Results tagged ‘ Josh Hamilton ’

The RoughRiders’ ghosts of trade deadlines passed

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So Matt Garza pitched well for the Rangers on Wednesday. He tosses for the Rangers tonight. The newest addition to the organization was acquired on Tuesday from the Chicago Cubs for Rangers starting pitcher Justin Grimm (and 2012 RoughRiders hurler), Round Rock third baseman Mike Olt (and 2012 RoughRiders home run leader), Hickory Crawdads ace C.J. Edwards and….a player to be named later.

Not a ton is known about Edwards in the national media since he is a lower-level guy. It’s from a website with a fantasy baseball focus, but RotoGraphs has a good piece up on what he brings to the table if you are curious.

There is rather strong speculation that the player to be named later (PTBNL) could end up being RoughRiders starting pitcher, and recently placed on the disabled list man, Neil Ramirez:

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Neil Ramirez, 2013

Search “Neil Ramirez” on Twitter and your browser might explode. OK, it won’t, but there is plenty of speculation out there on the subject. If you are looking for that, here you go.

As someone not on the beat of the Rangers or Cubs, someone who does not communicate on a daily basis with the front office of either side, weighing in on the subject seems meaningless and pointless. As would a look back at Neil Ramirez as a RoughRiders pitcher and Rangers prospect…because, at least for now, he still is a RoughRiders hurler and still could be in a day, a week, a month or a year. (tease: IF he is traded, we will probably do a post on his career as a RoughRiders player…stay tuned! No promises though.)

IF he is indeed traded, he joins a list of RoughRiders traded while on the roster, and looking at the old transactions, there is quite the interesting mix. With the July 31 Trade Deadline fast approaching (Wednesday!), it seemed as good a time as any to look back at the trades made by the Texas Rangers near the trading deadline that involved RoughRiders players.

To qualify for the list, the player had to be on the RoughRiders roster at some point during the same year they were traded, but I excluded some after that filter. Ideally, these are players that were on the ‘Riders roster at the time of the trade, or at least played significant time on the team. Mike Olt, for example, was on the RoughRiders roster for three days this season, but doesn’t seem to really fit the point of this list. He was on the roster in a pseudo-rehab role before returning to Triple-A.

There are also a handful of trades made by Texas in the months of April, May, November and December–I only included deals from June, July and August. If you are interested in this sort of thing, check out baseballreference.com for their trade history machine–it’s pretty neat. Additionally, each player is linked to their baseball reference page, so you can see what those players’ career shaped up like.

Anyway, enough digressing…here it is! An exhaustive list (barring the author’s mistakes and editorial omissions as always) of the Rangers deadline or near-deadline deals involving RoughRiders:

July 21, 2005: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Matt Lorenzo to the Atlanta Braves for Kevin Gryboski.

Interestingly enough, Matt Lorenzo went from High-A Bakersfield, the Rangers affiliate at the time to High-A Myrtle Beach, the Rangers current High-A affiliate (then with the Braves). His time in Frisco was brief, making ten appearances, nine starts for the ‘Riders in April and May. He didn’t pitch very well (3-5, 7.14 ERA, 1.99 WHIP) and only reached Double-A one more time in his career. It came with the Pirates in 2006. His tenure in Atlanta’s system didn’t outlast the 2005 season, and his career wrapped up at the conclusion of 2007.

Gryboski on the other hand made 11 largely mediocre appearances for the Rangers in 2005 and signed with Washington the following offseason.

June 29, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Fabio Castro to the Philadelphia Phillies for Daniel Haigwood and cash

Although not a RoughRiders pitcher for very long, his inclusion on the Rangers big league roster for some time made it impossible for me to filter this trade off the list. Yes, Fabio Castro was a Ranger.

For four appearances, the then 21-year-old pitched against the Tigers, Angels, Rays and Diamondbacks as a member of the Rangers. In five outings, four starts, for the RoughRiders Castro went 0-1 with a 1.98 ERA. He went on to pitch well for the Phills for the remainder of 2006, but didn’t have much of a big league career after that. This season, he is pitching in Cancun for Tigres de Quintana Roo in the AAA Mexican League.

