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October 28, 2005

Weekend Photo

Posted by Lucas at 06:22 AM

October 27, 2005

2005 OPS+ for Ranger Hitters

The nine with the most plate appearances:

NAME
G
AB
AVG
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
OPS
OPS+
Mark Teixeira
162
644
.301
.379
114
.575
130
.954
144
Michael Young
159
668
.331
.385
115
.513
116
.899
131
David. Dellucci
128
435
.251
.367
110
.513
116
.879
126
Alfonso Soriano
156
637
.268
.309
93
.512
116
.821
108
Kevin Mench
150
557
.264
.328
98
.469
106
.797
104
Rod Barajas
120
410
.254
.306
92
.466
105
.771
97
Gary Matthews Jr.
131
475
.255
.320
96
.436
99
.756
94
Hank Blalock
161
647
.263
.318
95
.431
97
.749
93
Richard Hidalgo
88
308
.221
.289
87
.416
94
.705
81

The rest:

NAME
G
AB
AVG
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
OPS
OPS+
Esteban German
5
4
.750
.750
225
1.000
226
1.750
351
Mark DeRosa
66
148
.243
.325
97
.439
99
.764
97
Jason Botts
10
27
.296
.367
110
.296
67
.663
77
Adrian Gonzalez
43
150
.227
.272
81
.407
92
.678
74
Laynce Nix
63
229
.240
.267
80
.397
90
.664
70
Chad Allen
21
53
.283
.309
93
.340
77
.649
69
Sandy Alomar Jr.
46
128
.273
.306
92
.328
74
.634
66
Gerald Laird
13
40
.225
.262
78
.350
79
.612
58
Phil Nevin
29
99
.182
.250
75
.323
73
.573
48
Pitchers
12
20
.200
.200
60
.300
68
.500
28
Andres Torres
8
19
.158
.190
57
.211
48
.401
5
Marshall McDougall
18
18
.167
.167
50
.222
50
.389
0

The team and opponents:

NAME
G
AB
AVG
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
OPS
OPS+
Rangers
162
5716
.267
.329
99
.468
106
.798
104
Opponents
162
5699
.279
.343
103
.428
97
.772
100

For what its worth, my estimates for park factors differ slightly from Baseball Reference. I'll explain later, and you can read it when you need sleep. For Texas in 2005, I use an OBP factor of 1.011 and a SLUG factor of 1.042. The American League as a whole had an OBP of .330 and a slugging percentage of .424. Adjusted for The Ballpark, an average OBP is .334 and an average slugging percentage is .442.

Posted by Lucas at 10:56 PM

Congrats

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox, who captured a World Series title for the first time since 1917. The Sox won sixteen of their last seventeen games including eleven of twelve in the postseason. All told, they won 110 games and lost only 64, leaving no doubt as to who was the best team in baseball in 2005.

Congratulations also to the Houston Astros. It’s easy for me to be philosophical about their goose egg in the Series because my affection for them is only casual, but they really did have a fantastic season. Remember, they lost both Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran over the offseason and spent several weeks without Lance Berkman, who shredded his knee playing flag football. They signed exactly one Major-League free agent, the long-departed John Franco. Over at the Batter’s Box in March, I predicted they’d just barely surpass .500, and frankly I wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t achieve even that modest goal.

On May 24, the Astros had a record of 15-30, worse than every team in the National League except the miserable Colorado Rockies. They were 2-21 on the road. Two and twenty-one. Texas had recently swept them in Arlington by scores of 7-3, 18-3 and 2-0. Writers, talk-show hosts and fans speculated on whether Texas might acquire Roger Clemens to assist in their division run.

Houston finished the season 74-43 (including a 34-24 road record) and then defeated the best two teams in the NL to reach the World Series. They lost their four games to the Sox by a total of six runs. Twenty years from now, people will still talk about Game Four against Atlanta and Game Three against Chicago. The Astros and their fans have reason to be proud once the pain of losing dissipates.

Posted by Lucas at 08:39 AM

October 25, 2005

Six-Year Minor-League Free Agents

Eighteen of them:

Pitchers: Shane Bazzell, Jason Boyd, Tim Crabtree, Rosman Garcia, Chris Jaile, Willy Lebron, Christopher Marini, Hector Mercado, Agustin Montero, Wilfredo Rodriguez, Matthew Roney, Enger Veras, Jeff Zimmerman.

