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June 30, 2005

Transaction

Texas apparently designated pitcher RYAN WING for assignment within the last few days, and the Chicago White Sox claimed him on waivers.

Wing had a 6.93 ERA, 36 walks and 33 strikeouts in eleven starts plus a relief appearance for high-A Bakersfield. The 23-year-old was the 71st pick of the 2001 draft and is now a proud member of the Winston-Salem Warthogs.

Performance issues aside, I don't know what compelled Texas to waive him now. By my count, the Rangers had only 37 players on the 40-man roster and could free additional space by placing Frank Francisco or Greg Colbrunn on the 60-day DL.

Posted by Lucas at 06:07 PM

Pedro a Padre

Originally published at the Lone Star Blog:

Pedro Astacio has signed a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres. You can watch him pitch if you're in the Portland area.

For now, Texas still owes him the rest of his $800,000 base contract. By my calculations, he also earned $175,000 in incentives ($25,000 for starts 10-12, plus $150,000 for his two full months on the active roster).

Posted by Lucas at 04:22 PM

June 29, 2005

On Teixeira

In response to what is currently the most popular search string for my little web site:

Mark Teixeira’s contract expires at the end of 2005, but he will not be a free agent. He had enough promise (and Scott Boras-fueled clout) to sign a Major-League contract straight out of college. Signing such a contract does immediately use an option if the player is sent to the minors, but it does not hasten free agency. Texas still owns him for six years of ML service. 2005 is his third season in Texas, and he’ll be arbitration-eligible beginning next season and for the years 2007-2008. Barring a trade, 2009 will be the first year Teixeira can play elsewhere.

Posted by Lucas at 12:31 AM

June 28, 2005

Transaction

Texas activated pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned catcher GERALD LAIRD to AAA.

Barajas healed quickly and limited Laird's tenure to one day. Texas badly needs Benoit to shore up a depleted and shaky pen.

Posted by Lucas at 07:44 PM

ESPN Column

Plop
That sound you heard was the Rangers’ division-title hopes hitting the bottom of an abandoned quarry. At 7.5 games behind Los Angeles and barely above .500, Texas must reverse their free-fall immediately or begin consideration of the 2006 season. The schedule does them no favors, for in July the Rangers face the Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, a respectable Blue Jays squad, and they have eight games against the suddenly vibrant Athletics. Within perhaps as little as one week, Texas must decide whether they will be buyers or sellers in the July street bazaar. Before the rumors become fruitful and multiply, let’s take a take at which Rangers might end 2005 in a different zip code.

Trade Candidates
No matter how Texas plays, HANK BLALOCK, MICHAEL YOUNG, CHRIS YOUNG, FRANCISCO CORDERO and MARK TEIXEIRA are going nowhere. Some seem confused about Teixeira’s status because his contract expires at season’s end, but the Rangers still own him for three arbitration-eligible years. Plenty of teams have inquired about KEVIN MENCH, but outfield is already a team weakness. Trading him, even as part of a package for an elite outfielder or DH, just doesn’t add enough value. Still, he has a slight chance of moving if Texas regains traction in the pennant race. Much more likely to be moved is fellow outfielder LAYNCE NIX, who is 24 and still screams “potential,” though the murmurs of “fourth outfielder” are increasing in volume.

If Texas collapses, trading ALFONSO SORIANO makes the most sense. He’ll earn $10 million or more in 2006, his last arbitration-eligible season, and prospect IAN KINSLER should be ready to helm second base by then. Likewise, Texas could move KENNY ROGERS (see below), who I don’t believe has a no-trade clause this time around and has said and done enough silly things to wear out his welcome. If Texas intends to fight for the division or wild card regardless of what happens in the next week or two, both will stay. CHAN HO PARK and RICHARD HIDALGO have negligible trade value and are more likely to be waived than traded. Should the Rangers trade to win now, most of the departing players will be minor-leaguers (John Danks, Edison Volquez, Joaquin Arias, etc.).

Rogers Works On Right Jab
KENNY ROGERS fought the water cooler, and the water cooler won. Rogers punched a cooler back on June 17 (a start he actually won), broke a bone in his non-pitching hand and apparently was able to pitch through it last week, albeit poorly. He will miss at least one start and might face a retroactive DL placement. Texas doesn’t expect him to miss much time, so just bench him. For the moment, JOHN WASDIN will take his place. Wasdin has a sparkly 1.38 ERA in 13 innings going into Tuesday but a leaden 5.38 ERA in his previous 668 innings. Just say no. Texas activated reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT Tuesday and might have to use him as a starter, a role that does not appear to suit him. He has a career 5.98 ERA as a starter and 3.95 as a reliever.

Outfield Situation (D)Evolves
Texas recalled catcher GERALD LAIRD for one game to cover for the temporarily injured ROD BARAJAS. Barajas is now fine and Laird has already been dispatched to AAA, but Texas also sent infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to AAA to make room for Laird. Within these seemingly inconsequential moves is a kernel of useful information. McDougall’s departure forces Texas to use lefty-challenged DAVID DELLUCCI, Laynce Nix, or everybody-challenged MARK DEROSA against lefthanded starters. Against Jarrod Washburn on Tuesday, Texas used Nix, who has a career line of .170/.220/.277 against lefties. Barring a roster move, Dellucci might share these at-bats with Nix. Neither will gain much value with the extra playing time.

