Results tagged ‘ Justin Grimm ’

The RoughRiders’ ghosts of trade deadlines passed

Blog_Trade

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:

060513 ram web article

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)

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

Fun with numbers: 17-inning game edition

It’s hard to remember that Neil Ramirez even started that game last night. Even though he went five innings, he pitched less than a third of the game.

Seventeen innings in the books. First time in RoughRiders history. Most importantly, another win. The RoughRiders finished off the Hooks 4-2 in seventeen innings to improve to 9-4 on the season.

That’s six wins in-a-row now for the first-place RoughRiders. Frisco is a game ahead of Midland and 2.5 games better than the first place team in the North Division, the Arkansas Travelers (6-6).

The 9-4 mark is one of the best starts in team history. Last year the ‘Riders began 9-4 and finished just short of their second Texas League Championship. The 2012 ‘Riders lost the next three after going 9-4 to fall to 9-7.

The 9-4 start is also best start for the club since 2008 through 13 games. That team began 10-3 and ran their mark to 12-3 before losing. That 2008 squad put together the best record in the  Texas League in the first half (43-27) and won the South Division in both halves. Their overall record of 84-56 is the second best record in team history.

The best final record for Frisco came in 2007 under now Rangers First Base Coach Dave Anderson. That team went 85-55. They also began 9-4 but only won once more (10-4) before falling again to 10-5.

Two more wins and this year’s team will have the second best start in the eleven years of the franchise. Four more will be a new record for the best start to the season in the first seventeen games–a fitting number considering the length of last night’s extra innings contest.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is so much to relish about Thursday night’s contest:

The Game:

  • The game took 4 hours and 43 minutes.
  • The Hooks brought 63 batters to the plate. Seven times they got a hit. On five occasions they walked. Nineteen times they struck out (a new season high for Frisco). Once they reached on a hit-by-pitch.
  • The ‘Riders sent 67 batters to the plate. Thirteen collected hits, three walked, one was hit by a pitch and one reached on an error. They struck out just nine times in 17 innings.
  • The two teams combined for 480 pitches. Frisco threw 243 while Corpus Christi tossed 237–surprising, considering the ‘Riders outhit the Hooks 13 to 7.
  • The four innings thrown by Ryan Rodebaugh tied a career high for him. He also pitched four innings in an extra inning game in 2011. That came in a 1-0 Hickory win over Savannah. Rodebaugh relieved major leaguer Justin Grimm, tossing four scoreless innings after Grimm had gone seven strong. Like last night, Rodebaugh did not get the win. The two teams combined for 16 hits in that game, and only one went for extra bases: the fifth double of the season for Jurickson Profar.
  • The game was not ever close to the longest in the history of baseball, or even the Texas League. In fact it wasn’t even the longest game at Whataburger Field in recent memory. Corpus Christie hosted a 20-inning contest against the Wichita Wranglers (also a Hooks loss) on June 1, 2005. The game finished at 1:19 a.m. on June 2. Jackson and San Antonio played a 26-inning, 7 hour and 23 minute game over the course of three days in Texas League play July 14-16, 1988. 
  • The longest professional game in history was the famous clash between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. That one took 33 innings and spanned over two different days across multiple months in the summer of ’81. 
  • If you are interested in this kind of thing, I would highly recommend this book. It is fascinating. It also debunks the myths of multiple games that were once believed to last over 40 innings. The author writes that he has cataloged 540 games, at time of publication, that took more than 20 innings to complete, across all levels of baseball in all countries.

Guilder Rodriguez:

  • The 29-year-old utility infielder picked up his first career win on the mound last night after throwing a scoreless sixteenth inning. It was his third career pitching performance in his 914th professional game. 
  • His first career outing on the mound came in 2012, in his 11th professional season and 870 games into his pro career. Frisco pitched Rodriguez and Val Majewski in a 9-run 11th inning on the way to a 14-5 11-inning defeat, oddly enough, also against Corpus Christi, the team he collected the win against last night.
  • His first decision (a loss) and his first scoreless inning came during the same game (he pitched two innings), 901 games into his pro career, also last year. Frisco lost 2-1 against Midland in 13 innings.
  • When Rodriguez entered the game last night, he was playing in his 12th professional season, for his 10th different franchise, in his 9th year of Double-AA baseball, in his fifth different season with the RoughRiders and after 3325 plate appearances and 2882 at bats in affiliated baseball.
  • Rodriguez has more appearances as a pitcher (3) than home runs (2) and as many decisions (2) on the mound as he does long balls in his career. He hit his second career home run on Opening Night this season.
  • The utility man has played every position except catcher in his career. With one more pitching performance, right field will become his next least played position. He has played only three games in right. He played their once for Frisco in 2009 and twice last year.