July 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Bryan Corey to the Boston Red Sox for Luis Mendoza

Bryan Corey made his comeback to the bigs through Frisco in 2006. He was dominant in 13 games for the ‘Riders, saving eight ballgames in 13 appearances with a 2.08 ERA. After 12 games at Triple-A, the Rangers promoted the righthander in June, and he went on to pitch 16 games for the club.

Texas designated him for assignment, however, and got Luis Mendoza in exchange before a team could nab him off the waiver wire. Mendoza would debut in the majors with Texas the following season and is still pitching at the highest level–now for the Royals.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jose Diaz to the Kansas City Royals for Matt Stairs

Attempting a run at the 2006 AL West Crown, the Rangers went out and aquired 38-year-old Matt Stairs, who didn’t hit much for the Rangers (.210/.273/.370) in 26 games down the stretch. Amazingly, Stairs went on to play five more seasons in the big leagues, none of them for Texas.

The cost was Jose Diaz, who got a quick promotion to Triple-A after a stellar start for the ‘Riders in 2006. In eight games, four starts, Diaz posted a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. He pitched in just four games in the majors for the Royals, all coming in 2006. The Rangers actually signed him again in 2008. He pitched for Frisco again, and made it up to Arlington for a single appearance with the big league club. He was last heard from in 2011, playing for the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jesse Chavez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kip Wells

As someone who grew up in Texas and was in high school at the time, I thought I would have remembered this deal. I forgot Kip Wells was a Ranger. That’s because he made two starts for the club and was then shutdown for the remainder of the season with a foot injury. Texas reportedly had some interest in resigning Kip Wells when he became a free agent at the end of the season but did not. Chavez has carved out a decent major league career for himself.

Almost the first man on the list to actual be on the ‘Riders roster when traded, Chavez made 38 appearances before his promotion to Triple-A in late July and was traded after one appearance for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks (then a Rangers affiliate). Seven years later, he is now in the Oakland bullpen and at age 29, is having the best year of his career.

August 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded Mike Nickeas to the New York Mets for Victor Diaz

Finally! We come the first RoughRiders player to be traded at the deadline. The previous men were all ‘Riders at some point during these respective seasons, but Mike Nickeas was an active member of the ‘Riders roster when traded in late August, just prior to the “second trade deadline” which takes place on August 31 (for more info on MLB Transactions rules, go here).

A .248 hitter in 2006 for the RoughRiders, Nickeas was the cost for outfielder Victor Diaz, who hit a little bit for the Rangers in the final month of the season…not enough for Texas to make postseason play, however. After six plus seasons as a Mets farmhand, playing in Major League action in three different seasons, Nickeas is now in the Toronto system, pitching at Triple-A.

Jose Vallejo, 2009

Jose Vallejo, 2009

August 18, 2009: The Texas Rangers traded a PTBNL and Matt Nevarez to the Houston Astros for Ivan RodriguezThe Texas Rangers sent RoughRiders 2B Jose Vallejo (August 20, 2009) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

Ah yes. The return of Pudge. Another August move for a push at the postseason, Pudge likely at least filled the seats a bit for the Rangers. Ivan became the primary catcher in a season filled by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Richardson. Vallejo was off the ‘Riders roster and off to Triple-A in early May, never hit much for the Astros organization and never made the majors.

July 9, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders 2B/OF Matt Lawson, RoughRiders SP Blake Beavan, RoughRiders RP Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff LeeMark Lowe and cash.

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Blake Beavan, 2010

The trade of the franchise. Right alongside the Josh Hamilton deal as arguably the most positively impactful acquisition in team history, I don’t really need to elaborate here. At least not on the big league side.

On the RoughRiders side, Matt Lawson was a productive RoughRiders hitter, batting .277 in 76 contests for the squad. Beavan was a high-floor Rangers pitching prospect who has since made over 40 starts for the Mariners. As a ‘Rider, the 6’7″ Irving, Texas native went 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 2010. He fired 12 quality starts in his total of 17 before the trade. Lueke flashed lights-out stuff for Frisco out of the bullpen, saving five ballgames with 26 Ks in just 18.2 innings as a Texas Leaguer. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in the Show, most recently with Tampa Bay. He is still striking a ton of guys out but with mixed results.