Catchers: Brian Esposito.

Infielders: Jason Hart, Chris Richard, Seth Taylor.

Outfielders: Jason Conti.

Posted by Lucas at 04:32 PM

October 21, 2005

Some World Series Indices

For those who say baseball is 90% pitching, here is your series. Both teams had the best pitching staffs and among the worst three offenses in their respective leagues.

Category
Chicago
Houston
RS+ (index of runs scored relative to league and adjusted for park)
92 (13th in AL)
94 (14th in NL)
OPS+
92 (12th)
95 (13th)
OBP+
96
97
SLUG+
96
98
RA+ (index of runs allowed relative to league and adjusted for park)
122 (1st)
123 (1st)
ERA+
125 (1st)
123 (1st)
ERA+ of rotation
121 (1st)
125 (1st)
ERA+ of bullpen
139 (3rd)
118 (2nd)
OPS+ Allowed
84 (1st)
85 (1st)
Actual Record
99-63 (1st)
89-73 (3rd)
"Pythagorean" Record (based on runs scored and allowed)
92-70 (4th)
91-71 (2nd)
"Peripheral" Record (based on hitting and pitching stats)
89-73 (4th)
91-71 (2nd)

Posted by Lucas at 08:12 PM

Weekend Photo

Monday, July 5, 1976: Texas 8, Detroit 6. Starter Gaylord Perry collapsed in the fourth and squandered a four-run lead, but reliever Jeff Terpko entered to pitch a career high 5.2 innings of one-run ball. Texas regained the lead in the seventh thanks to a two-run single by Tom Grieve. The Rangers improved to 43-32, 3.5 games behind the Angels.

The 5th was the fireworks game; Texas spent Sunday the 4th in Chicago. I was seven years old.

Posted by Lucas at 11:47 AM

October 19, 2005

Enough!

Can we dispense with the idea that the Ranger offense would improve by emulating the Houston Astros? Please?

In the past week, both Jim Reeves of the Fort Worth Star Telegram and Evan Grant of the Dallas Mornning News have made the case that Texas needs more sacrifice hits, and both made their argument by citing Houston’s four-sac performance against Atlanta in Game 1 of the NLDS . Says Mr. Grant:

...the most significant stat on the Rangers’ season [is] not the near-record 260 homers they hit, but the offensive record they did set. That was the one for fewest sacrifice bunts in a season. They had nine. Houston had four in its first playoff game. And the Astros ended up with 10 runs in that game.

260 homers have less significance than nine sac bunts? Really? If that’s the case, athletes should be bunting in all sports, not just baseball. Drew Bledsoe might throw six touchdown passes next week if he bunted a few times. I’m going to start bunting in my dart league once I figure out how.

But seriously, folks, the implication is clear: Texas hit a million homers but couldn’t advance runners the old-fashioned way, and they’re sitting on their couches watching the playoffs on teevee. Meanwhile, Houston is in the playoffs AND winning with their drunk-on-bunts strategy. I know Grant knows that Houston paved their road to the postseason with fantastic pitching, not hitting, but he did say what he said.

A quick note about sacrifice bunting for the uninitiated: Batters occasionally bunt for a hit, but most of the time the purpose of a sacrifice bunt is to give up an out in exchange for an increase the probability of scoring one run. Sacrifices do increase the likelihood of scoring a run, but they also hinder the ability to score multiple runs in an inning.

Regarding the issue of whether Texas should bunt more often, first I’ll examine the game situation for each of Houston’s four successful sacrifice bunts and whether they apply to Texas under American League rules. Second, I’ll explore differences in the teams on a more general level.

