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February 28, 2009

Weekend Photo

Engel Beltre, 7 October 2007

Posted by Lucas at 11:08 AM

February 26, 2009

Rule 5 Eligibility List

Here. Also added to the list in yellow at right. It's a work in progress and reasonably accurate, but with 150+ names I'm sure there's some errors somewhere. Use with discretion.

Posted by Lucas at 07:30 PM

February 20, 2009

Weekend Photo

Elvis Andrus, Surprise, AZ, 5 October 2007

Posted by Lucas at 11:22 AM

February 18, 2009

Did Bradley Protect Hamilton?

Jamey Newberg says:

There’s probably a way to create splits that will show what Hamilton’s output was in the 114 games that Milton Bradley hit fourth, as opposed to the 48 games he didn’t.  I bet the disparity was significant. 

Quite so:

Category Hamilton batting 3rd, Bradley 4th Hamilton batting 3rd without Bradley or batting elsewhere
Appearances 497 207
AVG .317 .275
OBP .376 .357
SLG .550 .484
BB% 8.7% 10.1%
IBB% 0.8% 2.4%

The disparity is significant; however, it doesn't prove much by itself. Correlation isn't causation. For example, Hamilton hit .341 on contact and .350 on balls in play with Bradley behind him, versus .298 and .311 without. Did Bradley's absence cause Hamilton to hit more balls directly into fielder's gloves? Doubtful. Having Bradley batting 4th probably helped Hamilton some, but it doesn't fully explain the disparity in the table.

Posted by Lucas at 01:01 PM

February 15, 2009

The Rangers Are 197 Games Under .500...

...since they moved to Arlington.

Click the pic for a bigger version.

Posted by Lucas at 11:33 AM

February 13, 2009

Weekend Photo

Jack, 12 February 2009, 42 days after suffering a near-fatal seizure.

Posted by Lucas at 04:40 PM

February 10, 2009

Texas Rangers Prospects 37-45

In parentheses: position, age on 4/1/09, highest level achieved, Jamey’s ranking)

45. CHAD TRACY (1B/COF, 23.1, AA, Jamey’s #46) – After May 26, 2008, Chad Tracy sported a career line of .250/.316/.406 in 245 professional games. Texas undoubtedly hoped for more from its third-round pick in 2006. Tracy then cured whatever ailed him by hitting .328/.389/.556 over three months that included a promotion to AA. Having downshifted from catcher to outfield corner to first base (and frequent DH) over the past two seasons, he’ll go as far as his bat allows. Bound for: OKC lacks a 1B prospect, but Tracy might first have to augment his grand total of 24 games in AA.

44. BRENNAN GARR (RHP-reliever, 25.1, AA, Jamey’s #54) – Garr mows down hitters with a hard four-seamer; his 27% strikeout rate trailed only Warner Madrigal among Texas’s full-season relievers. He also walked more batters than the other players mentioned, including a startling 27% of lefties during his two terms in Frisco. Though he’s become much more fly-prone in AA, he remains extremely difficult to take deep. Garr missed several weeks with shoulder soreness and logged only 44 innings in 2008. Bound for: Texas signs a new pitcher every day, so Garr might have to bide his time in Frisco for a while longer. A good spring could land him in AAA.

43. ANDREW LAUGHTER (RHP-reliever, 24.1, AA, Jamey’s #47) – Laughter has climbed the ladder quickly after being drafted in the 10th round as a college senior in 2007. Possessing a slider and low 90s fastball that can reach a little higher on occasion, Laughter doesn’t fan batters like Garr or Beau Jones but has exhibited much better control to date and is uncommonly stingy with the long ball. Some rough late-season outings led to ugly ERAs of 4.80 in AA and 6.14 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. He’s better than that, and ERA doesn’t mean much for relievers anyway. Bound for: See Garr, Brennan.

42. JOAQUIN ARIAS (2B/SS, 24.5, MLB, Jamey’s #45) – Coming off 2007’s shoulder surgery, Arias actually spent more time at short than second in 2008. Further, over the course of 32 MLB games, Arias narrowly bested Michael Young in average, OBP and slugging. Texas isn’t moving Young to accommodate Arias, however. His throws lacked their former snap, and his offensive evolution remains frustratingly modest. Teams with Ian Kinsler and 12 pitchers don’t need a backup second baseman. Bound for: Texas’s bench or back to Oklahoma as the starting SS or 2B.

41. MANUEL PINA (C, 21.8, AA, Jamey’s #39) – I was flabbergasted when Texas assigned Pina to Bakersfield last April. He’d batted .228/.278/.285 as a 19-year-old in Clinton; surely he needed to repeat low-A. The Rangers thought otherwise, and Pina rewarded them with a line of .268/.318/.360 that included some time in AA. He reminds me a bit of Einar Diaz at the plate: his best skill is avoiding strikeouts, he doesn’t walk much, and his slugging is largely fueled by doubles. He’s got the tools defensively. More game-calling experience at the higher levels will help. Bound for: Frisco. I promise never to mention Diaz again.

