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August 25, 2007

Weekend Photo


Rangers Ballpark In Arlington, 10 August 2007

Posted by Lucas at 01:53 AM

August 23, 2007

Wheeeeeeeee!

Posted by Lucas at 12:52 AM

Not me, not me, not me


Link

Posted by Lucas at 12:50 AM

August 17, 2007

AL West Statistical Review

OFFENSE
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Runs Scored/game
4.82
5.04
4.47
4.92
Park-Adj. League RS/Game
4.95
4.93
4.54
4.70
RS+
97
102
98
105
 
AVG
.258
.283
.252
.283
AVG+
96
103
96
107
OBP
.323
.342
.334
.337
OBP+
96
100
101
101
SLUG
.419
.414
.401
.419
SLUG+
99
98
99
102
Team OPS
.742
.756
.735
.756
Team OPS+
95
98
101
103
 
HR Rate
2.8%
1.9%
2.7%
2.5%
HRrate+
108
80
115
98
BB Rate
8%
8%
10%
7%
BBrate+
97
93
120
74
SO Rate
20%
14%
17%
14%
SOrate+
83
121
103
115
Steals / Caught
67 / 17
112 / 41
45 / 16
64 / 21

The Rangers rank only 6th in homers, but a less hitter-friendly park means they're still above average in that regard. As has often been the case in recent years, Texas doesn't reach base at an adequate rate. Contrary to popular opinioin, the concept of Texas's terrifying offense died with the departure of Alex Rodriguez. If anything, the '07 version is the blander brother of '04 and '05, when Texas augmented its deficient OBP with huge homer totals.

Only Tampa Bay and Cleveland strike out more often than Texas.

PITCHING
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Runs Allowed/Game
5.33
4.38
4.31
4.87
Park-Adj. League RA/Game
4.95
4.93
4.54
4.70
RA+
93
115
104
101
 
ERA
4.90
4.07
3.93
4.61
Park-Adj. League ERA/Game
4.53
4.51
4.16
4.30
ERA+
92
111
106
93
Unearned Runs Allowed
63
45
49
39
 
Opp. AVG
.276
.263
.254
.277
Opp. OBP
.357
.325
.320
.344
Opp. OBP+
107
96
98
103
Opp. SLUG
.428
.407
.383
.422
Opp. SLUG+
102
97
95
103
Opp. OPS
.785
.732
.703
.766
Oppo. OPS+
109
93
93
107
 
HR Rate
2.4%
2.5%
2.0%
2.2%
HRrate+
104
112
138
118
BB Rate
10%
8%
9%
9%
BBrate+
79
118
109
101
SO Rate
14%
16%
15%
14%
SOrate+
91
115
105
96
Opp. Steals / Caught
67 / 36
80 / 21
89 / 23
57 / 24

Texas ranks last in walks allowed and 10th in strikeouts. The oppoing OPS+ of 109 is 13th in the AL, ahead of only Tampa Bay's crime against humanity (123 OPS+, .293/.363/.470).

ROTATION / BULLPEN
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Rotation IP/G
5.19
6.10
6.03
5.81
Rotation ERA
5.84
4.13
3.90
5.03
Park-Adj. League Rotation ERA
4.67
4.65
4.29
4.44
Rotation ERA+
80
113
110
88
 
Bullpen ERA
3.56
3.93
4.00
3.83
Park-Adj. League Bullpen ERA
4.24
4.23
3.90
4.03
Bullpen ERA+
119
108
97
105

Good bullpen, terrible rotation, forever and ever, amen. Tampa Bay's bullpen has a 6.52 ERA and a 65 ERA+.

PERIPHERALS
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Runs per game
4.82
5.04
4.47
4.92
Expected RS/game
4.72
4.94
4.70
4.89
"Luck" per game
0.10
0.10
(0.23)
0.03
"Lucky" runs scored
12
12
(29)
4
 
Runs/G
5.33
4.38
4.31
4.87
Projected Runs / G
5.31
4.63
4.31
5.04
Luck per game
0.02
(0.25)
0.00
(0.17)
"Lucky" runs prevented
(2)
29
(0)
20
 
Total Luck
10
41
(29)
23

The Angels are always lucky. Bastards.

