Results tagged ‘ Jon Daniels ’

Frisco Futures: Checking in with Lewis Brinson

Image

Lewis Brinson (center) and Joey Gallo (right) were part of Jon Daniels’ hailed 2012 draft class.

If you follow the Rangers’ farm system, then it’s very likely you’ve heard of Lewis Brinson.  An athletic outfielder from Coral Springs, Florida, Texas drafted Brinson in the first round (29th overall) in 2012.  He played his first full season with low-A Hickory last year and was part of a Crawdads team that broke the South Atlantic League record for home runs in a single season (178).  Brinson’s individual season was a bit of mixed bag: he hit .237/.322/.749 with 21 homers, 52 RBI, 24 steals and 191 strikeouts.

On Saturday, Brinson got his first taste of big league action, pinch hitting for Michael Choice in the Rangers’ wild, 16-15 spring training win over the Athletics.  He doubled to center field on the first pitch he saw from 2013 Midland RockHound Ryan Dull in the seventh inning before flying out to right in the eighth.

Entering the 2014 season, ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranks Brinson as the Rangers’ fourth-best minor league prospect.  The right-handed outfielder won’t turn 20 until May 8 and figures to begin the year with either Hickory or Myrtle Beach.  While it’s unlikely he could reach Frisco this year, a great campaign could lead to a late season cameo with the RoughRiders.  While I was out in Surprise last week, I caught up with Brinson and we talked about spring training, last season in Hickory and his goals before breaking camp.

If you’d like to listen to the audio of the interview, click here.

Alex Vispoli: Lewis, this is your second spring training; what’s been the difference from what you came in to see last year and what you’ve been going through this year?

Lewis Brinson: Last spring training I was kind of in awe a little bit.  The whole spring training aspect of it with big leaguers around everywhere; guys that you grew up loving and now you’re training with them, stretching with them, hitting with them, getting to talk to them everyday.  But now I’ve gotten kind of used to it and I’m just trying to win a job here.  You’ve got a better idea of what you need to do to get ready for the season, so I’m just looking at it like that.

AV: Instead of being in awe of the big leaguers, are you trying this year to learn from them, watching what they do and how they go about their business?

LB: Yeah, definitely.  Anytime a big leaguer stops and talks to you, you listen.  I’m just watching them walk around, hitting, throwing, stretching, working out, talking.  Just getting used to knowing how they go about their business.  You want to be at that level one day so who cares if you copy them?  They’re big leaguers, they’re there for a reason, so why not be like them?

AV: A lot of folks looked at that Hickory team that you were on last year – you had Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman, Jorge Alfaro –a lot of really young guys that have had a ton of success early in their pro careers.  Was it fun to be a part of that group?  You guys are all about the same age, in the same boat, with the same experience level, playing together.

LB: Oh yeah, that was very fun.  Everybody looked at our home runs last year [with us being] a really young group and was asking “How did they hit that many home runs?  These guys must be freakishly talented or on something.”  But we have a great time together.  We’re all, like you said, the same age, so we love being around each other.  We all have the same goals; we all have the same work ethic and want to get to the big leagues around the same time and start our big league careers together, hopefully with the Texas Rangers.  We’re just out there having a good time.  I love those guys.

AV: Finally Lewis, what are your goals here for the next couple of weeks before you break camp?

LB: Just to get ready.  [Minor league spring] games start Thursday [March 13].  So just getting ready for the season.  It’s grind time, trying to make a team and trying to get your last bit of work in.  Just come here everyday with a plan, and plan to get better everyday.

AV: Well Lewis, best of luck here over the next couple of weeks.  Stay healthy and hopefully at some point down the line we’ll see you in Frisco.

LB: All right, see you there.

Thanks for reading.

-          Alex

A new Lowe for the Rangers

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

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 winRon Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.

Robbie Ross continues to impressWith 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 faithGiven 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 versatilityRichard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.

