Showing posts with label Texas Rangers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas Rangers. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What You Overlooked About the Texas Rangers

Coming into the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, the Texas Rangers were undersold. They were undersold because of their starting pitching. Their second- and third-best starting pitchers (C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis) are almost as good as the Yankees’ best starting pitcher (C.C. Sabathia), or at least they are in 2010. This should have been obvious to every avid baseball fan, at least, and we shouldn’t be surprised that the Rangers hold a 3-games-to-1 lead as I write this.

Let’s look at some numbers that tell us about underlying performance, shall we.

Here are the 2010 FIP’s (Fielding Independent Pitching on an ERA scale, from for Cliff Lee, Sabathia, Lewis and Wilson:

Lee: 2.58

Sabathia: 3.54

Lewis: 3.55

Wilson: 3.56

Lee’s FIP was the second-best in all of baseball. Clearly he’s the best starting pitcher we’ll see in this series. But it may come as a surprise that Sabathis, Lewis and Wilson were essentially equal at least in terms of FIP.

Here are their 2010 WAR’s (Wins Above Replacement, again from FanGraphs):

Lee: 7

Sabathia: 5.1

Wilson: 4.4

Lewis: 4.4

Sabathia has a bigger edge in WAR than in FIP but it’s still closer than most fans probably realize. The gap between Lee and Sabathia is greater than the gap between Sabathia, Wilson and Lee. Lee let major league pitchers in WAR, Sabathia was 13th and Wilson and Lewis were tied at 18th with Dan Haren. No other Yankees pitcher was in the top 35 while the Rangers had three pitchers in the top 18.

Here are their ERA+ (ERA adjusted for league and parks, this from

Lee: 130

Sabathia: 134

Wilson: 129

Lewis: 116

Things are a little more bunched up here. Sabathia looks better here than he does in the other statistics we’ve looked at, actually out-shining Lee. But this stat is based on ERA, and ERA is influenced by defense and luck. While ERA+ takes into account league and parks, it does not account for defense and luck. So it is not a great measure of the fundamental, underlying performance level of a pitcher; it’s much more results-based than performance-based.

Cliff Lee is obviously head-and-shoulders above any pitcher we’ve seen or will see in the ALCS and quite possibly in the playoffs. But the Rangers have two other starters that are almost as good as any starter their ALCS opponent has or will throw at them. Many probably overrated the bigger names of Sabathia and Pettite and overlooked the 2010 performances of CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis. But name recognition doesn’t always mean more talent, at least not current talent level.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Mark Prior Signs with Texas Rangers

This according to the latest Newberg Report:
According to at least one local report, the Rangers have signed righthander Mark Prior to a minor league contract for 2011. The 29-year-old ex-ace hasn’t pitched in a major or minor league game since 2006. He’d last suited up for the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.

The Rangers have announced that Prior will report to Oklahoma City, where he could pitch in relief right away. The RedHawks lead their division by two games with four to play.
I went to the official Orange County Flyers website to see how he had done in the GBL. Apparently he was appropriately overwhelming to the indie-league batters. He was working under former major league pitcher, Paul Abbott.
Prior worked with Abbott, an 11-year MLB veteran in his first year as Flyers manager, during his time with Orange County on developing the proper tools to come out of the bullpen. Last week, Prior pitched on back-to-back days for the first time in his professional career. On Tuesday, he threw a scoreless 8th inning for Orange County with two strikeouts against Na Koa Ikaika Maui, the team the Flyers will face in the first round of the playoffs starting next week. Prior signed with Orange County on August 3, throwing a 1-2-3 inning of relief in his Flyers debut against the Victoria Seals. He struck out five consecutive batters in his next outing. In his 11 innings of work, Prior allowed one unearned run on five hits with five walks and 22 strikeouts with opponents batting .143 against him.

“It’s a great day for Mark Prior, getting back into affiliated baseball,” said Abbott. “He came here to face competitive baseball and see if his arm would hold up, and he passed that initial test. Now he’s ready for the next step. He was a true professional while he was here. He was a Flyer, he was one of the guys, and he’s going to be missed.”
If he can stay healthy it looks like Mark prior may actually make a comeback. Good for him. This is someone fantasy owners should definitely keep an eye on.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jeff Francouer Traded to Texas Rangers

From The Newberg Report:
Texas has officially traded Joaquin Arias for Jeff Francouer, receiving cash in the deal from the Mets (reportedly so that Texas pays Francouer what it would have paid Arias the rest of the way), and have designated outfielder Brandon Boggs for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Francouer.

The Rangers have 10 days to trade Boggs, release him, or outright him to the minor leagues.