The game:

1st inning, score 0-0: Biggio walked. Taveras bunted Biggio to second. Berkman walked (not intentionally but on four pitches). Ensberg singled home Biggio.
Texas would have Michael Young batting in this situation. Young led the AL in batting average and threw in 40 doubles and 24 homers for good measure. He even walked a career-best 58 times. Bunting here would be foolish. Note that back in 2002 when Young didn’t hit well (.262/.308/.382) and often filled the #9 slot, he had thirteen sac bunts. Weak hitters should bunt more often because the decreased likelihood of advancing runners via hits or walks. Willy Taveras is a weak hitter. He batted a respectable .291 but with 49 fewer extra-base hits and 33 fewer walks than Young. Basically, he’s only good for getting singles, and in fact drag-bunting for singles is his best talent. Having Taveras bunt makes sense. Again, having Young bunt would not.
4th inning, score 3-1: Ausmus doubled. Pettitte bunted Ausmus to third. Biggio hit sac fly scoring Ausmus.
Pitchers don’t bat in the American League except in NL parks and bizarre circumstances. Texas might have Rod Barajas or Mark DeRosa up here. With a two-run lead and no risk of a double play, Texas should swing away and play for a big inning. As to why Houston had Pettitte bunt with none out and the runner already at second, Pettitte had a terrible year at the plate (.081/.094/.081). His 7th-inning double (see below) was only his sixth hit and first extra-base hit all season.
7th inning, score 4-3: Pettitte doubled(!). Biggio bunted Pettitte to third. Taveras grounded out. Berkman walked intentionally. Ensberg singled home Pettitte.
David Dellucci would bat here. Dellucci batted only .251 but drew 76 walks and hit a career-best 29 homers. (If Atlanta put in a lefty to face Dellucci, Texas probably would counter with Mark DeRosa or Phil Nevin.) Young, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira would follow Dellucci or his replacement. Playing for one run seems ill-advised. For that matter, I question having Biggio bunt, since Taveras doesn’t hit well and Atlanta certainly won’t allow Berkman to swing the bat. Biggio’s bunt practically insures the need for a two-out hit from Ensberg (which he did deliver).
8th inning, score 5-3: Everett singled. Ausmus singled, Everett to second. Pettitte bunted both runners over. Biggio walked intentionally. Bagwell (batting for Taveras) singled home Everett. Berkman struck out. Ensberg walked, Ausmus scored.
Again, pitchers don’t bat for Texas. Barajas, assuming he fills the #9 slot, has a tolerable strikeout rate (about one per six at-bats) and hit into only six doubles plays all season. Bunting isn’t a terrible idea, but neither is letting the man swing.

The Astros placed four successful sacrifice bunts against Atlanta, advancing five runners, all of whom scored. That’s outstanding baseball and a large part of Houston’s victory in Game 1. Nevertheless, in only one of those four situations does bunting even approach a logical maneuver for Texas. Two of Houston’s four bunts were by the pitcher and one was by a weak-hitting #2 hitter in the first inning. Those characteristics don’t apply even remotely to Texas.

On a macro level, the value of sacrificing increases in a low-scoring environment and decreases when runs are plentiful. Pretend that runs in baseball are as infrequent as goals in soccer. The value of one run would be immense, often the difference between winning and losing. Surrendering an out to increase the chance of scoring one run would almost always constitute a winning strategy. Conversely, pretend that baseball is like softball, where (in my low-level beer league) scores of 18-12 are common. In this environment, one run doesn’t mean so much and giving up outs spells disaster.

Run-scoring in baseball falls into a much narrower range, of course, but the fictional examples above help to describe how different environments favor or discourage sacrifice bunts. Regarding Texas and Houston, those environments could not be more opposed:

Combined runs by team and opponent, 2005:

Team         Runs     Runs/Game    MLB Rank
Texas 1,712 10.63 1st
Houston 1,302 8.04 30th

Though sacrifice hits are situation-driven, low-scoring and close games tend to create more situations where sac bunts are worthwhile. Houston played almost twice as many games of that variety than Texas:

Games with Seven or Fewer Total Runs:

                                 Games With
Games With <=7 Total Runs &
Team <=7 Total Runs <= 2-Run Margin

Texas 47 28
Houston 86 53

Does Texas need to bunt more? Maybe a few more would help. I don’t know. Here’s what I do know:
  • Citing a National League team as a reason why Texas should bunt more doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Nor does citing a bad offensive team like Houston.
  • Texas had the fourth-best offense in the AL (after adjusting for park) behind New York, Boston and Cleveland. Without question, they have areas needing improvement. Still, the offense played well on the whole.
  • If Texas had Houston’s pitching staff, they would have allowed about 670 runs instead of 858 and won about 101 games instead of 79.