Astros should woo Nolan RyanESPN.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 grudgesSome 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 rotationT.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.

Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertaintySullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.

Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineupSullivan’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).

- Alex

When a day off isn’t really a day off

Pitching for Team USA, Derek Holland allowed a run over three innings yesterday in an exhibition game against the White Sox. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Pitching for Team USA, Derek Holland allowed a run over three innings yesterday in an exhibition game against the White Sox. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

There was no game for the Rangers yesterday but of course that does not mean things were slow in terms of news developments.  The big story continues to be the Nolan Ryan situation and we can expect things to remain that way until the big man speaks publicly on the matter.  So far, he has shown little interest in doing that for reasons only he knows.

I think I speak for most fans when I say that I hope that this reaches a conclusion that keeps Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels’ top lieutenants with the organization.  That might be a pie-in-the-sky hope, but it’s no crime to dream of a happy ending in this case.  Sometimes, however, the band does end up breaking up.  It happened to the Beatles and it can happen here.

In my opinion, what the Rangers would like to avoid experiencing is what happened the Red Sox front office over the final years of the Theo Epstein era.  Epstein is a bit like Daniels in how he rose through the game to become a big league general manager.  Like Daniels, Epstein had a group of extremely talented people around him who eventually outgrew their roles (i.e., the Red Sox could not afford them or give ran out of ways to promote them) and moved on to other organizations.  Think of Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as examples.  Their departures diluted the talent pool of the front office and as a result, the Red Sox stumbled through some mediocre drafts and disastrous free agency signings, leading to three straight seasons ending with no postseason in Boston.  Maybe voices like Hoyer and McLeod, had they been a part of those decisions, could have asked questions that weren’t being asked or proposed different solutions.

The Rangers ownership wants to make sure the Thad Levines and A.J. Prellers of the organization stay put to keep Daniels’ “dream team” of assistants together.  Daniels’ promotion to president clears the way for some future upward movement in the front office, making it more likely that the band stays together for a little longer and the Rangers continue their run of recent success.

So where does that leave Nolan Ryan?  We don’t really know, though there is plenty of speculation.  My belief is that we won’t know until Nolan himself determines how he would like to see this play out.  Until then, let’s hope this iteration of the Beatles keeps on rocking together.

On the subject of who has the power in the Rangers’ organizationEvan Grant says that nothing much will change with the organization despite the title changes.

Daniels on Nolan Ryan: ‘I don’t want him to leave’Some quotes from the Rangers’ GM/president, who was on ESPN Radio 103.3 yesterday.

If the always-sensible Nolan Ryan wants to win, it’s Texas Rangers or bustHighlights from Kevin Sherrington’s DMN column.

Daniels had ‘good conversation’ with Ryan over the weekend, says there’s ‘no issue’ between the twoMore Daniels quotes from another radio interview, this time with KRLD.

Why Rangers haven’t made move for Lohse, othersDaniels also took some time yesterday to touch on the potential acquisition of a new starting pitcher.

Team USA gets strong debut from HollandThere was a Ranger in action yesterday, as Derek Holland threw three innings for Team USA in a WBC tuneup vs. the White Sox.

Rangers’ top prospects can benefit from WBC absencesJeff Wilson has Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar looking to take advantage of their extended playing time with the big club while the WBC is in progress.

Rangers don’t need to panic and press the No. 5 buttonGil Lebreton says Texas can afford to be patient in finding a fifth starter.

Harrison hopes offseason pays off in ’13Matt Harrison says he’s not content with coasting off his first all-star season despite earning a big contract, writes Anthony Andro.

Inbox: Could injuries bring Lohse into picture?T.R. Sullivan answers fan questions in this week’s mailbag column.

- Alex

Metroplex abuzz with Ryan talk as Rangers walk off

Nolan Ryan played his last five big league seasons as a Ranger.

Nolan Ryan played his last five big league seasons as a Ranger.