STANDINGS
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Actual Wins
53
70
60
66
Pythagorean Wins
54
68
63
60
Peripheral Wins
53
63
66
57

After two months in which Texas appeared to have a better team than its actual record indicated, the Rangers' 53-67 mark now presents a depressingly accurate measure of quality. I did a double-take at the peripheral records of Oakland and LA, but Baseball Prospectus has them in the same order, albeit at 65 and 64 wins, respectively.

PARKS
TEXAS
LA ANGELS
OAKLAND
SEATTLE
Park Factor (OPS)
1.00
1.02
0.94
0.97
Park Factor (Runs)
1.02
1.01
0.93
0.97

Unseasonably cool weather and plain old luck have made The Ballpark less inclined to destroy pitchers lately. Traditionally pitcher-friendly-to-neutral Anaheim has moved the opposite way.

Posted by Lucas at 03:26 PM

Weekend Photo


Moving from previous residence, February 2006. Just in case I get the urge to move again, this picture should quell it.

Posted by Lucas at 03:22 PM

Arlington > Houston

Drafts picks signed in the first four rounds:

Texas Houston
P Blake Beavan
P Michael Main
OF Julio Borbon
P Tommy Hunter
P Neil Ramirez
SS Matt West
P Evan Reed
-

Posted by Lucas at 11:57 AM

August 16, 2007

Updates

40-man, org chart and draft list updated.

Posted by Lucas at 01:57 PM

August 15, 2007

McCarthy Out, Padilla Back

Texas activated pitcher VICENTE PADILLA from the 15-day Disabled List and placed pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY on the same.

Apparently, McCarthy’s been battling pain for almost three months, but the injury, a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade, wasn’t discovered until Tuesday. Originally presumed to be a season-ending, he might miss only a couple of weeks and make a small handful of September starts.

Padilla was uniformly dreadful in his rehab outings but pitched well against Kansas City. Go figure.

Posted by Lucas at 11:56 PM

August 11, 2007

Weekend Photo


Rusty Greer, Geno Petralli, and Dave Hostetler (at first), Rangers Alumni Game, 10 August 2007

Posted by Lucas at 07:29 PM

August 04, 2007

Other Transactions

Texas recalled reliever A.J. MURRAY from AAA Oklahoma and designated infielder DESI RELAFORD for assignment.

Texas recalled outfielder JASON BOTTS and reliever WES LITTLETON from AAA Oklahoma and optioned 3B TRAVIS METCALF and reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

I’m not especially optimistic that Jason Botts will succeed in the Majors *, but he most definitely deserves an opportunity. If he fails, so be it. Better to find out now than wait until next March and have his future decided by 60 at-bats against a grab-bag of pitchers loosening their arms.

* Not to say I’m pessimistic, either. Somewhere in between.

Posted by Lucas at 11:17 AM

Thoughts On The Gagne Trade

Texas traded reliever ERIC GAGNE to Boston for pitcher KASON GABBARD, outfielder DAVID MURPHY, and outfielder ENGEL BELTRE.

Pretend that Texas led the AL West in late July and needed an ace reliever for the stretch run. Also pretend that Texas had a surfeit of starting pitching (use all your imagination). If Texas traded Kam Loe, Kevin Mahar, and Cristian Santana for Eric Gagne, how would you feel? (Maybe not a great comparison – Texas really doesn’t have an analog for Beltre -- but I think I’m in range. Your mileage may vary.) I’d miss Loe a bit, and I’d worry about Santana. But on the whole, I’d be happy with the GM.

As a fan on the receiving end of the prospects, I’m a bit underwhelmed. No, Gagne couldn’t hope to bring Teixeira’s bounty, but even if the Red Sox collapse, what are the odds that they miss any of these players?

Gabbard’s a ground-ball specialist and a lefty, two prized attributes in Arlington, but his 3.65 ERA in 67 Major-League innings rests on an unsustainable .265 BABIP. Indeed, his brief MLB career contradicts his run through the minors, which has consisted mostly of harsh beatings whenever he advanced a level followed by eventual, moderate success. He’s also already undergone four elbow surgeries. I worry that he’ll eventually reside in that Tweener Zone occupied by Mike Wood, John Rheinecker, John Koronka, and the like.

Maybe Gabbard evolves into a decent #4 starter. I hope so. Regardless, this statement…

Gabbard, who has a 1.12 WHIP and has held opponents to a .196 batting average this season, immediately becomes the Rangers' best young starting pitcher. Put him at the front of a line that includes Kam Loe, Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley.

…tells you all you need to know about the Dallas Morning News’s Tim MacMahon.