Posted by Lucas at 06:40 PM

October 17, 2005

Transaction

Texas outrighted pitchers CARLOS ALMANZAR and RYAN BUKVICH to AAA Oklahoma, removing them from the 40-man roster. Almanzar elected to take free agency. Texas also signed outfielder RUDDY YAN to a minor-league contract.

Almanzar’s depressing 2005 with Texas comes to an end. Almanzar lost his mother and brother in April, underwent season-ending surgery a few weeks later, and recently tested positive for steroids. He must serve a ten-game suspension for his next employer.

Both Almanzar and Bukvich were on the 60-day Disabled List, so the roster holds steady with 36 players and two others on the 60-day DL (Greg Colbrunn and Nick Regilio). Yan was once on the 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 08:05 AM

October 16, 2005

Anniversary

I think the blog anniversary is in a few weeks. This one takes precedence.

Courtney Bissonnet and Scott Lucas, one year ago today.

Photo by the highly recommended Melanie West.

Posted by Lucas at 08:36 PM

October 14, 2005

Reviewing the Juan Gonzalez Trade

In 1999, after the Rangers had lost in the opening round of the playoffs for the third time in four years, owner Tom Hicks, GM Doug Melvin and the rest of Ranger braintrust decided the team had reached its peak with the current roster. They wanted a roster younger, cheaper, and deeper in left-handed starting pitchers.

Texas started only four games with a lefty in 1999. Conceptually, additional left-handed pitching would make the team more competitive against the dreaded Yankees, who had beaten the Rangers in all three of their postseason appearances. Both The Ballpark and Yankee Stadium take more kindly to lefty hurlers. On the other hand, though New York did struggle against lefties during the regular season, their roster had extraordinary balance. Their top nine batters in the ’99 ALDS included four righties, four lefties and a switch hitter.

On October 25, the Sporting News summarized the situation as follows:

Trading Gonzalez is no longer unthinkable. The Rangers want to reduce their payroll from $75 million, which Mil be hard if they keep Gonzalez, whose contract calls for $7.5 million this year but probably twice that in a new contract.

Minor leaguer Mike Lamb might be ready at third, so free agent Todd Zeile probably won't be re-signed. Talented but injury-plagued Ruben Mateo should take over in center for Tom Goodwin. However, if Mark McLemore leaves as a free agent, the team will need a leadoff hitter and second baseman. A deal for Milwaukee's Fernando Vina would make sense.

Knowing the Tigers are desperate for a slugger, the Rangers, who need lefthanded pitching, could dangle Gonzalez for young lefthander Justin Thompson and second baseman Damion Easley. The Mets, with Gonzalez's old manager Bobby Valentine, and the Dodgers, assuming they deal Raul Mondesi, also could use Gonzalez.

If they can't re-sign 18-game winner Aaron Sele, the Rangers should try to lure two of the following free-agent lefthanders: Chuck Finley, Kenny Rogers and Darren Oliver. Finley, a proven Yankees and Indians killer, tops the list.

Much of this story came true. Sele, Goodwin and McLemore walked. Texas reached a verbal agreement with Todd Zeile, who then spurned them by taking a higher gross salary to play for the Mets. Lamb and Mateo replaced Zeile and Goodwin. Finley signed with Cleveland but Texas landed both Rogers and Oliver. They, along with lefties Matt Perisho and Doug Davis, would combine to start 81 games for Texas in 2000.

To cap the roster upheaval, on November 2 Texas traded two-time MVP outfielder Juan Gonzalez, reliever Danny Patterson and catcher Gregg Zaun to the Detroit Tigers for pitchers Justin Thompson, Francisco Cordero and Alan Webb, catcher Bill Haselman, infielder Frank Catalanotto, and outfielder Gabe Kapler. Haselman was the only throw-in. None of the others was over 26 years old, and all but Webb had appeared in the Majors.

As for Detroit’s motivations, the Tigers boasted ample young talent that translated into a disappointing 69 wins in 1999. With a move to Comerica Park looming, they wanted to contend and create some press in doing so. Detroit also finished 12th in the AL in runs scored and needed an offensive upgrade. Interestingly, they were a respectable fourth in homers with 212. What killed them was a league-worst on-base percentage of .318, thanks to walk-averse creatures like Deivi Cruz and Juan Encarnacion. Interestingly, Gonzalez didn’t draw many walks himself and relied heavily on power for his offensive production, exactly the kind of player Detroit had in surplus. Certainly, a healthy and happy Gonzalez would have provided a significant boost, but the Tigers probably could have received a similar boost from an OBP machine and given up less for him.