Things have pretty much blown up around here regarding the Nolan Ryan situation.  There are a good number of compelling on-the-field Rangers stories to be discussed throughout this spring, from filling the fifth spot in the starting rotation to the center field position battle to rebuilding a bullpen to overcoming the loss of key free agents.  Throw in some exciting, young prospects, a new hitting coach, record ticket sales and there’s a lot going on for Ron Washington’s club.  But the story that risks swallowing all of that up like a Texas-sized black hole is the “will he or won’t he leave?” for Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan after his president title was removed and given to general manager Jon Daniels.  The possibility was first raised yesterday in the Star-Telegram by Randy Galloway that Ryan could be gone from the organization before camp is over out in Surprise.

There’s a lot going on with this, from a possible power struggle to jealousy within the organization over credit and the looming specter of the rudderless Houston Astros swooping in and reclaiming the state’s greatest natural resource.  Now, I heard the Morning News’ Evan Grant interviewed on The Ticket yesterday and he feels that it’s a long shot that Ryan leaves for the Astros.  Grant insinuated that Ryan is not he biggest fan of new owner Jim Crane’s and that many people Ryan was close to in that organization have gotten whacked.  This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t still happen, however, even with Ryan having three years left on his Rangers contract.

Adam Morris of Lone Star Ball made  the point on Twitter last night and I can’t help but give it at least some credence.  In the 80+ hours it’s been since the title announcements were made by the Rangers, we have heard nothing from Ryan and very little from Daniels.  Sometimes silence says more than words, which could indicate to some that there’s something less than warm and fuzzy going on in the front office.

By the way, the Rangers walked off with a 5-4 win over the Padres yesterday with Jeff Baker plating Julio Borbon for the game winner.

Today’s links (note: with the Star-Telegram stories you can easily read around the “sign-in” bubble that appears when you open the page):

Daniels has said nothing has changed with Nolan RyanJeff Wilson has Daniels offering very little in terms of reaction to the Galloway story, saying that he reports to Ryan and that this is essentially a non-story.

Rangers’ power shift could have Nolan Ryan looking for exitGil Lebreton writes that he thinks Ryan will leave but that ownership wants him to stay and continue the work that has made the Rangers so successful.

Rangers’ Martin Perez focused on quick recovery after breaking forearmThe other big story of the week gets some follow-up coverage from Wilson along with a quick note about Adrian Beltre’s Cactus League debut.

Darvish does good work without best stuff as Rangers rally - Wilson touches upon Yu Darvish’s scoreless three innings in the Rangers’ 5-4 victory over the Padres yesterday.

If Rangers must pick between Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan, the choice is clear…Tim Cowlishaw checks in to give his thoughts on the Ryan-Daniels situation and says if you’re choosing between the two, he goes with Daniels.

Understanding the situation between Nolan Ryan and Rangers managementGrant has a pretty good overview of all the issues involved in this story.

Rangers in communication with Porcello, Lohse - Gerry Fraley says the Rangers have not been idle since Perez went down due to injury on Sunday.  Rick Porcello is arguably a more palpable choice over Kyle Lohse because he is younger and won’t cost you a draft pick, though he would force you to give up some level of prospect(s).

Rangers betting on youth for futureNormally a headline like that would be used for the makeup of your team or farm system, but ESPNDallas.com’s Jean-Jacque Taylor is using it on the Rangers’ front office.

Does Kyle Lohse make sense now?Richard Durrett asks the question in a blog entry from this morning.

Yu Darvish impressive againRon Matejko touches upon Darvish’s outing yesterday against San Diego.

Beltre back in the swing with successful debutMLB.com’s AJ Cassavell has a full report on Beltre’s return to the lineup.

Darvish keeps spring hitless streak intact - Cassavell’s notes column touches upon Darvish, Perez and Nate Robertson’s comeback attempt.