An Unsolicited Testimonial
If you’re a Ranger fan, you have to cringe when Texas offers C.J. Wilson against Bartolo Colon and John Wasdin against Jarrod Washburn to lead off what might be the most important series of the year. Do what I do, and stick a bottle of El Jimador tequila in the freezer. It'll be icy cold when Vlad hits a curveball into my parents' yard in north Arlington. El Jimador goes down smooth and easy, just like the Rangers in June.

Posted by Lucas at 07:42 PM

June 27, 2005

Laird recalled

Texas recalled catcher GERALD LAIRD from AAA Oklahoma and optioned infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to AAA.

Laird gets a belated callup after Rod Barajas tweaked a back muscle. Texas hasn't placed Barajas on the DL, so Laird's stay might be brief.

McDougall didn't get a chance to make an impression in his first visit to Major League baseball, but there's no reason to think he couldn't do what Mark DeRosa does. In the short run, unless Texas wants to start lefty-challenged Laynce Nix or David Dellucci against Jarrod Washburn and his ilk, they might have to start DeRosa at DH. God, that's depressing.

Posted by Lucas at 11:20 PM

June 26, 2005

National Champions!

The Texas Longhorns, your 2005 NCAA Baseball Champions.


UPDATE: If you're wondering why I have a picture of Hitler here, please email me.

Posted by Lucas at 04:58 PM

June 24, 2005

Transaction

Texas reinstated reliever RON MAHAY from the 15-day Disabled List and designated reliever JASON STANDRIDGE for assignment.

Standridge pitched worse healthy than Mahay did injured.

Posted by Lucas at 08:37 PM

June 23, 2005

Silver Lining

As dreadfully as the Ranger starters performed in getting swept by the Angels, the often shaky relief corps pitched very well. John Wasdin did allow all three of the runners he inherited from Chan Ho Park to score, but otherwise he and his six compadres at least gave the Rangers a smidgen of hope.

Category
Starters
Relievers
Innings
9.0
15.0
Runs
19
0
Hits
30
13
Homers
3
0
Walks
5
1
Strikeouts
6
5
Hit Batters
1
0
Baserunners / 9 IP
17.0
8.4
Average on Balls in Play
.540
.333
Inherited Runners Scored
---
3 of 3

Posted by Lucas at 01:59 AM

June 22, 2005

ESPN Column

Rogers And Young Experience Adversity
Ranger quasi-aces KENNY ROGERS and CHRIS YOUNG faltered in their starts at Los Angeles, part of a dire three-game sweep in which every starter surrendered ten hits and at least five runs. Both are worth owning in mixed leagues, though both also have the potential to lose that worthiness. Young has pitched very well but doesn’t have much of a track record, while Rogers has a recent history of first-half success and second-half decay. Young will start next against Brandon Backe in Houston followed by home dates against LA and Boston. Rogers will face LA at home, then Seattle on the road. Rogers might have avoided three of his six earned runs if not for backup shortstop Mark DeRosa’s sloth-like movement on a two-out grounder in the first. Juan Rivera followed with a three-run bomb.

Rotation Whirls Out Of Alignment
Texas had an obvious replacement for the departed Ryan Drese in RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, who had pitched well in AAA and is proving worthy of ownership on any AL-only roster. In the case of Pedro Astacio, dismissed last Friday, they do not, not at all. While Astacio undoubtedly earned his walking papers after allowing 13 homers in his last 43 innings, C.J. WILSON is arguably worse. At the least, he’s not ready for prime time, having missed all of 2004 with arm trouble and posting a 6.99 ERA in AA. Texas will skip Wilson with Thursday’s off day and might consider moving JOAQUIN BENOIT into the rotation once he returns from elbow soreness. Benoit has pitched much better in relief, so he doesn’t offer much as a starter on a fantasy team.

Compounding the trouble is CHAN HO PARK’s reversion to his old, bad self. Park has cut his homer rate admirably but has otherwise collapsed in June, averaging less than four innings per start and allowing three baserunners per inning (yes, three). Given his contract and the rotation’s two-week attrition rate of 40%, Park will get some time to recover. AAA’s Wilfredo Rodriguez might get a shot if his recent arm trouble turns out to be minor, but the rest of the AAA rotation offers no help. Texas has several quality starters in AA who could do some damage in the Majors someday but not now. Park is owned in 69% of AL-only leagues; I stand by my March assessment that he’s fantasy kryptonite. You’re better off with Cy Young or some similarly deceased pitcher.

Cordero Languishes
FRANCISCO CORDERO has only one save during the last 22 games. Did he lose the closer job to John Wasdin, or perhaps the estimable Jason Standridge? Fortunately, no. Unfortunately, the Rangers just haven’t played many close games lately. Cordero’s last seven appearances occurred in blowouts when the team simply needed to get him some work. Cordero won’t match last year’s 49 saves and his ERA is up, but he is on pace to match last year’s WHIP and strikeouts and tally 39 saves, a fine number.