What became of these players? Here’s a summary including Win Shares while with Detroit or Texas from 2000-2005:

To Detroit - JUAN GONZALEZ
Win Share per season, 2000-2005 (9, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone – total of 9)
From 1996-1999, Gonzalez averaged 43 homers and 140 RBI with an OPS+ of 143. In one miserable season with Detroit, Gonzalez had 22 homers, 67 RBI, and an OPS+ of 113. He missed 47 games. Gonzalez hated the pitcher-friendly dimensions of brand-new Comerica Park and let them mess with his head. Not for the first time: in 1994 he sulked over the 385-foot power alley and imposing outfield wall of the new Ballpark in Arlington, and his rate of homers per at-bat fell by half. Gonzalez memorably declined a seven-year, $148 contract from the Tigers, a deal that would still have two years remaining had he signed it. Instead, he filed for free agency at the end of the season. Gonzalez resumed destroying the ball during a one-year stint with Cleveland, had one good but injured-plagued season and another just-plain-bad season with Texas, and has since accomplished next to nothing in seasons with Kansas City and Cleveland. Gonzalez has earned $38.6 million since passing on Detroit’s offer, certainly a princely sum but barely over one-third of what he would have made in Motown from 2001-2005. He’s 36, injury plagued and (to be as polite as possible) does not appear to evince much passion for the game.

To Detroit - DANNY PATTERSON
(5, 7, 0, 2, 1, gone – total of 15)
Patterson spent five years with the Tigers, pitching well in relief in 2000-2001 and not so well for three more years. Injuries wrecked his 2002 and 2003 campaigns, and after one more, marginally effective season, Patterson took free agency.

To Detroit - GREGG ZAUN
(gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone – total of 0)
Zaun never played for Detroit. The Tigers shipped him to Kansas City during Spring Training “for future considerations,” according to Retrosheet. Since those considerations were never made explicit, they must not have amounted to much. In 2005, Zaun enjoyed a career season for Toronto at age 34.

To Texas - FRANCISCO CORDERO
(3, 0, 8, 12, 15, 9 – total of 47)
Cordero took a few years to mature. He faltered in 2000, pitching worse than even his uninspiring 5.35 ERA would suggest, then spent almost all of 2001 in AAA. Since 2002, Cordero has pitched 268 innings with an ERA of 2.64. After playing second fiddle to Hideki Irabu(!) in 2002 and Ugueth Urbina in 2003, Cordero entered the 2004 a season as The Closer and proceeded to save a franchise-record 49 games with an ERA of 2.13. Six years after The Trade, Cordero is the only player remaining with either organization.

To Texas - FRANK CATALANOTTO
(8, 17, 7, gone, gone, gone – total of 32)
Little Cat played everywhere but catcher, short and center field in his three years in Texas. In 2001 he had what remains his career year, batting .330/.391/.490 (131 OPS) and playing mostly in left field. For a while, Texas debated whether he or Michael Young would be the long-term answer at second base. Catalanotto earned $2.5 million during an injury-hampered 2002, and Texas decided to non-tender him rather than risk an arbitration-induced raise. Now with Toronto, Cat continues to bat pretty well, provide passable defense, and miss a few too many games with injuries.

To Texas - BILL HASELMAN
(7, 5, 1, gone, gone, gone – total of 13)
Haselmann had played for Texas in 1998 and rejoined the Rangers for three more seasons. Every year, he broke Spring Training with the easiest job in the world: backing up Ivan Rodriguez, who had missed a miniscule total of 65 games in the last four years. Instead, he spent each late summer and fall as the #1 catcher because Rodriguez suffered season-ending injuries in his last three seasons as a Rangers. Haselman had two strong seasons (.275/.329/.461 and 285/.331/.400) before declining sharply in 2002. Texas let him go at that point, and except for a few at-bats in Boston he was done.