- Alex

Costly comebacker could have Rangers scrambling

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday's game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday’s game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

First there was “The Case of the Poorly Timed Tattoo” and now there’s a much more serious Rangers injury to be concerned about.  In the sixth inning of yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Mariners, former RoughRiders pitcher Martin Perez was struck just above the left wrist by a Brad Miller line drive and after the game it was revealed that he suffered a fracture of the left ulna bone.  It will be at least four weeks until he can begin a throwing program and most indications are that he will be on the shelf until May at the earliest.

What makes this so unfortunate is that Perez was the clear leader in the clubhouse for the fifth spot in Texas’ rotation, a position that failed to produce any wins down the home stretch of the 2012 season.  The former RoughRider was having a strong spring training while the other competitors were either: a) struggling; b) injured; or c) inexperienced.  Perez, the Rangers’ top minor league pitcher who has been on prospect radars everywhere for the last few years, was looking to make that next step to become a reliable major league starter.  That still may end up happening, but this is a big blow in the short term for the club.

The calls for veteran free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse were already out there to some degree and they’ve only gotten even louder since Sunday afternoon.  The Rangers will have to decide how big of a setback this is and if they want to put themselves into a position they were in last year with Roy Oswalt.  Texas was practically forced to sign Oswalt after some injuries to their pitching staff, but had to stash the former all-star in the bullpen because of ineffectiveness which didn’t sit well with ol’ Roy.

It’s not completely an apples-to-apples comparison, as there would be some differences and some similarities if they were to sign Lohse.  The former Cardinals righty is 34, the same age as Oswalt when he signed with Texas a few months into the 2012 season.  He has been better than Oswalt in recent years (including a stellar season last year) but has a career track record of mediocrity; he’s almost the opposite of Oswalt’s in that sense.  The primary reason Lohse has not signed yet is because he and agent Scott Boras likely want more money and more years than the market has been interested in giving him (as well as the forfeiture of a first round draft pick and the signing bonus pool money that goes along with it), whereas Oswalt simply wasn’t interested in pitching a full season, Roger Clemens-style.

What makes this a tricky situation is the expected return of Colby Lewis as soon as May, when Perez would likely be back.  The question the Rangers need to answer is whether they feel they can last the first six weeks of the season with a big question mark in that fifth rotation spot (whether it is Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, Kyle McClellan, Nick Tepesch, etc.) or if they need to feel a little more certain with a veteran who finished seventh in the Cy Young voting last year.  In a very competitive A.L. West, it’s a decision that will likely have big consequences.

Now, on to today’s links, with the two most important off-the-field stories leading off:

In trying to keep Jon Daniels in town, Rangers must be careful not to squeeze out Nolan Ryan – If you missed it, the Rangers announced the promotion of Jon Daniels to president/GM on late Friday afternoon, normally a release time for when businesses want to sweep under the rug to avoid maximum attention.  (I’m not trying to say that that’s what the Rangers were trying to do in this case, just pointing out a common practice.)  Nolan Ryan, now no longer team president, will continue as CEO and Daniels will report to him.  Kevin Sherrington explains the tight-rope walk that Rangers ownership must embark upon to satisfy all wings of their baseball operation and maintain success both on and off the field.  A good read.

Nolan Ryan could leave Rangers by the end of spring training, sources sayRandy Galloway has sources who say that Nolan Ryan’s departure from the Rangers is imminent, based on changing roles over who gets final say baseball-wise.  Another interesting read on a subject that threatens to take over the narrative of the next month. (note: for this story you need a subscription, but you can easily read the text around the “sign in” pop-up.

Perez injury leaves Texas Rangers’ rotation with questions that Kyle Lohse could answer (subscription required)Gerry Fraley gives us his thoughts on the rotation quandary created by Perez’ injury.

Justin Grimm all but eliminates himself from Texas Rangers rotation after another ugly outing - Fraley reports on Grimm’s latest rough big league appearance.