Joaquin Arias has some fantasy potential if he can find at-bats. He has the speed to steal 30 bases. He isn't likely to hit for much power but in a full season of at-bats he could hit 10 homers. He swings at too many pitches but he makes good contact on balls out of the strike zone. His defense at second base needs some work but he has the potential to be a good one. He turns 27-years old at the end of September, so he could still step it up a level or two.

If Jeff Francouer could just stop swinging at every pitch he sees he might be able to regain some of the potential he showed as a young Braves prospect. He has good power and speed, but his lack of discipline holds him back. The good news is the Rangers are one of the teams with the quality of coaching to get him turned in the right direction again. For now though, he should be avoided.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Cliff Lee Traded to the Texas Rangers

Cliff Lee has been traded within the American League but not to the New York Yankees as many were speculating. Instead, the Seattle Mariners have sent Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and cash to the Texas Rangers for first baseman Justin Smoak and prospect right-hander Blake Beavan, Frisco reliever Josh Lueke and second baseman-outfielder Matt Lawson.

Texas Stadium (or the Ballpark or whatever) is not an ideal place for any pitcher to call home. But Lee owners should not panic. Lee will be pitching in front of a solid defense team. Whatever he loses because of the park (not a lot I expect) should be more than compensated for in offensive support.

Smoak as a left-handed power hitter should be able to succeed in Seattle's pitching park. More on the prospects after I get to do a little research.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Around Baseball: News, Links, and Observations

Want a job working for a Major League Baseball team? Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus shares an attempt by a major League team to tap into the knowledge of baseball fans. You can win your chance by sending your answer to the following question (send it by November 9th, 2009) to just don't expect an answer unless you are in the running.
If you had access to all of the information available to a major league team - both public and proprietary data, such as scouting reports, training reports, video, etc - what question(s) would you attempt to answer with that data? How would you go about that process? What potential problems do you foresee?
David O'Brien runs the excellent Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Braves Blog. This is one of the better sources for information on the Braves and the thinking of their management team. In the post linked above, O'Brien discusses the Braves' priorities for the 2010 season. They have placed a right-handed power hitter at the top of their list of needs. Closely followed by re-signing Adam LaRoche (or another power-hitting first baseman). Interestingly, O'Brien seems to think the Braves could pry outfielder (and right-handed power hitter) Nelson Cruz away from the Texas Rangers and I think he may be right.
But anyway, Cruz is right-handed and hit .260 with 33 homers, 20 stolen bases and an .856 OPS in 128 games, and while his .931 OPS at hitter-friendly Arlington was a lot higher than his .778 on the road, he hit almot as many homers (15) on the road than at home (18) in virtually the same number of at-bats.
Nelson Cruz had a fantastic season in 2009 but found himself on the bench frequently in the second half. This is partly due to minor injuries and a few slumps but manager Ron Washington seemed to like his other options much better. The Rangers are very deep in the outfield. They have rookie Julio Borbon (who looked a lot like a junior version of Carl Crawford) projected as the 2010 center fielder. Josh Hamilton is moving to right field (he's still a stud in case you were wondering). That leaves left field open for one of Nelson Cruz; Marlon Byrd, who hit 20 home runs and who the Rangers want to re-sign; 0r lesser possibilities like David Murphy, Brandon Boggs, and Greg Golson.

The Nationals Farm Authority is repeating a rumor first tweeted by ESPN’s Jose Arangure which suggests that Jeff Zona, currently a Nats Cross Checker could be promoted to Director of International Scouting. Zona was a scout for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they finally broke The Curse. I have a good feeling about the direction of the Nationals. Since Mike Rizzo took over they've almost exactly what I would have wanted them to do. The Nats have a powerful lineup that should be even better in 2010. Their bullpen is beginning to look like a potential strength with Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Garrett Mock and Mike MacDougal forming the heart of it. They are quickly building a formidable farm system featuring players with true star potential such as Stephen Strasburg, Derek Norris, and Michael Burgess. I suggest that Fantasy Owners look very deeply at Mike Rizzo's moves this off-season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks completed the Jon Garland trade when the D'Backs accepted infielder Tony Abreu as the player to be named later. There has been some controversy over Abreu's service time but apparently not enough to force the Dodgers to change the compensation. Abreu is a strong contact hitter who does not draw many walks. He has good pop for a middle infielder and decent speed, but does not steal many bases. I think of Abreu as a Howie Kendrick-lite who could have some value in NL-only leagues in 2010, if he wins the starting job at second base. He will definitely be in the mix.