Enough head spinning. Enjoy the game tonight. Another 7:05 start from Corpus Christi. What will we see next? In light of that thought: today’s distraction of the day.

Game notes are coming soon. We will post them here when they are ready to go. UPDATE: Game notes are here!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: snake jazz – a breaking ball

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 – 2/26/2013

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 – 2/25/2013

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers' rotation.

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

The Rangers began their exhibition slate over the weekend with a tie and a pair of losses against the Royals.  Today they’ll get some fresh competition when they venture over to Scottsdale for a date with the Rockies.  Here’s a smattering of stories from the weekend that was in Rangers-land:

Perez fired up for chance at rotation spotFormer RoughRider Martin Perez gets the starting nod today for Texas and has as good an opportunity as anyone for the fifth spot in the rotation.  T.R. Sullivan gets the thoughts of an excitable Perez.

Harrison battles command in windy conditionsSullivan writes that Matt Harrison’s first spring outing was a little ragged in less-than-ideal weather.

Tepesch impresses in spring debut vs. hometown teamWhile he had a few rough days as a RoughRider, there was no doubt last season that Nick Tepesch profiles as a big league starting pitcher.  He showed that yesterday with two scoreless innings against the Royals.

Tepesch impresses in debutESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more on Tepesch’s outing yesterday.

McClellan suffers setbackMatejko also has an update on Kyle McClellan, who re-injured his shoulder in bullpen session Sunday morning.

Nolan Ryan’s focus is pitching (of course)Richard Durrett has Nolan Ryan talking about the club’s pitching situation, including the candidates for the number five spot in the rotation.

After subpar season, Rangers’ Kinsler vows new approach in 2013 (subscribers only) – Evan Grant writes that Ian Kinsler believes he can improve from his down 2012 season.

Texas Rangers have the Kansas City Royals bluesGrant runs down the essentials from yesterday’s 7-5 loss to KC.

Rangers conflicted by Profar’s talent, Andrus’ primeThe Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Randy Galloway writes about the dilemma that figures to plague the Rangers for the next two seasons with Jurickson Profar essentially ready for a full-time role at a position where there is zero need for Texas.

Rangers have second hitting coach with ‘old and gray’ BerkmanDave Magadan’s not the only new hitting coach for Texas, writes Jeff Wilson.

Kyle McClellan still slowed by back sorenessDrew Davison has the Star-Telegram’s notebook with Justin Grimm reminiscing about his stint with the big club last season.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/21/2013

Ricky Fowler snowball

Is that Rickie Fowler or Cody Buckel ready to unleash a heater?

The Rangers avoided the snow that did this to the Match Play Championship out in Arizona yesterday as “Team Jackie Moore,” comprised of mostly Rangers regulars, defeated “Team Bobby Jones” 10-4 in the second intrasquad scrimmage of spring training.  The Rangers media relations folks distributed a box score indicating that 2012 RoughRider Cody Buckel pitched an inning for the winning side, but I swear that’s him in the photo above instigating a snowball fight.  Anyway, here are today’s spring links (or “splinks,” if you will):

Martin Perez determined to win fifth spot – Richard Durrett has a feature on former ‘Riders pitcher Martin Perez, who’s been the Rangers’ young stud pitching prospect for about 15 years now.  Perez thinks that this will be the year he arrives for good after foundering with the big club in 2012.  He got off to a good start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game, throwing all nine of his pitches for strikes.

Relief candidates show off stuff - Durrett also cleans out the notebook with a closer look at pitchers trying to make Texas’ bullpen, including 2012 ‘Rider Joseph Ortiz, who earned an Eddie Guardado comparison.

Rangers’ Berkman says calf strain is no issueFox Sports Southwest (via the AP) has Lance Berkman essentially saying, “nothing to see here,” regarding his right calf strain.  It has to be at least a little concerning for the Rangers considering they are paying him $11 million this season and he played just 32 games last year because of two knee surgeries and a left calf strain.

Lance Berkman lands on injury reportDrew Davison talks to Berkman about his injury but also notes that Leury Garcia may be a WBC candidate for the Dominican Republic because of his versatility.