Outfield Alignments
Oddly, though I and just about everybody else consider rightly Hidalgo a disappointment, he’s projecting to finish very close to my projections except for his batting average. Hidalgo is batting .220 and will conclude 2005 with 80 runs, 31 homers and 80 RBI at his current pace. I predicted .265 with 85 runs, 27 homers, and 85 RBI. He still has a little value in larger mixed leagues, and I don’t think Texas will cut bait yet. Hidalgo makes triple the combined salaries of the departed Drese and Astacio, and he is at least providing some power. Rumors abound that Texas might move the slumping DAVID DELLUCCI out of the leadoff spot, but I believe Buck Showalter will give him some more time given the lack of an obvious alternative.

GARY MATTHEWS continues to start for LAYNCE NIX against lefties and spot for Hidalgo every fifth game or so. MARSHALL MCDOUGALL started at DH against a lefty on Wednesday and smacked his first Major League hit. The AL West is far less lefty-heavy than in previous years, so McDougall won’t get many at-bats or generate much fantasy value in all but insanely large AL-only leagues.

Go Horns.

Posted by Lucas at 11:42 PM

June 17, 2005

Astacio DFA'ed

Texas designated pitcher PEDRO ASTACIO for assignment, added pitcher JASON STANDRIDGE to the 40-man roster and recalled Standridge from AAA.

After surviving the first two months of the season with their original five starters, the Rangers have dismissed two of them in two weeks. Astacio provided three excellent starts to begin the season, then allowed 13 homers in only 43 innings. Astacio did receive less run support than any other starter (3.8 per game).

Standridge could have walked had Texas not called him up, but I can’t fathom other teams having great interest in a guy with a 4.50 ERA and over four walks per nine innings.in AAA. For the moment, C.J. Wilson, who had a 6.99 ERA in AA, will take Astacio’s rotation spot. I assume that Texas will keep John Wasdin rested and ready to pitch several innings when Wilson starts.

Texas signed three agents of significance from other teams over the winter: Astacio, Greg Colbrunn and Richard Hidalgo. (Mark DeRosa and Sandy Alomar were and are not expected to be more than bench players.) Hidalgo is batting .227/.307/.454 and occasionally sits in favor of Gary Matthews. Colbrunn, to the surprise of absolutely no one, has suffered multiple injuries and probably will never swing a bat in Arlington. Now Astacio is gone.

Posted by Lucas at 04:23 PM

June 15, 2005

ESPN Column

Rogers Surrenders Run, Nation Awestruck
KENNY ROGERS allowed only six baserunners in his last start, but five scored. Oddly, he also chose that night to set his season-best for strikeouts with eight, so at least his owners got a nice key lime pie for dessert after watching the meat he served to Florida’s hitters. Rogers will undoubtedly fall back to Planet Earth at some point, as he can’t possibly maintain that fabulously lucky average on balls-in-play of .248. Still, he does have some talent to fortify that luck, and his owners ought to be able to ride him through at least the All-Star break. On Friday, Rogers will face a Nationals squad that hits pretty well on the road, followed by a home-and-home set will the Angels, who have been hitting better of late.

Chris Young, Staff Ace?
The allegedly insightful fantasy correspondent follows the Rangers year-round but didn’t say squat during the spring about the guy with the third-best ERA in the American League. Quite true. I just didn’t see it. In 200 innings at AA and AAA, Young had an aggregate ERA of 3.84, good but not any better than what fodder like Pat Mahomes and Lou Pote are offering right now. Young also had a 4.71 ERA in 36 Major-League innings last year although he did show great potential in a couple of starts. Looking to his future, is that 2.78 ERA for real? No, not really; Young has had only one awful start out of thirteen, a trend that almost no one can maintain. Having said that, Young really does have the look of a Ranger pitcher who can help a mixed-league fantasy team for the long haul.

The Ballpark In Arlington: Pitcher’s Paradise
While casual fantasy owners refer to The Ballpark In Arlington as Coors Field East to their detriment, The Ballpark does inflate run-scoring as much as any field in the AL. Or does it? So far, Rangers and their opponents have scored 9.88 runs per game in Arlington and 10.84 in road games. Based on OPS, The Ballpark has been almost neutral (.785 in Arlington vs. .776 on the road). As to why, I have no idea. My guess would be a combination of unusually mild weather up until recently and pure dumb luck, better known as a small sample size. I have no reason to expect this phenomenon to continue, and Arlington should revert to a more run-happy environment hereafter. It’s just another kernel of knowledge to employ when evaluating Rogers, Young, or any other Ranger.