If you have ever found yourself bitching about the price of tickets to the best sporting events you needs to read Seats of Gold. Hell, even if you haven't the insanity that is the Legends Suite at the New Yankee Stadium is worth reading about. I'm pretty certain I won't ever be going to Yankee Stadium ever again. I want to, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do it.

In the downstairs half of the suite, there are all the same food stations -- plus dessert. Ice cream served in little blue Yankees helmets. Or maybe an entire pint for your seat. Pan-sautéed whoopie pies. I get three or four of those and take them to the bar, where I order a $60 glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label (food's free, booze isn't). A house ad airs on the television in front of me. Apparently, I can buy Kobe beef to take home from the stadium. Yes, there's a butcher here. And an art gallery. I can get sushi and lobster rolls and Scottish salmon in another nearby lounge, along with duck pasta. On the first- and third-base side of the room, hidden from common view behind home plate, sit gigantic tables covered with every snack imaginable. There's Cracker Jack and peanuts, Twizzlers and Twix, Skittles and Starburst, plus five or six other kinds of sugar-coated goodness.

I watch a kid, maybe 8 years old, stand in front of the spread. He's paralyzed. His dad is trying not to laugh, and the boy can't figure out what to take. He's never seen anything like this.

The dad finally laughs. "It's all included," he tells his son. "It's like Willy Wonka."

Welcome to the new America, kid. Too bad you can't save a bag of Skittles in your wallet for 50 years. Luckily, you'll never know what you're missing.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hamilton Scheduled For Surgery on Ab Tear

Bad news for Josh Hamilton owners, a group of which I am an enthusiastic member.

From the Newberg Report:

The Rangers have just announced that Josh Hamilton will have surgery tomorrow morning to repair his abdominal tear and is expected to miss another four-to-six weeks before a return to the big league squad.
In many leagues Hamilton owners will be just plain screwed. In my AL-only league I am seriously considering trading my nicely priced Hamilton to a re-building team if I can get equal value. But I won't sell Hamilton low. I still believe in his potential. When healthy he should be among the best players in the American League. I've been in contention this long without him I won't panic now.

UPDATE: Now it appears that the Rangers will be without the rapidly improving Brandon McCarthy as well.
Sigh. Per local reports, pitcher Brandon McCarthy has a stress fracture in his right shoulder and won't touch a ball for several weeks. Tomorrow's starter is expected to be Doug Mathis.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Josh Hamilton Could Miss Two Months

Josh Hamilton's abdominal/groin injury has finally landed him on the disabled list. He underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday but the results have not been conclusive. He either has an abdominal strain which will cost him about three or four weeks on the disabled list, or he has the far more serious Sports Hernia which could cost him two months or more. Sports Hernia specialist, Dr. John Preskitt has prescribed two weeks of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. After two weeks he would probably receive another MRI and a decision would be made on whether surgery will be required.

Who knows if this was caused at least in part by the rib cage injury that caused him to miss several games. It seems like an awful big coincidence if it isn't. I am assuming that the series of injuries is responsible for his mostly mediocre performance this season. I know a lot of owners were counting on a worthy sequel to his 2008 attention grabber. The best case scenario is that this is just a mild strain and two weeks of rest and the right drugs is going to be enough. The worst case scenario would involve surgery with an 8-10 week rehab. If surgery is required Hamilton could be out until mid-August.

Hamilton owners would be wise to wait this out before entering panic mode. It is still possible that this is just a strain and Hamilton will be fine in just a couple of weeks. I am being optimistic for now. But I would not fault an owner that sold low on Hamilton during this uncertain period. In fact, trading Hamilton to a re-building owner may be the best course of action if you can get a suitable return. However, I plan to wait it out and hope for the best. I own Hamilton at a cheaper price in my primary AL-only and I think my offense would survive the extended loss.

The Rangers have called up outfielder Brandon Boggs to take Hamilton's spot on the major league roster. But I would not expect many at-bats for Boggs. Andruw Jones and Marlon Byrd are likely to get the biggest boosts to their playing time. In shallower leagues where Jones and Byrd are still available, they make excellent pick-ups. In deeper leagues you may need to settle for Boggs or make a deal for a replacement. I wish you all luck, I know I'll need it myself.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sleeper Alert: David Murphy

David Murphy is expected to open the 2009 season as the starting left fielder for the Texas Rangers. Yet in AL-only leagues he has an ADP of just 209.69 behind odd choices such as Andruw Jones, George Kottaras, Daric Barton, and Melky Cabrera. The Rangers expect Murphy to set a career high in at-bats as Club President Nolan Ryan thinks he should be left in the lineup everyday to achieve his full potential. What is that potential?