To Texas - GABE KAPLER
(10, 13, 3, gone, gone, gone – total of 26)
Kapler hit eighteen homers as a rookie with Detroit in 1999 and two more in his Ranger debut. The 24-year-old was definitely a work in progress compared to Catalanotto but with much more upside. Amazingly, he never surpassed those eighteen homers. Kapler did bat .302/.360/.473 in his first year with Texas but endured some crippling slumps and occasionally shaky outfield defense. He performed equivilantly in 2001 with a few more walks and fewer base hits. In 2002, with a shiny new arbitration-eligible contract of $1.85 million, he collapsed, batting a bleak .260/.285/.332 and trying out a new batting stance every couple of days. Texas glumly sent him to Colorado in exchange for fellow underachiever Todd Hollandsworth and pitcher Dennys Reyes, both of whom disappeared from Arlington after the end of the season.

To Texas - JUSTIN THOMPSON
(0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, -- total of 0)
Thompson underwent surgery for a torn labrum in August of 1999 but was expected to be one of three lefties in the Ranger rotation in 2000. Instead, additional arm trouble and surgeries derailed his career, and Thompson would not pitch again until 2002… for the rookie-league Gulf Coast Rangers. Thompson did finally return to the Majors in 2005 for a couple of late-season relief appearances. He threw a total of 140.1 innings in six years with the Rangers, 138.2 of them in the minors.

To Texas - ALAN WEBB
(0, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone – total of 0)
Texas appears to have ditched Webb after one season split among high-A and AA. Webb topped out in AAA with the Padres organization and spent 2005 in high-A Clearwater with the Phillies organization. He has nine years of minor-league experience and just turned 26.

Most Valuable Player By Season (in Win Shares):
2000 – Gabe Kapler, Texas (10)
2001 – Frank Catalanotto, Texas (17)
2002 – Francisco Cordero, Texas (8)
2003 – Francisco Cordero, Texas (12)
2004 – Francisco Cordero, Texas (15)
2005 – Francisco Cordero, Texas (9)

Aggregate Win Shares of Traded Players by Season:
2000 – Texas 21, Detroit 14
2001 – Texas 30, Detroit 7
2002 – Texas 18, Detroit 0
2003 – Texas 12, Detroit 2
2004 – Texas 15, Detroit 1
2005 – Texas 9, Detroit 0
TOTAL – Texas 105, Detroit 24

Texas might not have received all they’d hoped for, but they clearly demolish the Tigers in comparative value. Only Justin Thompson proved to be a total loss. Texas has a pitcher signed through 2007 with a career ERA of 3.26 and 111 saves. Frank Catalanotto had the best season (in terms of win shares) of any traded player in 2001. For a while, Gabe Kapler looked like he could provide more than what Kevin Mench does now. Even Bill Haselman helped out for a couple of years.

For all the talent Detroit surrendered to Texas, they received one bitterly disappointing effort from Juan Gonzalez and two solid years of middle relief from Danny Patterson. Two seasons after The Trade, Detroit lost 106 games. Three seasons after, they needed a two-game, season-ending win streak to avoid become only the second team in MLB history with 120 losses. They received not a single win share from their acquisitions from Texas that year. Even for a team that last won a division in 1987 (when the Olsen twins were one-year old and just starting to putrefy America with “Full House”), the last few years have been especially painful.

Ultimately, the trade didn’t accomplish much for Texas either. Though the Rangers got the better of Detroit, they have only one winning season in the last six years. They also have changed managers and general managers twice during that span and don’t have a single player from their last division-winning squad.

Both franchises have wandered awkwardly through modes of cheap, youth-oriented rebuilding and high-dollar free agent splurging. In the end, the players involved in the Gonzalez trade couldn’t compensate for each team’s greater deficiencies, both in talent and leadership.

Posted by Lucas at 03:59 AM

October 13, 2005

Weekend Photo


Monk seal on a beach east of Poipu, Kauai, 6 December 2004.

Posted by Lucas at 11:30 PM

October 11, 2005

Transaction

Texas removed pitcher JUSTIN THOMPSON from the 40-man roster. Thompson declined a minor-league assignment and elected free agency.

Thompson arrived in Texas a 26-year-old with 36 wins and 647 Major-League innings. After six years, he leaves with 36 wins and 648.2 innings. More to come in a separate entry.

The 40-man roster currently has 36 players plus four on the 60-day Disabled List.

