The 10 best ways to keep up on the Rangers and the farm system
In my digging to learn everything I can about the Rangers farm system, I have come across a number of great websites and writers that cover this system extremely well. The Rangers fanbase is blessed by its coverage, especially since DFW is not a baseball town. There are a number of very talented folks out there working hard to give you tidbits and insight on the big league team and the youngsters on the way. I was hard pressed, but here is the list of the 10 Rangers minor league/major league must reads:
Top 10 Rangers major league and minor league resources
A definitive source to the Rangers minor league system, especially at the lower levels. Jason Cole has a tremendous reach and connections within the organization and in the scouting circles His work with Baseball Prospectus takes him away from his work with this site at times, but it is incredible stuff. Outside of the national scouts covering Rangers prospects on the rare occasion, you won’t find better scouting information on Rangers farmhands. He does a good minor league recap on a more-or-less-daily basis of all the affiliates, and I absolutely love his player Q&A’s. He talks to players in the system that no one else does. While everyone else is going gaga over Profar, Olt and Alfaro, Jason shows us why we need to pay attention to Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. For you Rangers minor league junkies, this is a must read. Unfortunately some content is behind a pay-wall, but if you are a die-hard, it is worth the cost.
2. Baseball Time in Arlington (BBTiA)
Run by Joey Matschulat and Mike Hindman, BBTiA is a fun mish-mosh of Rangers coverage. Joey “Matches,” as he is known in the Rangers community, is the more prolific of the authors (they do have others that contribute sometimes as well), but Hindman’s posts are often longer, a bit more creative and on the opining side. Either that, or he is telling some good war stories. Matschulat’s puts up some great sabermetrics-y posts on occasion for the number-crunchers of you out there, which is the highlight of the site for me. Jason Parks used to write for this publication before he joined Baseball Prospectus, so you know they are doing the right thing over there.
Emotional, stream-of-conscious driven, passionate, yet also analytic and well-written and absolutely optimistic, the Newberg Report is one of the longer-standing Rangers blogs. Well, really it began as an e-mail list, which you can still sign up for. Jamey Newberg was ahead of his time, covering the Rangers farm system inside-and-out beginning in 1998, well before many saw the hunger of baseball fans for this kind of coverage. His brand has really exploded in recent years, as he has expanded to his own website and MLB-recognized blog, not to mention a brief stint making Rangers farm system videos that played at Rangers Ballpark during games a few years back. Since the team has turned things around at the big league level, Newberg writes more about the major league team now than he used to, but he still provides some juicy tidbits on the up-and-comers. I think Newberg is at his best when has the chance to go down to Spring Training and Fall Instructs. Newberg does an excellent job of painting the picture of the minor leaguers as people, not just baseball “tools.” He has a great eye for the intangibles. He wrote this about Elvis Andrus in 2007, just after the Mark Teixeira trade, and now we all know how spot-on he was:
For some players, the ball just sounds different coming off their bat. Some can spin a breaking ball in such a way that you know the hitter has no chance before the pitch is halfway to the plate. There are others . . . who you can tell are different simply by how they carry themselves.
I’m struggling as to how to explain it. It’s not really a swagger that [he] has. It’s more of a comfortable magnetism. He reminds me of a feature tailback, or a really good cover corner, with that smile that says he knows he’s going to beat you more often than not. He’s going to be a leader.
Another great component of the Newberg Report is the Rangers Farm Report, authored by Scott Lucas, who writes a daily recap of the Rangers action at all the minor league levels. It’s a convienent way to keep on the affiliates, especially since if you simply subscribe, it comes straight to your e-mail inbox.
A very diverse set of commentary and quips, Lone Star Ball (LSB) is without a doubt one of my favorite Rangers reads, especially since there is so much Rangers content out there. LSB is unique. Adam Morris is the guru behind it, who I was first introduced to by Ted Price’s Rangers Podcast in Arlington. Morris can come off as surly at times, but that is an enjoying changeup in a pretty optimistic market. It makes for a great follow on twitter too (@LoneStarBall). Everything from newspaper-ish rundown of the day’s Ranger game to simply embedding offensive numbers from a Rangers affiliate from baseball reference to one of the more entertaining posts I’ve read this season, Lone Star Ball has a little something for everyone.
The blog of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, Express Tracks is a fun way to be in touch with the Round Rock community. Good especially for those living in the surrounding areas, they do some fun interactive things with the fans through their blog. Like us here at the Riders ‘Insider Blog, they are committed to covering their team as well with some nice analysis and feature stories on the guys on the farm.
6. Texas Rangers Report (ESPNDallas.com)
With an excellent team of reporters, ESPNDallas has put their full weight behind the Rangers since signing the Rangers broadcast to their radio lineup before the 2011 season. Richard Durrett, Todd Wills and Sahadev Sharma (among others) write multiple posts every day covering the Rangers. Probably the most exhaustive source out there, following the site on an RSS reader can be overwhelming, but they do a fantastic job. This is also home to my favorite weekly read on the Rangers, Wash’s Wisdom, which is now authored by Todd Wills.