Five candidates vying for last spot in Rangers rotationJeff Wilson breaks down the competition for the number five starting spot between Perez, Randy Wells, Kyle McClellan, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross.

And, just for the sake of comparison:

Buckel warmups

Rickie Fowler doppelgänger Cody Buckel.

- Alex

Reviewing the MiLB.com Rangers All-Stars (part 2)

With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization.  MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.

OUTFIELD

 MiLB.com’s picks:

Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)

Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)

Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)

My picks:

Butler

Beltre

Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)

The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels.  Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively.  The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Butler

Joey Butler (pictured with the RoughRiders in 2011) had a great season in Triple-A. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm.  While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat.  Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level.  I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A.  While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.

My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season.  The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status.  The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals.  His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field.  Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.

Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June.  The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own.  Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI.  The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.

RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER

MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)

Buckel

Buckel won “Texas League Pitcher of the Week” honors in early September. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)

Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective.  Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings.  His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold.  Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation.  While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans.  The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up.  Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”).  Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season.  Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.

LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER

Bell

Bell made three stops in 2012, starting in Myrtle Beach before finishing the season in Round Rock. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)

My pick: Bell

The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient.  He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along.  But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April.  He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run.  By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career.  With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland.  Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed.  Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.

RELIEVER

MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)

Rowen

Rowen under-handed his way to a phenomenal season on the Grand Strand. (Dano Keeney/MiLB.com)

My pick: Rowen

Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here.  The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season.  His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general.  Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).

-          Alex V.

Catching up with… Steve Buechele (Part Two)

Steve Buechele sees big things in Jurickson Profar’s future. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

In part two of my discussion with RoughRiders manager Steve Buechele, we talk about Jurickson Profar, Chris McGuiness and his own future in the game.

Alex Vispoli: This past season you had the distinct pleasure of sending four guys directly to the big leagues, by passing Triple-A.  In your opinion, taking a look at those four guys (Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar), what do you think their ceilings are, how good can they get?

Steve Buechele: I don’t know, but I think they can all become great players.  To tab every one of them as a great player, well what happens down the road you just never know.  [Profar], he’s had so much talk about him and hype put on his shoulders, and the same with Mike Olt; I think they’re both going to be absolutely great Major Leaguers for a long time.  I think Wilmer Font has a chance to very very good.  And I think Justin Grimm, getting a taste and seeing what it’s like, I think he’ll be very good.   And I could say that about a lot of other guys who were on our team this year.  I think the fans and people around the Metroplex are going to find out that a pretty good number of kids who were on that team this year are going to be wearing a Rangers uniform.  If not a Rangers uniform, they’ll be wearing a big league uniform pretty soon.

AV: Chris McGuiness was named the co-Player of the Week – along with Houston’s Jon Singleton – for the first week of action in the Arizona Fall League.  I was pretty surprised by McGuiness’ season in that he was so productive.  He started off slowly but hit for a .268 average with 23 home runs and it seemed like he raised his game to another level when Olt – who had been hitting in front of him for most of the season – went up to the big leagues. Here he is carrying the label of an “elite prospect” by going out to Arizona and by having the season that he had.  He is known for being a pretty good defensive player as well.  Is he someone who surprised you a little bit considering that he missed most of 2011 with injury and when he did play the results were not great?

SB: I don’t think he surprised me.  I think what was key for him was that it was one of the first seasons where he went the full season injury-free.  He’s always had little nicks and knacks and injuries that have knocked him out here and there.  This year, for the most part, he was injury-free and played every day.  And he was a kid who you saw him just develop and grow into a much more confident run producer and a much more confident hitter.  I think maybe when Mike [Olt] got brought up, and I think even before that, you saw him develop and become a much more confident hitter as the season went on, certainly after the first half.  Early in the year he had so many opportunities to knock in runs and I think became frustrated with it.  It was just nice to see a kid at the Double-A level understand what it takes and what kind of hitter he needs to become to be a run producer.  It was just great to see him do that.  And he’s a great kid; to see that he was named “Player of the Week,” that’s not a surprise to me at all.

AV: With Profar, there’s so much hype around him and he had such a good season at 19 years old in Double-A, the youngest player in Double-A this year.  You probably don’t know the answer to this and Jon Daniels might not know the answer either, but how do the Rangers work him in to get a more regular role than what he had in the last month of the regular season, considering the two positions that he can play are pretty well spoken for at the moment?