Dellucci Celebrates June By Not Hitting
DAVID DELLUCCI loves those Texas spring days, but the summer heat saps his strength. In 2004, he batted .330.396/.560 in April and May followed by a paltry .203/.311/.390 the rest of the year. Through June 1st of this year, he hit .286/.458/.555, assisted by a Bondsian walk rate of one per four plate appearances. Since then, alas, he is batting .150/.244/.350. The truth lays somewhere in the middle. Dellucci is a fine fourth outfielder and an asset to any team, but as a mixed-league fantasy outfielder, his shelf-life is short. Congratulations if you picked him up and got some mileage out of his white-hot two months, but you need to scan that free-agent list and consider a replacement. In eight and ten-team ESPN leagues, you almost certainly can upgrade the position this minute.

Beware Barajas
Unlike Dellucci, catcher ROD BARAJAS has found June to his liking, batting .379 with two homers and seven RBI and increasing his ownership in AL-only leagues to a lofty 74%. I implore his owners to beware. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can ride his little hot streak for a while, but I can’t envision a winning owner with Barajas on his roster. Barajas batted .223 with three dingers and fifteen RBI for the entirety of April and May, and those months more accurately indicate his worth than his fun-filled two weeks in June. For better or worse, Barajas’s June bloom will guarantee his continued presence in the lineup, while 25-year-old GERALD LAIRD and his line of .285/.356/.520 rot in Oklahoma City.

Rodriguez Wows Critics And Fans In Debut
Ryan Drese’s replacement RICARDO RODRIGUEZ allowed only two runs over five innings in his season debut and also struck out five, though he did allow eight baserunners. Given his solid performance in AAA and the lack of alternatives (exacerbated by the ever-increasing possibility of PEDRO ASTACIO’s dismissal), Rodriguez should get a lengthy look in the Majors regardless of his performance. He’s risky but worth a shot in AL-only leagues. Resist the urge to claim him in all but the largest of mixed leagues.

Posted by Lucas at 01:43 AM

June 12, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT on the 15-day disabled list and designated outfielder ANDRES TORRES for assignment. Texas recalled pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ from AAA. Texas also added pitcher JOHN WASDIN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA.

Benoit experienced elbow soreness, different and believed unrelated to the shoulder soreness that forced him onto the DL to start the season. Benoit becomes the seventh reliever to hit the DL, eighth if former 40-mate Matt Riley is included, and R.A. Dickey spent time there as well. Texas chose to recall the eminently replaceable Wasdin rather than Jason Standridge or long-suffering Justin Thompson. Ideally, Wasdin will not pitch in Texas for long.

Texas had intended to replace Torres with Rodriguez since Tuesday when they jettisoned Ryan Drese.

Posted by Lucas at 09:07 PM

June 11, 2005

Transaction

Texas added pitcher C.J. Wilson to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AA Frisco. Texas also recalled reliever JUAN DOMINGUEZ from AA. Texas optioned reliever MICHAEL TEJERA to AAA and placed reliever NICK REGILIO on the 15-day Disabled List.

After a relatively quiet two months, the Rangers are back on their transaction bender. Dominguez is a genuine talent with a questionable head who may finally stick with the big-league club. Wilson had pitched terribly in AA (6.99 ERA) but... well, I don't know why he's here, other than Tejera had pitched on three consecutive games. I assume Texas will retain him for a brief period and can outright him back to Frisco with little fear of a waiver claim.

Regilio has elbow soreness, and Tejera is fodder.

Posted by Lucas at 10:05 AM

June 10, 2005

Drese claimed

Washington claimed pitcher RYAN DRESE off waivers from Texas.

Washington concurrently traded Tomo Ohka to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey. Ohka is a fraud; like Drese, he has an miniscule strikeout rate but also has an incredibly lucky average of .215 on balls in play. Nonetheless, Ohka does have about three years worth of quality pitching to his credit, approximately 2.5 years more than Drese. Drese and Spivey combine to make as much as Ohka, so the perpetually cash-strapped, MLB-owned Nationals won't save any money this year and are on the hook for Drese's $1.7 million in 2006. Further, Spivey isn't much of an upgrade over Jamey Carroll and earns six times the salary. Washington probably could have acquired someone's Triple-A filler (for example, Texas's Esteban German) for a faux-prospect and a little cash, thus avoiding both Spivey's mediocrity and the issue of whether Drese can get anyone out.

As for Texas, the Rangers rid themselves of the suddenly onerous deal they bestowed upon Drese three months ago. On the upside, replacement Ricardo Rodriguez needs only to post a sub-6 ERA to improve on Drese's effort. On the downside, at the minimum they lost some depth. If Astacio or Park collapses or if Rogers or Young suffers an injury, Texas will have to throw an unprepared youngster into the fire or (gulp) dredge up John Wasdin.

Posted by Lucas at 02:27 PM

June 09, 2005

Transaction

Texas announced that pitcher NICK MASSET had cleared waivers and will remain in AA Frisco.

The Rangers never announced his designation, at least not to my knowledge. Masset joined the 40-man last November but has not pitched well in AA, allowing a 6.99 ERA and 95 hits in 64 innings. The 40-man roster has only 37 players.