Fraley on Joe Nathan’s new pitch and Julio Borbon getting to the end of the line

Tough day for 5th-spot contendersRon Matejko of ESPNDallas.com notes that it was a rough Sunday for two of the Rangers’ top rotation candidates.

Martin Perez out at least two months with broken forearmJeff Wilson’s report on the injury of the day.

Tepesch making early impressionDrew Davison’s notes column brings up Tepesch as a possibility for the fifth spot as well as David Murphy’s thoughts on PED penalties.

Murphy eager to step into everyday roleAnthony Andro writes that Murphy expects big things now that he knows his role as an everyday player going into a season.  A big year would certainly help his bottom line come the hot stove season, as he is a free agent after 2013.

Nathan makes scoreless debut in Rangers’ lossLost in all of the Martin Perez/Nolan Ryan news was that Joe Nathan looked pretty good in his first spring outing.

Grimm remains determined for Opening Day roleDespite poor results this spring, William Boor of MLB.com writes that Justin Grimm is confident he can turn things around and be a contributor to the big league club.

Nathan, E. Beltre primed for spring actionBoor’s notebook has more on the return of Nathan and Engel Beltre, who is back from a left shoulder injury.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/22/2013

The view from above of the Rangers' and Royals' complex in Surprise, Arizona.

The view from above of the Rangers’ and Royals’ complex in Surprise, Arizona.

As someone somewhere once said, “Let the games begin!”  Today marks the start of Cactus League play as the Rangers and they won’t have to go far to play their opponent.  In fact, neither will opponent.  Texas will play the Kansas City Royals this afternoon in the stadium they share out in Surprise, Arizona.  Derek Holland will get the start against Will Smith while Carlton and Uncle Phil might make an appearance as well.  On to today’s Rangers links:

Pudge Rodriguez hired to front officeThe big news yesterday was that Ivan Rodriguez was rejoining the organization as a special assistant to Jon Daniels as well as an instructor and ambassador.  As a result, we might see Pudge in Frisco this summer like we did with Greg Maddux last year.  Drew Davison gets Pudge’s thoughts on catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and also notes the Rangers players who will be competing in the World Baseball Classic.

Five Rangers to watch in spring trainingJeff Wilson says that the Rangers could greatly benefit from big springs from these five players.

Spring Break: New Rangers reliever Josh Lindblom embraces the cold -Davison talks cold weather baseball with Josh Lindblom, who played his college ball in the Big Ten.

Lighter Moreland has heavier role with RangersThe AP writes that former ‘Rider Mitch Moreland is lighter this spring, both in weight and attitude.

Jim Bowden on Profar/Cano and Ron Washington’s Job Security Former major league GM and ESPN Insider Jim Bowden appeared on the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 ESPN Radio yesterday and had some interesting things to say, especially his hypothetical 2014 Rangers middle infield.

Jon Daniels on Profar and PayrollThe Rangers GM held a chat yesterday and The Dallas Morning News is providing some of the highlights.

Small in stature, LHP Joe Ortiz making big impression - Richard Durrett profiles former RoughRider and dark horse relief candidate Joseph Ortiz (he told me he prefers Joseph, but the Rangers insist on using Joe on their rosters with him for some reason).  Last season in his two months with the ‘Riders, former big league all-star Brad Hawpe said that Ortiz was one of the three toughest lefties in the Texas League along with Midland’s Sean Doolittle (who pitched with Oakland by mid-season) and Corpus Christi’s Kevin Chapman.

Rangers hire Pudge as special assistantT.R. Sullivan has more on the Rangers’ hiring of Ivan Rodriguez.

Holland believes Classic will give him an edge - Sullivan talks with today’s starter, Derek Holland, about the upcoming WBC, in which he is excited to be participating.  Some worry that the WBC is bad for pitchers, but don’t count the former RoughRiders lefty in that camp.  On an editorial note, how great would it be to see Holland matched up against the Netherlands at some point?

- Alex

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers