits, 13 strikeouts and no runs.

Yes, that’s right, the Rangers blanked the Yankees in an ALCS game! IN THEIR HOUSE!

In the top of the 1st inning, Michael Young got on base (he was 3 for 5 on the night, btw) and Josh Hamilton launched a homer over the right field wall, putting the Rangers up 2-0.

But that was the only bad pitch delivered by Andy Pettitte, who did a great job for the Yankees over 7 innings of work. He gave up just 5 hits and no walks while throwing 110 pitches.

There was no more scoring until the 9th inning, when the Rangers ran away with the game by scoring six more runs. I was giggling like a little kid!

In the bottom of the 9th, Neftali Feliz closed it out, and the Rangers won 8-0.

Tommy Hunter will pitch tonight against A.J. Burnett. Tommy pitched in Game 4 of the ALDS, and he lost that game, posting a 4.50 ERA. But in the regular season he was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA.

A.J. did not have to pitch in the ALDS, since the Yankees swept the Twins in 3 games, so he hasn’t pitched in a game in 17 days. He was 10-15 in the regular season with a 5.26 ERA.

But he’s 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA against Texas. And last year, he pitched for the Yankees in Game 2 of the World Series, and he was dominant.

It won’t be easy, but I think the Rangers definitely have a solid chance to make it to the World Series. But I’m kind of hoping that the Yankees win either tonight or tomorrow, which would force a Game 6, because I have tickets. And I would love to see the Rangers clinch at home!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 90-72, 5-3 postseason
My Rangers’ record: 16-10, 0-3 postseason
Days ’til my next (potential) game: 2

Merry Cliffmas!!

Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since my last blog posting? Once again, I apologize for my dereliction of duty. But I DO have a real job and family and friends that need my attention.

Okay, so… the past 2 weeks have been a wild ride! I went to the last regular season Rangers’ game of the year, and even though the Rangers lost the game, IT WAS AMAZING!

I’ve gone to the last game of the season several times in recent years, but this year it felt completely different.

That’s because in previous years, I always knew that it really was the last Rangers’ game for 6 months. But not this year!!

Because we made the playoffs this year, there was a completely different atmosphere in the ballpark for that final game of the regular season. No one was really that disappointed when the Rangers lost, because everyone knew the game didn’t matter and the Rangers would soon get to play in games that DID matter!

Since the Rangers are post-season newbies and the Tampa Bay Rays can’t seem to get any fans in their ballpark, both of the first 2 games were on while I was at work. I couldn’t pay really close attention to them, but the Rangers completely dominated those games.

Cliff Lee put David Price to shame in Game 1, and C.J. Wilson dazzled in Game 2. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t wait for the Rangers to come back to Arlington!

I had tickets to both Saturday and Sunday’s games in Arlington, but I didn’t think that Sunday’s game would be necessary. My dad and I took brooms to the ballpark, and I truly believed that the Rangers would sweep the Rays.

My dad wore his beloved antler batting helmet, which got a lot of praise, of course! We arrived at the ballpark early, and we were sitting in our seats when Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas spotted the antlers and made his way over to us for an interview.

I had met Richard back in January through TR Sullivan, but he didn’t realize that the “antler man” was with me until after he had already introduced himself to my dad. It was kind of a “hey, small world” moment.

Here is a link to the article: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/texas-rangers/post/_/id/4855711/fans-arrive-early-pumped-for-game-3

The atmosphere at the ballpark on Saturday was absolutely electric! The Rangers were leading until the late innings, when Tampa Bay surged and overtook them. I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach.

But I wasn’t too worried, because the Rangers could still beat the Rays at home on Sunday, and I would be there for that game as well.

But Sunday’s game was even more pathetic than Saturday’s had been. And so it was down to the final game in Florida last night.

I met some friends of mine (and my dad) at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game, and I’m so glad I did! They had the game on just about every TV in there, and there were a ton of Rangers’ fans.

Every time a Ranger would get a hit or Cliff Lee would work himself out of a jam, there would be spontaneous applause. I was doing “the Claw” with complete strangers!

About the 7th inning, when the Rangers were leading 3-1, I looked across the table at my childhood friend Rachel. I said, “Holy $#!+, Rach. They could actually win this game and make it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time ever!”

“Oh wow, they really might do it!” she said with wide eyes. And that was when it really sunk in for me.

Ian Kinsler’s 2-run home run in the 8th solidified the Rangers lead, making the final score 5-1. Coincidentally, Game 1 of this series was played in Tampa Bay with Cliff Lee and David Price as the starting pitchers, and the Rangers won 5-1. Hmm…

Cliff Lee was phenomenal, throwing 120 pitches for a complete game. Cliff Lee is now 7-0 in the playoffs. Maybe he should be the new Mr. October!

I didn’t make it home last night until about 11:00, and I didn’t get to bed until after midnight. So I’ve been pretty bleary-eyed all day. But elated!

I have tickets to the first ALCS game this Friday, and I’m excited about the game, but it will be a bittersweet day.  I don’t mean to depress everybody, but I just found out that my only remaining grandparent has passed away. He was 91 years old, so he lived a long and happy life, but it’s still tough.

Anyway, his funeral will most likely be on Friday morning. Hopefully the Rangers will whip some Yankee butt for my Paw Paw’s sake. He LOVED the Rangers!!

But the Yankees still scare me. Oh, by the way, I already bought World Series tickets. Since I had a 16-game mini-plan this year, they let me buy tickets during the pre-sale today. So if the Rangers make it that far, I’ll be there!

I love you, Paw Paw! LETS GO RANGERS!!

Overall Rangers record: 90-72 / 3-2 in the playoffs
My Rangers’ record: 16-10 / 0-2 in the playoffs
Days ’til my next game: 2
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.