40. BEAU JONES (LHP-reliever, 22.6, AA, Jamey’s #34) – Jones was hammered in his first taste of high-A while still a Brave. On his second try, he improved modestly as a starter in Bakersfield, but Texas decided his future was in relief. Baseball America rated his curve the best in Atlanta’s system in November 2005. Amusingly, in a March 2007 interview with Scout.com, Jones himself ranked his curveball behind his fastball and change. He’s never exhibited much control outside of low-A Rome in 2007. Like Garr and Laughter, he’s adept at preventing homers. Bound for: See Garr, Brennan.

39. KYLE OCAMPO (RHP-starter, 20.3, rookie, Jamey’s #51) – Texas signed 2007 13th-rounder Ocampo (not “O’Campo?) with third-round money at the very last second before he scampered off to Cal State Fullerton. Texas eased him into pro ball with an assignment to rookie league, where he fanned 26% of his opponents and didn’t permit too many walks or homers. Bound for: Spokane. I can’t find room for him in Hickory.

38. TOMAS TELIS (C, 17.8, DSL, Jamey’s #40) – Meet Texas’s top prospect lacking US experience. Telis displayed astounding bat control for a 17-year-old, drawing walks at a league-average rate and striking out only once per 16 appearances. He also handled defensive duties reasonably well for someone who converted from shortstop just a year ago. Bound for: Texas loves to push its catchers. Still, I can’t envision him at Hickory next April. Give low-A to the older Leonel de los Santos (or grizzled Doug Hogan) and place Telis in Spokane, where he’ll still rank among the league’s youngest.

37. JOHN BANNISTER (RHP-reliever, 25.2, AA, Jamey’s #35) – Undrafted. Signed over six years ago. Only 26 innings above A ball. Career ERA of 4.58. And now, a proud member of Texas’s 40-man roster. Upon return from Tommy John surgery, Bannister flailed as a starter and posted only ordinary statistics in relief. However, he gained velocity as the season progressed, routinely dealing in the mid 90s during a reasonably successful showing in the hitter-crazy Arizona Fall League. Bound for: AAA if Texas can find room for him. AA to begin the season, if not.

Posted by Lucas at 06:07 PM

February 09, 2009

PECOTA Update

Last week, I ran a quick and dirty prediction of Texas's record using Baseball Prospectus's first run of PECOTA. My take: 790 runs scored, 920 allowed, 69 wins.

BP published its own standings today. Its take: 812 runs scored, 923 allowed, 72 wins.

Only Seattle, Houston and Pittsburgh are projected to win fewer games. Save us, Andruw Jones!

Posted by Lucas at 01:10 PM

February 06, 2009

Texas Rangers Prospects 46-54

In parentheses: position, age on 4/1/09, highest level achieved, Jamey Newberg's ranking.

54. MATT THOMPSON (RHP-starter, 19.1, rookie, unranked by Jamey) – Texas’s 7th rounder from 2008 didn’t sign until late July and received a bonus worthy of a 2nd rounder. He then allowed 23 runs in 8.1 innings in rookie ball. No problem. Baseball America extolled his fastball, and folks who watched him at fall instructionals were duly impressed with his 6’ 3? frame and potential. He goes by “Matt,? but MLB Advanced Media calls him “William.? Bound for: Spokane.

53. GEURIS GRULLON (LHP-starter, 19.3, rookie, Jamey’s #44) – Grullon signed as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic but never pitched in the Dominican Summer League. Grullon achieved an insane 70% ground-ball rate last year and hasn’t allowed a homer to any of the 222 batters he’s faced professionally. His control is problematic, even relative to other teenagers, though he did cut his sum of hit batters and wild pitches from 22 to 7. Bound for: Probably Spokane.

52. LEONEL DE LOS SANTOS (C, 19.5, rookie, Jamey’s #58) – The Venezuelan already had a nickname after 2007 (“macumba?) but didn’t get a bio in last year’s media guide. Not this time. De los Santos batted .286/.338/.397 in August after scuffling in his first six weeks in rookie ball. He gunned down a solid 37% of opposing runners (league average was 29%) but also committed a league-high 11 errors among catchers. Bound for: There’s room for him at Hickory if Texas feels he can handle full-season ball at 19.

