Saturday, May 30, 2009

Alejandro's Whole Dirt Catalog

Alejandro ascends from the shoulders of the always under construction I-30 to ponder the fact that the Rangers will still be leading the AL West on June 1st.

The Oracle of the Chat Room: When asked if the Baltimore trade for Adam Jones from Seattle (for the disappointing Erik Bedard) was the best trade of the last ten years - Baseball America’s Jim Callis responded “Check out the Mark Teixeira trade to the Braves.”

The words of the prophets are written on the subways walls: Because they certainly aren’t written by the genius number crunchers at Baseball Prospectus who picked the Rangers remain in the cellar this season. Not saying that it still couldn’t happen but it’s kind of satisfying to chide those who depend solely on numbers with the reality of performance on the field.

The numbers that are worth counting: Did you know hat five of the Rangers eight regular starters are in the top ten of fielding percentage for their positions in the AL?

Chris Davis – tied for 1st at 1.000
Ian Kinsler – 5th place at .988
Elvis Andrus – 9th place at .967
Michael Young – 3rd place at .967
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – tied for 4th at .995

Meanwhile the Rangers are 4th in AL Fielding with a .987 FP and have the 5th fewest errors at 24

“But how many of you that sit and judge me have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?”: The Rangers High A Ball affiliate located Bakersfield has it’s share of …um…challenges with that team ownership. Add this one, as noted by ever entertaining Scott Lucas: “In the 7th, Stockton’s radio announcer mentioned that impending rain could be problematic because Bakersfield doesn’t own a tarp.”

One more number that counts: Rangers RHP Kevin Millwood ERA of 3.25 put him in the top 10 in AL ERA ( 8th place)

Birthdays: Currently unemployed former Ranger OF Kenny Lofton turns 42, currently employed Rangers Director of Player Development Scott Servais is also turning 42 this week. Cub RHP Carlos Zambrano will celebrate his 28th birthday serving a 6 game suspension for his antics last week. Ewart Gladstone Walker who had a short career as a pitcher with Washington from 1909-1912 was born this week in 1887 – you are probably more familiar with two of his sons who were also baseball players: Harry “The Hat” Walker and “The People’s Choice” Dixie Walker. Is Travis Hafner really 32 years old this week? Is Einar Diaz's hair still on fire? The other Hall of Famer born on June 5th 1874 is “Happy” Jack Chesbro. And Stepfather Extraordinaire Neil F. Gibson, Jr is 73 and appropriately attending the Ranger – A’s game Sunday afternoon courtesy of a grateful stepdaughter.

Last Call: From mentor and friend T.R. Sullivan’s article on Chris Davis’s current woes at the plate:

"So what does Davis need?

'A hug,' he said."

Marla Hooch has volunteered to help out with that.

Usted no está envejeciendo, que son cada vez major -- Alejandro


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Never Forget

There were two articles on the CNN website that struck me this past week.

The first was an article about Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that included this quote:

"Since the hour I was sworn in as secretary of defense, 1,327 American men and women in uniform have been killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan; 10,443 have been wounded. Each of them is in my thoughts and prayers every day"

The other was about Section 60 at Arlington Cemetery.

Monday is a solemn holiday that, unfortunately, too many don't remember or bother to acknowledge.

I know fans are very excited about the Rangers/Yankees series, especially the game on Monday afternoon. But let's not forget the ultimate sacrifice made by men and women thoughout U.S. history that is the reason most of us have the day off to watch baseball on Monday.

Taps (Traditional)

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the hills
From the lakes
From the skies
All is well
Safely rest
God is nigh

Go to sleep
Peaceful sleep
May the soldier or sailor
God keep
On the land or the deep
Safe in sleep

-- Marla Hooch

Baseball Content: It's Not A Marathon, It's A Roller Coaster

The sports cliche is that every season "is not a sprint, it's a marathon". I don't think that describes the 2009 Texas Rangers - this season has been and seems that it will continue to be a roller coaster ride. Careening between the highs - sweeping the Angels - the lows being swept by the Tigers - back up again - sweeping the Astro's leaving us all a little worn out in the process. My guess is that nothing is going level out during the upcoming homestand. The Yankees have had a pretty impressive string of victories the past two weeks, which will certainly be another test for this Ranger team, meanwhile the A's are struggling - Texas has the opportunity to take advantage of that - let's see if they can. Meanwhile: fasten your safety belt, and take a dose of Dramamine, the next ride is about to begin.