July 29, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded P Omar Poveda and RoughRiders RP Evan Reed to the Florida Marlins for Jorge Cantu.

Jorge Cantu…one of the vaunted additions (along with Guzman just below) that were supposed to help the Rangers get over the hump. Nothing compares to the addition of Cliff Lee this season (how could it!), but Cantu was quite the disappointment. After hitting .262/.310/.409 for the Marlins before the trade, the declining corner infielder hit .235/.279/.327 for the Rangers in 30 games and had a grand total of eight plate appearances in the postseason (going 0-for-8), including one measly at-bat in the World Series.

Poveda was hampered by injuries and never panned out, but Evan Reed, a stalwart of the 2010 RoughRiders bullpen, had an up-and-down minor league jaunt with the Marlins. This April, the Tigers took him off waivers, and he has spent significant time with Detroit’s major league club, making his debut in the majors on May 16 against his former club, allowing a run on two hits to the Rangers. He is currently on the roster getting big leaguers out.

July 30, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP/RPs Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals for Cristian Guzman.

Guzman was pretty awful for the Rangers (.152/.204/.174) after posting very solid numbers for the Nationals over three plus seasons. In 2012 he was signed by the Indians but released before the start of the season. After not making the postseason roster for Texas in 2010, he never played in a professional game again.

To get him, the Rangers gave up Tatusko, of Newberg Report fame. A solid arm for the ‘Riders that season as well, the righthander went 9-2 with a 2.97, largely as a starter. His last outing as a RoughRiders pitcher was one of his better outings: six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Corpus Christi Hooks at home on July 26. Tatusko tossed a nine-inning complete game shutout on July 16 as well, in an efficient 94-pitch effort over the Hooks at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Tanner Roark was another member of the rotation primarily, splitting his time between the ‘Riders pen and starting quintet. The ‘Riders rotation took quite the hit from this trade…just like they did after the following trade:

July 31, 2011: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SPs Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams.

Joe Wieland, 2011

Joe Wieland, 2011

One of the bigger impact trades on the list, the Rangers gave up two very good starting pitching prospects to get one of the best relievers in the National League at the time. For a while it appeared the Rangers would acquire Padres closer Heath Bell, and out of seemingly nowhere, picked up Adams instead.

Erlin and Wieland were both staples of the 2011 ‘Riders rotation. Erlin was 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 starts, after his late May promotion from Myrtle Beach. Wieland was not called up from the Pelicans’ squad until mid-June but adapted quickly to Texas League batters. The big righthander was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA as a RoughRiders pitcher and pitched a nine-inning no-hitter in his final start as a Rangers farmhand on July 29, 2011. This elicited a series of blog posts on this site, including one of my favorite ‘Riders Insider Blog posts of all-time. Both have had big league time with the Padres and still are poised for solid careers.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Ryanitisa mock disease causing faux symptoms that batters used to try and get out of the lineup rather than face Nolan Ryan

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders Rehabbers

Rangers’ pitcher and former RoughRider Martin Perez will be returning to the ‘Riders tonight in Midland as he begins his rehab assignment.  The left-handed pitcher is expected to throw four innings and is likely to make another rehab start during the team’s current road trip.

Perez’s left wrist was broken after he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Seattle Mariners infielder Brad Miller in a spring training game on March 3. Prior to the injury, Perez was in contention for a spot in the Rangers’ starting rotation. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s third-best prospect and ranked 81st on the publication’s list of top 100 prospects in the minors.

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Perez holding wrist after March 3 spring training injury

The 22-year-old Venezuelan pitched for the RoughRiders during parts of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons and made his major league debut last year for Texas.   He pitched in 12 big league games (six starts), going 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA (23 ER/38.0 IP).   In his three seasons with Frisco, Perez pitched in 46 games (44 starts) and went 10-13 with a 4.74 ERA (110 ER/209.0 IP) and 198 strikeouts.