51. MIKE BALLARD (LHP-starter, 25.1, AAA, Jamey’s #49) – Not a hard thrower, Ballard defeats hitters with a looping curve and changeup. He relies on pinpoint control (career 6% walk rate) and plenty of grounders to succeed. His .366 BABIP in 2008 really isn’t a fluke. Ballard has always been hittable, especially against righties, and a eventual conversion to relief is highly probable. Bound for: The AAA rotation, initially.

50. JOSH LUEKE (RHP-reliever, 24.3, high-A, Jamey’s #63) – A right-handed high-A reliever with a 5.03 ERA, ranked 50th? Yep. The 6’5? Lueke fanned 27% of opposing hitters, trailing only Warner Madrigal and Brennan Garr among Texas’s full-season relievers (relative to their respective league averages). He also walked just 6% of opponents and surrendered a tolerable number of homers for the Cal League. The high ERA comes from a .360 average on balls in play against him, including an absurd .330 on grounders. Bound for: Frisco, preferably.

49. MIGUEL DE LOS SANTOS (LHP-starter, 20.7, rookie, Jamey’s #60) – Coming off elbow surgery in July 2007, de los Santos returned to lead the organization with a 36% strikeout rate in 35 rookie-league innings. He’s not a flamethrower, and (like many teens) his control is shaky. Texas has to make a decision on his 40-man roster status after 2010. Bound for: Texas could well decide he belongs in Hickory with the famed hurlers from Spokane’s ’07 club. He might pitch some long relief to limit his workload.

48. MATT WEST (3B, 20.4, short-A, Jamey’s #55) – Coming back from a suspension, West batted .258/.367/.358 in Spokane. That line doesn’t deserve an exclamation point, but consider that West was the 16th-youngest player in the league (as of mid-August) and faced a steady diet of former college juniors and seniors. Texas has never drafted a successful position player in the 2nd round (unless you want to count ’79 pick Donnie Scott’s four months as a regular catcher in 1984. And you don’t.) Bound for: Hickory.

47. JAKE BRIGHAM (RHP-starter, 21.1, short-A, Jamey’s #43) – The promising, unpolished Brigham lost 2008 to Tommy John surgery. In two seasons prior, he’d pitched effectively for the rookies and Spokane, albeit with bouts of wildness. Bound for: Brigham probably will spend some time in extended Spring Training. He could eventually see a combination of Spokane and Hickory.

46. TIM SMITH (COF, 22.8, low-A, Jamey’s #52) – After hitting a game-winning homer in the Midwest League All-Star game, Smith joked that “"they're going to expect me to start hitting home runs when I get back to Clinton.? The joke was on Smith, in a good way. After hitting two dingers in the season’s first half, he clubbed 11 in the second including seven in August. Smith already had a knack for running (21 steals) and contact (.300 average), so the power burst makes him a corner outfielder worth watching. Bound for: The Cal League, where we’ll see how his bat plays in a much more hitter-friendly environment.

Posted by Lucas at 05:39 PM

February 02, 2009

Ron Washington Perplexes Me Sometimes

Per the Dallas Morning News,

The reality is manager Ron Washington believes [Josh] Hamilton is better suited as the No. 3 hitter, batting behind Michael Young. It isn't that Washington doesn't believe Hamilton can handle the cleanup spot. He just thinks Hamilton can do even more damage hitting behind Young and Ian Kinsler.

Numerous studies have shown that batting order doesn’t matter much. Certainly, the difference between batting Hamilton third or fourth isn’t huge. That said, if I’m the manager, I agonize over those decisions, because it’s my job to gain every possible advantage, no matter how small. No problem there.

Here’s the problem:

"The No. 4 guys gets off-speed stuff," Washington said on Monday. "Look back and Milton handled more off-speed stuff than fastballs. Hamilton handled more fastballs than breaking balls because they didn't want to put Hamilton on base and let Milton hurt them."

This is not true! Proportion of fastballs seen, per Fangraphs:

Name
FB%
Frank Catalanotto 66.6%
Milton Bradley 65.9%
Ramon Vazquez 63.8%
Marlon Byrd 63.2%
Gerald Laird 62.2%
Brandon Boggs 61.2%
Michael Young 59.5%
David Murphy 57.7%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 57.4%
Ian Kinsler 57.2%
Christopher Davis 55.3%
Josh Hamilton 53.4%
Hank Blalock 53.2%

Among Rangers with at least 200 at-bats, Bradley saw a greater proportion of fastballs than anybody but Frank Catalanotto. Hamilton saw fewer fastballs than anybody but Hank Blalock. Based on Hamilton’s playing time, the difference between him and Bradley is 328 fastballs, about two per game. That’s significant.

Again, it doesn’t matter too much. But I’m not reassured that Washington might be making batting-order decisions based on beliefs that can be discredited with just a little internet sleuthing. This isn’t the first time that he’s bewildered me.

 

Posted by Lucas at 12:10 PM