The Coors Field of the AL East? Pundits love to call the Ballpark in Arlington a "launching pad" - rightfully so in the past. However, has anyone noticed the offensive explosions that have taken place at the new Yankee Stadium? Take a look at these stats:
  • 22 games at new Yankee Stadium: 86 Home Runs - with an overall .278 BA for games played at the stadium.
Compare that to the Ballpark in Arlington:
  • 20 games: 60 Home Runs - with an overall .283 BA for games played at the stadium.
That's barely a .005 difference in BA, but a whopping 26 HR difference, but I haven't read much about the Yankee Stadium launching pad.

More numbers: These are the kind of numbers I love reading:
  • Pitching: the Rangers are #8 in the AL - with a 4.52 ERA (by the way that's slightly better than the league average 4.58 ERA) .

  • Defense: the Rangers are #3 in AL Fielding Percentage at .986 and tied for 4th place for fewest errors with 22.
Why is everyone surprised? There's been much bandwith filled with laments and ruminations on Chris Davis's strikeouts. I hate to tell you folks - this is not news. Anyone who watched Chris in the minor leagues knew that he had a high K rate (288 in 1,045 minor league AB's). But he's also never hit less than 20 HR's in a full minor league season (and had 15 HR's at Short-Season Spokane in 2006). I keep reading all kinds of praise (especially from revisionist Ranger fans) for former Ranger prospect Carlos Pena who has a ML career BA of just .251 but has also hit 178 HR's in 2,821 AB's during his major league career. So, what is the difference? Davis is a power threat (like Pena) hasn't hit for average, so far (like Pena) and I daresay plays as well defensively as Pena. Yes, Chris does need to take a few more walks, but he's still on the learning curve folks - he's 23 years old and hasn't even had a full season worth of AB's which is about 575-600 - Davis has 483 over two seasons. Just like Chris, we need to show a little patience.

Am I surprised? Derek Holland: "Good things happen, bad things happen" (see blog entry of April 19) Brandon McCarthy: my impulse is to invoke that lovely Texas colloquialism about a blind squirrel, however, I'm going to show some restraint. Nice game on Sunday, let's see some more of that before I change my mind.

Minor Details: Our pal Blake Beaven had one bad start on May 2nd - but since then has been performing well in the hitter happy California League (29 IP - 2.17 ERA) ... another of our favorites OF Steve Murphy has finally been promoted to OKC - giving us a reason for a drive up I-35 very soon...I've seen Pedro Stop pitch a couple of times, his stuff is impressive, but unfortunately like Nuke LaLoosh - he has no idea where it is going, or least that's what I've seen which makes me wonder why some thought he might make the Rangers bullpen out of Spring Training - right now he can barely get AA hitters out...has anyone noticed LHP Yoo-Hee Nam's 30 K's in 28 1/3 IP? And the consistency too (0.96 ERA in April, and 0.95 ERA in May).

Finally: I don't have a particularly good feeling about the Yankee/Rangers series, surprisingly because of the Rangers offense - it's been inconsistent over the past week - and I do believe the Yankees pitchers are slightly better (tongue in cheek) than the Astro's - if the Rangers can win 1 out of 3 I'll be satisfied. On the other hand I'm very hopeful about the four games with the A's - their offense has been anemic of late and they just aren't playing all that well right now - they are dead last in the AL with a .242 team BA and are 8-15 for the month of May. I'll go out on a limb and say the Rangers sweep the A's.

With fond memories of those roller coaster rides at Cedar Point -- Marla Hooch