7. Foul Territory (part of Star-Telegram.com)
Foul Territory is the Star-Telegram’s Rangers beat. Jeff Wilson and Drew Davison do a nice job and occasionally cover the minor league teams as well. Drew has made it out to a game here at Dr Pepper Ballpark this year and comes periodically to ‘Riders games. Good daily coverage for all things Rangers. Similar to ESPNDallas’ coverage and also to SportsDayDFW.
8. SportsDayDFW (powered by the Dallas Morning News)
Evan Grant. Enough said. Well, okay, I’m long-winded, so I won’t stop there. Grant is arguably the most respected Rangers beat-writer in the market and for good reason. The Dallas Morning News was smart to keep their Rangers coverage alive and get Evan Grant back on board after his brief stint with D Magazine’s Insider Corner blog. His work alone make this site worth a look, but the contributors are all solid. Like ESPN Dallas and Foul Territory, the DMN’s coverage will hit every issue and topic with the team. Reading all three can be repetitive, so find the writers you like the most.
Home of a weekly piece on the RoughRiders, The Sports Page Weekly is your home to some exclusive content for your favorite DFW sports teams. They do some nice off-the-beaten path stories and their style is a refreshingly more in-your-face alternative in a pretty calm media market. Plus they even PRINT IT, which you know, is pretty rare these days, so bravo to the bastions of paper and ink!
The blog of T.R. Sullivan. I think most of you know to go to TexasRangers.com to get news, so I didn’t include it. Sullivan is a writer for MLB.com covering the Rangers, and when he posts here, the blog has some good stuff. Plus it is my favorite named blog on the list, so it earned a spot. There are some incredible photos from Rangers’ photographer Kelly Gavin here as well…an enjoyable weekly scroll at the very least because of that.
Sweet Spot in Baseball – unique photos and commentary from Kaylan Eastepp, the Rangers Director of Interactive & Social Media. She has exclusive access to the Rangers players in non-baseball situations. Want to see Tanner Scheppers feeding birds or Elvis Andrus answering FSSW’s Emily Jones’ cell phone? This is the place for you.
DallasSportsNetwork – Home of the RoughRiders Roundtable, Ted Price puts together some of the most unique content of Dallas sports conversation out there. From the excellent Rangers Podcast in Arlington to the TCU “Frogs O’ War,” if its DFW sports, Ted has you covered, bringing a long-form discussion to the teams you love the most with the people qualified to talk about them. Great stuff for the morning commute.
Spokesman-Review – Indians Coverage – Just a local paper in Spokane, Washington. But they do a really nice job covering the Rangers Short-Season A team, the Spokane Indians. The Indians start their season in June.
MLB Trade Rumors – Texas Rangers Feed – A MUST read for any Rangers fan around the trading deadline and in the winter at the very least. This is not a Rangers-specific site, so I didn’t include it on the list, but they are THE source for trade rumors, many of which, of course, include some of our favorite RoughRiders and former ‘Riders, so it’s relevant stuff. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that many GMs even use this site to keep up on news because they are so good at what they do. I can’t find where I heard that though, so I might just be making that up. Even still, it could be true.
Minor League Ball – Another more general baseball site but a great follow for the minor-league aficionado. John Sickel’s “Minor League Ball Gameday” posts are great. Basically it points out the best minor league story lines from yesterday and what to look out for today. Some occasional college-ball content as well, which is nice if you miss the metal bat every now and then.
B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful – Jonanthan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com and is very respected in the baseball world. This is his prospect blog. He doesn’t write too often, but when he does, he usually focuses on the top prospects in the game. A good, simple, straightforward read. And he doesn’t write too much, which is nice because it’s never an overwhelming addition to your list.
MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog – Similar to the last one but they post a bit more often. Plus they have pretty pictures. Some good stuff on Profar the last month or so on this site.
And a blog I wish would come back:
Beachbound & Down – Run by former Myrtle Beach Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett, who is now the voice of Ball State men’s basketball and football, I am told this might be down for good. Hopefully we see something out of the Pelican’s blogosphere soon; I doubt the name will be this great though.
How do I keep track of all of this?
Well, if you don’t already have an RSS reader you use, I would recommend getting one. It makes life easier in the expansive interwebs. Google Reader is my favorite: the simplest and the most popular…but is also getting canned in July. Instead of waiting for the death-date, I ripped off the band-aid and moved on over to Feedly. I am a fan. A pretty big fan actually. But, don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of options out there. Happy Reading!
HEY!!! You forgot my favorite Rangers news source!
Did I? Well, let us know! We are always looking for more resources, and your fellow readers are as well. Post a comment with other sources of Rangers news!
Oh, and game notes are here for tonight’s game! Broadcast hits the airwaves at 6:40 for the 7:05 start for Nelson W. Wolff Municipal in San Antonio.
Baseball Term of the day: huckleberry – a rookie