Outfielder David Murphy has yet to justify his 17th-overall selection in the 2003 draft. Murphy spent three years at Baylor, has never been young for his level, and has a career minor-league line of .273/.343/.407. He’s never slugged better than .447 or achieved 15 homers in a season. His OBP, while acceptable, won’t mitigate the lack of power. He appears to add a fourth outfielder to an organization already swimming in them.

The wild card, very wild, is Beltre, a 17-year-old outfielder fresh out of the Dominican Republic. Beltre received the tenth-highest International signing bonus in 2006 ($75,000 above Texas’s Emmanuel Solis) and is among the most highly regarded of that class. Baseball America described him as “loaded with tools? and possessing a “huge ceiling? but also “raw? and “years away from the Majors.? An 0-13 skid dropped him to .208/.310/.400 in the Gulf Coast League. To the tiny extent that rookie-level stats have meaning, he’s shown good power (five homers in 137 appearances), adequate patience (8% walk rate) and a scarifying strikeout rate (30%). Beltre’s the one to watch in this deal.

Finally, I’m astonished that the Yankees didn’t top Boston’s offer.

Posted by Lucas at 11:11 AM

Thoughts on the Teixeira Trade

Texas traded 1B MARK TEIXEIRA and reliever RON MAHAY to Atlanta for catcher JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA, shortstop ELVIS ANDRUS, pitcher MATT HARRISON, pitcher BEAU JONES, and pitcher NEFTALI FELIZ.

When I met Jamey Newberg last February, our conversation quickly turned to Teixeira’s future with Texas. What I said at the time (and should have blogged) was: “Mark Teixeira is a Ranger for only one reason: because Texas drafted him and paid up.

He would never have played in Arlington of his own volition, he played with Texas solely because of contractual obligation, and he would depart the moment that obligation ended. Nothing could keep him in Arlington. Teixeira was nothing if not honest; he made a few untactful statements, but he certainly never led fans on. Even dating back to the draft, Teixeira’s commentary on contracts and his future in Texas never veered beyond cold and businesslike.

I don’t say that with bitterness. As with any professional in any field, he wanted to make the most money in an optimal work environment. Texas apparently offered him a bank-breaking contract, but he still would have walked. Again, I’m not bitter, but it’s disappointing to know a great player disdains your favored team. Since Texas has finished above .500 and seriously contended for a division title only once during his five seasons, I can’t say I blame him.

Anyway, the Rangers traded Teixeira amidst many largely true stories of teams skittish about trading prospects, and many largely asinine columns suggesting that Jon Daniels was asking for too much and should just be a polite boy and accept a “reasonable” offer as quickly as possible. Instead, he waited and was paid off. This was a fine trade, albeit loaded with high-risk players. The return:

Player
Pos
Age
Ht
Wt
Draft
(Round - Overall - Year)
Highest Level
Pre-Season Top 10 Prospect List for Atlanta
(National Rank in Parentheses)
Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
John Sickels
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
C
22
6-4
195
1a - 36 - 2003
MLB
1 (36)
1 (51)
3
Matt Harrison
LHP
21
6-5
205
3 - 97 - 2003
AA
2 (90)
2 (79)
4
Elvis Andrus
SS
19
6-0
185
undrafted (Venezuela)
high A
3 (65)
5
2
Neftali Feliz
RHP
19
6-3
180
undrafted (Dom. Rep.)
short A
--
3 (98)
--
Beau Jones
LHP
20
6-1
195
1a - 41 - 2005
high A
--
--
--

Saltalamacchia could become an elite offensive catcher. In March of 2006, Atlanta GM John Schuerholz had no intention of moving him to first: “He's too good a catching prospect to do that now. We like him where he is. He's getting better and better behind the plate.” In 2007, with Brian McCann firmly entrenched and paid to catch, Atlanta relented and used him as a 1B/PH in addition to a backup/injury replacement for McCann. That, and his early use in Texas, shows how highly he’s regarded. He’s a catcher with a bat that demands placement in the lineup on non-catching days.

The question is, can he stay behind the plate? Reviews of his fielding and game-calling potential are mixed, but the consensus is that his offense will have to compensate for his defense. Playing at first would significantly depress his value as a hitter (the average AL 1B has a 96-point OPS advantage on the average catcher). It’s not a measure of overall quality, but for what it’s worth, Saltalamacchia erased 38% of potential basestealers in AA this season compared to a league average of 32%. In the Majors, he nabbed only five of 26 (19%). Of course, where he ends up depends not just on him but on upcoming prospects and potential free-agent signings.