Posted by Lucas at 08:36 AM

October 10, 2005

Homegrown

Drafted by Texas and on the active roster or disabled list at the end of the 2005 season (round in parentheses):

2003
P Scott Feldman (30)

2002
P Kameron Loe (20)

2001
1B Mark Teixeira (1)
P C.J. Wilson (5)

2000
OF Laynce Nix (4)

1999
P Nick Regilio (2) (disabled)
3B Hank Blalock (3)
OF Kevin Mench (4)
OF Jason Botts (46)

1996
P R.A. Dickey (1)

Posted by Lucas at 08:15 AM

October 08, 2005

Attrition

I began keeping a Ranger player database at the end of the 2003 season. Here’s a list of players who have remained on the 40-man roster during the past two years:

P Joaquin Benoit
P Francisco Cordero
P R.A. Dickey
P Juan Dominguez
P Erasmo Ramirez
P Ricardo Rodriguez
P Brian Shouse
C Gerald Laird
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Hank Blalock
SS Michael Young
OF Kevin Mench
OF Laynce Nix

On the active (25-man) roster and uninjured during the past two years? Cordero, Teixeira, Blalock and Young.

Posted by Lucas at 04:30 PM

October 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas outrighted pitchers KEVIN GRYBOSKI and MICHAEL TEJERA to AAA Oklahoma, removing them from the 40-man roster.

Jon Daniels begins his tenure as GM with a little housecleaning. Gryboski fared terribly in Texas after being acquired from Atlanta for demi-prospect pitcher Matt Lorenzo.

Posted by Lucas at 02:48 PM

Weekend Photo


Route 66 just south of Oatman, AZ, April 1996.

No tortoises were harmed in the creation of this photo. I found him on the center stripe, took a few shots, then picked him up and placed him off the edge of the road in the direction he was travelling.

Posted by Lucas at 01:20 PM

October 05, 2005

Fun With Search Strings

At least one Googler has found my site via the following search strings:

building a sub box for an 83 ranger
chris rock routine not old just too old to be in the club
jamey wright bought a house in oklahoma
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pitchers of white tail spider bites
power ranger on play stash 2
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scott lucas day job
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Yeah, I have a day job. The next set of searches gets a little creepy:

david dellucci’s girlfriend
hank blalock girlfriend
laynce nix girlfriend
michael young texas rangers wife picture
alfonso soriano’s wife
texas rangers kenny rogers wife
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does kevin mench have a girlfriend
who is ian kinsler girlfriend
esteban german 2005 wife
scott podsednik girlfriend
rangers baseball groupies

Does Esteban German get a new wife every year? Anyway, in 365 blog entries, the word “girlfriend” appears exactly once, in the last sentence of this entry.

Posted by Lucas at 01:26 AM

October 04, 2005

GM John Hart Resigns

Texas announced that General Manager John Hart has resigned. Jon Daniels has been promoted from assistant GM to GM.

Hart remains with the organization with the title of “senior advisor/baseball operations,” but that may be a position without portfolio, a face-saving maneuver. Originally, he intended to leave after three years with Grady Fuson taking his place. During his ostensible final year when the Rangers held the division lead into July, he decided to stay (with Hicks’s approval), leaving Fuson a lame duck after 32 months of a 36-month apprenticeship.

Hart leaves without much success. The Rangers had one winning season and a record of 311-337 during his four-year tenure, never made the playoffs and never finished higher than third place in a four-team division.

I don’t have the energy to catalogue Hart’s entire career with Texas, but here’s a look at his acquisitions during his first five months in office, November 2001-March 2002:

Chan Ho Park (5 years, $65 million)
Jay Powell (3 years, $9 million)
Todd Van Poppel (3 years, $7 million)
Juan Gonzalez (2 years, $24 million)
Carl Everett (via trade, 2 years, $17.8 million)
Ismael Valdez (1 years, $2.5 million)
John Rocker (via trade, 1 year, $2.5 million)
Dave Burba (1 year, $2 million, released that July)
Herbert Perry (via trade, 1 year, $900,000)
Hideki Irabu (1 year, $550,000)
Dan Miceli (1 year, $1 million, released that May)
Rudy Seanez (1 year, $1 million)
Rich Rodriguez (via trade, 1 year $600,000)
Steve Woodward (1 year, $550,000)

Valdez pitched well, Perry had a career year filling in for the not-ready-for-prime-time Hank Blalock, Powell had his moments (in 2002, at least), and Everett hit well enough in 2003 to get a nice return via trade. The rest were a miasma of fleeting quasi-effectiveness, injuries, and despair.