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Martin Perez as a RoughRider in 2011

A few players who have rehabbed in Frisco

Nelson Cruz:  Nelly has made two rehab appearances with the RoughRiders.  He has played a total of six games in Frisco in 2010 and 2011, with eleven at-bats both years.  He has had a total of six hits and two RBIs in the ‘Riders uniform.

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Nelson Cruz rehabbing with the ‘Riders in 2011

Josh Hamilton: Hamilton rehabbed in Frisco for one game in 2009 and two more in 2011.  On May 18, 2011, Josh hit a two-run homer in his second at-bat, and helped the ‘Riders to a pair of wins over the Midland RockHounds.

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Former Ranger Josh Hamilton in Frisco for 2011 rehab.

Ian Kinsler: The former RoughRider returned to Frisco in 2009-’10 due to a strained left groin.  While rehabbing with the ‘Riders, Ian played in eight games with four runs and six RBIs.

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Ian Kinsler at bat during his 2010 ‘Riders rehab assignment

Naftali Feliz: Another former ‘Rider, Feliz returned to Frisco in 2011 and 2012 on rehab assignment with elbow soreness issues.

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Neftali Feliz in Frisco during the 2012 season

Some others who have been assigned to the RoughRiders include: Hank Blalock (’08), (’11), Matt Harrison (’09-10), Mark Lowe (’12), Kevin Mench (’03-04), Darren O’Day (’11), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (’09), Mark Teixeira (’04, ’07).

Baseball Term of the Day: Dent the Plate – to score a run.

 

-Ryan

Welcome Home

The rain has stopped, the clouds have parted, and Rangers baseball is back in Arlington!   Many people will call in sick from work, pull their kids out early from school, and make the drive to the ballpark to welcome our Rangers back home for the 2013 season.  Opening Day is finally here as the Rangers face the LA Angels this afternoon at 1:05.

Ballpark

Today also marks Josh Hamilton’s first return to Rangers Ballpark since leaving for LA.  This return has sparked a number of reactions by Rangers fans, especially after remarks made by Hamilton questioning the loyalty of DFW baseball fans.

I am personally on the edge of my seat waiting to know how Josh will be received at today’s game.  Will the stadium erupt in boos?  Will there be cheers for the once-adored All-Star?  Or will he receive the silent treatment, getting little acknowledgement from the fans of his former team?

More than likely, there will be a combination of all three.  There are a number of fans who feel Hamilton leaving the Rangers and the way he left was a betrayal, and boos will be heard throughout the stadium.  Others will try to look past the hurt feelings and the tension, and cheer.  However, the hope for many is that there will be silence, no boos or cheers, proving Rangers fans stand strongly behind their team and can move past the tensions from the last few months.

Hamilton

Regardless of how Hamilton’s reception plays out, the fact is today is the Rangers Home Opener.  The day Rangers fans have been looking forward to is finally here.  Enjoy it and look forward to many enjoyable days and nights at the ballpark!

 Other notes from the week:

-The Rangers began the season this past Sunday on the road in Houston.  Despite dropping the first game of the series 2-8 in the Astros’ first game in the American League, the Rangers came back to win the series in back-to-back shutouts.

Yu Darvish was one strike away from pitching a perfect game in Game 2, tallying a career-high 14 strikeouts.  Former RoughRider Alexi Ogando also had a career-high 10 strikeouts in Game 3. In total, the Rangers had 43 strikeouts, the most by a major-league team in the first three games of the season, breaking the mark set by the 1966 Cleveland Indians.

-Elvis Andrus is in Texas for a while.  The 24-year-old shortstop announced Thursday that he signed an eight-year contract extension, securing him at least through 2018 (he has an opt-out in his contract at that point).

Where was Nolan Ryan?  At Thursday’s press conference announcing Andrus’ contract extension, Ryan was noticeably absent.  This only fueled the curiosities of his future with the Rangers.  It was reported later that Nolan attended the Round Rock Express season opener.