Posted by Lucas at 01:34 PM

June 08, 2005

Ryan Drese designated for assignment

Texas designated pitcher RYAN DRESE for assignment, removing him from the 40-man and 25-man rosters. Texas also placed reliever RON MAHAY on the 15-day Disabled List. Texas recalled reliever NICK REGILIO from AAA and activated outfielder GARY MATTHEWS from the 15-day Disabled List.

Barely three months after he signed a two-year extension and two months after starting on Opening Day, Ryan Drese finds himself without a job. Drese had no remaining options and Texas apparently was unwilling to use him in relief, so the Rangers took the startling action of dismissing him. He has a 6.46 ERA and has allowed a line of .334/.390/.470.

Drese has been somewhat unlucky, allowing a .325 average on balls in play, but a more reasonable average would not compensate for allowing so many balls in play in the first place. Drese did keep the ball on the ground as he must, but his strikeout rate had fallen to an abysmal 2.6 per nine innings. Tack on his in-game scuffle with management darling Rod Barajas and two starts in which he killed the team with terrible glove work, and Drese had stunningly worn out his welcome.

Will anyone take the waiver bait? Since Drese will receive about $450,000 for the remainder of 2005 and $1.7 million in 2006,. I expect him to clear. I don’t believe he has quite enough service time to refuse a demotion, so he could be starting for Oklahoma City by the end of next week.

Ron Mahay's might really have a sore groin, but more to the point is his 8.38 ERA. Regilio joins the team for what I believe is his fourth option-and-recall sequence. Apparently, Texas saw enough in Matthews’s rehab appearance in AA to call him up, as they need another bench bat for NL play.

Posted by Lucas at 04:57 PM

ESPN Column

Soriano Tweaks Ham, Takes Seat
ALFONSO SORIANO slightly pulled his hamstring while running out a grounder on Sunday. While his injury is not considered nearly as serious as the pull that forced him out of the last three weeks of last season, he has rested the last two games except for a pinch-hit appearance. He is not expected to start until Friday, perhaps. Sit him tomorrow and listen for breaking news. Barring such news, you probably should keep him in the lineup unless you have a quality replacement. Soriano’s replacement is MARK DEROSA, who is not worthy of your team. I’ll update this column if I learn anything, or you can write me at tex05@scottlucas.com.

Drese DFA’ed, Rodriguez Coming
Three months after signing a two-year extension and two months after starting on Opening Day, RYAN DRESE finds himself jobless. Apparently unwilling to give him the chance to improve his fortune as a reliever, Texas startlingly removed Drese form the 40-man roster. Drese had allowed a ghastly 96 hits in 69.2 innings, partly a function of his grim strikeout rate of 2.6 per nine innings. He also had hurt the team with terrible glove work in his last two starts and partook in an in-game, dugout melee with catcher and management darling Rod Barajas over pitch selection. Should no team claim Drese, who is owed about $450,000 for the rest of this season and $1.7 million in 2006, Texas will assign him to AAA. Given his dreadful performance, AL-only owners may safely drop him.

Texas intends to recall RICARDO RODRIGUEZ to take his place in the rotation. In 11 starts in AAA, Rodriguez has a 2.95 ERA and eight homers allowed, 23 walks and 47 strikeouts in 79 innings. Fine stats, if not awe-inspiring. Rodriguez pitched well in four Major-League starts in 2005 before a liner connected with his elbow, but in 150 career innings he has an ERA of 5.05 and a bland K rate of 4.8 per nine innings. What to expect? Probably not much more than what Drese should have offered: plenty of innings and an ERA in the mid-fours. Rodriguez is 27, not some hot-shot prospect. Owners in need of pitching in AL-only leagues can give him a shot; mixed-league owners should watch and wait. The Rangers face some tougher competition in June and several quality offenses in July.

Other Pitchers
The departure of Drese appears to grant shaky starter PEDRO ASTACIO some security in the short term. Should Astacio collapse, Texas might move JOAQUIN BENOIT into the rotation. Similarly optionless, Benoit has pitched very well in long relief and might at least earn some higher-leverage innings. KENNY “Koufax” ROGERS faces Florida on the road, Washington at home, and the Angels in Anaheim. CHRIS YOUNG will face Atlanta and Washington at home followed by Houston on the road.

Interleague Play Continues
Texas completed the second of six consecutive games in National League parks on Wednesday night. RICHARD HIDALGO drew the short straw on Tuesday while DAVID DELLUCCI rested on Wednesday. KEVIN MENCH may play again tomorrow then sit out on Friday or Saturday. He is a Delaware native who grew up loving the Phillies, and Showalter might be kind enough to give him another start in front of all the fans for whom Mench bought tickets. Texas plays three games this weekend in Florida and three in Houston during June 24-26.

Roster Moves
Texas recalled outfielder GARY MATTHEWS only one day into his rehab assignment. Matthews had been recovering from a hamstring pull and was not expected back before the weekend. Matthews should resume his platoon with LAYNCE NIX and will offer a smidgen of value in larger AL-only leagues. Texas also waived CHAD ALLEN, who had batted an empty .283 as the DH against lefties, and probably will send down ANDRES TORRES when they recall Rodriguez. The Rangers might use freshly recalled infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGAL as the wrong-end DH when they need one. RON MAHAY hit the DL with an inflamed ERA.