If someone ever brings up the tired argument that Texas couldn’t afford any free agents because of Alex Rodriguez’s giant contract, the list above is your rejoinder. Texas acquired all these players the year after signing Rodriguez. It was this collection of contracts, not Rodriguez, that soured Texas on the free-agent process. Since 2002, I can find only one multi-year free-agent acquisition from another team, Kenny Rogers’s two-year deal for 2004-2005.

The 28-year-old Daniels becomes the youngest GM in MLB history.

Posted by Lucas at 11:45 PM

Alex Rodriguez and the “Code of Honor”

Originally published at the Batter's Box.

In L.A. Confidential, Captain Dudley Smith tells Sergeant Jack Vincennes, “I doubt you’ve ever taken a stupid breath.” Most of the time, Alex Rodriguez is like Vincennes, if far less interesting. A perfect corporate ballplayer, seemingly incapable of an extemporaneous word, definitely incapable of adding excitement to the fine array of electronics sold by Radio Shack.

But on occasion, Rodriguez takes a stupid breath. In 2004, Rodriguez offered his infamous “[me] and 24 kids” remark about the Rangers’ perpetual losing efforts. His comments were startlingly uncharacteristic and factually ignorant, as Texas had signed several other big-name, big dollar free agents during his three-year tenure. Alas, almost all of them were terrible, injury prone, or both.

Rodriguez took Breath Number Two yesterday. On the last day of the regular season, Texas gave Alfonso Soriano his first day off since mid-July. Buck Showalter then pulled Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock in the third inning after all three reached base. The Rangers played the rest of the game with Adrian Gonzalez at first, Esteban German at second, Mark DeRosa at short and Marshall McDougall at third. Texas entered the fourth inning leading 4-1, but Los Angeles immediately tied the game on a Juan Rivera three-run homer and scored singletons in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Meanwhile, Texas completed the last six innings with two singles and no walks. Final score: LA 7, Texas 4.

As a result, LA won home-field advantage over Rodriguez’s Yankees, who had lost 10-1 to Boston hours earlier. Informed of the Rangers’ roster shenanigans, Rodriguez provided these words of wisdom: "I just think there's a code of honor when so much is on the line. You hope people do the right thing but you can't control what people do."

Ah, sweet obliviousness. Let’s explore how the Yankees themselves responded to this “code of honor” thingy with so much on the line.

New York chose Jaret Wright to start the last game of the season against Boston’s Curt Schilling. Wright brought a 5.97 ERA into the game, and opposing batters were hitting .335 against him. In his previous start, Wright allowed seven runs (three earned) on six hits in just one inning. Before that, he allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in 2.1 innings. He has a career ERA of 5.17 in nine years of play. When Wright couldn’t get through the fourth inning, New York replaced him with Scott Proctor, who had a 5.52 ERA on the season (5.81 career) and had allowed a homer every six innings. He’d given up eleven runs in twelve innings in September. Proctor promptly surrendered a three-run bomb to Manny Ramirez. Boston led 6-0 after four and never looked back.

Watching the entertainment from the bench was a rested Mike Mussina, whom the Yankees were saving for the playoffs. Mussina has 224 career wins and career ERA of 3.64. He’s been rather average this season and missed a couple of weeks with a tender elbow, but no sentient creature would chose Wright over Mussina when “so much is on the line.”

Aggrieved parties only speak of “unwritten rules” and “codes of honor” when the results go against them. Ben Davis’s bunt to break up a Curt Schilling no hitter a few years ago provides another example of a code violation. If Hernandez doesn’t reach base, or if Texas holds on to win, nobody says a word or even remembers the violation the next day. Furthermore, accusations of rule-breaking don't exist when the act might help instead of harm. Rodriguez conspicuously neglected to mention that Los Angeles pulled Sunday starter Jarrod Washburn after only two innings and rested Vlad Guerrero on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

I eagerly await Alex Rodriguez’s next off-the-cuff remarks, which will take place during the All-Star Break in 2007.

Posted by Lucas at 07:39 AM