What does the future hold for Jurickson Profar?  With the Elvis Andrus contract extension, the future for Rangers’ top prospect Profar is up in the air.  The former RoughRider, will be in Round Rock this season, but playing the same position as Andrus brings questions regarding the 20-year-old’s future.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Parachute Hitter – another term for a singles hitter

One month away…

Nights like this will be back again in one month. (Photo credit to Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Nights like this will be back again in one month. (Photo credit to Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Today is a day for minor celebration, not necessarily because it’s “311 Day,” but because we are now exactly one month away from the home opener for the 2013 season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  We are also 22 days from the RoughRiders-Express exhibition game in Frisco and 24 days away from the official start of the regular season in North Little Rock.

All of the Rangers’ minor leaguers (excluding the ones who had big league camp invitations) reported to Surprise one week ago and they will begin their spring training games against other organizations on Thursday.  We’ll do our best to get you whatever information we can on those games, though the Double-A team that takes the field against their Royals counterparts on Thursday is guaranteed to look much different than the one that arrives here in the Metroplex come late March.  That’s mainly because off all the roster mixing that goes on in the spring, with many players playing a level higher than they will ultimately be on once the season starts.

As for the big club, we are still not at a point of complete resolution with the Nolan Ryan situation, though it looks like we are moving closer to that point.  The Rangers released a statement from him yesterday that basically said he’s been meeting with ownership about his role with the team and that those discussions will continue.  It’s not much to read into, but I suppose it should be taken as a positive sign that there is a chance that they work this all out and come out a happy family once again.

In other developments, Craig Gentry of all people is hitting home runs, Jurickson Profar’s stint as starting spring training shortstop (I love alliterative phrases) is likely coming to an end as Elvis Andrus’ stay at the World Baseball Classic was a short one, and Derek Holland gets more time to play on the “big” stage.

Ryan will remain CEO for time being, continue to search for understanding of role - Evan Grant gives you the basics of yesterday’s developments with Ryan’s full statement included.

More time on WBC’s big stage can only help Rangers’ “wildcard” Derek Holland (subscribers only)Tim Cowlishaw thinks the continuing experience for Holland on the US team will be good for him.

Josh Hamilton brought sizzle to Texas, but new Ranger Lance Berkman could offer just as much substanceHighlights from Cowlishaw’s Sunday column on why there might not be so large a dropoff between Hamilton and Berkman.  (A major caveat should be added – IF Lance stays healthy.)

Gerry Fraley bits on emerging slugger Craig Gentry, Elvis Andrus taking some ribbing, a sleeper from the Michael Young trade, and Adrian Beltre re-thinking the WBC.

(Daily FWST disclaimer: most articles on their site are subscription-only, but you can easily read the articles around the sign-in pop-up)

Positive spin on Ryan staying takes another negative turnRandy Galloway (who has practically been the writer-of-record on all things Nolan Ryan) says that, in spite of yesterday’s statement, Ryan staying on with the Rangers is no sure thing at all.

Long journey may lead Rangers’ Martin to center fieldFrom a couple of days ago, but a good read from Gil Lebreton nonetheless about Leonys Martin.

Despite Ross’ struggles, Rangers hold on for 7-6 victory over IndiansRobbie Ross says he was not distracted by the ZOOperstars, who performed at yesterday’s game in Goodyear.  Thank goodness for that.

Ross struggles for first time this springESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more reaction from Ross on his tough start (2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB).

Is there still time to get Nolan Ryan to stay? - Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the latest developments with Ryan.

Tepesch still auditioning for roleRon Washington and Mike Maddux talk about 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Nick Tepesch and his odds on winning the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

- 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

Rangers Links (Don’t Panic Edition)

It's a little too early to start feeling like this about the Rangers' spring training.

It’s a little too early to start feeling like this about the Rangers’ spring training.

Repeat after me: the games don’t count.  It’s reassuring to remind yourself of that every time you see results like yesterday.  Or the day before.  Or any of these spring training games.  It’s only natural to have at least a small amount of concern that the Rangers have yet to put anything other than a bagel in the “W” column, especially given that wins were a rarity over the final few weeks of last season.

(By the way, did you notice the only other team that has yet to post a spring training victory?  They play their regular season home games at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, to give you a hint.)

To get worked up over early spring training results is a quixotic endeavor, given the relative rust on the players and the individual tasks they set for themselves  that may give way to garish performances.  A pitcher’s goal in a spring training game may simply be to throw his fastball for strikes, results be damned.  Maybe a hitter is working on a new aspect to his swing.  Maybe a player simply isn’t ready for the season at this point in late February.  I don’t have problems with any of that.  When spring training is over and the battles for the number five starter, utility infielder and regular centerfielder are over, I’m willing to bet (like many others) that the Rangers will have a unit that will be very competitive for a playoff spot in the American League West.  Until then, practice your anti-Kevin McCallister face.

Rangers’ Ron Washington says prospect Mike Olt trying too hardGerry Fraley has the Rangers skipper saying Mike Olt should not put so much pressure on himself to perform.

Hamilton on Michael Young & the Rangers - It seems like everyone has an opinion on how things went/ended with Michael Young on the Rangers, including Josh Hamilton.

Despite villainous reputation, Rangers’ A.J. Pierzynski a winner, ex-mates sayFraley writes about the Rangers’ new catcher, who won a World Series with Chicago in 2005 (subscribers only).

Alexi Ogando’s continuing struggles could throw wrench in rotation plansWith most of the focus on the Rangers’ fifth starter competition, everyone is kind of assuming Ogando will step in and be the guy he was a few years ago as a starter.  Might not work out quite so smooth, based on early returns.

Rangers not about to ignore Ogando’s early strugglesJust because the results don’t count doesn’t mean that Ron Washington is paying no attention to Ogando’s troubles, writes Drew Davison.

Rangers’ survivors say change is goodRandy Galloway says that the holdovers from a tumultuous off-season are still confident that this club can win a World Series.

Leonys Martin staking claim to CF jobA trio of stories today from Ron Matejko, who is filling in for new ESPN Radio host Richard Durrett.  The first has Leonys Martin starting to emerge as a favorite for a more regular role with the Rangers.

Alexi Ogando still working out some kinksOgando and Washington talk about the right-hander’s struggles.

Robbie Ross aiming for last rotation spotThe 2011 RoughRider talks about his desire to join the Rangers’ rotation.

Burns stepping forward in Rangers’ bullpenT.R. Sullivan has Washington giving some kind words to bullpen-hopeful Corey Burns.

Berkman ready for first Cactus League actionSullivan’s notes column touches on Lance Berkman’s expected spring debut this afternoon, Ogando and injury updates for Engel Beltre & Craig Gentry.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/27/2013

Things haven't been too graceful for Geovanny Soto and the Rangers this spring. (Photo credit to Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

Things haven’t been too graceful for Geovanny Soto and the Rangers this spring. (Photo credit to Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

Yesterday the White Sox jumped out to a 12-0 lead and beat up the Rangers 14-8 to drop Texas to 0-4 in Cactus League play.  The good news?  These games (of course) don’t count for much of anything and, by all accounts, Yu Darvish looked fantastic in his two innings of work.  As for 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel?  He had a tough afternoon, throwing just 10 of his 31 pitches for strikes and yielding six runs (four earned) with five walks while retiring just one batter.  Here are today’s links:

Why veteran Jeff Baker could have edge on Mike Olt for spot on Texas Rangers’ benchEvan Grant says the journeyman’s experience riding the pine might end up getting him a big league job.

Texas Rangers roster predictions, V2.0From a couple days ago, but worth a look as Grant handicaps the 25-man roster.

Same old Josh? Ex-Ranger Hamilton swings at first pitch, goes 0-for-3 in Angels debutIf you’re interested, Josh Hamilton did not set the world on fire in his first game of the spring with Los Angels.

With year under his belt, Texas Rangers’ Darvish already looking like Yu 2.0For subscribers only, Gerry Fraley thought highly of the Japanese right-hander’s debut outing.

Cody Buckel survivesJeff Wilson reports that, despite yesterday’s flameout, Cody Buckel was not incinerated from planet Earth altogether.  He also notes that Engel Beltre might not be playing for Spain in the WBC after all.