Posted by Lucas at 01:44 AM

June 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas added infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA. Texas also designated outfielder CHAD ALLEN for assignment.

Allen had batted an empty .283 as the DH against lefties, and with Alfonso Soriano's hammy pull necessitating another infielder, Allen became expendable. He cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to AAA Oklahoma.

McDougall is a 26-year-old making his first appearance in the Majors. He can do anything but pitch and allegedly could catch a few innings in an emergency. He hit pretty well in AAA last year (.282/.349/.508) and very well this year (.320/.387/.542); arguably, he's a better backup infield solution than Mark DeRosa. Perhaps Texas will give him a chance that includes some DH at-bats against lefties.

Posted by Lucas at 02:02 PM

Transaction

Texas transferred reliever CARLOS ALMANZAR from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Almanzar is out for the season. This move allows Texas to add a player to the 40-mnan roster without having to remove anyone. They probably will do the same with Frank Francisco later.

Posted by Lucas at 11:09 AM

June 06, 2005

Transaction

Texas optioned reliever NICK REGILIO to AAA Oklahoma. Texas added reliever MICHAEL TEJERA to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA.

Odd. The local dailies had suggested that Texas might forego a reliever during the week they'll spend in NL parks in order to fortify the bench, but instead they shooed off Regilio and recalled Tejera. Tejera has pitched well in AAA (2.55 ERA, two homers, seven walks, 17 strikeouts in 17 innings) and also had the right to declare free agency if he awakened to another day in AAA on June 14th. Regilio has pitched just well enough to back-end a bullpen but has options, unlike most of the Ranger pitchers.

If Alfonso Soriano's tweaked hamstring keeps him out of action and the Rangers make no other moves, Texas will effectively be playing with a three-man bench consisting of Andres Torres, another outfielder and the backup catcher. That's pretty grim.

UPDATE: Four-man bench, not three. Still...

Posted by Lucas at 05:35 PM

June 04, 2005

AL West Statistical Review

(Statistics are through May 31. Yeah, I'm late.)

Standings

STANDINGS
Texas
Los Angeles
Oakland
Seattle
Actual Won-Loss Pct.
.600
.577
.373
.412
"Pythagorean" Won-Loss Pct.
.608
.560
.369
.444
Won-Loss Pct. based on peripherals
.585
.449
.384
.431

Texas would lead the division by six games if the standings were based on peripheral statistics. Los Angeles hitters have an OPS of .692 and their pitchers have allowed an OPS of .728, yet the Angels have outscored their opponents by 26 runs and are virtually tied with Texas.

Offense

OFFENSE
Texas
Los Angeles
Oakland
Seattle
Runs scored per game
5.60
4.38
3.94
4.25
Expected runs scored per game
5.31
3.93
3.76
4.01
"Lucky" runs (positive = lucky)
15
23
9
12
 
Batting Average
.272
.252
.243
.250
On-Base Percentage
.333
.303
.320
.312
Slugging Percentage
.473
.389
.345
.381
Net steals per game
0.08
0.12
(0.06)
0.10
 
Park Factor (hitting)
1.021
.986
1.019
.985
OPS+
112
89
77
90

Texas is the class of the division. Put another way, the rest of the division is an embarrassment. LA has drawn far fewer walks than any team in the league. Their average-driven strategy works fine when they hit .280; when they hit .250, they have little to offer. Seattle has to be sorely disappointed in their minimal improvement from 2004 given the additions of Beltre and Sexson. Beltre's struggles and gaping holes at short and catcher have kept them down. Oakland's 77 OPS+ is a function of everyone hitting terribly simultaneously. That said, they won't be a good team at the plate even if Eric Chavez and Jason Kendall wake up. Note: "Net steals per game" = ( steals - caught stealing*2 ) / games played.

Pitching

PITCHING / DEFENSE
Texas
Los Angeles
Oakland
Seattle
Runs allowed per game
4.50
3.88
5.16
4.76
Expected runs allowed per game
4.47
4.36
4.76
4.61
"Lucky" runs (positive = lucky)
(2)
25
(20)
(8)
 
Opp. Batting Average
.268
.260
.254
.259
Opp. On-Base Percentage
.332
.322
.333
.327
Opp. Slugging Percentage
.400
.406
.404
.412
Net steals allowed per game
(0.18)
(0.23)
0.69
0.18
 
Park Factor (pitching)
.958
.983
1.111
1.030
ERA+
95
118
104
96
 
Rotation innings per game
6.11
6.29
5.74
5.84
Rotation ERA
3.97
3.80
4.86
5.21
Bullpen ERA
5.02
3.03
4.06
3.16

Los Angeles has had the best pitching in the division, though again, they've also had the best luck. A solid rotation and tremendous top three in the bullpen should keep them in contention no matter what the offense does. Texas amazingly has surrendered the lowest slugging percentage in the division. Oakland hasn't pitched terribly in the aggregate, but bullpen acquisitions Juan Cruz and Kiko Calero have cratered, and closer Octavio Dotel won't even be trade bait after electing to have elbow surgery. Seattle had a terrible rotation in 2004 and has done nothing to improve it.