SB: I don’t know, that’s not my call.  Do I think he’s a great utility player at the big league level if in fact they go with [Elvis] Andrus and [Ian] Kinsler [at shortstop and second base]?  Yeah, no doubt he is.  He would serve that role perfectly.  Could he play every day in the big leagues?  And my answer to that is yes too.  He’s only 19 years old and you can’t overlook that.  With Pro, what makes him so good is that he adjusts so quickly for a 19-year-old kid.  The adjustments he makes and as smart as he is, it’s well beyond his years.  I’ve said this a hundred times and you’ve heard it: very often you find kids that are afraid to fail.  And he’s one of the rare players that you see who is not afraid to be great.  I would be shocked if the Rangers don’t find some kind of role for him starting next season.

AV: I know you follow the Rangers very closely, I’m sure you were watching after our season ended.  But from your vantage point, what happened to that team over the last two weeks of the season and that one playoff game?

SB: You know what, I don’t know.  I’m not there, I watch it obviously just like everybody else.  I don’t know.  You hear their excuses and if you want to make excuses, to me it is kind of the result of what’s gone on the last two years.  The grind, the long years, players becoming tired, I don’t know.  I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer as to what happened.  I think at the end of the season it looked like a very sluggish team to me, the energy level wasn’t there.  What are the reasons for it?  I’m not going to sit here and try to make any kind of excuse for them, but if I had to give you an opinion I think it’s just a result of what’s gone on the last couple of years and I think they just ran out of gas.

AV: Yeah, an extra month of baseball for two straight years and I think almost everyone played in a career-high number of games which probably helped cause that.

Still a Ranger even after all these years.

SB: Yeah.

AV:You have been mentioned as a guy that folks think has what it takes to be a Major League manager.  Is that what you want eventually?

SB: Sure, I mean going back four years ago when I was asked to come back in the organization and be a part of it, managing was never on my radar screen.  Coaching or getting back in some form was in my mind.  But being a manager never was.  I’ve enjoyed it and I love it.  What other people say is what they say, I don’t care.  I’m happy with what I’m doing and hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to be on a big league staff again.

AV: Is that something that you take an active role in trying to make it happen or is your philosophy “if it’s going to happen, just wait for it to happen”?

SB: I don’t know how active a role I can take in it.  I think I’m pretty loyal to the Rangers.  I’ve been a part of this organization for a long long long time going back to 1985 and always being a part of the organization, doing something for them in some extent and now I’m back in uniform.  There are certain loyalties that I have to the Rangers and the hope on my end is that at some point, some time I’ll be able to wear that Rangers uniform again.

My thanks to Steve Buechele for taking the time to talk with us.  Look out for more interviews with members of the 2012 RoughRiders throughout the off-season.

-          Alex

Catching up with… Steve Buechele (Part One)

Steve Buechele shakes hands with Springfield manager Mike Shildt on Opening Day at Dr Pepper Ballpark on April 12, 2012. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Recently, I had the chance to speak with RoughRiders manager and former Rangers third baseman Steve Buechele.  We talked about the off-season, the playoffs and some of his players on the 2012 RoughRiders.  This is part one of our conversation with part two coming tomorrow.

 

Alex Vispoli: First of all, how has the off-season been treating you?

Steve Buechele: It’s always nice when you get away from the field and spend some time with the family and just do family stuff.  That’s what makes the off-season so special.

AV: It’s been about a month and a half since the season ended.  Are you still enjoying your time off or have you gotten to the point where you’re itching to get back to the game?

SB: Oh no, I’m happy to be away.  I think everybody looks forward to getting back to the game but you know, that there are still months to go and the time that you have to spend with your family and be away, it’s very precious.  Once you get back into baseball, that’s what takes up all your time.  I’m sure after the holidays and after Christmas when spring training comes close that’s when [we’ll all be looking forward to getting back to it].  It’s kind of like the swallows going back to Capistrano; you know you’re supposed to be somewhere, you get that itch and you want to get going.

AV: When does it all start up again for you?  The season begins in April, the Minor Leagues’ spring training begins in March; are you out there in Arizona come February?

SB: Yeah, the Rangers bring the Double-A and Triple-A staffs to big league camp. [At the moment, the Rangers have not announced their spring training schedule, but pitchers and catchers reported to Surprise, Arizona on February 22 this past year.]