Rangers catcher feels nothing (yet) vs. old teamWilson writes about A.J. Pierzynski facing the White Sox for the first time as a Ranger yesterday.

Yu Darvish impresses in spring debutAnother glowing report on Darvish, this time from Ron Matejko.

Darvish off to strong start in second springMatt Mosley writes that things are bit calmer this spring for the now more seasoned Darvish.

Plenty of arms to choose from for RangersNeeding to almost completely rebuilt their bullpen, Anthony Andros says that the Rangers have a diverse group of options available to fill out the open spots.

Rangers prepared to round out rotation in houseDon’t look for Kyle Lohse to come walking through that door, writes T.R. Sullivan.

Berkman may make Rangers debut ThursdaySullivan has injury updates on Lance Berkman, Colby Lewis and the two Beltres, Adrian and Engel.

 – Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/26/2013

Me and my brother, young Kevin Vispoli, at a Mets game in 2010.

Me and my brother, young Kevin Vispoli, at a Mets game in 2010.

Before we get to today’s links, a quick happy birthday shout-out to my brother, Kevin, who’s now only one year away from being eligible to sign an international free agent baseball contract.  He’s not the next Jairo Beras, but he is much more talented ninth grade baseball player than I was back in the day.  (Also, despite the photo, neither he nor I are Mets fans.  Maybe he is a little, but I’m smart enough not to subject myself to that level of misery.)  Happy birthday bro!

The Rangers got walloped by the Rockies 9-1 yesterday.  Here are today’s links:

Martin Perez impressive in start - As the headline indicates, Ron Matejko was one of many who came away with positive things to say about the former RoughRiders’ official Cactus League debut.

Perez, Grimm motivated to make impression for TexasLyle Spencer of MLB.com talks to the two candidates who pitched in yesterday’s Rockies game.  Grimm will have an uphill climb after a difficult outing, especially in the face of Perez’s brilliance.

Loquacious Andrus has audience in Texas prospectsT.R. Sullivan has Elvis Andrus taking on a greater leadership/mentor role this spring out in Surprise.

Rangers optimistic Lewis could return in MaySullivan’s notebook has an update on Colby Lewis’ improved outlook as well as the forecast for Lance Berkman, Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan.

Texas Rangers have reason to keep sidearming Coty Woods on roster, but will he be ready?Gerry Fraley talks to Rule 5 pickup (and former Tulsa Driller) Coty Woods about his spring and his prospects of sticking with the big club.

Texas Rangers fans start campaign to bring silence to ballpark when Josh Hamilton hitsIt will never happen, given the difficulty of getting 50,000 people all on the same page, but it’s an interesting idea.

Young will be in DFW fans’ heartsFormer Ranger Michael Young reflects on his time in Texas and gives his thoughts on how DFW fans should view Hamilton.

Enjoy Andrus while he’s still in TexasMatt Mosley says appreciate Andrus because it’s not likely to last after 2014.

Martin Perez makes strong spring debutDrew Davison gives his take on Perez’s outing yesterday (subscription required for most Star-Telegram stories).

Lance Berkman isn’t the retiring kindRandy Galloway has a story on the Big Puma.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/20/2013

Before the season, most knew that Jurickson Profar would one day reach the big leagues.  Few expected it to happen in 2012 as a 19-year-old. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Jurickson Profar is already more accomplished than most 20-year-olds. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Opening Day for the RoughRiders is a mere 43 days away and baseball fans in the Metroplex are itching to see the ‘Riders and Rangers in action once again.  As a primer to get ready for the season, we’ll be posting semi-regular batches of links to stories by the local media about the Rangers, giving you a one-stop shop of sorts for all your Rangers news & notes.  With today marking the 20th birthday of 2012 ‘Riders shortstop Jurickson Profar, today seemed as good a day as any to start filling you up with Rangers info.

Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com has stories about one of the youngest players in big league camp, former ‘Riders infielder Leury Garcia, and one of the oldest players in Lance Berkman.  I know there’s been abundant talk about Garcia’s versatility, but there probably needs to be some pumping of the brakes regarding his ability to play outfield.  While he is a premium defensive player whether he’s at second base or shortstop, he is still inexperienced in the outfield and will need a lot more time out there before he can be considered a credible option on any sort of basis at the big league level.  He’s a great piece for the Rangers to have, nonetheless.

Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) notes that the Rangers hope that their success on offense will start at the top with former RoughRiders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus setting the tone for the rest of the lineup.  Drew Davison gets to know former Montreal Expos draftee Collin Balester, who hopes to make an impact in the bullpen this season.  Josh Hamilton is certainly not going to win any popularity contests around these parts, and Gil Lebreton gets Biblical to start his column chastising the former Rangers slugger.

The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant has some notes on yesterday’s first intersquad scrimmage, including some Yu Darvish observations and an injury update on 2012 ‘Riders reliever Wilmer Font.

Anthony Andro (Fox Sports Southwest) also recaps Darvish’s performance, with the Japanese right-hander getting a good crack about Andrus’ defensive miscue.  Matt Mosely wonders if Hamilton is crazy like a fox for making his DFW “baseball town” comments.

Finally, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com explores Matt Harrison’s roots on Tobacco Road in the small town of Creedmoor, North Carolina.

- Alex

A Fan’s Perspective

Two weeks ago, we were talking to Justin Grimm at Dr Pepper Ballpark interviewing him for a ‘Riders blog post. Last night, we were at the Ballpark in Arlington watching him make his second start with the Texas Rangers.

This was a whole new thing for us, being a fan.

Usually, we are at the ballpark around noon to start pre-game preparations. During the game, we work on statistics and rarely get to actually experience the game and see our guys play.

Our seats gave us a prime view of the field.

Last night we were able to go to Arlington after a few hours of work. After some pre-game preparations before our night off began, me, Michael and Alex, our graphic design coordinator & photographer, were able to leave and started the 36-mile journey to Arlington. We got to the ballpark and began the arduous task that every fan faces, parking. We found a good lot by the convention center and walked to first base. We quickly found our seats and stayed put to watch former RoughRiders pitcher Justin Grimm take the mound.

It was pretty cool to see Grimm on the big board at the Ballpark in Arlington.

That was definitely a different experience for Michael and I to see someone we got to know as a player and a person now pitching in a major league ballpark.

We had predicted before the game that a bat might be thrown.

As the Rangers headed into the bottom of the first, we headed out into the concourse to grab some grub. There are lots of choices at the ballpark but we went with some fan favorites — a hamburger, hot dog and cheese fries. We settled back in our seats just as left fielder Josh Hamilton was up to bat and we were not disappointed. There were two thrown bats and one of them landed about ten rows in front of us. We were quickly distracted from Hamilton’s at-bat as two guys sat down in front of us with the now legendary “Boomstick” two-foot-long hot dog. Over the course of three innings, that hot dog was gone.

Another fun feature is the fact that the ballpark is close to the airport. So like people in the Superman movies, we looked up at the sky not to find a bird, but a plane. The game progressed as the Rangers took on the Detroit Tigers. We talked about Prince Fielder and then Alex and Michael decided to hunt down some ice cream.

They came back and it turns out they got ice cream and decided to add some things into it to come up with a tasty ice cream concoction. I passed, and waited to snag a Lemon Chill in the sixth inning. It’s always fun to watch the vendors. I have to give kudos to the water guy whose strap broke while he was carrying it up the stairs. He did a graceful bow, fixed it, and continued on his merry way.

We spied a friend up above in the press box.

We discovered another Frisco friend around the seventh inning. We used our camera to zoom in on the press box and saw Larry Bump who works with Michael and I in the press box at Dr Pepper Ballpark. He is also a freelance writer which is why he was at the game. We texted him telling him we could see him. He then picked up a pair of binoculars and looked for us while we waved as hard as we could. It was funny because a foul ball was hit in our direction in the eighth inning and he texted us saying we should have caught the ball that landed two rows behind us.

Grimm focuses on the plate as Prince Fielder steps into the box.

The Rangers ended up losing to the Tigers 8-2. However, watching someone we got to know in Frisco pitch in his second Major League start while not having to work made the night special.

Photos and story by Jarah Wright

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