Harrison is a big, 6-5 lefty reputed to have a plus sinking fastball, curve and change, but he’s not striking out as many batters as I’d expect. In 194 AA innings split over the last two years, he has a bland 17% K rate. On the other hand, he also has an excellent 6.5% walk rate and has kept the ball in the park. Depending on who you believe, his upside ranges between a #2 and #4 starter (I’m leaning #4 at this point). On the downside, he looks like he just walked in on his parents while they were in the act.

Regarding Andrus, I’ll just repeat what I wrote for the Newberg Report on Tuesday:

I mentioned yesterday that John Whittleman would be the third-youngest position player in the Cal League. Make that fourth:

  • Carlos Triunfel – 17 years, 6 months
  • Elvis Andrus – 18 years, 11 months
  • Ivan De Jesus – 20 years, 2 months
  • John Whittleman – 20 years, 5 months

Craig Gentry represents the league average of 23 years and 8 months.

Statistically this season, Andrus has resembled Marcus Lemon but with more success on the bases and a bit more power. Lemon is batting .261/.349/.337 with no homers, 11 steals and 11 caught for low-A Clinton, while Andrus was .244/.330/.335 with three homers, 25 bases stolen and seven caught for high-A Myrtle Beach. Andrus is two months younger than Lemon.

Myrtle Beach is a pitcher-friendly locale in a pitcher-friendly league. Hitting for average is especially difficult there this year, so Bakersfield will present a startlingly different environment. Andrus hit .184/.272/.246 at home, a line that no park factor can mitigate, but a solid .296/.379/.413 on the road. Andrus also has yet to discern righties. In two years of full-season play he’s batting .221/.295/.303 against them. He’s improved his success rate at stealing bases from 61% to 78% over the past year.

I’ve seen comparisons to Joaquin Arias, and they hold some truth. Both are shortstops, young at every level at which they’ve played, athletic but unpolished, and not yet possessed of an impressive statistical resume. The problem is, given Arias’s current predicament, any comparison to him contains a hint of skepticism or even derision. Here’s one big difference: both Andrus and Arias have just over 100 minor-league walks, but Andrus achieved his in one-half as many plate appearances.

Feliz is a 19-year-old with a fastball that can reach 96-98. In 55 innings split between rookie ball and the Appalachian League (which falls between rookie-level Arizona and short-season Spokane in terms of quality), Feliz has fanned 31% of opposing batters. He’s also walked almost 13%, not a quality number, to be sure, but not indicative of someone utterly bereft of control, either. This isn’t Jason Neighborgall. With few hits and no homers allowed to this point, opponents don’t have much hope unless they’re patient. His career splits:

Versus lefties -- .155/.300/.207
Versus righties -- .199/.272/.265

Feliz is raw, raw, raw. He’ll have several years to refine his control and develop his offspeed pitches. Conversion to relief is a strong possibility.

Beau Jones’s stock has fallen slightly since being chosen 41st overall in 2005 and ranking as Atlanta’s 10th-best prospect entering ’06. He spent that year in low-A Rome as a 19-year-old. He struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings, but the K/9 stat deceives. Jones allowed so many hits and walks (83 in 110 IP) that his strikeout rate was only 19%, not bad but too low to really impress. Sent back to Rome as a reliever this season, he’s fared much better, cutting his walk rate down to a sterling 6.5% and upping his K rate to about 23%. On the other hand, a two week stay in high-A Myrtle Beach proved disastrous (15.26 ERA, 14 walks and three strikeouts in 7.2 innings). Jones has a mean, if erratic, curve, and a fastball that normally runs in the low 90s.

As for Ron Mahay, Texas successfully converted a former minor-league free agent with only two months left on his contract into a useful trading chip. Good show.

Posted by Lucas at 11:03 AM

Weekend Photo


East of Poipu, Kauai, 6 December 2004

Posted by Lucas at 10:11 AM

August 01, 2007

Updated Newberg Report Graphic

Posted by Lucas at 07:07 PM

40-Man and Organizational Depth Chart Updated

Texas now has only three potential free agents: Jerry Hairston, Sammy Sosa and Brad Wilkerson.

Posted by Lucas at 06:37 PM

Still Alive

Work work work.

Trade thoughts coming soon.

Posted by Lucas at 09:08 AM