Posted by Lucas at 02:14 PM

June 03, 2005

ESPN Column

Clemens to Texas?
ROGER CLEMENS, Texas Ranger? Not yet, perhaps not ever, but let’s explore the fantasy implications. Those who own him in a mixed league needn’t worry. The Ballpark adores hitters, but so does Minute Maid. Clemens has always excelled at keeping the ball in the park and has a reasonable 1.45 ground/fly ratio. Certainly, he won’t face an “adjustment period” for American League hitters. The Clemens rumors should provide a wake-up call to AL-only owners to achieve the highest waiver position possible. Clemens could win a league championship, so don’t waste a waiver pick on a utility guy you’ll drop in two weeks. For what my opinion is worth, I think he’ll end up donning pinstripes again.

Interleague Play Arrives
After the weekend, Texas travels to Philadelphia and Florida for some National League ball, leaving DHs DAVID DELLUCCI and CHAD ALLEN temporarily jobless. In the case of Allen, he’ll simply watch from the bench. In Dellucci’s case, Texas would prefer to have him in the lineup. I’ve heard nothing on how they plan to handle these games, but I envision a rotation among Dellucci, KEVIN MENCH and RICHARD HIDALGO in the corner outfield slots. Possibly but less likely, Texas could play Mench or Dellucci in center in place of LAYNCE NIX, so far the weakest hitter of the four. Unless you have an obvious replacement, you should keep the Ranger outfielders in your lineup despite the chance that one of them won’t play on any given day. I’ll post an update as the situation develops.

Dellucci
Regarding Dellucci, I’ve seen some interesting heads-up trades for him lately. The last five, per ESPN, were for Johnny Damon, Tori Hunter, Tino Martinez, Juan Encarnacion, and Hideki Matsui. Martinez and Encarnacion don’t excite me much, as both are playing above their heads. As for the other three, if someone offers you a player of this caliber for David Dellucci, you absolutely must accept. Yes, he’s had an exceptional, Lasik-empowered two months, but he is also a career .261 hitter who has averaged 13 homers per 500 at-bats coming into 2005. Last year, he batted .242 (with an excellent walk rate that won’t help most fantasy owners) and slumped terribly after the All-Star break. Sell high if you can. Come September, he might be in the free-agent pool in most ten-team leagues.

Rogers and Young Revisited
Three-plus years into my “job” and I finally get to write more about the starting pitchers than “don’t own them.” KENNY ROGERS tossed yet another gem last Tuesday and now sports a 1.65 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Rogers has pitched exceptionally well but has also had extraordinary luck. He’s striking out less than four per nine innings and batters are only hitting .247 on balls hit into the field of play. .300 or so is typical for a Ranger pitcher. I estimate that Rogers’ ERA would be around 3.70 without said luck, an enormous increase due to his low K rate. Still, 3.70 is good enough for all but the smallest of mixed leagues. Barring adjustments for off days, Rogers will face the Royals and Marlins on the road followed by the Nationals at home, then start twice against the Angels.

CHRIS YOUNG had reached six innings only once this season before his last two starts. Unlike Rogers, his 3.03 ERA doesn’t bear the epithet of “lucky,” and he provides plenty of strikeouts. He has offered only one terrible performance in eleven starts to date. Having said that, Young is a virtual rookie with good but not outstanding minor-league statistics. Don’t be shocked if he backslides some. Young will start next at Philadelphia, at home against Atlanta and Washington, and then at Houston. A warning to those owning any Ranger starter: in July, Texas will play sixteen games against everyone in the AL East except Tampa Bay. These teams are ranked second through fifth in the league in offense (Texas is first).

On the Farm
Buck Showalter hinted that Texas might option a reliever and recall catcher GERALD LAIRD as an extra bat for interleague play. Laird is batting a gaudy .306/.380/.531 for the Oklahoma Redhawks and certainly has made his case to start in Texas over the hitting-challenged ROD BARAJAS, still enjoying the windfall of those six weeks last year when he channeled a young Mike Piazza. I don’t expect a change yet, but those in AL-only leagues should keep a close watch. Given the state of catching for fantasy purposes, Laird could help if given regular duty. --- Injured outfielder GARY MATTHEWS is at least one week away from returning. ADRIAN GONZALEZ is now hitting well in AAA but has no chance of a recall.

Posted by Lucas at 02:17 PM

June 01, 2005

May Statistical Review

After scuffling through April, Texas finished May with a nine-game winning streak to wrest first place from the Angels. The Rangers played only nine games against teams with a winning record and went 5-4; against losers they won 13 and lost only three. Teams that aspire to postseason play mustn't just play well against bad teams, they must destroy them. Sweeping the likes of Kansas City and Houston permits the Rangers to have a bad series or two down the road without losing too much ground. May established Texas as a legitimate playoff contender.