Murphy should draw more walks and his plate discipline still has room for growth. However, he is a good contact hitter with plenty of power. He hits too many groundballs which limits his homerun potential to about 25 in a full season (without a major adjustment). He should hit for a solid average in the .280-.290 range. Murphy will bat in the middle of a loaded lineup which boads well for his Runs and RBI potential.

At his present draft position Murphy makes a great bargain selection in the later rounds of AL-only and even deeper mixed league drafts.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Importance of Defense in a Fantasy Baseball Context

If I preach about anything on this blog one of them is putting things into the proper context. David Golebiewski at has posted a terrific series of articles that examine how the defense of the Texas Rangers and the improvement of Edwin Jackson, and also the new and improving defense of the Seattle Mariners fit into fantasy baseball context. This is great stuff that you should read.

Rangeless Rangers Compound Pitching Problems

So, the vast majority of Texas’ starters were crappy, regardless of dimensions of their home ballpark. That’s not breaking news. However, the Rangers’ fielders did those starters no favors in 2008. While Texas featured some heavy hitters, several prominent players were lethargic with the leather.

David Appelman recently added yet another great feature to this site: Ultimate Zone Rating. Using a fielding model developed by Mitchel Lichtman, UZR allows us to calculate how many runs above or below average a fielder is per 150 games played (for further details and discussion, look here). Perusing the Texas team page, it becomes apparent that while the Rangers’ offense is strong up the middle, some of those runs are punted back on defense (and, in Young’s case, on offense as well):

CF Hamilton: -12.6 UZR/150
2B Kinsler: -4.4 UZR/150
SS Young: -3.7 UZR/150

This is especially significant with all of the young and extremely talented pitching about to come out of the texas Rangers minor league system. It also helps to explain why so many pitchers fail in Texas only to make dramatic improvements elsewhere. The Park Factors and Bad Defense combine tocreate a worst-case scenario for pitchers in Texas.
Trade Fallout: Jackson Jumps to Motown
In 2007, Jackson posted a 4.90 FIP. In 2008, despite the huge difference in ERA, that FIP figure remained static (4.88 FIP). While he knocked off over a walk per nine innings from his line (from 4.92 BB/9 in ‘07 to 3.78 BB/9 in ‘08), his strikeout rate dipped considerably, down from 7.16 per nine in 2007 to just 5.3 in 2008.

It wasn’t really Jackson that improved, but rather the defense around him. The dramatic shift in the quality of Tampa’s D has been well chronicled. After posting a gruesome -54.2 UZR in 2007, the Rays skyrocketed to +70.6 in ‘08 (for those of you scoring at home, that’s about a twelve-and-a-half win swing). Jackson’s BABIP was .351 in 2007, but with the best defensive squad in the majors flanking him in 2008, that number dropped to .301. He also benefitted from stranding 76.1% of runners on base, well above his 69.7% career average.

This makes the Tigers acquisition of Jackson even more interesting. The Tigers have improved their defense this offseason but is it enough to allow Jackson to stay at the level he reached last year? If it is and Jackson can increase his strikeout rate and maintain or even improve his BB/9 from last season we could be looking at a real breakout.
Meet the Mariners’ New Outfield D
As a whole, the M’s outfield was -25.5 runs below average by UZR and -15.2 runs by the Plus/Minus system (the big difference in RF is due to Dewan’s system liking Ichiro’s work there and UZR rating it as slightly below average).

Now, take a gander at the new-look Seattle D. For the sake of making this comparison easier, let’s assume that:
1. Chavez, Gutierrez and Suzuki all make 150 starts and play 1350 innings apiece.
2. The fielding metrics compiled by Gutierrez are docked 15% (it’s far from perfect, but it’s an attempt to account for the added difficulty of playing center), and Chavez and Suzuki play to the levels that they have shown in the corner spots during their respective careers. For Chavez, I added his equally stellar work in RF to his projection to make the sample size larger (the majority of his career has been spent in center).

LF Chavez: 20.3 UZR/150
CF Gutierrez: 18.3 UZR/150
RF Suzuki: 7.3 UZR/150

If this trio plays 150 games, they project to be nearly 46 runs above average with the leather. Compare that with the embarrassing work done by last year’s Ibanez-fueled, molasses-covered group: if the M’s get league-average defense from their extra outfielders (filling out the additional 12 game gap), that’s a swing of over 70 runs in outfield defense, or seven wins (!)

An improved defense as well as an improved offense means good things are in store for the Seattle Mariners pitching staff. I'm especially intrigued with the improvement that is possible for Felix Hernandez.
Read All of The Above Articles - what I've sampled for you is just that.

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