March 7th, 2013
We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal. Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts. The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.
While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).
As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native. I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.
It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter). If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him. He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate. And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.
The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R). Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.
Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love – (Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans). Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down. More interesting stuff to chew on.
Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches – Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.
Rapid Reaction from Texas win – Ron Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.
Robbie Ross continues to impress – With Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.
Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faith – Given the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.
Derek Lowe gives club versatility – Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.
Astros should woo Nolan Ryan – ESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.
Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudges – Some interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.
Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only) – Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.
Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotation – T.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.
Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertainty – Sullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.
Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineup – Sullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).