Actual Win-Loss
18.0 - 7.0 (.720)
"Pythagorean" Win-Loss
18.9 - 6.1 (.757)
Win-Loss based on offensive and defensive peripherals
16.7 - 8.3 (.670)

 
Rangers
Opponents
Batting Line
.286/.345/.517
.262/.316/.394
Steals / Caught
9 / 5
11 / 6
Runs scored per game
6.28
3.56
Expected runs based on peripherals
5.93
4.16
Team OPS
.862
.710
Park Factor (hitting)
1.017
 
Adjusted League OPS
.761
 
Team OPS+
125
 

Team ERA
3.51
Park Factor (pitching)
.956
Adjusted League ERA
4.18
Team ERA+
117

 
Team
Rotation
Bullpen
Team ERA
3.51
3.55
3.42
Component ERA
3.65
4.25
3.17
Component ERA adjusted for .301 average on balls hit into play
3.88
4.13
3.28
Team WHIP
1.30
1.34
1.20
Team K / 9
5.53
4.89
6.98
Team BB / K ratio
2.14
1.91
2.65
Rotation innings per start
6.19


Batting

Last month, I mentioned that Texas couldn't contend if the offense scored fewer than five runs per game. In April and most of last year, the Texas offense batted much worse most people think. Essentially, the Rangers have supplied mediocre production outside of their long-ball ability. In May, Texas justified the hype, hitting (yes) 46 homers along with a shiny .286 batting average, plenty of doubles and even eight triples. Scoring six runs per game will earn Texas some additional baseball in mid-October.

Having said that, the offense's overall performance has masked some serious problems. The catcher spot is a black hole (.240/.286/.337). While Barajas has excelled at throwing out baserunners and (as far as I know) has handled the pitching staff capably, he has never batted well outside of that unconscious six-week stretch in 2004 on which his entire reputation and salary is seemingly based. Ranger catchers are "only" 22nd in OPS among the 30 Major League teams, but that speaks more to the state of catching league-wide. As long as Texas wins, Barajas and Alomar will stay. "But they're winning" is a simplistic but irrefutable argument against change.

The other problem is center field. Just as in 2004, Laynce Nix started hot (.371/.389/.543 in April) and cooled to an unacceptable level thereafter (.237/.253/.421 in May). His demotion to AAA ostensibly instilled a more disciplined plate approach, but he has all of three walks in 115 plate appearances, an atrocious ratio even for him. Hacktastic batters like Alfonso Soriano can get away with this approach because they bat .300 with 30 homers. Nix does neither. Nix is only 24, and perhaps judging him this harshly is unfair. Still, he is well into his third season and has shown absolutely zero progress at the plate. Texas has no in-house improvement and will prioritze pitching in any upcoming trade talks (as they should). In 2006, they'll have to consider a change unless Nix matures over the coming months.

Best Hitter: Mark Teixeira (.324/.377/.610). Kevin Mench slugged .708 but in 33 fewer at-bats. Additional kudos to Richard Hidalgo (.307/.398/.653), who hit himself back into an everyday player.
Worst Hitter: The two-headed catching monster of Rod Barajas (.218/.262/.329) and Sandy Alomar (.233/.281/.233).

Pitching

Ranger starters won an astounding fourteen games, including a franchise-record nine-in-a-row and counting, while posting a 3.55 ERA. Yes, Kenny Rogers is old, but he seems to think it's May of 1905: he offered an 0.98 ERA while striking out only 3.5 batters per nine innings. He also permitted a miniscule .224 average on balls in play. That won't persist, but why argue with success? Maybe Texas should arrange another press leak to anger him some more, and he won't ever allow a run again. Just as important is Chris Young's emergence. Young still doesn't throw efficiently enough to go deep into games but otherwise has pitched brilliantly, finishing May with a 1.42 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

As with the offense, the aggregate numbers hide some discomfort. Chan Ho Park regressed from his solid April, allowing a 1.66 WHIP and a 5.40 ERA in five starts. Still, the Rangers don't expect him to win games by himself, and relative to his past even a 5.40 ERA is celebratory. Ryan Drese continues to be a cause for concern. He pitched no better in May than in April and is on pace to allow 248 hits with only 51 strikeouts. Might Texas option him at some point, even though he would have to go through waivers? They might; his departure would relieve Texas of the $1.75 million owed to him in 2006. After several terrible performances, Pedro Astacio is now pitching for his job every time he takes the mound. Ricardo Rodriguez could return to the Majors before long.

The bullpen righted itself after a shockingly bad April. Carlos Almanzar, Ryan Bukvich, and Matt Riley are gone, and replacements Nick Regilio, Kameron Loe and Joaquin Benoit have pitched well in their absence. Benoit has yet to allow a run in ten innings and is slowly working toward more high-leverage innings.

Best Pitcher: Rogers, obviously. Honorable mention to Chris Young.
Worst Pitcher:
Pedro Astacio (7.32 ERA, five homers allowed in 19.2 innings). Dishonorable mention to Ron Mahay (12.00 ERA, 2.17 WHIP)

Posted by Lucas at 11:32 AM