AV: The way the 2012 season ended, going back to the Cardinals series, was there something missing from the performance or did Springfield just out-execute you guys?  How do you look back on that series?

SB: You know, when I look back at it we had a chance in Game 2 [in Springfield] with a four-run lead] and I think if you had to go back and do it all over again it’s one of those things where I wouldn’t do any thing differently.  I would have felt absolutely awesome knowing that I’ve got Grimm and Wolf coming in to get the last four outs.  But it’s the playoffs and it’s baseball and those kind of things happen.  I think [the Cardinals] played good and I think we played good.  They pitched well, we pitched well and they beat us.  I don’t think we did anything to lose the series.  I look back and I’m super-proud of my guys and the way we played.  Obviously we all wished we could have won the championship but to get there with the group that we had was awesome.

AV: You can even see in this ridiculous Major League Baseball postseason the fact that momentum seems to carry such weight and it seems like it’s even more difficult to stop when you have it on your side.  Especially when you’re at home like Springfield was in that Game 2.

SB: Well I think the momentum thing that you talk about, it probably applies more to that Corpus Christi series than anything else.  To me, looking back, winning one game in Corpus Christi may have been one of our best accomplishments of the year.  That’s a really tough place to play.  The fans came out for the playoffs.  Usually in the Minor Leagues stadiums are not full, they’re more toward the empty side.  But Corpus Christi’s ballpark was full, they had the rally towels and just the atmosphere that was there in that game… You’re thinking you’ve got to play three of them there and we’re going to have a tough time getting through this.  But to win that series [in three games] I think was a huge accomplishment for us.

AV: When you look back at the last game of the year, do you think about what could have been based on that controversial call that happened, down 2-0 in the eighth inning with Leury Garcia getting called out on the close play at first base and then Chris McGuiness then hitting the home run on the very next pitch?

SB: Yeah you can think about it.  But you know what?  Had Leury Garcia been called safe, they probably would have pitched McGuiness a little bit differently too.  Those are the things in baseball that, the way they happen and what ends up happening, you look at it in a very general way and think, “Oh gosh, that would have been a two-run homer.”  I guarantee you had Leury been called safe and been on first base they would have been careful to Chris McGuiness.  I’m not saying he wouldn’t have hit a home run, but I don’t look at as if that home run would have definitely happened to tie the game up.

AV: Looking at the season as a whole, you really seemed to enjoy this season and this group.  You spoke about it with me on plenty of occasions.  In your mind, what made the group of players as special as it was?

SB:I think it was such a new group and such a fresh group, a bunch of guys coming up from A-ball and making that jump.  It was a group of kids that was just raw for our level and learning and talented obviously, a very talented group.  But you just don’t know how the kids are going to adapt to moving up a level and facing that challenge.  Once you get to Double-A it’s a whole different ballgame as a lot of our kids found out.  I think what made it special for me was that it was just a great group of kids that came to the park everyday ready to play, wanting to learn.  And for the most part, they played their tails off and they played the game the right way.  They took their lumps, a lot of those kids, but I think they all got better and they understand what it’s going to take to move on.

Team chemistry was always high for the RoughRiders in 2012. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

AV: Talking to people inside and outside the organization and there seems to be an intentional strategy of getting good clubhouse guys who are obviously talented as well.  You saw how important that chemistry is at the big league level, the way the players interacted during the Rangers’ two World Series runs.  Do you think that element on this year’s ’Riders team is more of a coincidence or was this part of the plan with this particular group just now reaching this point on the Minor League ladder?

SB: I’m not sure, Alex.  I think when you draft and sign kids, to me, number one above ability is the makeup of the kid.  I think a lot of times that gets thrown in the background a little bit because of a kid’s ability and his talents and his skill level.  They wow you so much that, you know what, maybe you take a chance on the makeup of what kind of kid he is.  To me, that becomes first and foremost is what kind of kid he is.  How does he approach the game?  What does he do when he’s on the field?  How does he come to the ballpark everyday?  Is he ready to go?  How does he prepare?  Those are more important to me sometimes than a kid’s physical abilities.  And this was just a group of young kids that was raw, as I said, they had great talent.  But for the most part those guys came to the ballpark every day and they were ready to play.  What they did in the first half was, to me, very exceptional.

Coming tomorrow: We discuss Jurickson Profar’s future, what happened to the Rangers at the end of the season and his future in the game.

-          Alex

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